(Fast Company) Standout in the Crowd: Mark Levy’s “Accidential Genius” Helps You Find Your Special Sauce

The world is literally awash with ideas and information.  How do you standout?  What makes you unique and different to clients, in a book proposal, in a blog post or to prospective employers?

What’s your “special sauce?”  Mark Levy, marketing strategy expert and author of the updated and newly re-released, Accidental Genius, shows you how.

I’m a living case study of Mark’s magic.  Last fall I spent some time working with him, and the process not only transformed the way I think and talk about my business, but also helped me finally take a book idea I’ve had for years to the next level.

His unique approach to problem solving helped me find my “special sauce.”  And I’ve incorporated freewriting into my day-to-day decision making and blogging.  Now, with Accidental Genius, Mark’s skill is available to everyone.

I recently spoke with Mark Levy about:

  • Why it’s more important than ever to find your “special sauce” and standout in the crowd,
  • How Accidental Genius and the process of freewriting can help, and
  • A trick to craft a distinctive elevator speech!

CY: Welcome Mark!  Why is it more important than ever to find your “special sauce” and standout in the crowd?

ML: You’re at a networking meeting and someone comes up to you and asks, “What do you do?”  You know you do great work, but as you’re talking, the stranger begins to look over your shoulder because what you’re saying doesn’t get at the magnificence of your work.

Not only do you lose a potential client, but you feel bad about your business…and life in general.   This actually happened to me years ago when I worked for a book wholesaler and I vowed it would never happen again.  Now, when someone asks me what I do, I describe one of my areas of expertise by saying, “Consultants and entrepreneurial businesses hire me to increase their fees 2000%.”  Very clear and vivid.  Like an elephant gun.

Finding what makes you different is your competitive advantage.  It means getting very clear in your mind about where you are delivering meaning and value for others.

Most people base their work (e.g. business, writing, etc.) on commoditized, 10th generation thoughts and “me too” ideas.

We all need to be thankful for the ideas and thoughts of others. Even if you start with someone else’s idea, make adjustments.  Add the work you’ve done and your own experience.  Those adjustments become your unique quotes, stories, and philosophy.  You don’t need to make it gimmicky.  You simply standout, if you are very clear.

What do I mean?  As you know, I encourage people to “open up” words.  This involves looking at and writing about common words that have become jargon.  What are the images when you hear the word?  What’s happening?  Go from jargon to the story ideas behind the word.  So let’s start by defining “special sauce.”

To most people, special sauce is what makes you distinctive, standout, and memorable when other people aren’t.  Not surprisingly I have a slightly different take (as you would expect from me!).

My take is that some people try to contrive how they are different based upon what other people are doing.  Really they need to create a new, standout angle or need.

The intersection between the things that have personal meaning and that have meaning for whomever you’re trying to reach, that’s your special sauce.

CY: How can Accidental Genius help?” (Click here for more!)