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John Shaw, Exec. Recruiter

Market Your Uniqueness
by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

At one of my friend Gary Purece’s seminars, a man in the audience told him, "I’ve heard you speak about finding uniqueness, and, let me tell you, there is NO uniqueness in my life."

Gary smiled and said, "Yeah, you’re probably right." (Gary is a world-class advertising, marketing, and public relations expert.)

"No," the banker persisted, "that’s not what I mean. I’ve spent 35 years of my life in the banking industry. I studied to be a banker at school. I got my banking degree. I’m a banker. That’s all I am."

Gary recalls, "I was seeing this box being built around him, just as I do with so many people who are talking about their products or their entrepreneurship. They’re not looking for the unique quality in what they’re doing."

So Gary asked the banker, "What do you do on Saturday?"

"Well, I sleep all day Saturday. I’m so tired."

"What do you do on Sunday?"

"I go to church on Sunday," he told Gary.

"Great! Are you active in church?"

"Yes, I’m the chief financial officer."

"Large church? Small church?"

"It’s a very large church," he said. "3,200 members, a budget over $2 million."

"You probably have lots of help running it," Gary said.

"No," the banker said. "I run it all by myself. And I coordinate all the volunteers for fund-raising projects. You know how churches are."

"You get the volunteers together too?" said Gary. "Plus, you run, all by yourself, a $2 million budget for a non-profit organization? Your unique qualities are not just being a banker. You can do financial management and get volunteers together." Gary started pointing out the banker’s various unique talents.

The man put his head in his hands. "Gary, I never recognized that."

Gary’s advice to everyone is: "Take the time to recognize that you are unique in your personal life, in the products you represent or manufacture. We’re all unique."

If you doubt it, gather some of your supporters and ask, "Okay, what do you think is different about me?" A few years ago I wanted to create a new cassette pack. I spent a day brainstorming with my friend Jim Cathcart. "How do you see yourself?" he asked. "How do your friends see you? How do others in your business see you?" As we talked, he wrote the answers on a flip chart. "What makes you unique? What can you talk about?"

Finally, he jotted down the perfect title: "Express Yourself with Flair: Increase the Speed with Which You Succeed." "Of course!" I said. "That’s so obvious." My friend was just having me answer questions about myself from different points of view to establish my distinctiveness. It worked.

Patricia Fripp CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based executive speech coach and professional speaker on Change, Customer Service, Promoting Business, and Communication Skills. She is the author of Get What You Want!, Make It So You Don’t Have to Fake It and Past-President of the National Speakers Association.

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