Being Remarkable

Recently, I had the opportunity to read Seth Godin’s book, “Purple Cow.” In the book, Seth talks about being a purple cow—setting yourself apart from the herd—in the products you make and as an individual within your organization. The book is all about how to do both these things.

In one of the chapters, he says this:

“The cow is so rare because people are afraid. If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise—ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.”

Several weeks ago, I had the good fortune to speak at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. The first thing I noticed when I walked through the doors was how beautiful the hotel was. There were attractive paintings on the walls and the place was well furnished. You could tell the hotel was in good hands.

I quickly found the room where I was going to speak. About five minutes after I arrived a young man walked in. His name was Anish. He walked up to me, introduced himself, and asked me what I needed. He was very pleasant and professional. I could tell that he had been well trained. We had a little conversation as I set my things up.

About ten minutes after he left, a young lady named Fairuza walked into the room. She told me she worked with Anish and asked me if there was anything else I might need. Again, great eye contact and very professional. I’m liking this place!

A few minutes later, the gentleman who was in charge of the audio/visual department stopped by. Well spoken, and again—very professional. We spoke for a few minutes and he left. By this time, I’m really impressed!

A few minutes later, Anish came back. He told me that the General Manager liked to stop by and meet each speaker who used his hotel. He asked me when a convenient time would be for us to meet. I told him around 12:05. We would be breaking for lunch around that time.

I was very busy from 8:00 to 12:00 and forgot all about our little conversation. At 12:00, we broke for lunch. I was powering down my laptop and getting a few things ready for the afternoon session.

A few minutes later, Anish, Fairuza, and the GM, Niles Harris came walking through the door. First thing I noticed was Niles’ smile and the way he was dressed. One word—sharp! He walked up, called me by name, introduced himself, and asked me a few questions about how I liked the place and if there was anything I needed.

I travel all over the country speaking. I’m in nice hotels about 10-12 days a month. If there’s ever a problem, it usually takes me forever to find a staff member to fix it. And they usually do it grudgingly—as if I’m criticizing them. And here’s the GM of this wonderful hotel asking me how they were doing. Remarkable!

The point: when Niles walked up to me, he really had no idea what I would say. Maybe I was the kind of person that when having a bad day takes it out on the hotel staff. But Niles didn’t care about “hiding.” He put himself right out there—to be criticized or praised. I would say that at least 95% of the GM’s in the hotels I visit want to be unnoticed. They have plenty of people between them and their guests so when there’s a problem, someone else takes care of it. But not Niles. He put himself right out front and that’s what sets him apart. I can guarantee you that all his staff notices this about him and they respond in a very positive way, as I saw that day.

To be remarkable, you can’t be timid. You must put yourself in a position where you might be criticized. Niles is a leader, and leaders stand out. His staff is remarkable because he is remarkable.

Way to go Niles. You blew me away that day!

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