The Age of Non-Conformity for Business and Marketing Success

by Marcus Sheridan

Sheridan at Tweetstock

Speaking at Tweetstock 2012 (photo by Paul Smith of Photohouse Studio)

I had a simple yet profound experience last week that reminded me of a very important lesson—one that not only applies to business, but certainly applies to everything we do in life. Here goes…

Tweetstock 2012

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at a social media event in Brantford Ontario called “Tweetstock”. For those of you unaware of the event, or the town for that matter, Tweetstock in many ways is rapidly becoming the SXSW event of Canada. It’s a unique (and rather non-conformist ;-) ) mix of fresh voices, passionate presenters, and a social scene that is unlike any I’ve witnessed—all done in a “small town” where one would not expect hundreds of folks from around the country to merge together with the purpose of discussing the present and future of social media.

What was so interesting about this event for me was the fact that it was taking place in a 300-person capacity movie theater, with stadium style seating, and one monster of a screen in the background. Although I’ve spoken at hundreds of venues over my lifetime, this was the first time I’d ever been in a setting like this, and I knew it would offer its own set of opportunities as well as challenges.

When I walked into the theater for the first time, I immediately became concerned with something I knew could be a problem—at least for me and my speaking style—and that was the fact that the theater was set up in “tiered” lay-out. In other words, in front of the speaker, there were two rows of seats on the “lower level”. Above those two rows of seats, going further back towards the audience, was the start of the second level, with a small walkway in front and then the rest of the stadium-style layout.

A Lonely Island

As people filled the arena, my initial fears quickly became a reality—no one sat in the front two rows, and everyone was in the upper level. In other words, the speaker was pretty much on his or her own island—at least 20’ from an actual person and certainly not in the position to have much face-to-face Q and A with the audience, something that is always an integral part of any speaking engagement I do.

Seeing this, I turned to the event’s founder Trevor Cherewka of Smashing Pixels, and asked him a simple question: “Am I confined to that area down there, or can I move?”, to which Trevor gave me the green light to roam around as I wished.

Within minutes of the theater filling up, I found myself standing at the bottom, spotlights glaring in my eyes, and the inability to even see the 300 people that were staring down at me.

In business, we can either stick to being in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing...or we can get up and move.

Now this would not be a bad thing for a presenter with a less “interactive” style, but in my case, when I can’t get eye to eye with my audience, I feel like a fish out of water. Plus, I know my best strength when speaking is that ability to quickly mesh with the audience and eliminate any “walls” between us, which then allows the natural questions (from me) and answers (from them) to set the tone for the event.

Time for Change

60 seconds into speaking, already seeing that I was not going to achieve the desired results, I decided to ditch the normal “speaker spot” and moved to the base of the second level. Now, with no barriers between me and the audience, I could see everyone’s faces. I could see their smiles. I could observe how they laughed. I could shake their hands and even give a few high-fives here and there.

40 minutes later, I ended my presentation to one of the loudest applause I’ve ever been a part of. Even better, during that small time period, over 1000 tweets went out discussing the message that had just been shared. (Yes, Canadians love their Twitter like rednecks love their guns. ;-) )

Needless to say, it was a tremendous experience, one I won’t soon forget.

But as I look back on the success of the event and the wonderful people I was fortunate enough to connect with, my mind kept coming back to one word—conformity.

Death by Conformity

What is conformity? Conformity, at least in the business sense, is when we do things simply because we think that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. And from a marketing perspective, here are a few more examples:

  • Conformity is when we decide not to have a blog because “no one else in our industry has one.”
  • Conformity is when we see there are better ways to do certain things in our field yet we say and do nothing about it.
  • Conformity is when an employee knows their company should be blogging or embracing social media but keeps his or her mouth shut.
  • Conformity is opening up a social media account “because our competitor has one.”
  • Conformity is writing boring blog articles that really express no guts or opinions at all.

Looking back, every bit of success I’ve had over the last 3 years has basically come down to non-conformity. Just look at this timeline for my swimming pool company:

2007: I write and sell the first eBook in the swimming pool industry, one that openly compares and discusses fiberglass pool manufactures—something that caused serious uproar and put myself and our company on the map.

2009: Our company starts the first major blog in the swimming pool industry and decides to answer every single question we’ve ever been asked by a client on our website, including subjects on fiberglass pool cost and fiberglass pool problems—two subjects that had both never been addressed on another website.

2010: Looking to make our blog even better, we embrace the power of video, and show every bit of our company’s “secret sauce” to the public in video form, a move that would garner us over 1,000,000 YouTube views in just over 2 years and many, many sales along with it.

2012: After having experimented with blogging and video for almost 3 years, we invest in high-end video equipment and start producing our own industry show—River Pools TV—the first of its kind.

I could list many more examples of non-conformity here, especially a few that are in the works, but I’m sure you get my point.

The Age of Non-Conformity

Here is the deal my friends:

In this digital age of social media, tough economies, and strict competition, we all need to think outside the box if we’re going to be more effective. We need to be open and willing to look at our industry, see it for what it is, and then make quick changes as necessary. We also need to be willing to call out that which is wrong, and then do something about it.

Was my act of moving to the second level of that Tweetstock stage a grand example of what I’m talking about here? No, not at all, but the principle remains the same, big or small.

It’s a time of action my friends. It’s a time of non-conformity. You can do things the way you’re told and the way they’ve always been done, or you can blaze your own trail and lay your own foundation.

It’s your choice, but when it comes to success, I can promise you it will make all the difference.

Your Turn

Although I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on today’s post, I have one question I’m most curious to find out about from each of you:

What is an example of a non-conformist act you’ve done personally or in business that has brought you great success and results?

As always, I’d love to hear your comments and have a wonderful week my friends!

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Livermore April 16, 2012 at 8:47 am

There are a few things that immediately come to mind, but the one I’ll share is a personal one and that is moving our family to India. This was a tough thing to do with a couple of kids, and one that some people, family in particular, didn’t understand. But it was the one thing that changed each of us, and changed us as a family more than anything else, and I believe was one of the best things we have ever done for our kids who were 10 and 12 at the time.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

Talk about gutsy Rebecca–yeah–that was gutsy. And VERY non-conformist to what would be considered a societal norm. Notwithstanding, I can only imagine how much of a perspective and foundation that gave your kids at that age.

Awesome example :)

Marcus

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barbara April 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Rebecca, If you haven’t already you should read my friend Sonia Marsh’s blog Gutsy Writer.com!
She moved her family from a cushy life in southern CA to Belize for a year and she has a memoir coming out this summer about that experience. She also has a feature on her blog every monday where people share their own Gutsy stories. I think you’d qualify!
b

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Rebecca Livermore April 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, Barbara! I will check it out. :)

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Ruth Zive April 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Arggghhhh….how did I not know about this? Shame on me – I’m just a hop, skip and a jump outside of Brantford in the big ‘ol town of Toronto! I would have LOVED to have met you face-to-face Marcus.

I agree that non conformity is important, but not for the sake of being ‘otherwise’, as my husband would say. There is a fine line between non conformist and oppositional. “Conformity is writing boring blog articles that really express no guts or opinions at all.” – Agreed. Oppositional might be writing really provocative blog posts not because you actually believe in the message but because you are trying to elicit controversy.

The examples that you have given are good ones. And I think that businesses have to keep on asking the right questions, no matter the industry ‘standard’ or best practice, in order to grow and scale. You did that with your pool company. And you remind me to do that every day in my own content marketing business.

Thanks! And next time you are in my ‘hood’, please let me know!!!

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Rebecca Livermore April 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

Ruth, you make a great point here regarding, “otherwise.” It’s totally annoying being around people who are always oppositional.

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at 9:15 am

1000% agree Ruth. There have been times when I’ve read bloggers and felt they were being non-conformists simply because it felt like the cool and rebel thing to do, which can end up turning into a “boy who cried wolf” scenario if they’re not careful.

So yes, you’re certainly correct and I’m glad you brought it up Ruth.

And I WILL be touching base with you the next time I’m in your neck of the woods!! :-)

Marcus

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Laura Click April 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

Great points, Marcus. As my friend Steve Chandler said the other day, you have to be Bonnie Raitt….”give them something to talk about”. :)

Be bold. Be different. Be willing to stand out from the crowd. No one takes notice of companies that do what everyone else does. It’s a scary thing to be different. But those that do it and do it well will be rewarded.

Can’t wait to hear you speak at Social Slam! I’ll make sure to sit on the front row!!! :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 16, 2012 at 9:13 am

You know, you’re very right about the “scary” part Laura, and I think that’s what is holding so many companies back, especially when it comes to social media and content marketing. Because all of this is so new and because we don’t have a bunch of “how-to” case studies lying around out there, the fear of the unknown is huge right now.

But the ones that work through it sure are going to stand out :)

Can’t wait to meet you “IRL” soon Laura!!

Marcus

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Christina Schaefer April 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

Marc, You know I live outside the box. There ain’t no stinkin’ box in my life. One of my favorite stories about my father is from his days as a furniture store owner. He had a beautiful dining room set traded in to the store, but one of the corners of the table was completely smashed. Well, he had his repair crew cut off the other three corners, clean up the busted one, and sold it as a special octagonal dining room set and made lots of money. Whether you call it having lemons and making lemonade or some other aphorism, it is important to see beyond the constraints others or a situation places upon you.

The fourth book I wrote was a challenge for my publisher. They felt the topic had been done to death. So I made it bigger. Instead of a writing a reference book about colonial British North America, I wrote a book about the colonial Americas, as in northern and southern hemisphere. It turned out to be more than 800 pages long. I think it is in its third or fourth printing and is on the reference list for many libraries and recommended by the American Reference Books Annual and the American Library Association.

I don’t really see this as a rebellion or non-conformity as much as you being out of touch with your audience and changing that to respond to the needs of your audience by moving to the second level. You were being sensitive and empathetic. Good on ya, mate!

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Leon Noone April 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

G’Day Marcus,
I guess that I’m seen as a nonconformist in HR because I contend that

Never, ever ask for written applications and resumes in staff selection
The purpose of staff selection is to get a job done not to choose a person
Employees should measure their own performance: formal performance appraisal is an anachronism
The basic human unit in the workplace is the team, not the individual
People do not have to “get on well” in order to work effectively together
A poor system will beat a good performer almost every time
If your systems are poor, your people will fail
Marketing isn’t everything, but everything is marketing
Never believe a word you read in a reference
The only thing that you ever learn in a classroom is how to pass exams
The purpose of communication is to convey meaning
Sound communication is the core management skill

Dunno why, but some people not only consider me “nonconformist” but a “heretic” But, as Grahame Greene said, “heresy is just another word for independent thought.”

However, I also believe that “nothing is so important as the proper execution of the fundamentals.” You need to be proficient at the basics so that you know what’s worth conforming to and what isn’t.

As I’ve said before, one of the things I find most irritating about the blogosphere is that it’s cluttered with people continually trying to reinvent the wheel because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Let’s face it; the one handed chest shot is still the basis for every shot at goal in basketball. And a basketball is played with the head and the feet.

PowerPoint is really a very useful aid. It’s the people who don’t understand the basics of presentation who give PP a bad name.

And of course, if your job isn’t fun, change your job.

Best Wishes from your favourite curmudgeon

Leon

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Ryan Hanley April 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

Marcus…

Dude… I love this. I love the openness. I love the behind-the-curtain. I love that your concern was being able slap high-five with audience members.

The Digital Marketing Revolution feeds off the Non-Conformists… Those willing to embrace that there is always Another Way of doing a business.

It’s the Taboo questions Dude… Answer the Taboo questions.

Because everyone already knows the answer to everything else.

Keep killin’ it…

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Ryan, it doesn’t surprise me you liked this post because, well, you’re as non-conformist (in a good way) as anyone in the entire insurance industry (and there are a few people in that industry).

You push and push. You say what you feel. I dig the heck out of that bud.

Thanks for all,

Marcus

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phil April 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

Marcus you speak the words of a non-conformist aka LIBERAL…I love it!!

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

You’re a goofball Dad. ;-)

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Andrea Hypno April 16, 2012 at 11:57 am

Well, I guess it was some years ago when I had to run a team of people. My istructions were: “When there is not much to do you can relax, provided you don’t put your feet on the furniture, when there is to run you must run as fast as you can”. It worked and my team was simply amazing. So much that sometimes they did things outside their duties just because I needed a hand. Work when you have to and relax when you can.

As for Conformity, well, related to blogging I think is somehow difficult, especially if you’re a newbie. Top bloggers give more or less the same advices: build a list, show your face, be personal, give freebies, put affiliate links wherever you can, etc. Then the obvious conclusion is that you have to do what they say to grab your little space in the blogosphere. Reason why there is so much Conformity out there; the Guru say and bloggers obey also because when we begin we don’t really have a hint on how to blog well.

Given that the great majority of Gurus sells crap is the main reason why there are so many low quality, copycat blogs around. Like those 1 km long squezze pages with the ironclad guarantee. So for newbies like me it’s normal to follow others’ advices until you learn enough to begin separating fluff from sound advices and behave accordingly, it takes a little time but it usually happens.

But even if being the black sheep or the purple cow pays more it’s usually more comfortable and secure to stay inside the herd. Emerging is more risky but rewarding. It also depends from personal preferences, some of us are done to lead and others to follow.

Good idea to move toward people in the theather, I would have gone there and asked to some to move in front but we have different styles. ;)

Good advices Marcus, as usual.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Andrea, great hearing from you bud. That was quite the powerful take on what’s happening in the world of bloggers and internet marketing, but in many ways it’s very true. It’s tough for people to be non-conformists until they’re actually living and breathing this stuff, and then are able to experiment on their own.

Keep pushing it brother. :)

Marcus

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Matthew Stock April 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hey Marcus-

Great post. As you know, before you came out here, our Sales Manager immediately recognized by watching your videos how much you like to roam around and interact with the audience…so he made you an aisle. They should have known a lion should not be caged!

I was always known as a rule breaker and non-conformist (just ask my parents and high school teachers), so this comes naturally to me. I think that’s why you and I get along so well! Or do we….after I told you I’d take you down in a wrestling match :)

I have a few blogs as you know I’m about to unleash. One is taking on the kingpin of our industry. Another is taking on the BBB. Can’t wait for them to go viral.

In the meantime, I put together a video I’m very proud of about “Doing the Right Thing”. Thought I’d share with the group. There’s also a Marcus cameo!
http://www.seepage.com/about-us/video

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You’re incredibly symbolic of what I feel a non conformist is in today’s world of business and marketing Matt. Seriously, I could go on and on about the things you’re doing, but I don’t want your head to get any bigger. ;-)

I can only thank you for allowing me to watch you and your guys do your thing.

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB April 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Winston Churchill

That is all.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Love that quote Jack. Great stuff man.

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Ilana Rabinowitz April 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Marcus,
Great story and it’s a lesson about more than nonconformity. It’s about not being a victim of circumstance. You could have stayed on the stage, given a presentation that wasn’t as powerful as it could be and come home with your (Lion’s) tail between your legs complaining about how the venue ruined your opportunity. I love the story because I’m a believer (and blogger) on the topic of breaking rules–the ones that don’t make sense. It’s easy to get hemmed in by other peoples’ expectations because it is always the path of least resistance and least risk. Kudos for taking the risk.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Llana, what a smile this comment brought to my face. Keep rocking your blog and keep clearing your own path. :-)

Marcus

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Howie at Sky Pulse Media April 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Well I surely don’t need to showcase my rebel credentials. And we need original names in social media tweetstock and smashing pixels should be outlawed ;-) LOL

It must be a rush to speak to a large audience even if people shy from the front rows. and I see you adapted well. I have given many sales presentations and training seminars ranging from 1 to 40 in my audience and keeping people engaged and awake can be tough because they always seem to expect mediocrity. But you are a Lion and thus you rose up the the moment.

As for your premise here it is very important Marcus. One thing with Social Media and Marketing in general is people have less time and a finite amount. We also are barraged with stuff. Our feeds are clutters. Wherever we look there are pitches and ads. We have more options to occupy our time than ever before. And this is why I shun reading the ‘Rock Star’ Blogs because if I use the tactics everyone else is it all is a muddle clutter and neither I nor my clients will reach through to anyone.

For example I get a lot of hubspot ebook emails. Most for the same 4-5 subjects. I rarely open any of the emails. They come and sit next to the 150-200 I get each day most of which are trade news for advertising and marketing, livefyre,disqus,blog comment alerts, etc. 95% get deleted. In fact you will not get my attention via email unless you do something nonconformist.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Howie, thanks for jumping in here brother and adding your thoughts, which I think in many ways are so very representative of the masses– we’re all busy and if we’re going to get distracted, it better be good.

Thanks for being quite the non-conformist my man :)

Marcus

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Trevor Cherewka April 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Hey Marcus,

I would first like to mention that you rocked the stage up here in Canada. Your words are always great to read but in person you took us to a whole new level. It was like a punch to the face at 9am and I freakin’ loved it. You woke us up, set the tone and moved us.

I think that the Tweetstock event would be my example of a non-conformist act I’ve done in business that has brought you great success. We have been told more times than not that the event wont work, its too much $$, can we fit our event around someone else’s idea, people won’t get it and by simply pressing on with the original vision (and wearing out a few pairs of shoes along the way) we have an event that is known internationally.

Thanks again for your kind words and more importantly coming to our event. We are like family now and I can’t wait to get together again.

Cheers,
tc

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hey bud, sorry for my late reply here but as you already know, it was truly an honor coming up there and the group of peeps I met were easily some of the coolest and kindest I’ve seen in all my travels.

Let’s do it again some time,

Marcus

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Chris Eh Young April 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Your style was definitely in your face. Great wake up for the event attendees and a tough act to follow.
You walk your talk in a way that many in the industry don’t. It was great hanging out and meeting you. That’s the true benefit to many of these events, the knowledge and the relationships we take away.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

The pleasure was all mine Chris. Love your style my man and look forward to catching up again!!! Keep crushin it,

Marcus

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Murray Lunn April 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

For me, I think it was the act of literally pushing a business owner aside when we were talking about the web to show how effective it can be for their business.

Let me explain: I had gone to a small shop around my area and after buying some products, I got into talking about their business and whether they were on the web – they mentioned their limited involvement which lead to further discussion about the web and their business – it got to a point where we were both extremely excited for what was possible about their business to the point that I scooted them to the side, jumped on local business sites and began plugging away their site for easy listings. From there, we kept in contact and it lead on to me helping them pick up their social media presence where they’re still very active to this day.

All-in-all, I think this is the ‘non-conformity’ move that’s worth mentioning. I could have easily held back and handed them a business card or told them to email me but breaking the mold and diving right in really put the experience on a whole different level for the both of us.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Murray, awesome, awesome story my man. Love what you did with the biz and I hope you have that type of fierce nature going forward. You’ve got a lot to offer businesses out there my man!

Marcus

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Adam April 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I think you should call it “strategic non-conformity” Marcus! Your point is a great one — think outside the box and be ready to step outside the box — but have a purpose and a reason. There is a lot of non-conformity for non-conformity’s sake on the web — it just seems to add to the noise.

Glad you had a great speech — looking forward to seeing you live in a few weeks!

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Joe Helms April 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

“strategic non-conformity” – I like that!

And I like your point as well – non-conformity for it’s own sake is nearly as bad as absolute conforming.

Either one shows lack of imagination – doing the _exact_ opposite can require as little thought as copying someone else. At first it may seem great, but it won’t hold up.

The trick is to make sure you are thoughtful about every move you make.

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

“Thoughtful” is a great word Joe, and certainly a guiding light to any blog.

Thanks so much for dropping by,

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm

100% agree my man. It’s “the boy who cried wolf” syndrome and I’m not a fan of that at all. But I think, at least for the most part, those that are genuine in their non conformist ways stand out and are seen for what they are.

Hope you’re well my man. :)

Marcus

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Pamela April 17, 2012 at 1:18 am

Building a successful business is a challenge and will require you to have tunnel vision, at least in the beginning, but you can succeed as an entrepreneur.

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Michael D. Sera April 17, 2012 at 3:41 am

It’s really inspiring to get to read an entry about the humble beginnings of a person who is already successful online..It was a grateful feeling to get some learning here…Good thing you post such useful information like this.

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Jens P. Berget April 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Hi Marcus,

That sounds like an awesome experience. Your story made me think, and I don’t know many people who would have done what you did. They would have just been up on that stage, because that’s what they were suppose to do.

My best experience when it comes to non-conformity is when I quit the University and started my own business. Most people thought that I would stay at the University forever, because that’s what people do :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

“Because that’s what people do…”

What a dangerous mentality, isn’t it Jens? And in many ways, we’ve become a society of people that feel exactly like that.

And btw bud, I don’t know if you would have stayed on the stage Jens. I’ve been watching your growth bud, and you’re blazing your own path.

Marcus

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Julie Graff April 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I love how so many of your blog posts not only inspire me in my job but also in my life in general. I have saved a few of them for when I need the extra oomph I need to push myself more. I for one know that I am way too prone to do things the way they are supposed to be done or always have been done without second guessing them. Am saving this article as a reminder to stop defaulting to the status quo. Thanks!

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thrilled to hear it Julie….you’ve given me a big smile knowing the words here help a little.

Continued success,

Marcus

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Sergio Felix April 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Hey Marcus,

Man, that experience in the theater sounds like it was super fun and it’s great that you managed to adapt and still crush it!

As for myself, I am terrified of doing video, I have massive stage fright, I’m not very confident because I can’t speak English as I’d like and I freaking hate cold showers.

To address these problems, I imposed myself a video challenge that consisted on posting videos for seven straight days on my site.

Needless to say, all the videos were in a ‘talking head’ type and I ended up interviewing another person on Skype.

As for the cold showers go, I have been taking cold showers for a little bit more than 10 days and I feel like a complete different person today.

And that’s about it. Obviously, these ‘challenges’ may not represent a challenge for others or maybe won’t translate into pushing forward but for me, it has been a massive achievement.

Loved your article, I wish I could watch that video presentation.

Sergio

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Trevor Cherewka April 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hey Sergio,

The videos should be up in a few weeks. I will make sure you get a link.

tc

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Sergio, this is one of the coolest comments ever. Seriously, I love the cold shower story and am impressed that you seem to attack your problems head on.

Thanks for the support bud and keep pushing,

Marcus

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Ryan Biddulph April 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hi Marcus,

Conventional thinking is fine for people who desire to live a conventional life.

Conformity creates an average life. That is enough for me to know, so I routinely do things which are non-conformist, to live an enriching, fulfilling life.

Thanks for sharing buddy!

Ryan Biddulph

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

That’s what I like about you Ryan. You live and breath a powerful non-conformist lifestyle but you do it with all the right intentions….Continued success my friend.

Marcus

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John Lemmon April 18, 2012 at 1:12 am

Non-conformity is about standing out from the crowd. Its the 80/20 principle in practice where the 20% who stand out get 80% of the attention. My example…spoke at a business conference last year to several hundred CEO’s, CFO’s and “suits” in general on Operational Excellence (pretty dry stuff!). What they didn’t bargain for is me playing the ukelele and singing to ‘em…and using it as part of the presentation. Outcome? I got a standing ovation and at question time they asked if I would play another song…which I did. Also got the highest feedback score of all the speakers and the conference organisers call me to speak at least once or twice per month. Non-conformity works!

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Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

John, as a speaker/presenter myself, I LOVE this story. AWESOME man…keep it up!!!

Marcus

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emma@data management April 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Getting people’s attention without risking the call is an issue I have wondered about and your comments get me a lot more to consider. I have always tried to work in a way which keeps me interested and attract customers. Strangely enough, the more I enjoy it the more success I have, so there must be something in the theory after all.

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