I was inspired by how a high schooler’s rebellious, entrepreneurial attitude landed him success despite the circumstances. A NY Times article featured a story on Cameron Stephens, who managed to get a summer job at the Farmer’s Market in Atlanta, while almost all of his classmates remained unemployed. Cameron did not submit his resume (which may not have been as impressive as some of his unemployed classmates) to several companies. Instead, he just showed up to the Farmer’s market one morning and started helping people.
He returned each week following his first visit, and as people started to take notice that he wasn’t employed there and asked questions, he dodged the questions and kept trying to do a good job. After admiring his work ethic and personality, one business owner finally asked him if he wanted a job for $60 per day. Not a typical way to land work, but he did it.
As an entrepreneur, you need to get outside of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to show people the value you can provide. This means reaching out and not playing by the rules. If Cameron followed the traditional strategy for applying for jobs, he would’ve made it easier for people to say, “no.” Instead, his rebellious strategy (whether intentional or not) consisted of three essential elements:
1. He showed up. Woody Allen’s expression, “80% of success in life is just showing up,” may be overused, but it’s true. Showing up to an opportunity instead of just reading about it on the internet or listening to friends can spark an opportunity to meet someone or learn about something important to you.
2. He broke the rules to get noticed. No matter how hard you try to apply for a job, try to amass venture capital, or try to attract that special someone on the other side of the room, you won’t turn heads by following standard procedure. Figure out the “rules” in whatever you’re trying to accomplish and find some way to break them.
3. He “showed” how he could add value instead of trying to “tell” someone how he could. Talk is cheap and we’re transforming into a more authentic society. Hype-based marketing, trying to impress your friends and your dates, and boasting who you are by the size of your bank account or your accomplishments is no longer in vogue. Instead, showing how you can add value to a person, business, or cause now catches peoples’ attention. Show, don’t tell.
At SmashingEntrepreneur.com, I aim to help entrepreneurs take their ideas and their passions and turn them into a business that pays them. I discovered that some of the “rules” of the entrepreneurship coaching niche are to establish yourself as a “guru,” invest in an advertising campaign to drive massive traffic, and to continuously send marketing material to visitors to show them how they can “make over $10,000 per month within 7 days”—yeah, right.
I set out to break these rules by firstly not establishing myself as a guru, but a “startup enthusiast” who brainstorms with other creative, fun individuals looking to turn their ideas into realities. Instead of boasting my credentials, I tried to document my successes and failures in real time to maintain an authentic atmosphere.
Secondly, I spent little money on advertising and instead devoted my time to creating content that would cause people to want to share it. Lastly, I didn’t just focus on showing people how to make money, but also how to develop courage and identify passions to go after.
Untemplaters, what rules exist for getting the things you want in life, and how can you break them?
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