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September 19, 2016 How To

Stand out in a sea of sameness

Nancy Marshall

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

In business, as in life, it pays to be memorable.

Of course, you want to be remembered for the right things. Have you thought about what you'd like to be remembered for?

At its most basic, standing out from the crowd is all about embracing what makes you unique and trusting that you've made good choices. The person you are projecting to the world will stand out more successfully if you are completely confident in yourself.

I want to be remembered as the PR person who enthusiastically and energetically assists my clients in achieving their business goals. How do I know that? Because doing that gives me the greatest joy. And I learned a long time ago that doing work that gives me great joy is work that I don't mind doing, day after day and year after year. It makes me feel alive, energized and successful.

Some professionals might want to be remembered as the doctor who discovered a cure for a rare disease, or the attorney who helped save companies from bankruptcy. A teacher might want to be remembered as someone who inspired hundreds of children to pursue a college degree or beyond.

Whatever profession you are in, here are 10 questions to ask yourself as you try to figure out what gives you the most energy, what fills your heart with joy, and what makes you feel alive and energized. I suggest you sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and answer some of these questions in a journal.

  • In my life, what three elements fill me with joy?
  • What do I do better than anyone else?
  • What is unique about the way I do what I do?
  • If I were to receive an award, what would it be for?
  • What words do people use to describe me when they introduce me to others?
  • About what topic(s) can I talk endlessly?
  • What's the most important thing I learned from my parents?
  • What unique ingredient do I contribute to everything I do that without me would be missing?
  • In what situation(s) do I feel most naturally myself?
  • What do I tell others is my greatest strength?

The answers to these questions form the basis of your own personal brand, the qualities that you and only you possess and the unique aspects of your personality that give you energy and drive.

Knowing what you love and integrating it into all the information you communicate about yourself will be useful, whether it's the bio they use to introduce you before a Rotary speech, or your LinkedIn summary, or the way you describe yourself when you first meet someone at a party.

Being memorable and standing out from the crowd creates distinction. Businesses want to hire people who are distinct and who are known to be really good at something. People want to refer others who are memorable and distinct, as well.

Once you have put the time into answering the 10 questions, think about how to incorporate those answers into a message that you deliver consistently, over and over, whether you are giving a speech, posting on Facebook or Twitter or updating your LinkedIn profile. Since you cannot be all things to all people, it's better to be that one person who is really great at one thing.

Creating distinction, being memorable and, most importantly, being liked and trusted are the pillars of a strong career, no matter your profession. Finding happiness is the foundation of a life well lived. Knowing who you are, and being that one person who others remember, is going to help you become your own self, at your very best, all the time. Who wouldn't want to be?

Nancy Marshall, the CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications (, is the author of “PR Works!” She can be reached at

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