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  • Writer's pictureJohn Selzer

You Are Who You Are

Think different. Or differently. Just something to do with different. Or -ly. Whatever.

When Steve Jobs announced the new Apple campaign, “Think Different”, my first thought was, “How embarrassing”. Steve is hands down the most skilled product and marketing mind we will see for generations. Maybe basic grammar was just not his thing.

But my first reaction missed the point entirely. Steve was not telling us how to think – to think differently – but what to think. To think different. Two small letters (or their absence), and the meaning changes completely.

It is hard to do different.

It is even harder to be different.

Our lizard brains like things that fit within the lines. We want everything neatly contained within the boundaries of what we are comfortable with or know to be true. It needs to be easy, instinctual.

Different is tough. It is discomforting, unsettling. For some, it can be scary.

Different requires effort and careful consideration to formulate a response. It conjures up the fight-or-flight instinct buried deep within our basic human biology. It is simply how we are wired. And biology will win even over the most steely of resolves.

If you are looking to be accepted or waiting for a ‘yes’ – from an investor, an employer, a love interest – you want them leaning in attentively, not recoiling in fear. Or worse, franticly scanning for the exit.

But don’t be surprised when it does not go your way. It will happen. Hearing ‘no’ is not the end of the world. Even if it is all you seem to be hearing at the moment.

Understand that different is hard to say ‘yes’ to. If you are an outlier, it takes time for people to come around. And that is okay. Well, maybe not for you in that immediate moment, but going against the grain, breaking the mold or any other change-related cliché you can think of is going to be more challenging.

That is why going along with the crowd or fitting into the expectations of others is so easy. There is no explanation required. No frustration of a ‘no’ because no one asked you, anyway. You are just part of the herd moving quietly along in the group-selected direction.

Baa, baa, baa.

But you are different. Your company is innovative. Your skill set is unlike any a prospective employer has seen. You are funny and charming in an offbeat kind of way. You are you – and you are worth the wait.

It’s okay to be different, to be you. Don’t change to fit the norm. But have the patience to let them catch up. And if they do not come around on you, your idea or your ask, then it might be time to find a new ‘them’.

For pointers on how to effectively do different, check out my earlier post, Blacking Out The Friction. I think it is one of my best. Well, other than this one, of course.


Day Wave is one of those rare bands where I love everything they put out. Absolutely everything. Their music is honest and straightforward, with a dash of the uncertainty and angst inherent to youth. For me, each song ranges from “I like this” to “How many times is too many to listen to one song?”

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