Monday, October 7, 2013

Yellow Zebras! Hello, over here! Hello!

   As Cory Doctorow said, "You can't monetize obscurity." In other words - The unnoticed are uncompensated. Enter the Yellow Zebra.

  Much of our lives we are encouraged to blend in, to be compliant. From our school days, into the entry to the workforce we get bombarded with the message to obey, and comply. Whole industries ride upon this wave. Our allegiance to brands that identify us as belonging to a certain group, or of being of a certain status. But blending in is dangerous. If you are hidden, how will anyone find you?

  We need to stand out. How? Pretty simple. Just be yourself. Though I imagine this is not as easy as it sounds. We are so programmed to behave in a certain way, we may have lost ourselves in the flood of messages to blend in, and join the party of sameness.

  But the benefits are so great, that we must work to be ourselves. To take a stand on something we believe in, to dare to occasionally piss a few people off. It is actually an old rule of advertising, that an ad that offends no one, effects no one. You need to be identifiable. You need to be a Yellow Zebra.

   Yellow Zebra's get noticed, they stand out. They won't be ignored. People have opinions about them. Some people don't like them. But in the end, they are remembered and rewarded., 

   At Omega Insurance Services, my old company, we were the "in your face" company. If anything we errored to the side of excess. You would get mail from us, e-mail from us, we'd call you. We took had the mantra of Donkey in Shrek "pick me, pick me!"  before the movie ever appeared. Since we made the Inc. 500 twice I'd say it worked pretty well. But we did have people occasionally say that we that were annoying. If that's the cost of doubling revenue year after year, isn't it worth it? Doesn't that make being a Yellow Zebra attractive?

   Yes, that's right. If you are truly yourself, and willing to express some of your truly unique qualities, it will pay off. It can be so counter-intuitive that people have trouble with it.  Thinking that they won't get through  a job interview that way. So WHAT? If you have to be phony to get a job, perhaps it isn't the right job for you. Wouldn't it be better to work someplace where everyday you could be yourself? To get up everyday excited about working in an accepting uplifting environment. Can you actually imagine being a Yellow Zebra without smiling? 

   If you have a business and want to have a special culture, let it be a Yellow Zebra culture. By letting people be themselves the results are astounding. You essentially develop a competitive advantage cost free by embracing that which is unique in people. Go crazy, have fun. There is another reward - fun! 

  The rewards for being a Yellow Zebra include both financial and spiritual. To give value to others, you have to begin by valuing yourself. This is the essence of being a Yellow Zebra, to identify that which makes you unique. Your personal differentiators. 

   Don't wait, don't delay. Begin the journey out of the darkness and into the light. We'll be waiting, and you won't have any trouble spotting us. We'll be in yellow with black stripes making some noise. Come on, let's see your stripes, you Yellow Zebra. 

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