The highlight of this past week happened on a feedback call with one of our agency clients in Australia. He said, “In the past one year, over a hundred agencies from India have reached out to me, seeing my role as a CMO on LinkedIn. Only yours stood out. You had done your research, and you had something concrete to offer. It was refreshing and phenomenal. It’s just common sense, but then that isn’t so common, is it!”
So we are 1 in a 100! He didn’t have to say that to us, but luckily for us, he did. We felt deeply appreciated, recognized for all the efforts gone to be able to create a service that brings out such effusive words. And we are super grateful for that!
We consider ourselves one in a thousand, perhaps, 1 in 10,000! Or least, that is an underlying approach, as we strive to excel, go further with our learnings, and adapt to changes in the market.
However, think back to what our Aussie client said, “It’s just common sense.” Then why is it so uncommon? We often have these conversations in our workplace. Trying to find patterns in people who demonstrate that they have the will and wherewithal to stick to common sense, and hence become really uncommon.
Abhinav had a job in an IT MNC, where he could have easily stayed on and made good money. But he went to extreme lengths to deliberately flunk the tests for his job confirmation. Mind numbing work, where growth meant navigating politics to become Project Manager in eight years! He decided his life wasn’t about that, quit and became a partner in a startup the very next day! Uncommon.
Dhiraj struggled to code in his first year of college, when teachers expected you to know a lot more than most students did, and offered nothing by way of help. He spent his vacations taking classes outside college in various languages and came back a real coder, no thanks to his own college teachers. And ran classes after college hours for the next batch of first year students on coding. He ended up running two batches at a time, running from one class to the next, helping many get the foundation they needed for their coding life ahead. And to his surprise, his batches had his own classmates, seniors and MCA students. Uncommon.
Anubhav spent some years coding at the IT job mecca of India, and gave it up. Went to NIFT to study fashion technology. And not knowing what he should do, he decided to shadow the guy who seemed to know what he was doing, Abhinav. While Abhinav had no real job to give Anubhav, the latter stuck on, and found a way to help in a project that paid him a stipend, and then a salary. Uncommon.
Rajat followed the common way of life for a while. Then he hit the authenticity wall at our workplace. He rebounded really fast and has reinvented himself twice in the last year or so. Software dude to digital marketer to career coach to scriptwriter. Uncommon.
In my third year of pursuing a graduate degree in architecture, I decided that this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I continued with the course just to get the degree and not waste my parents’ money. And became a writer as soon as I graduated. Probably a common thing now. But 22 years ago, uncommon.
I have more such stories, of people who have worked at Knowiz and Niswey. And this thread of being uncommon runs through them.
You ask questions, question the status quo, deeply believe in something (other than money), and want to have a go at the dreams you have, or had long ago. That takes you on an uncommon path.
Some questions I have answered, as an entrepreneur:
In 2008, someone asked me, “How can you run a content business, when there are freelancers who write for half a rupee per word or less?”
I answered, “By choosing a domain like technology that most people find hard writing for, and then excelling at it. I am just going to raise the entry barrier for others.”
In 2009, someone said, “Content solutions are not enough of a value proposition for companies. Your business has no real meaning. Why don’t you shut the business down?”
And I said, “I have a good thing going, and I will just find the right partner to deliver digital marketing solutions, and the clients will be happier.”
In 2010, I found myself thinking, “I don’t like this gaming the system way of digital marketing. What about creating value for the prospect?”
I went looking for the answer, read marketing books, and finally decided that the inbound marketing philosophy felt right, and leaned into that. And soon enough I found a digital marketing geek who thought the same way.
If a client has signed you up for a retainer, but isn’t really using your services, what should you do?
Ask them to take a pause in the retainer, and decide when they would really want to leverage our skills.
If a client hasn’t paid you, and you have asked a few times, but they still haven’t paid, isn’t it time to give up?
No. Ask them again and again. And again. Most end up paying, even if they have scaled down, or are in trouble. If they have gone bankrupt, file a case.
All these answers have taken the company in a direction that is not commonly followed by others. So you end up being in a rarified place, not many exist there. And while that puts you in a highly differentiated place, it also means you have few people as examples to learn from. And it also means that the market you want to serve is hard to come by. But that’s just another challenge to solve, and become even more uncommon.
Become one in a million.