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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Standout by Dorie Clark



I finished this book in February 2023. I recommend this book 8/10.


Dorie Clark is my new favorite author for 2023. In Standout, she explains how you can become a thought leader by zeroing in on what matters. How you can learn, grow, and progress—so you can Standout, add value, and become recognized for your success.


Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • What assumptions are we making?

    • What are others overlooking?

    • What are the assumptions underlying your field? have they been questioned or tested?

    • What questions do "newbies" in your field often ask that get shot down or dismissed?

    • What is the opposite of "the right way"?

    • What are most people in your field think would be impossible?

    • What research project or initiative could be successful?

  • What's next?:

    • What are three trends shaping your industry? are they short-term or fundamental? How would you describe them to an outsider unfamiliar with your field?

    • In the coming years, how will those trends change the status quo?

    • What should smart companies do in order to thrive in the future? What are those steps?

    • Are there companies that have handled change specifically well? What can you learn from those examples?

    • What new innovations or new developments do you know about that most others do not?

    • Where is the focus on innovation in your field? How can you ensure you are staying close to those?

  • What can you draw on from your own experience?

    • What personal experience have you had that changed your view of the world?

    • Think about the jobs you've held and the projects you've worked on. What areas have you tackled before?

    • What experiences have you had that others in your field most likely have not?

  • Creating your niche:

    • What are the topics you feel passionate about?

    • What topics are you a "local expert" in—that is not necessarily the best in the world, but better or more knowledgeable than those around you?

    • Have other people built careers around any of the above topics? How?

  • P43. Think about who needs your skills or approach but doesn't typically have access to them. There are plenty of people who speak Spanish in the world, but if you're the only bilingual financial planner in your office, that gives you a competitive advantage and makes you the go-to person for the entire group of potential customers. If you have great communication skills and work at a software company, you could be an invaluable bridge between engineers.

  • P43. If you change the context and compete in a space where you're unique, as Rachael Ray did, you may find yourself a hot commodity. You're injecting fresh ideas and energy into the discussion' you're offering something genuinely different, and that gives you a competitive advantage.

  • Distinguish yourself in your niche:

    • Is there a way you can differentiate yourself from others in your profession?

    • How can you be the opposite of traditional players in your field?

    • What weakness can become your strength?

  • Developing your niche:

    • What topics within your niche do you want to learn more about?

    • What books, websites, or podcasts can teach you the most about them?

    • How can you test your ideas at a low risk?

  • Expanding your niche:

    • Once you've established your expertise in a niche, what are the adjacent areas you could move into?

    • How can you begin to solidify your credentials in the new areas?

    • What are the upcoming news events that will make your expertise relevant?

    • How can you capitalize on those moments?

  • The power of research:

    • What area or question do you feel passionate about researching?

    • Think about what research your field could benefit from. What do you—and others—wish you knew?

    • How could you find that out? Think broadly; it could involve field research, case studies, interviews, etc.

    • Are there products, services, or businesses that aren't being reviewed? What can you do differently?

  • Find the hidden story:

    • Who are the usual information sources in your industry? Who else is knowledgeable but doesn't often get asked for their insights or opinions? How can you reach out to them?

    • What on-the-ground field research can you conduct in your area of interest? Who can you visit or interview about their experiences?

    • Is there a "good news story" in your field that most others aren't aware of or talking about?

  • P63. Once the list is solidified, Fidelman ensures the effort won't go to waste. He uses a graphic designer in Eastern Europe, who charges only $10 an hour, to turn the influencer list into an infographic. "I try to make my content as shareable as possible," he says. "I might create a Slideshare about it. I think, how do I repurpose this information, so it spreads far and wide?" He'll even follow up by asking each influencer for one tip about succeeding in their field and will put them into an e-book. He sets up a landing page for the e-book and requests the e-mail address of people who'd like to download it.

  • Leveraging your research investment:

    • How can you make sure your research accomplishes multiple goals(Share information and promote the team?

    • Can you create a system to leverage your time investment(Can you get help from other teams)?

    • How can you spread the results of your research even more widely?

  • Learning from other fields:

    • How can you leverage your past training to bring a new perspective to your current endeavor?

    • Could the perspective of another field shed light on the questions you're working on now? What would mathematicians, or philosophers, or politicians say about the problems or opportunities you're facing?

    • Thinking beyond what you're doing now, what other areas have you always been curious about? Are there a lot of people with your background in those fields, or could you contribute a unique perspective?

    • How can you gain the skills you need to take full advantage of that?

    • What questions are you able to ask and perhaps answer now that you couldn't before?

    • What change or trend is most upsetting to the elite in your field? Why are they so upset—and can you get in on it?

  • P73. When facing a challenge, ask yourself: How can you fill the gap between what's available now and what people actually need? Is there anyone, anywhere, who has solved a similar problem? When you look at what others have done, you can often find unlikely sources of inspiration. You don't have to reinvent the wheel; you can simply adapt the most relevant parts to new circumstances.

  • Adapting to a new situation:

    • How have other industries solved this problem? How can you learn more about the techniques they use? Is there a book or Youtube videos.)

    • Can those strategies be imported into your company or field? What would that look like? What would be easy or hard to fit into the existing culture?

    • How could you tweak the ideas, so they're even more effective?

  • Seeing differently:

    • Are there parts of your background or resume that you consider "irrelevant" or out of place? How can you integrate them back into your professional life in a new way?

    • How can you see the challenges in your field through someone else's eyes? What would a woman say? Or a child? Or a rock musician? Or an environmentalist? Considering their perspective may allow you to see the issue very differently.

    • For the next month, how can you use the new ideas you come across as a lens through which to view or evaluate your industry?

  • Elucidate the principles:

    • Has the overall nature of your field been articulated? If not, could you do it?

    • Is there an aspect of your field that hasn't been adequately defined or codified? Go back to the basics:

      • What problems seem mysterious?

      • How can we define the problem, anyway? Are there limitations to that definition?

      • What secret would you most like to figure out?

      • What phenomenon do you wish you understood?

    • Have you noticed a cluster of related phenomena? Can you group them together or give them a name?

  • Create an overarching framework:

    • How can you help others in your field do things better or more efficiently?

    • What are the principles behind the best practices you espouse? Can you explain the underlying premise of your philosophy?

    • What are the simple things that are stumbling blocks for too many of your colleagues? What's holding back their progress?

    • Can you break your recipe for success into discrete steps?

  • Writing the operational manual:

    • Have you read all the seminal books in your field? If not, make a list and start reading them. What did they leave out? What additional knowledge could you contribute?

    • Is there a way to distill your field's fundamental knowledge? What are the most essential pieces you'd put into a short guide?

    • What do most people misunderstand about your field? What errors do they make, and can you help redirect them?

    • Can you create an "operating manual" for your area of interest? What does everyone need to know or do? What are the steps they should follow?

  • Systematize spreading the word:

    • How can you make it easy for others to learn about and share the message? Are there tools you can create?

    • How can you leverage the power of your institutional affiliations to get momentum for your issue?

    • Are there communication mechanisms or public platforms you can use?

  • Creating your professional development group:

    • Who do you respect among your peers? Make a list of them—people you know who work in your industry or sphere. For each, write down one action you can take in the next one to three months to deepen your relationship (schedule a call, take them out for lunch, connect at an industry meeting.)

    • Could you benefit from developing an active peer group? Who would you want to invite into your group? Which colleagues would fit together best?

    • What kind of insights or help are you hoping to receive—and what kind could you give others?

  • Scale your impact:

    • How can you reach more people with your ideas?

    • Can you repurpose your content into a variety of new forms, such as infographics, podcasts, Slideshare, videos, tweets, etc.?

    • Challenge yourself: How can you take one piece of content and distribute it on five or even ten different channels?

  • Become a connector:

    • Which people, or types of people, would most benefit from being connected to each other?

    • What challenges do they face? What questions do they need answered?

    • How can you be helpful to your community? What kinds of assistance would benefit them most?

    • How can you help them connect with each other—and you? What's the best method to bring them together?

  • Create a platform for community:

    • What needs or concerns does your peer group or community have? How can you help them? How can you add value to their lives?

    • What opportunities can you create, online and off, for your community to connect with one another? How can you spark interaction and conversations?

    • What tools can you create to make it easier for them to accomplish their goals? As a Sharepoint site, a newsletter?

  • Making time for reflection:

    • What activities make you feel most energized or creative (exercise, meditation, brainstorming with a journal, etc.)?

    • How can you build time into your schedule for that reflection? Take your calendar and start by blocking out one hour in the next week simply to think.

    • What strategies will you use to tap the power of unconscious thought? Instead of sitting at your desk and pounding away at a problem, go to the gym or take a shower.

    • What are you missing? At least once a day, when you're out of your house or the office, make a point to notice your surroundings. What do you see? What objects or concepts could illuminate your situation?

    • What should you be reading? Make a list of newspapers, magazines, or journals you want to read regularly. Buy a subscription and make time on your calendar. Whether you read them on the exercise bike, while you're eating lunch, or just before bed, make a point to do it.

    • When can you "turn it off" temporarily? Even the simple act of turning off your smartphone during dinner can help you engage better in the present moment.

  • P185. He came up with the number because it was the cost of a monthly lease for a Ferrari and figured if twelve people agreed, he could have the car for free. To his surprise, far more than a dozen people took him up on it.

  • P187. He estimates he received about fifty to a hundred complaints—not a huge amount given the fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand people who read his blog each month at the time, but enough for him to take notice. He didn't give up on his efforts to make a living from his work, however: "Over the next three years, I realized that what happened that day was that a loud, vocal minority—who never want to pay—were yelling." He kept experimenting, and as he created more products at higher price points, he learned how to talk about who the product was and wasn't right for.

  • Making a living:

    • How can you best communicate the value of your work? Who would be most receptive to that message?

    • What can you start doing now, for free, that will eventually lead to paid work? What's your strategy for converting those opportunities into revenue over time?

    • Do you feel confident enough to start monetizing? If you're concerned that you don't deserve it or worry that you're selling out, that ambivalence will come through to others, and you won't be successful. Reach out to successful, trusted colleagues for a reality check. Are your concerns justified, or are you holding yourself back?

    • Can you segment your work so that some parts are expensive and other parts are free or low-cost (ensuring that you spread your offerings.)

    • Are you charging enough for your work? Remember that in many contexts, price creates a perception of quality.

  • P195. With bills to pay, however, she didn't have a choice: She had to keep dialing. After she'd called nearly thirty libraries in her region and been rejected by all of them, one finally said yes. When they asked how many workshops Lussier wanted to offer, she immediately realized she could leverage it into a series. So—without any materials developed—she announced she'd do eight. The librarian followed up: "Can you do one series in the afternoon for people who are unemployed and another at night for people who have a job?" Lussier quickly agreed. This library gig "was the only credibility I had," she recalls, so she used it to call back other libraries and say. "North-Hampton is doing this. Do you want to do it?" She landed workshop series at two other libraries and, within a week, had booked thirty-two workshops over the next two months.

  • Making an effort:

    • Where will you "go deep" in your hard work? You can't excel in every area.

    • What's holding you back? What are you afraid of, and how will you overcome it?

    • What are you going to do today to get started? It's easy to come up with ideas and make future amorphous plans. But what are you going to do right now to start finding your breakthrough idea and bringing it to the world?



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