You have to get out of your industry to lead it.

What? Yes, to dominate your industry, you need to look outside of it. Look at every industry leader and you will find that they do things outside of the norm for their industry. Starbuck’s isn’t a normal coffee shop. Barnes and Noble isn’t just a book seller, Apple doesn’t just make computers, mp3 players or cell phones, Disney isn’t just a theme park; Google isn’t just a search engine. All of these are more than their industry and, therefore they lead it. To lead it you have to change and go outside of it.

Here are some examples of changes you can make (some from Seth Godin, some from me):
• Keep making guitars, but make distinctive expensive ones, not the mass market ones that overseas competition has made obsolete. (SG)
• Keep the punch press and the lathe, but make large scale art installations, not car parts. (SG)
• Keep your wealthy travel clients, but sell them personal services instead of trips to Europe. (SG)
• Keep your hotel, but sell the destination.
• Keep the health care facility, but sell the experience and food.
• Keep your customers, but change what you sell to them.
• Keep your providers, but change the profit structure. (SG)
• Keep your employees, but change what you do.
• Keep your products, but change the way you deliver them.
• Keep your customers, but change how much you sell each one (bundle services).
• Keep your reputation, but change what you sell or your industry. (SG)

Get it? It’s laughable when I talk to meeting planners and committee chairs every day who choose to hear speakers from within their industry. Like this is going to give them a leg up on the competition – which is sitting all around them hearing the same message. If you want to lead your industry, first lose the industry speaker. Then look for people with exposure to other industries and a world of ideas and possibilities. Look for people who say, “This works over there; let’s see how it works for you here.” Look for ways to differentiate from your industry, not in it, to lead the way out of it.

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