There are real challenges to being original

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Getting knocked off isn’t cool, can hurt business and our brands and progress.

I was strongly reminded of this when I attended the Be Original members meeting with the interiors + sources crew in New York City in early 2018.

The Be Original manifesto: We believe in:

  • The designer and creator
  • The customer
  • In protecting the designer and the company
  • In creativity
  • That good design makes a difference
  • In the future of design
  • In authenticity
  • In true partners

While I hardly ever talk about design on here, I know the value and have shared my thoughts on its value in web design.

Also, many of their pillars are what authentic storytelling is about:

Be creative, the customer matters, being creative matters, etc.

Related: Book review: Idea links – a new way to think of creativity

In a world of knockoffs, one way to win, of course, is by being the cheapest. Unfortunately the race to to the bottom can be won.

The other way is to stand out in a highly unique way (aka being original) and of course there are several ways to make that work – including the use of content marketing and authentic storytelling.

  • Create your unique story, product, whatever
  • Protect it as necessary
  • Share, share, share

For example, I’ve written two books, blogged about a half million words on here. Some of what I create gets monetized well, other pieces not so much and some of it gets knocked off.

Sometimes people even acknowledge the copying. I’ve had somebody once advertise their keynote as something about authentic storytelling – a concept they heard about from me.

They even tagged me. Intent matters and maybe they just didn’t see the irony even. Or maybe I was too expensive. Who knows. At least they gave me credit.

Related: Book me to keynote your next convention here

One item that really caught my attention at the Be Original event was that U.S. Customs reported to having confiscated millions of dollars in counterfeit furniture. Yay! Nice work.

Of course, on the storytelling side of things that isn’t always as “simple.” How do we confiscate or protect certain things? A book is easyish, so is blog content – kind of.

But for example, can I protect a new and currently innovative workflow on how to share organizational stories better? One person tried to tell me yes at one point. I’m not so sure. It feels like one newspaper saying we are copyrighting the reporting and writing process.

The uniqueness comes in the output – whether that is stories or products. And then protect specific pieces through legal protections, monitoring and also marketing.

Being original, of course, is hard. We are taught to fit in. To do things in one way or another. In fact, I’ve not gotten jobs because I was too original and too public. So there’s that balance.

First, create the unique value proposition and go from there.

To learn more about telling unique stories, check out my book here. Copies already sold on most continents.