Different Is Better (Unless It's Not)

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The year is 1980, and I am ... negative-five years old. But for the purposes of this story, let's say I'm alive and kicking it in my John Hughes-approved outfit. I start my day by pouring myself a big cup of ... Folgers ... coffee ... I guess? ... because the joy that is a row of MacBook Airs shining their white lights against some exposed brick is decades away. I get acquainted with the morning news, not by casting any pods or scanning through a newsletter, but by turning a few crisp pages on that day's print edition. There, I see some alarming things: Mount St. Helens has erupted -- her first in more than 100 years -- clearly signaling the End of Times. The Iran-Iraq war has burst into reality -- clearly signaling the End of Times -- while teens and early-twenty-somethings are obsessing over this new toy called a "Rubik's Cube" -- clearly signaling the End of Times.

Meanwhile, in Detroit, Michigan (forever away from my home via the 1980 transit of choice, the horse-and-buggy), a former executive in this magical “car” industry is about to make the dumbest decision of his life. That executive's name?

John DeLorean.

Today on the podcast, a few short stories of why the ubiquitous advice to be “different” instead of “better” is actually a bit misleading. Then, I find some long lost clarity about why that’s the case — and why I can’t stand all those hacks and cheats out there. (Finally! I have the word to use.) Plus, we go deeper into the dumb decision made by Mr. DeLorean long before his car was immortalized in Back to the Future. (We will also get some amazing ideas for doing things that are different AND good from legendary recording artist and producer Pharrell.)

Just because you’re doing something “different” doesn’t mean it’s gonna be successful. Let’s take a quick journey through history, encounter a few eye-opening examples — some weird and some wonderful — and rethink our approach to creating consistently great things.

It’s Unthinkable 😉

Hear the story on the Unthinkable podcast below, or subscribe free via Apple PodcastsOvercast, or wherever you listen.

Unthinkable shares stories of conventional thinking in our work and the people who dare to question it. Each episode is a sweet-sounding, atypical approach to telling business stories and distilling insights that help us question conventional thinking in order to think for ourselves. Entrepreneur called it "one of the hottest podcasts out there." Salesforce called Jay "a creative savant," while Fortune, Forbes, Inc, the Content Marketing Institute, and others have all praised the show's unconventional style and sound.

Posted on February 27, 2019 and filed under Wrinkles.