HOW DO YOU MAKE AN IMPACT? FIND YOUR NICHE, IN DATING AND IN LIFE.
I was sitting on my cramped little bed at Penn with her, talking about life. I was dreaming about things – big things I could accomplish. After all, I had great ideas. I was capable of so much.
But when she asked me what leadership position I wanted to take to make those ideas a reality, I froze.
What would I have to go through to make those dreams happen? How much responsibility would I need to take on? How much criticism would I need to take?
I demurred. I told her that wasn’t the role for me.
“I don’t want to have to make decisions,” I said. “What if I make the wrong one? What if people react negatively towards me? I’d rather be an advisor – give other people advice and let them decide from it.”
Seven years later and that talk still stands out in my mind.
We broke up soon thereafter – surprise, surprise – and I don’t remember her reaction, but I hear my voice echoing those words over and over again.
Why did I say them?
Why did I, who thought so highly of my own opinion and ability to make an impact, lack the confidence to put myself in the arena?
Why was I so afraid of what people thought?
I Have A Confession: I Worry What You Think Of Me.
This is a tough thing to admit as a coach who is all about confidence, saying fuck you to status slavery, and going after what you believe in. But it’s true. I am still a work in progress of freeing myself from your criticism. That conversation on the bed continues in my mind to this day.
I may have adopted the mindset “I am a natural leader who can make an impact,” and most days I feel it. But some days I care about what other people think of me so much that sometimes I question my honesty when I say it.
Yes, I believe I have gifts to share with the world. I know I can help men in their relationships and dating lives, and I think in general I can help enlighten people about the world around them and make an impact.
But I also worry that if I speak candidly some people will hate me.
I worry that the things I perceive that are most useful to hear – things that distinguish my brand from conventional wisdom, that will make an impact – are the things people don’t want to hear.
I am scared to be controversial because, despite overcoming this fear in the dating realm, in many ways I am still afraid of rejection. I am afraid people will assume things about me.
I’m terrified it will harm my business. I want to be successful… yet I want to be authentic. I want to challenge the mainstream… yet I want to be accepted. I want to be liked… yet I want to respect myself.
I have a dilemma.
I am asking for a reality of life that doesn’t exist.
I need to get over it.
And going forward, I will.
Because I have to.
Do You Want To Make An Impact? Fine, But Understand You Can’t Make An Impact Without Making Waves.
If you want to make an impact in this world, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that everything meaningful ever done has affected other people.
The world is an ocean, and everybody’s actions are the waves.
The bigger the impact you make, the bigger waves you will create – and the bigger your waves are, the bigger impact they will make on other people’s waves. They may even drown them out.
Inevitably not everybody will be happy with this. Even posting inspirational quotes bothers some people, such is their reality and worldview.
That is life. Everybody has their own frame, and they will interpret your actions through that frame. It has nothing to do with you. You have to keep going, and as they say, ignore the “haters” – finding instead the people you love and who love you back.
You cannot please everybody, and it is pointless to try. Indeed – it may even be profitless.
Where Is The Profit In Modern Marketing? Where Can You Make The Most Impact? On The Extremes.
In his popular Ted Talk, technology entrepreneur Seth Godin discusses the current media paradigm, specifically, the conundrum of “How To Get Your Ideas To Spread.”
To briefly summarize, he asserts that marketing to the masses is a waste of time and money; what you are selling they have already seen, and consequently you are not capturing their attention.
You are, so to speak, a “white cow” – unnoticeable. If you want to be successful, you need to stand out – you need to become a “purple cow.” And the best way to do that is to be unique, aiming your marketing towards the passionate, early adopters to see if they like it. If they do, your idea just might spread.
Steve Jobs was a master at doing this (note Apple’s dedicated and passionate fan base to this day), and if you want to make an impact in this day’s attention economy, you need to be a master at doing this too.
You need to be ok with courting the support of niches – both specific demographics and specific communities – because in the niches are the profit and the ability to grow your ideas or products into a phenomenon. Niches are where you stand out, create distinctions, and capture the imagination of a segment of the public.
Niches are where the money is at.
(even support from just 0.1% of the population is enough for massive profits)
And this is true not just in marketing, but in dating.
Dating Niches Are No Different From Marketing Niches. There’s A Lot Of Profit To Be Found In Them.
People who get into dating often struggle to find happiness. Strangely, however, this is often not because they don’t have a “product” to offer, but because they are marketing it to the wrong group.
Look: I respect and admire nerdy guys – normally used to playing video games on Friday nights – instead heading to preppy bars to pick up girls. But for the dudes who really hate that nightlife scene and aren’t trying to reinvent themselves, this a big a waste of time and is unlikely to yield dating success.
Yes, I know – you never know who you are going to meet when you go out. That is absolutely true. And the mindset that “those girls aren’t my type” is all too frequently used by guys to chicken out of pushing themselves.
But that being said, demographics matter. And guys need to find the ones they excel in and go after them.
I am not trying to be cliche, as the lazy mentality of “it’ll happen if it’s meant to be, the universe will decide” is the dating strategy of naive fools who – if they are lucky – will have a coin’s flip chance of things actually working out (especially if their looks are not together).
But we all also know it HAS “just happened” for some guys – even though they’ve had absolutely *zero* game. We’ve seen it. But why?
I have a theory: Unknowingly, these men fell upon someone in their niche.
Don’t Market Yourself To Women Who Are Not In Your Niche. Even If One “Buys,” Chances Are In The End Both Of You Will Feel Scammed.
Everybody has their own niche. The more you go out there and date, the better an idea of what yours is you will have.
I learned long ago that I had two niches: medical practitioners and foreign girls; particularly Hispanics and Eastern Europeans.
For the former I loved their desire to help others and broad scientific knowledge; for the latter, I was enamored with their culture, intuitive sense of femininity, and values. I knew when I met one of these girls we had a well above average chance of clicking. And so, I always made sure to talk and flirt with them when they were around.
Haters may hate that I didn’t even consider most other girls, but this was smart.
I liked my niche more and I did better with them!
This was especially true with foreign girls. As a geography nerd, I knew everything about their countries – and used the stereotype of the “ignorant american” strongly to my advantage by surprising them with my topics of conversation. I was different yet intriguing, and the attraction it created was fresh and powerful nearly every time.
I was in my niche, and man did I love it there. There, I knew how to make an impact and standout.
(Remember: My wife is from abroad. I’m not kidding!)
You May Not Know Your Niche, But Until You’re Getting Consistent Results In It, Play Around. It’s Sometimes Not What You Think.
I didn’t always know my niche would be medical practitioners and foreigners. I only figured it out from experience. Before that I tried a lot of niches I was “supposed” to like – but they never seemed to work out well.
I’m from a very cultured family and like classing it up, so I thought maybe richer, country-club girls would be my style. They weren’t (it was actually crazy how badly we meshed).
I like art, creativity, and independent thinkers, so I thought artists and alternative girls would be a goldmine for me.
They weren’t (we actually usually despised each other).
I like arguing; I thought lawyers and political women would be sexy.
They weren’t (trying to be proven wrong by someone 24/7 gets old fast).
Yes, there were exceptions – but generally speaking these girls didn’t really do it for me… and I rarely did it for them. They weren’t in my niche. And so they weren’t where I had my greatest dating successes.
There Are “Riches In Niches.” Why Aren’t You Going After Them?
It’s more than clear in Susan Freidman’s killer book, “Riches in Niches: How To Make It Big In A Small Market,” that if you try to appeal to everybody, you will appeal to no one.
Be smarter. Be more exclusive. Be unique.
You will never be accepted by everybody. You will never attract every girl.
The more generic you make yourself, the less “you” you will be able to express. Attraction will be shallow – if you even develop it, as you won’t stand out from the crowd. You won’t make an impact.
Don’t go for the masses. Don’t go for average.
Don’t try to appeal to every girl.
Focus on the ones you really want – the ones you will work the best with.
Only there will you find both fulfillment and success.
PS If you missed it, here’s Seth Godin’s speech:
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