Stand Out is a very useful and practical book. The ideas and principles shared throughout the book are not groundbreaking. Essentially the approach is to find problems people want solving, create your niche, experiment with solving problems, tell people about your ideas and involve them in a community. By following these steps you’ll have a Thought Leadership platform. It is from this platform that you can really start to build a business and go “professional”.


There are two key steps to the approach:

Step 1 – Finding Your Breakthrough Idea

Find The Big Idea

Develop Your Expert Niche

Expand Current Thinking by Providing New Research

Combine ideas from disparate fields. Find the connections other people haven’t

Create a Framework, an easy way for people to consume your idea

Step 2 – Building a Following Around Your Ideas

Build Your Network

Build Your Audience

Build a Community


Dorie starts this section by saying, ”Your voice deserves to be heard.”

But it’s true. In the beginning, you question yourself. To find your breakthrough idea, however, you need to shift your mindset from questioning you to more of a questioning mindset. It’s a key but subtle difference.

Getting past this mindset will help you succeed, but if you’re going to find your breakthrough idea Dorie tell us:

“You don’t succeed by following the rules and thinking exactly like everyone else; You need to as “what if?” and “why not?”

Questions to get you started finding your breakthrough idea include:

What are others overlooking?

What questions do “newbies” in this field ask?

What do people think is impossible in this field?

What are three upcoming trends in your industry?

What innovations do you know about that others do not?

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


A lot of people I speak with have this misconception that their breakthrough idea has to be this big, grandiose thing that immediately and forever alters the world; like the release of the iPad. This is not the case.

In fact, Dorie explains “niching down” or narrowing your focus on a topic, at first, can be very powerful. Remember this key point, as long as you know more than the people around you, you’ll be making a real contribution.

Regardless of your idea, the key to finding your niche is to just start. Once you begin to focus on your niche you’ll be amazed where the journey might take you.

If you find yourself stuck ask yourself these questions.

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

What book, Websites or podcasts can teach you the most about them?

Can you test your ideas in low-risk ways? (Write a blog post, conduct a survey, etc.)?

Again, the important thing here to get started. Pick a topic, then expound on your ideas and see where they take you.


[Tweet “You could have the best idea in the world but it won’t have much impact if no one’s ever heard of it. – @DorieClark”]

Because you have the courage to put yourself out there, to stand out, others will take notice. They will be interested in what you have to say. When you reach this point, Dorie suggests following a 3 step process; One-to-One, One-to-Many, and Many-to-Many.

One-to-One: Build your network

This topic has come up so many times on the podcast, building a network is critical if you want to stand out. It’s also the topic that causes people the most consternation.

Dorie outlines for us the necessary steps to take to build our network, starting with people we already know and who believe in us such as family and friends.

Since they are close to us, they are usually willing to help get the word out about your idea. Getting started is as simple as talking with them about your idea to get feedback.

If they push back, use the opportunity to test your reasoning and get them on board. Their perspective will help you develop and refine your own reasoning.

Building your network outside of family and friends is critical. Dorie provides several examples in Stand Out about people just like you and me, who leveraged and grew their network as they refined and further developed their ideas.

Outside of your family and friends group, other ways to build your network include:

  • Creating your own professional development group (think mastermind)
  • Conduct interviews with established people in your niche
  • Leverage your existing affiliations (Alumni groups, LinkedIn groups)
  • Volunteer

Remember at this point you are spreading your idea and appealing to individuals. You are focused on expanding your niche viewpoint as well as your personal network.

As you do this, people will begin to recognize you as a thought leader. Your name will begin to be associated with your niche. When this begins to happen, you will be in a place to take your idea to a larger audience.

One-to-Many: Build your Audience

So this is the place where I see many people struggle; not with the concept, but with the execution. Up until this point you’ve been spreading your ideas mostly through word of mouth, in the “safe zone.”

However, to really get the word out to the many, Dorie tells us the two best ways to build your audience is through Social Media and Blogging.

I have written about the benefits of blogging here and here so for this blog, it is well-covered ground. However, if you’re still struggling to get over the technology hump, I suggest you start here.

Dorie explains when getting started with social media, the best tactic is to begin by listening. Follow people on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.

Listen to what they’re talking about and how they are presenting their ideas. You will learn by observing.

While social media is key to getting our idea out to a larger audience, we need to use it correctly and in coordination with our blog. Dorie tells us by creating content through blogging you demonstrate your expertise which you can then leverage in both social and traditional media to magnify your impact.

In this way, you are building your audience as you take your idea from one-to-many. Dorie also offers that another great option for getting your word out is to write a book.

Think about this for a minute before you dismiss it. If you’re blogging, listening and participating in social media, interviewing people already in your niche, you have already started to curate and accumulate a lot of great information about your niche.

A book offers you a great way to combine all of your information and learning into a single place.

Many-to-Many: Build a Community

Since the best ideas don’t stay connected to their creators forever, you will want to turn your individual contacts into a community. One of the best ways to do this is to become a connector.

When you reach this point ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which people would most benefit being connected to each other?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • How can you help them connect with each other?

In addition to being a connector of individuals on a one-to-one basis, the internet now affords us the opportunity to create tribes and places for them to connect on a larger scale.

In order to make all of this happen, there are various strategies you can deploy to help bring your community together and further get your idea out into the world.

3 Big Ideas

Becoming a Thought Leader is now a great way to “Stand Out” across your industry. Done well, it can enable you to do purposeful work and live the life you want.

Anyone can become a Thought Leader. There is no secret magic and even with popular topics, you can stand out by putting disparate elements together and presenting ideas in a new and meaningful way.

There is a structured process that can help you be a successful Thought Leader. This includes finding problems and building a following.

Big Ideas Expanded:

Too many people believe that if they keep their heads down and work hard, they’ll be lauded as experts on the merits of their work. But that’s simply not true anymore. To make a name for yourself, you have to capitalize on your unique perspective and knowledge and inspire others to listen and take action. But becoming a recognized expert is a mysterious and opaque process. Where do the ideas come from, and how do they get noticed?

Featuring vivid examples and drawing on interviews with Seth Godin, Robert Cialdini, Daniel Pink, David Allen, and other thought leaders, Dorie Clark explains how to identify the ideas that set you apart, promote them successfully, and build a community of followers. It’s not about self-promotion. It’s about changing the world for the better while giving you the ultimate career insurance.

To be a successful Thought Leader you need to find real problems that people need help solving. The ideas you share need to be valuable and often this value is in helping someone overcome a challenge.

To find these problems, thought leaders are driven by asking questions that others have not, and question assumptions others take for granted.

It’s common to think there are no new problems to solve. What is surprising is that almost any field can be transformed by challenging basic assumptions. Most systems reward those who follow the rules, not those who break them. So when you challenge these basic assumptions it can lead to big breakthroughs.

Developing a Big Idea doesn’t require genius. What’s required is the ability to ask good questions, to challenge assumptions, and to listen to the gut instinct that alerts you when the rest of the world is overlooking something. You need to be able to see differently, and that means not just mixing disciplines, but becoming a person whose perspective is so broad, it defies categorization.

One way to add value is helping people prepare for the future—to provide real solutions to upcoming challenges—people will clamour to get your help for these future challenges. To do this Thought Leaders should research trends across industries. What is the next new big challenge people will be facing? 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?

What you need to do as a Thought Leader is to find your niche. Finding your niche is not an exact science, and you often won’t know in advance what will work. If I had waited for the right idea, I’d probably still be waiting. Instead, experiment often to learn which one people cared about.

Readers will trust the established experts and have no reason to turn to you, so you need to find a way to stand out. Experimenting often will help you build an understanding of your followers.

One way to find people interested in your ideas is to think about who needs your skills or approach but doesn’t typically have access to them.

Curation can be one of the best ways to become a trusted Thought Leader. Curating rarely requires a graduate degree or special licensing. Instead, it takes a willingness to spend time, a genuine interest in the field, and a desire to help others make the best decisions possible. When your message is different—not for the sake of being different, but because your research has uncovered an overlooked story—you’re likely to draw attention.

The Thought Leadership path can be winding and dispiriting, so few choose to follow. No industry ever welcome those who challenge its received wisdom, but if you’re willing to risk short-term disapprobation, you can ultimately make a substantial contribution to your field.

Companion Questions:

What are the assumptions underlying your field?

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

What’s the conventional wisdom about how to do things “the right way” in your field?

What do most people in your field think would be impossible?

What research project or initiative would—if you successfully undertook it—change how your field operates?

What experiences have you had that others in your field most likely have not? How does that difference shape your view of the industry?

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

What is the traditional background of influential players in your field?

Is there a way to leverage being the opposite of that?

Is there a realm you’re interested in where your skillset is rare or hasn’t been fully utilized in the past?

The Stand Out workbook has many more questions to help you.

Important Links

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Product details

ASIN : 1491552115

Publisher : Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (April 21, 2015)

Language : English

ISBN-10 : 9781491552117

ISBN-13 : 978-1491552117

Item Weight : 3.5 ounces

Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.63 x 5.5 inches

Best Sellers Rank: #2,138,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

#6,521 in Systems & Planning

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