The Mark of a True Leader


In his bestselling book about branding, “Purple Cow”, Seth Godin explains, with one solid example after another, that being part of a crowd won’t get you noticed. Being “remarkable” is what made companies like Netflix, JetBlue, Apple, and Amazon gather throngs of loyal customers whose word-of-mouth raves have generated even more followers.

They didn’t accrue such success and notoriety by being careful and common. They identified unmet needs in their respective niches and then pursued the opportunities with creative solutions. Netflix took the inconvenience and late fees out of video rentals. JetBlue stepped up the amenities for airline passengers who were feeling the sting of cutbacks. And Apple forever changed the way we buy and listen to music with the iPod and iTunes.

Other companies put their efforts into unseating these leaders. They copy the ideas and mimic the technology, rather than doing what launched the leaders into their well-deserved top spot. It’s easy to take pot shots at the person or company who took a risk and turned it into success. And it’s not a big stretch to follow on the heels of something like an iPhone or a Keurig brewer, once the concept has proven to be a winner and the technology is available. The tough job—and the laudable one—is to open up your eyes to see what’s missing, open your mind to new thinking, and open your wallet to invest in a vision that others just can’t see.

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