Tuesday, October 06, 2015

One Simple Way to Stand Out from the Crowd

Experts tell us that to be successful at anything we need to stand out from the crowd. 

But... how??

The short answer: BE DIFFERENT

Umpteen years ago I taught a class on illustration to high schoolers. On the first day of class I put up a huge poster with just one image smack in the middle of it: an ugly hairy fly! 

At the bottom in tiny print: First rule of advertising: Get their attention!

That's the memory that was triggered as I listened to an interview by Antrese Wood on the  Savvy Painter Podcast. She was talking with Errol Gerson, long time teacher of entrepreneurship, business and leadership skills for artists and designers. (Link to that Podcast Here)

He was sharing ideas on how to succeed by standing out from the crowd. 

One topic I found riveting was his ideas on how to answer the question: And what do YOU do? 

Mr Gerson tells the story of once meeting a lady and asking her "And what do you do?".

She replied: "I'm a Photographer."

He yawned in her face.

She was insulted and became very angry!

He explained to her his ideas about getting peoples attention. She calmed down, and he went on to teach her how to capture imagination and interest with a more intriguing answer, one that would help her stand out from the crowd.

He teaches that we each need our own unique answer to "What do you do?".

Such as:

I reveal the invisible.
I capture the invisible in paint.
I use color to transform people.
I create smiles.
I write dreams.
I spin straw into gold.
I point to mysteries.
I take people to other worlds.
I time travel.

After listening to this fascinating interview with Teacher Gerson, I'll never again just say "I'm a painter", or "I'm an artist."

(Detail from Time Our Companion.
Cards, prints & more HERE)

The Errol Gerson Challenge

1. Imagine you have just met someone and they ask: "What do you do?"

2. This is not an elevator pitch. Think about why you create and what effect it gives your audience. 

3. Use your imagination and power to connect. How can you answer that question in such a way that the person you are talking to wants to know more?

This idea is applicable to ALL expressions of creativity: painters, writers, dancers, photographers, crafters, quilters, singers, etc etc.

My new answer: I reveal the invisible (and hope they want to know more, ha ha).

 So... how would YOU answer that question: What do you do??


  1. I create brave new worlds and heroes with words. Great post for all creatives.

    1. I love that! And your worlds are sooo creative.

      So glad you liked it, thanks Mary.

  2. Awesome post! I seem to have lost my answer and am moved to explore more

    1. Thank you, Jules. I hope you enjoy the exploration and find a new answer. I'd love for you to come back and share it here, if you feel comfortable with that.

  3. Encouraging me to be thoughtful instead of just ...'Doing.' If I said I am anything it would be this...I have fun and my goal is to touch peoples hearts for good.

    The thing is I cannot think of myself as a writer, poet, artistic crafter, patchwork quilter,or anything else such-like, because it all sounds so pretentious. Truly I muddle along and sometimes I do something that Works and people respond:) That's a great reward.

    Thanks for sharing your response to the teaching and The Errol Gerson Challenge


    1. "I have fun and my goal is to touch peoples hearts for good."
      That's wonderful, Anne! It just radiates love.