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Same Tools, Same Strategy, Different Result

I see it happen over and over: A coach or expert sells “how they did it” or their process for achieving results. A business owner wanting to achieve the same results hires them to learn how they did it. The business owner learns tactics, uses the same tools, and applies the same strategy… yet they don’t achieve the same results. In many cases, they don’t even come close to achieving the same success. Why is that? Why can you do everything exactly the same and not enjoy the same success?

There is one major difference that wasn’t accounted for.

You are not them! The person, the expert, the history, the experience, the story, the brand, the positioning, the relationships — the person at the center of everything is different. So while you can use the same tools and the same strategy, and you can achieve the same results, you can’t just copy a cookie cutter formula. You must adjust your approach and customize it to fit you, your brand, and your business.

A perfect example of this can be found so simply in our annual camping activity: marshmallow sculpting

Marshmallow Sculpting ToolsEvery year while camping, we host a marshmallow sculpting activity. For months before the trip, we collect all different sizes, shapes, and colors of marshmallows, as well as different sizes, lengths, and styles of toothpicks and wooden skewers.

One night while camping, we spread all the “tools” out on the table, everyone creates sculptures out of marshmallow, and then they get thrown into the fire and we watch them burn into a gooey, growing marshmallow mountain.

  • We all have the same tools
  • We all have the same end game
  • HOW we get there is different because of who we are, how we think, and what our past experiences are

Marshmallow SculptingWhen the kids were younger, they just wanted to copy my sculpture, and they would get frustrated when they didn’t think their was as good. I had to explain that their sculptures would never be as good as mine if they just copied me, because I have so much more experience. I encouraged them to use their own ideas or to take my idea and find a way to make it unique, better, or different

Bourn Creative participates in the local Sacramento WordPress meetup group and various WordCamps as attendees, speakers, and occasionally as a sponsor.

As I look around the room at these events, I see a variety of designers and developers, and consultants all building businesses with the same tool — WordPress. The same is true for the WordPress community worldwide. Many are building similar businesses, doing similar things, going after similar clients — but their brand, positioning, message, story, personality, expertise, and focus are different.

No one strategy is going to work for everyone. No one client is going to be the perfect fit for everyone. No tool will be used the exact same way by everyone who uses it — and that what makes a great community. I think that’s why the community around WordPress has grown so strong so quickly. We all have something in common — the tool. Yet, we’re all putting our own spin on how we use it and what we do with it.

I think the thing I am most proud of as a member of the WordPress community is that many members are givers and sharers — they are willing to share share their strategies, insights, lessons learned, and expertise to help others in the community.

Don’t keep all your “secrets” to yourself because you’re afraid someone will copy you or steal your idea.

The reality is that they are not you, so even if they did, the results wouldn’t be the same.

I encourage you to seek out others who do what you do, but do it differently. Share your knowledge and learn from theirs. Or look around your community and see where you can share, give, and help — It may be by volunteering at a meetup, speaking to a group, or writing a blog post.

All I ask is that you participate. Join a community — not as a lurker and absorber, but as a giver and a helper. You will grow as person and as a expert, and your community as a whole will be enriched. And who knows, maybe you’ll inspire someone else to get involved and share their expertise too.

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Comments & Feedback:Check out what others have to say about this post!

  1. well said Jennifer! I always cringe when I hear “it worked for me!” because there’s no reason that it will always work for the other party. And then the guilt and shame show up and stop someone from moving forward.

    • Agreed! I’ve been there early on in starting my business … wondering what was wrong with me! Then I realized NOTHING was wrong with me, except that I am a different person, different personality, different style … and needed to adjust my marketing and branding to match me. Thanks for stopping by our blog!

  2. Excellent insight Jennifer! Active tribe participants become successes. Why? People drive our success, meaning that if you help others, share your tips, promote people and do all that good stuff, you connect with the same exact people who hire you, or join your team, or click on your ads, or become readers, or fans…..the list goes on forever lol!

    Be active. Share your knowledge. We live in an abundant Universe; no possibility of someone stealing ideas if there are unlimited ideas out there. So share freely, help, and realize that yes, we are all different, yet similar, so when you share your secrets, somebody else will have different – but hopefully just as awesome ;) – results.

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Totally right, Jen. ALL of us have the same tools, it’s how we use them that makes the difference. I’m laughing now because I’m thinking of this rubber mallet Pete has in the garage. He uses it for all things garage. Me? I borrow it when I need something to flatten chicken cutlets. (Don’t worry, they’re in a ziplock before I start pounding away on them!).

  4. This is true of so many things in life. We are all unique and what works for some will not for others. The important part is to deeply understand (or try relentlessly to) and connect with Self. In so doing, we can soak up the knowledge of others’ and apply it appropriately in our own lives. Sounds a lot easier than it is but never stop trying!

  5. Break out the marshmallows! Love the analogy. (Can you and your awesome family come help me learn how to pitch a tent for upcoming Burning Man?!) Jennifer, this is such a smart post. I’ve experienced this in the literary world, from whence I come — we writers might experience the same thing and get all possessive over it — yet we will write about it in totally different ways. How we write, our style, connects us to our Ideal Readers. Once you learn that, it’s liberating. It comes from having that solid sense of self, of voice and story — and in this world, biz. I love the entrepreneurial world, and how the more you are you — the more you can connect with your Ideal Clients. Thank you for illustrating this point in such a fun end-of-summer fiery and celebratory way!

  6. Jennifer, this is such a powerful message to everyone who has never heard it and a great reminder to those who have. I have been so turned off by all of the coaches who all use the same approach and have no new ideas. Blah! Being a copy cat is so counter-productive. I’m taking my own route and building something that nobody else has – my OWN business! Sometimes it requires blinders and ear phones, but the business has to support the life style; and my lifestyle (and everyone’s) is completely unique.

    • Amy — you and me both! If I have to sit through one more coach turned speaker push one more cookie cutter, “just do it like I did” blueprint, I may die! I MUCH prefer being taught and strategy and how it works … then I can apply it to my business as it works best for me.

  7. This is SUCH a great article, because I see it as the number one way new entrepreneurs waste money too–they try to copy someone else’s success and give no thought to where they are personally in their business growth cycle or how they are different from that other person. It’s also personally a good reminder for me, because I was recently thinking about building my list some more and someone said “Telesummit!” and it just made me cringe–I was thinking about it for about 2 second and then realized it wouldn’t work for me, because I don’t want to do it :o)

    • Mindy — You’re so right! It is a path toward A LOT of wasted money, and I too see it happen all the time! The problem is that you are only seeing what is happening on the surface, so when copying someone else, you’re copying them with only part of the story, strategy, and strength!

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