7 Ways to Stand Out Without Showing Off

Be so thoughtful they can’t ignore you

Michael Thompson
May 13 · 5 min read
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I sat down and wrote the perfect outreach message requesting a chance to speak with the man I respected most in the coaching and writing space. In a few sentences, I told him exactly who I was and why he should care.

Later that week, before he started his workday, the two of us sat down for breakfast.

After we finished our coffees and chatted for an hour or so, I thanked him for his time. Then I proceeded to walk outside and ask the first person I came across to give me a swift kick in the ass.

Forgetting to bring my wallet and asking him to float the bill was the least of the mistakes I made that day. It was embarrassing. At one point, I even asked him how he was able to stand his wife.

Once I got home, my wife asked me how it went. Before going to hide in my room, I told her I didn’t think I’d be hearing from him again.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Once I began writing in earnest, he’d chime in from time to time to let me know to keep at it. After a few months, he even told me that something I had written was great.

When I think about that man, I don’t think about the 250,000 YouTube followers he has or the millions of people who read his work.

I think about how he made me feel.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve said the name Conor Neill to my friends and family. His name also shows up in my articles more than anyone else’s.

I will continue to sing his praises from the rooftops until the day I die.

This is all because he sent me a few quick messages, and he takes the time to check in on me to see how I’m doing every now and again.

That’s personal branding.

That’s marketing.

If you’re like me and being the center of attention isn’t your thing, steal a line from Conor and be thoughtful instead.

When it comes to building a reputation, being known as someone who is kind is just as effective as being known as someone who is confident.

Below are seven ways to stand out without having to show off.

1. Give Away Your Best Ideas

Give people your best ideas. Be proud to be a part of what they make with them. Time is precious. Every idea you have won’t get turned into reality anyway. See what people come up with after you’ve given them to them. It may be better than what you had in mind. Being part of a team that makes cool shit will always be cool.

If you get ten people talking about how generous and clever you are, you’ve officially created a marketing machine.

It’s hard to beat a reputation of being someone who wants other people to win.

2. Mentor As Many People As Possible

Everyone will tell you to be successful you have to have mentors. If you want to build a strong personal brand, for every mentor you have, be a mentor to five others.

If someone starting on their journey shows an interest in your work and a desire to learn, teach them. They will thank you by telling people about how great you are.

“John helped me when I was starting out.” “Diane showed an interest in me.” This is how you get people to follow you even if they don’t know you.

3. Be the Person Who Listens to Other People

This may sound basic, but take a look around. People are talking, but no one is listening. Putting your phone away and making it your mission to learn as much as possible about each person you meet is such an easy way to stand out.

What are their interests? What are their challenges? What do they want to make? Write it all down. If you aren’t the best person to help them, refer a friend.

It’s not as sexy as being a smooth talker. Taking the time to understand what other people value, however, is the first step in becoming valuable.

4. Start Your Day by Making Someone Else’s Brighter

Every morning, before you get to work, lift someone else up. Does someone you know have an interview coming up that they mentioned in passing? Can you congratulate someone on reaching a milestone that didn’t hit the cover of Forbes? Can you thank someone for continually being there for you?

When’s the last time someone randomly reached out to compliment you on your work? Despite this being such an easy win, most people don’t take the time to do these things.

If you can do this just once a day, in a month you will have 30 people who think nice thoughts about you. You don’t have to give someone a winning lottery ticket to get them speaking highly of you.

Both reputations and relationships are forged by small consistent acts of kindness.

5. Blow People Away With Your Effort

There’s a lot of value in doing what you say you are going to do. However, if you want to stand out, take the extra step by overdelivering.

Be the person who cares the most. People will notice. It may take some time. But if you continually give people more than what they were expecting, they will not only sing your praises to others, they will also keep coming back for more.

Let your work speak for itself. Having someone speak kindly of both you and your work will always be the best marketing.

6. Be Honest About Your Failures

Think about the people you follow. Are they perfect? Do you connect with people who wake up in an already made bed?

Be human. Share your struggles. Tell the stories of when you got things wrong. Failing is one of the few things we all have in common. It connects us. It also allows others to put their guard down and open up to us.

The people with the strongest personal brands focus on collecting friends, not fans. You’ll seriously hamstring your growth in this area if you aren’t honest about your struggles and let people see the real you.

7. Share the Interesting Stuff You Like

For people to understand what we stand for, we don’t only have to share our opinions and thoughts. In fact, sharing the adventures of the people you find interesting is seriously effective when it comes to building our own tribes.

If you liked something, take a second and share it. Support people. Thank the person for their thoughts. Some of the spotlight that you shine on other people will still hit you.

The words “You’ll love the work of my friend Denise” not only make Denise feel good, but they also make you look good.

Legendary coach Dan Sullivan said that success comes to those who do the right things on a daily basis.

I believe that.

You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to stand out, nor do you have to be the strongest or the smartest. Having a good attitude and doing what you can to lift up others has a funny way of increasing your own stock as well.

People want to work with people they like. This becomes much easier if every day you are showing people you like them.

The future is kind.

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Thanks to Barry Davret, George J. Ziogas, Zulie Rane, and Niklas Göke

Michael Thompson

Written by

Co-creator of 2 boys with my dream girl • Career coach • Featured in Business Insider, Fast Co, MSN, & Forbes • Join 36,000 others by following along.

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

Michael Thompson

Written by

Co-creator of 2 boys with my dream girl • Career coach • Featured in Business Insider, Fast Co, MSN, & Forbes • Join 36,000 others by following along.

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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