Entrepreneurs' Blog

16 Aug, 2012

Dare To Be Different – Bev James

Posted by: Bev James In: Bev's Blog|Mentoring|Tips For Success

Dare To Be Different - Bev James

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am always fascinated by the attitudes that create a winning mindset, and the characteristics that differentiate someone ‘good’ from someone ‘great’. In my experience daring to be different can lead to phenomenal success, though it is never going to be enough on its own.

The courage to step into uncharted territory needs to be supported by belief, drive, resilience, a winning mindset … and of course, a great idea!

When Walt Disney announced his plans to produce the first feature-length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it became known as ‘Disney’s Folly’, by those who were convinced that no-one would want to watch a cartoon for longer than a few minutes. But Disney dared to trust his experience and follow his instincts.

He understood his market. When the film was released in 1937, to great critical acclaim, he proved his critics wrong overnight.

Disney had another vision too, on a rather larger scale. He drew sketches of his ideas for an amusement park, where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. His idea would eventually become Disneyland.

Disney said, “In the early days, I could never convince the financiers that [it] was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral.” Nevertheless, he persisted and Disneyland eventually opened in July 1955; quickly becoming a commercial success.

The entertainment world thrives on new trends and reinvention and there are some great examples – Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Punk rock, Madonna, Lady Gaga have all invented, explored, expanded and re-invented.

In business too, there are those who ‘dare to be different’; creative thinkers with courage and vision – embodied by Sir Richard Branson “boldly going where no-one has gone before” (as a tourist) with his Virgin Galactic ‘enterprise’. Branson is synonymous with reinvention.

He knows that adventurousness and creativity go hand in hand. If he stopped making daring decisions his shareholders would probably worry that something was wrong: but his actions are underpinned by business sense, leadership and a clear understanding of what makes a profit; how business works.

Memorable trailblazers in every walk of life create waves and cause a rumble and make the impossible seem possible. Daring to be different sets them apart from the crowd. They change the world so that no-one remembers a time when their contribution did not exist.

Steve Jobs set out to change the world one beautifully designed gadget at a time. Devotees of Apple products aspire to own them; those who own them are inspired by using them. Jobs had a unique vision that changed the face of computers forever.

“He [Steve Jobs] has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable,” said Andy Hertzfeld, Apple employee.

But success doesn’t come from being different for the sake of it. Market differentiation is not about being blindly optimistic; change for the sake of it is dangerous and indulgent. You need to understand what you want to achieve as well as why. Action needs to be part of a vision and a strategy.

Jacqueline Gold is the trail-blazing CEO of Ann Summers, who dared to take on the male-dominated sex industry. With steady determination she launched a network of all-female party planners who put the fun back into sex by selling lingerie and toys to women in their own homes.

One of her corporate values is ‘Daring’, which she believes is the most important quality of all.

Of course, some successes are a by-product of trying to achieve other things, particularly in the worlds of science and technology: Penicillin, Velcro, the glue used on Post-it Notes, and even the telephone, were all discovered by accident. Recognising a new opportunity is only the first step.

The person who dares, needs to inspire others with the unique potential and invest enough to support it commercially.

During the 1920s, revolutionary designer Coco Chanel liberated a generation of women from corsets and fuss, and redefined elegance for women in a style that endures today. The market for her early clothes expanded effortlessly.

Karl Lagerfeld is now at the creative helm of the company, but a Chanel suit remains a strong symbol of independent feminine chic. The brand has developed, but it is still modern and still recognisably Chanel.

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Coco Chanel

The challenge for a long-established brand, such as Rolex, Burberry or Chanel, is to respect and retain the qualities that differentiate it from imitators, while continuing to evolve – without confusing or losing customers. There is a balance to be achieved between remaining ahead of the trend whilst also staying the same.

Early success often comes by learning from mistakes; learning to trust our own experience and judgement. But it is generally when someone dares to ‘let go’ and take a risk that they create something memorable and stand out from the crowd. Sometimes they dare because they have nothing to prove; sometimes it is because they have nothing left to lose.

Successful people inspire others to succeed – especially when they have overcome difficult odds to reach their goal. Their influence sends ripples far beyond the boundaries of their own profession.

One person’s courage and determination can encourage many others to raise their game – to take risks and to stretch their boundaries. Their success leaves clues for others to follow.

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Robert F. Kennedy

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1 Response to "Dare To Be Different – Bev James"

1 | Anita Mattu

August 17th, 2012 at 11:41


Hi Bev.

How are you?

What a great article “Dare to be Different”

The first thing I noticed as I read it was that
Walt Disney. Sir Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs are all Dyslexic.

Being Dyslexic myself, it is all about as you say
“Dare to be Different” and accepting it.
What some might think to be their weakest points, just may be their Biggest & Best Asset.

Fantastic read and Thank you sharing.

Anita Mattu

Comment Form

  • Morgan Grage: I like this post, enjoyed this one regards for putting up. "No man is wise enough by himself." by Titus Maccius Plautus.
  • Derek: Brilliant article Bev, thanks for sharing. coincidentally the kilimamjaro example used is on my 2014 to do list! Ps thanks for the tips you gave me
  • jackson: thanks for your great article about developing your business idea to great business Jackson mutebi

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