The Steve Martin Philosophy of Business

I read a quote a couple years back from Steve Martin, yes… the comedian, that hit me like a ton of bricks.

This quote applies to success in business, life, as a community… basically success in anything.

Before I tell you this epic quote, I want to illustrate what happens when we don’t follow Steve’s advice.

First you’ve got to know that I’m a middle child. I’m the kid who has half the pictures in the family photo album, who was caught in the middle once my little bro’ came along, and who had to do extraordinary things to stand out. I actually like being the middle child because my older brother kind of paved the way… then my little brother came along and I got more independence… which helped out big time as I got older.

But one thing happened growing up. I wanted to emulate my older brother because he’s my “big brother”… my role model, right? Big brother can do no wrong. But, something interesting happened when I look back. I wanted to be like my big brother… but there was something holding me back from trying to be better (or even as good) as my big brother. It’s kind of like a “little brother complex”. I felt that I couldn’t be faster, stronger, better at baseball, more “popular”, or smarter than my brother because he was… well, my big brother. I grew out of this in high school and became my own person. Just because I’m younger and smaller, it doesn’t mean that I can’t step out and own up to the fact that I can do awesome things (even bigger things with more success). Once I realized that I stopped letting the fact that I was a “little brother” stop me from living full out and reaching my potential… great things started to happen.

Why did I tell you that story? Because I see it all the time in business… and even in the way our community in Roseburg as a whole thinks about itself that holds us back.

A startup with a smaller team with less funding than their competitor doesn’t go full out and market as confidently as they should. Instead makes a half hearted attempt at marketing, while in the back of their mind they’re thinking… “we can’t be like these guys, they’re too big”.

An industry or idea that’s new to an area that is stifled because the leaders of the new idea don’t think people will accept it like the established industry in the area.

A community that doesn’t own up to the fact that it’s every bit as good (in many ways even better) than other surrounding communities with “more” of everything… and the message it spreads is boring, safe, doesn’t stand out, and isn’t all that effective because it doesn’t confidently relay how insanely GREAT it is at things the others aren’t good at.

All of these scenarios are playing out right here at home. And the only way for us to grow our businesses, new ideas, to grow as a community, and to attract more of what we want… is to cast the “little brother” mindset out the window and own up to the fact that certain things about what we do (or about our community) are epic… that larger companies or communities can’t touch.

The key is that we can’t be shy about what we’re great at… and we have to market ourselves with gusto… not apologizing for what we’re not great at. We’ll attract people and customers that resonate with what we’re great at.

So, what’s that Steve Martin quote I love so much?

He said… “When people ask me ‘how do you make it in show business, or anything else’ what I always tell them – and nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear… but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you’”.

An open question for all of us… what can we do in our businesses or our roles in our community to ‘be so good’ that people can’t ignore us?

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