Repeat after me, “I promise to be different… I promise to be unique.”

This was the final exchange last week as David Rendall and I finished a day-long virtual GOLDFISH TANK program.

I then asked the attendees the last part of the PINK GOLDFISH oath:

“I promise not to repeat things other people say.”

Silence… followed by laughter.

I personally love this last part of the program. It’s weird and it feels awkward, but it hammers home an important point. Being different is not about following the crowd. Being different is about avoiding crowds altogether.

In her book “Different – Escaping the Competitive Herd,” Harvard Business School marketing professor Youngme Moon argues that “the ability to compete is dependent upon the ability to differentiate from competitors.”

However, she goes on to say, “The number of companies who are truly able to achieve competitive separation is depressingly small.”


Because companies tend to define their strengths and weaknesses using the same measurements and standards as their competitors. This leads to sameness, not differentiation. When everyone is trying to build on the same strengths and eliminate the same weaknesses, all companies start to look the same. 

Our client last week shared that INNOVATION was a core value of the organizations. They engaged with David and me on Goldfish Tank because they realize it’s important to do three things if you want your people to innovate:

1. Teach them how to think differently.
2. Create a safe space to apply what they’ve learned.
3. Give them a platform and incentives to pitch their innovative ideas.

Here is the feedback we received today from the client,

“This exceeded my expectations. You guys did a great job of making our folks, who are normally pretty reserved, feel comfortable enough to engage with and in front of each other. In addition, the material was very well prepared and the walk from understanding Pink Goldfish to applying Pink Goldfish was easy for all. I really feel like this was the springboard we needed and the takeaways are numerous, not just in innovation but also, people development.”

How about you? Are you ready to defy normal and exploit imperfection?

Are you willing to admit that fitting in and becoming a copycat brand will never lead to success?

Or that benchmarking and best practices are not the path to greatness.

That trying to fix a weakness is a waste of time and effort.

And if you try to be great at everything, you will end up being great at nothing.

Because if you try to please everyone, you won’t end up pleasing anyone…

Want to learn more about the Goldfish Tank? Check this out.

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at