Success Requires You To Be Different

When you read how-to articles about blogging and online marketing you’ll find a smattering of best practices and tips. Most of these are re-purposed from each other and given new life with things like infographics and even videos. It’s the way blogging advice has typically worked and I think the reason for that is because it’s what people want to read.

I’m guilty of it.

Here on GBW there are quite a few articles about best practices and tips for blogging. I think at best these articles can be a good place to start. In fact, it was reading articles like this that got me started. I had no idea how to blog and I was just looking for all the information I could find.

Before we get into the point of this article I do want to state that best practices have a place in life. You can break all the rules, but for the most part there are some things that work in various aspects in life. For example, people seem to like being able to quickly scan a blog post before digging into each section. This format is something that seems to work even if repeated over and over on blogs everywhere. Even in books there are often tables of contents where people can quickly scan the overview of the book before diving in.

So there is probably a place for best practices.

Today, I read a great interview on CMT with one of the biggest names in country music you probably won’t recognize.

Scott Hendricks has been in the country music business for over 30 years. He first rose to fame as the producer for the then new group Restless Heart. The group had a run of success in the ’80s and early ’90s on the country charts and even had some crossover hits. The band was big time.

Scott’s success didn’t stop there. He worked with Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and most recently acts like Blake Shelton and the rising star Hunter Hayes.

If you think about these artists and others Scott has worked with you’ll notice that they really don’t have anything in common. I can’t think of two acts more different than Restless Heart and Alan Jackson. Yet Scott worked with both. Why would he do that? How could he go from pop-based country with Restless Heart to extreme traditional country with Alan Jackson?

Scott had the answer in the interview on CMT:

CMT: You had numerous No. 1 hits with Restless Heart, one of the most prominent bands in the 1980s. What set those guys apart in that era?

Hendricks: They sounded different, and most of the acts that I’ve had success with, I can say the same about them. They had a different sound than what was happening at the time. With Restless Heart, I can remember working on that record before we even had a record deal. We were thinking the whole time, “Wow, this is really progressive for what’s happening out there. I’m not sure if anybody will like this, other than those of us who are making this right now.” But we loved what we were doing. I didn’t know if anybody was going to buy into it or not, but it sure was fun to make.

CMT: I remember when Alan Jackson started out, he was writing and recording traditional country music at a time when that wasn’t as common.

Hendricks: I have a theory: You can’t deny talent for too long. It reminds me of Vince Gill. Vince had seven years of making albums before he had a hit. I don’t know in this day and time if Vince could have survived. That’s one huge difference between now and then. Back then, thank goodness, that happened. It’s sad that there are artists today who are super-talented but never get the chance [to develop]. If you don’t hit soon in this world, you’re not going to be around long.

There are a few good points in this brief excerpt that reflect so well on other areas of life including business and blogging.

I’ve highlighted the main point of the article: different.

Here is a guy, Scott Hendricks, that’s been around for 30 years in the music industry. That’s incredible. People just don’t have that long of a lifespan in the music industry. He must be doing something right and for him that something is the simple fact of being different.

But simply being different is not easy.

In the passage about Restless Heart you’ll see that these guys had no idea if people would listen to their music. It was so different at the time that it was a huge risk. They could have went the Urban Cowboy route or they could have done something like Hank Williams Jr. They might have had a little success, but to be truly memorable they needed to take a risk and be different. They also really liked what they were doing. It was a big risk, but by being different and doing what they liked they found success.

With Alan Jackson the same story plays out, but over a much longer period of time. Jackson was different. Country music in the ’80s turned out to sound very much like what Restless Heart was doing. It was very pop focused and when Alan Jackson arrived he was a traditional singer in the vein of George Jones. So in for years there is this guy playing the clubs and sounding entirely different.

One again Scott Hendricks comes on board and works with Jackson. After years of struggle Jackson quickly becomes one of the biggest stars in country music history. He along with a couple others like Clint Black and Garth Brooks changed country again. Everybody in the ’90s was traditional as the pendulum swung back to the traditional sound.

Being different and being persistent are the two lessons of this post.

In business and blogging you need both to be really successful. You can listen to best practices about how to make a successful blog for your business or you can listen to your own gut and your customers and create something that is entirely different from what everyone else is doing.

It’s simple in theory, but very difficult to do.

You’ll be ridiculed along the way just like the Scott Hendricks, Restless Heart and Alan Jackson. You’ll probably face more than a few times when you want to quit because things aren’t hitting just like those three. But if you stick with it and find your niche you can be really successful.

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