There is a secondary school not far from our home, and I often see the students either walking to school or waiting at the bus stop. Over 1500 students attend this school, and yet when I see them there is a similarity that identifies them as belonging to that school. After some thought I realized that it is their appearance that is similar. Although there is no school uniform, it is their choice of clothes that almost creates a uniform in itself. The colours of choice tend to be limited to three colours none of which stand out or appear distinct. Almost all students carry a backpack. It is rare to see a student who stands out by wearing brighter colours or a different style of clothes.
This is a well known example of the power of peer pressure, such an influential force in the lives of children growing up. Ironically the teen age years are the period of time when children are trying to find out who they are, how their identity is unique from family members and role models of their previous childhood years. The ridicule and even persecution of fellow students at school causes all but the secure and bold of heart to conform or be ostracized at school.
There are many forms of conformity out in the big wide world; subtle expectations and pressures that create environments and communities which conform to ‘acceptable patterns of appearance and behaviour.
However success and notoriety come to those who stand out from the rest by their creativity, uniqueness and ability to stand out from the crowd.
A recent example of this is twenty one year old Alex Twe from England. In August this year Alex was about to start university. Being only too aware of the fact that many students end up finishing their education with huge debts to repay, he decided to try and generate sufficient funds to cover his expenses whilst studying using the power of the Internet. He created ‘The Million Dollar Home Page’. The basic concept was that website owners could buy advertising space on the home page of the site at a cost of $1 per pixel. The smallest advertising block you can purchase is 10x10 pixels, hence a cost of $100. There are a million pixels available for purchase, thus if Alex succeeds in selling them all, he will have raised a cool $1million!
On the face of it, this is a crazy idea - why would anyone want to pay to put a tiny graphic on a page of thousands of other tiny graphics on the off-chance that someone might click on it? I’m sure if he had taken advice from Internet experts he would have been strongly advised not to bother even to attempt such a ludicrous notion as would not have a hope of succeeding.
Alex launched the site at the end of August and right away started to try and generate press interest. This approach worked superbly and he has had International press coverage over the past couple of months which has helped to spread the word about his site in the viral manner that is only possible via the Internet. Result? After a very short time Alex had sold over half a million pixels - that means he has generated over $500,000 in income in just 2 months! At this rate he will achieve his target of selling a million pixels by the end of the year and even if he doesn't sell another pixel, he has still done superbly well. To read the blog of Alex’s adventure and see the site visit his website http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com This week he is visiting the U.S.A. on a media tour. Within weeks of this site being launched and seeing success, there were over 400 copycats trying to make a quick fortune by copying a unique idea.
What does it take to be different, to stand out from the crowd, become influential and experience success? What qualities make innovative leaders rather than followers?
Here are some of my thoughts;
Courage to follow your heart and intuition
Security and self confidence to stand by what you believe
Not concerned to gain the approval of others
Willingness to be the first and take a risk
Determination to follow through on your ideas
What do you think?