Dorie Clark’s Stand Out: THE Career Management Strategy For Thriving 21st Century Careers

Book Review of Stand Out: How To Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It

Cover of Dorie Clark Stand Out BookSocial Media ReInvention Community Members know I value the teachings of Dorie Clark. Her first book, Reinventing YOU: Define Your Brand. Imagine Your Future., continues its profound influence on my own 21st century career management.

Dorie Clark’s Stand Out Is The Defacto 21st Century Career Management Strategy Manual. Dorie’s latest book, Stand Out: How To Find Your Breakthrough Idea And Build A Following Around It, is exceptional. The practical, accessible, and inspiring paths Dorie describes to becoming an industry thought leader are moving. Her actionable advice, superb writing, and real-world profiles are more relevant than ever in our increasingly robot-, algorithm-, outsource-driven world.

Stand Out IS the powerful and practical, how-to, user’s manual to accompany Seth Godin’s visionary ideas from Tribes and Linchpin. If Tribes and Linchpin are our target destinations, Stand Out maps out accessible paths we can choose to take. 

The Journey Is The Reward. Becoming a thought leader isn’t clear-cut, easy-to-see, or step-wise. Deciding to Stand Out by creating our breakthrough idea(s) and following through on positioning ourselves as thought leaders driving them are courageous choices.

Unique and Different Stand Out Paths Exist For All Of Us. Dorie’s personal story and the people she interviewed are inspiring. Each found her/his way through a combination of intellectual curiosity, a motivating fire for direct control of their personal / professional destinies, and creative tactics integrating online chops with in-real-life (IRL), street-smart savvy.

Here’s my in-depth book review on why Dorie Clark’s Stand Out is 2015’s most important business book, and why it IS one of the most influential books in modern, 21st Century Career Management.

Note: If pressed for time, click over to my Amazon review.


Breakthrough Ideas and Thought Leadership — What The Hell Are You Talking About?

First, if you are a thought leader, you’re known for your ideas.

Second, you must have followers in order to be a thought leader.

Thought leaders strive to make an impact, and that requires them to get outside the ivory tower and ensure that their message is accessible and actionable. It’s also important to note that you don’t need to be the world’s leading authority on a subject; you can be a thought leader in your company or in your community as well. 

(from Stand Out pages 1 and 2)


The Currency and Drivers For Thriving 21st Century Careers Are Radically Different From Outdated 20th Century Thinking. These requirements WERE important and vital to our parents’ livelihoods. These ways of thinking WERE critical when I was of university age and when I graduated from MBA school:

  • Apply To The Right University
  • Get Accepted To The Right University
  • Make The Right Connections In University
  • Get The Right Job(s) and Earn Raises By Promoting Yourself To New Jobs At Different Organizations
  • Repeat Bullet Points 1-4 But Replace “Right University” or “University” With “Right MBA Program”
  • Retire From The Workforce After Doing Bullet Point 4 Enough Times

Remember the good ole’ days. Those days are dead. Those aforementioned outcomes are deader than Elvis.

The Currency and Drivers For 21st Century Careers Revolve Around Becoming An Industry Thought Leader. The currencies and drivers for thriving 21st Century Career involve four (4) key elements:

That’s Dorie’s concluding argument. As James Altucher states, you have to become an idea machine (because ideas are the new 21st century currency). But, the ideas themselves aren’t enough.

Establishing ourselves as thought leaders requires all four (4) aforementioned components working in sync. If you’re doing thought leadership the right way, everyone wins:

  • Readers learn actionable, practical insights
  • Happy readers spread and share these insights (even better if a long term community forms and perpetuates these ideas)
  • The author earns influence and authority in her/his industry

Dorie Teaches Thought Leadership The Right Way. We can’t become individual thought leaders without doing the following: 

  • Ideas.
  • Distribution Platforms
  • Organic Followings We’ve Earned and Attracted Who Spread Our Ideas.

It’s a harsh, real-world, no shortcuts, circular argument.

Breakthrough Ideas Aren’t Enough. Building our unique promotion and distribution infrastructure is a must-have thought leadership ingredient. In Michael Hyatt‘s words (and all New York City based publishing houses), you require a platform to spread your ideas.

Dorie learned this as a first-time author. It was a cold, slap-in-the-face, wake up call delivered courtesy of The New York City Publishing House Establishment. (from Stand Out page 125):

I simply wasn’t famous enough.

What my repeated rejections taught me was that you first have to create your own recognition—the publishing world’s preferred term is “platform”—that virtually assures you can sell ten thousand or more copies of your book, mitigating almost all their risk.

Dorie Prevailed. She kept fighting. She didn’t give up. She persisted and built her unique platform and distribution infrastructure around her blog with creative self-publishing tactics.

Here’s an example from one of Dorie’s speeches describing how John Corcoran built his distribution platform through podcasting (timestamp 4:00 to 6:15):


We Underestimate the Power and Influence of OUR Breakthrough Idea(s)

Yet too many of us shrink back when it comes to finding and sharing our ideas with the world. We assume the leading experts must have some unique talent or insight. We assume that our own ideas may not measure up.

Most recognized experts achieved success not because of some special genius, but because they learned how to put disparate elements together and present ideas in a new and meaningful way.

(from Stand Out pages 1 and 2)

Originality Is WAAAAAY Overrated. That’s an important and actionable insight. How many times do we do what Dorie describes above? I do it. A lot.

Connecting The Dots Among Multiple Industry Ideas Is An Underrated Superpower. Seeing and articulating the relationships between those industry ideas is original. Trusting the intuition from our personal and professional experiences, training, our background IS key.

We are a “total package” of well-informed problem solving abilities and decisions. That’s why we must:

  • Publish our take on “sacred cows” or conventional wisdom in your industry. Do you have a counter argument? Cool. Describe it.
  • Ask questions. Is there a better way(s)? Why have we been doing it this way for so long? How or why does the latest data or research influence our insights differently? (Even better, if we’re the ones collecting, analyzing, and publishing the supporting data).
  • Socialize and advance this conversation with our industry’s movers and shakers.
  • Make the courageous choice to Stand Out.

We Don’t Need Another Silicon Valley Action Verb. We don’t have to publish the next big idea. We don’t have to invent the next big thing. We don’t have to create the next earth-shattering business mandating the overused Silicon Valley action verbs disrupt, lever, hack, transform, game-change, pivot, or Uber-ed.

We need perspective. We need YOUR perspective.

Share Instead of Dismiss. Share how you think. Share how your problem-solving approach to a challenging industry problem. EExplain why and how your conclusions are different.

Trust And Believe In YOUR Authentic Swing (start at time stamp 1:30):



Standing Out As a Thought Leader Is More Fun Than Getting Algorithm-ized, Robot-ized, Automate-ized, Downsized, and/or Outsource-ized, By Corporate America

We’ve shifted much more toward a winner-take-all economy.

Meanwhile, “safe” jobs, predicated on staying quiet and doing what’s expected of you, are fast disappearing.

Building a strong professional reputation is the best way to protect, and advance, your career. When you’re recognized by others as an authority in your field, clients and employers want to work with you, specifically—and if you do lose your job, you’re equipped to bounce back.

Our value isn’t as robots, executing tasks. It’s as thinkers, who make connections and spark new insights and change the world by seeing things in new ways. 

(from Stand Out page 7)


Corporate America’s Economic And Financial Interests Focus on -IZING US. Don’t believe me? Think I’m click-baiting? Publishing for page views? Fortune Magazine published the following August 2015 cover story: Humans Are Underrated by Geoff ColvinCheck out Geoff’s perspective describing this phenomenon:



Stand Out And Turn The Tables On Corporate America’s -IZING Movement. Geoff Colvin’s book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, describes these essential human interaction skills in a 21st century-driven economy:

  • Relationship Building
  • Teaming
  • Storytelling
  • Co-Creativity
  • Brainstorming
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Ability to Manage Diverse Employees
  • Empathy

We ARE The Content. People who Stand Out do all of the above. More importantly, they share how/why they help another human being teach, solve, achieve, address, and/or become better at all of the above. They hustle and work their asses off to prove their fellow human beings aren’t going out-of-style. Every Day.

21st Century thought leaders believe in and promote why human beings are the content:

The more technologically advanced our society becomes, maybe, maybe, the more we need to go back to the basic fundamentals of human communication. Because you are the content. But, it’s not about you.

Angela Ahrendts, The Power of Human Energy, TEDx Talk (time stamp 11:08 to 12:44)



“T” In Thought Leadership Stands For Trust

Because they’ve been whispering in my ears for months or years, and they’re so generous about the way they approach the world. Why wouldn’t you trust those people more [than those who haven’t been blogging]?” One of the mantras of business networking is that you should always try to give value before you receive it. But many people overlook the fact that giving doesn’t have to take place in person; many people feel grateful to Mitch Joel (or whoever their favorite blogger is) because of his steady stream of insights, and are far more likely to want to help him, whether it’s by buying his book, reviewing his podcast on iTunes, recommending him for a speaking engagement, or hiring his digital marketing agency.

(quote from Seth Godin to Dorie Clark from Stand Out page 128)

So You Want To Be A Trusted Advisor? Geoffrey Moore posed this question in his LinkedIn Article: So You Want to be a Trusted Advisor. His conclusion: Help another human being solve a human problem.

More importantly, per Charles H. Green’s comment, author of The Trusted Advisor, when helping others, remember, “it’s about THEM”:

Charles H Green Comment on LinkedIn


The Power of Showing Up: The “Mere Exposure Effect.” Scientific research shows we earn people’s trust by showing up. Robert Zajonc of The University of Michigan and Stanford University proved this concept — The Mere Exposure Effect.

The New York Times’ Margalit Fox writes:

Familiarity, in other words, breeds a kind of affection, Professor Zajonc found. Even before he defined and named it, the effect was dear to the hearts of advertisers and other shapers of culture.

Stand Out By Showing Up Through Self-Publishing. A Lot. Zajonc’s scientific research reinforces why self-publishing takes on tremendous, importance. Here’s how Dorie Clark Stands Out:

  • Publishes a personal blog (Dorie’s published 400+ articles — and counting)

Show Up So Someone Can Finds Us. A 21st century buyer’s or consumer’s intent begins with a Google Search 90% of the time. If our content, our work, our expertise isn’t searchable from a mobile phone, laptop, desktop computer, or social media — WE DON’T EXIST.

Showing Up Requires “Being In The Room Yourself.” Self-publishing is our personal, 21st century competitive advantage. Stop self-editing. Write what you want. Take your turn.

Chris Rock and Charlie Rose articulate this thought better than I can:


“S” In Stand Out Stands For Sacrifice

The top performers exponentially outwork everyone else.

Fortunately, it’s often a matter of outworking everyone else. You don’t have to be a genius, and you don’t even have to be lucky (though we’ve discussed how to make more time in your schedule for that, too). You just have to want it badly enough.

(from Stand Out page 214)

Whoa. All That Self-Publishing Dorie Does Looks Like A Lot of Work. Yes. The ideating, the writing, the promotion, the connecting, the pitching, the rinsing, the repeating. It’s a TON of hard work. Every activity aligned to blogging and other self-publishing forms is a LONG TERM career investment.

Plus, don’t forget the important real life stuff you have to work into all this like family (especially with young children). That makes it a ton of HARDER work.

Sacrificing, Winning Ugly, and Gardening. Choosing to Stand Out isn’t easy, clear-cut, or step-wise. It requires sacrifices few are willing to make (and slog through). Few possess the guts to stay in this game long due to the instant gratification, 140-character, snack-able, liking, updating world we live in.

Not very sexy, is it? But, it’s still winning. Outlasting our competition is winning ugly. That’s the competitive advantage of choosing to Stand Out.

Click here to listen to Dorie Clark and Mitch Joel discuss on Mitch’s Six Pixels of Separation Podcast why sacrifice and the concept of “gardening” is a common thread among people who choose to Stand Out (time stamp 18:20 to 32:57).


Standing Out Is About Courageously Choosing Ourselves

Remember Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back?  My favorite film in The Star Wars Film Series is The Empire Strikes Back. The main characters constantly confront one horrible crisis after another. Every setback gets worse and worse.

The Journey Is The Reward. During that trial-by-fire process, each character discovers her/his individual character, gifts, and talents. That arduous, discovery process is why our heroes ultimately prevail. That’s what makes Standing Out personal and meaningful.

Having the courage and guts to discover our individual character, gifts, and talents that’s our unique path to Stand Out. Overcoming our individual fears unleashes THE FORCE within us (e.g., rejection, public failure, doubts in self-worth, what other people think aka ALL THAT SELF-LIMITING B.S.).

Standing Out IS THE FORCE. We all have the power to do it. We have to have the courage to choose it (because personally acknowledging so means NO EXCUSES).

Choose To Stand Out. Choose To Believe. Because When We Don’t, That Is Why We Fail.

Size Matters Not on Disney Video


Your Turn

Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear from you. I’m here to read, listen, and learn from YOUR PERSPECTIVE.   Comments are open. So let’er rip!


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President and Founder

As President and Founder of Faustino Marketing Strategies, I advise how a buyer's problem guides a client's content marketing and SEO decisions.

I am based in the Kansas City area (Overland Park, Kansas).

I share my ideas on the reinvention of content marketing and SEO in my personal blog: Social Media ReInvention. (