Don’t Follow The Leaders.

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Here’s a very smart thing that someone told the New York Times this week:

“So if everybody is essentially doing the same thing, is anybody likely to get ahead?

That quote happens to be about — of all things — the surprisingly high-stakes world of convention center hotel construction. But it could just as easily be about the race to build the biggest car-sharing app (here in New York, I walk past ads for a half-dozen Uber competitors a day) or the biggest social network or the next big whatever. When one company launches a feature, their competitors follow right behind. When someone launches a new app, a thousand spin-offs are sure to come, too.

Everybody is doing the same things. So how do you get in ahead in a world like that?

We live in a world of copycats, but you don’t have to be one of them. Here’s my advice: Don’t follow the leaders.

When others zag, find another path and zig. It’s OK to ignore everyone else — there are thousands of niches out there, and there are opportunities for people who will do stuff that no one else is doing. Let everyone else compete on the same ideas while you compete on yours alone.

I’ve always tried to remind myself: It’s hard to run your own race, but it’s even harder to run someone else’s. So give yourself permission to be different. Your way may work, or it may not — but in the end, at least it’ll be your successes or your failures.

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That photo of birds flying together comes via Unsplash and Rowan Heuvel