As my colleagues know, I am a podcast nut. I subscribe to more than 20 podcasts and listen to them every opportunity I can. One of the podcasts I listen to is On Brand, a podcast hosted by Nick Westergaard (@nickwestergaard on twitter) based in Iowa and features interviews with brand marketers. One recent episode featured an interview with Jay Acunzo (@jayacunzo) who has his own podcast.
While most of the interview talked about brands and marketing, there was one snippet that stood out for me. Jay pointed out that the internet has made it so easy to be average because there are so many templates out there. So now, average is just the default and people have to work hard to become exceptional, and it is only the exceptional who will get ahead and have an impact on the world. Jay’s advice is to always ask yourself why you are doing this and who you are doing this for, to get from average to exceptional.
I thought this was great advice, especially for our MBAs who are interviewing for jobs at the moment. If you take the perspective of the recruiter who has to sit through hours of interviews with other candidates, you need to be exceptional to stand out. And relying on templates for CVs or cover letters, or applying generic frameworks during a case interview, will only consign you to the average and not good enough heap. As to how you can stand out from the crowd, the careers service in any school can only go so far in terms of giving you the tools to think things through but ultimately you have to contextualise and apply these tools to your own circumstance.