This post is part one of a 4-part series on The E.P.I.C. Method, a step-by-step process on how to catapult your own competitive advantage by building a strong, differentiated leadership brand.  Learn more about the science of differentiation and our featured development programs, FASCINATE-U  (PDF Brochure) and “Unleash Your Differentiating Edge.” (PDF Brochure)”


EPICRecently, my high school daughter came home excited to audition for a lead part in her high school play.  Even though it was her first year in the Drama Club and historically the lead parts went to the upperclassmen, she was determined to get the part.  She practiced the script non-stop the week of the auditions, and when the magical day came, my husband and I eagerly awaited to hear the results.

She was excited that she had made it to the next round, but said, “Mommy, this is like the drama-version of American Idol.  I’m gonna have to win big or go home.”  So, we sat down and brainstormed what would truly set her apart from the other kids and “wow” the judges in the final round of auditions.

Long story short, she used her creative juices and practiced two versions of how the lead role could be played.  She dressed up differently for each, had unique props, and made up her own song and dance.  After seeing over 40 students get up on the stage and say the same lines over and over again, what result do you think my daughter’s callback performance had?  You guessed it!  The awarding of the lead role!

Many of our clients work with us because they too desire to stand out from the crowd in the minds of decision makers – all in the hopes of achieving a specific goal.  And what we frequently observe is that the passion to stand out is there, but most get hung up on exactly how to make it happen. (Because it is never as easy as you think!)

Shockingly Different’s blueprint for how to differentiate from the masses and build a strong leadership brand is called The E.P.I.C. Method.


Establish Relevance- The EPIC MethodThe first tactic of the E.P.I.C. Method is to Establish Relevance.  Establish Relevance means to pinpoint the intersection of both your and your audience’s most urgent priorities, in order to create a win-win situation which inspires both parties to act.  Successful leaders establish relevance to grab the attention and influence decision makers into taking immediate action.

In the example of my daughter’s audition, the intersection of priorities included my daughter wanting the lead role and the judges wanting to identify the best actor possible.  By showing her versatility as an actor, she not only demonstrated the instant value and applicability of her talents, but she also gave the judges data and a “wow” factor which could help them make a decision in her favor.  Yes, this proud mama’s angel stood out amongst the crowd of aspiring (and heck of competitive) high school actors, which resulted in her naturally increasing her competitive advantage.

Establish RelevanceThe key to establish relevance:  You must demonstrate instant value and applicability.  In order for you to be prioritized high in the minds of your audience, it should be crystal clear that what you are offering will affect an important decision that they need to make.


For example, if you are a job seeker, you must demonstrate to the hiring manager that your expertise is the perfect fit for the job opening.  If you are a restaurant owner, you must demonstrate your menu options and price are the perfect fit for the palates and the wallets of your customers.  If you are a charitable organization, you must demonstrate to your donors that the undeserved communities you support are worth their continued investment.

What To Watch Out For:  The most common mistake that people make when trying to establish relevance is not putting as much thought into understanding and ranking the other person’s priorities, as much as their own.  Don’t forget that THEY are the decision makers at hand.  You are trying to gain THEIR attention.  Your efforts have the goal of positioning yourself as the premiere “option of choice” to THEM.  You need them;  not the other way around.  The perception of your leadership brand depends on how successfully you can help build the story of your value in THEIR minds.

Prioritize stepping into the shoes of your target audience and try to make the connection of which items are a priority for them. Pinpoint what makes you outstanding and fascinating to them, in order to “buy” you the right to be heard.

Tweetable-The Forgotten Tactic That Intensifies Your Competitive Advantage

Not quite sure what makes you outstanding in the minds of others?  Let us give you 3 ways to get some insight:

  • Crowd-source a list of expertise you are renowned for.  Start by asking 10 colleagues, acquaintances, and/or family members this question:  “In your opinion, what do I do best that others love and respect me for?”  Create a living document of the answers. (Call me to pick you up off the floor, if you faint in shock by what you learn!)
  • Want to chat confidentially about a situation?  Schedule an appointment for a free 15 minute “virtual coffee” to be mentored personally or to chat about how to engage Shockingly Different to support the professional development in your organization .