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What I’m Reading: The Start-up of you. (Part 2- Developing a Competitive Advantage)

Continuing my read of The Start-Up of You, I found another bit of entrepreneurial knowledge bombs to share with you guys! Before I do, I must say that this is must read. Some people just like to skim books like this, and usually I pick one book to skim through and one to dig in to every month. I’m digging in to this one. I’ve found several quotable nuggets throughout that make it worth a true read 🙂

This next chapter is about Developing a Competitive Advantage. Basically, as individuals and entrepreneurs, we are selling ourselves. Our “Brainpower, Skills, and Energy. And we are doing so in the face of massive competition.” So how do we differentiate in a market that is full of people who have so many awesome things to offer? By combining our unique assets, our individual aspirations and values, AND The Market Realities.


An asset is something we have right now. It’s something that I can point to and say “I have this going for me right now.” There are two kinds of assets:

Soft assets Intangible (Knowledge, Connections, Skills)

Hard assets- Tangible (Stocks, Cash, Physical objects)

These are things that are not fixed. They should change and grow as we do.

“Your asset mix is not fixed. You can strengthen it by investing in yourself- That’s what this book is about.”

Aspirations and Values

These combined with our assets and strengths will start to give direction. Just a few awesome quotes about this:

“The person passionate about what he or she is doing will outlast the guy motivated solely by making money.”

This connects back to the whole “Start With Why” idea as well (Which we love and practice). To me it goes a little deeper than passion. It’s what you believe. You can connect people with similar passions but connecting with people on a common belief is as deep as it gets. Clarifying your “Why” or Purpose will help you hire people who believe what you believe and attract client who do the same.

“Your identity isn’t found. It emerges.”

Who you is who your are. You can’t “find” it. You know exactly where it is right now. You have to let emerge through action and experience.

Most important to remember, these aspirations and values will evolve over time as we learn and grow. Not change. Evolve.

The Market Realities

The market is where it all has to come to life. It’s where your going to release your idea and it’s ultimately where you’re going to connect with the audience that believes in what you’re doing.

Loved this description of “Market”:

“The ‘Market’ is not an abstract thing. It consists of people who make decisions that affect you and whose needs you must serve.”

Love that. I feel like we spend a lot of time talking about “The Market this. The Market that…” It really kind of rocked my world to spin it like this. To think that “The Market” is not just out there floating around waiting to be acted upon or won. They are people. Just a cool thought.

Other points:

“All advantages are local: Pick a hill with less competition.”

“Place yourself in a market niche where your existing assets shine brighter than your competition.”

What can you do that no one else can do? What can you be the best in the world at?

There is an answer to that question. No one else can have your unique experiences, your unique goals and aspirations, AND your specific market situations. You then in turn have to positions yourself into that niche and win. Be brutally honest about these things and just start doing stuff. Your “true self” isn’t going to walk up behind you and kick you in the head as you sit on your couch.

Try lots of things, have lots of experiences. You’ll start to notice things that work and things that don’t. But first, you have to do things.

This week, I’m going to write down my assets, aspirations, and market realities. I feel like this is a good practice from time to time if not just to be honest about where you are and remembering where you want to go. Or deciding another heading altogether. I challenge you to do the same.

Happy October folks!

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