Why are you in the middle of the pack?

Yesterday, Adam asked you why you even wanted to venture into premium pricing.

Why put yourself at the top? Why put yourself under such scrutiny? Why make that big a statement about your abilities & ideas?

Let me pose the opposite question: Why put yourself in the middle of the pack?

As a child, when you dreamed of your life, did you hope for a nice job in middle management? Did you hope to be the 23rd selling fashion designer in the Midwest? Did you dream of being Vice President?

I didn’t. I dreamed of being CEO, Dean, President, the top, the best… the leader.

When I found myself shooting for finishing 3rd place, I woke up.

Flashback to 4 years ago: I was trained for, prepared for, nearly guaranteed a promotion. I whizzed through my interview. This job was in the bag!

I was already cashing the checks in my mind.

There was one thing left to do: have the baby that could emerge from my swollen belly at any moment.

Oh! I didn’t mention I was 8.5 months pregnant when I interviewed?

Then maybe it will come as no surprise that, at 9 months pregnant, I found out I didn’t get the job.

At first, I snapped. I yelled. I swore. I cursed the men & women that thought I was less of a manager, less able to fulfill excel at the job because I was going to be a mother.

That was when I woke up.

I realized something was drastically wrong. I was not living up to my potential. I had forsaken my calling towards leadership.

Just because “manager” is in your job title doesn’t make you a leader. Just because you’re entrusted with a certain set of responsibilities, maybe even a certain amount of autonomy, doesn’t make you a leader.

You make you a leader.

I made me a leader. And you have been gracious enough to follow.

And that brings us back to the middle of the pack.

Or out of it.

Leaders surge to the front of the pack because they make strong statements about what they believe, about where they’re leading their followers. Leaders surge to the front because they leverage fierce self-determination in blazing their own trail. Leaders forsake others models for success instead of their calling.

What does this have to do with wealth, with pricing?

Saying your work is worth a lot of money doesn’t make you a leader. But you don’t need to be “made” — you already are a leader.

But leaders do something unique in business. Leaders hone in on their true strengths, they find clarity around their mission, they position themselves in a market full of people ready to follow them, and then they create big solutions.

Leaders make the changes & realize the possibilities of creating the end-all-be-all in _________.

Those big solutions tend to carry big price tags.

Of course they do. Big solutions provide immense value.

Big solutions disrupt markets & change the way business is done in an industry. Big solutions lead the way for new understandings. Big solutions spread a message & create lifelong evangelists.

If you’re a leader, now is the time for you to break free from the pack. To step out of the middle and into the limelight.

In the comments below, tell us one thing you can do TODAY to step out from the middle and step into leadership with your business or career.

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  1. Thanks to you Tara & Adam, I’m currently in the middle of stepping up & reworking my day job’s marketing content to reflect our top-tier service and demonstrate the extended value our clients get when they go with our higher-priced company over the other low-bid painters. For the attention to detail and the value my company offers, competing on price is a death-sentence; so I’m having to find clearer ways to show our value that will resonate with our ‘right people.’

    Thank you guys so much for breaking up the traditional way we think about money & showing us there are other ways than the corporate hamster-wheel to get the life we want!

  2. Annching says:

    Loved loved this post, and it’s brought up some things that I’ve been thinking about lately. A lot. Like how can I market my fashion label in a way that steps up to what I feel it can be, which definitely requires me to step outside of what fashion brands typically do.

    One thing I can do to step into that leadership role? Stop shrinking. Stop feeling confined into following the “rules”. Experiment with new ones. Specifically: not hiding behind my brand, but instead using myself to power my brand, if that makes sense.

    You’ve inspired me yet again! Thank you!

  3. I think this taps in well to lots of issues around competition and comparing ourselves to others. When is it healthy and when toxic? For me this is also a question of just what my “pack” is. From some perspectives, I am the only one in my pack (unless you know another voicefinder, singer, songwriter, rabbi, sociologist, who loves people into song and who has been hiding from me) — which means that every day gives me the opportunity to be at the front, middle, and tail! And when I do find people who are my true peers on one level or another, one way that I can tell that they are peers is that in their company I am perfectly happy being anywhere in “the pack.”

  4. Jessica Newell says:

    Can I play devil’s advocate here for a sec?

    Is it not only possible but highly plausible that being a leader does not need to entail raising your prices? Coming from an enomic standpoint, having a competitive price point usually means adjusting one’s pricing to keep your ground in an evolving marketplace. As you had mentioned in your blog, the dissemination of information means the more a form of information is in supply the demand inevitably goes down. The online marketplace is swamped with everyone trying to gain a footing. Wouldn’t the company with the best offerings at the lowest price gain the most clients?

    I only put this out there because I see no purpose in investing large chunks of my capital into products & services that are losing their relevancy as I type. Like a car driving off the lot.

    That being said – I do love what you are sharing about on here. I guess the question comes down to what is tangible value that is being offered. If it is something that is nearly priceless ( such as a person’s unique skillset and perspective) than it seems only fair to raise prices. But if it is just repackaged information why bother?

    • Tara Gentile says:

      Jessica – I would argue that that’s a very narrow view of leadership in the marketplace.
      Let’s consider two examples: Apple (yawn) and Lululemon Athletica (the new Apple for all business examples!).
      Apple regularly charges 3-4 times what their competitors charge for hardware. Even still they hold substantial market share, although not overwhelming except in the a few cases. Still, they are the brand that upends the industries they target over & over again. They lead — YEARS ahead of anyone else. When we think of computing, mobile, and music, we think Apple. Their decisions guide us like no other (even if you’re not a user!).

      Same idea, Lululemon, while a vibrant & thriving company, certainly isn’t a powerhouse in terms of marketshare. You can buy yoga clothes just about anywhere. However, it’s the brand that have a fiercely loyal, evangelical following of customers & aspiring customers. They create yoga movements in the communities they serve. That’s leadership. You can buy yoga clothes & accessories for cheaper but that doesn’t matter to their followers.

      On the flip side, Walmart is not a leader. It’s a behemoth. It doesn’t create movements, it follows them out of force.

      No, not every deserves a high price tag. That’s why it’s important to tie leadership to value. How do you know you’re providing something fresh & innovative in an information or service business? You’re leading with your own ideas — not someone else’s. You’re leading based on your own perspective and not someone else’s.

      But in the end, more clients/customers doesn’t equal real leadership.

  5. Pam Consear says:

    You’ve presented the perfect challenge for me, Tara. I just finished reading Reclaiming Wealth (plus this article), fresh off of filing my taxes. Staring me in the face is the reality that although I’m producing more and better work than ever, I am hovering around the poverty line. I earned so little + had so many expenses and deductions that I came out with a negative effective tax rate for 2011. I desperately need to translate the quality and value of my work into higher price tags and more self-respect! I’m now marinating ideas about where the real value of my work lies. Over the past 10 years I’ve evolved from a timid wannabe artist into a very public and accomplished artist. I create public mosaic murals that, besides being beautiful, are incredible community-building experiences for the groups that participate. I teach art workshops in my home studio. I get commissioned for private pieces. I barely make any money and can’t cover my own expenses. WTF? You’ve got me thinking about how I can package my skills “remotely,” as a consultant to the many many people I know (and those I don’t yet know) who say they “wish they were more creative” or “wish they had more time to do art.” Or those, like my former self, who lacked the self-confidence to put their stuff out there. I’m now doing it with a vengeance and will never go back into the closet as an artist! I have a lot to offer others… somehow…??