Posted by: kevinliebl | May 4, 2010

What is your Superpower?

Justice League of America

Justice League of America

This past weekend, I finished reading Seth Godin’s “Linchpin”.  It is a very good book and I highly recommend reading it.  Toward the end of the book, Seth covered a topic that was particularly relevant and I thought I would discuss it on my blog this week.

He explained that when he was a kid, he loved the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League of America.  In the beginning of each comic book, there was a scene where a stranger would meet the team and the heroes would introduce themselves.  One by one, they would go around the room and explain their powers.  The popular characters such as Batman and Superman needed no introduction, but as Seth explained, some of the lesser-known heroes would go into detail.  “I’m the Wasp.  I have the ability to shrink to a height of several centimeters, fly by means of insectoid wings, and fire energy blasts.”

This same scene is replayed hundreds of thousands of times each day in corporate America.  Each time we network within our industry or meet a business associate, we are expected to explain our superpower.  As we build our personal brand, we need to clearly articulate that unique value proposition, positioning statement – superpower – that makes us unique.  For most people, this can be mind numbing and paralyzing.  Most of us feel like “The Wasp” rather than “Superman”.  However, it is critical that we position ourselves as having a unique ability that sets us apart from the others.  We need to make that introduction meaningful and memorable.

In a previous blog, I discussed the “elevator pitch” and the ability to be able to communicate your value proposition in the length of time it takes to ride an elevator with someone.  It needs to be crisp, understandable and memorable.  The concept of your “superpower” takes a slightly different angle on the elevator pitch.  It challenges you to create a story that sets you apart from the other super heroes in your company and/or industry.  If you were on the Justice League and you said that you could fly and have superhuman strength, wouldn’t people confuse you with Superman?  Wouldn’t you be considered a second-rate hero?  Too many people position themselves as, “a team-player who excels at marketing”.  Aren’t there thousands of out-of-work “team-players who excel at marketing”?  What is it that makes you unique?

Action Item: Most of us were not born with x-ray vision or the ability to read market trends before they happen.  However, all of us have excelled in our careers at some point.  We did amazing things that were viewed by our colleagues as great accomplishments.  Think about your career and identify your superpower that sets you apart from the others.  Create an elevator pitch where you can clearly state, in memorable terms, your unique superpower.  Then the next time the Legion of Super-Heroes are introducing themselves, stand-proud and explain your ability to slay dragons and stamp out villains.

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Responses

  1. Intuition… knowing things about situations and individuals where there is no rational explanation and where I have no previous education or knowledge.

  2. I have slain the dragon of bureaucracy by refusing to take no for an answer, By barging through each obstacle: by being resilient.
    It helps to laugh at crazy rules – ask “who thought that up!”

  3. Two superpowers:

    1. Everyday Wisdom
    I gained this superpower through reading thousands of books, and living through millions of mistakes that showed me the truth behind what I had read (to learn something you need to live it. You can understand a concept from a book, but to truly know it you must experience it -Dan Millman)

    2. Connectedness
    After 40 years of life, I have finally understood that it is PEOPLE that make a difference – not books, knowledge, or power.

    Then there’s the talents that come under these superpowers, but that’s a topic for another post 🙂


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