Nancy Myrland All Posts, Career Development & Education, Client Service and Retention, Marketing Strategy 4 Comments


Average skills aren't enoughTake a moment and read this quote.  It made me think about the way we do our jobs, what we offer our clients, and how we are perceived by our target audiences.

“The trend is that for more and more jobs, average is over. Thanks to the merger of, and advances in, globalization and the information technology revolution, every boss now has cheaper, easier access to more above-average software, automation, robotics, cheap labor and cheap genius than ever before. So just doing a job in an average way will not return an average lifestyle any longer.”

This quote was from well-known author and op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman.  In a recent column in the New York Times titled Average Is Over, Part II, Mr. Freidman was writing about weaknesses in education, and the challenge that exists because politicians and CEOs think differently about what is important.

Even though he was writing about education, what struck me was how much this applies to what we do in our firms every day.

Here’s my slight re-write of this quote for you:

“Average is over.  Thanks to competition, globalization and the digital marketing and communication revolution, every client now has cheaper, easier access to an abundance of above-average service providers, with above-average intelligence, than ever before. “

“Just doing your jobs in an average way will not keep clients happy, and unhappy clients will not keep your doors open much longer.”

So what are you to do?

  • If you haven’t already, it’s time to step up your game.
  • Stop blaming it on a lack of time, skills, knowledge, fear or resources.
  • If you want to stay in business, then act like it.
  • Look in the mirror, and decide whether you’re above average at what you do.
  • Find out if your clients think you are above average.  Make sure their and your perceptions of your skills match.
  • Identify what it is that will make you above-average in the eyes of your target audiences, and create a plan to get there.

As my friend, Social Media, Emerging tech and Big Data expert, Deb Dobson, asked last night:

“I’m wondering what would happen if everyone in business tried to medal in business Olympics like the athletes do in the sport Olympics?”

Great question!

If we used Deb’s perspective, it might take a little extra work and focus, which is okay if it means we serve clients better, right?

After all, as Thomas Friedman also pointed out in his column:

“There is no good job today that does not require more and better education to get it, hold it or advance in it.”

Thank you, Mr. Friedman, for inspiring this post.  Although unintended, your lessons are appropriate for many industries and professions.

Thank you, Deb Dobson, for adding a succinct, much-needed perspective to this post.

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Comments 4

  1. Thank you Nancy for adding me as a part of this article.  I had not read Thomas Friedman’s articles and appreciated you sharing.  I agree with you that it applies to business.  In today’s world, we can’t afford to be satisfied with average.  As a client, you deserve better than average.  Yes, it will take extra effort, but the benefits for you and your client are certainly worth it.  Well done.

  2.  Thanks debdobson !  Yes, when we think about it for a minute, it can be daunting to think of all the competition out there for all of our services, but we then have to get beyond that, and figure out what it will take to stand out.  Sometimes it’s not as Herculean as we might think! 

  3. Nancy, so many seem to want to sort of be who they aren’t. They want to be the guru, the accomplished expert, the million dollar author, the celebrity …. We fall into that trap so easily sometimes, don’t we? I think this is part of the problem. We out-dream our willingness to actually perform the things that need to be done to be of true, complete service.
    I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream. I’m just suggesting that maybe we don’t need to be Ghandi, or Trump, or Wonder Woman. Maybe we’d be better off and far happier AND of better value to the world if we were intent on doing the best we can with what we’ve got from wherever we are. (I can’t remember who said that but it wasn’t me. ha!)
    At any rate. I agree with you. Let’s get better at the things we do right here and now. And then perhaps success will push us up as we actually demonstrate our worth.

  4. Post

    Hi Carmelo! I particularly love your comments in the last paragraph about getting better at the things we do right here and now, and perhaps success will push us up as we demonstrate worth. Thank you very much for stopping by!

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