What is the secret to being memorable? I think I’ve cracked the code.
I live in Philadelphia. Due to the pandemic, indoor dining has been closed for many months leaving outdoor dining as our only option. One day, back in January, it was unseasonably warm and we decided to go out to eat. We chose a fabulous neighborhood spot with heated outdoor dining called Modo Mio Taverna.
I called the restaurant and asked the following question?
Do you have room outside for two plus a baby? But don’t worry, she’s a cool-ass baby. Like, she’s not one of those annoying ones that just screams and cries.”
The person on the other end chuckled and assured us that a table would be ready for us outside. We arrived with our “cool-ass baby” in a polar bear onesie.
We had a great time.
Since our last visit, it has snowed, the temperature dropped, and we haven’t felt much like subjecting an infant to below freezing temperatures.
But, last night it was warm. So, I called Modo Mio and asked the following question?
Hey, do you guys have any outdoor tables available for three people plus a baby. She’s a super cool baby, not like one of those annoying babies.”
The person on the other end chuckled and asked “you’ve been here before, right? I remember you.” When we walked in, he recognized us immediately.
Apparently, we made an impression.
In 2003, I bought my first pair of red Pumas; red mesh Mostros with a white stripe. I’ll never forget those shoes. It was the first pair of shoes I remember buying that weren’t black, white, or gray. Every time I put on those shoes, I felt like I was screaming at the top of my lungs: “don’t you dare ignore me!”
Since then I’ve easily purchased 40 pairs of Pumas and at least 60% have been Ferrari Red.
Since starting my speaking career in 2010, I’ve worn red sneakers to every speaking engagement with only a handful of exceptions. At conferences, I was the speaker with the red sneakers and the t-shirt with #speaker across the front.
When I had an office at WeWork, people would recognize me by my signature look of red sneakers and a superhero t-shirt.
People in my network know that I’m usually in red sneakers. I have friends that wear red sneakers too…we bond over it. Even some people I’ve never met in real life will make a remark about my sneakers when we converse over social media.
For nearly 20 years, it has been making an impression.
The World’s Most Handsome
Sometime around 2014, after various revisions to my Linkedin profile, I decided to just have some fun. I changed my headline to read:
The World’s Most Handsome Social Media & Content Marketing Strategist
I cannot even begin to explain how successful this move has been.
People introduce me to other people this way. People have come up to my wife at her job and asked if she’s married to “the world’s most handsome…” because they’d seen her in my Instagram stories. Time and time again, people I’ve just met will look at my profile and exclaim how much they love it.
It’s different. It’s stands out. So, it gets noticed.
It makes an impression.
Lots of people make reservations. Lots of people wear brightly colored sneakers. Lots of people have clever Linkedin headlines. None of these are the reason why I have been effective at being memorable. These are simply supporting materials.
The primary reason all three of these tactics were effective methods to make an impression is that each are supporting a substantially more important factor: connection
What I left out of these stories, was how each of these three examples were about creating connection.
At the restaurant
The whole “cool-ass baby” thing was a distinctive reminder that we’d been there before. It’s something few people would say in that exact way. It spurred a conversation with our server. We now know his name, his favorite hockey team, and had an interesting talk about our infant daughter’s developing palate.
He invited us back and asked us to talk to him directly if we needed a table.
With the sneakers
It was a carefully planted conversation starter. I made sure people knew that I was wearing the only brand and color of shoe they’d ever see me in: red Pumas. This made it very easy for anyone to start a conversation with me. I would use that conversation to get to know them, listen intently to what they wanted to accomplish, and see how I could help them.
The sneakers were nothing more than a bright red invitation to talk.
The Linkedin headline
This was a tongue-in-cheek joke that went better than I anticipated. It was just over-the-top enough for people to take it as a joke rather than arrogance or deep insecurity. It was bold enough to be a conversation starter, a way to get people talking, and make sure they were smiling from the very beginning.
We never spent more than 45 seconds talking about it, but it always got us off on the right foot. It was also something uniquely mine that made me very easy to find online.
Here is the lesson
You’re not going to be memorable because of the things you do, you’re going to be memorable because of the way you make people feel. It’s not the object, the artifact, or the distinctive website copy. It’s the connection. The trick is to anchor that connection to something distinctive and uniquely yours.
Go find your version of red Pumas and a silly Linkedin headline.
Don’t do it just to be different and don’t just attempt to be “edgy.” Do something you can own as uniquely yours and that is authentic to your personality. The purpose is to create the conditions for connection. Put some thought into it.
So get out there, and don’t be afraid to be remarkable (worthy of remarks).
Jeff Gibbard, Superhero