Successful People Know When and How to Break the Rules

Competence is one of the keys to success in my Common Sense Success System.  I discuss it in detail in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success; Your Success GPS; Star Power, I Want YOU…to Succeed and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. 

If you want to succeed you need to develop four basic, but important competencies: 1) creating positive personal impact; 2) becoming a consistently high performer; 3) communication skills; and 4) relationship building.  

Yesterday, I blogged about a great new book that I was asked to review, The Big Picture: Essential Lessons for the Movies.  Authors Kevin Coupe and Michael Sansolo do a great job of discussing the business and career success ideas in almost 200 movies.  This is a very thoughtful book.  Kevin and Michael make some great points about success that pop up in some unlikely movies.  For example, they use the movie Babe to make the point that it’s important to be different – and break some rules — if you want to get recognized and succeed.  That’s great personal branding advice.  Creating and nourishing your unique personal brand is the first step in creating positive personal impact.  Here’s some of what Kevin and Michael have to say about Babe…

“Babe is a simple story, but it contains an important lesson.    Think of how many business have stuck to the way things always are and completely missed the opportunity to become something entirely new, bigger and better.

“MTV didn’t invent video or records, but pulled them together in an entirely new cable channel.  CBS, in contrast, owned a television network and a record company, but missed the chance.”

I experienced a rule breaking moment the other day.  I was in a local bookstore looking for a book on fitness.  As you can imagine, there was no shortage.  As I opened various books to check them out, I found Tamba Mbawa’s business card in every one of them.  I purchased a book and took it home.  When I got there, I went to Tamba’s website  Tamba is a personal trainer and fitness coach.

I thought this was a great example of breaking the rules and personal brand building.  Tamba spent the time to go to a local Barnes and Noble and place his card in every one of the fitness books they have on the shelf.  He was getting his name in front of a very targeted audience; people who purchase books on fitness.  Pretty cool idea in my book.  And one that is a perfect manifestation of what Kevin and Michael have to say about breaking the rules to get recognized for your uniqueness.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people create and nurture their unique personal brands.  Good personal brands highlight focus on the uniqueness of the person who created them.  One way of doing this is to break a few rules.  By breaking the rules, I don’t mean doing something illegal or unethical.  I mean thinking outside of the box and not being constrained by conventional wisdom.  As Kevin Coupe and Michael Sansolo point out in their great book The Big Picture, in the movie Babe, Babe the pig succeeds because he doesn’t act like a pig.  He is friendly and mannerly – characteristics not usually associated with pigs.  Tamba Mbawa broke the rules in building his personal training brand.  He placed his business card inside all of the fitness books in a local Barnes and Noble.  What rules are holding you back from building a great personal brand?  How can you break them to demonstrate your uniqueness?

That’s my take on creating a powerful personal brand by breaking the rules.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


PS: If you liked this post, you’ll love my free 90 minute DVD on career and life success.  To get your free copy, go to  That’s  Go there now and get started creating the successful life and career you want and deserve.

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  1. Great post Bud. When determining effective ways to get your story or brand in front of people, you have to do a lot more than take out an ad, or send just one email.

    Your post serves as a great reminder that casting a wide net while also targeting your audience, being confident in your message, and not afraid to push the envelop just a little bit, is the way to get noticed.

    Thank you,
    Summers McKay Bruno
    Director of Development, DISRRUPT/IVE STUDIOS

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