Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 11, 2012

Key to business success: Embrace being different


The few times I tried conforming, I failed miserably.

I feel sorry for people who are probably free spirits with creative ideas, but get that creativity sucked out of them for the sake of “fitting in.”

A lot of people get sucked up into “keeping up with the Jones.” If they believe, like John F Kennedy, that “history is the final judge of deeds,” they are never going to make it. History tends to celebrate non-conformists, like Thomas More, who battled King Henry VIII, or non-conforming cultural trends, like rock and roll.

I don’t see a lot of biographies of people who played “follow the leader.”

On the other hand, going against popular trends can be tough for the people doing it. Thomas More was beheaded and many of the people who pioneered rock and roll, like the legendary disc jockey Alan Freed, died young and broke.

Sometimes it’s easier to go along with the crowd than to fight it. Others don’t have any desire or interest in breaking ranks. There is a place in the world for them too. In fact, those who follow the crowd are the dominant breed.

Trusting my own instincts has worked for me. I suspect when I check in 30 years from now, I’ll still be running against the wind.


Don McNay is a columnist for the Richmond (Ky.) Register. Contact him at

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