I did something last month for the very first time: I took my daughter homecoming dress shopping.

Queue the exasperated mom sigh.

We didn’t find “the one” until a couple of shopping excursions and what I found fascinating is that every dress she liked had the same silhouette:

Fitted beaded bodice, cinched around the waist, poofy short skirt.

Every. Single. One.

I pulled out different looks and was met with the same eye roll I gave my parents when I was teen.

“What’s the deal?”  I asked her.

Turns out, she and many of her friends are all wearing basically the same silhouette: fitted beaded bodice, cinched around the waist, poofy short skirt. In fact, she showed me the dresses that some of her friends have already chosen.

All basically the same.

Somehow I thought that now that she’s in high school, some of the same-i-ness would subside and her personal style would emerge.

I found myself standing there asking her why she needed to be so much like her friends.  Why she couldn’t just try something different on to see if she liked it. Just experiment a bit to see what it felt like. If she let go of the rules she had created for herself, that she just might be pleasantly surprised. I found myself saying, in my best “mother knows best” tone that I remembered being her age and wanting to fit in too.

And then it happened…

I realized that I could relate to her not only from when I was a teen, but as a 47 year old woman with my own teenager rolling her eyes at me in the junior’s department.

You see, we all get stuck in the sea of same-i-ness from time to time, and the truth is that it’s hard to honestly put ourselves out there to be truly seen. It’s hard to “just be you” sometimes.

It’s easy to follow the crowd professionally, especially if you’re tapped into the online marketing world. It’s easy to spend your time looking around at what everyone else is doing and simply do that. You go for the online marketing version of “fitted beaded bodice, cinched around the waist, poofy short skirt” because it seems to work for someone else… plus that’s what is currently acceptable. It can take the form of:

  • I want my branding to look like hers
  • I want to use her tag line but just rephrase it a bit
  • My web site should look like that
  • I should use the same verbiage, just tweak it
  • I should do all things she is doing because, hey… it’s working for her!
  • Etc…

The problem is that you end up looking and sounding like everyone else.

“You” are missing from your business.

And because of that, you end up competing on price and not making the money or the massive difference you know you can make.

After doing this work for ten years, I know that people get stuck in the same-i-ness because it’s scary to stick your neck out by doing or saying something different. To buck the system. To say and do what’s in your heart. To truly claim your authority and layer it with your personality.

It can be scary to be truly seen.

Being seen is one of the most vulnerable and courageous things a person can do. It invites all kinds of unsolicited feedback, positive and negative, and if you’re not ready for it, it can be overwhelming.

Because you won’t always be liked.

You won’t “fit in” with some people. And in the crazy world of social media, the cowardly haters just love to have their say.

But at the same time, your tribe of fans and clients will form.

As service providers, coaches, consultants, and transformational leaders, being seen is part of the gig. It’s hard (impossible?) to massively share your message if you aren’t noticed.

You end up back at the homecoming dance with the fitted beaded bodice, cinched around the waist, poofy short skirt. In other words, you look just like everyone else: cute as a button, but not really standing out in your own unique style and being seen as the unique service provider you are who solves problems in your special way.


© 2016 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing

Meredith Liepelt is a Brand Strategist specializing in creating visibility for experts. For branding and marketing insights, challenges and inspiration, visit

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