Are you spending enough time with the badly dressed people?

On the (not so) rare occasion when I find myself regretting a wardrobe choice, I mentally repeat a comforting mantra taken from John Paul Gauthier’s observation that “it is always the badly dressed people who are the most interesting”. In such a context, the designer’s words may be a tad too “Stuart Smalley” but there is a useful lesson to be gleaned from the witticism.

We often think of visionaries as having the ability to see into the future but most often they see existing opportunities that have been overlooked by others. The ability to identify potential in unlikely places is key to developing your competitive advantage. Do you maximize opportunities with clients, products, service offerings and talent or is your vision clouded by how “well dressed” things are?

We all chase the big clients but often underestimate the profitability of the smaller ones. Opportunities are also missed if a business can’t envision servicing a certain channel or tier of customer. The same is true when dealing with other people. We look for feedback from our clients and collaboration from our team but we may be overlooking some of the most useful resources.  It is often the quietest person in the room who has the most to say. Those who are accustomed to contributing will do so easily but it is worth the work to solicit feedback from others as well. I have gleaned valuable and surprising insights about specific sales or marketing strategies from team members in IT, Finance, Engineering, etc. I am unsure if the badly dressed people are always the most interesting but I have to assume they occasionally are. Make an effort to discover the obscure.

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