How Not to Stand Out in Any Crowd

 by Steve Kayser

Featuring an interview with Sam Horn, author of 


I’m Good … Maybe Great!

You, your product, your service, your  company, is good … maybe great.


It’s different, unique, totally rad, awesomeroo and bloggerific.  It even (occasionally) delivers real business value; makes an authentic difference in business or life.


But … no one has heard of you.


Sui Generis


You’re one of a kind. You know it. You can prove it. But still, you’re one of a kind that no one knows. 


No one has ever heard of you.


You haven’t even heard of you.


You Haven’t Even Heard of You!


Not for lack of effort though.


You’ve tried to communicate your brilliance, your stupefying, heart-stopping differentiators, your value-laden proposition power pack, but your message gets sucked down the black hole of no return. The dreaded …. 


Inbox Out of Control


By “inbox” I’m referring to your mental inbox as well as work inbox.



You can’t seem to break through … to stand out in this infoglut world 2.0 where the speed of light has finally been surpassed (though Einstein said it wasn’t possible, he was never bombarded with electronic corporate gobbledygook) by the cumulative effect of  spam scud missiles, instant messages, BlackBerrys, mobile apps, blogging, etc.


Even though you know why you’re different − why you’re special − you can’t capture someone’s attention unless you communicate it so brilliantly it shines and stands out.  Everyone gets it instantly. But standing out is getting harder … and easier every day.


Harder because the sheer volume of marketing messages an average person sees a day is almost beyond measure.


It used to be that the average American was subjected to 3,000 marketing messages a day − 3,000 marketing messages a day!




Those were the good old days.




These days, you see that many before noon.




Harharharhar. Just kidding. I lied. Just threw that in to obfuscate. It’s not getting easier. Sorry. And it won’t get easier. But, with the proper approach, you can reach your goals and … 


Capture Customers


Are there strategies and tactics that can help you break through and stand out?  To capture customers’ and prospects’ attention, hearts, minds and …. (ahem) money?



“Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.”


- Ralph Waldo Emerson



We’ll find out from professional speaker and author of “POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd,” Sam Horn. Sam’s books have been endorsed by such luminaries as Stephen R. Covey (“7 Habits ...”), Jack Canfield (“Chicken Soup ...”), and Anthony Robbins (“Unleash the Power ...”). But none communicates the essence of the book with such eloquent intellectual simplicity as the testimonial below.



“As a person who once used a sparking Barbie doll

to set fire to a pair of underpants on national television,

 I can vouch for the importance of standing out from a crowd.

As a friend of Sam Horn's, I can also vouch for the excellent advice

she offers in this book.”


- Pulitzer-Prize-winning humor columnist, Dave Barry



But First (and it’s related) … POP!


Donkey quit.


My Donkey quit.


Just like that – POP – several years of collaborating and co-writing went up in smoke.



No morestories.


Success had gone to his

donkey head. (I won’t comment on the lipstick … but I have heard rumors.)


After a series of successful articles that included:


Shooting the Donkey in the Complex Sales Process ... Hollywood Style,

Veni, Vidi, Tiré a dos burros,” “I Came. I Saw. I Shot Two Donkeys,” and 

My Darling, Is That Manure Stick You Have on? 


He decided he could make it on his own.


A Donkey in His Own Write


He wanted to be his own donkey and write his own book. That’s right, his own book. He didn’t tell me about this until he was almost done.


I took it in stride.

But then decided I wanted (needed) to try to save our relationship. We went to counseling.


It didn’t work.


When I realized he was determined to quit no matter what, and move on with his donkey life, I decided to do the right thing. Try to help him (later I needed some help myself).

Donkey’s book was almost done. It was a compilation of lessons he’d learned from humans. I offered him my help in marketing the book, but Donkey said he didn’t need it.

I’d done enough already. 

Ready to Break Through, Stand Out, and Go to Market!


My Donkey already had the plan and his book title,



When he showed me the draft, I really didn’t know what to say without hurting his feelings. Except that as much as he’s been around corporate business-speak, he ought to know that if the book was successful, someone would turn the title into an acronym, and well … that might turn out a bit crappy.


Donkey discounted that and quickly pointed out that his full name was prominently featured on the cover (unlike his collaborative efforts with me where we was known only by his first name … Donkey). 


And why was this important?


Well, according to Donkey O'Tee, all great, memorable names and slogans incorporated the person’s or company’s name.





“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener

That is what I truly wish to be.

'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,

Everyone would be in love with me.”



He was going to use a similar strategy – though he quite hadn’t figured it out yet − to market his book.





Oh, I wish I were a Donkey O'Tee wiener.

That is what I truly wish to be … be … be.



I asked him if he knew what happened to weiners (hot dogs)?



Donkey was horrified. He quickly moved on to his next example, from the insurance industry. He asked me if I knew …



“You’re in Good Hands with  ...”



”Allstate, of course,” I answered. But, I didn’t think that would work for him either.




Didn’t ring, resonate or POP!


“But what,” I asked,” is your book really about?”


“You don’t know? You can’t tell by the title? It’s the “Idiot’s Guide to Business Survival.” It’s my elevator spiel. I mean you humans excel at making the simple complex, the complex unknowable, and the unknowable entertainingly hilarious! And, you do it was such pompous profligate proliferating panache that to succeed in business today, even to keep your job, you need to know how to excel at …


“Pompously Obfuscating on Purpose?”


Yes! You see … a bestseller in the making!” said Donkey O'Tee. “Go to any business website, read any business report, letter, brochure, advertisement or marketing message … it’s totally obvious. To survive in the human’s business world today, you have to be able to …


“Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose.”  I echoed with dismal dismay.


“Less is not more! Less is out of a job. More is less.  More is needed all of the time. More of more and less of less, more or less!” brayed Donkey O'Tee hilariously.  “And … I‘m going to get all kinds of media coverage, you know why?




“You heard that song by the famous female songwriter Bonnie Braitt?”


“You mean Bonnie Raitt?


“No, You having trouble hearing? Bonnie Braitt.”


“What song?”


“I’m going to give them something to bray about!”


For once, I was speechless. Though Donkey had made some excellent points, I still felt duty-bound, nonetheless, to seek out some expert advice on his behalf. For Donkey O'Tee to succeed, he had to stand out (and not just in a field) to capture national and international media attention.


   ENTER:  Sam Horn

  I Am Sam Horn I Am 
Sam is a professional speaker and author of “POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd.” Sam is also the author of several well-reviewed books from major publishers including “Tongue Fu!®,” “ConZentrate,” “What's Holding You Back?,” and “Take the Bully by the Horns.” These have been sold around the world (China, Japan, Argentina, France, and Germany); favorably reviewed in dozens of publications including Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Investors Business Daily, Foreign Service Journal, and Readers Digest, and endorsed by many best-selling authors including Stephen R. Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jeffrey Fox, Susan Jeffers, Dave Pelzer, Susan Forward, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Richard Carlson, and John Gray.



Steve: Welcome. I have this friend. He’s writing a book and needs to learn, well …  

Sam: To … learn how to break out instead of blend in?


Steve: You’ve got it. What is POP!, and why is it important?


Sam:  POP! is a system of 25 techniques I've developed that can help ANYONE create attention-grabbing titles, taglines, and tell 'n sell descriptions for their company, cause, campaign, and creation. It’ll let them break out instead of blend in.


POP! is crucial to success because people today are BB. 


Steve: BB?


Sam:  They're BUSY.  They have hundreds of things competing for their attention.  They're BORED.  They've heard and seen it all - or at least, they think they have.



“My own business always bores me to death;

I prefer other people's.”


- Oscar Wilde



What that means is, we have 30 seconds to get their favorable attention.  If what we have to say and sell is not Purposeful, Original, or Pithy, they're on to the next thing.










30 seconds or less




Steve: In 30 seconds or less?


Sam:  Make a long elevator speech short by Cliff Noting it into one sentence.  The more you try to explain what you do or what you have to offer, the more confused people will become.



"My grandfather invented Cliff Notes.

 It was, well, ... to make a long story short."


- Steven Wright



Instead of going on at length, compare your job or offering to something with which people are familiar and fond.  For example, I was in Denver, CO with my sons for a speaking engagement.  We had the night free, so I asked our hotel concierge to suggest a fun place we could go. 


He said, "You've got to go to D & B's."


We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was referring to.  We asked, "What's D & B's?"


He said, "It's a Chuck E. Cheese for adults."


Voila.  We knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there because of his perfect "Cliff Notes" description.


Steve: I get it. (See how purposeful, original, and pithy my responses are?)



"Operator! Give me the number for 911!" - Homer Simpson



Sam: In the book, this is called "The Valley Girl Technique." It provides specific ways to compare what you do to a popular movie, song, book, or person to create a tell' n sell elevator intro that gets your project's foot in people's mental door.


Steve: How do you come up with a memorable name or slogan?  (I didn’t tell her about “Pompously Obfuscate on Purposeyet because, though memorable it may be, it’s in an infamy kind-a-way.)


Sam:  One of the best ways to make your name or slogan memorable is to use alliteration.  Alliteration is when words start with the same sound.  It makes your language lyrical, makes you instantly eloquent, and gives peoples’ minds a hook on which to hang a memory. 



Say these words out loud.


Bed, Shower, and Toilet

Boom radio

Dirt Satan

Good Purchase

Dunkin Croissants

Rolls Jaguar



Steve: Now I’m hungry, sleepy, jiggy, and have to go …


Sam:  They don't POP! do they?  They sound commonplace, and they'd be difficult to remember.



Now say these words out loud.


Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Boom Box

Dirt Devil

Best Buy

Dunkin Donuts

Rolls Royce



Hmm … they fit together, don't they?  Alliteration produces "ear music," which has a nice ring and resonance, which means your brand name will linger longer in peoples’ minds.





Produce "ear music" with a nice ring and resonance and ...

your brand name will linger longer in peoples’ minds.



Steve: To stand out, you almost have to be one of a kind, or at least be perceived that way. What's one of the best ways individuals and organizations can become one of a kind instead of one of many?


Sam: The best way to become one of a kind is to coin a word for your business, brand, or book that belongs to you and you alone. One way to do that is to use one of the 25 POP! techniques called Alphabetizing. 





Mix-n-match your core words.



Write down ten words you frequently use to pitch your project, product, or program. Those are your "Core Words."  Now, run each of those words through the alphabet, changing the sound of the first syllable to match the corresponding letter. 


I used this technique to create the trademarked term of Tongue Fu! - the verbal form of Kung Fu! 



Tongue-Fu: Martial Arts for the Mind and Mouth



Tongue Fu! is martial arts for the mind and mouth.  If you run Tongue Fu! through the alphabet, you come up with even more variations. 


-        Fun Fu! is how to handle hassles with humor instead of harsh words. 

-        Run Fu! is for when Tongue Fu! doesn't work. 

-        Tongue Glue is knowing when to keep your mouth shut. 

-        Tongue Sue! is for lawyers. 

-        Young Fu! is for kids.


These proprietary phrases could become articles, chapters in a book, or presentations for targeted audiences.


See how this works?  Instead of competing with everyone else, your one-of-a-kind term turns you into the go-to resource because YOU are the sole provider of that particular item.



“If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked,

doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted?”


-George Carlin



Steve: What's one POP! technique anyone can use to help their ideas and offerings break out instead of blend in?



Create a Half and Half Word



Sam: Use what I call a Half and Half Word to go to the head of the class and become THE topic expert on your product or profession. 


That's what Dr. Francine Kaufman did by naming a cultural phenomenon that was taking place in the medical world.  She noticed that more and more children were coming into her office diagnosed with diabetes.  The link between diabetes and obesity had been known for years, however, no one had linked them in language until she did by coining the term Diabesity.  By creating a one-word name for this condition, she got an impressive book deal and quickly became THE topic expert that media called first for interviews.


You can create your own Half and Half Word by getting a fresh piece of paper and drawing a vertical line down the center, dividing the paper into two columns.  Now, start describing the different aspects of your cause, company, creation, or campaign − putting half the words on the left and half the words on the right.


For example, if you were opening a fusion restaurant that combined a mix of ethnic foods, you could write common words from one culture on the left and popular phrases from the other culture on the right.  Now, take the first half of a word on the left and match it with the last half of the words on the right.  Then take the first half of the next word on the left and match it with the last half of the words on the right, and so on.  Keep playing with different combinations until you come up with one that POP!s – ala Ciao Mein, the perfect name for an Italian-Chinese bistro.


Steve: Got it. Piece of cake.



“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, 

but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”


- Robert McCloskey



Steve:  What are a couple of laugh-out-loud examples of products that POP!d off the shelf because of their catchy name?  


Sam: Here are a couple of my favorite examples of products that POP!d out of the pack because of their catchy names.



Diddle Daddle Piddle Paddle With a Saddle.


“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand

 a single word of what I am saying.”


- Oscar Wilde



A father liked to get down on all fours and give his toddler a "horsy-back ride" around the living room, but his son kept falling off.  So, he invented a human saddle he could cinch around his waist that had a safety belt so his son could ride to his heart's content. 


What to call this?  Run "saddle" through the Alphabet and what do you come up with?   That's right. DADDLE. 



 Smitten by Smittens



A couple liked to go for a walk after dinner, but they lived in the Northeast and would freeze their fingers when it snowed. They created a co-joined mitten they could both put their hands in so they could keep their hands warm on their wintry walks.  Their clever name?  SMITTENS.


You may be thinking, "So what? Do catchy names really drive sales?"


You bet it does. 


Those clever products were featured in humor columnist Dave Barry's annual December columns which feature interesting products that have been brought to his attention by his many fans.  His column is syndicated in hundreds of newspapers around the country, which means MILLIONS of people now know about Daddle and Smittens.





Practice, Preach, and Reach



Steve: Last question.  (I pulled a draft of Donkey O'Tee’s book out to show her.) I’m going to run the title of my friend’s book by you. Could you give me your immediate response? If it POPS! or not?



“Anyone who afflicts the human race with ideas

 must be prepared to see them misunderstood.”


 - H. L. Mencken



Sam: Sure.


Steve: “Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose.”



“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.

It should be thrown with great force.”


- Dorothy Parker



Silence. Pretty deep silence. Complete silence one might say.



“From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”


- Groucho Marx



Steve: It has purpose. It’s original. It’s sorta pithy.


Sam: Ahem. It’s not quite the POP I’m talking about. More like how NOT to stand out in any crowd.


Steve’s face droops, deleteriously depressed for donkey.


Sam: However. It is something I’m writing about in my next book.


Steve’s face perks up. Visionaries – Donkey and he. 


Sam: SLAP!


Steve: SLAP?






Donkey O'Tee gave up writing his book, but not because he was SLAPPED.  It was the hooves on the keyboard.

They were causing the laptop battery to heat up and catch on fire. Donkey OTee is currently pursuing acting. Commercials. Probably insurance.




About Sam Horn


Sam is a respected author of well-reviewed books from major publishers including  “Tongue Fu!®,” “ConZentrate,” “What's Holding You Back?,” and “Take the Bully by the Horns,” all from St. Martins Press.  These have been sold around the world (China, Japan, Argentina, France, and Germany); favorably reviewed in dozens of publications including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Investors Business Daily, Foreign Service Journal, Dallas Morning News, and Readers Digest, and endorsed by many bestselling authors including Stephen R. Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jeffrey Fox, Susan Jeffers, Dave Pelzer, Susan Forward, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Richard Carlson, and John Gray.


Her most recent book POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd,”  (Perigee, Sept. ’06) has received enthusiastic testimonials from such respected business thought-leaders as Seth Godin (“Purple Cow”), Jeffrey Gitomer (“Little Red Book of Selling”), Mark Victor Hansen (“One Minute Millionaire”), and Ken Blanchard.



“POP! is a lively, fun, inspiring guide to getting heard,

getting remembered, and getting results.”


- Ken Blanchard



As the creator of The POP! Process (patent pending), Sam developed 25 innovative ways to craft one-of-a-kind titles, slogans, and brands that help professionals and their projects become one of a kind instead of one of many, so they can break out instead of blend in.  She teaches her process in a variety of formats including one-on-one consulting, conference keynotes, POP! Institutes, CD series, and in her newest book.


Sam is a frequent media guest who has been interviewed on every major network (NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX) and on dozens of radio shows including National Public Radio and Dr. Laura.  Her work has even been featured on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” and “To Tell The Truth,” where she and her Tongue Fu!® team stumped the panel.


Fourteen-time emcee (and former executive director) of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, Sam has been privileged to work alongside such famous authors, screenwriters, and directors as Ron Howard, James Brooks, Garry Marshall, Frank McCourt, Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Sparks, Sue Grafton, Tami Hoag, and Tony Hillerman.  She also has worked with top decision-makers from all of the major publishers and with the country’s top agents.  She annually coordinates the Non-fiction-Business-Self-Help Retreat Group the week before Labor Day weekend.




Sam Horn, Author/Speaker/Consultant ~ East Coast Office

2012 Lakebreeze Way, Reston, VA 20191

Phone (703) 861-9835  Fax (703 476-6499

Office E-mail

E-mail Sam Horn at


About Donkey O'Tee


He's good looking.

 And knows it.


 ... just  ask him. 

Has his own high-fashion clothing line?

Of course.



Well, he is an ...  

























About Steve Kayser:  


Do you need to know anymore after that article?  Thankfully Sam Horn pulled it out for him.

I mean he co-writes with a multilingual, fuzzy-faced, happy-hoof Honorary Harvard Scholar

What else could be important?  Oh wait. There is a little more.


Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer that has been featured in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, “Purple Cows” (by Seth Godin), “A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing,” Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Review Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.  

In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man monthly magazines.



Steve also headlines fundraising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.





In addition, Steve is retained by Cincom (on a very tenuous, minute-by-minute basis) to inspire and motivate others by fulfilling a famous Mark Twain axiom,


“Let us be thankful for the fools;  

but for them the rest of us could not succeed."



For more info, you can contact Steve at