1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Alex McLaughlin  Nov 4, 2010

There is marketing book called Differentiate or Die. You get the concept. A product, concept or person has to always precisely distinguish themselves from the competition in order to survive and prosper in their marketplace. At some level this is a truism for most Americans. Human beings are a composition of (1) actors and actress and (2) at the same time salespeople who from cradle to grave are selling themselves. I have had some interesting friends that have distinguished themselves as being accomplished people or as being unique. Friends come in many sizes shapes, tints and from all sides of the political spectrum. But the friends that have stood out the most have the common characteristics of being smart and the appearance of being out of control.

When was it that I realized that there was not a lot of hope for me to turn the corner and make something of my self and stand out in the marketplace? It could have been back in high school or just about any time between then and now. So I just chugged along. Could I be a difference maker or might be people perk up there ears a little when I began to speak because it might be meaningful? I did have the illusion at one time that the aliens would want to talk with me first, when they came, because I had this great insight about the human condition. So far the aliens have not been impressed as far as I can tell.

Actually when I had people reporting to me at work they seemed to be listening to what I said. They constantly nodded in apparent agreement when I came out with some great revelation. But then I thought maybe it was because I was boring them to tears and they were nodding off to sleep while standing up. One nodded off in staff meetings. But he said that he was not napping but merely resting his eyes. He was and remains my nearly, life long friend. So what was I supposed to do? I also had a couple of suck ups that almost begged me to say something, anything, so that they could agree with me.

See I was a leader in state government. And leadership in state government was defined as "Where did they go? How many were there? I must find them. I am their leader." A friend asked ,”How many people work for you?" My answer was always, " Oh about half of them". Now you are just about ready to ask does this guy ever take anything seriously. I am thinking about it and I will get back with you on that one.

But, as always, I am off on a tangent. Back to the matter at hand, namely, the need for Most human beings to sell and differentiate themselves. In a certain way this entire thing called life is an enigma. As social beings most people want to be part of a group but we also want to be different in order to progress and grow. We had one guy that came to work with us and he had had some down times but he always said that the thing he liked about our group was that there was already a club ready made for him when he came. At most work places he had to set up his own club. Most of us have this socialization need to be part of something and at the same time distinguish ourselves by merit or uniqueness. The secret I believe is to be associated with organizations and groups that foster and reward these apparently opposing needs.