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Dare To Be Different

A number of years ago when I was first starting out in the speaking business, I ran into a man named Joel Weldon, who is a legend in my industry. He had just seen me speak in person, liked what he saw and heard and gave me a valuable piece of advice that I carry with me to this day. He said, "Look at what everybody else is doing, and do something different." I never forgot it.

You know as well as I do you'll never be successful by following the crowd. It might be comfortable, but it'll never make you stand out. Going against the status quo takes courage, something few people have. But isn't it always the few who are successful, while the majority are just average.

Recently my son came to me with an article he printed out from the Internet. It was about Hardee's and their new "Monster Thickburger.

" The Monster Thickburger is a hamburger with 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat. I only have to look at and my cholesterol rises. It consists of two 1/3 slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun.

This comes at a time when McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and other fast-food giants have broadened their offerings of salad and other low-calorie fare. Why did Hardee's choose to go in the exact opposite direction? Well, let's look at the numbers.

As I've learned from Ken Gronbach, expert on generational marketing and author of the recently released book "Common Census," the soon-to-be biggest generation in history is Generation Y, otherwise known as the "Echo Boom Generation." They are born anywhere from 1985 to 2010. They will be 100 million strong and they spend money 5 times faster than their famous spending parents.

The peak of this generation was born in 1990 making them, at this writing 14 years old. Do you think they're interested in salads? As my son, who is 17 said to me, "Dad, everyone in school is talking about the Monster Thickburger. What do you think; they're talking about salads?"

A friend of mine who is a Plastic Surgeon at Duke University Medical Center told me that the longest line at the hospital's food court is at Hardee's.

Now even if more and more people are health conscious, even if the market for big fattening, artery clogging burgers has shrunk (though I don't think it has), the fact that Hardee's (and their sister company, Carl's Jr.) stand alone in the market, puts them in an enviable position.

Hardee's looked at their competition and saw everyone else going in one direction. They looked at the marketplace and saw a tidal wave of teenagers with money to burn coming along and decided to turn around, go in a completely opposite direction and dare to be different.

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