Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!

Normal product development process: IDEA—> DEVELOP—>LAUNCH—>MARKET

Difference process: TRUTH—>PEOPLE—>IDEA—>LAUNCH

The Shopping cart story

Sylvan Goldman, a grocery store owner from Oklahoma, noticed that when his customers’ baskets became too heavy or too full, people stopped shopping. He began to think of ways to improve the experience for his customers. In 1936 he came up with the idea of a basket carrier on wheels. The concept was developed from the simple idea of using a folding chair as a framework to carry two baskets.

The strange thing was that even though it was designed to make their lives easier, customers hated the shopping cart. They didn’t warm to using it at all. Men worried that they would look weak if they couldn’t haul a heavy load of groceries. Young women thought that the carts were unfashionable, and older people didn’t want to appear helpless by using them

Mr Goldman was not one to give up on an idea, so he took a step back; he considered his customers’ worldview and thought about what might change how people felt about using the carts. Next, he hired models of both sexes and all ages to push shopping carts around his store as if they were shopping. He also hired a friendly store greeter who would offer carts to people as they arrived, pointing out that everyone was using them. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Qualities of difference thinking people:

They practice empathy because they care enough to make an impact.

They have a clear sense of the change they want to make in the world.

They are impatient about tactics and endlessly patient about implementing their strategy.

They ask the right questions, and that means that they talk more than twice as much as they listen, because talking takes guts. Mostly, they ignore those who offer empty criticism.

They watch what people do and don’t just believe what people tell them.

They innovate and create at the edges, ignoring the market of everyone.

They make products for their customers, instead of trying to find customers for their products.

They understand that they need to give people a story to tell—a ‘you’ve gotta see this’ moment.

They work hard to change how people feel, by creating intangible value that gives them an emotional point of difference.

They understand that trust is their second-most valuable asset. The first is the willingness to be wrong for the right reason

Actually, marketing is, and has always been, a transfer of emotion. It’s about changing how people feel and, in turn, helping them to fall in love with something, or maybe just a little bit more in love with themselves.

So if people buy the story—if they buy the fortune, not the cookie; the experience, not just the raw ingredients—why don’t we as marketers work harder to give people a story to believe in?

The truth is that the masses don’t want to feel like ‘the masses’. They want to discern. To choose. To be seen. To matter. Your customers don’t want to be just anyone, they want to be someone.

The Rubik’s Cube made being smart cool overnight. Cube owners weren’t just playing with a toy or solving a puzzle; they were belonging.


We get stuck at the ‘telling people what it does’ part. But here’s the thing: deep down most people don’t care about what the features enable them to do. Why not? Because people don’t want to do; they want to be. They want to be less busy and more productive, less alone and more connected, less fearful and more safe. People don’t buy features—they buy promises.

By making earphones ‘accessory white’, Apple gave iPod owners a way to be noticed and to belong.

Coffee was once a $1 commodity; Starbucks made it a $4 experience.

People are telling us what they care about and it isn’t our products. It’s their journey, their story, the meaning they want to create in their lives.

It turns out that the key to creating difference is to make something that changes how people feel and makes them fall just a little more in love, not with what we sell but with themselves.

We assume that the most valuable data is static and lives on graphs and in spreadsheets. But turning to the graphs first, last and always to get to know your customers is like looking at a child’s development purely on a growth chart

The Difference Model is built around six pillars: principles, purpose, people, personal, perception and product.

Principles are fundamental truths, cornerstones and guiding lights.

Principles can be divided into three categories: the truth about you, the truth about the industry or the market, and the truth about the people you want to matter to. Dollar Shave Club was founded on the premise that men were sick of paying for shave tech they didn’t need.

What’s the truth about the reality your prospective customers are living with? What do they believe? How do those beliefs influence how they behave today, and how might they change what they do tomorrow? What problems do they want you to solve? What might they need? What are their unexpressed desires?

Your purpose is not what you do, but why you do it.

Who are the people you want to serve? What do they value? What do they care about? What’s their current reality? Don’t think simply in terms of demographics; think about your customers’ worldview and how they navigate the world from day to day

How can you become more relevant and significant to the people you want to serve? How can your business be about making them live as a better version of themselves? What difference does your product make to them?

How you make your customers feel about themselves in the presence of your brand is what matters.

What do people believe? What would we like them to believe about us and about themselves in the presence of our product?

What do your customers believe about you? What would you like them to believe and say about your brand? What would you have to do to get them to do and say that?

Great stuff, the things we give a damn about, have the heart left in them. What do I mean by ‘heart’? The empathy and emotion. The feeling, and yes, vulnerability. Yours, not the marketing department’s. Good products work. Great products become part of our story. A good speaker leaves us with food for thought. A great speaker leaves his heart on the podium. Good marketing tells the story. Great marketing is the story. We don’t just notice or respond to difference; most of the time we can’t even explain it. We simply feel it. We just know. And that’s what makes it matter.