Level with me: are you holding back because you are waiting to hit that perfect pitch in your business? Are you waiting for everything to line up perfectly? Are you waiting to stand out in the crowd? Waiting for the right website? Waiting for the right moment?


Are you obsessed with having your site “sound like you”? So obsessed that you can’t put anything out because you think people will be turned off.


Well stop it.


I know I have said this a million times but I will say it again.


You can show up with some tights and a cape but if you aren’t actually saving people you are not a superhero. The same goes for business. Pretty websites and clever taglines don’t make your brand memorable. Kicking ass on the regular basis makes you memorable. You have to kick ass first and then the rest just makes you MORE awesome.


“Standing out” won’t necessarily make you money.


I had a conversation with a good friend and client about her pursuit of her “purple cow.” She was looking for that thing that makes her different and helps her stand apart. She felt frustrated and wasn’t making much headway because she was obsessed with this idea of making sure she had a perfect “brand” and that she was clearly different.  My response?


The purple cow concept is bullshit — Sorry Seth!


It’s not only bullshit but it keeps people from doing things.


Brands are not created in a vacuum. The WORST thing you can do is sit around and ask yourself how to make your business “different.” Spending HOURS trying to figure out your tagline is a waste o’ time. HIRE someone.

A brand is not considered more effective or “better” because of the way it looks.


A gorgeous website and a clever tagline will get you noticed but being known as someone who is good at what they do will help you make money AND brand your business.


Think about Apple. Apple isn’t a distinct brand because of the website or even the style of the computer. Apple computers are different because of the way they DO things and that has evolved over the years. Apple has been around for a very long time and the brand has only become the cool brand it is today over the last 10 years. Steve Jobs was a PROBLEM solver and the brand evolved from that.


Marie Forleo’s site is great because of the design and ALSO because it accentuates everything she is known for and forging that connection takes time to get right.


Kriss Carr’s redesign looks AWESOME but it just got like that. She was crazysexylife for YEARS.


Here is the hard truth. You have to DO THE WORK first.  Most people come to me because they want to stand out online but it turns out they don’t have the basic stuff right. They don’t talk to their people. They aren’t engaging. The obsession with standing out kills businesses. I see it all the time. Branding takes time and if you are waiting for all of the puzzle pieces to line up, you are never gonna get it “right.”


This mindset also prevents people from recognizing victories and appreciating what is already in front of them. “I only have 15 followers.” 15 people want to hear from you. THAT IS A BIG DEA.


This shiz takes TIME and if you are looking for a magic bullet via purple cow, sexy website or catchy name, you are looking to the wrong place. 


You have to put in the time.


You gotta have the failures and the successes.

Evolution is the  ESSENTIAL  for creating an effective brand. WRITE THAT DOWN. Evolution is ESSENTIAL.

So what am I asking you to do?


Put yourself out there, even if it’s not perfect. Get out there and help people and see how your brand develops and changes that way.


INVEST in learning to find the answers yourself before you hire someone else to find them for you.

Before my business was “Hey Shenee” I was “Eight Thirty Five”, “You’ll Look Great” and just Shenee Howard. I have tested out (and killed) dozens of services. I’ve written SO MUCH copy and changed my site design several times. Each time I get closer and closer to my brand but most importantly, each time I get closer to the best way for me to help people.

And that’s what it is all about.

We have developed this culture of celebrity within our industry but truly this is not what this should be about and if your goal is to be “famous” your heart isn’t in the right place, anyway.


So seriously, instead of pouring all of your efforts into “looking good” online, focus on figuring out how you HELP people and what makes that awesome.


What do you think? Are you guilty of this? What keeps you from actually doing the work? Do you have compare and despair syndrome?


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26 thoughts on “Your permission slip to stop obsessing about "standing out" and perfection + purple cow bullshit

  1. Shenee thanks for this amazing post. It takes time – I think that is the three words most people gloss over on their quest to getting noticed!!

    Great stuff

    Posted on November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm
    1. YES! TIME is hard to honor but SO important to giving the confidence to keep moving forward even if things don’t go well right away.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm
  2. LORDY is this good stuff. The stress & confusion & the “getting it right” plagues my life! I am a student in your HBA class, and the material is great, but I’ve had a hard time figuring out all the pieces. And not knowing is making me craaaaazy. Way more crazy than if I just get on out there and figure it out.

    I have the feeling that a few months from now, the ideas from HBA will click and make much more sense than they do now, all as a result of putting them to practice in real life, and not just theorizing.

    Thanks for this post! It’s relieving.

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm
    1. Yes! In fiction writing, one of the things we learn is to stop trying to know where the story is going and to just enjoy the ride and I think that helps me when I am feeling stuck or frustrated that things aren’t coming together perfectly.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm
  3. I love this post! How are we supposed to really know what we *do* differently, if we are not actually *doing* anything yet? Exactly!

    As a frustrated perfectionist, there is so much I’ve missed out on doing because I was wanting to do it perfectly off the bat, and just couldn’t get it ‘just so’ so didn’t do it at all!

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm
    1. YES! We don’t know HOW to change and improve if we don’t make that first step.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm
  4. Another great post Shenee. Love “compare and despair”. It really is about who you help, not how you look while doing it.

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm
    1. Yes, we get SO caught up in how we “look” that we often forget that it’s not about having a vanity business.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm
  5. Holy smokes. I thought you were talking specifically to me…calling me out…DEFinitely guilty of this, but taking positive steps in the right direction to figure out how to HELP MY people and what makes that awesome! Thank you so much for writing this!

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm
    1. hahaha kelly! Not calling you out specifically but I totally know this feeling because I have LIVED it!

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm
  6. Such a great post, Shenee. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of trying to stand out because of all the training out there telling you that you have to. But the truth is, if everyone played to their own strengths and were true to their own uniqueness, then they would naturally stand out.

    No two people are alike. So if you take time to discover what you can do well, how that can help others, and then start offering those solutions, then you will naturally stand out. And like you said, focus on helping others in the way you do it best, and you will stand out to those who will matter most to your business.

    Thanks for this great post!

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm
    1. wonderful insight ROZ! I think it is SO powerful to honor our own unique blend o’ awesome and know that everyone fascinates in their own unique way.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm
  7. Like someone already mentioned, it felt like you were talking to me. I’m just getting started and even though I wasn’t looking for perfection, I was still looking for “something” instead of focusing on what matters…helping people! Not when “I have that something”, right freakin’ now! Thank you!

    Posted on November 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm
    1. Yes, it’s about that “something” we all look for to give us permission to make those steps and we don’t need it.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm
  8. well my site is called purple panda.. named after the book.. so you bet i was looking for my purple cow or trying to figure out how to blog about this ‘being different’, ‘standing out’ stuff without actually achieving much of that status. but you just gave me a relief. i think you’re right. BUT i think when you put in the work, the purple cow will come. just not necessarily right away.

    Posted on November 9, 2012 at 1:23 am
    1. absolutely what I am getting at with all of this — work and clarity first and then the brand comes — I am actually writing about this now — there is no such thing as a brand in a box –we need more data

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm
  9. Re the search- “remember what ever it is you’re looking for…it’s also looking for you.”

    If what it is you’re putting out is in DEE-vine order it WILL bear fruit. Keep planting seeds,,,in the meantime, bloom where you are.

    I heart you & your gutsy soul- Shenee.

    Posted on November 9, 2012 at 5:47 am
    1. YES! I love this and it is SO encouraging way to look at things in this way —

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm
  10. Love! Nothing worth having comes easy. Am I guilty of a cliche right now? Totally. But it’s the truth. Once we start thinking a bit less and doing a lot more, we discover the direction we need to be moving in.

    Posted on November 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm
    1. THINK LESS, DO MORE. That is like my motto for life and for my business.

      Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm
  11. Perfect post at the perfect time…giving me permission to not be perfect.

    Posted on November 12, 2012 at 11:48 am
  12. Amen!

    Posted on November 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm
  13. Shenee, my intuition led me back to your site today as I’m working on my website redesign, and can I just tell you that I let out an AUDIBLE sigh when I read this…yes, yes, and yes!

    I love you and your willingness to put it all out there, reminding us that the process can be so much less stressful when we ALLOW our brand to develop rather than force it.

    Posted on November 21, 2012 at 2:03 am
  14. I love this Shenee! I have to say, I’m definitely one of those who’s been waiting to figure out my ‘purple cow’ angle. I too was mesmerised by Kris Carr’s redesign and felt certain that my website needs to look as gorgeous as hers before I can launch. I’ve been spending so much time ‘researching’, figuring stuff out, getting clarity. Thank you for reminding me that taking action, being good at what you do, and being (shock horror) NICE, are what matters.

    As Roz said above, everyone’s different. Simply by being YOU, you’ll stand out. You’ll be your own purple cow. I’m beginning to see that so much time is wasted fretting about being unique. Time that would be so much better spent on the ground, making stuff happen and making people happy.

    (Note to self: listen to your own advice!)


    Posted on November 26, 2012 at 7:46 am
  15. Wow this post is powerful and really struck a cord with me. I’m still in the beginning of my career and have a lot of interests and haven’t quite figured out how to “position” or “brand” myself. Rather than obsessing about this, however, my goal for the new year is to just keep doing awesome work and showing up to each day/assignment with excellence. It’s so easy to compare yourself to these digital rock stars (like you, Marie Forleo, Kris Carr, Danielle LaPorte, Melissa Cassera, I could go on and on…) but I think a lot of people forget that they didn’t have it all figured out in the beginning. Thanks for the encouragement and important reminder!

    Posted on December 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm
  16. I did but this has really killed that and I am being me and looking at getting out there and how to reach people in anyway possible. networking, etc,, yea I am getting a simple website.. nothing fancy which is who I am.. so its all about getting out there and asking people if you can do a presentation at that network group or introduce yourself and even if its practice.. you dont know who you are going to reach.. I love your stuff and its giving me confidence in being me and focusing on who I help and how I can get to them

    Posted on December 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm