Aim Higher: Becoming ICONIC with Scott McKain

Stand Out

I’ve spoken with Scott McKain, my guest on this week’s episode of “Aim Higher,” many times—both because he’s a friend and because he says so many things that resonate with me and with my own philosophies of leadership and personal development.

In this interview, we talk about his book, ICONIC: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain and Regain the Highest Level of Distinction, which is a follow-up to his book Create Distinction: What to Do When ‘GREAT’ Isn’t Good Enough to Grow Your Business. Scott is the author of four #1 business bestsellers on Amazon and has delivered over 2000 presentations in 36 countries. He is a member of the prestigious Speaker’s Roundtable.


“The customers we attract are more significant than the ones we sell to.” – Scott McKain



Becoming an Icon

It’s interesting to make the distinction (ha-ha) between “being distinctive” and “becoming an icon.” Scott says that “distinction” means standing out in your industry.

You’re seen as a great restaurant or software company, marketing consultant, doctor, or landscaping service. Whatever you do, people think, “I prefer you to my other choices for that product or service.” Which–let’s be clear–is a great place to be! But it’s also a tenuous place to be, in many cases, because that distinction is often going to be built on criteria that can be matched or improved by your competition: better pricing, extended features, faster service.


You can’t be iconic without first being distinctive. But you can’t transcend distinction without being truly memorable.


If you continue to rely on those kinds of measures–what Scott refers to as “playing defense”–you may always be chasing success based on how well your competitors and your industry define you.

That’s what I really like about the term “icon” and about Scott’s ideas here. We define ourselves. We grow based on the kind of leaders we want to be and the teams we want to build. Icons aren’t defined by others–they self-identify the one or two things that make them stand out. And Scott shares five ways to help you make that happen (“playing offense” being one of them).


“In business [in terms of leaders and teams], loyalty and respect need to run both ways.” – Scott McKain


That’s probably a lot of why I like him so much. He doesn’t tell me how to be a better leader–he helps me define what that means for myself.


“Successful people don’t let others define them. Only you can determine your future.” – Skip Prichard


Please listen to this important conversation. Scott is a truly smart, entertaining, and interesting guy, and I think he’ll help you see the path to becoming the iconic version of yourself a bit more clearly, too.

Click here to listen in.

“Identify root causes, otherwise problems will come back like weeds.” – Skip Prichard




For more information, see ICONIC: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain and Regain the Highest Level of Distinction


“To attain iconic status, you must seek to enhance and play to the strengths of your team.” -Scott McKain


“Your brand is how customers evaluate the performance you have delivered based on the promise they perceive you have made.” -Scott McKain


“Iconic companies have cultures of uplifting reciprocal respect.” -Scott McKain


“Equality and respect are woven into the fabric of the conduct and performance of iconic organizations and leaders. Period.” -Scott McKain


Image Credit: Noah Naf



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