This Tale is Not a Tall Story

I try to read all of the books on the Wall Street Journal’s Business Best Seller List. Most have interesting ideas and their language seeps into the lexicon of the world I coach. Keeps me knowledgeable and fluent.

If you haven’t read “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson I suggest you take a look. It is a more developed version of his well known Wired article (October 2004). Mr. Anderson is the award-winning editor-in-chief of Wired. He was formerly a researcher at the Los Alamos.

Anderson sees an interesting, and what he believes to be permanent, shift in the marketplace. The Long Tail refers to a curve visible when graphing certain trends. The author states that in the past there were products and services that were hits, best sellers, in high demand and market dominators. There were a few key players – the television networks, the Top 40 play list, Campbell soup, etc. The graph shows high demand for specific products or services and then a greatly diminished, but still significant, reduction in demand for similar items. The author argues there is a large amount of business to be had in that long thin graph tail. This is a model of abundance. It speaks to the amount of choices we have as consumers as well as the impact new forms of distribution, especially the internet, exert. He cites Amazon, NetFlix and iTunes as examples of companies doing high volume with small niche markets, out of print products and rarely seen films. The beauty of it is there are enough people out there who want just that, the special, the fringe, the classics or even a service. I recently hired a man, who only repairs lamps (not chandeliers) in your home within a 50 mile radius of Manhattan. It fit my need perfectly.

So how might this relate to you? When people express concern that there are too many coaches I argue there are not enough. Twenty thousand coaches for a US population of almost 280 million? Definitely not enough talented and qualified coaches who really know what they are talking about and can help their clients in a directed, result driven manner in a small, specialized arena. There is “gold in them there hills” (not just the mountains) for businesses that can give customers exactly what they need and want quickly and easily.

A big challenge for many of my clients is identifying their specialization or niche. What is it they sell, do, or know and share that makes them special, not necessarily unique, but top of mind when someone needs help in a specific area? The tendency is to stay broad and safe to be good at everything and be willing to work with almost anyone. In one of the firms I worked with we had a compensation manager who could easily have been retired. What she did should have been automated, outsourced or completed by a lower ranking person. Why did she have job security? She was the firm’s historian. She knew the stories of everyone in the company and knew where every skeleton was hidden. She gave us solid reasons why you could not put someone in a certain department (“You can’t do that their ex-wives are now partners!”, or “She can’t drive, how can we move her to NJ”, or “He’s smart but he can’t write”). The result of her having this expertise was she stayed with the company until she decided to retire on her terms. Pretty powerful.

Why does the pediatric neurosurgeon make significantly more money than your hard working primary care physician? You know why. If the job market is so tight why are there thousands of listings? How come people got on waiting lists to pay more for a pretty ugly hybrid car?

If you are looking for a job or searching for customers realize the gold in the long tail.

So here’s the challenge:

  1. Identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What is it you do that makes you different or special to your employer or your customers?
  2. How do you market this to those who can have the most influence on your career?
  3. What do you need to do to make your niche more secure? Is it some certification or training? Do you need more exposure? Must you live down your former title and get people to realize this is what you do?

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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