The actor Michael Keaton once made a movie called Multiplicity. In the movie, his character is so busy, he clones himself. Then he creates a third and fourth clone. But the fourth clone is paler and weirder than the clones that came before it, because it is a clone of a clone. It’s a copy of a copy.
Copying someone else is very much like making a paler, less interesting, and less compelling version of the original. It’s clear that you are trying to be some version of someone else, but it just isn’t quite you. Their brand kind of hangs off you, like clothes that don’t quite fit. It’s not really your brand.
When I was a kid playing music, I saw this first hand. A lot of the bands from my time wanted to be Mötley Crüe. So they listened to Mötley Crüe and the bands that followed hot on their heels. But Mötley Crüe didn’t want to be Mötley Crüe; they wanted to be Aerosmith. They wanted to be Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. But Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wanted to be the Rolling Stones. They wanted to be Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Stones, of course, wanted to be great bluesmen, like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf.
There are many people who will point to the moon to show you the moon. But there are as many people who will point to the moon because they want you to see their finger.
If you want what someone else has, study their path. Your path, your beliefs, your unique contribution is what is going to define your brand. You don’t want to be a copy of a copy of a copy. Your thing, whatever that is, is good enough now.
The only brand that will fit you is the brand that is the one-and-only original you. Nothing else will work for you.
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