Q & A with Scott McKain + win a signed copy of his new book “Create Distinction”

Last year I heard distinction expert Scott McKain give a keynote address. His vivacious and mesmerizing presentation hooked me into fandom. You see, Scott not only gives sound advice for business and life – he’s the living example of it. Besides being a best-selling author and well-known speaker, he sets himself apart by truly caring about people. I love that. You’ll soon see why I respect Scott so much: He’s as distinct as they come. And lucky you, he’s giving away a signed copy of his brand new book. Read on to see how you can win it!

Q. Congrats on your book, Create Distinscott mckainction (2013) launched this month in nationwide airport bookstores, from LAX to JFK. What’s it like seeing your own idea become a tangible reality?

Thank you! You’ve really touched upon the most gratifying — and surreal — aspects of being an author. When I’m speaking, I love the instantaneous response of the audience, yet wonder if there is any tangible impact. When I see the book on a shelf in the bookstore, or see someone reading the book on a plane, I’m thrilled because there is a sense of both accomplishment and completion. At the same time, it does seem quite extraordinary that something beginning as thoughts jotted on a legal pad in Starbucks can become a tangible product — one I’m fortunate that some people find of value.

Q. You’ve written three Amazon.com No. 1 business bestsellers – what makes the latest book stand out from your others?

This is the first time I’ve followed up on a previous book. “Create Distinction” is an expanded and updated version of my previous book, “Collapse of Distinction.” I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons; first, after the original was named to the “Top Ten Business Books of the Year” list by the Miami Herald and other major newspapers, I felt the previous publisher — and this author — didn’t quite do enough to maximize its potential in the marketplace. A “re-launch” would give the material the opportunity to find a wider audience.

However, I also wanted to validate the points of the earlier book by showing how the distinctive organizations I mentioned had performed since the original work. Any author can create a theory of how a business should approach the marketplace, or how customers should be served. The critical question I hear from corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, however, is, “Will this work in the real world?” “Create Distinction” provided me the opportunity to deliver the evidence that the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Q. In addition to being a celebrated author, you’re an energetic storyteller. I know, having experienced your powerful keynote speech in 2012. Which do you believe creates more distinction and why: writing or speaking?

The best answer is not new or original to me, however, it’s the best one: The magic is in the mix.

We all are aware of speakers with a compelling presentation style who have nothing of significance to say — they’re all style and no substance. On the other hand, there are authors who have deep content, but their presentation style doesn’t create audience engagement.

In today’s media-centric culture, it’s not about the “or” — it’s about “and.” The most distinctive content providers will be able to both write powerful stories and deliver compelling presentations. That’s a level to which I aspire.

Q. You learned a lot about pleasing customers when working at your parent’s small town grocery store as a kid. Back then, did you ever imagine yourself being an international expert on distinction?

NO! It never crossed my mind in Crothersville, Indiana that I would ever become an “international” anything! While I don’t like referring to myself as “lucky” — because that seems to imply mere random circumstance — I constantly see myself as extremely fortunate. I have been blessed with extraordinary mentors and colleagues, and have been encouraged by my family and friends to travel the “road not taken.” And, as the classic Frost poem proclaims, for me, too, it has made all the difference.

Q. Getting theoretical here, but if everyone avoided stifling sameness, would anyone be distinct?

It’s a great question. And, unfortunately, because of all the cliches we hear as kids, I don’t think we are in danger of it occurring. We are warned against standing out and attracting attention — and we have such a strong desire to “fit in” with our peers — that I believe we are predisposed to similarity.

Theoretically, yes, you’re right — if everyone was distinctive, then it would be common to do so. For some reason, that reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s classic film, “Life of Brian,” where the throng is awaiting any words from the man they erroneously presume is holy. In his irritation to get them to stop following him, Brian shouts, “You are ALL individuals.” And, they respond in unison, “Yes! We are all individuals!”

My point is that uniformity and conformity have become so common, the sameness is — as you suggest — stifling. While it probably wouldn’t work for us ALL to become unique, my research and experience has taught me that YOUR business will profit and YOUR career will benefit if you create distinction.

create distinction

  WIN your own SIGNED COPY of “Create Distinction!”

To enter, “Like” this post and answer one of these questions in the comments:  What makes you distinct? OR Why does creating distinction matter? I’ll pick the most distinct answer as the winner! Be sure to comment soon – I’ll announce the winner Friday, April 5, 2013.

Connect with Scott McKain

See his site: createdistinction.com

Send him a tweet: @scottmckain

Check out his blog: mckainviewpoint.com



  1. What makes me distinct from other people is that I was raised vegetarian and have been vegan for 15 years. I live in a house that is 124 years old in downtown Salt Lake and I collect antique furniture all of the time and have been a flight attendant for 17 years.

  2. Most people forget how small I am because my personality is kind of intense. I’m inspired by pink running shoes. I’m ditching real-world, post-college, corporate America for six months to do a mission trip. My fair skin and freckles are why I just can’t tan. I think prayer, positive believing and action are the keys to success. AP Style might be my love language. “Park ranger” is my back-up career.

  3. You know…I had to think about this one. I read the question, “what makes me distinct”, sounded like an easy enough question to answer but it really got me to thinking…what makes absolutely makes me totally distinguishable from everyone else. We live in a society where your chances of success are most likely measured by how different, how unique, or how different you present yourself to the world. Everyone wants to be enamored and wowed by something that is new and fresh, something they’ve never seen…distinct. As much as most may feel they are distinct, they really aren’t. Imagine how many people actually have the same idea, how can I make myself distinctively different from everyone else. Well the reality of it is…who really is distinct. When a lot of us are trying to fit into this universal mold that society has made and we subconsciously follow. I read a statement “The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else.” I realized that everyday I try to stay away from what is politically correct, or what is socially acceptable…I am unapologetically me! I am no longer afraid to speak what is on my mind, or afraid to go after my dreams that nobody else may believe in, my purpose my destiny is completely all mine, God made it just for me! So when I go about my everyday life, I remember these things. When someone may question or not like what I say or how I think… my answer is I can only be me! My values, my beliefs, how I want to be presented to the world is what makes me distinctively me!

  4. It’s such a process to be able to trust yourself and be “distinct.” I personally think that everyone is distinct, and I say that with 100% confidence. If everyone believed in themselves and their own truths, and told their stories with confidence and openness, while others received them with the same kind of openness and confidence, I think that we wouldn’t be stuck in a rut today where we have to force ourselves to be “individuals.”

    Maybe it’s because I’m just learning to do that now as I’m starting my journey to build myself as a writer, and it’s helped me to trust my own stories, but I feel that being “distinct” has a lot to do with truthfulness and the self. Growing to trust yourself is the most organic way to distinction.

  5. A couple things make me distinct. The first would be my four years of service in the US Marine Corps. That was a uniquely challenging time both mentally and physically that prepared me well for life afterward. Another thing that makes me distinct is that I’ve had the experience starting my own company, with two other colleagues. Having the responsibility of an entire enterprise on one’s shoulders is very challenging and something that few people will experience. Both experiences give me a distinct viewpoint on issues in life and business.

  6. Great post! I love his advice on presentation style. I am going to do as he suggests!

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