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3 Ways to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

3 Ways to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Image credit: simonbaker64.wordpress.com

Welcome to the echo chamber, where everybody is working on auto-repeat. It's Groundhog Day, but nowhere near as funny -- and sticking around doesn't do a thing for your bottom line.

Echo chambers are stagnant. They're filled with the same old, same old people, ideas and mindsets. Nothing amazing happens inside them. They don't motivate you to get off your tuchis and take a leap toward awesome. So when you're stuck inside the chamber, how do you make a break for it?

Bust a Move
Three ways to break out of the norm

1. Step into a new-to-you world.
Attend a conference in an industry that interests you but has little--or nothing--to do with your day-to-day. I find the most inspiring ideas each time I speak at an event that goes beyond my fields of marketing and branding.

2. Revamp your reading list.
If the same blogs flow into your inbox every day, go out and get some new material. Poll your followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Quora for their favorite non-industry websites or magazines.

3. Banish the buzzspeak.
Every industry has them: words used so often they've lost their meaning. The same old language breeds nothing but the same old ideas. Have your team compile a list of dead-to-us words to keep out of conversations, e-mails and marketing materials, then put some new words to work for your business. It just might help you start thinking in new directions.

Escape starts with a simple question: What bores you about your business? Your mission is to kill the snooze and ratchet up the excitement. Yes, it's scary. But would you rather be scared because you made a calculated escape or bored because you refused to explore ways to grow?

As you'll see, escaping doesn't require a complete overhaul--it can be as simple as putting one move into play. Take, for example, the route used by White Plains, N.Y.-based Little Big Brands. "Our world is package design--a creative world where people don't get very creative marketing themselves," says Pamela Long, a partner and director of client services. "We decided to put ourselves out there a bit, poke some fun at the industry and say the things that most people are afraid to say."

The company created a cheeky two-and-a-half-minute promotional video that sends up the pretensions and hipster clichés of the branding world, then featured it on its website and in e-mail marketing as a way to reopen conversations with former prospects and to find new customers. The result? In less than two months, they landed 14 meetings, four projects, started negotiations with several other new clients and put several RFPs in motion.

"Our current clients love it because our personality and unconventional ways are exactly why they hired us," Long says. "Prospects really like it because it actually tells them something about the people who would be working on their projects." She sums up the escape tactic in one sentence: "Getting real is getting us business."

So, if you're bored and your business has stopped growing, do as Little Big Brands did and start plotting your escape from the echo chamber. Happy jailbreaking.

Erika Napoletano is the head redhead at RHW Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that solves hard marketing problems and gets people unstuck and on their way to being awesome.

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This article was originally published in the July 2013 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Great Escape.

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