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Two days ago, I wrote about how companies can win when competing for customers. I believe the same principles can be applied to winning in life.

In Your Career – Although not mutually exclusive, there are two ways that people have succeeded in their careers. One way is the “Mac” way, and that is to be likable. The way you become likable is by anticipating and actively fulfilling the needs of your clients. In other words, your focus would be on customer service. Or you can do it the “Microsoft” way, and that is to become indispensable to your company. If you take this route, you can be the world most egotistical jerk and still get away with it because your skill set and/or knowledge is so vital to your company’s success.

In Your Social Circle – There are two ways to go about making friends. You can strive to be a very likable friend by always “being there” for your friends when they need you, or you can choose to specialize in a few skill sets or knowledge that your friends need. Just be aware that if you choose the latter, you may find yourself not having too many friends when they outgrow the needs of what you provide.

In Team Sports – Everybody stresses the fact that there’s no “I” in the word “team”, but how many of us have managed to completely avoid the self-centered narcissist? Again, you can either choose to be a true team player by being flexible and sympathetic towards the team’s needs, or you can become the super specialized player that the team requires in order to win. Again, if you decide to specialize, you run the risk of being replaced by the next super specialized player who is better than you. The threat of replacement is especially high in a social setting because nobody likes to work with jerks.

Do you agree with my observation? Tell me what do you think by leaving your comments!

The surest way to win anything in life is to be irresistible. In the world of marketing, I can think of two ways to become irresistible. One way is to be something that everybody wants; the other way is to be what everybody needs. To illustrate this point, I will use the classic Apple vs. Microsoft example.

Apple makes products that are irresistible because their products are exactly what people want – simple, intuitive to use, clean, and stylish. Apple is able to do that because they understand their customers to the core. Some people say Steve Jobs has a heavy hand in all of Apple’s product designs. But if you don’t have a Steve Jobs equivalent at your disposal, you can use market research data to understand your customers. Yet so many companies I know don’t fully leverage market research to plan their product design. That’s really a shame.

Microsoft also makes irresistible products, except their irresistibility comes not from designing products that people really want but from what people need. Even as open source operating systems become more prevalent, the majority of the people still rely on Windows to run their PCs today. Need to write articles or build a data model? You need MS Office.

Apple is very much beloved; Microsoft, not so much. Everybody wants to be like Apple, yet most companies don’t want to put in the effort. If you don’t want to put in the effort to create the darling products that people drool over, then you must think outside of the box and create products that people cannot live without. Short of that, all you will manage is mediocrity and become an also-run company.