The best thing you can do for your career is to stand out from the crowd. And the best way to do that is to be yourself.

If you try to emulate someone else, the most you can hope for is to be a pale imitation. Yet meeting planners don't hire pale imitations. And while it's commendable to observe another speaker's strengths, it's important that you use that knowledge to build your own strengths. Usurping their strengths is stealing, and it doesn't do you any good anyway.

(And speaking of stealing, using someone else's material -their content and/or their style - without their approval and permission is just plain wrong. Resist the temptation. Develop your own steak and your own sizzle.)

So whatever you do, be yourself!

But don't use this blunder as an excuse not to improve yourself. You owe it to your audience to provide them with the best content, using your best delivery. You owe it to yourself to market your programs the best way you can, and to run your business to the best of your ability.

Don't do a poor job, and then excuse yourself with "I'm just being me" or "That's just how I am" or "I'm not good at marketing." Being unique doesn't justify being anything less than terrific.

Be yourself… but be the best "you" that you can possibly be! You deserve nothing less.

Action Steps:

1. Make a list of your unusual or unique qualities… good and bad. What differentiates you from other speakers? (You started doing this as an action step to Blunder #1. Keep it up.)

2. Which of your "merely" unusual qualities can be combined into something unique? A number of years ago, Paul Potts was famous as the phone salesman-opera singer - two unusual qualities that formed an extraordinary combination.

3. Which of your desirable uniquenesses can you best capitalize on? Figure out how you can do that.

4. Which of your undesirable uniquenesses can you turn to your advantage? As the old saying goes, if you've got lemons, make lemonade!

5. If you've got undesirable uniquenesses that you can't turn to your advantage, how can you best compensate for them?

6. Do you have a uniqueness that you can develop into a brand? Branding is taking your uniqueness to the extreme!