by

by

Vincent Pugliese

The Magic of the Unique Blend

How excited would the average candy lover feel if you handed them a regular piece of milk chocolate? I think the level of excitement would be relatively low. What about if you gave them a glob of peanut butter? Not excited for that either, you say? 

Yet, by some estimates, the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup is the top Halloween candy in the United States. Separately, Peanut Butter and Chocolate are your run of the mill staple products for your cupboard. But when these two are blended together, it creates a unique product that sells more than $500 million worth of product. 

Blending two distinct, quality and separate items is a formula for success. 

My nephew Mikey Nania experienced this firsthand. He has had a love for the New York Jets football team since he could remember. Mikey would study every game with intense detail. My cousin Vivian and her husband Mike encouraged his passion but they would acknowledge that they were concerned that his love for the Jets, and sports in general, would distract him from his studies. He excelled in math and his parents didn’t want to see him slip behind in his studies because of his passion for sports. His excess time in his room studying and watching sports was a concern for his parents as they fretted over how to approach this. 

But while they were worrying, Mikey was writing. He developed an interest in his early teenage years and a penchant for scribing stories about his favorite team. But they weren’t your typical rah-rah fluff stories. His stories were outside of the norm as they focused on a stats-driven approach that began to make people take notice. As a sophomore in high school, Nania began posting his articles on blogs such as Gang Green Nation and his work started turning the heads of fans as well as other writers. At one point, one of the Jets beat reporters got caught using some of Mikey’s work without giving proper credit. 

For Mikey, school was never interesting. He knew what he loved, he was developing his expertise and passion, and he has the stubborn trait that runs in our family. So he graduated high school, tried a year of community college, but never stoped writing and studying every Jets game. And when I say studying, it’s the type of study that would make his history teacher ask why he couldn’t study like this for her class. Hours upon hours of watching footage for specific, detailed analytics? The amount of detail that went into his work would make the professional scouts proud. 

But why wouldn’t he do this in school? Simple. He didn’t care about what they were teaching. Those studies didn’t go towards his passions or his skillsets. But combining the Jets and Math? It’s the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of sports journalism. Robby Sabo had been following the work of Nania for a few years when they decided to team up to create Jets X-Factor- a membership site to blend film study and analytics to bring the Jets fandom an inside look that even the team itself couldn’t provide. 

The blending of skills in many aspects is what makes Nania so unique. On a macro level, he learned to combine his love for the Jets and math. But on a micro level, he has managed to go deeper. In the world of sports scouting, you have the stats people and the film people. Because of his love of the study, Nania blends both for a perspective that is unmatched. 

And because of his ability to blend, he created his own world where the possibilities are exciting and endless. A uniquely nuanced paid membership geared towards a rabid fan base in the nations biggest city? Can you say potential? If the Jets were smart (lets not assume they are as they almost suffered through a winless season in 2020), they would make an offer for him to bring his unique blend into their staff to give them a viewpoint that is most certainly needed. 

But before he reached the age of twenty one, Nania showed that by focusing on the combination of passion and skillset creates a viewpoint that stands alone as well as stands out. And being that both of these topics- the Jets and math- are extreme passions for Mikey, the odds of success are so much greater because not only is he one of the few (if any) equipped for this work but his passion for it is so deep that he created a niche career that already has him far ahead of the curve. 

So as we like to do- let’s point it back to you. What are the two (or possibly three) things that you bring together in a unique way that allows you to stand out? And if you aren’t there yet, what do you think are two things you can bring together to create the unique blend like Mikey did. 

I’d love for you to hit reply and tell me your answers to this question!

– Vincent​

Archives

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How (And Why) We Should Accept Compliments

I’ve never been good at accepting compliments. Now don’t get me wrong. I want the compliments- sometimes way too often. I have craved the compliments but I was never good at accepting them. WIth that,  I was called out publicly a few years ago on a mastermind call that I was on with John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire. I don’t remember who it was, I think it was Roger Whitney, the host of the Retirement Answerman Podcast who gave me the compliment. Roger is my friend yet the compliment took me by surprise. Others in the group agreed with him and I responded with a very muted, okay, thanks, or the whole ‘it’s no big deal’ type of thing. And John called me out on it, which I so appreciated as painful as it was in the moment. And this is why I love masterminds. And why I love accountability. I don’t respond well when people complain about judgment or they say ‘who are you to question me on what I did’? You can have a great life- go do your thing-  but we’re not going to relate. I like challenges,. Especially when they come from people care about me. And if you can’t take constructive criticism from somebody who cares about you, you’re always going to be limited in your growth. So some people can call it criticism, but it was one of the best pieces of advice.  John basically said to me, don’t do that. You need to be able to handle compliments better than you do. And he explained that we are diminishing the other person’s gratefulness by doing that. And I’ve never really thought of it that way. Actually, I know I’ve never thought of it that way. I always thought that I was being humble. I didn’t want to brag. I didn’t want to pound my chest and say, yeah, I did do that. Nobody loves somebody that does that. But there’s a big difference between being quiet, defensive, and evasive than there is from the bragger. It’s actually two ends of the spectrum and neither of them are good. So I’ve met John many times. I’ve seen him at conferences. He gets swarmed by people, often people that want to tell them how much he’s helped them with this podcast. And he mentioned to me how he handles compliments. He handles it with a lot of gratitude and appreciation and he makes sure that there’s the big smile that goes with it. As well as a giant, thank you. And the appreciation for this person to go out of their way to give him a compliment. You have to understand the true thankfulness does not give off an appearance of vanity or excessive pride. What you are doing is you are appreciating that person’s compliments and giving them recognition. Now I’m going to guess that if you’re listening, you probably don’t go overly crazy on self praise. It’s just a guess. I’m also going to guess that you might go way on the other end and you might deflect or even feel uncomfortable but what’s even worse is if you reject it. But when you reject the compliment, you are not only  downplaying yourself, but you’re downplaying them as well. And without meaning it you’re downplaying their intelligence because if they truly believe in what you did and they’ve truly given you a great compliment, and you tell them that it wasn’t any good or it really wasn’t worth it, Basically what you’re telling them is that their opinion is an accurate. It’s an insult to the person giving you the compliment. So when you reject or deflect a compliment, what you’re really doing is you’re projecting the idea that you have low self esteem. I’m sure you’ve had it where you’ve given a compliment and it’s been blown off. It’s happened to me. And I don’t know about you, but I feel that way. I feel like I gave a compliment, I believed in them and they didn’t believe in themselves. And it made me feel like maybe I was wrong in thinking that way. Somebody else we might want to avoid when you’re in that spot is to get into a compliment comparison. Have you ever done it? When somebody gives you a compliment and you have to give them a compliment right back. Someone says, ‘Your hair looks great! And you immediately respond with ‘Oh, your hair looks great too!’. And they’re like, I’m wearing a hat. And you might think, why couldn’t I just accept their compliment? Instead, I needed to give it right back. And now it seems phony because what will happen is you’ll come across insincere. So to begin with you’re deflecting, you’re getting it away from yourself, which goes back to what we talked about earlier. But you have to think about this- were you really going to compliment that person on what you did compliment them on? Would you have just walked up to that person and said, ‘Your hair looks great today’ when they’re wearing a hat? No, of course you wouldn’t. It’s got to be sincere. It’s got to be meaningful. And it’s got. to be honest. So stop doing that.

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