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The Success Code



The Success Code: How to Stand Out and Get Noticed by John Lees.

The Success Code is all about standing out and getting noticed, but not in the normal sense. It claims to show “you how to find an authentic voice even if your style is naturally self-effacing”.

I was particularly drawn to the book as it said it “Getting noticed doesn’t have to mean over-selling“. So often in order to be noticed the focused is on self-promotion and getting yourself out there. This is something I personally struggle with, so I was excited to see how John thought you could stand out and get noticed without over-selling.

Earlier on John stated that the focus was on self projection, rather than self promotion. He defines self projection as “how you help others understand and remember important things about you“. He also added that “You broadcast all the time consciously and unconsciously” therefore, it is important to think about what you are project. This brings us onto the subject of personal branding.

John devotes a whole chapter to personal branding entitled A new take on personal branding. He states that Brands are about memory and emotion”. People are left with an impression of you (right or wrong) and often this is attached to an emotion. John acknowledges the fact that some people don’t like the idea of having a personal brand and that this is because “they value their own complexity”. This idea really resonated with me. I am a complex person. My education includes an undergraduate in Dance, a masters in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy and a professional diploma in Marketing. I love studying, reading and personal developments, but am a equally happy dancing or cheering. I think it is fair to say I am complex. However, John says that people usually remember 3 things. Therefore, a degree of complexity can still be portrayed in a personal brand.

I loved the fact that John said “Don’t get hung up on the idea that you should have a Unique Selling Point“. This is something that as a Marketer I struggle with. I know a brand should have a Unique Selling Point, so surely a personal brand should too. However, so often it is difficult to think how you are unique. This results in people being frozen into inaction.

A large part of success is down to the relationships you have. John is very keen on the  importance of forming relationship face to face … “a handshake beats a signature”. This is because “Real conversation sticks in the memory”. Another reason that meeting people face to face is important is because”capturing yourself accurately in writing is harder than it looks“. Nowadays, we think that a CV and a LinkedIn profile are the way to get a job. The problem is that it is very easily to be misunderstood in writing. Communication is much more than just words. When you are explaining to a person in front of you they can tell if you are genuinely ‘passionate’ about something, whereas when you write ‘I am passionate about…’ on a CV it doesn’t have the same effect.

So how do you get to meet people face to face. John explains a detailed ZONE SYSTEM to help you grow your network, get introductions and get yourself in front of the right person. John puts a twist on the common saying ‘It isn’t what you know, it is who you know.’ Instead, he says that “It’s not who you know, it’s who you choose to get to know“. If you set yourself clear goals, with research and nurturing relationships everyone is within reach.


When I first finished the book I was a little underwhelmed. I had gone in with high hopes that success was around the corner, but I wasn’t motivated once I had finished to go out there and take on the world. However, after reflecting on my notes to write this post I realised there is lots of good information. It just isn’t written in a way that inspires and motivates me. There are some in-depth and very practical advice on giving presentations, building your network, working a room and managing your in-house reputation. A very thorough book that cohesively looks at how you get noticed in multiple scenarios. If you are on the introvert side of the scale, this book would definitely be helpful.



Charelle Griffith

Charelle is book-loving Marketer, Success Coach and Founder of PropelHer. Charelle is passionate about personal development and blogs about non-fiction books. She also runs PropelHer's Book Club - a non-fiction book club for ambitious women.

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