Collapse Of Distinction by Scott McKain

Scott McKain has exercised some leadership initiative and introduced a refreshing stream of ideas into the business landscape with Collapse Of Distinction: Stand out and move up while your competition fails.  There is a great tendency in our culture to copy the winners; to try to reproduce the success they have had by imitation.  That belief sounds right, do what the winners do.  That's a trap.  They became winners through innovation.  Leaders innovate.  They're distinct.  Copying them only causes us to fade into pale.  Scott's book challenges us to be distinct and then gives us great ideas and tools to help us along that road.

It all began when the interstate highway system was completed near the town where Scott McKain grew up, Crothersville, Indiana.  The highway brought the big names of the day, like McDonald's and Burger King to the local area.  The two restaurants in town, Ted's Restaurant owned by Ted Zollman, and Kern's Grill owned by Alvie Kern, reacted to the challenge differently, as did Scott's family with their grocery store.  The lessons Scott learned from that experience fueled this book.

What makes you different?

Aren't you different, one-of-a-kind? What about your business? Are you aware of the forces in our society that fight against your ability to remain different or distinct?  The author begins the book with an interesting chapter that identifies three things that resist differentiation. He calls them the differentiation destroyers:

  1. Capitalism produces incremental advancement.
  2. Dynamic change delivers new competition (all the time).
  3. Familiarity breeds complacency.

He then goes on make the point that we need to maintain distinction rather than succumb to the pull of our society that seems to want to force everything to become a commodity.  Subsequent chapters include an application of the three destroyers to our careers, and a chapter called Avenues of Distinction, where he defines terms and explains true distinction related to it's counterfeits.  In the chapter called the Ebert Effect,  Scott explains why different seems better and then he goes on to define the framework for the remainder of the book, the four cornerstones of distinction.

The cornerstones are, Clarity, Creativity, Communication and Customer-Experience Focus.  The author explains each in depth, with memorable stories and analogies from real-life as well as links back to the saga of Ted's Restaurant and Kern's Grill in Crothersville.  The points made are engaging, and the stores illlustrate the points well.  Each chapter held my attention and pushed me to listen to the next chapter.

Two Special Features

Since I mentioned that I "listened" to the chapters, I should point out two distinctive features of the book that help make the case for distinction.  First the book is part of a new license, called Nelsonfree (link to Michael Hyatt's blog for explanation) offered by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Anyone who purchases the book can also download the book in MP3 format or as an ebook.  Finally, a publishing house and an author that understands the difference between content and format!  I was so initially impressed that I created a blog entry just about the format.  I'm so grateful for this format and Thomas Nelson's leadership in developing it, that I will purposely prefer other non-fiction books that share this concept. (Publishers, please take note!)

The second special, and very much appreciated feature is the Executive Summary at the end of the printed chapters.  This is an outline of the key points of the chapter, but not just in header format.  Each bullet is a complete sentence or more that actually re-makes the point of the book.  This is a true executive summary and exactly what you would want to help you get back to the key points of the chapter without underlining much of the book or making separate notes.  And the summary preceeds the Action Steps, Questions and Ideas section that each chapter has as well.


I try to read and review books.  I appreciate how the good ones stretch your mind and make you different than you were.  The book not only changes you, it helps you be different than everyone else.  The book has integrity because it is distinct in its presentation, licensing, style and results.  Scott's not shy about his opinions and he's passionate about the subject.  His commitment to the topic and the fact that it was derived from personal experience makes it that much more personal, engaging, and distinct.  It was a fun book to read and listen to, although I must admit I was initially intrigued that they chose someone who sounded like a radio DJ to read it.  (On double-checking, I realized the author was reading it and I even think he mentioned that he was a radio-DJ.)  Get the book and consume it in your favorite format.

One final note: as I finish this article, Scott's website ( has an offer for the first 250 people who send in their receipts may also get another book for free.  You probably need to hurry!

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