From Chapter 9 of The Savvy Guide To Making More Money
I can walk a mile through Dublin and pass about thirty different coffee shops. I know where I want to go and always make a beeline for a boutique place tucked into a corner of Stephen's Green. Why do I bother walking a whole mile, when I could just stop at any other coffee place on the way? After all, I'm simply looking for a place to sit and write while sipping an Americano.
I have visited thousands, if not tens of thousands, of coffee shops over the years. Yet the majority of them have been bland and functional. In many cases, they did fulfil a need for the people who walked in. They wanted to get a takeaway coffee, to have breakfast, needed a break on a shopping trip, etc. I could probably count on two hands the number of places all over the world where I make a distinct effort to walk right through a city so that I can find my coveted spot.
Often when I ask people what makes them different, they squirm and say, 'I don't know. Hasn't everybody done everything by now?' The thing is that everybody hasn't, and anyway you're unique as a person, therefore you're different for the simple reason that you exist. All that you need to do to separate yourself from the competition is to consider in what way you are different, and then to describe this difference. Personally, I love a coffee shop with a good atmosphere. This can be created by the warm attitude of the owner and staff, or by a tasteful decor that shows a lot of thought has gone into it, or by good, unobtrusive music. I will make a point of visiting certain places whenever I travel if they have particularly good, imaginative food. Do you know how many chicken curries, chicken tikka paninis and fruit scones that I have no choice but to eat when I'm on the go? I will make it my business to go somewhere that has a healthy, delicious salad or an authentic Indian curry or a mouth-watering omelette. My cousins with kids have different requirements: they like places that will give them some pencils and colouring paper. My friend loves a busy spot where we can catch up and have a great natter. My previous colleagues always used to choose a place that had good parking and reliable wi-fi. There are lots and lots of ways to be different - you just need to figure out what they are and then tell the world.
I used to have a regular Friday-morning slot on Irish radio, with Gareth O'Callaghan. In his introduction one morning, Gareth announced, 'And here is our positive economist, Susan Hayes, to speak to us about...' Later on that day, I was laughing as I told my fiance about the way Gareth had described me. His reaction was immediate: 'Why don't you secure the domain name? Buy www.thepositiveeconomist.com.' That's how the name stuck. Over time I became known as somebody who focuses on the positives - what's in your control, what you can positively influence within your own economy.
One day I got a call from the lunchtime show at Newstalk (where I had my button catastrophe in the previous chapter). The producer said to me, 'We've spent the entire show today telling the nation that unemployment is up, the bond yield is down, reported GDP is worse than projected, and so forth. Will you please come in tomorrow and tell us if there is anything to be positive about at all?' I have had lots and lots of calls like this one, simply because I made the effort to look for what made me different. I didn't spend hours and thousands of pounds with a consultancy company to figure out why I was different, because all I had to do was to listen to how other people described me.