We all strive to stand out, to gain attention, to be recognized for our most interesting qualities. The moment you can offer STUFF the competition doesn't have, you leap ahead. It's just a matter of telling the right STORY so we all can see it too.
But let's set STORY aside for a minute. Before you craft STORY, it helps to have some truly unique STUFF.
You could Invent new STUFF, it's true. But it's not always necessary. Sometimes new STUFF is just waiting for you to Adopt. Find someone who's built something unique. Adopt their idea. Do it quickly, and you can gain advantage almost as strong as the inventor themselves.
Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), founded in 1970, invented the first Graphical user interface, laser printer, computer generated imagery, WYSIWYG text editor, and Object-oriented programming. They built the world's first personal computer, complete with keyboard and even a mouse. They did it in 1973, almost a decade before Apple and Microsoft, calling it 'Xerox Alta'.
But Xerox executives didn't see the opportunity. They didn't go to market. The computer sat in a closet, unseen by the world. In 1979 several bright young computer geeks were offered access to the Alta project, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were among them. Neither Invented the personal computer, but both were able to build empires Adopting Xerox's technology as their own.
Adopting is not only easier, it's often faster and cheaper than Inventing.
The Beatles spent years in tiny bars, Inventing their new sound for radio. Two TV producers, Bert Schneider and bob Rafelson, Adopted that new sound to create "The Monkee's" which became a huge sensation, almost overnight.
Early filmmakers, mostly in NYC, invented many tricks for building scenic indoor sets with halfway affordable lighting. But in 1911, filmmakers realized Los Angeles offered these even better lighting practically year round, for free. By Adopting L.A.'s endless sunshine and scenic variety, they were able to make more films with less money than anyone else in the world, quickly becoming the film industry's global epicenter.
Jeff Bezos didn't Invent the internet or online shopping. He Adopted these technologies to create Amazon.com, making mail order faster and better than ever before.
In the end, it doesn't really matter whether you're Adopting or Inventing when you're able to offer the STUFF we love.