The Extra Mile is Never Crowded

Adam Personal Improvement 34 Comments

I was recently listening to Mixergy (one of my favorite business podcasts) interview Jayson Gaignard, author of Mastermind Dinners (book review here) on the topic of “How to Amaze People with Big Gestures.” They were discussing a recent event Jayson put on and how he went above and beyond with just the invitations. Rather than something on paper or even a personalized video, he sent LCD cards that when opened showed 3 videos. The first was a personalized message to the attendee along with 2 other standard videos. He recorded 150 of these, plus the cost of all the LCD cards. I wanted to quote a bit of the exchange below:

Andrew: And every one of them is customized. Dude, it would have been beautiful if you just said, “Here’s the location that we’re going to and I’m explaining to you how beautiful this event is,” but why go the extra mile then and spend four freaking days making personalized messages for people?

Jayson: Because the extra mile is never crowded. It’s one of those things. I put a ton of pressure on myself now. The first year what I did was I did audio recordings and I sent people audio recordings. The second year I did personalized videos. The third year, I did this. So, next year, I have no clue what I’m going to do. I feel like I have to show up at their house.

I’ve been thinking about that exchange for several months now. I listen to probably 20-40 hours of podcasts per week. Tons of fun ones like This American Life or No Agenda, educational ones like Hardcore History and a lot of business content like Smart Passive Income and Mixergy. It’s hard for any one line in those things to really stick with me and make me think long-term. I’m usually just too busy and on to the next thing. For some reason that one stuck because I’d never heard the quote (though when I google it, it looks like its not new) and it really resonated with me about how I try to live my life and accomplish my goals.

The Extra Mile is Never Crowded

This applies to so many parts of life, both big and small, personal and business, and for the rich and the poor.

A lot of what people like to call luck, timing, or my current least favorite word – Privilege – is going the extra mile. I preach this constantly, but never thought to add the best part, which is why that extra mile is so crucial. NOBODY ELSE IS THERE!

In high school I grinded it out for a scholarship. In college I fought for the top of the heap with top grades, involvment in on campus organizations, and emailed every alumni on Wall Street I could find in hopes of a solid internship. I applied to over 100 internships, got 5 callbacks and 1, let me repeat ONE, offer. I then graduated in 2008 and watched that dream fall apart. Instead of letting that setback knock me down, I pushed forward in to a new industry and while I’m not CEO, I’ve carved out a pretty solid position for myself at the ripe age of 30. In short, I’ve always fought for that extra mile.

In every side hustle I’ve succeeded at, I was putting in my time at 1-2am. Reading every single thing I could find on the topic. Reaching out to others and trying to get up the pile. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not even remotely there yet. Not even a little bit. But I’m still fighting for another mile, because I need to get past that crowd. One small example is that when our Amazon customers have had problems with our product (we had some initial manufacturing problems) we immediately responded to their emails, refunded their money AND offered them promo codes for a free item. People were FLOORED because nobody is making that effort.

Do you remember the last time somebody surprised or delighted you? Mostly likely they were way out the curve, going that extra mile, where you’ve never met anybody before. I certainly remember the brands that sent me personalized thank you cards on my first purchase or had amazing customer support. I remember the kids who were HUNGRY for the job. They may not have had the top #1 resume, but they followed up with an email and a call and demonstrated knowledge and interest about our company and industry. That’s worth a lot more than an A in Spanish or your participation in some campus organization.

If you want to win, then try to delight and surprise your audience. Be memorable.

The Extra Mile

Are You Getting Out of the Crowd?

Did you really want that job you applied for? So did the other 1,000 online applicants. How many of them do you think got on Linkedin and reached out personally to the hiring manager or someone in the organization? I can promise you it was a lot less than 1,000. How many of those who emailed, called the front desk, asked for that person, and left them a personal message? Probably nobody. Maybe 1.

Do you want to lose that extra 10 pounts and look like MBJ in Creed? We’ve talked about the Rock’s workout regiment before. Those are men who EVERY SINGLE DAY go the extra mile. Who else is in the gym at 5am or 11pm depending on when their plane lands? Nobody.

Do you want to build a rabid audience of fans, willing to open their wallet for your products? You better be pushing it and getting way past the crowd because Gary V and Pay Flynn are.

If you want people to know your name. If you want the job. The fans. The body. Whatever it is you want. Go the damn extra mile, because I can promise you… it might be lonely but it’s certainly not crowded.

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Comments 34

  1. Fervent Finance

    This is so true. I see this a lot with people who can’t find jobs – “I’ve applied to everything on Monster there is!” Well have you talked to anyone? Reached out to old contacts? Leveraged friends and family? Made a phone call? Sent a personalized email? But your right – I try to go the extra mile (not possible all the time) but with work, personal life, working out, friends, family, etc. The payoff is just too great to not put forth the effort.

    My first job I ever got was through networking. I was 15 and ready to work and went to a grocery store to apply for a job. They made me fill out some application on the computer. I was like this isn’t going to work. Everyone else is doing the same thing. So then I began to think outside the box. My old little league coach owned a small business, so I asked my mom to drive me to his office. When I got there he gave me a job on the spot.

    1. Post

      That’s a great story. It’s so true that the best job opportunities almost never come off of the website. You need to make some kind of direct contact, whether through networking or just persistence. Until my career hit the level where recruiters reach out regularly, everything I’ve gotten after my first post-college job has been through networking.

  2. Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy

    Going the extra mile is the norm for guys like us. We don’t know any other way.

    This is exactly why I never worry about the competition. I know there is plenty of room for anyone that is willing to go the extra mile. And let’s face it…most people won’t even try.

    Thanks for sharing!


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  3. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    Going the extra mile is something that has always been tough for me. I’ve never been one to dive overly deep into things but I know this is an area that I need to continue to improve in to be able to accomplish what I want in life.

    1. Post

      You’re rocking a blog and talking about how to save and earn. That’s more than most right there. I’ve also seen your student loan payoff, which is huge! Don’t sell yourself short.

  4. Steve @ Think Save Retire

    Very cool article, Adam – and I agree, going the extra mile is one of those things that so few of us actually do, and therefore, we don’t necessary need to elbow our way through the crowd to get to our destination. 🙂

    I’ve also found that, especially in the business world, it’s very easy to determine who is willing to put in the time and effort to go the extra distance and who isn’t. Because NOT going that extra distance is so common, it’s almost like seeing some dude yelling from the top of a mountain, alone. It’s almost impossible not to see when it happens.

    I remember writing a personalized thank you note to one of my interviewers in the past and mailed it to her through the USPS. Needless to say, I was offered the job. 🙂

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  6. Ginger

    Actually what people call privilege is working as hard, or less hard than others and because of benefits you did not earn, getting treated as if you worked that extra mile. Let me give an example, my BIL did not graduate high school (got his GED), was fired from two jobs for no call, no shows and then messed around for years at get his associates (in criminal justice because he decided being a cop looked fun). His test scores when he applied meant he did not get even an interview. He finally found a job as a personal trainer. After doing that for a couple month he was assigned a owner of a tax company. The guy decided by BIL was a stand up guy and offered him a full time job, with on the job training at his company making $50K. Now compare that to BIL’s wife, who completed a BA in business in four years with great grades. She could not find a permanent job, only temp jobs. She has the degree, he does not yet because of seeming like a “good guy”, he got the job she was qualified for and he was not. That is privileged.

    1. Post

      I would call that luck and it’s something that can never be completely eliminated. It’s also typically something that doesn’t last and won’t carry you through life. Life is not inherently fair. Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. Sometimes your not. We’ve probably all experienced both sides of that coin in varying levels. Most truly successful people combine a lot of talent and hardwork with enough luck to push them over the hump. I’ve had friends get good breaks.

      I have a good buddy who probably didn’t deserve his first job out of college in comparison to his peers but had a good connection and met the right guy. However, if he had been lazy, incompetent or not risen to the occasion, he’d either have been fired or still be muddling along at the bottom of his company. Instead he seized that opportunity and has turned it into a great career and is a top performer.

      Privilege is usually a word used to invalidate other people’s accomplishments, success, opinions or views because of some perceived special status they receive due to class, gender, sexual orientation or background. Typically someone would say because I’m a white, heterosexual male, I am “privileged” and that’s typically used as a way to invalidate some argument I’ve made rather than address my view or argument itself, or attribute my success to those factors.

      1. Ginger

        No, that is not accurate. When “luck” boils down to benefits you get based on your race, gender, religion (for example helping the nice Christian child at your church), it is privilege. Ever heard the expression work twice as hard to be thought of as half as good?
        See this study as why that is still present and yes, being a white man is in this society a privileged:
        It is not ignoring your hard work, but acknowledging that you had help. That someone else without your privileges could work as hard as you and because of not having that help, not succeed to the point that you did. Not that you did not have to work hard to succeed, but that you had a leg up. An male author did a great article to illustrate this:
        As a white woman in the US, I have privilege over those born in third world countries, over women of color, I definitely early more on average those those groups assuming the same level of effort. As a straight person I did not have to fight for my right to marry (and the benefits that came with it, like health insurance from my spouse). Those privileges don’t mean that I don’t work hard, they mean I have an advantage over others. And asking you to be aware of your privileges does not invalidate your experience (unless of course you are making the claim that ANYONE could do as well as you, with less privilege, working just as hard).

        1. Post

          Your disagreement is incoherent. You didn’t tell a story about someone getting something for gender, race, or any other factor like that. You told a story about a person being in the right place at the right time, which is pretty much the definition of luck. Unless there’s more to the story all the factors you just mentioned were irrelevant in this specific case which is why I called it luck.

          I was not calling race, gender, or socioeconomic background luck. Clearly some people start at home, others 1st base, and some on 3rd. If you like to call being born white or male or whatever privileged, that fine. I personally don’t care either way.

          My point was simple:
          1. it’s often used as an excuse by a people to downplay other people’s accomplishments or make excuses for their own lack of effort or success. People may or may not be in an advantageous position over others. That’s not a reason not to try. Don’t whine. Go out and work harder.

          2. It’s an ad hominem attack that’s frequently used to shut down a person with an opinion. Using that word is a great way to shut down a conversation and attack the background of the speaker rather than the content of their view, point or argument.

          I could point to a thousand conversations or articles, where a person of varying race, color or background is told they can’t speak about “xx” or “yy” because they are a “privileged xx or yy” and therefore their views are invalid. Arguments should be judged on their validity not the background of the person.

          Beyond all that, you managed to latch on to a single word in a post, that was all about getting out there, kicking ass and taking names. It wasn’t a diatribe about privilege, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It was about how going the extra mile can make a huge difference in anyone’s life. Try taking that from the conversation instead of arguing about who’s background makes life easier, which I had no interest in discussing and did not in anyway bring in to my post. Anyone can take the advice I gave and run with it.

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  9. Peter

    Just found his blog via Lifehacker and completely agree with the point of this post. Early in my career I landed a European sales and marketing position with an electronics company by going the extra mile over the course of several months.
    Remember, going the extra mile doesn’t always work out the way you hoped but you will certainly have fewer regrets in life if you do it.

    1. Post

      Agreed Peter. Always better to know you made the effort (win or lose) than regret not taking that last step.

      Thanks for the heads up about Lifehacker. I didn’t know I’d popped up over there.

  10. Michael @ NTPNW

    This article is a great read! I’ve experienced this with my work ethic. So many folks, some even family members complain theirs not enough jobs out there and that’s why they are out of work but for me I have always found something to do that would earn me money and at times I had two or three jobs. Heck I’m 46 years old and have never in my life collected unemployment. The bottom line is whether or not your willing to go the extra mile, as you say. Not all jobs are great or pay well but each one can be a stepping stone to something greater. If you don’t take the extra step, if you continue to hang with the crowd looking for the easy way then nothing will change. It’s only when you decide to go that extra mile will life give you what your looking for.

    1. Post

      Thanks Michael. There’s definitely times when things can be tough and it can be hard to find work, but typically top performers get out there and figure it out.

      I’ve done plenty of terrible jobs myself over the years (bartender, lawn care, server, warehouses, etc) and I don’t want to end up there again. That’s why I live frugally, save my money and invest. It’s also why we’re working hard to have as many diverse income streams as possible between the blog, dividends, rental income, our amazon business and more.

  11. Ashlee @ SMD!

    This is so true, and it’s an idea that’s taken for granted (at least by me) because I’m making the (incorrect) assumption EVERYONE is going the extra mile when, in fact, hardly anyone else is.

    Great article and what’s even better is the reminder (aka kick in the ass) to go the extra mile!

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  12. John

    Great post. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re going the extra mile. You’re just doing your job to the best of your ability. Then later you look around and see the goofballs in the office next door and realize you really are going the extra mile! It can be tough….and lonely…..but always the best policy.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.


    1. Post

      I feel lazy at night all the time when I decide to give up on some more side hustle work for evening and just want to watch tv for a bit. I have to remind myself most people aren’t doing any of that. Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Dee @ Color Me Frugal

    Love this! It is so true. My hubby likes to quote his grandmother who used to say, “If it’s easy it probably isn’t worth it.” Going the extra mile and thereby taking the “harder” road might take more time, effort, and sacrifice, but will be so much more worth it 🙂

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  16. Rob @ MoneyNomad

    Not only is the extra mile never crowded, but from an ethical point of view, it’s simply the right thing to do. It’s amazing how being a good human being can actually help you thrive as a business professional.

    1. Post

      I don’t know if I think it’s a requirement, particularly when ti comes to your own life (like side hustles) but it’s certainly the better option.

  17. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

    Awesome post! The thing I love about going the extra mile is that the people you do find out there are worth the effort of getting to know. I also feel like at that point, there’s more camaraderie and less competition.

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