By Vincent Ivan Phipps, M.A., CSP (Certified Speaking Professional)

This topic is in recognition of how to best align products/services with current and prospective customers. The historical significance of the origin of the expression, “The Real McCoy” is in honor of Black History Month.

The real item or the genuine article of what is being requested.

Becky never wears any off brand or knock off designer clothing. Even though it cost her more money, she always wears the real mccoy!

Elijah McCoy (1844 – 1929) was an African-American inventor who acquired over 57 patents. Elijah’s parents were born slaves. Both parents escaped together from Kentucky to Canada via the Underground Railroad. This enabled Elijah to be born with his freedom. At the age of 15, Elijah accepted an internship opportunity to study in Scotland. During this international learning expedition, Elijah began to master the art of engineering. He later went on to become as an oiler and a railway fireman. One of Elijah’s most commonly copied designs was his graphite lubrication mechanism that was used for lubricating steam engines. Elijah’s designs become favored over all others devices because of how well they worked. When his designed was stolen, or duplicated, others would claim the design as a McCoy. When the stolen or copied, designs failed, only Elijay could resolve the issue. To ensure engineers and conductors purchased Elijah’s original design, his tool was referred to as the “Real McCoy”. 

Avoid trying to copy the style of others to separate yourself within your industry. It is normal to admire and even to incorporate the successes of others into your professional and personal development. The more you can do to be unique to your image and your service, the better you will be appreciated. Follow these three steps to position yourself as the Real McCoy:

  1. Identify your clients. Everyone is not your customer. Audi focuses on a certain type of person who drives their cars. Real estate agents focus on certain home owners who want to live in a mobile home. Grocery stores buy foods based on the predominant culture of their neighborhood. Focus what you do in alignment to needs it most.
  2. Show expertise. Stop trying to do it all. As you get more established in your career, you want to evolve your skills. Find what you do best and get better! Five time NBA Champion Dennis Rodman, played professional basketball for 20 years. He averaged about six points a game, but went a full season averaging almost 19 rebounds a game (18.7). 
  3. Be genuine. The best way to be original, is to be originally you. There are hundreds of places to buy a hamburger.
  4. Both Big Macs and Whoppers are unique burgers because they are original to their brand.

Stop duplicating and start creating, then you will be the Real McCoy!

Leave a Reply