Go Outside Your Own Niche

June 30, 2019

This is a note pulled from a recent issue of the Work Brighter Weekly, our weekly newsletter to help you balance productivity with self-care and other “unproductive” things. Sign up for the newsletter to get notes like these straight to your inbox.

Yesterday I saw a taping of the Broadway musical Kinky Boots.


It was technically a London cast, not a Broadway one, but it still felt pretty nice to sit in a swanky recliner and watch the show for $15, especially when I was crushed to not see it here in New York before it closed. (How long til it’s appropriate to campaign for a revival? 🤔)

And even though I was familiar with the story, the Broadway cast, and the music (by Cyndi Lauper! Gah!), there was one big detail I was missing:

Kinky Boots is based on a true story! 😍

If you’re not familiar, the musical is about a man inheriting his family’s failing shoe factory and turning it around by changing its niche: from dress/work shoes for cisgender men to stiletto boots for trans women and drag queens.

After learning how often one drag queen’s heels broke, with his knowledge of shoe manufacturing, he realized it was because most stilettos are catered to cisgender women, and any stiletto-wearing person with larger feet would need a different heel structure to withstand a lot of use.

So that’s what they made.

There’s even a great part of my favorite song from the show where they go, “help me welcome…our! niche! market!”

And like, I’d heard the music before, but until seeing it I hadn’t realized how utterly businessy this show is! How many other showtunes have the phrase “niche market” in them?! 😂

So realizing this amazingness was based on a real business and story (albeit with different details)? Just made me love it more.

It also drove home one of my favorite business tips: the best inspiration will come outside your own niche.

I’ve said it so many times before (like here, for example), but when you focus on following people and consuming content from your own niche or industry only, it’s way too easy to fall into what everyone else around you is doing. The best ideas will come from things like your last Netflix binge, the musical you saw over the weekend, or the drag queen you met one day.

This is your chance to prove me right or wrong: where have the best ideas in your work come from…following your competitors or a seemingly random event?