The Congestion Of The Crowd.
Listening to Chris Anderson discuss his new book Free last week was an uneasy experience for me. Not because of my feelings about the limits of his argument, but because I realised I knew about ten to fifteen percent of the audience. While it was great to catch up with many of them afterwards, I was struck that my learning would be more differentiated and therefore valuable if I were in an audience of strangers.
This was confirmed a few evenings later, when I sat in an audience of strangers at a design seminar where various designers spoke of their influences and inspirations pecha-kucha style. Admittedly, I was there because I knew three of the nine people on stage, but that was pretty much all I knew. No prizes for guessing which experience was the more inspirational, informative and intoxicating.
Since you want to make your product/service stand out from the crowd, it really helps if you occassionally do so too. Looking at the world through different eyes is a great way to start.