New Year's Advice: Embrace Your Different!

Today’s contribution is from Mike Cosentino of Big Peach Running Co.


   Before there was Big Peach, I was employed at The Coca-Cola Co. on the Customer Marketing team.  This group was somewhat positioned as a platoon between our own Brand Management teams and the largest National Accounts.  And I still easily recall when a new tagline was announced for Sprite, as it suggested to “Obey Your Thirst.”  It did so in a manner that both connoted and conveyed an edginess and sense of attitude, as it intended to speak most directly to urban teenagers and to conveniently align with a recently announced sponsorship with the National Basketball Association…  For more than a decade with this idiom, we heard stories and saw images as to how ceding to the promoted condition of “thirst” was good for us.  Even cool. And this campaign—by any measure—was hugely successful. The headline for this post angles for much the same.  “Embrace Your Different.”  The expression is, indeed, meant to come off with a bit of a defiant demeanor and uncontained smugness… And make no mistake, like the Sprite slogan, it is similarly intended to have an impact. But first thing is first…  First, you have to recognize that you are, indeed, different. Yes, YOU! And you. You over there, too. All of us here. Now, here’s how we’re all so different…  Depending on the study referenced, we’re included in a group that is no more sizable than somewhere between 21 and 46 percent of Americans who get any regular exercise.Œ  Whatsoever.  We also live in a state that’s no better than 38th (yes, out of 50…) in America’s Health Rankings—and in a country that comes in dead last for amount of total exercise in the 17 most affluent countries in the world.Ž See?  We’re different.  We just are.  Nodenying it.  The research proves it. But we don’t want to be…  Do we? No, we don’t. But since we—you and me—are also so stubborn and unwilling to change, what else can we do?! EMBRACE YOUR DIFFERENT! At Big Peach, we know firsthand that if you do what this expression suggests, others will notice.  They will see you going for your walk.  Or training for your race.  Or signing up for a 5k or triathlon.  Out the front window, you are.  On the neighborhood streets again.  Around the school.  At the office.  Anywhere and everywhere.  Trust me – – it will happen.  You will be noticed.  And those making the observations will accurately perceive you as “different.”  They may even hurl or silently slander us with terms like “odd.” Or “strange.”  As sure as Newton’s First Law of Motion, the hollow insinuations will come. But, again, statistics tell us they are right.  This is true.  We ARE different. But, friends, here’s the other side of the thought or the snide comments.  And this has also been researched, proven and heralded true by scientists and statisticians. As you EMBRACE YOUR DIFFERENT—and others see that it’s completely true just how different you are—they’ll begin to think…  Now, get this…  They will begin to think, “I wish I was different, too!” And as we all so perfectly know, if enough of us can get our spouse, our friends and neighbors, our co-workers and relatives, our boss, our teacher and our former teammates to be different like us… Well… We just wouldn’t be that different, after all!  Happy New Year and May Your Best Miles Be Those Covered On Foot! Mike Cosentino is the Founder of Big Peach Running Co., an 8-store Footwear, Apparel and Accessories retailer in the Atlanta-area.  He is also the Author of The Atlanta Running Guide and has also written for Competitor magazine, Runner’s World, Wingfoot and Atlanta Sports & Fitness.  He has been a pre-race feature for the Fox 5 coverage of the Peachtree Road Race and his knowledge in the sport has landed him on expert panels at Nike, Inc., New Balance, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and Asics America Corp., among others. Œ Stat Sources:Centers For Disease Control, 2013; National Institute of Health, 2015
Parade Magazine, 2016
The Atlantic, 2013