This entry isn't really about any specific part of life or business, but just a general observation and philosophy that has helped me in life from time to time. And it seems to have helped many of the people who I admire tremendously.
Here are some examples of situations where unexpected helps.
applying for a job
Everybody is sending emails to HR. Be the applicant who finds out who does what and then tries to set-up informational interviews with the actual people you'd be working with. Sure you're the breaking the rules, but who cares.
interviewing for a job
Everybody writes thank you emails. Hand-written cards are better, but you're not standing out with those either. So, write a letter. A funny post card. Or maybe follow up with a really thoughtful voice message.
My good friend Richard started a very successful company called The Sharper Image. At the time nobody else was selling cool gadgets through a mail-order catalog. From what I hear, getting the Sharper Image catalog in those days was something that many people looked forward to. What are you selling? Why hasn't tried anyone the Tupperware "come to your home format" for male products? I'd hang out with guys once a month, drink beer and buy gadgets, computer games or even cooking stuff?
Dinner and movie is a dull albeit safe choice. This is actually a situation where you might want to play it safe since you could be on a first date and the other person could turn out to be a total freak. Regardless, here are some unexpected ideas - rent a tandem bike and go somewhere cool, go to a Friday night high school football game (WITH a date not to find a date), volunteer somewhere and then go to a nice dinner afterwards. Ok, maybe I shouldn't be giving dating advice.
Everybody sends out their family cards during the holiday season. Tough to stand out. If you really want to re-connect with people, show off your kids, loved ones or pets and/or feel a competitive urge when it comes to taking up space on other people's fridges; then send out your cards on Valentine's day, Cinco de Mayo or any other part of the year. Just not the holiday season; when everybody gets inundated with them.
Ps. It should be noted that sending out holiday cards is better than not sending out cards at all, which I've been guilty off. So hopefully this entry can inspire some - including myself.