Stand Up and Stand Out

Posted on June 20, 2011 by Josh Linkner

A recent employer asked job seekers the following riddle:
“You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night. You pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
2. An old friend who once saved your life.
3. The perfect man (or) woman you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your two-seat car?”

…Take a minute to think before you continue reading…

You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect dream lover again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200+ applicants) demonstrated his creativity: “I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would then stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams.”


Now more than ever, we must stand out in order to win.  Accordingly, creativity has become the critical ingredient.  It is the difference-maker on challenges big and small; the deciding factor in landing the job, winning the client, and even getting the girl.

We all struggle through a series of decisions and dilemmas, the solutions of which become the measure of our success.  Sure, you can follow the herd and go with conventional wisdom but that’s just a surefire path to mediocrity.

To seize the lion’s share in both business and life, you must unleash your imagination.  Inventing the never-been-done-before will capture the hearts of your customers and team members, while the me-too players shrug their shoulders with frustration and despair.

Forgo the bland vanilla stew of the masses in order to savor a feast of originality.  Break free from the pressures to fit in, knowing that your dreams will only be reached by standing boldly for your own passionate and unique ideas.

Stop confirming and start creating.  It’s time to stand up and stand out.

2 Responses to “Stand Up and Stand Out

  1. Wait, so…the old friend saves your life, and then is perfectly all right with doing you even MORE favors by taking the dying old lady to the hospital just so you can stay at the bus stop and flirt? Huh, think there might be some holes in that plot somewhere, 😉

    I understand the concept of that riddle (as well as the post, all very well put), however the answer posed to that riddle, while creatively wrapping up all loose ends and addresses everyone involved in the scenario, seems to end the story a little quickly. I mean, the speaker/applicant is obviously the main character in the story and truthfully, seems like a very selfish person. Granted, this old friend who saves your life obviously cares a lot about you, but are the odds really that good that the old friend would have no trouble taking the old lady to the hospital so you can hit on a potential love interest without any convincing or persuasion whatsoever? 😉

    Creativity is absolutely needed in stories these days, I fully agree. In fact, I sincerely hope that there are publishers and/or agents out there looking more for creativity in plot and character development over simpler aspects and rules for writing that most people can pick up. However, I do also feel that authors need to remember that not everything can/should be wrapped up nicely and neatly.

    In fact, the best stories are the ones that SEEM to have everything wrapped up, when in reality, things are only just beginning, 😉

  2. My answer – Give the keys to the perfect woman and have her drive the old lady to the hospital.

    Any friend of mine would understand why I chose the perfect woman and old lady to go in my car. It’s the most honorable choice and creates a great memory for us to laugh at when we get older. As for the perfect woman, we now have the perfect reason to meet again…she has to return my car. 😉