Having late-stage cancer taught me a lot of things that I now apply to my small business. One of which was how to think outside of the box. In marketing, this kind of thinking can manifest itself as micro-weirding.

Micro-weirding is the practice of doing small things to set your brand apart.

It’s like when you’re eating at an amusement park and someone hands you a “magic tray,” and the waiter gives you some complementary ice cream and sings you a song. It’s a small, inexpensive act, but it’s memorable.

When I look back on my cancer days, I can see how they prepared me for micro-weirding my brand. Allow me to explain.

Thinking out-of-the-box during chemotherapy

At it’s core, micro-weirding is about thinking of unusual ideas that delight others.

I had one such idea when I was undergoing chemotherapy.

I was sick, and the folks around me were sick. We were all bald and many of us were emaciated. I thought I could use humor to add some fun to an awful situation.

So, I decided to try out an unconventional idea.

I remember sitting in my chemo chair and asking one of my nurses, “Do you have a marker?”

She was a little confused as she brought me a marker.

“Could you please write ‘Hair’ on my head,” I asked.

She laughed before asking me if I was sure.

“Yeah, it’ll be funny.”

So, she began writing on my head. And before long, I had “Hair” written on my bald dome in big blue letters.

This made people laugh, and I enjoy making people laugh.

I remember going home, and as I wiped the ink off, I knew that if I wanted to keep making people laugh, I should ask for more head-writings.

This was a small, seemingly insignificant act, but it was memorable. Today, I would call this an example of micro-weirding (albeit, for my “personal brand” and not my business).

Other bald-headed writings

The next time I went to chemotherapy, I had asked another nurse to write upon the blank canvas that was my head.

Here’s what the hospital staff wrote over the next few weeks:

  • “Cancer sucks”
  • “Breast cancer sucks” (for breast cancer awareness month)
  • “Wonder boy” (I asked the receptionist to write whatever she wanted.)
  • “Wig”
  • A smiley face (so I could say, “I always have a smile on my face.”)

If all of this sounds strange, it’s because it was. But it also made people laugh, so I met my objective.

I’m confident that out-of-the-box ideas like that have carried over to my professional life.

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