In A World of Cheerios, Be A Fruit Loop

My daughter and I were chatting on the deck, having a little breakfast, and I said something to her that triggered a thought about opportunity and seizing the moment. I told her I was going to post this thought on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. The post went like this: “Everyone has opportunities presented to them, the question is: are they paying attention when the window opens? Keep looking, never quit.” My daughter then asked me, “Why did you tweet that?” I explained that I felt that there are lots of folks who do not receive the daily encouragement or direction they need, and I like to help motivate people based on what I have learned over the years. If it connects with just one person and gives them that little extra to get up and go, then I feel like I have made a positive impact.

She said to me, “That’s pretty cool. Can I go on Twitter and inspire people?” I told her absolutely, but at age 13, I think she is still too young to be on social media. Patricia and I decided the kids would not be allowed to get a Facebook account until high school. We actually feel that’s a bit young too, but we will have rules for that when the time comes, just as in everything else concerning the kids. My daughter then inquired, “Ok, but I want to motivate people too; can you Tweet something for me?” I said, “Of course. What is it?” She replied, “In a world of Cheerios, be a Fruit Loop.”

I asked her, “Before I tweet it, what does it mean to you?” She answered, “Cheerios are plain and Fruit Loops are colorful. You know that I always say ‘Be yourself’, because most people are not. To me, Cheerios are what everyone thinks they have to be. Cheerios are safe. Fruit Loops are colorful and stand out. Isn’t that what you always tell us, not to be like others, to stand out and surprise people in a good way?”

I tweeted her thought and posted it on Facebook. I felt a great sense of pride from that quirky little bit of cereal wisdom from my 13-year-old daughter. Not because she gave me this clever little saying, in fact she may have heard it from another source. What made me feel great about what she said was that she showed me she understood a principal that I talk about all the time. She continued, “I’m not talking about actually being a Fruit Loop Dad, you get that, right? I’m talking about being who you really are and not being afraid to show others.” I lecture to students and I speak to corporations about having people “think of you first” and “separating yourself from the rest of the schmucks”, and here is my 13-year-old daughter schooling me on my own belief. It was an awesome moment.

The reality is you can’t expect to excel if you are doing everything exactly like everyone else. It is a highly competitive world out there, and you need to find your zone and what makes you exceptional. What is it that you can do for society, your company or organization that makes you valuable? Why should people think of you or your brand first?

I teach at BC. About 30,000 kids apply to Boston College every year for about 2800 spots. 10,000+ are probably “BC material” and would do well; the problem is how are the admissions folks able to sort through all the “sameness” in the applications? I have met with a bunch of high school seniors and their parents to give advice; the first thing I say to them is, “What have you done thus far to separate yourself from the pack. How do you add value?” No matter who you are or what you do, you have to position yourself in a way that shows others that you provide value beyond the other candidates. That is the only sure way to be accepted, hired or promoted. So take my daughter’s point to heart, especially if you feel like you’re not gaining any ground. Stop running with the pack of plain Cheerios and find that inner Fruit Loop to bring color to your story and separate yourself from your competition.

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  1. Lou, as you know I value your content, insight and opinions, but your daughter also brings something to the table (much more than fruit loops). I believe in this phrase as a way of life. Fortunately, for me, my name stands out and I’ve worked diligently to make it a positive brand for myself. My philosophy is if I can brand myself (still working on it) then I can work on most brands as a marketer in Social Media. That being said, I believe I’m standing out amongst the plain.

    Here’s a story I’m sharing with you and your readers since it just happened to me. I spoke at Temple University last Tuesday. It was an Alumni panel for the Senior Seminar classes in the school I graduated from in 2009. I was the third of five speakers. The two before me went up to speak, just plain standing there. The students looked tired, bored, unimpressed. I sat, thinking to myself, how can I change their experience? I went up and said, “How is everyone?” They all muttered quietly. I replied, “Can everyone stand up for me?” and proceeded to turn around with my back to them. When I turned around, they were all standing and looking at me like “Who is this guy?” I said, “You may all sit now, I just wanted to see if you were listening!” They laughed and now I fully had their attention. I engaged and peaked their interest by shocking them (or waking them up). After my presentation (on my experiences, using Social Media to get a job, what I currently do and professional advice), we had a break. 2-3 people came up to me to network and introduce themselves. I went up to my Dean (the teacher of the Seminar classes) and said, “2-3 kids came up to me, that’s it?” I asked him if my class was that bad, he said, “Not even close.” He continued to say that this class is frustrating and they are driving him nuts. The next day, I received an e-mail from the ambitious student who put this panel together, apologizing for her fellow peers’ lack of participation. She claimed it was due to everyone already being placed in their internships.

    What I told these students, which was sadly true, is that I have more LinkedIn connections (my network) than every single student combined. So I asked these questions to them since these students have a problem being a Fruit Loop;

    -Do you attend college to secure an internship? No, so why would you stop building your network and standing out.

    -If you are not interested in Social Media, do you believe my 700+ connections are only Social Media professionals?

    -If you don’t tell someone what you are interested in and what you aspire to be, how will they ever know?

    These students didn’t stand out. I don’t want to hear that it’s because it’s Temple University. That is 100% NOT the reason. It’s the laziness in students these days. As a side note, I received 7 LinkedIn invitations right away. 1 of them had a message in it. 2 of them introduced themselves to me. That left 5 people who didn’t stand out to me, but thought it would be best to electronically introduce themselves to me.

    Thanks for your time! I thought it fit this article. Stand out! Be a Fruit Loop!


    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      Thank you for the note and taking the time to share such a personal story. Many people worry what others think and miss the point and true direction they should put their focus. Always be you and stick to what makes you, you. In order to be good with everyone else, first you have to be good and happy with you. Being your own person is something that is not popular at times, but it always is the most rewarding. Keep being you and thank you for constant support.

      My best,

  2. John Feudo says:

    Lou, your daughter is indeed wise for her age–wise for ANY age–and your comments on the college admissions process are also dead-on. Be a Fruit Loop, or an Apple Jack. Or even a Honey Nut Cheerio. Just do something to set yourself apart from others. 34,000 applications at BC for 2280 spots this year many outstanding applicants, but only those who truly stand out will be wearing SuperFan t-shirts come Fall.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi John,

      It’s so competitive, I am not sure if I could get in today. I would definitely have to prepare and approach it differently then I did back in 1983. Thank you for your note and taking the time to comment.

      My best,

  3. Tell your daughter, that together you both have provided a little inspiration to someone trying to be a Fruit Loop.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Thank you for your note Patrick ~ we too are trying out best as well.

      My best,

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