The Power of Nth Degree Thinking

by placers on October 13, 2023 in Outside Insights



Imagine you could simply “keep score” of every relationship in life and business. And, for example, if after every interaction your “score” would change depending on how much value you brought to the person you were speaking with..


While for some this idea may be anxiety inducing, it doesn’t have to be! I have a mental scorebook in my head that motivates me to always leave a positve impact on the person I’m interacting with. I don’t stress if I have a few misses, because I know I’ll make it up next time.


I call this mentality Nth Degree thinking and I learned it from my dad, Alan Burkhard. We discuss the Nth Degree mindset in our book Opposite the Crowd, available in audio format here and print here.


Author William James once said “There is very little difference between one man and another; but what little there is, is very important.


To me, that “little difference” is represented by people who strive to provide Nth Degree service in all areas of their life. This could be during business transactions, talking to an old friend or even sitting down for dinner with your family at the end of a long day.


Nth Degree happens over time and little adjustments can make big differences. One of my favorite excerpts from our book is a quote from my dad below that illustrates this idea.


“Everybody’s looking for a big, giant idea that they can patent, compete, and differentiate. Even if you did, within minutes, everybody else would be creating a product all around it that’s just as good, if not better, and you’d be out of business. So the way to do it is simply to do it better. We, the little guys, can do it better.

– Alan Burkhard


Need inspiration to start? I summarize some of the ideas from Opposite the Crowd below:


In business: Task your team with brainstorming how to enhance a specific part of the customer experience. How can you take their experience and make it good, better and best? Leaders – don’t forget to recognize and reward your people for their hard work. At Placers, we have a coin with our values on one side and Nth Degree on the other. This award and $500 dollars is given when someone’s Nth Degree service has a big impact!


In life: Keep track of your personal relationships and remember to check in often. Providing value doesn’t have to come in the form of grand gestures. Sharing a book recommendation, sending words of encouragement or even a laugh over a cold beer provides value.


In all areas: Give yourself grace. Not every interaction will provide value and that’s ok. You won’t be able to show up for others unless you’re showing up for yourself first. If you leave an interaction feeling less than great, consider what you can do for that person next time.


If you take anything away from this email or learnings from Opposite the Crowd, I hope it’s this: Everyone has the power to make a real difference in the lives of others. The small things add up to make a big impact and by having an Nth Degree mindset in every interaction you’ll provide more value than you’ve thought was possible.


And, as always, take care of yourself first. An Nth Degree mindset starts with self care. Be good to yourself.


Until next time, friends.


Our book is now available as a hard copy and Kindle on Amazon. We hope you will check it out here!

If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading these past Outside Insights posts:

Why Opposite The Crowd?

When I Discovered Self-Care & Never Looked Back

The Power of Right Thinking

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