Every day you engage with productive people in business. Many come from similar backgrounds and training, and yet a rare few manage to stand out from the crowd. You know these people the moment you engage with them, and you will likely remember them the rest of your life.

Some of you may ask what it is about them. Others may better ask how to be more like them. Well, wonder no more. Here my Inc. colleagues and I share stories of those who impressed us the most, so you can learn from their actions and stand out from the crowd.

1. Put learning before knowing.

Recently, I worked with a group of graduate students on a complex, high-stakes project. All of them were intelligent, competent, and enthusiastic. But one student consistently stood out from the rest. It wasn't that she was smarter or worked harder. It was the approach she took to every aspect of the work. While others were concerned about getting things done or feeling good about their contributions, she was primarily interested in learning all she could from the experience. She began every stage with a spirit of inquiry. She diligently and proactively communicated to make sure every effort she made was aligned with the project. Ultimately, her work shined as the most aligned and appropriate, and her learning rewards appeared to be far above the rest of the group.

2. Show others that they matter.

A client of mine had just bought a company and I was along the first day he visited the facility. After an initial meeting, he noticed a big buffet with plenty of people standing around in white coats and black slacks, but no one in line or sitting at tables. Turned out none of the employees were eating, and the caterers were clearly disappointed by what they thought was a cool opportunity. He decided that he and I were eating...and eventually serving the caterers, since there was plenty of food. Why? As he said, "I felt bad for them. They tried hard to do a good job, and everyone blew them off. How bad would that feel? So that was the least I could do." Showing people they mattered was incredibly important to him--no wonder he's so successful. Jeff Haden--Owner's Manual

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3. Go above and beyond.

I am most impressed when an employee or colleague goes above and beyond his or her job description to delight me. Maybe it's delivering a project early, or creating a more impressive presentation, or really putting his or her heart and soul into the job. I've had many employees over the years impress me with their can-do attitude, willingness, and desire to do the best job possible. It's something I always try to do myself for my own clients today. Peter Economy--The Leadership Guy

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4. Stay positive.

Last year, I co-facilitated a live, full-day workshop with a colleague. Since I'm accustomed to hosting and promoting my events online, I was skeptical about our ability to get 100 female entrepreneurs to our local workshop. My colleague, however, was convinced that by attending several networking events a week, for months, we would fill the room. Her determination and optimism impressed me so much that I put my doubts aside and opted instead to try something new. High energy and a positive attitude can be infectious. I learned the benefits of taking a new approach because I let someone else be right. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist

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5. Fire me.

I was the only person in our startup who knew how to perform the project management role. As our company was growing, I hired an employee to be the first person to replace me in that position. After working for me for three months, she did something that really impressed me. She had shadowed me for several months on projects, but I hadn't let her run a project on her own. A new project was starting the very next day. This employee came to me and said, "If you don't let me run the project that starts tomorrow, I quit." I was taken aback, but her point was important. She was saying that if I didn't let her take the reins, I didn't need her. She impressed me with her confidence and her willingness to confront me. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward

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