This is one of the picturesI posted on Facebook yesterday.
In 1989 I lost a bunch of weight after joining Weight Watchers. In 1993 they recruited me to lead motivational/informational weight loss meetings for them. I did that for many years; until I reached a philosophical difference about measurements of success; me measuring it by behavior change; pounds lost and kept off; they measuring it by getting people to spend more money.
My approach was never conventional and my hand was slapped numerous times by those within the corporate structure who believed in convention. I never wanted people who showed up weekly to see some canned presentation; like 99% of the other staff members offered. Worse yet, I refused to turn into an infomercial for more products and services.
The picture above was from the “Bathing Suit Contest” I held in June each year. In December I held the “Slutty Thing Contest.” Now if you’ve been to Weight Watchers you know that this is definitely a RECESS from those canned presentations.
Both events were about celebrating success; where people who had/were overcoming a difficult personal struggle got to feel good and proud in a safe environment. There were two rules:
You participated or
You sat and made a heck of a lot of noise for those who did.
I bought prizes (thank you Dollar Tree) and made up certificates of recognition. I did this at my expense; see my earlier comment about their measurement of success. The couple of hundred dollars I spent each year kept people engaged and on their way to success. Each year close to 100 people participated. There was music, laughter, screaming and even some crying. And as a good leader I led the way in my bathing suit.
As an aside, every year I promised I would wear a thong if everyone in the room showed up in their bathing suit. And every year under my bathing suit was that thong……just in case. One year I got nervous as people worked the room for weeks leading up to the event. (And I still don’t know why anyone would want to walk around with a piece of string up their butt. It was the most uncomfortable week of the year for me.)
Yes, there were those who thought I was absurd. Yes, I did get calls from the management team asking what I was up to. I ignored them. This was about providing a unique customer experience. The team of people who worked with me sometimes wore their bathing suits. Enthusiasm is catchy. And make no mistake, management loved the revenue I generated with hundreds of engaged customers weekly.
But here is the important thing…… I positioned this as an opportunity to celebrate success/accomplishment. I positioned it about fun. I positioned it about standing out, being bold and being different; doing what others weren’t doing; others who were not successful because they took the same old hide behind fat clothing approaches. I got people excited about these events; both the employees and the customers. That’s how people succeed in life; that’s how businesses succeed in business; by being different; by getting excited.
I wear a propeller beanie cap. No one in my world who works with businesses in developing their staff is doing that. Last year I founded the World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger, the Double D Diner operated by One Less Meal, Inc. No one is doing that. I work with organizations who want to stand out; who are open to the idea that conventionalism is not going to keep them on the top of people’s minds. Burger King will always be #2 to McDonald’s. They both have burgers. They both offer fast meals. They both have a mascot (Ronald & The King). Burger King is not original; they don’t stand out. I personally don’t think flame broiled versus fried matters; but I could be wrong.
So I have three questions for you today.
- What are you doing that is so radically different than anyone else?
- Why hasn’t that “crazy” great idea come to fruition?
- Isn’t it time to keep people excited about what you have to offer?