People want to be social but hate talking to strangers. So why not give them something to talk about, especially in business where connecting to people is what matters most? In this episode, our resident Yellow Tux Guy, Jesse Cole, meets the man in orange shoes, Dave Kerpen, to talk about the importance of being unique, bringing out your own style just enough to make a statement. He talks about his career journey up to owning a professional sports team and developing great experiences at his ballpark, tapping into his hiring process and unconventional marketing. Having created a brand around Likeable, Dave then shares some tips and tricks on how to be likeable in your business, create the right attention, and, more importantly, solve people’s problems. Dave is a former stadium hawker, reality TV celebrity, New York Times bestselling author, global speaker, serial entrepreneur and overall Likeable guy.
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How To Be Likeable In Business: Creating The Right Attention With Dave Kerpen
I’m pumped to welcome former stadium hawker, reality TV celebrity, New York Times bestselling author, global speaker, serial entrepreneur and overall likable guy, Dave Kerpen to the show. He started as a hawker working at Fenway Park in Boston Garden and then became a marketing and content rock star. He developed Likeable brand with New York Times bestselling books, Likeable Social Media, Likeable Business, and The Art of People. We have a similar background working in sports, marketing, writing books, and speaking. We’re both married at ballparks and not to each other. He has always been doing business done differently. I am pumped to welcome you to the show, my friend.
Thank you for having me, Jesse. I feel like I’ve known you for years. I’m excited to share a little bit of my story and background with your audience.
Let’s start with the signature style and you talk a little bit about this. I am the Yellow Tux Guy and you started with shoes, but you are rocking the orange. Tell me where this came from.
With our first company, Likeable, the logo was a blue thumb. You can’t do that. It’s Facebook’s logo. We had our designers come up with a few other options. It was love at first sight when I saw the orange thumb and we went with the logo. I started thinking, “Let me wear orange shoes.” I had a few pairs of orange shoes, but I wasn’t as committed to it until I was in a Venture Capital Investment Conference. I was trying to reach this guy, the Silicon Valley investor Dave McClure. I had sent him an email because I was fundraising for my second company Likeable Local.
I got an auto-reply that said, “I do not respond to emails. You’ll have to think of a more creative way to get ahold of me.” I book a ticket to this $1,000 conference thinking, “I’ll get ahold of him there and I’ll pitch him on my business.” Little did I realize that thousands of other people that wanted to raise money, entrepreneurs, and whatnot had the same idea. Every time he’s at this conference, there are 50 people waiting in line to meet him. I went all day, completely wasting my day and money never getting ahold of him. I’m in line for the bar at the end of the day to drink my sorrows away. All of a sudden I hear, “I need to meet the man that’s wearing those shoes.”
I look up and there’s Dave McClure. He had sought me out in a room full of people that were seeking him out. We had a great conversation. They ended up putting $500,000 into our company. I have worn orange shoes every single day since that day. I’m up to 86 pairs and it becomes a signature statement, a thing that people know me by, a thing that people notice. It helps to generate conversations. People either love it. Some people don’t dig orange, but that’s fine by me because it’s memorable and that’s the key.
I never shared this before, but when I was in high school, my buddies did all of our shopping at Goodwill. We used to up each other with who could get the most ridiculous outfits. When I went to college, coming up from North to Wofford, more conservative. I would go out to the rest of the bars, the restaurant, the frat, and I’d be wearing Lion King shirts or Cracker Barrel vests or Burger King shirts and they were like, “What is wrong with you?” People always would come over and say something. I realized that it’s a form of peacocking as they call it in the pickup artists’ world. You wear something a little outrageous so people will approach you. Have you noticed that’s happened considerably more here?
With COVID, I’m not doing as much traveling, but pre-COVID, a time I took the train into the city to go to work, I would have somebody say, “I love those shoes. Orange is my favorite color.” The interesting thing is you and I are extroverted. Wearing orange shoes or a yellow tux or something noticeable or peacocking is a valuable tool for introverts because it helps strike up conversations. It gives people an excuse to have a conversation. A lot of people don’t want to talk to a stranger. I had a guy that noticed my orange shoes on the train who turned out to be the CEO of a big optical lens company and ended up becoming a client of ours. It led to money. More importantly, it leads to relationships and opportunities to connect to more people, which at the end of the day, what else is it about?
People want to be social if you can give them an excuse or something to talk about. It’s huge. We teach our people at our ballpark, if someone’s wearing something unique or been in it, always acknowledge them because people want the acknowledgment. I don’t want to spend too much time on signature style, but is there anything else that you teach? Not all people are extroverted like us. No one’s going to dress up like a yellow tux. Orange shoes are easier, but how do you teach this?
Everyone can find a signature style that’s memorable. It doesn’t have to be as outrageous as a yellow tux or bright orange shoes every day. For example, I work with a real estate agent who ended up putting a different color flower in her hair every day. It’s noticeable. It’s something that people look forward to, “What’s the flower going to be now?” I’ve worked with a classy CMO of a big company. She began wearing pearls every single day. Either a pearl necklace, a pearl bracelet, or a one pearl ring. Something that stood out as a little bit different. Who else is going to wear pearls every day? I have a good friend. He’s a reporter. He wears a purple tie with his suit every day. It’s not necessarily about being the most outrageous. It’s about being the most unique in your style.
I remember the first time I heard you, you were in Rob Glazer’s podcast. I was listening to the story about the Crunch ‘n Munch and then the wedding. I immediately called my wife, Emily and said, “We have to listen to this.” Our mind was blown. I was like, “I’ve got to reach out to this guy and connect to him because of the Crunch ‘n Munch story, why does every single stadium have someone like that? I need you to take us back to that on how you started doing that because I would love to have everyone on our staff to have their own signature style like this at a ballpark.[bctt tweet=”One of people’s biggest fears is looking foolish and stupid.” via=”no”]
I’m a huge baseball fan and didn’t have a ton of money to go to college. I got a full merit scholarship to Boston University, but it didn’t pay for my room and board. I still needed to get a job to pay for my room and board. I figured working at a ballpark. What’s better than that for a sports fan? I took a job working as a vendor starting at Fenway Park. Soon thereafter I’m at the Boston Garden. Three sports stars, baseball, basketball and hockey. At most stadiums and certainly at these two stadiums, there are two very important things you need to know about the vending business.
First, it’s a commission only. You only get paid based on what you sell and tips, but there’s no hourly wage for these jobs. Second, it’s a seniority-based system. If you get all the guys to get together, you got to work for years to get the hot dogs or the beer where the real money is at. On my first day on the job, I was the lowest man on the totem pole so I was assigned in Crunch ’n Munch which was a buttery toffee popcorn with peanuts. A quick side note, all four competitive products in this category have ridiculous names. You’ve got Cracker Jack, Crunch ’n Munch, Poppycock, and Fiddle Faddle. I have no idea why. It’s the craziest thing to me that in order to have toffee popcorn, you need a ridiculous name of the product.
I sold six boxes on my first day. I got paid the legal minimum they could pay me, $10 or $15. I came home thinking, “It’s fun to be at the ballpark, but I’m trying to make a living here. This minimum thing isn’t going to work for me.” I came back the second day, the lowest man on the totem pole still. They hadn’t hired anyone yet. Again, I got Crunch ’n Munch. I had no choice of what I want to sell. This time I said, “Let me start a little shtick. Let me get noticed.” The thing is I have no talent. I was doing a little singing, dancing and juggling boxes, but I couldn’t sing, dance or juggle. All I was doing was making a fool of myself.
The one thing I had was the courage to be okay with people laughing at me. Quickly, it became a bit of a thing where people dogged the fact that I was goofing. Every song that came on to the loudspeaker, I would do a little dance to. I was juggling boxes to Move it, Move it. It became a little bit of a thing. A reporter noticed me and said, “I’d love to interview you for what you’re doing.” Over the Garden, the Celtics and Bruins were both doing badly. This reporter from the Boston Herald did a story on me. The headline was like, “These teams might not make the playoffs, but the Crunch ’n Munch guy is the star of the show.”
It was great to get in the news. The one smart thing I did in four years of working at a baseball stadium was that day, somebody asked me for my autograph on a box of Crunch ’n Munch because they read the article and I was famous. I said, “I’ll sign the box,” then I said, “Do you mind if I borrow the Sharpie, I’ll give it back to you at the end of the night?” They said, “No problem.” I proceeded to sign every box of Crunch ’n Munch that night unsolicited. Somehow, in just one night, I was able to create the perception in the building that not only did you need to buy a box of Crunch ’n Munch from the crazy Crunch ’n Munch guy, but you needed to get an autograph. Sales skyrocketed. Before long I was making $1,000 a night, which for a college student, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I maxed out what you could do as a ballpark vendor. ConAgra, the makers of Crunch ’n Munch, brought me a Jersey. I did a Washington game for Monday night football. Sales continued to do very well. I maxed out with how many boxes I could sell in one night but it was fun. That’s where I fell in love with marketing, sales, promotions, PR, and all that stuff. I had been studying elementary education. I want to be a teacher in school, but I realized that I had a knack for this and I enjoyed doing that.
What were some things you were saying as you were doing Crunch ’n Munch? You dance to the songs, but how do you start creating attention?
Here’s my number one line, “Crunch ’n Munch is delicious and nutritious.” It was great because people kick out of it. People love to feel good about themselves. Here’s what I started doing, Crunch ’n Munch was $3. People would give me $5 and say, “Keep the change.” I didn’t do this for everyone. When you bought a box of Crunch ’n Munch, you gave me the tip, I would turn around. I would point to them and I would say, “You rule.” I think people like being told that they rule. It made them feel good. The next guy wanted to buy a box of Crunch ’n Munch because they wanted to feel good and they wanted to rule as well.
I was slightly intimidated by “you rule.” That was intense, but I can feel it. I’m feeling it in my bones.
There was a lot of intensity but you do rule, Jesse. Who doesn’t like hearing that they rule?
Why don’t we spend so much time on this job that you were in college? It’s those little frontline positions that make the biggest difference. I’m fascinated by how to give people the courage to do that. I don’t know if you’ve seen other people take what you did and start making it their own or was like, “That’s the crazy Crunch ’n Munch guy. He is white.”[bctt tweet=”You don’t need everyone to love you. You just need enough that you make a statement.” via=”no”]
I was only in college, so I wasn’t the entrepreneur that I am now, but I studied it a little bit at the time. It was a peanut guy in Fenway that was good at throwing peanuts. That was his thing. He was good at it. He could throw peanuts from four aisles over and hit you well. It’s not quite the extent of the Crunch ’n Munch craziness. There’s a lemonade guy in Baltimore that shakes lemonade hard. There are guys here and there that do it. The biggest thing is people have a lot of fear of a lot of things. One of the biggest fear is looking foolish, looking stupid. A lot of people thought I was a complete idiot.
Rick Pitino, the coach of the Celtics tried to get me thrown out. Bob Ryan, reporter for the Boston Globe wrote in The Globe that I was the worst thing that happened to Boston sports history. Some people hated me. They couldn’t stand me, but enough people like me and it worked out okay. You don’t need everyone to love you. You just need enough that you make a statement. I’m slightly surprised and disappointed that more people don’t go for it. The good news is that those of us that are willing to go for it are going to be that much more successful because many people are afraid.
You need to be willing to be laughed at a little bit. People are afraid of that, and the courage to say, “I don’t care if I get criticized.” We had a guy, his name is Ricky. He was with us for two seasons. He came up to me before one of the first games and goes, “Why don’t we do the kiss cam?” I go, “Ricky, we don’t have a video board. We can’t shoot.” He goes, “I’ve got an idea.” He goes, gets a name tag, and puts it on himself and it says, Cam.
He goes, “I’m going to be the kiss cam.” I go, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Announce kiss cam time.” We announced it. He’s got a big beard and he’s a big guy. He starts going through the crowd, “It’s time for the kiss cam.” He’s going up to older grandmas and trying to get kisses. People are like, “What is wrong with this guy?” It was funny because he’s was willing to be laughed at, and people didn’t want to kiss a sweaty, hairy, bigger guy, but he owned it. I’m giving you a quotable here, “Fortune favors the bold, the boldest and most courageous will win.”
It’s human nature. We don’t want to be laughed at. It wasn’t fun being laughed at or yelled at. I appreciate it and the sports fan in me appreciate it. Some of the hardcore sports fan were like, “Get out of my face.” I did get out of their face. The reality is, and you know this from The Savannah Bananas, most people don’t go to a game, especially kids and families, for nonstop action on the quarter field. They want to be entertained. I was able to do that for a good portion of people. Did I annoy some of the hardcore sports fans? Yes. I got out of their way. I was able to at least entertain some of the other people. This is many years at this point. People still reach out with pictures of their autograph box of Crunch ’n Munch that they still have.
Fast forward let’s say two years. You own a professional sports team and you’re trying to develop a better experience at your ballpark by having more kiss cams, more Crunch ’n Munch guys, how would you teach this or educate this or hire to get this?
When I hire, I think about the qualities that I’m hiring for. I would ask questions that would get at people’s hunger, drive and courage. Those are the traits that I’m looking for. Willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish the job. I’m also a huge fan of the Enneagram. You and I are both threes. They love to stand out. Threes are driven to be outstanding. It means to stand out. If I were looking for people at a ballpark that wanted to stand out, I would test for the Enneagram and look for Enneagram threes and sevens that love excitement, adventure, and new things.
You went into event marketing. I’d love to know some of the crazy things you did. What you’ve shared is marketing is not just the conventional way of doing it. We’ve learned this too. From the event marketing, you’ve found ways to stand out. Share with me a few of these story ideas.
Do you know about Atlas Solution? We started as a word of mouth marketing company. We won a WOMMY Award for Word of Mouth Marketing for this campaign. It was in 2008. The economy was in the crapper. There were stimulus checks that were sent out by the government. I had a shopping mall as a client. I had this idea that the shopping mall would save the economy. The shopping mall was called Atlas Park. We came up with the Atlas Solution and it was that shopping malls would do their own stimulus and give people money that they would use to shop back at the malls.
We committed to giving away $20,000 in cash. I found an economist that agreed that if every shopping mall in the country gave away $20,000 in cash, that would be enough money to create consumer confidence that would then stimulate the economy. Those are the PR aspect. We drove through the streets of New York, giving away cash on the spot. That was insane. We pulled over and started throwing out cash in the streets of New York City.
Every dollar bill we threw out, had another little note saying, “Shop at Atlas Park, you could win $10,000.” We gave away $10,000 in cash in the streets of New York $1, $5, $10, $100. We went randomly to one person that was shopping at the mall and surprise them with a $10,000 check. It was amazing. We drove traffic to the mall. We got tons of media, New York Times, Wall Street Journal. People were like, “What is this crazy Atlas Solution? This will never work.” It didn’t need to work because we got attention and the fact that people ended up shopping at the mall.
You weren’t playing marketing by the books. It’s attention and word of mouth. I love what Seth Godin says, “Remarkable.” Remarkable are people willing to remark about it, and they were talking about it.” This was before social media was going crazy too. I remember hearing about the Burger King story too.
Burger King is just me as a sales guy. Early in the social media days, before you had to pay for social media ads, we had a client called Cumberland Farms. It’s a convenience store in England. They had a product called the Chill Zone. It’s like 7-Eleven Slurpee. It’s a frosted beverage product that teenagers loved and everyone else couldn’t stand. We created a Facebook page for the Chill Zone. We realized that it took off and it was doing well. We had 20,000 fans.
We said, “If you guys can get to 100,000 fans, we’re going to give every single one of you a free Chill Zone.” They went crazy. Keep in mind, Chill Zone is $0.79. If we’re driving them into the store for free Chill Zone, they’re going to buy other stuff. They shared the page with all their friends. Everyone said, “You’ve got to like Chill Zone.” Chill Zone ended up getting 400,000 likes or fans. We gave away the free Chill Zone. All you had to do was go into Cumberland Farms and use the secret password on Facebook and get your free Chill Zone. The pictures of the crowds of people on free Chill Zone, they had the best retail sales in their company history just from a ton of kids getting motivated for this free Chill Zone product.
That was another word of mouth story. Brenda Fuentes was back in my Radio Disney selling days. I was a sales guy and she was one of my prospects. She was a marketing manager for Burger King. Burger King’s a big client. I was excited to potentially sell Burger King on Radio Disney. Like most high-level prospects, she was difficult to reach. This was before social media and email. It was many years ago. She has given her name and phone number. I called her up and she didn’t pick up the phone.
I called her up the second time, she didn’t pick up the phone, and then I called her up the third day, she didn’t pick up the phone. I decided, “I’m working for Radio Disney. I’m going to try to stand out and have some fun with this.” What I started doing was every single day I would call her, but I didn’t want to leave voicemails every day. Every week, I would leave a voicemail singing to the tune of one of the hit songs on Radio Disney like insane Britney Spears. I’d be like, “Oops, I called you again. You didn’t pick up the phone. I guess you’re not home. Oh Brenda, Brenda.” Thirty-seven calls and seven voicemails later, I called her up and she answered the phone. She said, “Are you ever going to stop calling me and singing me those crazy songs?” I said, “Now that you’ve picked up, I am. Let’s talk.” She became a client and $35,000 later, it paid off.
There were people that thought, “You’re a complete moron. You’ll scare her. She’ll never talk to you again.” Thinking out of the box, being courageous, and being okay with looking like an idiot worked for me in this case, at least with Brenda Fuentes. Many years later she is in my LinkedIn connection still. She doesn’t work at Burger King anymore. She works for the Army. I haven’t figured out a way to do business in her role with the US Army, but you never know. She’ll never forget me either.
I thought we’re going to get more into Likeable, but I like where we’re going because I think too many people are afraid to try these crazy things. It’s been a catalyst for almost everything. Every career, every job you’ve had was, “How can I get attention in a different way?” It starts with a signature style, then getting unique. You worked with lots of clients to try to help Cumberland Farms and some other ones, “How do I get their attention?” Are there any other ways that you find like, “This is the way to do it?” How do you guys come up with ideas? When you thought of some companies, where did these ideas come from that you created this buzz for?
When we think about it at the company level, it’s about building an atmosphere where nothing is wrong. Too many companies have no-men. People that say, “No, you can’t get that done. No, the client will hate that. No, that’s too crazy. That’s too unsafe. That’s too illegal.” I get it. Driving around the streets of New York City and giving away cash, in hindsight, now that I’m a father, I was probably putting my staff in harm’s way. It was not safe, but we did it and it worked out great. I get the role of the lawyers, the accountants, and the no-people. I get it.
To answer your question, in order to succeed, you need enough yes-men and yes-women. You need a culture where crazy ideas are not laughed at. If they’re laughed at, they respond with yes-and, “How can we pull that off?” versus, “No, we can’t do it.” As an agency, it’s our job to do this for our clients. The reality is a lot of our clients were going to say no, which is fine. As long as we’re bringing them the ideas, sometimes they’ll say yes. We work with Party City. Party City is a tough time to be in the retail party planning business. This hasn’t been a great year and they’re into that. We had the idea to do an entire line of FU 2020 gear and merch. Hopefully, the readers already saw a great year push for FU 2020 Party City gear as an example. FU stands for Forget You 2020. It’s about building a culture that celebrates crazy ideas and things, “Yes-and, how can we pull that off?” versus, “No way, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
It’s celebrating too. I haven’t shared with you, but the fans giving game where we decided to starve our fans for 66 minutes in honor of the 66-day journey of the pilgrims. When we had the joyous feast in the middle of the game and stopped the game, 1,500 people ran to get food at the same time, which we should have known what was going to happen, but we weren’t prepared at all. They waited forever and it was a disaster. We kept throwing rations of bread.
You came up with the idea of I Want Candy. We started playing I Want Candy and I was throwing candy corn, pegging them at people left and right. We learn from it. You have to be able to get over that fear. I remember an early time in the industry, we did a dig to China Night. We said, “After the game, everyone gets to dig for a trip to China.” We had hundreds of people tearing up the field. Everyone was going crazy. It was vicious and dangerous. A woman picked it up and she realized it was a one-way flight to China, no flight back and no accommodations. She wasn’t too happy with that. We gave her a cruise, but it created a story and fun. You have to be all that. Are there any other stories that stand out or another attention-getting thing that you guys did? I love grabbing from other industries and pulling into the sports industry.[bctt tweet=”Fortune favors the bold. The boldest and most courageous will win.” via=”no”]
This is not a story now. The second award we won for Word of Mouth Marketing that I’m proud of, we were the first online synagogues to stream services way back in 2010. Live streaming had become a thing. Now, it’s the only way to watch services of any religious kind. Back then, it was amazing. We did a service that we had 160 different countries participating in on Facebook. It was unbelievable. As a Jewish person, it was an amazing thrill to do something. Now again, it’s like, “What the hell?” At that time, it was different from anything that had ever been done before. That’s what made it unique and special for everyone.
Are you ready for our first game?
Yeah, are there prizes though?
Yes, more Dolce and Banana underwear for you. This game is truth and dare. Which one do you want first?
Let’s do the truth first.
Give me an epic failure you laugh at these days.
Paradise Hotel was an epic failure. I came in second, but I didn’t win. I was terrorized for a while as the outsider. I was going on a reality television show. All my friends said, “Dave, whatever you do, don’t drink too much.” I fly to Acapulco, in this beautiful $50 million house. I’m surrounded by models. I’m not a model. They offer me a drink. I take a drink. On my first night on the show, I had 21 Long Island Ice Tea. For those of you that don’t know what a Long Island Ice Tea is, it’s like poison and 21 of them is suicide. It’s no joke. The only thing that I remember from that night is the actual scenes that I saw that are on tape, unfortunately. It was one of the most embarrassing nights in my life. I can laugh about it now, but it was an epic fail.
You win a lifetime supply of Long Island Ice Tea. That’s the winning prize for that one. To a dare, which I wish you had a few Long Island Ice Teas before this. Are you ready for your dare?
You already brought back the Crunch ‘n Munch line that hasn’t been heard in many years. What else? What’s next?
This is a game we have at our stadium. It’s called sing-off. We usually have 2,000 people in one grandstand versus 2,000 people in another grandstand. When the song stops, they have to finish that song. Now, the only contestant is you, my friend. When the song stops, you have to finish that song. “Keep on whispering in my ear. Tell me all the things that I want to hear because it’s true..”
“That’s what I like about you.”
I love that you can do a big grunge rocker there, which is good.
Did you know that was my walk-up song when I speak on Likeable?
That’s why I played it because of Likeable, but now it’s your walk-up song. That is fantastic. Did you come out singing?
No, I do not. My kids cannot stand the daddy dance. I do a jig. This is the only dance move I know.
There’s no question when you come to the next Bananas game, I’ll have a Manana uniform for you for the dadbod cheerleading squad. On the back it says, “Just peel it.” It’s perfect for you and you have to be a Manana for at least a few innings. Can you commit to that?
I commit. I’ve thrown out five first pitches. I don’t know if you know this, but the count is 3 in 2. If you’d be so kind to invite me to throw 3-2 pitch at Savannah Bananas game, I would accept because I want to throw a strike on the 3-2 pitch and get that and get that strike. My favorite first pitch that I’ve thrown. We had a ballpark wedding, started the company, and we were doing Word of Mouth events, and we had ballpark stadium partners. A year later, people would make fun of us, “You got married at a baseball game. What’s next, a divorce?” We’re like, “No. We did baby’s first ball game.” This is one of the proudest moments in my career. I threw out the first pitch with a baby in my hand. I don’t know how often that’s done. That was one of my strikes. I throw a strike with my baby cake.
I’m giving you now an official offer. We’ve done the first pitches, but those are too boring. We turn it into a dizzy bat first pitch, and they throw the ball. We’re not going to do that, but you have now an offer to throw out the first banana at a game. Three-two you’re at the mound and you’re going to throw a banana, first strike.
I hope it hasn’t been done before though.
No, we’ve thrown our first bananas before. Have you ever thrown out the first banana?
No, I’ve never thrown out the first banana. I’m trying to think of how I can top it. Can we find an orange banana anywhere, do you think? That would be cool.
There’s something that my team has shared with me about paint. You can paint a banana. We could paint it orange.[bctt tweet=”It’s about people and solving their problems. If you can do that in a positive way, then you’re going to win.” via=”no”]
I can be the first to throw an orange banana.
We’ve been talking about the Likeable a little bit, but mostly the attention-getting. Let’s do a little bit of showdown here. Between being Likeable and creating attention, what are some things let’s say a restaurant could do? Let’s get out of the COVID world. What’s something that you would say that you’d be likable and create attention?
It’s hard to get out of the COVID space with restaurants. I will be in COVID for a minute here. A restaurant in my town had created these outdoor pods. They’re like giant bubbles, each with a heating lamp in the middle and it’s outdoor dining all winter long. I thought that was brilliant. Why wouldn’t every restaurant on the planet do that? It’s thinking about what’s your problem and what’s your out of the box solution? We always have an opportunity to say, “I’m screwed. It’s over.” Stuff happens to us all the time. I get that part. The cool part, the opportunity is, “Given all that stuff that are happening to us, how can we figure it out?” That’s what that restaurant did.
Think outside the box of the restaurant. You’ve always been served at a table inside the typical restaurant. For baseball teams, think outside of your field. We have five stages. Our stage is not just our field. Restaurant think outside, how could they be served in a different way? That’s one way to think, “How are you served? How are they eating? Where are they eating?” Ask those questions.
A friend of mine had an Indian food restaurant that he wanted to open up, and then COVID hit. What did he do? He started a meal delivery service and ended up delivering thousands of meals from the kitchen and didn’t have to pay rent to a restaurant. How great is that? It’s about thinking outside of the box. People still need to eat. They can’t go to a restaurant. Everyone is always going to have a need, to have shelter, food, entertainment, banking, and all this stuff that everyone needs. How can we give it to them in a better way is the thing.
You think about your product and what it is, “This is my product. This is what I sell.” How is it delivered? How is it presented? How does it get there? I had a conversation with a professional breakdancer. I said, “I had a crazy idea. What do you think about umpire?” He goes, “What do you mean?” I go, “Did you umpire before?” He goes, “No.” I go, “Are you interested in becoming an umpire? Everything you do is based on performing.” It’s thinking you have a baseball game, why have the umpires become this thing that no one cares about or they get upset? It’s thinking of that. I love that. Anything else that you’d throw there before we do a rapid-fire? Anything else with attention-getting for any type of business that you would say?
Think less about your product and more about people’s problems. When you’re solving people’s problems, the rest comes naturally. It’s not about you. It’s about them and solving their problems. If you can do that in a positive way, then you’re going to win.
You’re the Crunch ‘n Munch guy. You’re yelling at them, singing to them like crazy and it’s all about you. No, you’re bringing joy, fun, happiness, and something nutritious to them.
You can make that argument that it was all about me. The teams were both in the last place and fans were bored out of their minds a game. That was the problem that I was solving. You can be out of the box, outstanding, noticeable, and get attention, but none of that works if you’re not solving people’s problems. You still have to do both.
People don’t always know the problems that you’re solving. You’re always said, “If I asked them what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” No one says they want a giant black thing that looks like a Pringle box, listening to you in your house that plays music and tells you what you want. No one wants that. That’s not how a problem is being solved.
People often don’t know what they want or need, but they know it when you give it to them.
Final three here. Question time. If you want better answers in business and life, you could ask better questions. You have a great EO group with the people you work with. What are some of the best questions that you’re asking these days?
The best question I ask everyone I interview is, “What’s the biggest mistake of your life and what did you learn from it?”
Do you have an easy answer for that?
My answer is not easy. I fell in love with a married woman that was a big mistake. I learned that I can’t control everything and to let go of what I can’t control.
Did you pursue it?
She got divorced and I ended up marrying her anyway in the long run, but it took years to get there.
At a stadium, and the whole story was you got all these sponsors, $100,000 wedding at a stadium and you didn’t pay anything.
We did a sponsored wedding in Brooklyn, near Coney Island called Field of Dreams. We had sponsors for flowers, alcohol and bridesmaids gowns. It was a great day.
Have you thought about renewing at the stadium?
We will renew at the stadium if that’s an invitation, we could discuss. We often go back to celebrate our anniversary at the stadium in Brooklyn. It’s a beautiful park. We’re out in the field with Coney Island and the water behind us. It was a beautiful, romantic and intimate atmosphere for us.
As someone who was proposed at a stadium in front of a sold-out crowd in this yellow tux and said yes, and we got married at a stadium. There could be a twenty-year renewal that we’re going to build this epic Airbnb tree house at our stadium that could be a nice romantic honeymoon suite. We’ll get into that later. Final two here, what does Going Bananas mean to you?[bctt tweet=”People often don’t know what they want or need, but they know it when you give it to them.” via=”no”]
Going Bananas means loosening it and having some fun.
What makes someone unforgettable?
How they make you feel.
You answered that the shortest possible way, but whoever says the most and the least amount of words wins. Dave, you have won the show. You are winning all of the perks of the Golden Banana, which will now be orange for you. This is awesome.
I have broken microphones in speaking gigs. Now, whenever I do speaking gigs, I say to the AV ahead of time, “I need to warn you. I can get loud. Please watch the levels on the microphones.”
I sing, I dance. I throw things out. It’s crazy. I love it too. Anything else you want to share? This was a lot of fun.
This has been so much fun. Keep doing business differently. What a great pleasure to chat with you. I have open office hours every single Thursday. Anyone on the planet that wants to meet with me, you go to ScheduleWithDave.com and sign up for a chat. You have to wait a while, but it’s free and I’m happy to chat with anyone anytime.
That’s why you are likeable. I am excited to collaborate more and talk more. Dave, thanks for standing out and having fun. We need more of that now.
Thanks for having me.
About Dave Kerpen
I’m a father of 3 amazing children, Charlotte and Kate, and Seth, the husband to an amazing business partner, Carrie Kerpen, and friend to many. I’m a serial entrepreneur (on company #4), bestselling author (4 books for far) and speaker. I’ve been writing here on LinkedIn for 6 years, so I’ve amassed a pretty incredible community of 680,000+ people. Welcome to the “family”!
In my day job, I’m the co-founder and coCEO of Apprentice, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with bright, hard working college students, the Chairman of Likeable Local, a social media software company serving thousands of small businesses, and the chairman and cofounder of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and content marketing agency for big brands.
Following my sponsored wedding which raised over $100,000 including $20K for charity, my wife Carrie and I started and built theKBuzz (founded in 2007) into Likeable Media, the only 3-time WOMMY Award winner for excellence from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the US according to INC Magazine for 4 consecutive years.
As one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 10 up and coming leaders, I have been featured on the Today Show, CNBC’s “On the Money”, BBC, ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, the New York Times, and countless blogs. I have also keynoted at dozens of conferences across the globe including Singapore, Athens, Dubai, San Francisco, Cologne, Toronto, Bangkok, and Mexico City.
I am an investor, advisor and mentor to many and enjoying serving others.
My 1st book was a NY Times bestseller – Likeable Social Media (Now in its 3rd edition). I followed up with 2 more books, Likeable Business & Likeable Leadership. My newest book, The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want, is out now: http://buyartofpeople.com
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