I'm continually impressed by my wife's creativity on this blog. What began as a private creative outlet for her (that she wouldn't even show me) has turned into something lively, encouraging and inspirational. I'm so proud of her.
So, we've been talking for a while now about me writing a guest post and I think I've found the right topic. At least I'm currently energized by something and I'm going to make you listen to a passionate ramble if you decide to stick around :). My apologies.
I was very fortunate to witness the keynote presentation from Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS shoes) down at SXSW in Austin, TX. It was more than inspirational, more than profound (for me).
It was structured like a Young Life talk (for those of you familiar). There is unbelievable power in that structure, a talk predicated around EARNING THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD. He spent the majority of the time telling the TOMS story with incredible humility, vulnerability, poise and passion for good. He played the 'awww shucks' Texas boy role gorgeously. The audience, a tough crowd of arrogant CEOs and media agency folk, was hanging on every word. For Blake, the beauty and power in TOMS is the simple one-for-one idea - With every shoe sold, they give away a pair to a child in need. Simple as that.
His 3 key points for the audience to take away:
When your business is structured around doing something GOOD...
1. Customers become your greatest marketers (they just have to share about it)
2. You attract amazing employees and suck senior leaders away from corner offices
3. You attract amazing partners (in TOMS case, Ralph Lauren and AT&T. I know we all remember the TV ad)
Also, it's important to note, for-profit business and charitable giving can go hand in hand...as long as you're honest about it.
The zinger moment of Blake's keynote came at the end...after he had already wooed the audience with his charm and altruistic mission: He told the crowd...'We unfortunately dont have time to take questions so I'll take a moment to speak to the TWO questions I get more than any others. First, who the hell is this Tom guy??" Blake then playfully explained that TOMS is short for Tomorrow and is a metaphor for creating a better tomorrow..it's not some guy.
He then said, "The second question, is one I've been asked over and over for 4 years now and I've never ever answered it. The thing is, I've known the answer for two years. The question is...What is next for TOMS? So, I'm here today to give you a glimpse (BRILLIANT)...he then went up to a huge box on stage that was covered by a black curtain (the size of a large grandfather clock) and he unveiled the box with a dramatic gesture (enter-rapid amounts of camera flashes and clicks). He then explained, TOMS is evolving, we are expanding on our one for one model and doing something different. The box had 06.2011 written on it and Blake explained that the new product from TOMS was in this box (locked by a huge bike lock) and it was going to be announced in June. Bammmm!! The place exploded...move over Steve Jobbs, there's a new keynote master in town.
Oh yeah...He was trending globally on Twitter during the talk. You think he didn't know that? Again, brilliant marketing!! He knew he was speaking to the most influential and connected group in the world (ceo's, social media gurus, big media, etc.). The most amazing thing though, in my opinion, was that he didn't market to you in a way that made you feel violated are talked down to or cheated or brainwashed. He appealed to something much bigger...A DESIRE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD FOR GOOD!!