A friend who works for one of the larger building materials companies called me recently to share a story she thought I’d like to hear.
She was in a meeting with a group of their sales and marketing people, discussing a serious problem they were having with growing their sales. They were brainstorming ideas but they weren’t getting to a solution that they could be confident about.
They had already tried several approaches and nothing had worked. The only thing they had accomplished was to spend a lot of money on marketing and it hadn’t even done anything to improve their sales.
Someone in the meeting suggested that maybe they needed some outside help. They had already tried their ad agency’s suggestions, and while the results looked great they hadn’t had any effect on sales.
As they thought about who could help them find a solution that worked, someone suggested Mark Mitchell. Another one of them immediately said, “We can’t use him—he’s crazy!”
Someone else, who didn’t know me asked, “What do you mean ‘crazy?’ Does this Mark guy know what he’s doing?”
The response from the person who called me crazy was (and I just love this), “There is no one I have ever met with Mark’s ability to disrupt everything you think you know about your product and your customer. He cuts through the clutter and gets right to the issue and the solution very quickly. The problem isn’t Mark’s expertise in building materials or his recommendations; the problem is Mark. He’s crazy.”
And what, exactly, makes me crazy? My friend then shared their descriptions of me.
“He questions everything and some of his questions can be uncomfortable to answer.”
“Mark sees us as our customers see us and he’s not afraid to candidly tell us the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“We know what’s possible. Mark doesn’t limit his thinking to what’s possible.”
“We follow rules. If you want better marketing, you need a bigger budget. Mark thinks we may already spend too much.”
“Mark thinks you can measure the results of every marketing expenditure. That’s crazy.”
“Mark might offend someone important. He doesn’t know how to talk our corporate language. He speaks too plainly.”
My friend ended our call by letting me know that, while I could really help them, she could never get them to hire me as, I’m too crazy for them.
That’s probably why I work best with companies who are ready to challenge the leaders. They see how much there is to gain in areas where larger companies like to play defense and try to uphold their position.
Most larger companies are so focused on not changing that they become less relevant and easier to compete with every day. They develop so many blind spots that it’s amazingly easy to find vulnerabilities and exploit them.
Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions.
“Disruption requires craziness. It is not “normal” to fight against the flow of the day. I love that you are crazy . . . that is what makes you special. We’re glad that you are there for us. This is a great article.”
“This is awesome!!!!! I can think of several companies that I have worked for in the past that would say exactly that.
Glass Minimal Door
“Your craziness has helped make me better, plus it is a heck of a lot of fun. I am not even a client or in your field, just someone who can call you a peer and a friend. Keep on being crazy. “
Author & Principal
The Intertwine Group
“I enjoyed your story. I’m sure you’ve seen this before, but your note reminded me of this story… a systematic way for David to beat Goliath. If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll find a lot of common ground with the author. If you have, but it’s been a while, it’s a refreshing re-read!”
Director, Product Management
“Really good and very funny piece Mark!”
Point To Point
“This was the best email I got all week!! LOL.”
Senior Account Executive
Strategic Marketing Director
Owens Corning“Crazy like a fox!”
American Bath Factory