This month, Rebel kicked off a consulting assignment for a leading insurance company in partnership with Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D. Dr. Cooper, a renowned neuroscientist and pioneer in the fields of neuroeconomics and emotional intelligence, has brought us on as part of a panel of experts to help a group of the company’s top producers double their production next year.
Dr. Cooper is up to some pretty cutting-edge stuff (more on that later) and it's a real honor to be serving alongside some big brains. Our job is to guide the clients through the process of reinventing their personal brands in ways that are relevant and effective.
We presented to two teams of clients in different cities - along with talking about the importance of compelling brands in today’s fragmented and advertising-averse environment, we dug into real-world examples of what brands are doing right, and wrong, and how to get it right through values like transparency and putting the customer first. Kinda like we do here on this blog. How about that?
Case in point: I mentioned four things great brands do, which I borrowed from one of my favorite branding experts, Tim O’Brien:
- Clearly communicate a vision
- Treat people with respect
- Solicit contrary opinions
- Encourage other people’s ideas
Then, to keep it real, and drive my point home, at the end of my presentation, I asked the audience to call out one thing they really liked about my presentation. “Informative,” “Interesting,” were some of the words I heard. Okay fine, then I asked for one thing they didn’t like. Crickets...
I didn’t give up. The first guy said something to the effect of he felt overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar information I had just dumped on them. The next guy said he didn’t like the pace. When I pressed him for specifics later, he said I spoke too slowly. (My wife agrees.) The guy next to him quickly jumped to my defense, saying “I liked the pace.” Then, the speaker who was to come on after me, shouted from the back of the room, “I don’t like that white t-shirt sticking out of the top of your shirt.” That got a good laugh. He continued, “What’s the matter, don’t they have v-necks and razors in LA?”
What’s the point? Why would I open myself up to this ridicule and criticism in a room full of strangers? Don’t I risk my credibility? Don’t I want to maintain my composure in front of clients and command control of the room?
I did it to embody the key messages in my presentation:
- A brand is what your customer thinks it is, not what you think it is.
- You can either engage them in conversation and get them talking about your brand, or you can walk away thinking you’re fooling them and never know what they’re really thinking.
- Control is an illusion. Stop trying to regain control and join the conversation.
- Feedback is the only way to get better.
I’m not going to shave, and I may not go out and buy v-neck t-shirts, but please believe I’m going to be more conscious of my pacing the next time I’m in front of a crowd.