SALESMAN, SHOWMAN, SELF-PROMOTER, LEADER, PIED-PIPER?

13 06 2010

In all cases, I would have to say GUILTY as charged!  One has to be in this day and age.  Whether coming up with funding for a research project if you’re a scientist, pinging thoughts and comments to your tribes if you’re social evangelist and tech guru Guy Kawasaki, or imposing your will like on-air radio personality, Cornbread.  It’s really no different for any of us.  On a daily basis and in some fashion we are all selling, showing, promoting, leading or piping.

Today I’m going to specifically talk about on-air radio personality Cornbread.  How does an individual who sits behind a microphone engage 6,600 (9.3% of all participants) to follow him on an extremely humid 90 degree day on the hot asphalt streets of downtown St. Louis all in the name of breast cancer?  Year after year, he continues to build the number of people walking in support of this cause.  Each year he has broken the previous year’s record, and if that isn’t flattering enough, his team is the poster child for how Komen handles large-sized teams across the country.  The only thing, there has never been any team in Komen history larger than Team Breadhead.

So again, I ask you, how does an individual that sits behind a microphone have this power of persuasion?  Shock Jocks on an alternative station in town mock him, call his listeners hillbillies (plus other derogatory names) and even went on a rampage to get their listeners to join a team for the Komen Race called Shut the @#%^ up Cornbread!  Can you imagine Cornbread’s response?  Being the humble giant, he said, “Bring it on Brothers…the more people we can get to donate to the cause, the closer we get to a cure.” 

Cornbread is in an elite class.  He’s real, caring to a fault, believable, and if you ever get the chance to carry on a conversation with him, he quickly turns it into a fact finding mission about you.  He’s ALL ABOUT his listeners…breadheads as he affectionately calls them.  And, he has the power to move them to action at the drop of hat.  He’s extraordinary and he transcends the commodity called radio and the format he “jockeys” called Country.  He defies comparison. 

What is his secret?  I can only tell you what I think it is.  He will tell you it is mojo, but I can sum it up in three sentences:

  1.  Cornbread knows more about his breadheads than anyone else.
  2.  Cornbread makes a point to get closer to his breadheads than anyone else.
  3. Cornbread connects with his breadheads better than anyone else.

He has a bullet-proof relationship with his listeners.  It’s these same listeners that go out and recruit new followers to the Cornbread brand.  It is the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen.  Ironically enough, I have a front row seat at each Cornbread performance and am privileged to work for the same company as he.  Knowing what I know about marketing and seeing that we are in a customer-driven market, which we will be in for the forseeable future, there are NO substitutes for knowing more about, getting closer to, and emotionally connecting with the customer.  AND, doing these things without a hidden agenda. 

Cornbread has done a phenomenal job of building his brand in St. Louis.  He’s obliviously in touch with what his gifts are and is pursuing a life that utilizes those gifts.  By selling, showing, promoting, leading and pied-piping, Cornbread has been able to help others find their gifts and guide them into areas that will allow them to flourish.  It’s a beautiful gift to watch someone do what their passionate about and share their special gifts.  Congratulations 2010 Team Breadhead on your accomplishments!  I understand how you feel and know it is a wonderful feeling to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

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