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Vistage Speakers | Vistage Florida's Spotlight

Actionable insights for the C-Suite

Jeff Blackman: Up, Up and Away!

My wife and daughters often say to me, "Hey, it's a beautiful Sunday, let's go downtown and hang-out on Michigan Avenue." (Translation: While they go dress-shopping at Nordstrom's, my son and I will head for "Men's Furnishings" with their two big-screen plasma TVs and watch the Chicago Cubs game!)

Forty-five minutes later, the Cubs were losing, while the "women in my life" emerged as big winners. They had the Nordstrom's bags to prove it!

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Next stop: Water Tower Place.

Located at the north end of Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place is a vertical shopping mecca. Over 100 stores, restaurants, specialty shops and boutiques surround a spectacular eight-level atrium. Water Tower's promotional literature boasts that it's a "high-energy urban shopping experience."

However, it was the high-energy taking place outside, that intrigued and impressed me the most.

As we approached Water Tower Place, we noticed just outside the main entrance, a crowd of about 150 people had gathered on the sidewalk. How come? They were observing four masterful street performers, who were whirling, twirling, diving, jumping, running, spinning...gymnasts and acrobats.

Each, dressed in bright red. It was everywhere. Red shorts. Red jerseys. Red bandanas.  Red gym shoes. Red sox. It was a deep, fiery, hot red. The kind of red that grabbed your eyeballs and refused to let go.  

For about 10 minutes, the Big Red Machine entertained the audience with rapid banter, on-target jokes, blaring music and amazing athletic feats. These guys were talented showmen. And smart businesspeople.

For example, with masking tape, they marked-out on the sidewalk a stage or performance area. It was about 50 feet long and 15 feet wide. They were surrounded on all sides by enthusiastic spectators. Yet, as the crowd grew, the stage shrunk. They would lift-up the tape, to reduce the stage's size to accommodate new customers.

To prepare for their final trick, Jumpin' Jimmy said, "We need your help, with a death-defying stunt. An amazing act of aviation. It'll be unforgettable. Something you'll tell your friends and family about."

He then recruited nine people from the audience. Adults and kids. Including, our youngest daughter, Amanda. Each volunteer was instructed to stand next to one another. They were to soon become the "human wall of flight."

One of the "high flyers", Sugar Daddy, claimed he would "fly" over the group. This induced glee and fear. Hope and anticipation.

However, Sugar Daddy first said, "If you've enjoyed the show so far and feel we've entertained you, and given you value, we'd sure appreciate your help."

With that verbal cue, his three partners revealed three large pink buckets.

Sugar Daddy then said,

"While we like you, we also like your money! (People laughed.) Therefore, when you contribute, you should be comfortable with your contribution. We don't want you to be embarrassed. What would be embarrassing and uncomfortable? If you only put in a dollar! Because that's really only 25 cents per performer. Therefore, to keep you comfortable, five dollars is highly encouraged. Ten dollars, will make you more comfortable and happy. Twenty dollars, will make US more comfortable and even happier!" (Folks kept smiling and laughing.)

Soon, they were filling the buckets with cash. Lots of it.

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Sugar Daddy then requested the nine flight-volunteers to slowly bend over. They didn't know if their bodies and backs were barriers to be missed or a long smooth runway, preparing for a takeoff or an unexpected landing.

The music got louder. There was an audible energy and buzz. The crowd began to chant in unison, "Fly, fly, fly!" And then...

Sugar Daddy sprinted toward the group. He planted his feet on the concrete and launched himself skyward. He was airborne. Soaring like Superman. He flew over the first four people. On the fifth person, (an adult, upon whose back he draped a red cloth to serve as a launch target or bull's eye), Sugar Daddy skillfully and gently planted his hands...and catapulted himself with a somersault over the remaining four.  And then, as broadcasters exclaimed in the Olympics, he "stuck" his landing!

The crowd erupted. Thunderous applause. Raucous cheers.

Our daughter survived. So did my wife! (Instead of calling a personal injury attorney, she was taking pictures!)

Ninety minutes later, after Water Tower Place shops left numerous indelible impressions on our credit card, Sugar Daddy, Jumpin' Jimmy and their team were still outside, passionately serving new customers and flying high!

Lessons Learned:

  • Be unique, different, bold, colorful
  • Find ways to create positive attention and visibility for your product or service
  • Position great expectations, meet and exceed them
  • Provide your customers with value first
  • Know the value of your value
  • To get business and be compensated for it, ask
  • Suggest different levels of compensation
  • Make payment easy
  • Have energy, excitement and enthusiasm for what you market and sell
  • Get your customers involved, activate their senses
  • Generate word-of mouth advertising
  • Always be flexible, be prepared to make room for new customers
  • Know your target, aim for the red bull's eye, hit it
  • Have fun 
  • Create an environment that helps others smile, laugh and enjoy the experience
  • Grab interest and keep it
  • Always put on a "good show"
  • Are you ready to fly?
  • What's your next level of success?
  • To what heights will you take your business?


Who is Jeff Blackman?

Jeff Blackman is a Vistage Fast-Track Speaker of the Year, Hall of Fame speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” If you hire speakers, please contact Jeff at: 847.998.0688 or jeff@jeffblackman.com. And visit jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. Jeff’s books include; Stop Whining! Start Selling!, (an Amazon Bestseller) and the bestselling Peak Your Profits. You can also stay connected with Jeff via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: @BlackmanResults    

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