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Three Business Lessons from “The Herd” and Colin Cowherd

If you’ve followed me on social media, you’ve probably seen that I am a loyal listener of ESPN Radio’s program “The Herd,” hosted by Colin Cowherd.

IMG_3622This past week, Vince Kates – producer of the program – extended the invitation for me to drop by their set as they broadcast the show from Las Vegas, in advance of Saturday’s Mayweather vs. Pacquaio fight.  I had the chance to meet Colin and Vince and hang out with them at little bit after the show.

As I was reflecting on meeting them — and the extraordinary kindness that Vince and Colin extended to me — I realized that there were many lessons that the show teaches…and three we should all learn and execute immediately.

Lesson #1: To have raving fans, you must be willing to have raving enemies

Ken Blanchard’s book, “Raving Fans” encourages every business to develop a core group of customers so dedicated and loyal that they become frenzied supporters of your business.

However — as my buddy, Larry Winget, points out – you will never truly have raving fans unless you’re willing to create raving enemies, as well.

The point is that when you are so distinctive that you develop a passionate following…you’ll also discover that you’ve inspired some to be just as ardent in their opposition.

Colin certainly has his share of detractors.  It goes with the territory.  It’s a symbol of his success.

What you and I need to learn from his approach is that by trying to please everyone – or take a moderate, middle-of-the-road position – we’ll never create the unique style and remarkable connection with our customers that Colin has with his audience.

If you don’t have detractors, you probably aren’t doing anything.

Lesson #2: Engage your team

So, how did I connect with Vince Kates? Well, the first part of it is a long story – too involved for this post – but, suffice it to say after listening for years to Colin, I finally called the show one day.  The important point is that I know who Vince is, because Colin involves his producer in the show.

Several years ago, a friend and I were playing golf in southern California.  We got paired up in a foursome with two other guys. Naturally, as the round progressed, we started talking about our jobs.  One of the other two happened to be the producer of a nationally-known sports radio show. While he didn’t exactly throw his boss under the bus, he certainly wasn’t singing his praises, either.  I’d listened to the show many times – and had no idea who this guy was.

On the other hand, if you watch “The Herd” on ESPN U, there’s a pre-show routine of Colin talking with Vince and other team members – on camera – about the day’s program.  He also talks with the producers about their viewpoints on the issues.  One of the outcomes is that loyal listeners like me are aware of – and engaged with – the entire team at “The Herd.”

Now, there’s no doubt that Cowherd is the star.  However, how many businesses have we seen fail because the leader wants to dominate the spotlight and will not involve his or her entire team?

By connecting with and engaging his colleagues, Colin makes the show even more interesting – and almost certainly enhances the dedication and performance of the team.

Lesson #3: Challenge your audience

I joked with Vince and Colin that I thought the show was my daily dose of vitamins for the brain.  Just today, for example, Colin was talking about potential security issues that might arise from the wide-open public access to relatively inexpensive remote-control drones.  That’s hardly the normal fare of the lowbrow “Big Ed and Skip” kind of jock-oriented sports talk show that is heard daily on a myriad of stations.

Colin doesn’t talk down to his audience.  He challenges them with his opinions.  He confronts them with aspects of topics they probably have not previously considered.

Does he occasionally make mistakes?  Certainly.  I don’t know about you, but if I talked on the air for three hours every day, five days a week, chances are pretty good that I might say something in a manner I wish I could rephrase.  Same is probably true with Colin.

But, the important point is that he lifts his audience’s thinking – rather than talking down to them because of some silly preconceived notion that they’re not intelligent enough to understand a higher level of discourse.

Yet, how many times have you seen a business attempting to “dumb it down” to achieve the widest possible customer base – only to alienate the very prospects who could become their most committed and connected clients?

If you are willing to become distinctive enough to create raving fans…and enemies; take the steps required to engage your team at a higher level; and, challenge your audience of customers and prospects with insights that they perhaps have yet to ponder – perhaps you’ll become as distinctive as Colin Cowherd and “The Herd.”

Thanks again to Colin and Vince for letting me join you for a bit last week…IMG_3623


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Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on Amazon.com list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers (Amazon.com & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" show...to a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.