Takeaways From Former Harley Davidson CEO At The DSA "Be Smart Conference"

Image Credit: BestBuy.com

Image Credit: BestBuy.com

I had the pleasure of attending the DSA Be Smart Conference earlier this month and had a wonderful time attending the presentations and connecting with some great minds. One of the Keynote presentations that stood out to me was given by a gentleman named Ken Schmidt, former CEO of Harley Davidson. Ken was hired to come in and turn Harley around when they were on the brink of filing for Bankruptcy and losing everything they had spent the last 100 years building.

Ken related any buying experience to purchasing a Flat Screen TV. If you go into Best Buy, you will find a wall FULL of flat screens that you can buy, most of them have very similar features, price points are comparable for a lot of them, and the overall choice is usually not a very clear one.

He said if we get to the end of the wall you will be looking at a SONY for $2000 and a Samsung for $500. Both are the same size, both have similar features, and as you are standing there looking and deciding, a young man in khakis and a blue shirt jogs up and mentions he noticed you eying the SONY.

From there, this highly trained young man proceeds to give you all of the amazing capabilities of the SONY:

Specs: Details: Description:
Warranty Terms – Parts 1 year limited  
Warranty Terms – Labor 1 year limited  
Width 28-7/8"  
Weight 11.1 lbs. with stand (10.6 lbs. without)  
TV Type LED Flat-Panel  
Screen Size Class 32"  
Screen Size (Measured Diagonally) 31-1/2" Size of the screen, in inches, measured diagonally from corner to corner.
Vertical Resolution 720p Maximum number of horizontal lines (or pixels) that can be displayed from the top of the TV screen to the bottom. The greater the number of lines, the better the picture.
Screen Refresh Rate 60Hz This refers to how many times per second a TV screen image is completely reconstructed. A TV with a 60Hz refresh rate means that the picture will be completely rebuilt 60 times in one second. Why is this important? Generally, the more the screen is refreshed, the smoother the images will appear.
Product Height (with stand) 18-1/4"  
Product Height (without stand) 17-3/8"  
Product Depth (with stand) 6-1/2"  
Product Depth (without stand) 3"  
HDMI Inputs 2 HDMI carries both digital video and audio (at resolutions up to 1080p) in a single cable. It provides the highest-quality connection between your TV and Blu-ray players, personal computers, video game consoles and more. The more inputs your TV has, the more devices you can connect directly.

I’m willing to bet that all of you scrolled right past all of the specs that I listed, and not because you are not in the market for a TV, but because specs and details are not sexy. They don’t connect anything to us. Sure HDMI capabilities are important, but I’d like to see you go out and purchase a new TV today that doesn’t have that.

Here is the point: Humans have NEVER made a purchasing decision using our BRAIN, instead we use our GUT, and what makes us feel good, important, validated, powerful, awesome, welcome etc… When someone asks you to make a final decision we don’t say “I’ve evaluated the facts and decided that I will choose the SONY. Instead we say “I FEEL good about the SONY”… Why? Because we all know that when our friends come over to watch the game they will say “WOW… Nice, and it’s a SONY.”

Ken went on to explain how Harley creates disciples, not customers. Brand Ambassadors are not just owners. This is done through something he called "Visible Passion and Enthusiasm." He explains how contagious this is and that people become Visibly Passionate and Enthusiastic by having their own chance to share their story (Which is really your story that becomes part of them through their own personal experience). And here is the kicker in all of this: People love to talk about their favorite person in the world… Themselves!

People want to say “Look at me!” “Notice me!” This is why Facebook and all social networking works. People say look at me, and even more exciting, people validate it and say “I like that”. The result is dopamine, and people are addicted to it. So where all of this is leading to is that in order to differentiate your company from all the other companies out there, the story has to resonate with people in their gut. As you get to the heart, and don’t worry about the head, you will unlock success for your company.

Ken closed with this: “What is the message that you want them to share, and how are you going to get them to share it?”

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