Distilling insights from Joe Polish's What's In It For Them
Joe Polish is a highly capable marketer, but he surprised David and Steve by inserting the word "grateful" into his mantra that we should approach networking, relationships, and business, with a blend of being useful, grateful, and valuable.
in situations, I initially struggled with why he sandwiched grateful between useful and valuable. When I wrote about value in my blog post, in terms of adding value and being valued, I considered useful and valuable in my own way, but I didn’t think to add grateful into the mix.
As is discussed in this episode, Joe's reference to being grateful, tunes into the emotional aspect of every situation; something that's easy to overlook if you're simply focussed on adding value or being useful.
For our first segment, however, Steve wanders through some insights shared by legendary comedian, John Cleese, in relation to creativity. He especially hones in on Cleese's warning about how we can let ourselves stray aware from the important path of being creative.
In the mailbag segment, Steve reflects on a recenty discovery of how to change his communication style to suit the preferences of a client.
And for a dose of perspicacity (the sharpening of our minds), David and Steve ogle over the TV commercial for Antz Pantz that neither of them believe would be made today. Or would it?
We hope you find this helpful.
Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes
01:47 Person This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.
Beat A New Path To Creativity
The Monty Python legend, John Cleese, says political correctness is ruining creativity in all aspects of human activity and at age 82 he recently attended FreedomFest (an annual gathering of libertarians in Las Vegas) to discuss creativity.
Putting his war on wokeism to one side, for this episode, Steve shares a wonderful description that Cleese shared, of how our brains can habituate away from creativity.
Steve argues being aware of this is a sure way of noticing when our creativity is losing the battle against lazy thinking.
The interview we took the snippet from, was Cleese with Nick Gillespie from Reason.
14:31 Principles This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.
Be Useful, Grateful, And Valuable
In every situation you encounter, in which you can be useful, can add value, or can be valued, there is an emotional aspect to what is going on.
For example, we can feel good about being useful, be grateful for being able to help, and be grateful to have added value to whatever is going on.
In short, we always act and react in an emotional way, so it makes sense that it's better for us to acknowledge the emotional aspect of our behaviour, because this is the part of us that's crucial for building long-term, healthy relationships with other people.
The conversation in this episode arose after David and Steve both read Joe Polish's book, What's In It For Them?, which also happens to make a great mantra to repeat whenever we are doing anything with our marketing hats on!
The extra video snippet in the show notes on the website, captures a great analogy from Joe; you can't expect to get heat from a fire until you've added a little wood. This reminder, coupled with a commitment to trying to be useful, grateful, and valuable, is an empowering mindset with which to approach networking sessions and all interactions in daily life.
28:29 Problems This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.
Methods of communication
Steve shared some insights learned recently from a client who was difficult to pin down to set meetings or get project feedback from.
While Steve is happy chatting on the phone or in a Zoom session (or even face-to-face, Covid permitting), his preferred method of communication with clients and mentors is email and/or SMS.
He prefers this because it creates a record of what's been said and what times/dates have been mentioned.
However, with one client, Steve noted that timelines were blowing out.
It was all solved recently when Steve asked for communication preferences directly.
It turns out this client's email inbox feels impenetrable and he just can't bring himself to tackling it unless he is directed to a specific email.
There are no right or wrong answers on this topic.
In this case, however, communication is now stellar; SMS for most communications and an SMS to alert the client to a specific email when needed.
Hopefully, this might help you manage communication with your clients and customers.
32:14 Perspicacity This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case stude from the past.
In 1989, model, Toneya Bird became very famous for a very risque TV commercial for Antz Pantz.
It featured Toneya on a bed wearing nothing other than panties and a tanktop. As she twists and turns on the bed, ants start crawling up her legs and across her crotch, at which point we meet Rex The Ant Eater in bed with her. He wants the ants, so she says, Sic 'em, Rex.
It became a well-worn phrase that entered the vernacular at the time.
But would it work today?
Go on, sic 'em David and Steve!
As an aside, Bird rose to fame via this TV ad, but after modelling for a few years she moved to Europe and married a Norwegian prince. At that point, she virtually stopped modelling. The marriage didn't last very long however, and after the divorce she had a child with an Austrian prince. They later married. And as far as we know they still live in Vienna.
TRANSCRIPT This is a transcript of the episode. Please note, although checked briefly, this was crafted by an AI tool and will contain errors. For quoting purposes, always check against the original audio.
Caitlin Davis: [00:00:00] Talking about Marketing is a podcast for business owners and leaders, produced by my dad, Steve Davis, and his colleague at Talked About Marketing, David Olney, in which they explore marketing through the lens of their own four P's, person, principles, problems, and perspicacity. Yes, you heard that correctly.
Apart from their love of words, they really love helping people. So they hope this podcast will become a trusted companion on your journey in business.
David Olney: Should I be afraid?
Steve Davis: No, just answer the question. They're about to invest, you know, 30 minutes of listening time. What's in it for them?
David Olney: What's in it for them? Less laughs [00:01:00] than John Cleese can provide, but more useful information for being more confident and happy at work than most other people can provide.
Steve Davis: Wow. On that note, let's get underway. Do you like having random curveballs thrown at you?
David Olney: Absolutely. It's part of being blind. They're usually random trees where me and the cane have walked under them happily and then smack straight in my hat, which is why I always wear a hat.
Caitlin Davis: Our four P's. Number one, Person. The aim of life is self development. To realise one's nature perfectly. That is what each of us is here for. Oscar Wilde.
Steve Davis: I never thought the day would come, David, when I'd be in a marketing podcast and have a chance to legitimately reference one of my comic heroes, John Cleese.
David Olney: [00:02:00] Are you going to spin round and round on your chair in excitement?
Steve Davis: I'm going to walk a funny walk. Oh, I knew he was going to do that. Well, no, I want to know if this is a live podcast or is it dead?
Anyway, there's so many references which we are not going to go into with John Cleese and his wonderful history, particularly of being involved in Monty Python. But I really think Fawlty Towers was perhaps at the height of his Comic genius whereas some of the Python stuff with, with Life of Brian in particular, Holy Grail, was the height of melding well reasoned observations of historical and philosophical weight with comedy.
I, I think it's just a beautiful way that man's brain works.
David Olney: I'm a holy, holy grail person, because [00:03:00] I like the rabbit, whatever the rabbit's called.
Steve Davis: I'm not even sure if the rabbit has a name, does it? But it guards the holy hand grenade.
David Olney: So they have to use the holy hand grenade on the rabbit, and that's cool.
Steve Davis: Now the reason I'm bringing up John Cleese in this first segment, which is our person segment, something for all of us, is He has a bit of a program at the moment of his battle against wokeism, as he calls it, where he thinks that there's a heavy weight that's pulling down on the sides of our our thought in society, in which we're trying to overthink ourselves and double guess ourselves too much, with external voices too, looking for where we could be going wrong, as opposed to flying the kite.
And maybe chancing on something new, and he was a guest speaker at an event called Freedom Fest, which is an annual gathering of libertarians in Las [00:04:00] Vegas, and he was there to discuss creativity, and he's 82 years old, or he was at the time of recording that, and Still sharp as a tack, and has plenty of things to share, and when I heard him with this reference about how our brains sort of habituate away from creativity, I thought, I've got to share this on talking about marketing. Let's have a listen to this little snippet from his interview on stage at that event with Nick Gillespie from Reason.
Jhon Cheese's War on Wokeism: Creativity is all about getting out of a rut. You see, if you're under any kind of pressure, you will always resort to stereotypical thinking. You see what I mean? You'll go back. There was a... Canadian psychoneurologist called Donald Hem? Bem? Bem, I think, and he said neurons that fire together, [00:05:00] wire together.
In other words, if you create, in thinking, a neural pathway, then and you do that a few more times, It becomes the pathway. It's just like wiring it. And I think there's a very good parallel with this. Somebody once said it's a bit like hiring a little house in the summer for a holiday for a month. And you go into the house and you think, oh, this is great.
You go to the back garden and the grass is this high, but there's a little shed over there. And you think, I wonder what's in the shed. So you make your way through. And you get to the shed, you're, oh, I didn't know that would be there. And then you, when you come back, you don't come back by a different path, do you?
Because this is already easier. So you come back the same path. And whenever you go to the shed, you go by that path. Well, what else is in the grass? You see, you never get to explore it. So the question, how do you get out of the rut? How do you get out of the wiring and go get [00:06:00] out of the rut and look around in the grass?
Steve Davis: I love. That imagery, David, of first of all, forging a path through the tall grass, but then after that, just sticking to that path and going back and forth, because it's very symbolic that we, we, I think most of us at some point have had a, a time where we had to blaze a trail, but then. You know, tiredness, busyness fear, just make it easier to stick to the well worn path.
And so for me, hearing that is a little bit of a wake up call, a rallying call to say, you know what? Push yourself a different way. Try a different pathway to get something. And if I just allude to the fact that I was in a writer's group for many years at La Bamba Theatre here at Adelaide, We would often set ourselves writing challenges, [00:07:00] where we would say, right, you're going to write a poem of 11 lines length.
You need to use the color orange and you've got to have three nouns in every line. And what I found was when restrictions were placed upon us, our creativity raced to the, to the skies, as opposed to sitting with a blank piece of paper and going, Oh I've got to be creative now. And I think that is the pigeon pair with what Cleese is talking about by bringing up that analogy of following the path.
Actually, sometimes forcing ourselves, even with arbitrary restrictions, triggers that part of us that can forge paths to have a good crack at it, and more often than not, we're going to be surprised.
David Olney: You're right. Arbitrary restrictions are great, because people still feel they've got structure, but they're doing something new.
[00:08:00] So, it's a tool I've used lots of time. When teaching people to solve complex problems, and that is to get them to think about, Alright, when we finish today, go from here to home a completely different way than you would normally. So, you know, you have to leave here the same way, and you have to get home the same way, because you live on the same street.
But everything else, different bus, different train, different roads, if you walk a big chunk of it, walk on the other side of the street at an absolute minimum. And, it's always been fascinating how many people report back, even with something as mundane, as going home a different way, how elated they felt to be more situationally aware and notice more cool little things in the world than they would normally notice.
Steve Davis: Yes, because it's part of our evolution, isn't it? That the brain is trying to conserve its energy as much as possible, so when you're doing something the same way, it loves it, because it gets to sort of turn off and be smart, in inverters commas. It's when you [00:09:00] upset it, That it has to wake itself up and go, hang on.
And that's where we get the gift of seeing things from a different angle or seeing things afresh, seeing totally different things. I'm doing a workshop, one of my workshops on using your smartphone better to take better photos and videos. And yesterday at the time of recording, I was walking around Thorndon Park and I saw a snapped over, snapped in half tree.
And I, I thought, oh, this is a great opportunity. So I took some photos and I deliberately thought, okay, how am I trying to capture the, the power and force of the storm that had gone through here, but also the juxtaposition of this brokenness within nature. And as I moved around and took photos from different angles, different proximities, et cetera, there's so much difference, so much richness in that one tree.
By changing the angle I was photographing it from, it really dovetails into what we're talking about here. It's just looking at things from a different angle and [00:10:00] even your thing with your students, even walking the same street but on the other side, different experience.
David Olney: And again, it's just about breaking the habituation of repetition.
So the bit of the brain you're talking about is the basal ganglia and the basal ganglia's mission in life is to save calories by repeating yesterday. That makes the basal ganglia happy. And it's the main reason people can go through a week of their life and go, nothing happened. Well, nothing happened because you let your basal ganglia continue to run the video of yesterday until the whole week became a rerun of a single day.
Get up, do stuff, go to work, come home, sit in front of a TV, fall down. Basal ganglia was deliriously happy and we suffer terribly when life is reduced to that level. For any of you... If you enjoyed the clip, it's definitely well worth getting Cleese's book called Creativity. The audiobook is fantastic where he reads it himself, because one of the big ideas that comes across beautifully in the book is the [00:11:00] significance of remembering how to be playful.
And that you don't have to regain the ability to be playful at work, necessarily, to improve work. As long as you regain the ability to be playful somewhere, it's going to freshen your brain back up. So even if you can only find five minutes to just take joy in doing something simple, where you just get lost in the immersion, whether it's doodling, drawing, picking up a musical instrument, trying to juggle a couple of tennis balls.
Just try and get back the ability to just be in the moment, having fun, having a go, because it will spread through your entire day.
Steve Davis: I wished I disagreed with you, David, but I don't believe this is the right room for an argument.
That was a Monty Python reference.
David Olney: Yes, that's why I stayed quiet.
Steve Davis: Perfect. The other reason I wanted to share this is I do meet small business owners from time to time who just seem [00:12:00] really worn out and like they're going through the motions and they feel trapped in that space and I, I, I hope if You are that person, and you're feeling like you can identify with that at the moment.
Maybe the random thing, I'm thinking in particular of a gentleman who was running a motel in a country town, I won't mention any more specifics than that. Even he, doing the same thing, the routines as people come in. Even standing at a different part of the desk, or using a different pen, or changing the book differently.
Just... Something like that, even at a basic level, might inject a freshness in life that could lead to a, a smile and a, a chance to enjoy and relish each moment rather than just endure them. And I think that's the gift of what Klees rally call to creativity gives all of us in small [00:13:00] business and in life, is, hey, yep, there are going to be some mundane things we have to do all the time, but, Mix it up.
How can we make it a bit of different? And I think jewels will fall from that as opposed to just being locked underground and us walking past them day in day out when we don't pay attention, when we give in to the brains Ponchon for just making it easy.
Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps. Number two, Principles. You can never be overdressed or over educated. Oscar Wilde.
Steve Davis: David Orney, one of the things I love about working with you here at Talked About Marketing is that every time it seems that I meet you or talk to you, there's another book that you're recommending. [00:14:00] And one that you did so recently was by Joe Polish, a book called What's In It For Them. And that's given rise to us having a discussion about that today.
So what's in it for us to have read this book and be discussing it?
David Olney: That's exactly the right approach to take to Joe Polish's work. So, for everyone who hasn't heard of Joe Polish before, he's a very successful marketer, has been successful for probably nearly 30 years now. Started off at 19, having, you know, got past a major drug addiction as a carpet cleaner.
Within a year, realized he was better at marketing carpet cleaning than he was being a carpet cleaner, and became the main marketer in America for carpet cleaners. But very much with a plus sum game model. Whatever we do has to be good for us in our little businesses. And for the customers, everyone's got to win.
So he really started with a, what's in it for them [00:15:00] approach at the very beginning of his career. And it's been characteristic ever since. And in a lot of media, he gets described as the most connected person in the world. And not because he's an egomaniac who chases after stars to get photos or signatures, but because every time he talks to someone, his first thought is, okay.
Who could I put you in touch with, where the two of you together could both achieve something you would both value and get more out of life by interacting than you would get separately. So his big thing is the importance of working together to get good outcomes for everyone.
Steve Davis: And I must say, as I was reading it, David, upon your recollection, because it really, a lot of what Joe Pollish talks about in this book and in a lot of his stuff, the, the messy.
Essence of DNA of it is so closely related to our essence and DNA. It talked about marketing. I was expecting this to be a hardcore [00:16:00] business book, but it was more of almost like a diary reflection at a personal level from which you could take from it. What you wanted. Do you, did you get that sense as well?
David Olney: Absolutely, but I think this is where it's so important. We get bombarded by business books written by professors at, you know, one of the big business schools in America like Wharton or Harvard, or we get bombarded by the next book by a Fortune 500 CEO, and everyone's shiny suits get shinier and everyone's thing of you gotta push hard gets stronger and stronger.
Now we have a guy who's been successful basically for 30 years who brings it back down to a human level of how you're going to treat people. And I think the book is very surprising for a lot of people that it's not the hardcore business book that people have come to expect from someone with that much success.
And that is exactly Joe Polish's point. If you don't get the human stuff right, you're not going to succeed in [00:17:00] business. Because it's no longer about, you know, how hardcore you can be and how shiny your suit is. It's about, are you always thinking about the people around you? Because if you aren't, someone else will, and they will leave and work with someone else and achieve more because they're in a caring environment where there's a better chance of everyone getting an outcome they're happy with.
Steve Davis: Like the people that you really resonate with go deep with that. So I always try to do that with anyone and I don't expect anyone to give anything to me without creating value first. It goes back to the question what's in it for them. The world doesn't owe me anything. The world doesn't owe any of you anything.
You know, you don't get heat out of the fireplace until you put it in the woods. So people want things given to them, but they have to generate it. And that's what entrepreneurship is. You actually go out and create something and you generate it by being useful, being grateful, being valuable, not being egotistical.
There's [00:18:00] connecting, which is genuine connecting, and there's connecting. You know, people that have that sales pitch, they always got to do their sales pitch. There's nothing wrong with being, pursuing opportunities. I love opportunities. But there's a big difference between Pursuing an opportunity and being an opportunist.
It's really sad that we need a book like this because especially within the networking environment, there are so many people and I, I've seen presentations on tricks in inverted commerce you can use in networking, and he just sort of blows that aside, wipes it off the table with one hand and says, Hey, before.
There's any sense of getting something out of a relationship, how can I make myself useful, how can I maintain a sense of being grateful about the opportunity for interaction, and how can I make myself valuable to the other person, and really [00:19:00] it's It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that because if you're, if that's your demeanor with which you enter into a potential discussion and relationship, who wouldn't want to be with someone like you?
And I think it was in this book where he said the formula for trust is The feeling of comfort with another person multiplied by time, the more that you have just created this comfortable sense of relationship and time has elapsed, the more trust grows and it's in the high trust environment where deals can be sprouted and, you know, new adventures had.
David Olney: To me, you know, the trust stuff, that, you know, links very strongly with other authors of the last 10 years where trust is such a big thing. And I like the fact he's so honest that it's fundamentally about time and making an effort and finding a point of emotional connection. But the bit that really stuck out to me was the thing [00:20:00] of being useful, grateful and valuable.
Because having just written a blog post on what should we, you know, work towards in life, status or value. You know, I'd found, I'd written lots of similar stuff about value that matched with what he said about being useful and valuable. But the grateful thing was the bit that jumped out to me, because having been trained as a philosopher, I've been trained to be too rational every minute of every day.
And I've tried to beat the training out of my head over time, but I still forget. To be openly emotional, and to be openly grateful to people. I will act in the appropriate way, and I'll do as many things as I can to be supportive and helpful. But he just makes the point, how are people going to know how you're feeling about the opportunity, if you don't tell them?
And for me, that was the big penny drop of, well, if you're being useful, people can probably see that. If you're adding value, well... People can probably see that too. But if you don't say that you're grateful for the chance to be there, how's anyone ever going to [00:21:00] know? And if you're not the first person who's willing to be a little bit emotionally open, why would this new person you're trying to get to know and trying to build trust with also take the risk of being emotionally open?
Much better to lead and show it's okay to be emotionally open, because if this is going to be a long term business relationship that quite possibly is also going to become a friendship, isn't it better we get to the important human bits faster?
Steve Davis: Yeah, that part of the book actually really affected me in a way.
Just gave me a hurry up to do more of that, because I am living in a state of eternal gratefulness or gratitude with the people around me, you included but being more deliberate since reading this book. I've been more deliberate in being quick back to say thank you or to acknowledge something that really surprised me in a nice way, and it feels good to do it.
It takes next to nothing to do, but I sense. [00:22:00] It's well received at the other end.
David Olney: Yeah, that's my feeling too. Like, the hard work is getting used to doing it. It's not that it's hard work once you decide to do it. But remembering, actually, if there's something here to be emotionally open about that you're grateful for...
Say it straight away, and you don't have to gush, and it doesn't have to take long. Five words, five seconds, and you've let someone know how much you appreciate the fact that you're, you know, involved in what's going on, and you're a part of what's moving forward, and that, hey, a positive relationship is building here, or being maintained, because that's the other thing.
Now we're all so busy, how often do relationships... Drift, because when we catch up we do the technical stuff, we do the little bit of work that was needed, we solve some problem, but do we take the extra five seconds to go, it was great being able to talk about work, have you got a minute to just catch up?
What kind of difference can that make if people are happy to find that minute with you?
Steve Davis: Well, that's true. And without being overly gendered, I know that the research says[00:23:00] blokes, especially older blokes, are particularly bad at this.
David Olney: Yeah, we're way worse at this. Yes, let's just, let's just go hands up and admit it.
Steve Davis: Yes, but it has to be actively worked upon because otherwise life does become cardboard and shorter. And actually have a longer, healthier life if you can have those interactions. So let's just pause the podcast right now, David, and shoot the breeze. Actually, you know, we'll do that off there because we'll also remember the other golden rule.
The other person's time is more important than yours. So who was, whose rule was that?
David Olney: That's Josh Bernhoff, and it's called The Iron Imperative.
Steve Davis: Yes, okay. So we'll do that later between the two of us. But now, there was one other thing about this book. If someone, if you're listening to this, and you're thinking, okay, this sounds, look, okay, but yeah, a little bit soft, you get taken advantage of.
It's, It's heartening to know that Joe Polish, especially the last chapter, or the second to last chapter, really goes into great detail about, yes, you need to act like this, but at the same time, you are keeping a weather [00:24:00] eye on the reciprocity. If the person that you are helping and opening doors for, you He's not showing any signs of reciprocating or being grateful or anything like that.
Then you have to make some judgments about how much more energy you put into that relationship. Now there's a risk that becomes, it falls back to just being pure, naked, a sense of being a transactional approach to life. What's your take on this, David?
David Olney: I think a couple of things. An important thing is why Joe Polish wrote the book.
He wrote the book because he was burned out. Because he'd tried to be so helpful and build so many connections and build so many businesses that he literally took a year off of work to write the book and recuperate, and to remind himself that you should always do the right thing because that's how you want to be in the world.
But that if you don't get a positive response and people don't behave caringly back, that's the time to go hang on. What am I doing? Why am I investing in this [00:25:00] when there's so many more people and opportunities? And it's an interesting rule he has in the book where he has his own version of the golden rule and it is don't treat people how you would like to be treated, treat people how they would like to be treated.
And the great thing is It keeps the focus on understanding the person you're interacting with, as they want to be understood. Now if that's a positive thing, and they're being caring and interesting and thoughtful, absolutely treat them how they want to be treated. But if they're being difficult, and obnoxious, and demanding, and they're trying to dominate you, well...
There's a good hint. It's time to step sideways, find an elegant way out of the situation, and go look for a next opportunity with someone who will reciprocate in a sort of more caring and effective way.
Steve Davis: Yeah, and as a note, in our next segment called Problems, I'm going to riff on that golden rule and apply it to communication.
But any final... Thoughts from the Joe [00:26:00] Polish book, either some tips, if someone listening does want to actually read it, how to approach it to get the most out of it, or just generally what sort of takeaways could we apply as of now to our The way we, we act within our business.
David Olney: Three things really. First thing is, remember that we're all human first and foremost, even though we get distracted into functioning within systems and a bit often like machines as a consequence.
And Joe Polish is a great way to remember that from being very human, very good outcomes can be achieved. The second thing is, remember to be grateful. But the fact you're in the game, part of the opportunity, part of the chance to build something more and do something more, and even if you're a bit tired and a bit frustrated, focusing on the fact you're also a bit grateful will help to balance up the world.
And third thing, remember that other people want to be seen and perceived as [00:27:00] themselves. So if you can treat them how they would like to be treated, rather than how you would like to be treated, you're actually showing a higher level of consideration and awareness of others, which really doesn't end well.
Steve Davis: That's a nice summary, and hopefully it gives us all a chance to look at the way we act in our business and add a bit of polish. R4P's
Caitlin Davis: Number three, Problems. I ask the question for the best reason possible. Simple curiosity.
Steve Davis: In the problem segment today, it's not opening the mailbag to look at one particular email. I'm going to bring a few of them together because picking up on what you were just saying before, David, about Joe Polish's golden rule, treat other people how they would like to be treated. I had that experience.
[00:28:00] Thrust upon me, there's a client I've been working with for a little while and I've been reflecting on the fact that of all the people I work with, this particular person seemed to be the hardest to get traction with. Definitely whenever we meet. We have great conversations and set plans, and then my team and I, we go off and we do things, but then waiting for the feedback, the check, can drag on for weeks, sometimes months, with nothing.
Zip. And it turns out that we have a case here where this particular person has a very specific method of communication that works to his strengths and weaknesses, that Was very different to mine, and although I try to, you know, make sure I meet people where they're at, this one was getting into my blind spot.
I wasn't seeing it. I couldn't [00:29:00] understand it. And it boiled down to this. We could say things in Zoom sessions. That was great. Have a chat on the phone. All good. But then when I'd send the emails, because I love email for planning things and reporting on things, because there's a beautiful trail. Not, not a trail in a forensic, catch them out later way, but a trail in, ah yes, if I need to jog my memory about something, there it all is.
That's what I said. Kaboom, kaboom. Fantastic. This guy never opens his email. Very rarely, I should say. He says. He can't bring himself to do it. His eyes glaze over. He's frozen by the overload of his inbox. He said can you just send me an SMS? Oh, I thought, so we now communicate in SMS. And David, you're on this journey with me, it's changed everything, that simple little tweak and, and the golden rule, his golden rule is SMS for everything, but if I need [00:30:00] to see an email, send me an SMS to direct me to that email when it's waiting in my inbox, and it's actually working, it's a good thing.
That's Different way of operating, but it's, I think, Joe Polish will be looking down upon us and smiling. Well,
David Olney: Joe Polish and, you know, also Josh Bernoff would, we've really found a way to work with someone's version of the iron imperative. That their time is more valuable than ours. In this case, this is a very busy person like we all are, but who's learned to cope with busy in a very specific way.
The minute you let this person know, you've got an email and I need you to read it and respond to it. It happens because it's a single task, rather than the daunting thing of a hundred emails in an inbox.
Steve Davis: So there you go. You might be having a client or a customer that things aren't quite gelling with from the communications perspective.
So that's why I thought I'd share that one this time around, just in case it's a way of mixing that Rubik's Cube up again and having a look at a [00:31:00] different way of trying to crack the code.
Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps, number four, Perspicacity. The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. Oscar Wilde.
Steve Davis: For our Perspicacity segment to finish with, I want to just lay back and say, sick'em David.
David Olney: I'm sort of already feeling nauseous by this ad. Going, wow, it was an alternative universe where you could have an anteater and a nearly naked young woman and it could be on mainstream TV before 9pm.
Steve Davis: Yes, we are taking you back to about 1989, I believe.
Tonya or Tonea, I haven't found out how to pronounce her first name, but let's call her Tonya Tonya Byrd she was a model at that [00:32:00] time and she got cast in an ad for Antz Pants and let's have a listen to it and then actually I'll describe what we're about to listen to, that might be a way to go, you've got this young woman on, on a bed It's sort of twilight y, the, the light coming through the Venetian blinds, and as she lays back on her bed, wearing nothing other than panties and a tank top we start seeing ants crawling up her thigh across her nether regions, and then at that point, we become aware that there's an anteater in her bed, sort of going, to which he says Gives him permission to go for the ants.
Sick and rex, let's have a listen.[00:33:00]
really, can't believe two things, David. I can't believe with my 2022 sensibilities, this ad being made and being shown, but also I was alive in 1989. All I tend to remember is that it brought hilarity and notoriety with Sick and Wrecks entering the vernacular, but not as much nuanced awareness of just how wrong it was on so many levels.
This is, is this historical relativism? Is this what we're experiencing when we look back on this ad?
David Olney: It's such an interesting thing because we're both perceiving it from the [00:34:00] perspective of males. I couldn't really see it very well even in 1989, even on a big screen TV, which big screen TVs weren't very big in 1989.
But the point is the way the line was delivered is fantastic and was very funny. And if you just hear the ad, well clearly Rex is getting excited about something that's been given permission to go wild. That's kind of cool. The visuals, again, how did women respond in 1999? And how many feminists probably had to try and explain at that point to the ad agency and TV industry that that was really inappropriate and we really shouldn't keep doing ads like this.
Steve Davis: Well, the interesting thing is, I was in the media at that point, and in fact I was doing talkback radio at that point, and I'm sure that had that debate been of any great momentum, it would have been in my memory of the time, I can't [00:35:00] recall, I mean, apart from the normal bits of controversy of any ad that pushes boundaries, there was nothing there.
So yeah. foundational or fundamental that I recall from that and I wonder if it's saving grace to a degree was the empowerment with which Tonya Byrd was betrayed in that case. She was in control.
David Olney: Precisely and that might have been the one saving grace but I think the big thing I'm taking away from this is that think about the cultural norms of your era.
When you make ads and thinking about do you want those cultural norms to stay as they are? Do you want cultural norms to become more considerate? Do you want to push the limits just to get attention? And if you do, remember one day there might be a backlash. So there's a lot of things to think about here of how are you perceiving the culture of the day and where do you sell yourself [00:36:00] fitting?
And I suppose an interesting question to ask with an ad like that is, you know, what if it was your daughter that was the actress? Becomes an interesting question from a marketing perspective.
Steve Davis: Well, yes, and and it is one where there is complexity. In fact, we mentioned John Cleese and his war against wokeism, and there is a, this is something we have to wrestle with as marketers communicating in the public square, is, on one hand, I can hear very justified voices saying this is exploiting and objectifying women.
But equally, with the same power voices from a similar lobby saying, How dare you say that the woman is weak and passive here when she's completely in control? What do we do as marketers? We possibly, unless we have a strong mission or calling that is really... Wanting to weather this storm and take a nuanced [00:37:00] stance, we probably avoid going into this territory.
So from a perspicacious perspective, I reflect on it now. I just don't, I can't see this being made again. Unless Elon Musk has his way and he, who is a bit like the modern day version of Heath Ledger's Joker and is piling up the dollar bills to burn them and laugh at the world, getting all up in arms over all sorts of things I just think it's probably safer to, there are other ways that we can creatively engage with an audience without having to risk triggering people legitimately or a lot more.
Triggering the, the controversy crowd who come in at a moment's notice.
David Olney: I think the other thing to add to this is, this is something to think about if you're going to work with a marketing company, whether it be us or anyone else. That part of the conversation is not just for us to have creative ideas, or you to tell us your creative ideas and add [00:38:00] value to them, but to work out, okay, where do you want to, you know, this to sit in terms of how your brand is perceived?
Because once this thing is out of the barn and in the world... How you are perceived, how your business is perceived, is going to be affected by what the audience think. And a large amount of discussion of anything that could be controversial is going, once it's in the wild, what's the blowback going to be, and are you ready for the blowback, and do you want to risk the blowback?
If it goes as badly as perhaps we think it could.
Steve Davis: And as a final aside Ms. Bird after doing this ad she moved to Europe and she married a Norwegian prince and basically stopped modeling around that time. That marriage didn't last. And then after the divorce, she had a child with an Austrian prince.
They later married and as far as we know, they're still living in Vienna. So do you call that a happy ending, Damon? I hope so.
David Olney: I would hope becoming a princess also [00:39:00] looks like an empowered move.
Steve Davis: Well, oh my goodness, that opens up another can of ants. See you again next time.
David Olney: Bye.
Caitlin Davis: Thank you for listening to Talking About Marketing.
If you enjoyed it, please leave a rating or a review in your favourite podcast app. And if you found it helpful, please share it with others. Steve and David always welcome your comments and questions, so send them to podcast at talkaboutmarketing. com. And finally, the last word to Oscar Wilde, there's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about.