Here, I’m going to try to get you to do something that, for most of us, doesn’t come naturally, something that just feels wrong.
It will fly in the face of your professional training. You will find it very hard to get there by using your normal processes. When you even suggest doing something along these lines, you will face immediate resistance. People may think you’re crazy. People may call you crazy. People may use the “crazy” word to shut down all conversation around the idea and make the discomfort go away.
Most of us believe that marketing is trying to put a good face on our product or service. Most of us look for the benefits. Most of us believe that a certain amount of “positive spin” is absolutely essential to “work that sells.” And most of us have some successes to show for these beliefs.
If your product or service is good, if there aren’t great alternatives, and for a while, this level of marketing communications will probably work. And yet the greats have done something very different. They’ve told the truth that most marketers would view as ugly, and in doing so they have stolen the show, and significant market share.
Nike. Dove. Starbucks. Dominos. Telling the ugly truth is a strategy challengers use to become market leaders and market leaders us to remain market leaders.
Our core client is an organization or brand led by people who are committed to their doing good and being better.
That said, many potentially good organizations have much to feel embarrassed about.
There is a tendency to hide the struggle and the failings and thereby inadvertently hide the hero’s journey. As a business leader I have been guilty of this much of the time, missing the opportunity to engage others with the facts of our very human struggle.
I have sought out authentic entrepreneurs as clients so that I can be continuously exposed to the challenging and edifying example of people who tell the radical truth.
Change agents tell the truth. They believe in radical candor. The look for the truth that remains unsaid. They use it to unblock progress, and it works.
For the company with its heart in the right place, a sort of insane honesty can show confidence and clarity of thought and charm while earning trust. Here are some corporate PR examples, followed by some advertising examples.
According to Gartner, top management agrees that brand strategy is the single “Most Vital Marketing Capability.” Let’s do an Inspiring Brand Idea Workshop and accelerate your brand-driven growth. We’re a brand planning agency built for a performance-hungry world. We’ve helped hundreds of clients discover the inspiring idea that organizes and drives growth. The brand idea is the #1 performance driver. While the trend of performance marketing is toward AI automation, brand becomes the sole strategic advantage. I’d be honored to talk with you about your brand. It’s amazing what one workshop can do. You know where to find me.
Now more than ever, the world needs masters of change.
All that was civilized and predictable has become a Wild West.
For you, who forge new order, stop the bleeding, and make new growth possible – I am sharing this excerpt from the upcoming Change Agent’s Cookbook. It will provide you with some mythical support. Don’t scoff at the notion of mythical support. Myths are some of the most powerful tools in the change agent’s arsenal. In this case, you’ll take sustenance from the mythic archetype of the Fixer:
We know the end:
You’re respected. You’re respected because you respect yourself. You respect yourself because you know what to do to actually deliver on the promises. You respect yourself because you know how to think, you know what questions to ask, you understand what the answers mean. You respect yourself because you’re not just a specialist – you can talk business, brand, design-thinking, creativity, behavior change, data, media, technology, boards of directors, ceos, management teams — everything that adds up to growth. You are respected because you are able to show up as a master of change, in flow and having fun. Your confidence and positive energy are attractors. You are the embodiment of inspiring action. Here’s the beginning:
You have a WAY. You have a process, a procedure, a consistent way of operating
The Way of the Change Agent.
“Be regular and orderly in your life so you can be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert
We’re obsessed with “fixer” characters. These are true professionals who show up and take charge, resolving seemingly unsolvable situations.
Harvey Keitel’s Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe from Pulp Fiction is a classic fixer character. Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad is another quietly imposing fixer. Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington in Scandal, is billed as “D.C.’s greatest fixer.”
There are so many more iconic fixers. Sherlock Holmes, of course. Jodi Foster in Inside Man. Julia Roberts’s Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich, George Clooney as Michael Clayton in Michael Clayton. If you haven’t seen the classic scene in which fixer Alec Baldwin as Blake attempts to straighten out a pack of sad-sack salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, go to YouTube and watch that right now. It’s the origin of the phrase, “Coffee is for closers!” Better yet, see the whole movie.
From their first entrance, our eyes track these characters like stalker ex-boyfriends. What makes them so mesmerizing is their competence and elegant confidence. They do their job with very little wasted movement. Like Jonathan Bank’s Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and George Clooney’s Michael Clayton, they also bring the humility and realism that should come from experience. Yet they can be brutally frank when necessary.
They can also puff themselves up into larger, scarier beasts when required to establish dominance in the service of good order. This is what is so brilliant about “The Wolf” sequence in Pulp Fiction. Keitel’s character is as polite and officious as Gustavo “Gus” Fring can be in his Pollos Hermanos apron on Breaking Bad. But, when he needs to establish who’s boss, he becomes momentarily forbidding before returning to normal size again and complementing the coffee. Alec Baldwin as Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross infuses this character with a striking realism – we know that there are Blakes in the real world and that they are one reason salesmen die. Blake also represents the brutal logic of the fixer – the fixer only does what works, even if it hurts.
As Master Change Agents, we embody the archetype of the Fixer, with a little bit of magic thrown in.
A Fixer is, first, a professional of the highest order. What makes many of these characters interesting is that their professions are often seedy or at least morally ambiguous, not expected to be “professions” at all. The professionalism that they bring to such things as cleaning up lawyer’s messes, making political scandals go away, “cleaning” gory crime scenes and bringing rapacious salesmen into line is what makes for great drama. It works because it rings with an insight about the human condition – that we can develop professional ethics even where they are absurd. We respect professional ethics even when we can’t condone the results.
So, as a master change agent, you will be ready to show up professional in all situations. We’ll also be careful to work toward worthy results.
Fixers are also Tricksters, going beyond professionalism to work a little magic in the course of their work. The order of the Fixer’s method leads to epiphanies and flashes of brilliance.
Master Change Agents are regular and orderly in their methods so that they can be violent and original in their work.
On this week’s episode of The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO, Tom Christmann is joined by none other than, our chief and the founder of DiMassimo Goldstein, the most Inspiring Action agency in the world, Mark DiMassimo!
Okay, we can’t lie, we’re obviously excited about this episode. As chief, Mark has overseen the production a lot of great work in the advertising space over the past 23 years. However, Mark was not always the leader of an ad agency…
After a career as a young entrepreneur and musician, Mark DiMassimo began his second career at twenty-five years old in the direct marketing division of BBDO. There, Mark apprenticed to the Direct Marketing author, Ed Nash, and soaked in the atmosphere at a time when direct marketers were entrepreneurial, and brands where built through direct marketing.
As an account executive and without asking permission, Mark started writing ads for a client that had frustrated the creative department into mass creative block. Instead of being fired, he was invited into the creative department with the proviso, “But you won’t be able to tell us what to do anymore.” With time, he emerged as a pre-eminent creative with his career took off due to his track record of success.
Mark worked on choice assignments and launched major brands with the philosophy of exploiting the blind spots of fellow direct marketers by using brand insights to create integrated brand response advertising campaigns that dramatically out-performed more tactical work.
Mark led integrated creative departments and produced notable work at some of the best creative agencies in the world before founding his own in 1996. He founded DiMassimo Goldstein in the spirit of leading the charge for “a brand revolution among direct marketers and a direct revolution among brand marketers” as well as laying the groundwork for our practice of #InspiringAction.
On this episode, we follow Mark through his career and delve into his gritty origin story from start to finish.
You’re not going to want to miss this one. Listen here!
[3:01-7:25] Mark talks about growing up in NJ and his early upbringing.
[7:26-9:29] Mark’s imagination and first forays into creativity as a profession.
[9:29-13:46] Mark’s super-dark childhood short story and learning how to express himself.
[13:47-16:11] Wayne Dyer’s ‘Erroneous Zones’ as a marketing inspiration.
[16:13 -20:23] SUNY Fredonia, majoring in music, and discovering the library.
[21:17-24:45] Transferring to Cornell and Industrial and Labor Relations.
[24:54-27:44] How he made the switch to communications and ultimately deciding on Advertising as a career path.
[25:00-32:30] BBDO Direct and Mark’s first job working on brand accounts in advertising.
[32:31-40:20] Mark discusses his first creative experiences as a copywriter and being challenged for the first time.
[40:42-49:00] Being laid off, freelancing, and getting copywriter positions.
[49:15-55:59] Mark on his rise through the ranks and deciding to start his very own agency.