“Yo, VIP, let’s kick it! Ice ice baby. Ice ice baby All right stop. Collaborate and listen. Ice is back with my brand new invention”
… admit it – you all know the words even if it makes you cringe a little.
Earlier this week there was some “feisty” discussion around the JT Foxx event coming up shortly featuring rap artist Vanilla Ice as an entrepreneur / business coach.
Depending on which argument I seemed to get involved in, there seemed to be a couple of strong emotions around the following:
1. Is Vanilla Ice an “entrepreneur”?
2. Should people like JT Foxx and Vanilla Ice sell their courses to “unwitting” or “weak-minded” consumers in South Africa?
3. Motivational speakers like JT Foxx and Vanilla Ice aren’t going to generate a return for delegates
Is Vanilla Ice an entrepreneur?
At it’s absolute core, entrepreneurship needs to tick 2 boxes:
1. Buy for 1 and sell for 2
2. Create some form of perceived value (either product, service or intellectual property)
Even excluding the JT Foxx tour and the fact that “Ice Ice Baby” has been viewed a mammoth 247 MILLION times on YouTube, I would argue Vanilla Ice ticks all those boxes. He’s won multiple music awards, run or operated multiple music labels, appeared in theatre productions (played Captain Hook in Peter Pan), put together his own reality TV show, published a book on property investing and despite nearly 28 years after his hit song was released, he still commands the attention of 340 000+ people on social media platforms.
Is the argument then that Vanilla Ice is not a “respectable” entrepreneur? This is not Twitter where you get a blue tick icon to indicate you’re respectable … and rightly so. Pick an industry (auditing, food, guns, waste refuse) – we can all find question marks about what constitutes “respectable”
So yes, Vanilla Ice is an entrepreneur.
Preying on “weak-minded” consumers:
For those who aren’t following the story, consumers are being invited to come and see the likes of JT Foxx and Vanilla Ice in Pretoria on 1 and 2 September. You can either secure free entry or pay R4000 for VIP tickets. Invariably there is going to be a punt for other products like books, videos, audio products and VVIP sessions which will encourage people to whip out their credit cards.
This doesn’t make sense to me either. If I shop at Woolworths because I perceive them to be a more environmentally-friendly or higher quality, am I “weak minded”? I suppose I could be but … the beauty (and importance of) a free market is that consumers have choice.
Let’s be clear around something: JT Foxx has developed a sales and distribution model that is the envy of millions of business owners around the world. He has built systems, distribution and marketing that reaches across the globe.
While we may not agree with the “hard” selling methods employed, entrepreneurs and small business owners place very little emphasis on how they are going to get their products to market (and no … being “better” is probably not going to be the answer). Instead of knocking the process, it might be worth studying the sales methods and seeing how you can apply them to your business because outrage isn’t going to keep your own business above water – sales will.
Too many entrepreneurs see themselves as being above sales – rather go and look at who is doing it well and learn from them.
What’s the return?
I’ll turn this question around. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) – for example – hosts weekly business “forums” where you can come and hear from experienced entrepreneurs. You can pay R280 and join them in an auditorium of 100-odd delegates and hear their story. Will your R280 generate a “return” for you?
Well that depends what effort you put in.
Are you going to walk up to the presenter at GIBS and try and do business? Will you walk up to Vanilla Ice and pitch a deal? Heck – are you going to turn to the person next to you and strike up a conversation and do some actual business?
No motivational speaker is going to change your life or change your business. It doesn’t matter whether the speaker is a world-renowned rap artist, a CEO of a listed business or a social entrepreneur. They can share their story, but it is up to you to make the most of the experience either interacting with your presenters or delegates.
How much effort are you putting into your own network to create a return on the investment?
The JT Foxx model isn’t for everybody – personally I’m not a fan motivational speaking and the hard selling model is something that can get your back up a bit. Having said that, sales is the lifeblood of a business – instead of poking holes in the model, see what you can learn from it and apply some of these to your own situation.
Would love to hear your views on this – please feel free to engage me on firstname.lastname@example.org or let’s chat about a Problem-Solving session for your team.