David Rendall has an acronym for the notions upon which he’s based his books, Freak Factor and Pink Goldfish: FLAWSOM. The acronym – which we’ll break down in a moment – is a play on turning one’s flaws, into, well, awesomeness.
Rendall – who presented the opening keynote at CEDIA’s Leadership Conference in Chicago – is tall, funny, and animated. The latter two were problematic when he was in school; he was pegged as a troublemaker who couldn’t sit still. As it turns out, those characteristics are great for someone who’s making his living as a public speaker.
His height is viewed by society in general as a plus: tall people generally make larger salaries and are often viewed as more intelligent than their shorter counterparts. The rub? Rendall has numerous examples of how difficult it is to be a tall dude when he’s flying on commercial airplanes – especially when it comes to using the on-board restroom.
The individual letters represent the following strategies a business can use to turn perceived flaws into business benefits: They include Flaunting, Lopsiding, Antagonizing, Withholding, Swerving, Opposing, and Micro-Weirding. Rendall illustrates the concept of “flaunting” with a nod to Canadian cough syrup Buckley’s, whose ad slugs include: “People swear by it. And at it. It tastes awful. And it works.” Embracing the notion that a liquid that’s so great at killing germs has to be horrible on the palate has made them a continued success.
“Opposing” is summed up nicely using the example of a sock company called “Little MissMatched,” which markets socks to grade-school girls. Not are the socks not matched, notes Rendall – to ostensibly play to a child’s individuality and uniqueness – the company sells the socks in sets of three.
“They’re not just opposing the competition,” says Rendall.
“In fact, they’re opposing the entire history of the sock industry.”
Rendall’s fond of the Japanese notion of “kintsugi,” the notion of fixing something but leaving its “brokenness” intact. The idea began when a 15th-century Shogun had a bit of pottery fixed and asked that its repairs be made obvious. His favorite bit of crockery was then repaired using veins of gold to bond the pieces back together, creating beautiful, natural-looking patterns within the ceramic.
The results were so beautiful and appealing that the idea caught on with the larger Japanese public, and soon, some folks were cracking their favorite teapots intentionally in order to attain the look. It harkens back to the fundamental premise at work here: “illuminating imperfection.”
The notion’s translatable to an integration firm, says Rendall: “When someone asks ‘How big is your company?’ and you’re a two-man show, don’t hedge. Say, ‘It’s just me and Steve. When you call, you’ll either get me or Steve. We’ve got a combined 55 years in the biz. And you won’t be talking to an automated phone program or some assistant.'”
Additionally, if your estimates are perceived by a customer as “slow and expensive,” the pitch is pretty obvious: “Yep. That means we’re thorough in every aspect and we’ll deliver the very best quality you could ask for.”