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C-Suite Case Study: The Making of the Yeti Cooler Brand

The story of the notorious Yeti cooler started in 2006, when two dreamers turned what was once a boring consumer product into an iconic American lifestyle brand beloved by outdoor adventurers, tailgaters, bull riders, beach bums, and novelty hunters across the nation.

The company more recently went public in 2018 and is currently valued at $4.3 billion dollars with sales expected to reach $900 million by the end of 2020. Yeti is living proof that innovation can be developed even in one of the most unlikely commodity markets.

But how did that happen? I mean, to be fair, this isn’t the next silicon valley tech start up, it’s a cooler designed to keep you beer colder for longer…

They took a product category that nobody was thinking about innovating since Igloo put wheels on a cooler in the 1990s. More to the point the company successfully transformed the icebox into a coveted lifestyle brand.

That’s an impressive undertaking even for a well-established business with access to unlimited resources, funding, and marketing experience. But the Yeti Cooler brand was born from a series of homemade paper drawings, a personal need, and an unwavering determination to create something the founders wanted for their own hobby.

Here is the story of how two brothers from Austin Texas started a cooler company out of their dad’s garage and turned  what was once a low-end commodity into a high-priced, high-end, globally recognized brand.

 

Two Brothers, a Passion, and a Problem:

Ryan and Roy Seiders, spent their entire childhood making memories in the outdoors. Their passion for the outdoors was infused with business potential when their father Roger Seiders, quit his job as a teacher and turned entrepreneur decades ago after he designed a fishing rod epoxy called Flex Coat he has been selling since 1977. The brothers got to see up close how to take risks and turn a personal interest into a business by finding a gap in a market by creating a solution to a common problem.

After graduating college, the boys set out to follow the familiar footsteps of their father. They attempted to start a series of businesses ideas of their own. Ryan tried his hand at building a custom-fishing-rod business and Roy began building modified fishing boats for anglers, specifically those targeting redfish in the shallow, hot, coastal waters off the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Neither venture was a success by their own admission, but it was their first dip into the waters of entrepreneurship. Like thousands of entrepreneurs before them, they sought out to solve a problem for the customers they served until one problem presented a unique and unexpected window of opportunity for the duo.

The first hint of Yeti began when Roy was customizing fishing boats for his clients. A challenge emerged when Roy was tasked with determining the best spot to put a cooler on his clients’ fishing boats that had very limited  storage space. He knew that many fishermen (himself included) liked to stand on their coolers while casting, but the conventional cheap plastic models would buckle under their body weight, ultimately getting damaged or completely ruined.

Not satisfied with the available coolers on the market, Roy enlisted the help of his brother Ryan to help identify a more durable cooler for the custom boats at the outdoor trade shows they frequented.

Their agenda was pretty straight forward. They set out to locate a heavy-duty cooler to purchase for the custom fishing boats they were selling. Only to find, there wasn’t one. They needed a cooler strong enough that their clients could confidently stand on, that would also stay cold in the hot southern coastal temperatures.

 

An Idea Emerged:

The  coolers available just weren’t up to the outdoor adventures the brothers were experiencing with their friends and clients. Not only did the cheap lids cave in, the handles would break, and the latches would frequently snap off due to the heavy weight of the ice and cargo. Forcing them and their clients to replace their portable coolers after every fishing season.  It was out of this frustration that encouraged them to solve the problem on their own.

The idea of the YETI coolers was founded by the Seiders brothers: two outdoorsmen who needed a solid, durable cooler that could also keep their catch, kills, and beverages cold for a longer period of time in the hot Texas heat.

On a Mission:

They quickly dismissed the popular idea that coolers should be cheap and affordable. Instead they turned their attention on building an indestructible cooler built for serious outdoor performance.

As their website states, they decided early on that product innovation would have to come from a place of necessity and firsthand experience. Not relying on market research and data analysis.

The mission statement for the emerging company was founded on the belief that life is about having a good time doing what you love. And for the Seiders brothers, that was getting primal in the outdoors hunting whitetail, catching fish, and spending time with family and friends making lifelong memories.

“We’re wild at heart. So our coolers couldn’t be anything less.”

– Yeti Coolers

 

Reinventing the Wheel:

While attending trade shows looking for inspiration, Ryan stumbled across a rugged cooler model from Thailand, and the brothers set up a business to distribute their coolers for a short-lived time.

But eventually they found, the product just wasn’t what they were ultimately hoping for. While at the time, it was the best cooler out there, the product quality wasn’t up to their standards, and the brothers weren’t in love with the design either. They traveled to Thailand to meet face-to-face with the manufacturer to suggest changes only to discover the manufacturer couldn’t actually fulfill on their specific expectations.

Ryan and Roy took more steps to realize the product they envisioned. They mocked up their own handmade drawings with specs and soon found a manufacturer in the Philippines who was willing to try their ideas and provide them with a working prototype. The game was on. But they needed seed capital they didn’t have to build the initial proof of concept model.

To help fund the idea, Ryan sold his fishing rod business, and the brothers pooled what little money they had to cover the cost of the initial prototype and tooling.

 

The New & Improved Yeti Design:

The YETI shell is made from a common plastic material called polyethylene in a plastic manufacturing process referred to as roto-molding, that infuses high temperature and low pressure to create one piece of solid piece of plastic molding. It’s the same process used to create durable kayaks, eliminating any seams and joints making them stronger and more insulated.

By making one solid plastic case equates to higher plastic strength integrity and allowed less cold air to escape the seams. The shell walls were additionally injected with 3 inches of industrial strength foam and they installed a freezer quality rubber gasket sealer found in high-end refrigerators to make the lid air tight.

The solid design, combined with the depth of the insulated walls, insured the cooler’s contents would stay frozen longer.

With their protoype nailed solid they had to focus on selling the product to regain their initial capital investment.

 

Paving a New Path to Distribution:

They soon realized they would have to sell their product for $300 apiece for their smallest model in order to cover the costs of the premium design. They understood what they were up against from a retail perspective from the start. Yeti couldn’t focus on high volume sales through traditional retail distribution in the beginning. Instead they went after a niche clientele willing to pay top dollar for a quality product.

YETI didn’t try to compete with traditional retail’s cheap $30 coolers available at big box retailers like Target and Walmart. Instead they focused their efforts on specialty sporting goods stores and targeted the outdoor trade shows they were familiar with attending. It was here, in their familiar outdoor network where they could attempt to capture the attention of their primary audience. The goal was to get the buy-in from hunting and fishing guides to build Yeti’s grassroots reputation.

In addition to outdoor tradeshows, they spent their early days cold calling local hardware stores, tackle shops, and small outdoor retail owners offering them a new value proposition: Why waste your time selling a $30 cooler only retain a $5 margin? When you can sell their premium $300 cooler and keep $100? The grass roots approach slowly made progress but it wasn’t an overnight success.

Growing Pains:

The brothers launched Yeti in 2006. Sales reached $5M by 2009, and by 2011 they were pulling in an impressive $29 million which would earn the company its third consecutive appearance on the Inc. 5000 listing for their explosive growth.

They started hitting their stride when they finally broke through to premium outfitters like Bass Pro Shops and other specialty retailers. But that win brought them a whole new set of problems. The coolers were flying off the shelves faster than they could meet the production demand. Yeti ran into a major supply chain obstacle. They were selling more coolers than their suppliers could build on time. The Seiders’ needed to outsource help, fast, and the brothers proved their resourcefulness once again.

 

Private Equity Partnership:

They were now in a dead sprint to find a partner to help them navigated the next stages of growth to help fulfill their growing supply chain constraints.

The Seiders reached out and vetted pitches from more than a dozen private equity firms.

In June 2012, they pulled the trigger and sold two-thirds stake of the company for $67 million to a private equity firm that specialized in leveraged buy-out transactions. The Cortec Group firm targets specialty middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies, particularly family-controlled companies.

Cortec, based in New York, was founded in 1984. Since inception, the firm has raised over $2.6 billion of capital across six investment funds and has completed more than seventy transactions to date.

Cortec had major strategic advantages with IP and manufacturing connections that Yeti desperately needed. Cortec proved invaluable in navigating the necessary trademark battles (including going up against and winning a lawsuit with Walmart and other large players)  that soon plagued the popular brand.

Cortec also proved useful in helping the brothers expand the product line beyond $400 heavy-duty coolers to include drinkware (mugs and tumblers), bags, lawn chairs, and even an off-road electric scooter eventually dropping the “Coolers” name from the now Yeti brand. This product category growth would soon prove to future WallStreet investors that they were no longer a cooler company.

Additionally, Cortec offered a subjective external perspective the company needed for high growth, negotiating new venders, marketing agencies and process management for the now 700 employees under the Yeti label.

By 2014’s year end, they quickly grew to $147 million in retail sales as the brand started creeping into the new expanding brand categories.

Yeti went public in 2018 with an IPO valuation at $1.7 billion. They were well on their way to building a globally recognized brand.

 

Marketing a Household Name:

How does one make a cooler company cool? The answer in short; marketing.

Yeti developed a marketing strategy that told their story, engaging people on a shared love for the outdoors and the best equipment to enjoy them with.

The combination of high-quality, field-endorsed products and outlandish prices translated to high consumer interest and desire.

The company leveraged a network of influencers they named their YETI Ambassadors, who had already grown like audiences to endorse the brand. YETI’s influencers include hunters, fishermen, snowboarders, professional skiers, bull riders, and cowboys.

 

YETI Ambassador Video Example: 

Embracing their audience on social media YETI currently has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and 1.4 million Instagram and are leveraging Youtube with millions of views across their 197 original videos to date.

They even share social proof of their brand promise claiming for example, that Yeti’s are even Grizzly proof.

Here’s the proof:

 

Yeti took their marketing strategy a step further when they hired Melisa Goldie as the company’s very first chief marketing officer. Goldie was formerly global CMO of Calvin Klein Inc.

You might think, why hire someone previously responsible to sell a clothing label to oversee their marketing strategy?

But considering over 70% of Yeti’s consumers are under the age of 45. Goldie came with a breadth of experience in lifestyle branding, promoting product lines across a wide range of consumer categories at multiple price points across a wide range of geographies.

 

YETI Business Strategy:

Yeti was a brand that arrived onto a product category that existed since the early 1900s. Instead of fitting into what others were doing they made bold moves to set themselves as far apart from their competitors as they could get in terms of price, quality, and speed to production, to gain a competitive edge.

In order to manufacture such a high quality product in mass, the company deployed an “asset light” strategy. They outsourcing the production and distribution their products keeping their overhead low while focusing on growing sales year over year.

While forgoing profits by investing in third-party production, they were able to capture faster market share as the first premium quality cooler brand while other copy-cat brands started following their coat-tails.

Yeti recognized the need for strategic help to grow the company by partnering with the Cortec Group. This deliberate decision rapidly increased operating efficiency to  overcome supply chain growth deficiencies.

Similarly, Cortec was essential in diversifying the product lines for Yeti into drinkware and soft (bag) travel coolers which accounts for nearly half their sales which is something Wallstreet investors rewarded in their IPO. Their experience in strategic licensing positioned the company as a global player.

The brothers scaled by bringing in the right growth partners yet again by hiring outdoor-retailing executive Matt Reintjes to replace Roy as chief executive officer. While Roy remains the Chairman of the company, by giving up some of the control as founder to an external CEO, the Seiders were signaling to Wallstreet that they were playing the long game of strategic growth by putting all of the right players where they needed to be positioned.

While the company is experiencing peak growth their story is very likely far from it. The Yeti Ice Monster started out as an idea, turned opportunity, and ultimately into another great American business success story.

For more information visit tylerhayzlett.com

Categories
Biography and History Entrepreneurship Human Resources Personal Development

The Audiobook Publishers Association Recognizes Business Audio Theatre

Stephen King was there for a special award of recognition. Michele Obama, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and other Hollywood stars were lauded for their narrations. And Michael and Bonnie were there to accept their medallion for Finalist in the Business/Personal Development category!

That’s right! The Barefoot Spirit made it to the finals at the 2020 Audiobook Publishers Association’s Awards competition!

Last night, tucked under the Queens Borough Bridge in Manhattan, the 2020 Audiobook Publishers Association Audie Awards Gala was presented at the elegant Gustavino’s, complete with red carpets, cameras, champagne, and celebrities. Folks were dressed to the nines to celebrate the Audiobook Publishers Association’s (APA) 25TH year in hopes that they would bring home the top awards. This was clearly a big deal for the audiobook industry and we were honored to be included with all the glitterati.

According to the MC, one in every two Americans listened to at least one audiobook last year and the industry made a whopping one billion dollars in sales. As more and more listeners discover the freedom of true mobile entertainment, audiobook growth is taking off fast.

The APA is supported mainly by the big publishers, so it was quite a compliment when a former judge in our category said, “You guys are self-published? You are very fortunate to have made it all the way to Finalist!” Along with Harpers, MacMillan, Penguin, and all the other Big Boys, here comes Michael and Bonnie’s The Barefoot Spirit, self-published by Footnotes Press, LLC. We proudly wore our finalists award medallions all evening! It appears we were the only self-published audiobook to make it to the final round!

Out of only five finalists in our category, ours was the only one that was performed and fully-casted rather than strictly narrated. We would like to think that the distinction was recognized by the Association. We are grateful that the APA has recognized the value of this pioneering initiative to convey business principles and preserve founders’ legacies with Business Audio Theatre (BAT). This acknowledgment gives a level of credibility to performed business audiobooks.

While we were in New York, we were interviewed on C-Suite TV. They were interested in the APA recognition, but more keenly focused on the potential for Business Audio Theatre when used as an onboarding tool to help increase engagement and reduce turn over. They wanted to know how this new technology could be employed to preserve a founder’s legacy and improve company culture.

Founders can’t be there forever, and they know it. Sooner or later they must turn over the reins of leadership to the next generation. They worry about their companies becoming complacent, mired in compliance, and turf battles breaking out between the increasingly specialized divisions.

Will it be “just another job” for their future employees? Would they just as soon work anywhere? Or do they identify with their new company? How can companies keep their Founder’s spirit alive? We believe the best way to convey business principles is through story. And the best way to convey story is through an audio performance that entertains and engages the listener’s imagination while it educates. And what if that listener is your company’s new hire? And what if your company’s story and principles are handed to them on day one in an MP3 format?

Having created and published an acclaimed example of BAT in The Barefoot Spirit audiobook, having perfected the process of conversion of story to audio play, and having partnered with a Hollywood production company, Sherwood Players that have actually done it, we are in a truly unique position to offer this new tool to founders and their companies.

That’s the promise of Business Audio Theatre and that’s why the audiobook industry’s recognition means so much to us. We can create a compelling onboarding tool to help other founders keep their spirit alive and preserve their company’s history. Check it out at BusinessAudioTheatre.com.

Categories
Biography and History Culture Growth Management News and Politics Personal Development

2019 WOTY and NEOLOGISM…WHAT?

2019 WOTY and Neologism

The Word of the Year for 2019 is “existential” or “climate emergency” or “climate strike” or my personal favorite, “they;” depending on where you search. Each year a group of linguists from different organizations; i.e. Merriam-Webster, Oxford Languages, Collins Dictionary, dictionary.com, and the American Dialect Society, among others, pick their word of the year. Sometimes abbreviated WOTY, the word of the year is a singular word or expression that is significant to the public.

Linguists study the science and utilization of language. Their attention is on public practice of the term or expression and how it interfaces with the real-world. To become the Word of the Year, linguists consider the most searched words, the ones that have a significant spike from the previous year, and do they have lasting potential.

Merriam-Webster

The 2019 Word of the Year for Merriam Webster is they, having a 313% spike in searches over the previous year. Moreover, there is a shift in the way they is used, which lured people to their dictionaries to hunt for the current definition. The first definition states, “those people, animals, or things,” and the second meaning is, “used to refer to people in a general way or to a group of people who are not specified.”

As stated by Merriam-Webster, “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence, they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.” Now in the place of the word “he or she,” the singular pronoun to use is “them or they,” which is preferred in professional writing.

Oxford Languages and Collins Dictionary

The Oxford Word of the Year for 2019 is climate emergency, and Collins Dictionary chose climate strike.  One of the expressions represents a situation and the other designates an action, so I will address them together. Climate emergency is, “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.” Climate strike is “a form of protest in which people absent themselves from education or work in order to join demonstrations demanding action to counter climate change.” Both expressions show that the environment is an ongoing concern being disseminated in the headlines.

dictionary.com

The WOTY for dictionary.com is existential, defined as, “of or relating to existence…concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices.” The word captures the struggle to survive, as topics of climate change and gun violence dominate our attention. It begs us to ask big questions of, why are we here, and what choices will extend our life beyond our self.

Altogether, dictionary.com added over 300 words, expressions, and acronyms this past year. Known as a neologism, defined as, “a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase; the introduction or use of new words or new senses of existing words.” Linguists consider how current words are being utilized and if used on a massive scale. Though the words have been around a while, in 2019 they were added to the dictionary. Here are a few examples.

Words Added to the Dictionary in 2019

In Conversations:

Deep Dive: “a thorough or comprehensive analysis of a subject or issue.”

Infodump: “a large quantity of backstory, or background information, supplied at once.”

Elevator Pitch: “a brief talk or pitch intended to sell or win approval for something.”

On Social Media:

Shitposting: “a form of trolling when someone ‘posts off-topic,’ false, or offensive contributions to an online forum with the intent to derail the discussions or provoke other participants.”

Crybullies: “a person who self-righteously harasses or intimidates others while playing the victim, especially of a perceived social injustice.”

It’s a good idea to add these two expressions to your vocabulary so you are able to call out people for what they are doing with their social media comments.

As far as acronyms go, here are two dictionary additions: JSYK: “just so you know,” and JOMO: “joy of missing out.”

Past Words of the Year

An interesting exercise is looking up Past Words of the Year to grasp what happened at the time; it’s like a walk-through history.

1992: not! – as in just kidding

1993: information superhighway

1994: cyber, morph

1995: web

1996: mom – as in soccer mom

1997: millennium bug

1998: e- – as in e-mail or e-commerce

1999: Y2K

2000: chad – Florida voting

2001: 9-11

2002: weapons of mass destruction

2003: metrosexual

2004: red state, blue state, purple state – as in 2004 US presidential election

2005: truthiness – from The Colbert Report

2006: plutoed – as in devalued like the planet Pluto

2007: Subprime – below a prime rate

2008: bailout – stock market crash

2009: tweet

2010: app

2011: tergiversate – as in changing opinions like politicians, the stock market, and public polls

2012: hashtag

2013: privacy – Facebook

2014: exposure – having all your information out there

2015: identity – big brother is watching

2016: xenophobia – fear of people of other cultures

2017: fake news – President Trump’s phrase

2018: misinformation – media’s skewed reporting

You can check the definitions of these words on dictionary.com.

American Dialect Society

By the way, The American Dialect Society has been announcing the Word of the Year longer than any organization, and they take it even further. The society chooses the Word for the End of the Decade, Word of the 20th Century, and Word of the Past Millennium. As with the WOTY, we can determine what transpired at that time.

Word of the Decade:      1990s: web        2000s: google (verb)      2010s: they (singular)

Word of the 20th Century:   jazz

Word of the Past Millennium:   she

Examining the Word of the Year provides a history lesson, recalling what happened during that year, and revealing what was the focus. Our language is not a static entity; it requires linguists to update the dictionaries by adding new words, and managing the definitions changed by the times. The English Language is integral for us to communicate, as long as we understand the meaning.

I wonder what the 2020 Word of the Year will be? Maybe it will be hoarding.

Categories
Biography and History Branding Personal Development

From Homeless to a $300 Million Dollar Brand

How Dwayne Johnson wrestled his brand to success

 

 

Everyone knows who Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is today, but fewer know his story and his gritty past.

Before He Was a Household Name

Before you dismiss his success as just some lucky lottery winner you can’t relate to. You should know that when he started building his path to success years ago. He started his journey with $7 to his name the day after he thought his life was over.

After he failed his dream of nearly getting into the NFL. His stardom comes from an unbelievable story of defying a life of adversity.

His story is legendary and as they say: “Legends aren’t born their made” and Dwayne Johnson certainly made a legendary brand from scratch and there’ s a lot to be learned from his unconventional story.

We talk a lot about building personal brands today. But we don’t honestly do a great job of talking about what REALLY, goes into them.

 

Before He Was Famous

His is a story of defying the odds, teaching us that building a personal brand is just that. Personal.

Before being named “Peoples’ sexiest man alive”, before he was ranked as the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.

Before he had a hit HBO show and popular YouTube channel with millions of social media followers and endless blockbuster movies. Before hosting SNL not once but 5 times, and long before Johnson teased a run for president, his beginning started from a place of quiet despiration.

 

 

Early Days Growing Up

Johnson was a regular kid born in California but grew up in Hawaii.

His father, a former professional wrestler who was let go from the circuit. Out of work, the family was evicted from their 1-bedroom apartment after failing to meet the deadlines for paying rent.

Dwayne was 14 years old. There wasn’t much he could do, but he quickly found solitude in a local gym lifting weights.

 

Turning Passion into Purpose

Johnson mentioned in his official Facebook page:

“I started training hard at 14 years old. Not for fame or a competition, but because we were evicted from our small apartment in Hawaii. I really hated that feeling of helplessness and never wanted that to happen again. So, I did the only thing I could control with my own two hands in hopes that one day my family would never worry about being evicted again – I trained,”

 

 

This experience changed him forever.

It was this moment that carved into Johnson a sense of urgency as a survivor. Forced off the island without a place to live.

The family wound up moving to a little motel outside Nashville, Tennessee where he stole steaks from a local grocery store only to realize that he didn’t have a way to prepare the meat in the motel room.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t all he stole.

 

Overcoming His Demons

Johnson joined a gang and had been arrested eight or nine times by age 16.

But thankfully the time and energy Johnson was putting into the weight room started paying dividends when he found himself a fatherly figure in football coach named Jodi Swick who gave him a chance to play on the football team.

Dwayne fell in love with competition and chose a more productive path in sports.

He trained and worked hard eventually earning his way play for the University of Miami. His future was starting to look brighter with pro football a possibility. Until a sudden injury cut his dreams into shreds.

Warren Sapp replaced his spot on the roster who ultimately went on to play in the NFL and became famous instead of Johnson. Crushing his dreams and everything he planned for up to that moment.

 

With Only $7 in His Pocket Left

After graduating Miami with no prospects Johnson went to Canada to play semi-pro for the Calgary Stampeders in 1995 only to be cut from the team after just 2 months.

With no job and a wife to support, Dwayne had $7 to his name and no idea what to do.

He called his father to pick him up and had to move back into his parent’s apartment.

The voice in his head told him. “You’re done. Your life is over. You failed! You’re worthless.”

He later recalled recalled dealing with a bought of depression:

“I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it… I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and say, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK.
It’ll be OK.

I didn’t want to do a thing, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was crying constantly. Eventually, you reach a point where you are all cried out.”.

 

He Had a Decision to Make

He spent that time pondering his next moves and if he even had any at all. Dwayne stayed cooped up in his family apartment biding his time simply cleaning.

Then one day his former Calgary coach called him up and asked him if he was interested in coming back.

But he wasn’t. Instead, Johnson turned to something familiar to him.

Watching his father and grandfather wrestle growing up, he decided to attempt a career in their footsteps. Only to receive some discouraging feedback from his family. After hearing his new career choice his father, Rocky, told Dwayne this was the worst mistake he would ever make.

But that didn’t deter Dwayne. And Rocky agreed to train him anyway. Johnson was able to arrange several tryout matches through the then WWF. He had his foot in the door. The professional wrestling journey for Johnson began in that awkward and disparaging beginning.

 

Making His WWE Debut

His father trained him and just a year after being cut from the Stampeders, Dwayne made his WWE debut in 1996 with the stage name “Rocky Maivia” combining the names of his father and grandfather. Later to be known simply as “The Rock”.

And once again, his experience didn’t go as he planned. The audience didn’t take to him or his character and it seemed as though his father was correct. It was all a mistake.

But Dwayne didn’t give up. He kept pushing forward. He made changes in his character and increased his efforts to stand out and personalize his stage presence. He went all-in.

He eventually won the audience over with his magnetic personality and became known as the most electrifying man in sports entertainment.

Dwayne started using his own catchphrases, so much so, that Merriam-Webster Dictionary officially added his “smackdown” phrase to the dictionary in 2007.

 

Leveling Up

After catching his stride in the ring and with his new and growing fans, the Rock was no longer surviving he was creating momentum.

Rather than being handed obstacles to deal with, he was finally making opportunities for himself.

Unbeknown to Johnson, at that same time, Saturday Night Live wanted to bring a pro wrestler on to host the show.

Because of the charisma he put into the ring, they chose him.

 

Hosting SNL

In 2000, Saturday Night Live asked the now well-known wrestling celebrity to take center stage and host a show.

It was at this moment that the outside mainstream world became aware of The Rock’s personality and energy. Things changed forever. Lorne Michaels recalled Johnson’s first hosting gig in a NY Times Interview:

 

“He has a wonderful sense of timing, he has an innate theatricality and because he projects strength, the audience kind of relaxes with him. He could do nuance, he could do subtle, he could do big and broad.”

 

Johnson stepped up to the plate in a big way.

He took the flame of success he created and added fuel to the fire. He decided to launch a book, a memoir for his life until that moment.

 

Building His Brand

The story of his life became number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Another win that created more awareness and opened even more doors for him.

It was only five years after Johnson had started wrestling, and was thrown very quickly into the world of Hollywood films.

He adapted quickly. Bringing the charm he created in the ring to the studio. But he didn’t just hone his acting capability, he elevated his personal brand and marketing skills as well.

Johnson started changing the way movies were promoted.

Sharing set secrets and behind the scenes shots before a movie premiere used to be taboo. But the Rock turned the game upside down when he inked a deal to get paid an extra $1 million to promote his own movies due to the power to promote his project to his now enormous social followers.

That’s pretty badass.

 

 

And He isn’t Slowing Down

Dwayne currently has over

  • 100 million Instagram followers
  • 58.1 million Facebook followers
  • 13.9 million Twitter followers
  • over 2 million YouTube subscribers

Across all those channels he shares photos, videos, and announcements about the films he’s in as he’s working on them.

Johnson’s posts, featuring things like set photos with fans on set, often create organic media placements.

Creating even more coverage for the films he stars in, and it cost him nothing.

Conclusion

He not only stepped into Hollywood as a player, he quickly learned how to play the game and changed it.

Through his years of talented brand building. He adapted and capitalized by being the most entertaining player in his space.

At the beginning of Dwayne Johnson’s journey, it would be difficult to predict the success he would manifest if any at all. Through his perseverance and determination not to quit and race towards new opportunities, today Dwayne Johnson’s net worth is north of $320 million and climbing.

He’s a 100% certified self-made-man, an inspiration to millions, and the hardest worker in the room. But best of all, through his success, he remained as humble as the man that began the journey.

Threw his story, his actions, and his positive influence, he became a man worth following.

 

“Be the type of person that when your feet touch the floor in the morning the Devil says, “aww shit…there up.”

– Dwayne Johnson

 

For more information visit tylerhayzlett.com

 

Categories
Biography and History Culture Growth News and Politics Personal Development

Will the Draft End at the Hand of 18-Year-Old Women?

Recently, we learned that a Houston Southern District Court Federal Judge ruled an all-male draft to be unconstitutional since it violates equal protection principles. All males must register with the selective service once they turn 18, despite nobody being conscripted for more than 40 years. One would presume this requires 18-year-old females to register as well.

This development brings up a series of debates about female equality, women in the military, and changes in military tech, but an even bigger debate is whether or not we even need a draft.

The Dreaded Draft

Michael lived in fear of being drafted throughout his entire college career. Thankfully, he never was. Vietnam wasn’t exactly a popular war among the young soldiers who were forced to fight it. Most were drafted against their wishes—taken from their classrooms and put right on the front lines with barely any training. Many died, and many of those who didn’t come home with lost limbs, PTSD, and/or drug addiction.

Despite the fact that many women enlisted and served, they weren’t drafted against their will—only men were. This, combined with the war’s unpopularity, ultimately ended the draft.

Both of Michael’s brothers voluntarily joined, hoping for a choice of duties rather than waiting to be drafted. Michael filed for student deferments, which became less and less effective as time went on. His classmates were being drafted and sent away to Vietnam. Many people left the country and were therefore branded as draft-dodging, and “un-American”. Imagine that—being too young to vote, yet you could be drafted at any time against your will to fight a war that you don’t have a say in.

Eventually, the Selective Service hosted a lottery and actually had a woman on TV pulling Ping-Pong balls out of a huge bowl like she was hosting Keno or Bingo. There were 366 balls with a birthdate printed on each. The first balls drawn represented the birthdates of the first young men drafted. Thankfully, Michael’s birthdate was drawn toward the end. But the draft ultimately ended, and so did the war—and the US stopped punishing “draft dodgers” in 1977. What a relief!

Reconsidering Our Votes When it comes to Drafting

What’s most interesting about this story, as scary as the draft was, is that it forced the US to take an interest in the way their officials thought about the draft and the war. The draft was solely responsible for numerous casualties of those who were ripped from the general public to be conscripted into duty.

Today, the debate to eliminate the draft is based on the idea of volunteer-based armed forces—a professional army. While we are eternally thankful for volunteer soldiers’ sacrifices, we worry about the possibility of apathy and a disconnect with the general public.

Wars with a draft did not exceed 4 years, for the most part. Now, they can apparently go on forever! Why? With the draft, it hit too close to home. Now, it’s “someone else’s job.” With the draft, sons were torn away from their careers and families without their consent. But now, with volunteering soldiers, people may say, “They knew the job was dangerous when they took it.” Some folks are even discussing turning certain wars over to private businesses to avoid repercussion.

As awful as the draft was, it forced people to be opinionated and speak publicly about the wisdom of the war. When officials fought for reelection, the vigilant and motivated majority held them accountable. The draft was on everyone’s mind.

But having said all that—we are not in favor of the draft. We are, however, against the kind of apathy that encourages warfare without accountability. Maybe with women now subject to being drafted, we’ll come up with a way to end it all without starting endless wars. Our servicemen and women deserve civilian oversight and constant awareness of the important decision-makers that put them in harm’s way.

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Categories
Biography and History Growth Personal Development

Immigrants Built the U.S. Economy

John Francis Houlihan, Michael’s grandfather, came to the U.S. from Ireland in the late 1800s at just 19 years old. The only trip he could book was to New York, on an ocean steamer loaded up with cattle. All the immigrants were required to make the trip above deck, fully exposed to the harsh North Atlantic weather. It was windy and cold, and the immigrants would huddle against the smokestacks at night to keep warm. It was a grueling trip. But it was on that trip that John met Michael’s grandmother, Nellie, who was also a teenager, and they were soon in love.

When they finally arrived at Ellis Island, they were kept in prison-like housing until they were able to prove that they could provide gainful careers. In those days, correspondence took forever, so they stayed imprisoned for many months. Eventually, John heard that he was offered a job cleaning the Sutro Stable, the San Francisco Police Department’s horse stables. John knew horses, but didn’t leave until a job was also secured for Nellie. She was offered a job as a washerwoman in a San Francisco boarding house.

When they arrived in San Francisco, they came face-to-face with prejudice and open hostility toward Irish immigrants because they would take low wages for lowly jobs. And, they were seen as un-American “papists” because of their Catholicism that originated from the Pope.

They were able to scrape up enough money in the years that followed to make a down payment on their own boarding house. After diligently studying the constitution and becoming naturalized citizens, they earned their American right to vote. John was able to work his way up in the stable and became Head Horseman. And Nellie provided cleaning services for transients and managed room rentals.

Unexpectedly, an 8.6 magnitude earthquake and ensuing fire demolished San Francisco in 1906. The Sutro Stable went up in flames, taking all of the horses’ lives except the mayor’s prized Percheron horses. Despite all the confusion and tragedy, John put his life on the line to save the horses. The mayor asked how he could possibly thank him, to which John replied, “Make me a beat cop in the Irish ghetto,” which was the Mission District. It was where John and Nellie called home.

John in fact did serve as a beat cop, where he would walk the streets of the Mission District for four decades. He kept the peace, fought crime, helped during times of need, and served the citizens. He witnessed the reconstruction of San Francisco. He was at the Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915. The Palace of Fine Arts is the only building remaining from the World Fair that showed the rest of the world that San Francisco was open for business.

John witnessed World War I and saw the flood of Italian immigrants that traveled to the Mission right after. He saw average Americans being forced by Prohibition to break the law. He witnessed the Great Depression, Prohibition’s repeal, and WWII. He saw countless waves of immigrants move into the Mission and work their way toward a better life, just like he did.

During all of that, John and Nellie had three children, two of which died during childbirth. The surviving child, John Charles Houlihan and Michael’s father, was a public servant. He worked alongside others to create containerized shipping. This revolutionized the shipping industry, and reduced shrinkage (or pilfering by dockworkers). Containers could now be locked. This feature alone cut worldwide commerce costs significantly. Container ports were popping up all around the world in the 1970s and ‘80s. Shipping became safe, reliable, and efficient. This means of shipping became the world standard.

American Immigrants Do Not Take Citizenship for Granted

Michael spent his childhood summers with his Irish grandpa, who constantly spoke of the great opportunity America offered him to get ahead. He assured Michael that hard work would pay off in the US. He praised the advantages of American citizenship and was deeply thankful for his chance to get ahead until the very day that he died.

John and his son returned the favor to the country in many different ways, but their lives and their work have improved the lives of many Americans. Think about all the jobs that containerized shipping has created and all the jobs created by Barefoot Wine.

Immigrants are the economy’s backbone. They are the reason why America is “Great”. With open arms, let’s welcome those immigrants who want to work and show their gratitude for the chance to improve their lives. In order to earn the right to vote and become citizens, they must learn about the divisions of government, the right to vote, and why these laws exist, as well as the checks and balances they provide the country.

Americans who are born here don’t have this requirement. They can vote without all of that knowledge, and they can choose to not vote at all. Usually, immigrants don’t take their citizenship for granted. They are eager to understand our government, and they are eager to vote.

Let’s think more about the value of immigrants. Let’s all take the time and effort to vote! Democracy certainly isn’t something that immigrants take for granted. So why should any of us?

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Categories
Biography and History Growth Personal Development

They Think You Are Saying Something Else

Since Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the definition of words has changed. We expect that to happen as we invent new things, as slang words are created, and to keep up with the times. Consequently, new words are needed to name them.

Adding words for those reasons is understandable. Changing definitions of words is difficult to grasp. In Webster’s first dictionary the word “definition” is described as “a brief description of a thing by its properties; the explication of the essence of a thing by its kind and difference.” The definition represents the core of what a word is. To create his dictionary, Webster looked at 26 dictionaries in different languages to determine the origin of each word. He goal was to capture the essence of the word.

Yet definitions are changing from what we thought a word meant. “Truth” went from an “indisputable fact” to an “accepted fact.” What was once the real state of things is now whatever people will allow. “Reality” used to mean “fact” and now means “a resemblance to being real.” No longer does it mean what actually happened. Reality is what anyone wants it to be. The word “Lie” means “to make an untrue statement.” If what is true is what we allow and what happened is somewhat similar to what actually happened, isn’t that a lie? [I use the word lie, since the words fake and phony aren’t in Webster’s dictionary.]

How can anyone understand what a person is saying if we don’t have a common language. Lack of communication is a major source of conflict. We fill in our own ideas and get different messages.

So often we hear that a politician or celebrity has to apologize for something they said. A listener puts in their own interpretation which may not be what the speaker meant. When someone speaks we need to figure out what their message is not what we think it could be. If not we are missing their message. Moreover, we are listening to ourselves. What is the point of listening to someone if you are not going to figure out what they are saying.

When someone does cry out injustice many people fall in behind them, asking for an apology. Immediately others jump on board with the protester. Why would anyone want to agree with someone who is wrong?

Don’t apologize about something a person thought you meant. They didn’t make an effort to hear you. If you have been misinterpreted you don’t need to respond or retract your words. The person who took offense should look at themselves to determine in them what brought about that feeling. That is their issue they need to reflect on.

That is a reason why there is so much conflict about gender, race, and sexual preference. Someone will take what was spoken and twist around the speaker’s words. This causes problems and consequently, creates tension between groups of people.

The media loves to do this. We hear more stories about what black people do wrong and less on what white people do wrong. Why? It fuels the flames of racism. We only see stories about how defenseless homosexuals are and how horrible the people are who oppose homosexuality. Why? It entices the groups to battle. This makes great storytelling. For the media, it’s about ratings, not the real news.

That is why Noah Webster fought for and helped create a universal language. A language that changes as a result of trivial or brief trends will not work. We must have a vocabulary that stands firm in its word definitions.

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