This episode is a review of David Mannheim’s appearance on the Strategy Sessions.

It’s another solo episode from me, which was shot live on location in Santo Domingo. If you don’t watch podcasts, it’s worth watching this one because my shirt needs ironing and it looks like a pit lane interview from F1.

Listen below or find it on SpotifyApple and Google or just search for Strategy Sessions wherever you get your podcasts.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Why I’m in the Dominican Republic
  • I cover the Friedman Doctrine and
  • Why brands matter to people
  • The Artic Monkeys

Strategy Sessions Host – Andi Jarvis

If you have any questions or want to talk about anything that was discussed in the show, the best place to get me is on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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Interview Transcription

This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.

[00:00:01.020]

Right. This is a new and different podcast for me on the Strategy Sessions. I’m at an event. I’m at the MacardExpo in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. I’m showing off a little bit? Yes, I am, but I wanted to record it here. It’s got to go out on Tuesday, so I didn’t really have much of a choice. We are just outside in the Expo Hall, and it’s an incredible event. I’m not here to talk to you about the event. I’m going to review David Mannheim’s episode, but I just wanted to show you, let’s just have a look at this huge event that’s taking place here in Santa Domingo, and I’ve managed to land a job here speaking. It’s incredible. Thank you for indulging me in this for a minute. But what I’m really here to talk to you about is David Mannheim’s episode. David is someone I’met at an event, which is why it’s quite important to… I think it’s important to come because you meet people and you build relationships with them that you don’t build in any other way. David became a friend and I thought, Do you know what? He’s doing amazing things with Made with Intent.

[00:00:58.490]

I thought I’d bring him onto the podcast. What we did was talk about many things, but the thing that really impressed me about him and the bit I wanted to dive into is when he started talking about how he feels let down by brands that he works with. There’s two points to this. I think brands are always going to let us down because of what is now known as the Friedman Doctrine. I’ll dig into that in a second. I also want to talk about why it is that we love brands so much. If we look here, there’s Mercedes, a brand here. This whole event is full of great brands. I just want to talk about those two things for a little bit. I’m going to take a seat here. I’m going to have a sit down in the sun in the 30 degree here in Santo Domingo. I’m going to talk to you about these couple of bits. I’ve got my notes because I can’t do it all by memory. There we go. Old man sits down. The first thing is the Friedman Doctrine. I mentioned it in my LinkedIn post, and I think it’s important to understand for marketers what that is.

[00:01:53.780]

Milton Friedman wrote about the main job of companies is to provide a shareholder return. And while that sounds brilliant, and it’s now the preeminent doctrine when it comes to how PLCs work and how PLCs run. The whole thing is everything has to be about shareholder return. Now, David then talks about how Disney’s gone from being about the place that Walt Disney said should be for everybody to being a place that is just scalping people for prices. Everything’s gone up above inflation, rises in prices, and you feel like you’re just a unit of money making for the Disney Company. Now there’s a reason for this, is that shareholder return. It’s the company’s job, according to the current doctrine, to do the best thing for the shareholders. That really means charging as much as you can. You can see in the Disney headquarters, they are probably, and I’ve never worked with them, probably saying things like, We’re at X capacity, so we must be pricing right, or, If we go above that, we can put the prices up. Spend per head must be going through the roof. High five. We’re doing amazing things. But it doesn’t feel right to me.

[00:02:55.340]

That feels like there’s an issue. I am a fundamentalist when it comes to customer centricity, when it comes to putting your customer first, I believe that that is the way to maximum shareholder value. The Friedman Doctrine doesn’t say how you create shareholder value, but what it’s been interpreted in modern capitalism is basically make as much as you can, as quick as you can. Quarterly earnings calls where stock goes up or down based on how much money you’ve made is now the preeminent way of doing business. It’s all about short-term return. I am aware I sound hopelessly naive with this talking about how we should focus on our customers first and keep them as the main thing who we want to do and put them at the centre of everything that we do. Because if you do that, you do generate shareholder return. They talk about you, they rave about you, they tell all their friends about you, and that generates more and more business. David is a self-confessed Disney super fan. He has a Disney season ticket, effectively. I can’t remember the name of it. He’s been, so many times, it’s absolutely terrifying. And he is, in modern language, the millennials would call him a Stan, is an absolute Disney Stan.

[00:04:02.090]

For the older people amongst you, that’s a reference to Stan from the Eminem song, who’s a superfan, but there you go. David doesn’t talk positively about Disney. So when you have a company that is switching off their super fans, you can start to see the long-term effect of that. To quote, I think it was Hemingway, when someone said, How do you go bankrupt? He said, Well, gradually and then suddenly. I think this is what the quarterly earnings calls and the short termism of the Friedman Doctrine leads to. It leads to your business starting to tank gradually and then suddenly. Now you probably argue that Disney is doing pretty well without me whinging about it. But I think as a fundamentalist, it comes to customer centricity and putting your customers first. I think that’s where we go wrong. I think there’s a bit of putting the cart before the horse. Do I think Disney got it wrong? I think the whole concept of how we take modern-stage capitalism is wrong. I’m not talking about burning the system down. I’m not going to join the revolution or anything like that. I’m too much of a centrist for that.

[00:05:03.460]

But I do think that we need a system that prioritises what the customers need. And if you look at some of the real companies who do that really, really well, and I’m struggling to think of many who do that, to be honest with you, but if you look at companies at certain points in their history, you do it well, let’s put it that way. Apple being one of them, Disney at some points as well, I think that’s when you see them jump ahead when they really prioritise customers first. The second thing I think I wanted to cover was just why brands matter to us as people. It’s a bit maybe like a thesis that you would get if you were a sociology major doing a degree. Why do brands matter to people? It’s interesting. It’s probably too quick for me to explain here, and I don’t think I fully understand it or could explain it, but there are things that we look for in life that we attach value to. And it might sound daft when David says he’s a Disney fan and a Man United fan, but you look at people’s social media profiles, they describe themselves in terms of their family, their pets, the car they drive, the sports team they follow, maybe sometimes the brands that they wear.

[00:06:07.600]

Whether it could be Nike superfan or Puma or whatever. Or Puma, as I’ve had to start calling it here in the Dominican Republic because nobody understands me when I say Puma. I don’t know why people do that, but I do it. You recognise yourself through certain things. It becomes part of your personality that we recognise how we behave and what we do through these things and through these brands. I think when brands tap into it properly and they do it authentically, it can be really powerful for them. How do they do that? They put their customer first. I think if you start to set out to say, We want to be the brand that people do this for, I think you get it wrong. I think you do the right thing and you do the thing for your customer. I think with that, you can then start to be the brand that people attach and associate with and put part of what it means to them and their life into your brand. That can be a dangerous street as well, because then it becomes hard to change. When people attach value to a certain thing, it becomes hard to change.

[00:07:04.930]

You look at the Arctic Monkeys, for example, are a great brand. Huge brand, one of the biggest in the country at the minute. But their style has changed hugely over time, and people are upset. People are genuinely angry that they’ve stopped knocking out the same music that they did 20 years ago. They’re different people now. But because people still have their identity attached to that band at that time, it’s really difficult to let that go. I think what I’m saying is I have absolutely no idea how we change this, how we update it, why it’s hugely important. It’s maybe something we’ll revisit in another podcast with me or maybe with another guest. We’ll talk about it in more depth. So yes, I don’t have an answer to that. I think the answer that I have is focus on your customers and everything will be all right. Whether you’re Disney, whether you’re another brand, or whether you’re just starting out in marketing, that would be my advice to you. Enough rambling for me. I am going to go back to enjoy what is left of this wonderful day here in Santa Domingo. I am going to go and sweat some more as it’s nearly 30 degrees.

[00:08:03.780]

I am going to practise my Spanish, which is utterly terrible. The only Spanish  really learned being here is how to say talk to your customers in Spanish, which is I believe, habla con tus clientes, which has now become my catchphrase here. I’ve said it in my presentation, so much that people are now coming up to me and going, “Andi, habla con tus clientes“. So yes, talk to your customers and everything will be all right. Next week, we’ve got a special surprise for you. Rory Sutherland, do you remember him? Rory was the last podcast in Season 3 and broke the internet for me. Easily the most streamed podcast across YouTube, the most listened to podcast on the audio streams as well. He’s knocked off Mark Ritson from the top spot, not that we’ll tell Ritson that. And Rory’s decided to come back and do a second episode. That is out next week. It comes out on Tuesday. And yeah, well, a week today, a week after this episode comes out, I haven’t got the dates for me because I’ve got my calendar’s on my phone, which you’re watching this on. Thank you very much and we shall talk to you again after the Rory episode.

[00:09:06.400]

I’m going to try and round that up before Christmas, but it is an absolute doozy of an episode and I’m not sure I could do it just this and round it up. Thanks very much. Goodbye.