This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Ty Montague. Ty is co:founder and CEO of New York-based co:collective. co: is a growth accelerator that works with leadership teams to develop purpose-led business strategy and to implement that strategy through innovation in the customer experience. Founded in 2010, the co: team has been fortunate to work with everyone from Google to IBM, MetLife, PUMA, Microsoft, Capital One and many more of the Fortune 500.
Ty has been named one of the 50 most influential creative people of the past 20 years by Creativity Magazine, as well as one of the Top Ten Creative Minds in business by Fast Company magazine. He is the author of the best-selling book, True Story: How To Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business.
And that is where I want to focus with him in this episode – how we can best tell our story and use it to grow our business and ourselves.
Ty was an unlikely entrepreneur and somewhat of a late bloomer. He started out in New Mexico and didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. He worked as a raft guide and an auto mechanic before moving to New York where he worked as a bartender.
He met someone across his bar that was in advertising and told him to explore it. He took to it and was good. He ended up working at some of the top firms with a lot of success. About 15 years ago, Ty began to notice the differences between advertising and what companies actually were doing. He also saw a new kind of business, one that had a story and conveyed the story through action and the customer experience than through paid media.
Ty came to call these companies “story-doing” companies rather than “story-telling” companies. As he compiled his list of these companies, he found a new passion for them. This caused him to leave traditional advertising in 2010 and create Co-Collective to help companies define their higher purpose or quest - then help them put their quest to work throughout their business and with customers.
Talk to us about story-telling vs. story-doing…
- The first company Ty noticed that was a story-doer was Starbucks. He noticed they didn’t advertise traditionally. Starbucks built their company on a quest and creating an experience like no other for customers.
- Others included companies like Redbull, Tom’s Shoes, Tesla and others.
- As he studied these companies, he found that they operate in a different way.
- Ty then codified it.
Take us through what you codified…
- Companies need to figure out their quest. People want to do business with companies that share their values – and companies need to define their values.
- A quest is a crystallization of your higher purpose as a business, the generous change you want to see in the world, and the rallying cry that want to use to get all of your employees and customers to follow you to the goal you want to achieve.
- This comes from experience, truth, and the company’s’ DNA.
- The story has multiple parts.
- It has the truth about the protagonist which is the truth about the company’s – the challenges/opportunities they face and secret weapons the company has.
- It has the about the stage they are on. The truth about the market and landscape that the company’s story plays out on.
- It has the truth about the participants or customers. Who is the company for and how can the company help the participants get what they need out of the relationship.
- The truth about the antagonist. Who is the dragon the company is working every day to slay?
- Once these are defined, you use them to become a story doer.
At the 13 min mark, Ty gives an example of a company using Tesla that has all the elements of the story and what they are…it’s best to listen.
- A good quest should be the answer to the question, “What business are you actually in?”
The protagonist and antagonist are half of the quest, what is the other half?
- It is what you do with a quest once you have it.
- It is important the CEO participates in this and signs off.
- Once you have the question, you determine the actions to make it a reality.
- The business model is defined by the quest.
- The things you do inside your company is defined by the quest.
- It should determine the things you celebrate and reward in your company, so it is real for employees.
- The quest informs more traditional marketing. Your branding, messaging, communications.
- The quest also determines your capabilities.
At the 19 min mark, Ty talks about Apple, it’s quest, and the changes since Steve Jobs’ passing.
- Steve Jobs referred to Apple computers as bicycles for the mind.
- Believe it or not the most efficient form of transportation ever created is the bicycle. It is easy, simple, and efficient. Apple’s quest lives in that.
At the 22:30 mark, Ty goes through a checklist of questions a company needs to answer about its quest.
- Do you have a clear purpose in the world beyond making money?
- Have you done the work to define and align on your quest?
- Does your purpose frame the business that you are in and are you using it as a tool to define your internal culture and customer experience?
- Is your purpose being used to drive and action and engagement with employees and your customers?
- Does your purpose define a clear enemy, so it’s not just what you are for, but what you are against?
- Have you focused on a few transformative actions that bring your purpose to life in the world?
- Are people outside the company engaging?
How does “story-led innovation” fit into this?
- Ty uses the example of Redbull in thinking they are the action sports sports company that is on a quest to help us push out limits and live our lives to the extreme.
- Redbull created their own event Flutag, instead of putting their name on advertising at events and now it has hundreds of thousands of participants a year.
- Your quest will help determine where you innovate and how you differentiate.
What is something an entrepreneur can do today around story-doing that will make a difference for them?
- Ask the first question. What is your purpose outside of making money?
- How is your purpose going to make the world a better place, inspire employees to want to help accomplish it, and inspire customers to be a part of it and tell others about it?
What other trends are you seeing in business, entrepreneurship, and marketing?
- Diversity on your team is something every entrepreneur needs to think about.
- Millennials and Gen Z consumers will pay attention to that.
- Beware the shadow side of being quest led it being a novelty. Authenticity matters. If you are not doing your quest, people will call you out and expose you.
With all you’ve done, what has surprised you most on your entrepreneur journey?
- How much Ty loves it.
- He worked for people into his mid-40’s and it felt like a real risk.
- His only regret is not doing it sooner.
- Make the leap!
Best Quote: Companies need to figure out their quest. People want to do business with companies that share their values – and companies need to define their values.
Ty's Misfit 3:
- Quit caring about what anyone else thinks. The best most successful people pursue their truth and don’t let people get in their head.
- Figure out what you would do if you won the lottery and start doing it right now.
- Try to leave the world better than when you came into it.
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