Branding Matters

Adam Morgan - Become a Challenger Brand

May 28, 2021 Branding Badass Season 1 Episode 26
Branding Matters
Adam Morgan - Become a Challenger Brand
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Adam Morgan, the highly respected author of โ€˜๐—˜๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—•๐—ถ๐—ด ๐—™๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ต: ๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—•๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐˜ ๐—•๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€โ€™.

This International best-seller not only popularized the term โ€˜challenger brandโ€™, it also outlined a process for doing more with less and its principles have been widely praised and imitated around the world.

I invited Adam to be a guest on my show to discuss Challenger Brands and learn about his new book titled โ€œ๐—ข๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—œ๐—œ: ๐Ÿญ๐Ÿฌ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐—ฎ ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€โ€. I wanted to learn what it means to adopt a challenger mindset. And I was especially curious to learn about Adamโ€™s surprising fetish.

Joelly Goodson :

Hi, I'm Joelly, your Branding Badass, and welcome to my new podcast. Branding Matters. My guest today is Adam Morgan, the highly respected author of Eating The

Big Fish:

How challenger brands can compete against brand leaders. This international bestseller not only popularized the term challenger brand, it also outlined a process for doing more with less, and its principles have been widely praised and much imitated around the world. Adam's newest and dare I say last book is called Overthrow II:10 strategies from a new generation of challengers. It's a provocative and practical guide to focusing on what really matters. I invited him to be a guest on my show today to discuss challenger brands. I wanted to learn what makes a brand a challenger and what it means to adopt challenger mindset. I also wanted to learn how COVID has changed the way challenger brands go to market. And I was especially curious to learn about Adams surprising fetish was he was generous enough to share with us today. Adam, welcome to branding matters.

Adam Morgan:

Thank you so much. I'm glad to be here.

Joelly Goodson :

So nice having you here. Especially all the way from the UK. What part of the UK Are you in?

Adam Morgan:

I'm in London. I'm in southwest London. That's possibly the rainiest part of Southwest London, it's possible to be in school.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, we actually have quite a few listeners in the UK and in London. So okay, and I read recently that you guys are going to be able to go back in the pub soon. How are you feeling about that?

Adam Morgan:

In decent excited. In fact, today is the day that Britain opens up. So it's very appropriate that we're talking right snowmen rush will probably leave my headphones and head out to the pub straight.

Joelly Goodson :

I bet I'm sure there's gonna be a lineup too. Well, let's get right into it. I want to talk about challenger brands. So you coined that phrase, is that correct?

Adam Morgan:

I didn't coined it, but I popularized it. So the expression did exist in in the 90s, but wasn't widely used. I wrote a book in 99, called eating the big fish that that popularized the concept in effect and made it well known within marketing.

Joelly Goodson :

Yes. And that was an international bestseller, I can see how it would have popularized it. So can you share about what a challenger brand is?

adam:

Yeah, I mean, in any kind of market, right? There's obviously a market leader. And then there's a bunch of other brands and the fact you are second, or third or fourth does not make you a challenge, it just makes you second or third or fourth. So challenge is primarily about a mindset. It's saying I've got a business ambition that is typically bigger than my conventional marketing resources. And I need to do something bold or ambitious to close the implications of that gap. And as part of that, I need to change the criteria for choice in my favor. So I'm going to challenge something about the category or the codes or conventions of the culture that says, actually, you know what, perhaps there's a time and a place for that. But we actually need to rethink our choices. And I'm part of a newer, fresher generation of choices, that is actually a better choice for you at this moment. So challenges challenge something, it's not always challenging somebody, I think we tend to think of it as being David versus Goliath. But in fact, that's kind of an old fashioned way of thinking about challenges. It's much more challenging something about the way that the consumer experiences or decide something about the category that switches the choice to one that suits them and their strength. Can

Joelly Goodson :

you give an example of a popular challenger brand?

Adam Morgan:

Well, let's take Tony's chocolate, do you have Tony's in Canada? No, fantastic, this is a Dutch. So Dutch Wait, you got a treat coming. So Dutch chocolate brand started actually by a Dutch journalist and the journalist was doing in fix supply chain in the cocoa industry, not a terribly exciting you would have thought subject. However, what she uncovered was actually that about 30% of cocoa is farmed using unethical practices, including effectively modern slavery and child labor. And he was so outraged by this, he decided the only way to solve it was to start his own chocolate brand. So he started a band called chalk Chinese chocolate only, which is great fun, it's vibrant and colorful. And the chocolate bar itself is distributed into uneven sized portions when you break it to symbolize the inequality and supply chain. And he's communicating through this in a very kind of vivid way. It's a really interesting brand is kind of great fun, very vibrant, because chocolate has to be that they've grown to be number one in Holland, they're getting the big Dutch retailers to change their supply chain philosophy. It's now in the UK going off like a train and spreading into Europe. So a really good example of somebody who's completely changed the conversation, because what they're effectively asking us is, do you want slave free chocolate? Or do you want the other stuff, right? We've never thought about that conversation before completely changes our criteria for choice around chocolate. Of course, there's only one answer right? If I answer ask you those two things. You're only going to say one answer. And then that is a really good example of a challenge of changing the conversation.

Joelly Goodson :

I love that. I love that idea of that breaking up into the uneven pieces. It sounds like everyone.

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, well it's just pretty funny because they they get complete Right, because people write in and say, Look, this is causing a lot of arguments in my family, and I buy it for the kids, and they divide up between them. And you know, Sally gets a much bigger chunk than then Harry does, you know, can you make it evenly split and have to write back and say, No, look, the reason we've done this is because we symbolize inequality and a supply chain. Just explain that to your kids consumer rights facts. Oh, that's fantastic. And I was really interested, we sat down at a big conversation with our kids about it. So they're making the physical structure of the product, the thing that they re educate consumers with is,

Joelly Goodson :

that's fantastic. What a great, I love that. Thank you for sharing that with us. So if someone was planning on building a challenger brand, what are some of the different brand characteristics?

Adam Morgan:

Well, I think, first of all, you need to understand what your differences are, right? Because that the whole thing about challenges amplify or differences, and sometimes those differences that you can actually have to turn them into strengths and certain kind of way. So need to be clear about what your differences are, and how to amplify them, I think you need to be prepared to be very selective about what you choose to talk about and what you choose not to talk about. So all strategy is about choices, inevitably. But for a challenge, in particular, it's about sacrificing over commitment, I am going to not try and appeal to these people, I'm not going to talk about these messages, I'm not going to talk about these things. So that I can talk specifically about this to this group of people and really overcommit against that. So it's about being very specific about choices. And then I think, thirdly, it's about being quite bold, right, you need to sort of fantastic to view with somebody who's a band called girls allowed. And if you're a fan of kind of multi skilled bands, but anyway, goes about very successful kind of British band. And she she goes on stage, she's just just was on stage, I think, last year for the first time, and she was being coached by her stage coach for her first performance, and she'd been used to being on video. So she'd been used to the video picking up kind of slight nuances of her eye movements or our hands. And the stagecoach says, that doesn't work when you're on stage, right? Because you have to make these big declarative gestures that can be seen right at the back of the gallery. So I think the third part of being a challenger is really, you need to think of yourself as being onstage rather than on TV, you need to make these big declarative gestures that people will notice, even if they're not looking for you. Because you know, the world is saturated by choice. lnj, your job actually is not to expand the choice available to Germany, what you want to do is reduce the choice available to Germany go back to the Chinese chocolate only example, you're trying to say Actually, there are only two choices, slavery chocolate or so. So it's about reducing that choice. So that that sense of drama that says low, this is actually the thing that really matters. Isn't that the thing that you want? That's a really key part of being a challenge.

Joelly Goodson :

You mentioned bravery earlier, I would think that would be one up there, too. A lot of brands would be too intimidated or too timid to take on that and do something like that, even as simple like you said, as taken the chocolate and making it different pieces, or even just making that statement.

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, I completely agree. But I think that's one of the joys of being a challenger, which is you don't have to be all things to all people, you can do brave things. And you know what if 30% of the people don't like it, that's absolutely fine, as long as the other 2025 how many people you're really trying to get to notice it, pay attention to it, talk about it, share it with their friends, that's the thing that really matters. So you're quite prepared to perhaps be even a little polarizing, because actually, you don't need to appeal to everybody. I don't want to appeal to everybody,

Joelly Goodson :

our challenger brands, are they just startups or new companies? Or can a challenger brand be an already existing brand that decides, you know, later on in their lifespan that they want to become a challenger brand?

Adam Morgan:

That's such a fabulous question. So I I've been doing a bit of work recently exploring brands that are over 100 years old and have chosen to be challenges. But I think this is a really interesting example. Because as you say that the mythology is young, hungry, single charismatic founder, you know, who can kind of drive the company forward? So let's look for really old companies with kind of committees in charge of them that have been around for ages. I can they be challenges. And so let me give an example. So Tila milk, if you're familiar with chilima. So it's a dairy cooperative.

Joelly Goodson :

I need more time in the UK, obviously.

Adam Morgan:

Well, no, this isn't the US. This is the US. It's called Tila milk, ti double l a double okay. Okay, it's a dairy cooperative in the pacific northwest of the United States. It's got 90 constituent dairies that make it up. So it's not a single owner driver. They've been around for over 100 years. So it's not a small, funky startup, it's in the dairy business is about as ordinary as an entity as it's possible to be. And in 2012, they appointed a new CEO, Patrick, who kind of came in and said, Look, we've been flatlining for a number of years, I think there's a much bigger opportunity to take a challenge of mindset. So he, he says, you know, what would it mean for us to be a challenger and so first of all, they start to look at what's happening in the food business in in the world but specifically in in the US and says, Well, look, you know, we're kind of up against, you know, big food, right, the worst of big food web, big food companies who are selling cheese tasting products, not even article cheese anymore, you know? In terms of technical description, there's not enough dairy. So right yeah, you know, generally like or cheese flavor. So they great this masuku we are the antidotes to big food and everything we represent in terms of real farmers and real tastes and real people making this as the antidote to it. And they produce this very dramatic series of communications which show you know this synthetic ghastliness being blown up in front of you is part of a campaign where they talk about dairy done right. So they are the challenger to big food and everything that's wrong with big food anyway, To cut a long story short, over a five year period, they increase sales by 70%. They increase profits by 300%. That is about a straightforward, old fashioned to companies as possible to be adopting a challenge of mindset being bolder than they would have been picking an enemy going up against it, and demonstrating the power of that to create growth through a challenge, a mindset to live very long answer to your question, if you're prepared to have a go and and give it enough rigor and boldness. I do think any company can choose to be a challenge.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, I think that's a great answer. I don't think it was too long, because especially with the world right now, I mean, everything's changing the way brands are going to market the way people are branding the way the world is. So I think there's a lot of companies and I think of clients that I work with, that are looking for ways to change up what they're doing.

Adam Morgan:

I agree, I think it's true, of course, the other interesting thing about this is that the kind of conventions that challenges introduce, then become the kind of market default, right? So big companies like p&g have, let's say a whole bunch of new brands, talking about positive positive body positive imagery, for instance. And eventually, they have to respond. So everybody has to keep upping their game. And the challenger has to keep upping their game, because actually, the thing that you talked about five years ago, is no longer going to be the same cutting edge breakthrough idea because everybody's copied you. And the big market leaders copied you it's just become the default setting. So you're right, this this continuous push to kind of upgrade and update and move on. And that's what makes marketing so exciting today.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, and you know, that's interesting. So we talked about your first book that was eating the big fish, how challenger brands can compete against brand leaders. And that book came out. I think the second edition came out in 2009. Is that correct? Yes, that's right. Yeah. Okay. And so now here we are 2021, and you've just written have launched a new book called overthrow 10 ways to tell a challenger story. So what motivated you to write the second book? And how does it differ from the first one?

Adam Morgan:

Well, first of all, I have a terrible compulsion to write books. It's really unhealthy. And every time I promise My wife is perhaps because she helps me do them is absolutely the last one will ever write. Because absolutely, completely miserable experience. If you ever tried to write a book yourself, okay, writing the book thing is, is fairly miserable. But anyway, I decided that I wanted to I get front, you know, if you're if you specialize in challenges, and you kind of evangelize about challenges, talk about them, you get frustrated by people being stuck in the old myths and the old frameworks. And one of the old myths is this David versus Goliath myth, right? It's about challenging somebody. It's a smaller player, challenging a bigger player. And it's about being now old and noisy and shouting and getting up in their face. And at some level, of course, that is a very successful strategy for some kinds of challenges. You look at what Wendy's is doing in the US, for instance, it's doing that really successfully with McDonald's at the moment. But most challenges from the last 15 years have haven't been challenging somebody, they've been challenging something. So I wanted to create a tool whereby somebody who was interested in being a challenge of themselves, whether they were a young brand, or whether they were an older brand, had a broader range of kind of ways of thinking about what that meant. And so it's just a way to try and to give us sort of simple path forward for them to think about different narratives that they could they could use, can you

Joelly Goodson :

share what some of those narratives are?

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, so I'll give you an example. So a couple examples. So you look at oatly, oat milk. So oat milk is one of a range of a new set up products coming in, which are plant based. And they have created this whole concept of the post milk generation. So they're taking on one of the most loved things in the world, which is Darryl Western world, which is dairy, right? We all love dairy, we have lovely associations of milk and childhood and family fridges and that kind of stuff. So it's quite hard to move people on from that. So what they've taken is a kind of chanted a narrative, which is called the next generation narrative, which says, Look, there was a time and a place where actually dairy was right, you know, we, it was a great way to kind of give us protein and cows were great kind of protein manufacturers for us, but actually, the world has moved on. Now we're in a situation with the environmental crisis, where we just can't go on having cows having the same kind of effect on the planet as they are. So let's move on to more plant plant based alternatives. So that was very much kind of, you know, next generation that might have been right then that's fine not criticizing you for liking dairy, but actually we will have to move on now. So that's most of next generation approach. That's completely different from for instance, someone like Dollar Shave Club who you might called an irreverent Maverick. So what they are is kind of very kind of out there very fun, very kind of feisty, kind of poking beige in the eye, mocking vanilla. And they kind of stayed conventionality on big brands, they kind of very famous ad that they did about our blades are effing great, you know, is 25 million views on YouTube? why we love the kind of anarchic, punky kind of humor of the entire thing, completely different kind of narrative, their local heroes, local heroes say, big international choices. Not right for us. Were from round here, deep roots round here. We know you you know us what comes from Canada, or what comes from Uganda, what comes from, you know, this particular town in China is better than the big international option. There's a right there's a whole range of them, each of which I think has a lot of power, you just have to choose, which is the relevant one for you.

Joelly Goodson :

So would you say there's a new challenger generation now that you're trying to appeal to?

Adam Morgan:

I do think there's a new challenger generation in the sense that people are constant looking for something new. I was reading only today, actually, that you probably know this. Google say that 15% of their searches every day, are ones that have never been searched before. So people are constantly searching for new things so that their sense of people constantly searching for new and looking for new is a relatively new thing. Equally, I think that they've been educated this new generation of consumers to be the real disruptors, we talked about brands as disruptors in consumer disruptors, right? Because they've been educated by Uber and fast fashion and next generate, you know, an impossible burger to say, surely Anything is possible now, and it's actually it should be more or less free and delivered to my door in two seconds. You know, can I use Amazon Prime? So there's this really set of unreasonable expectations, which encourages forces, I think companies and brands to really question what they're doing. There's a lovely example I love there's a Toyota dealer, right car dealer in the US called Toyota one. And car dealers, you could argue hadn't really changed a lot over advice. A lot of time, I don't know when the last time you bought a car was, but I mean, car dealership experience, there would have been totally the same as the one the previous one and Toyota want to say, Well, look, you know, we've got to do something that that shows and demonstrates that we are kind of moving with the times. And so when you have your car serviced for the first time, so after whatever it is 3000 miles or something, you take it in, and they put it in a kind of a bay, and you walk across to get your kind of free complimentary cappuccino, and they've changed. So they've serviced your car within three minutes. So you don't actually even have time to go over finish the coffee, or they ask you to come back again. And they do it so quickly. That you know, you generally think well, how is it possible that you've serviced mechanic? You must have kind of shortchanged at some kind of Yeah. And the answer is they kind of approach it a bit like a Formula One pit. So they've had five people working on at the same time, and I checked up in the pits, but they're doing it because they recognize it's a new generation of unreasonable consumers, and they need to in some way in some parts of their service, deliver against that fix. That's the new challenge. A generation that we're having to serve. I

Joelly Goodson :

saw something I can't remember was a video and I don't remember if it was on your website, where I thought it was great, actually, and I think it was some push for pizza. Is that? Can you can you share that because I love that I thought that was a great concept. And you know, you talk about unreasonable consumerism, I thought that was sort of a good analogy that

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, so this is a bunch of teenagers A few years ago, and that the video they have sort of promotional video reflects the moment with a eureka moment where they're sitting back after clearly a very good night, I'm not going to begin to the chest, but it might have been a good night. But they've had a very good night. Enjoy all sorts of things that have made them feel good. And they've got the munchies. And so they're lying around saying I read when the guy says, I really want a pizza now because I really want a pizza too. I just don't want to order it. And so one guy goes, Well, you know, Great, well, what what do you had an app where you could just push the pizza and like a fantastic. That's the idea. And I thought that was such a hilarious thought. Because you would have thought that if you want a pizza, it's reasonable to expect you to order it right. Surely, you know, either you either want it but no unreasonable consumer who has children. Right. We'll leave his children. To do that. We don't want to do that. We want to just push the pizza comes. Yeah,

Joelly Goodson :

no, I thought that was a great idea. Do you have a skip the dishes in the UK? Oh, Canadian. I think it's just Canadian. So have you heard of doordash? In the US? Nope. Okay. So when everything closed down restaurants and stuff, you couldn't go in order anything and none of them weren't delivering. So you can literally go on an app. I wish I had my phone I could show you. And you can pick a restaurant and pick the food on this app. And you have to sign up and then all you do is press it and then you can follow it and see when the driver goes to the restaurant picks up your food, then brings it to your house and then you even get a taxi. Okay, he's gonna be there in five minutes. And then he drops it off and then now it's been dropped off. So it's the easiest way to to easy actually. And you can just order food all the time. Do you have anything similar to that in the UK at all? Well, we

Adam Morgan:

have we have Uber Eats and that kind of stuff. Okay, yeah, but it sounds like this. You actually see the dish, do you it's kind of like a happy meal. So you just click on the visual thing of what you want. So right

Joelly Goodson :

well, it's any restaurant so millions restaurants time. up, just go on the menu and you just press it where I'm going with that is I think it's changed you talk about again, I love that unrealistic, unrealistic consumerism anytime you order anything really. So you want to know like, why can't they just tell me when they're going to be here, for example, we had to have our Wi Fi checked, and we had the provider to come. And they tell you were going to be there between 10am and 4pm.

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, right.

Joelly Goodson :

How come I can get my food and they can tell me the specific, the specific second, it's going to be delivered, but I would need to get my Wi Fi checked. And they can only tell me between this time.

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, I'm furthermore to feed point and tracking it, why can't I track? At least let me track where the person is, right. So I can go to the shops. And I can see if they're going to be around an hour or two hours or three hours. And they won't even do that. And you're right. And you're outraged by it? Because as you say,

Joelly Goodson :

right. It's so funny. So I love the concept of challenger brands. And I think it's a big thing. Do you think challenger brands, especially today? Are they purpose driven?

Adam Morgan:

Do I think a lot of challenges are purpose driven? I don't think they all need to be No, I mean, I think clearly if you are kind of a missionary, and you know you're driven by that kind of zeal, then yes. But if you are, you know, a reverent Maverick, you don't need to be. However, I think interestingly, one of the influence on on this is in his investors. So as part of a research, I went to interview a couple of investors in challenger brands, about the four or five things they looked for in a challenge before they invested in. Now, these are hard commercial people, right, they're not doing it through philanthropy or entre altruism, they're looking for the commercial return. And in both cases, one of the four or five things they look for, is that sense of purpose, or what one of them calls a righteous cause. Because they say not only because they kind of want a brand that's trying to do something different. But because they say it's a talent magnet. And because it creates an emotional relationship and an emotional kind of fire in the belly of the team at that organization that will allow them to push through the obstacles that will come their way. So actually, it's not just a kind of a nice fluffy thing to have. It actually adds a kind of tenacity and resilience and a drive within the team that they found to be very commercially powerful. But you don't think it's necessary? I don't think necessary for all challenger brands, but I do see it getting increasingly adopted.

Joelly Goodson :

Yeah, I'm definitely seeing it more and more. So how would you describe the new challenger generation?

Adam Morgan:

I think you have to look at the new challenger generation in terms of two sides, right? There's a new generation of customers of consumers, while describers Ubers children. So this is this grid, which people were just describing who have been educated by generational challenges to expect the world and expect it now and not have to wait for anything. And they wanted to be free, ideally, and all that kind of stuff. So I think that's one side. And then the other side, I think is that there is a new generation of people coming through for whom actually starting there in challenger is aspirational in a way that never has been before. So again, let me go back to these investors that I was interviewing a fabulous guy, Ernie Schmidt from our investment company called the craft dream. And he's a serial investors, he was tech investor, he said, Look, you know, 15 years ago, gone to see Ivy League graduates and asked them what they wanted to be, they'd have said, I want to be in banking, right? Or a hedge fund manager. 10 years ago, if you taught them what they want to be, they'd have said, I want to be in tech. Nowadays, you go along and ask what they want to be, they say I want to start a peanut butter brand, or Oh, you know, they want to start small challenges, often in packaged goods, right, packaged goods are going to come back again. Why? Because it's just become this very attractive path through life. And it's really hard work. But it's become this kind of very aspirational thing. And barriers have been lowered, it's quite easy to get money, it's quite easy to outsource manufacturer, you don't need that kind of company anymore. There's all sorts of new channels for selling stuff you can influence through Instagram. So the combination of kind of ease and aspiration have meant that actually, to your point, there is a whole new challenger cohort coming through. And so you look at it, you just go to LinkedIn and look at the number of people who have found in their title exponentially larger than five years ago. Everybody wants to do. It's fun. It's exciting. And not everybody will succeed. But a lot of them will kind of gradually change the way in the shape of the categories. They're working.

Joelly Goodson :

Why do you think that is? So that's interesting, you say that you said it's fun and exciting. But why do you think there is that explosion, I guess of more and more people wanting to create their own brands,

Adam Morgan:

I think people have become increasingly disillusioned with large corporates, I think increasingly, people have come to recognize that what historically they thought as a side project could be their main project. I think increasingly, there is an idealism about wanting to do something meaningful and make a change. And often that's the kind of that can be expressed through business, I think, maybe 20 years ago. I'm driven by idealism. I want to make a change. And I want to be in business. That was a fork in the road. Nowadays, it isn't right, you can do exactly the same thing. And I think there is a search for meaning and purpose in people's lives. And they are using the medium of challenges and forming and starting their own challenger to express that and articulate that sometimes for very good reasons. And when well founded way, and sometimes not, but that's one of the reasons we're seeing this flood of opportunity. And I think the other thing, of course, Is that we've been educated that's a pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow if we're good enough, and we're lucky enough, and in a sense, this is us buying our ticket in the lottery and seeing if we've got the substance to take it all away.

Joelly Goodson :

Do you think there's a part of this generation to that there's just so much dissatisfaction that they're just like, you know what, this is Bs, I'm going to do this instead and sort of take on the ownership that they want to be the one to challenge or change it because of their dissatisfaction of the brands that are currently out there.

Adam Morgan:

I do think there is that, clearly, we know that there's a distrust of big government, as opposed to big companies. And that sense of what do I trust? I think there was a fascinating Gallup poll in the states that came out a couple of months ago. But what are the institutions Americans trust based and least, and the ones they trusted, least were big government and big business and big media, the people they hear from most and what they trusted most was the military, interestingly enough, and also small businesses. So that sense is a complete shift in what do I trust? What do I put my faith in and to some degree, therefore, I need to kind of do it myself, right? Because I can't trust Actually, these people that are used to the institution, I used to put my trust into Academy. I'm not sure they're gonna look after me anymore. I need to look after myself. So

Joelly Goodson :

what advice would you give somebody either a new startup or an individual solopreneur? Who wants to be a challenger brand? Do you have any advice that you would share with them?

Adam Morgan:

So I think like, it's this is this is really hard, isn't it? Because there are so many ideas out there. And so many people have those ideas, I think the mistake that people usually talk about, so if you again, let's get back to these investors, what they'll talk about is lots of people have got a good idea, right, lots of people have got a good idea. Some people lost people got the same Good idea. But differences really in Have you got the ability to deliver it and really take it to market and deliver really well execution. Have you put a team around it that you really need. So it's one thing for you to go out and do. But actually, all these challenges are built by successful teams. If you've got the right cross functional team, you've got the right kind of patient investor, who's going to commit to you and stick with you. because inevitably, they're gonna be road bumps, inevitably, it's not going to work out well. And then the fourth thing is, have you got the ability to adapt and flex. That's one of things investors talk a lot about, which is very few startups exists after three or four years in a way that they started. So you've got to have a balance between stubbornness and adaptiveness, you've got to be really stubborn, because actually being an entrepreneur requires a huge amount of stubbornness. On your hand, other hand, you've got to be adaptive, there are some people and some things that you've got to listen to and pay attention to that mean, okay, let's stop doing it like that. Let's flip into another mode. So that's a really hard balance to strike. So there are three or four things, I think that are really important. And then the final thing is intelligent naivety, right? You've got to just believe it's going to happen, because if you knew all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen, you'd never start.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, yeah, that's probably the biggest one because otherwise nobody would start, you know, your fear would prevent you from doing that. Well, those are all great tips. And I love learning about challenger brands and your new book. I want to switch gears here. Before we leave. I'm going to get a little personal here with you because I heard you had a little fetish, which is okay, if I bring it up here. I heard that you have a pencil fetish. And you know, me being in the swag world selling pens and pencils. I was intrigued by that. So tell me about that.

Adam Morgan:

I think as fet shes go, it's quite well, we can talk about here. Yeah, exactl . Exactly. So I think there' two things about it. First of all, I'm very tactile so i like i like atoms. I like readi g books rather than Kindles. I l ve paper. So there's some hing about the way that a penci when you're thinking thr ugh a pencil. And I think throug writing the way a pencil glide , so the paper is unlike anyth ng else. It's not unlike a bal point or if there's there's lite ally a sense of going anywhe e of fluidity of thoughts ref ected in the fluid fluidity of he act of writing that I find ntoxicating. And then secondl , a lot of it's about the sh rpening, right, so I'm, I don't never use a pencil sharpener, I use a pen knife and there's some hing about the act of physicall sharpening a blunt pencil with pen knife. Very carefully. Y u got to do it quite carefu ly and getting those beauti ully kind of chiseled edg s. That's like sharpening t e mind so it literally sh rpens my mind. I once found i malana pencil shop that offered sandpaper so that once you'd f nished sharpening with your pe cil, you could then sand it down even further. And I bought that ut I've never used it. I think keep thinking that's reall weird. That's a really serio s fetish. I'm stopping wit it with the sharpening w th a pen knife but it just it g ves me great pleasure.

Joelly Goodson :

That's me so Have you always been into pencils like has that been a lifelong thing or is that just yeah I used

Adam Morgan:

to I used to draw a lot as a kid and like having pencils first and I I like being slightly controller cuz I use a PC like everyone else. Of course you do, but I like drawing stuff i like i like it. I like fountain pens as well and big sheets of paper. I mean, like, show you that. What if I could lift up my computer? I say. So for instance, I tend to literally have a big pad in front of me.

Joelly Goodson :

Oh, wow.

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, because I like the expansiveness of what it kind of gives you in that great way. So I use a pen knife. That's incredible. So is there a particular brand of pencil that you like, specifically,I know that there are there are lots of different brands of pencils. And I get given lots of different brands of pencils. I love all of them. I love all of them. As long as it's a nice smooth lead. I'm happy with it.

Joelly Goodson :

When I heard that you'd like pencils, I thought maybe it's because you versus a pen, you can actually erase it, do you spend a lot of time erasing and how important is the eraser? If

Adam Morgan:

so, I do have an eraser right in front of me Actually, it's when I bought the other day. That is that I realized it's the first one I bought for about four years, I don't really rub a lot of stuff out. Because one of the things about having a big pad is you don't have to wrap stuff out, right? Because actually, it all stays there in some form. You just shift the balance into something else

Joelly Goodson :

on that pad. As for what do you do with that top sheet?

Adam Morgan:

I fold it up and I file it. Yeah. And then every year I throw it away.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, thank you for sharing that. That's, that's right. It's people are picking and you know, when especially when pens, I mean, again, like I said, I sell tons of pens, right with logos. And the look of the pen to me is not as important as how it writes. It has to write really nice and smooth and you know, not smudge on your hand or anything like that. So yeah, it's amazing. Anyway, little tidbit.

Adam Morgan:

I completely agree. I can understand all of that. Oh, yeah.

Joelly Goodson :

Well, Adam, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to come and join me here and share about challenger brands. If anyone wants to learn more about you, or where they can find your new book overthrow 10 ways to tell challenge tell a challenger story. How can they get ahold of that? Where is that available?

Adam Morgan:

Yeah, so it's o Amazon, then you can reach me o that my email Adam at Big Fis calm. So my company's called th big fish. And if they'r interested in learning mor about challenges, but they wan to contact me, we have a fre challenger project where w share our recent interviews an points of view about challenge that they might find interestin stimulus

Joelly Goodson :

Very nice. And you're on social media.

Adam Morgan:

I'm on Twitter for business stuff. I'm on Instagram for just photos of my local life, which would be less interesting to you.

Joelly Goodson :

And where does the name eat big fish come from?

Adam Morgan:

Well, the first book was called eating the big fish. And at the end of the book, I offered a kind of 10 page summary for people who are interested. And I was using AOL at the time and AOL wouldn't let me use eating the big fish as a handoff because they said it was too long. They may be shortening it to eat big fish. So when I started my company, I just called it that.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, so you wrote the book, and then you start your company after you wrote the book? Yeah. Oh, interesting. Okay, great. Okay, cool. Well, thank you again. Now you can go to your local pub with Do you have What's your name? And or enter your first point and probably one over a year.

Adam Morgan:

Thank you. Yes, I can feel thirsty already. And I'll leave my pencils and my pencil sharp and head straight out.

Joelly Goodson :

Wonderful. Well, thank you again, I really appreciate it. And hopefully we will meet one day in person, whether in Canada or in the UK.

Adam Morgan:

I look forward to it. Thank you very much.

Joelly Goodson :

Okay, have a great night. Bye

Adam Morgan:

bye.