Last week, I wrote about oranges, so it is only fitting that I write this week about bananas…the Savannah Bananas. Nearly two years ago, I walked into my office and found a handwritten thank you note from a stranger sitting on my desk. It read:
Wow, I just want to thank you for the impact The Wisdom of Walt has had on me and the team. From Day 1 joining the sports and entertainment industry, I’ve become a connoisseur of everything Walt Disney, and your book has by far provided the most inspiring and practical action steps. As we are trying to build the most fans first sports experience in the world and build Bananaland here in Savannah, your book will be our Bible to embrace the Wisdom of Walt and bring more happiness, fun, and joy to millions of people. You’ve made a difference in my life, and I appreciate it more than you know!
I had no idea who this “Jesse” was, nor what he was referring to regarding building a Bananaland in Savanah, or trying to build the most fans first sports experience in the world. Instead of tossing the odd note in the trash, my curiosity took over and I quickly discovered that the note came from Jesse Cole, owner of the minor league baseball team in Savannah, Georgia, the Savannah Bananas.
He’s kind of a big deal.
ESPN has run specials on him and his team, and he’s been featured on multiple media channels, TV shows, and newspapers, including CNN, CBS, MSNBC, HBO, Access Hollywood, and The Wall Street Journal. Why? How many minor league baseball teams do you know that sell out every game, every season, and have a season ticket waiting list that is well over 50,000?
What’s the Banana’s appeal?
You can watch a longer version of the story here, but in a nutshell, Jesse believes passionately in the importance of standing out (which is why he always wears a yellow tuxedo), that you have to love your customers more than you love your product, and that you have to love your employees even more than you love your customers!
None of this is normal…and that is exactly his point. Jesse’s mantra is that if you want to find success, you need to “find what is normal and do the exact opposite.”
Once I discovered all of this, I immediately reached out to Jesse to thank him for his kind and personal note. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I woke up and had a video message from Jesse, live from Historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah, complete with his signature yellow tux!
Who does that? I wondered.
No email. No text message. Instead, a personalized video waiting for me, the next morning, in “costume” and from his “office.” Wow! From there, I had an opportunity to be a guest on his Business Done Differently podcast, ironically enough on the Opening Day of baseball season, and write a promotional blurb for his second book, Fans First: Change the Game, Break the Rules & Create and Unforgettable Experience.
There is a lot to learn from Jesse Cole. I want to use the next three weeks to explore his love for Walt Disney alongside his stories about standing out, loving your customers, and loving your employees more…while challenging myself, and you, to do the same.
See you next week…Banana Up!