Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year Repeat - Here's To The Crazy Ones...

I first put this out back in July 2017, but with the twists and turns of 2018, and with a new year upon us, it seemed like a good time to re-heat some leftovers.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Here's To The Crazy Ones...

One of the great privileges of writing about the watch industry is you get to meet some genuinely nice and interesting people who are working to create a brand, maintain one, or in some cases?  Bring it back from the dead.  

These are folks that have never sought out the spotlight.  They come in early, they stay late.  They answer the phone when a call comes in.  These are the people you don't read about, you don't see them on the red carpet.  But they are there.

These are also the people that, had they been dealt a better hand at the big poker game?  Or (if we are honest) had a more mercenary approach?  They'd be running "big boy" brands, rolling in cash and swimming in champagne.  

These are also guys and gals that tend to do whatever it takes to ensure that even in bad times, employees will be taken care of.  But these are also the folks that when they put down their chips and place their bets?  They tend to do it with their own money first.

I have a great, great deal of admiration and respect for these brand owners.  It is no small feat to be a mid-level director or employee for a watch brand.  I do not make light of that.  But to gain that experience, then to find a struggling brand, put your money on the table to buy it, and make a go of not just running it, but saving it from certain extinction?  That's some pretty salty stuff!

I realize that these are not the people you will be seeing at the GPHG, they will not be featured by the "elite" watch journalists because, well, it's not like they are going to spend any REAL advertising money, are they?

And that is why it really sucks when despite all of the effort, the reality of the business steps in.  Even with their best efforts, new investors coming in, a LOT of enthusiastic customers and potential customers out there, they just can't make a go of it.

With the big boy brands and the big boy egos involved in this business, I talk a lot about the "Transfer Window".  This is mostly due to the way that the industry has hyped up the image of being the CEO of a watch brand to similar levels of being a professional football player.  Seriously - have you ever seen a consumer magazine for toothpaste?  We all use toothpaste (hopefully) but it doesn't tend to lend itself to the passion and fan worship that exists out there for the leaders of the watch industry.  

But there is a parallel watch industry reality.  One where brand owners and CEOs are not worried about finding a new car partner so that they can have a sexier company car, or making enough in bonus to finally pay off their third home in the south of France.  This parallel watch world is filled with normal people, leading normal lives.  People working hard trying to make a dream come true without the benefit of multi-million dollar investment funds.  People pursuing what in then end turns out to be an unfulfilled dream.

But I hope that some of these dreamers that have been "transferred out" will dust themselves off and get back in the game.  This is a business that can lead to some extremely cynical behavior on every side of the BaselWorld booth.  Trust is hard to come by, and motives are frequently questioned and doubted.  The industry needs some more dreamers, and a few less egos. 

I'd like to leave you this morning with a quote from Steve Jobs that is often re-shared by my friend Rod Hess:

Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs

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