Gabor George Burt: Slingshot Your Way to Market Domination | E169

Gabor George Burt: Slingshot Your Way to Market Domination | E169

Humans are never satisfied, and neither are your customers! Gabor George Burt, the global authority on re-imagining boundaries and the author of Slingshot: Re-imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life, knows the secret to staying relevant and keeping your target audience infatuated with your business. The answer is the slingshot strategy which employs creativity and innovation to bring your business from the red sea to the blue ocean, where competition is irrelevant and opportunity is endless. In this episode, Hala and Gabor chat about the five steps to the slingshot strategy, discuss how to keep customers infatuated, how to defy conventional wisdom, and give examples of the accordion chart process.

Topics Include:

– How cultural immersion as a child impacts him today 

– The intersection of psychology and business 

– What is the Blue Ocean Strategy?

– Defining Value Innovation

– Five steps of the slingshot strategy

– What is infatuation integration

– Using feedback to fuel innovation 

– The power of customization 

– Lifestyle enrichment and staying relevant

– What kids and imagination teach us about lifestyle enrichment  

– Defying conventional wisdom 

– The opossum test 

– Examples of the accordion chart process

– Why is it important to have a broad definition of the utility of your product?

– Questions to ask in the accordion chart process 

– Example of the accordion chart process 

– What is the concept of the red ocean?

– Gabor’s actionable advice 

– Gabor’s secret to profiting in life  

– And other topics…

Gabor George Burt is the global authority on re-imagining boundaries and the author of the book Slingshot. He is also one of the top experts on Blue Ocean Strategy, the new millennium’s most influential business leadership approach. He contributed case study material to the worldwide bestselling book of the same name, Blue Ocean Strategy, and originated its most popular blog.

Gabor is actively involved in shaping strategy for a diverse group of international clients ranging from top multinationals & governments to start-ups & NGOs and leads by example through his own initiatives.

He has been cited among the Top 13 Disruptive Visionaries, and featured in influential business publications including Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and others. Gabor is also often a featured speaker at high-profile events, including the World Marketing Forum, the First Arab Innovation Summit, the Forum for Partnership of the Americas, Forum One, among others.

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Resources Mentioned:

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[00:00:00] Hala: Hey guy, Bora, welcome to young and profiting podcast. 

[00:00:03] Gabor George Burt: Thank you. Hello. Wonderful to be with you. 

[00:00:05] Hala: I'm super excited for this topic. I think my listeners are going to really enjoy it. You're a pioneer in business, creativity and innovation, and I can't wait to get into the blue ocean strategy and the sling stretch strategy, which is all about harnessing your creativity in a more systematic way.

[00:00:20] Hala: But first, I want to get to know you better and understand your childhood and how you grew up and how that instilled curiosity in you later in life as an adult. So you were born in Budapest, Hungary, you moved to the U S when you were just a child, you were thrown into an entirely new environment without speaking a word of English.

[00:00:35] Hala: So how did this cultural immersion impact who you are today? 

[00:00:40] Gabor George Burt: Yeah. Thank you for that question. First of all, I like to point out that for a very brief moment in time. I was once the youngest person on earth. Okay. And, uh, I like you do reflect on that because it's true for you. And of course everyone listening in, but it's, it's kind of a, something that we never really think [00:01:00] about, but it's, it's a powerful thing to, to actually keep within us.

[00:01:04] Gabor George Burt: Right. Because everything that I talk about and. All, all the Slingshot platform is at its core is reconnecting with our childhood essence and sense of curiosity and wonder, and creativity. But, but yeah, as, as you said, I was born in Budapest and you were very generous when you said that I moved at a young age because.

[00:01:25] Gabor George Burt: Really I had no choice. Right. I was taken. So I was plucked out of the environment that I knew and thought was, you know, my world and taken to a completely different one. Yeah. It didn't speak a word of English, completely different, uh, uh, space. And, and that had a profound impact on me. As you can imagine, as a child, uh, it gave me this sense of the detached curiosity, a sense of questioning things, you know, why does this work here differently than somewhere?

[00:01:53] Gabor George Burt: Where I, where I came from and also set in motion, this lifelong passion to [00:02:00] travel and to experience new things. So, so yeah, that's a, that's where I think, you know, everything that I do today, uh, over. 

[00:02:08] Hala: So something that's funny is that a lot of the guests that come on my show, they're very, very great entrepreneurs, business strategists, and a lot of them studied psychology in college, which is super interesting because most people who go through that path become a psychiatrist or something along those lines.

[00:02:23] Hala: So what does psychology teach you about 

[00:02:25] Gabor George Burt: business? Well, it's, uh, also, uh, very, um, uh, rich observation that you're making, you know, that a lot of. I have that commonality. Um, I think, uh, for me, it was always this notion about just a deep interest on what really motivates people, right? Why do people behave and do things and think things that they do.

[00:02:46] Gabor George Burt: And that really was the origin of that even without thinking about business. But then when I got into my later studies and got into the field of economics and business, I thought it was the most natural connection because ultimately. Every [00:03:00] single business, everything whole transaction is about people.

[00:03:02] Gabor George Burt: It's about relationships. So understanding what motivates people to buy, not to buy, to be attached to your brand is, is really essential. And it's really at the heart of, I think, any, any successful. Yeah, 

[00:03:16] Hala: 100%. I always wish that I studied psychology for that exact same reason. It's super interesting. So you were one of the first core experts behind a concept called blue ocean strategy.

[00:03:27] Hala: Now, before I even met you, I've heard of this. I've heard of blue oceans. I've heard of red oceans. You know, I got my MBA. It's something that is talked about and these kinds of systems. So let us know what blue ocean strategy is exactly at a high level. 

[00:03:41] Gabor George Burt: Yeah, sure. Uh, so blue ocean strategy is a concept that became a popular.

[00:03:49] Gabor George Burt: About, uh, almost 20 years ago now, first through a series of articles in the Harvard business review, and then a book by the same name, blue ocean strategy. And as the wonderful imagery [00:04:00] suggests it's about strategy that allows you to create your own market space, where you separate yourself from the competition in second.

[00:04:09] Gabor George Burt: A profound way that they become irrelevant, that you have a space to yourself and a mass of customers who are attracted to your value proposition. And in contrast, red oceans is where everybody else is, where everybody is. The same market conditions, the same market boundaries. And they're trying to, out-compete one another over market share and it's bloody and it's highly cutthroat and competitive.

[00:04:36] Gabor George Burt: So that's the basic essence of a blue ocean strategy 

[00:04:39] Hala: call. So I know that one of the core. Uh, blue ocean strategy is called value innovation. And so that states that successful companies, they both use differentiation and lower cost in order to create new demand and create blue ocean market space. So this goes against traditional management views because previously people [00:05:00] used to say, you either need to be highly differentiated.

[00:05:02] Hala: Or be a low cost provider, but not both. So can you explain that 

[00:05:06] Gabor George Burt: to us? Yeah. And that is that, that, that that's kind of a intersection of those two philosophies or those two actions is, as you say, it's, uh, it's not immediately obvious. In fact, it's counter intuitive and that's part of the power of blue ocean strategy.

[00:05:21] Gabor George Burt: So a really good example, perhaps is Nintendo's we, so Nintendo. Before, uh, the we, uh, gaming industry was, uh, by and large limited to 5% of the population, antisocial teenage boys. Right. And everybody competed within that space. And that was the red ocean until Nintendo thought about, well, wait a minute.

[00:05:43] Gabor George Burt: There's 95% of the population. That never plays games. Why? And that why led to them then say, well it's because they don't want to sit passively in front of a screen. So what could we do to attract them? The we motion sensor. And that was [00:06:00] the combination of two separate, traditionally separate, uh, entertainment forms, passive and active entertainment.

[00:06:07] Gabor George Burt: And once they fuse those together, then they broke barriers and now they became irrelevant to 95% of the population. That's the blue ocean. And to answer your question, to see that duality. So they raised the value proposition and that, uh, is, is. Is supported by the fact that for years after the introduction of the, of the, of the wheat, the price on, uh, online and on Amazon was actually higher than, uh, if you could buy it knew there was so much extra demand and it was.

[00:06:40] Gabor George Burt: Lowering the, the actual cost, because the, we used off the shelf components. So they didn't use state of the art technology, which their competitors, Sony and Microsoft, at the time they went the other way, they went very simple and they made money on every one of their modules. So what they [00:07:00] got. Is the value part, that's the value innovation, and they understood what they could let go, what they could eliminate from costs, which was competing on technology.

[00:07:09] Gabor George Burt: So that's the idea. 

[00:07:11] Hala: Hmm, that's super interesting. let's talk about the Slingshot strategy. your Slingshot framework has five steps or five prongs, and I'd love for you to tell us more about that and how entrepreneurs can use this to eventually get to blue ocean strategy. 

[00:07:27] Gabor George Burt: Yeah, that's a great question. And then, so let me also add on that as a way of making the connection between the two clear, so.

[00:07:36] Gabor George Burt: As I said, blue ocean strategy is a wonderful, wonderful concept. And, uh, it has been extremely well received. So it has been translated into over 4 million copies, uh, in, in terms of books and over 50 languages, including Mongolian and Icelandic. So it's, it's, it's really, uh, has, uh, has conquered the [00:08:00] world.

[00:08:00] Gabor George Burt: But in my over 10 years of blue oceanography, Uh, around the world, helping organizations understand and apply the concept. What I discovered was that everybody loved the idea of blue ocean, but it was very difficult for most organizations to actually put it in practice. So there was a disconnect between.

[00:08:21] Gabor George Burt: Aspiration and implementation. And one of the key things was that everybody thought that blue ocean was about having to do something completely new, that you have to abandon what you've done and what you are good at. And so in Slingshot, what I talk about is three levels of blue waters. First is blue lake, which is the most accessible and that's refreshing and optimizing what you're already doing.

[00:08:47] Gabor George Burt: The second is blue sea, which is expanding what you're doing. And the third is blue ocean, which is creating something new. And when you frame it this way, then you can all the sudden [00:09:00] pursue innovation from very small incremental, all the way to transformational. You don't have to sacrifice anything. And you can start out with a blue lake, which opens up the flood gates to much bigger waters to a blue sea and blue ocean as water naturally flows into bigger bodies. So that's one of the key premises. And in terms of the five steps, the first thing I talk about is something I call a customer infatuation, right?

[00:09:30] Gabor George Burt: And to me, That word infatuation is the perfect way to describe the customer relationship that you want to have, because it it's the only word that has a strong emotional component, but also a time component that it's fleeting, that it's temporary. So understanding that anything you do for your customer.

[00:09:55] Gabor George Burt: Has a cycle that they will react to it emotionally and, and really be [00:10:00] excited by it at the beginning. But as it transitions and becomes a new normal, their excitement level becomes less and less is fundamental to understanding that you have now the golden opportunity to continuously renew your offering.

[00:10:15] Gabor George Burt: So that's why I talk about, and then the second is to expand what you do and think of it as lifestyle or work style in. So you don't just want to do something that, that is a functional advantage to your customer. You want to put it in a larger context? How does it benefit the way they live or they, or they work?

[00:10:35] Gabor George Burt: The third is this idea of defying conventional wisdom, so that you want to liberate. And this is where creativity comes in your ability to always ask the what if questions? The, the, the fourth one is, uh, uh, this idea. Of the accordion chart, which is the tool that I use to stretch the definition of what you do, because the broader that you can define what you do, the more [00:11:00] possibilities you have to deliver on that to your customers.

[00:11:03] Gabor George Burt: So for example, Starbucks, uh, the CEO of Starbucks didn't define their business as a coffee, but, uh, but as human connected. Right. And that's a much richer business definition. And the more that you can move into that broader space and show how you, how you connect to these core human values and, and desires the stronger your, your company's relationship and strategic possibilities will be.

[00:11:31] Gabor George Burt: And then the last final step is. Creating blue oceans. Right? So now you have the engine to continuously make blue ocean strategy practical. And so the last step is actually now putting that into strategy and implementing it. So those are the five things. I 

[00:11:47] Hala: love this. Honestly, I feel like this is so helpful for any entrepreneur.

[00:11:51] Hala: So I want to stick on the first step in factuation integration. And so one of the things is that you mentioned is that [00:12:00] consumers are insatiable, so they often need to be reconnected with or with, so that. Keep continuing to be successful as a business. So talk to us about that, the fact that you need to keep kind of re-engaging your customers and keeping them infatuated.

[00:12:17] Gabor George Burt: Yeah. And, and, and, and this is where this idea of psychology comes in. Right. So, uh, I'm so glad you asked about that upfront, because this is ancient wisdom. So the first noble truth of Buddhism says that satisfaction is not real or is that it's fleeting. There's no such thing, right. Recently an Israeli psychologist came up with the concept of arrival, fallacy, meaning that we always think that just the next thing that we want, once we achieve that, once we obtain that, then we'll be happy.

[00:12:48] Gabor George Burt: But once we get there, we realize, no, now there's a next thing that we want. Right. And so. If that is true. And I can show that, uh, just by [00:13:00] simply asking you, or, or, or challenging, uh, our listeners or anyone tuning in to think about what is your favorite thing right now? Something that you purchased, right?

[00:13:11] Gabor George Burt: It could be an object, or it could be an experience, a service that you paid for. What is your favorite thing? And is it perfect? Just the way it is. Or can you think very quickly of things that would make it even better, even more special, more customized, more fun, more comfortable for you. And, uh, and most of the time I don't, do you have your answer?

[00:13:33] Gabor George Burt: Because I would 

[00:13:34] Hala: sure. Um, my favorite thing that I purchased so far on it was is a trampoline, a personal trampoline that I have to work out on. 

[00:13:42] Gabor George Burt: Uh, how Sue, how long ago did you purchase that? 

[00:13:46] Hala: Let's say six 

[00:13:47] Gabor George Burt: months ago. Is it perfect as it is? Is there nothing that you would change on it at this time? It's perfect.

[00:13:54] Gabor George Burt: It's pretty perfect. Ah, you see, there was a Mo there's a shadow of a doubt. You said pretty perfect. Is it [00:14:00] absolutely completely perfect. Is there nothing you would change? That's my question. 

[00:14:03] Hala: Maybe I would make it a little bigger. 

[00:14:05] Gabor George Burt: Ah, there it is. So you see, what I talk about is once you. By something that really resonates with you, like your trampoline.

[00:14:15] Gabor George Burt: Then for a period of time, you will be completely enchanted by it. You will be blind to its faults and just love everything about it. And that's what I call the infatuation interval. Right. But as you start to use it and it becomes. The standard, it becomes the normal, your excitement level becomes less and less.

[00:14:37] Gabor George Burt: And that's when you start to notice, what would you want it to be different about it? Right? How could it be even better for you? And you just started to say something, but what if it was a little bit bigger, right? And as you transition in that cycle into what I call the entitlement period, your feeling becomes that this is, you know, pretty [00:15:00] good.

[00:15:00] Gabor George Burt: This is the, this is what I already have. But this is what I wish I had. Right? And some companies are really masters at actually creating that and that poll to tell you that you're not ready to get our newest product. Great example is apple, right? These are expensive. Our smartphones are expensive products, but every eight, 10 months, they come out with a new version and we feel.

[00:15:26] Gabor George Burt: That is the one we need to have. And we did start disconnecting from our old one. So that's the whole idea of infatuation intervals and the whole, whole notion of infatuation is that understanding the fact that satisfaction is not an obtainable concept. There's no such thing as a permanently and completely satisfied customer.

[00:15:48] Gabor George Burt: And that's a good thing, right? Because if there was whoever got there first would have complete market share game over. No. What we have is a delighted and even better and infatuated [00:16:00] customer who reacts really strongly and positively to what we do for them, because it resonates, but understand that that will only last a fleeting.

[00:16:11] Gabor George Burt: Cycle, and then they're ready to receive our next innovation so that we are in a continuous cycle of refreshing and innovating that relationship. And that's where creativity comes in as our fuel. 

[00:16:25] Hala: Okay. So I want to really dig deep on this cause I think this is super interesting. So entitlement period, like you said, that's when consumers, they start to take notice, they start to provide feedback about things.

[00:16:35] Hala: Things that bothered them about the product. How can we actually use this customer feedback to fuel innovation? 

[00:16:41] Gabor George Burt: Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting because one of the key principles of course, of the Slingshot framework is precisely this, that what you want to do is continuously turn customer pain points and transform them into points of infatuated.

[00:16:59] Gabor George Burt: Right. [00:17:00] So it's not just removing something that bothers or frustrates our customer. That's a pain point, but to transform it into a point of delight and infatuation, it's incredibly powerful. So, uh, my example from before about the wheat, right? The, the major pain point of 95% of the population was that they didn't want to sit passively in front of a screen.

[00:17:22] Gabor George Burt: Now, what did Nintendo's we do it added and combined that experience with. Simulating sports, right. And that created delight, joy and infatuation, right. People couldn't get enough. And every segment of the population from nursing homes to college campuses to cruise ships were playing Nintendo wi games.

[00:17:45] Gabor George Burt: Right. And so it's all about your question is about how to use customer feedback. Your customer's journey with you is the ultimate playing field that you should always [00:18:00] be focused on to improve your business and to make sure that it continues to be relevant. So put yourself in the position of your customer continuously monitor them.

[00:18:12] Gabor George Burt: And once you identify. A pain point or once you start to hear chatter, like you mentioned, like, let's say that, uh, you, uh, mentioned your wish that your trampoline was a little bit bigger on social. Well, if I am the trampoline manufacturer, what I want to do is monitor social media chatter about my products.

[00:18:36] Gabor George Burt: And if I, if I pick that up and you're one of the first adapters, then I want to incorporate that into my next innovation. Right? So the idea is that, uh, you always want to monitor your customers because that is the ultimate goal and mission of your business, right. Is to continuously stay relevant. And in fact, I say, [00:19:00] indispensable to your customers.

[00:19:01] Gabor George Burt: And, uh, Jeff Bezos famously said, when asked, well, what business is Amazon? And he said, well, what we do is that we continuously seek out what do our customers need and want. Right. And whatever that is, we're going to get good at providing that. What an amazing answer. It's not what are our capabilities and how can we best use them?

[00:19:24] Gabor George Burt: Know what we want to know is what do our customers, our target audience, what do they want? What do they need? And whatever that is, we will get good at at, at providing that. And that's really what this is all about is that you can always look at your customers and create offers. That they're excited about, and that creates the cycles of infatuation.

[00:19:46] Hala: And what you're not saying is that we're not creating the perfect product, right. There's no such thing as the perfect product and instinct shot. You explore the idea of the dichotomy of perfection and personalization. So talk to [00:20:00] us about the relationship of perfection and personalization in regards to innovation.

[00:20:04] Hala: Yeah. And 

[00:20:05] Gabor George Burt: this is another great question. Uh, so, so perfection. Is, uh, we hinted at this earlier is a fallacy, right? It doesn't exist. And again, this is something that has ancient roots and cultures. So the Japanese art form of wabi-sabi is all about continuous state of, of imperfection. And so. Uh, I also love the concept that life is a journey and not a destination.

[00:20:30] Gabor George Burt: Right. So that we're always, always in motion. We're always moving and that's, that's the fun part. And, and that's, and that's true, uh, in, in, in business too. Right? So, so perfection is not something that's obtainable and it, and it's a dangerous fallacy for any company to think that it is because it's much more exciting to understand the fact that there is no.

[00:20:54] Gabor George Burt: Perfectly satisfied customer. And that gives us the license to continuously, [00:21:00] uh, explore and develop that relationship and give them new things and new experiences. Now customization on the other hand is really a fascinating concept because. It really creates that deep relationship where in essence companies can outsource part of their work, right?

[00:21:17] Gabor George Burt: To say, you know, you design it for yourself. And this has been really well used by companies like Nike and LIGO, where, where they allow their customers to basically create their own products. It's a wonderful concept. And it was also something that was key with Ikea, which started the whole do it yourself furniture.

[00:21:37] Gabor George Burt: Industry, right. What a brilliant concept in 1950s. So a long time ago, and they said, well, what is the one of the big costs in our industry? Well, it's assembling furniture and then having to store and ship them in, in much larger, uh, containers. I said, well, why. We eliminated that. And that's again, value innovation, right?

[00:21:57] Gabor George Burt: We're eliminating something in this [00:22:00] case, giving people furniture that's completely preassembled, but we packaged it differently. We say to our shoppers and our consumers that we're empowering. To put it together yourself, do it yourself. You're you're building your own house or putting together your perfect apartment.

[00:22:20] Gabor George Burt: And it's the same, uh, it's the same idea of customization now becomes part of the deeper relationship as well as a way to value. 

[00:22:30] Hala: And I think it also kind of relates to the customer feedback because as you implement that feedback, you're personalizing that product for your consumers. 

[00:22:39] Gabor George Burt: No doubt. And that's right.

[00:22:40] Gabor George Burt: So the perception from a customer's viewpoint is exactly that, that, wow, this company is not looking at me as one in millions. But I am special, right? I am actually in a relationship with this company. I can design whatever I want and do exactly as I want. So [00:23:00] on the, uh, on this product, uh, or my, or a service.

[00:23:03] Gabor George Burt: Uh, so it's very powerful. You're right. It's, it's, it's a really good level. 

[00:23:07] Hala: Okay, so let's move on to prong number two. So like we discussed, we need to keep consumers infatuated. And in order to do that, you need to remain continuously relevant to them. So you call this lifestyle enrichment and it's all about staying relevant.

[00:23:22] Hala: So how can business owners scan the horizon and shift course to stay relevant? What are the things that. 

[00:23:28] Gabor George Burt: Well, a part of the, uh, the idea of relevancy is, and that's a good segue is what we already started talking about is you have to always monitor your customers better yet continuously put yourself in their position.

[00:23:43] Gabor George Burt: So be a customer of your own business. And that's one of the first questions that I ask with organizations that I work with. And I'm amazed how often leadership teams are so disconnected from their businesses. Does they're not customer. Of what they sell. Right. [00:24:00] And how could you then possibly understand how to lead this organization?

[00:24:04] Gabor George Burt: So that is one of the ways that, and that's the best way is the most fundamental ways that you can stay relevant. The other is to understand and look ahead. To where the market and the world, uh, and technology where everything is heading. Right. So one of the things I ask, I have a six question test, and I always challenge my audiences to say that I bet you, you won't get more than two out of the six questions.

[00:24:35] Gabor George Burt: Correct? Okay. And from the perspective of really forward thinking, future shaping, strategic thinking, and invariably I, when, and they're very basic questions and one of them is who are your most important competitors, right? And most people will think about it and, and think an answer would their direct competitors.

[00:24:55] Gabor George Burt: And what I say the correct answer is, is whatever is [00:25:00] most in the hearts and the minds of your target audience. Right. What are they thinking about? What are they obsessed with because that's where you want to play. So right now in the wake of COVID, a lot of people, what they're obsessed with is work-life balance safety, security, lifelong learning, you know, a new world order, all these kinds of things.

[00:25:21] Gabor George Burt: So it's a perfect time to ask that question. And in order to stay relevant, You want to provide that answer. You want to provide the solution to whatever they're most obsessed about, because if you can do that and you come to mind when they're thinking, well, you know, lifelong learning, um, work-life balance, uh, safety and, and, uh, community harmony, all these things and you come to their mind, that's a relationship.

[00:25:47] Gabor George Burt: And then you're not only just relevant, but again, beyond that, you become indispensable to them. Right? Live without you. And that's really where you want to be, is that indispensability. [00:26:00] 

[00:26:00] Hala: So I'd love to understand, uh, what kids and their imagination can teach us about lifestyle enrichment. 

[00:26:07] Gabor George Burt: I have. Several occasions where I was with leadership teams of, uh, uh, very successful companies.

[00:26:14] Gabor George Burt: And I give them a creativity exercise. One that I do is called the imagination kits challenge, and it's about a random collection of everyday objects. And the challenge is to create the most fun game that you can out of just these objects and invariably, and these could be the most serious, uh, older, you know, very successful executives in variable.

[00:26:36] Gabor George Burt: Within seconds, everybody reverts to childhood playing and sense of discover. It's a beautiful thing. But, uh, on several occasions I invited children to be the judges, right? And so they become the ones that grade and rank the solutions that the, these very highly successful adults have come up with. So it's a complete role [00:27:00] reversal.

[00:27:00] Gabor George Burt: And what kids do is they have this wonderful disarming way of. Cutting to the chase and asking the most disarming questions that you can not hide behind, you know, industry expertise or. I don't understand why this is a good, good product. I don't understand why this would be fun, right. Or, or how would this really work any of these questions?

[00:27:24] Gabor George Burt: And, and it's that sort of insight that if we can reconnect with that, and that's why I always encourage people who have children. Interacts with their children and, and learn from them, play with them and have them ask questions about what you're doing as an adult. Then you have this, uh, this power of simplification and understanding things that we as adults often over-complicate, and that, and that's the power of that, of that childhood sense of creativity.

[00:27:55] Gabor George Burt: And, uh, and the curiosity. 

[00:27:58] Hala: I think this is a great segue to talk [00:28:00] about the third prong, which is defying conventional wisdom. So what do you think are the most important things we need to know about 

[00:28:06] Gabor George Burt: that one? Well, w would that is, is really this notion that, uh, uh, we have this ability to always ask the, what if questions and by not doing that, but just simply accepting things as they are.

[00:28:19] Gabor George Burt: We're doing ourselves a disservice because we're not utilizing this great resource and, and the quality and ability that we have, and we are not going to be able to fully take advantage of situations that life presents us. Right? Because that ability is ours for the taking. So the idea of defying conventional wisdom is really that reminder that why not.

[00:28:49] Gabor George Burt: Take advantage of it. And there's a wonderful quote, one of my all time favorites by Mohammad Ali who had this, uh, this fascination with the word impossible. [00:29:00] And he said that, uh, impossible is just a big word thrown around by little people. Who'd rather live in the war in a world that they have been given than to explore the power.

[00:29:13] Gabor George Burt: They have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. It's a dare. Right. And that's exactly the point is that let's all take that there, we have that choice. We either accept everything as they are. And just say, I don't want to change anything or. To really harness the power. We all have to make a difference to be part of the future shapers.

[00:29:41] Gabor George Burt: Right. And that's the whole. 

[00:29:44] Hala: Something really fun that I found in your book was a test that you call the opossum test. Can you talk to us about how an opossum represents the ideal business and how businesses can be come more like possums or opossums? 

[00:29:58] Gabor George Burt: Yeah, sure. And, and that is [00:30:00] also one of the other six questions.

[00:30:01] Gabor George Burt: I just mentioned my six question test, which is what animal would you pick to be the perfect symbol of your business? Right. So what is that? What does an animal that you think. Uh, in your mind gives an image of the perfect qualities of businesses should possess. And a lot of people gravitate towards strong animals, like a lion or locally, or, or a, or an Eagle, right?

[00:30:27] Gabor George Burt: Why? Because immediately you're your knee jerk response is. Businesses war. And therefore you want to be at the top of the food chain. It's a survival of the fittest. And to me, that's the fallacy. That's a trap because business is not war businesses about adaptability. It's about, uh, future shaping, developing relationships that are indispensable.

[00:30:49] Gabor George Burt: And so to me, one of my favorite animals as a response to that is steel possum. Why? Because for most animals in the animal kingdom, when they're faced with danger, [00:31:00] They have two types of responses, fight or flight, right? So either they're capable to defend themselves or they're fast enough to run away, but the opossum doesn't accept the, that wisdom.

[00:31:10] Gabor George Burt: So it defines conventional wisdom by having a very unconventional strategy with. Taking a nap, right? Pretending that it is not alive. And when the danger passes, because the predator has no interest in eating a seemingly dead, the carcass they'll pass them, gets up and goes along its way. So, so the point is, is that it's defying conventional wisdom.

[00:31:34] Gabor George Burt: I argue that. Uh, in contrast to other animals who spend most of their time getting ready and being prepared to fight or flight, it doesn't have to invest anything along those lines. It can live a very happy content life, but then I also argue that this defense is only as good as. Animals, don't start to mimic it because if every prey starts [00:32:00] to mysteriously drop that in front of a predator, pretty soon they would start getting pretty suspicious.

[00:32:06] Gabor George Burt: Right. So you need to continuously innovate and that's the point I make to companies. Are you in a possum. So do you have an unconventional strategy that allows you to actually do more with less? And are you continuously innovating so that you're not banking on a past innovation for your future success?

[00:32:26] Gabor George Burt: That's the. 

[00:32:28] Hala: I love that little story. So let's talk about the accordion chart. This is prong number four. It lets you zoom in and out of your offerings, utility definition. So I thought this was super interesting because you basically are saying you need to come up with the broadest definition possible for utility, for your offering.

[00:32:45] Hala: So why is that super important to have a broad definition as opposed to a narrow or niche definition of your utility of 

[00:32:51] Gabor George Burt: your product? And let me ask you, how do you define. So what, what, what business are you and I'm sitting next to you. I have many 

[00:32:58] Hala: visits, 

[00:32:59] Gabor George Burt: [00:33:00] right? That's interesting. So, so then let me answer it this way.

[00:33:04] Gabor George Burt: Keep that in mind. Let's say that I'm sitting next to you at a dinner party, right. And I'm really interested to talk with you. I don't know you at all. So I turn to you and I say, so what do you do? What business are you in? And so what would you be? What would you answer me? What would be your immediate answer 

[00:33:18] Hala: to that?

[00:33:20] Hala: Hi, I'm Hala. I'm the host of a number one podcast called a young and profiting. I also have a social media and podcast agency and I just launched a podcast network. 

[00:33:30] Gabor George Burt: Wow. That's a beautiful answer. Now, if I asked you to limit that to four words, what would those four words. 

[00:33:36] Hala: I am the podcast princess. 

[00:33:39] Gabor George Burt: That is brilliant.

[00:33:40] Gabor George Burt: I love that. And now here's why, and here's the connection. So the accordion chart, and that's why I named it that because yeah, it's like an accordion. You can stretch the definition of your business, but it's not a one way stretch. You can also contrast it. Right. So. That. Yeah. You want to define your business from most narrow to the most broad [00:34:00] space possible, but then decide where's the ultimate between the two extremes that you need to play.

[00:34:05] Gabor George Burt: I already mentioned a Starbucks that it's not in the coffee business, it's in the business of human connectivity. Uh, Nintendo, we talked about it's a gaming company. They define their business. We make people smile for words, right? Ikea furniture company defines his business as creating a better everyday life for words.

[00:34:27] Gabor George Burt: And I'll give you a B2B example, uh, SABIC, which is a very large middle Eastern, uh, chemical company. They define their businesses. Chemistry. That matters just three words. Right? And so here's the reason why this is absolutely critical. If you define your business very narrowly and most companies do that.

[00:34:50] Gabor George Burt: I am in the business of. Providing a service or a product, then your entire focus and strategy and all your future [00:35:00] possibilities are limited to that space. And that's usually the red ocean. When you open that up and you ask the question, ultimately, what value do I bring to my target audience, right. To make myself relevant and indispensable who doesn't want to smile.

[00:35:16] Gabor George Burt: Right? Who doesn't want human connection? Right. Who doesn't want a princess talking to them through a podcast, right? That's where you get really close and into this ongoing relationship with your target audience. It's an incredibly powerful switch. And I can tell you it's the most difficult of all the Slingshot framework components.

[00:35:39] Gabor George Burt: It's the most mind opening and challenging of everything that I do with the, you know, with, with. Partner companies, because people are just not used to thinking this way, but when they do it opens up all kinds of incredible possible. Yeah, 

[00:35:55] Hala: I'm going to do an offsite with my executive students. And I think we're going to use this framework [00:36:00] and go through this accordion chart and really try to think of our blue ocean strategy as a company.

[00:36:04] Hala: So I'm super excited for that. 

[00:36:06] Gabor George Burt: Yeah. And, and absolutely. And, and, uh, let me tell you, uh, what my perfect answer is, right. And it has to do with it's based on a quote by a former army psychologist called Dave Grossman, who said that the human equation. Is to multiply joy and divide pain. Joy shared is joy, multiplied pain shared is pain divided, right?

[00:36:32] Gabor George Burt: It's a beautiful statement. But based on that, what I say is that, and I challenge every company, every organization, and take this to your offsite to say that ultimately, You should think of yourself as being in the business of multiplying joy and dividing pain for your target audience, for words, multiply joy, divide pain.

[00:36:55] Gabor George Burt: Cause that's what people ultimately wants in life. And if you can make them think [00:37:00] that that's what you do for them, that's a relationship for life. And if you can't, if you can't justify that you're multiplying their joy, minimizing their pain and you're sharing in that journey. Like for your podcasts, a perfect way to, to actually deliver on this, then you're going to have difficulty staying relevant than, and even more to be indispensable.

[00:37:20] Gabor George Burt: So there is my, my perfect answer. 

[00:37:23] Hala: That's beautiful. I love that. So what kind of questions are we going to ask ourselves as we go through this accordion chart process? Like, what are the questions and things that you ask people to do in that book? What can they expect? 

[00:37:35] Gabor George Burt: Yeah. And, and so, uh, let me, uh, also say that, because I think this, this is a very fair question for anybody to ask is I talk a big game?

[00:37:44] Gabor George Burt: Am I also a player? Right? Do I, do I practice what I preach? And to me that has always been super important. So everything that I do is, as you said, it, it started from my childhood side. Not only firmly believe everything, but I practice it. So with my books, [00:38:00] How did I reimagine a business book or a leadership book?

[00:38:03] Gabor George Burt: Well, first of all, it's all illustrated by children. Secondly, it has original music so that every single chapter has its own. I think really wonderful, uh, music done by a very talented European, uh, electronic. Right. So you can immerse yourself in the experience. You can listen as you read. And thirdly, I purposely made the book only privately available.

[00:38:28] Gabor George Burt: So I was not obsessed with the book sales or being on the top list, but rather to use my book as a exclusive resource for the audiences that I work with and I'll make the book available to your audiences, uh, happy to do that. But so the questions that I'm asking and people will ask themselves are. Kind of based on what we already, uh, kind of revealed, like in what way can you prove that you were once a child?

[00:38:56] Gabor George Burt: What evidence do you have that you were once. That's one question [00:39:00] that, that, that I pose. In what way do you stretch the definition of your business? Well, beyond the industry that you actually play in, how do you defy conventional wisdom or what is your favorite example of defying conventional wisdom, uh, from business or from your private life or.

[00:39:19] Gabor George Burt: Are you a customer of your own business, right? All these things are. And the whole book is written in a way that it's very playful and very interactive as are all my sessions. So, so it's really all about this sort of continuous, a joint journey and self exploration as you go through, uh, through the whole, uh, 

[00:39:41] Hala: I love that.

[00:39:42] Hala: Okay. So just to make sure everybody's understanding this accordion chart process, which I think is super, super impactful and helpful for all of our listeners, let's take a real life example. Let's take a pizza shop, walk us through how you would take them through this accordion chart process. What are the questions that they would ask themselves or the things they [00:40:00] would need to consider?

[00:40:01] Gabor George Burt: That's great. And by the way, Uh, the accordion chart is the only actual framework tool that has its own chapter in my book. Right. So it's, as I said, it's the most mind expanding. And it's the one that therefore, that I thought was important to actually talk about and, and, and walk through. But, uh, the, the basic idea let's take a pizza shop, uh, is to first ask the question, what is the most narrow definition of your business?

[00:40:28] Gabor George Burt: And you may say, well, we are a local or regionally branded pizza restaurant. Okay. Uh, who are the players in that space? Uh, how big is your market share? How fast is it growing? Right. And most companies would know that right away because that's their focus. The, the, the, the narrow space that they played then comes the disarming question.

[00:40:51] Gabor George Burt: What is one larger definition of your space? And that may be well, not just locally brands. Uh, fast food pizza, [00:41:00] but all branded fast food pizza. Right? So that's not just regional, but national. So now your pizza hut, hungry, Howie, everybody else comes in. Well, what is your market share in that space and who are the key competitors?

[00:41:13] Gabor George Burt: And immediately. You might have been the major player in the, in the locally branded space, but now you're just a minor player in a larger space. And then we keep going, what is one larger definition then you might say, well, just to branded fast food. So it's no longer just about pizza. Now you can have chicken, a healthy choices, burger, every everything else.

[00:41:37] Gabor George Burt: Then the question is what is beyond. And now you say, well, anything that you eat out of the house. Okay. So every with every new level, we get further and further away from your core business. So your comfort level goes down in terms of your knowledge, but your, but your strategic insight increase exponentially.

[00:41:58] Gabor George Burt: And we keep pushing [00:42:00] this one level up to get at least two, six levels. And ultimately that six level could be not just informal eating. But entertainment, destination, right? Because food is ultimately our pizza place you can argue is not just about food, but having fun. And now you see that entire map from most narrow to most broad and every type of company that you possibly could be competing against or could borrow some of their.

[00:42:29] Gabor George Burt: Attributes to put into your business. So it becomes this incredibly powerful one page visual exploration of strategic possibilities across this, this large space that you are most, most people have never even kind of considered. 

[00:42:46] Hala: And that is what you call the blue ocean market. 

[00:42:49] Gabor George Burt: Correct? Right. The further you go to, to the, uh, the broader extreme, the bluer, it is, are bigger, the blue.

[00:42:56] Gabor George Burt: So, so I called the start than the narrow [00:43:00] part. That's where you might find blue lakes, right. Just optimizing what you're doing as you start expanding, you're getting into, uh, into broader. The next up is blue sea. Right? Because now you're expanding what you're doing. And then the further you get to the other end that's when you get into the blue ocean.

[00:43:18] Gabor George Burt: That's right. 

[00:43:19] Hala: Amazing. Okay. So this brings us to the fifth and last prong of your framework, the Slingshot framework, which is blue ocean strategy. So you already told us about the three levels of blue waters. I, something I want you to expand upon is a concept of red ocean. So that's the anti thesis. 

[00:43:38] Gabor George Burt: Yeah.

[00:43:39] Gabor George Burt: So, so red ocean is exactly, as you said, so red ocean is that space, which you don't want to be in. Right. Which is about a price-based commodity like competition, where everybody accepts the same boundaries, the same definitions of customers or market space of products. And you're just [00:44:00] trying to out-compete one another, a wonderful.

[00:44:03] Gabor George Burt: Is that there is a town in England where there was a one pound store, right? Like in the U S we have the dollar stores. Right. So everything in that store was one English pound. And, and it was a, in the center of this town. One day across the street, a new store opened up and the name of that store was 99 P 99 pants.

[00:44:28] Gabor George Burt: So same as a 99 cent store in the U S so 1 cent, one penny, less within three months, the one pound store went out of business. Right. Because everybody went across the street and there was no other factor of competition. Pure price. And that's the definition of a red ocean, where there is really no differentiation.

[00:44:51] Gabor George Burt: And it's a very dangerous space to be in for the reason that this little, uh, story or example just demonstrated. 

[00:44:59] Hala: This was [00:45:00] such an amazing conversation. I always end my interviews with the same two questions, and then we do some fun stuff at the end of the year with them. So the first one is what is one actionable thing my young and profits can do today to be more profitable tomorrow.

[00:45:13] Gabor George Burt: The thing that I would say is that to realize that this is a really singular moment in time, right? Where the entire world, as we knew it, two years ago, no longer exists. So all of us have that choice to take and seize the power that we have to be one of the future shape. Or to wait for others to do it for us.

[00:45:35] Gabor George Burt: And as Paul Romer, who is a Nobel prize, winning economist said a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. So what I would encourage all, all your fans and listeners is to seize the moment and don't waste this crisis, put yourself in position to be one of the future shape. 

[00:45:53] Hala: Hmm. I love that. And what is your secret to profiting in life?

[00:45:57] Hala: And so this can be profiting financially, [00:46:00] professionally, personally. 

[00:46:01] Gabor George Burt: Yeah. And I mean, to me, it's, the answer is easy, right? Continuously reimagining boundaries. Cause I think, you know, that's, that's at core my, my mantra and I think that that does. Empower and enable us to do all those things, to make the most impact, to live the most, uh, meaningful and enriched life as well as to be financially successful.

[00:46:24] Gabor George Burt: So re-imagining boundary. 

[00:46:27] Hala: I love that. What a great conversation. I think this is going to be super helpful to everybody who tuned in, where can everyone learn more about you and everything 


[00:46:34] Gabor George Burt: you do? Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. So I will, uh, uh, as I said, make my book available so I will provide a link to download and, and, and preferential ways to, to do that.

[00:46:46] Gabor George Burt: But, uh, my website is the, is the best way to reach me. Uh, I do have a rather on purposely low profile on social media, but my website and the LinkedIn, you can find him. 

[00:46:58] Hala: Amazing. Thank you so much [00:47:00] for your time. I love this conversation and I hope we get to collaborate again 

[00:47:03] Gabor George Burt: soon. Me too. And this was wonderful.

[00:47:05] Gabor George Burt: I love your questions, your energy and everything that you do. So this was great. 

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