Pardon my French, but John H. Patterson was an 1800’s bad ass!

Living in Dayton, Ohio and having a father-in-law who retired from NCR, you hear all kinds of great JHP stories.

He formed and owned National Cash Register in 1884. He established the world’s first sales training school. It was not uncommon, it is said, for him to demand his mangers go on morning horseback rides. And to fire someone if they rode incorrectly, because, “If you can’t manage a horse, you can’t manage my men.”

Patterson was a presence!

When presenting to a large group, if he felt like he was losing the room’s attention, Mr. Patterson would stop talking, he would slowly take off his glasses, drop them on the floor and step on them … the crunch would suck everyone right back in. He would then calmly reach into his inside jacket pocket, pull out a spare pair, replace them on his nose and continue where he left off.

It was also said that, to hold attention, he would seem to “forget” a word during presentations. The first person to help him “remember” the word would be handed a crisp ten-dollar bill. From then on, everyone hung on to every word he said, just in case another one was “forgotten.”

He knew how to own a room.

As a presenter, I love this stuff! But, as a marketer, there is also a great lesson here. Even a bad ass company owner with a reputation for having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to firing managers can lose the attention of his men. What chance do YOU have of holding the attention of a stranger who did not invite you into their home?

I don’t know who counts this stuff, but it’s said that the average American experiences about 5,000 marketing message per day. My guess is that they SEE or HEAR about half of that, pay attention to half of what they see and remember much, much less.

If you’re going to be remembered, you need to break through, to stand out, to disrupt! You need to take a few chances and break a few pairs of glasses. Whether your message is in-person, through a smartphone screen, computer monitor or on a big ol’ billboard, you need to own the room.

During this year’s Super Bowl, Amy Shumer and Seth Rogen told the world about Bud Light’s “biggest caucus in the county (but it’s not too big, like, you can handle it.)” and The GoDaddy service guy proclaims, “I’m a tool!”

You don’t need to go all pseudo-Presidential and allude to your body parts to own the room, but you do need to take chances.

First, determine what emotion you need to tap into. Will you make them cry? Feel sentimental? Do you wanna scare the hell out of them? Or make them laugh? To really impact human emotions, you’re going to need to push the limits of your message. And sometimes, to find that line, you need to step over it (you can always walk it back a bit later).

All I’m saying is that “We Offer Free Checking,” or “Look At Our CD Rate,” or “We’ve Got Great People,” ain’t gonna cut it. This approach is the same as that brown paper bag of a fella who has no interesting stories to tell and only talks about himself going into a party and trying to make friends with everyone in the room. You can actually watch as the sea of people part when they try to escape his self-proclaiming of “I drive a great car,” and “I’ve got huge poll numbers, I do great with the Hispanics and …” (Sorry, I’ve been watching too much CNN.)

John Patterson said, “Before you try to convince anyone else, be sure you are convinced.” When you are convinced, you can speak passionately. When you’re passionate, you can be confident enough to push the limits of your message. Is this the greatest marketing article that you’ve ever read? I’m convinced that it should be. But, at least I took a chance.

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