Jesse Cole runs a baseball team in Georgia, USA, called the ‘Savannah Bananas’, he named them, and as the name suggests, they are all about fun.
He pays a 6-year-old to be a professional high fiver, had an intern put up their hand to be a ‘human pinata’, they have a Coach break dancing on the field, Banana beer and Banana Band, fans are greeted by a Parking Penguin on ‘flatulence Friday’s, and Jesse even has his 1st team players doing a Baywatch parody – all in the name of fun! As Jesse describes it, they’ve created a circus, where a baseball game breaks out.
Also known as the ‘Yellow Tux guy’, don’t be tricked, there’s a lot more to Jesse than just some fun ideas. ‘Fans First’ is the name of his company, and that’s named deliberately too, as he says, the intention is everything.
“It’s the way you make people feel that matters the most”
When I spoke with Jesse on the latest Event Show, he shared some pretty important thoughts, like nothing matters more than the way we make people feel. Whether it be fans, participants, customers, clients, or even more importantly, your team… the way you make them feel makes all the difference.
And it would be a mistake to think all that fun doesn’t have some meaning behind it. I found Jesse to be one of my most interesting, intelligent and inspiring guests we’ve had on the show and I hope you walk away with some ideas to use in your life.
Having some fun is a pretty good place to be. How about the Savanah Bananas baseball team doing ‘Can’t Stop the Peeling’!?
Principles that make a difference
One of the many mantras that stood out from Jesse was when we spoke about a ‘Return on Purpose’, as a form of ‘ROI’, and it works:
the Savanah Bananas have sold out every game for two straight seasons and have thousands on the waiting list
Fans First Entertainment featured on the INC 5000 as one of the fastest-growing companies in America
he has a highly innovative, award-winning, empowered and inspired team around him
and within all this, the baseball team are winning on the park!
It hasn’t all been fun and games for Jesse and his wife, in the first week after buying the club he sold 2 tickets, they sold their house and were on an air bed. They’ve now sold over a million tickets and were recently listed as one of the fastest-growing companies in the USA.
I know we are all making some difficult decisions right now, each of us has our own criteria and considerations, and no proven road map on the right decisions. However – I think my chat with Jesse reminded me of some pretty solid criteria for those decisions, it is all about how you will make people feel. What that decision will make others feel, and how you will feel about it yourself.
It’s all in the experience
What I also realised speaking with Jesse is that what is underpinning his philosophy and success, ultimately, is the experience he provides. To his fans, and his team.
And as you may know, I’m a big believer that we are in a powerful position working in events, in that we have the ability to influence the way people feel. I feel that our work in events is all about the experience we provide, and our approach in ‘Experience Design’ is all about intentionally taking people on a journey, to experience something they want to feel.
So I feel it is a timely reminder, that more than anything else, it is how people feel that will influence what they think, and what they do. Whether they sign up and show up, what they will share, and whether they will show up again.
Jesse and his team are masters at it, and I’d really like to think you will take away some inspiration from this chat, as you design or redesign your event experiences.
Whether that be experiences for fans, participants, or your team, if I can help with that, I’m always available to chat, feel free to make contact with me at any time.
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