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Malcolm Gladwell’s Keynote Address at IHRSA 2010

If you are interested in hearing some of Malcolm Gladwell’s wisdom, in his own words, click here to see a few excerpts from his keynote address.

Here is a little Malcolm Gladwell in my words, i.e., my take-away on his talk:

Malcolm Gladwell gave a captivating keynote address, chock full of many messages and challenges for health and fitness professionals and the industry, in general.  It is not my intention to summarize his entire address.  I just hope to present and expound on a few of his basic ideas that really resonated with me, and hopefully, will resonate with and/or challenge other health and fitness industry professionals.  I’ve also thrown in a few of my own editorial comments to further support Mr. Gladwell’s points.

As fitness industry professionals we must realize the important role that we can play in helping the majority “society” to apply some sense and sensibility to the concepts of health, fitness and wellness.  What comes easy to us is, generally, perceived as unimaginable and unattainable to the non-professional.

Here are four major points that Gladwell discussed.  As you read through this list, you should realize how many health and fitness professionals—from a multitude of “job descriptions”—can fall into and assist in the major “roles” discussed.

  1. Change can happen quickly; revolutions happen quickly.  Malcolm Gladwell gave the example of how quickly the Berlin Wall came down, once the “revolution” got organized.  In our industry, revolutionary change can be getting sedentary, out of shape, overweight people to become health conscious exercisers.  The challenge is to frame it properly!  Present and position the “program” in a way that it can be accomplished.  Make it, and keep it, simple, achievable and fun.  Then, watch how fast change occurs.
  2. Play the role of the maven, the expert.  Don’t fake it; do whatever it takes to truly be to go-to person in your area of expertise.  Then, take someone on the outside that is terrified by our world (of health and fitness) and make sense and pleasure out of it for them.  The bottom line here is, the only, or best, way someone can navigate a complex/intimidating marketplace is to do it with someone they can trust, and do it with someone with expertise.
  3. Be a connector, or align yourself with connectors.  All the knowledge in the world means nothing if you can’t communicate it and share it with others.  Connectors are those people who know everyone; they are very networked.   At minimum, connectors know someone who knows someone.  Mavens and connectors can be one in the same.  If not, mavens and connectors can and should form a very symbiotic relationship.  Also, don’t hesitate to use the “mavens and connectors” to make sense across all levels of an organization—exploit the specific knowledge and connectedness that the “team” brings to the table.
  4. The more choices that are presented, the less the consumer will buy.  Keep it simple; minimize the choices.  A person needs someone they can trust to take them by the hand and help them make a decision in the world of choices.  In the club setting the hand-guider can be the owner, manager, salesperson, personal trainer, etc.  Each one of these professionals can guide the customer to make and commit to the best choices.  Generally speaking making choices = making money!  The bottom line here is to be careful how much you offer.  Too many “packages,” too many machines, too many classes, etc…and the net result can be NO choices made.
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