What’s Your Big Idea? Featured Interview with Mark Levy

Author, Writer, Founder of Levy Innovation, and Magic Illusion Designer

Magic Illusion Designer Mark Levy talks to Bill Ringle about marketing, Jerry Garcia, and how to  get narrower in order to perform bigger.

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • How one consultant’s business went from earning from about $1800 to over $ 100,000 each month.
  • The single most important thing a business can do to have others seek them out for business.
  • What one consultant did to become #2 best-selling author on 800-CEO-Read.
  • How Jerry Garcia compares the Grateful Dead to licorice to help him think about marketing.
  • The “mentoring perspective” and how it helps stripe away generalizations and hyperbole.
  • The importance of immersing yourself in reading.

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:22 [On what it means to be a positioning expert] “[A positioning expert/consultant is the one who finds] in a business the big, sexy idea of what that business should be about. The thing that people are going to talk about, the differentiated point…and bring that to the fore of the business  so it comes through loud and clear.”

2:14 The story of Bill Treasurer, aka Captain Inferno, and his career evolution from stunt performer with a fear of heights to management consultant to courage builder.

4:32 [On Bill Treasurer’s Big Sexy Idea] “All of Bill’s workshops, all of his keynotes, all of his consulting, all of his material started to revolve around ways of driving fear out of the workplace.”

6:00 Levy describes his early days in the publishing field.

6:55 “The interesting thing in the field I came from, the books I had were identical to the books my competitors had, and identical to the ones my customers had…I had to bring ways of making my product stand out from other people’s products.”

7:57 “After I left the book field, I just took that knowledge of how to sum up what the story was behind something, and whether it should be sold or not, with me.”

8:13 “So it’s like, here’s your compelling idea, here’s what you need to go to market with it.”

8:52 How spotting a trend and taking a risk in the publishing industry helped Mark win over one of his best clients.

10:15 [On taking the leap from publishing to his current career] “I remember that someone hired me to write a book with him, and that gave me the courage to jettison this career…I didn’t leave my work to go to nothing, I had one big client.”

12:04 How attending conferences, and speaking at conferences, helped Mark to jumpstart his “point of differentiation” consulting business.

12:46 “What’s your big idea? And how do you write about this big idea?”

13:19 [Common obstacles and blind spots] – “When people come to me they often think they want to be differentiated, they think they want to stand out, but they don’t really. In order to stand out, you have to have a very specific message, but it has to be for a very specific audience. People are often scared to choose who it is they’re speaking to.”

14:30 “You have to talk to an audience in such a clear way about their problems and their vision and their worldview, and you have to talk about it with such precision. You can’t use the same language and the same ideas for everyone that you’re speaking to. It’s just not going to resonate.”

14:40 [On narrowing your focus] “It seems counterintuitive, but again, because you can’t reach everyone…you just have to be accepting that way to success is too narrow rather than to expand.”

16:11 How Mark helped Sales Training Consultant Lisa Earl McCloud narrow her focus and harness the power of her big idea to have more success in her field.

18:19 “You have to get narrower if you want to get bigger.”

19:16 Mark explains the benefits of targeting subgroups within larger groups.

19:55 [Paraphrasing Jerry Garcia] “The Grateful Dead is like licorice, now some people out there hate licorice, but the people who love licorice, really love licorice. So you find the people who really love licorice, and give them licorice.”

20:54 [On Why People Hire Mark] – “If people knew what their big sexy idea was, they would already be using it. They wouldn’t need to hire me.”

21:38 “[On finding the big sexy idea] –  “I instantly assume that whatever their directly saying is not working to the extent that it should be. So what I need to do when I’m working with them is I question them from such a variety of angles…I try to take backdoor routes to get them to be more honest about what they’re actually saying.”

22:38 The one question Mark asks people to get them to realize their true focus.

24:20 [On why facts are more compelling than hyperbole] “I say to them, ‘Look, I believe your service is remarkable, you even use the word remarkable, what would I see if I watched you delivering this remarkable service? What would I actually see you doing.”

26:57 [On spotting trends in your own business] “I didn’t come up with a claim and find ways of justifying it. I dispassionately looked over my business and asked what are all the ways I’m helping customers?”

28:08 How Mark’s book Accidental Genius helps readers use free writing to take off the limits of their thinking.

30:26 [On the extensive reach of Accidental Genius] “I can’t be everywhere in the world, but the book gets to places I don’t know about and acts as an emissary for me.”

31:01 How Mark uses free writing to stay productive in the midst of a busy schedule.

33:55 [On the importance of varying your inputs and also being immersed in your field] – “It’s very hard to create in a vacuum.”

Expert Bio

Mark Levy is the founder of Levy Innovation LLC, a positioning firm that helps consultants, authors, and other thought leaders increase their fees by up to 2,000%.

  • Marshall Goldsmith, named by the London Times as one of the 50 most influential management thinkers in the world, says “Mark helped me understand who I am, establish my brand, and communicate my brand to the world.”
  • David Meerman Scott, who authored the biggest-selling social media book ever written, calls Mark “a positioning guru extraordinaire.”
  • TED speaker, Simon Sinek, says, “Mark helped me find my why.”
  • Fast Company “Expert Blogger” Cali Yost says: “Mark helped me rethink my entire business in a day. He’s a miracle worker.”

Before devoting his work fulltime to Levy Innovation, Mark served as Chief Marketing Officer at an Inc. 5000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Bank of America, Samsung, Time Warner, Tivo, and Harvard and Stanford Universities.

Mark has written for the New York Times, and has written or co-created five books. His latest book, “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content,” has been published in eleven languages.

Mark has also taught research writing at Rutgers University.

In addition to being a positioning consultant, Mark creates magic tricks and shows. His work has been performed in Carnegie Hall and Las Vegas, and on all the major TV networks. He also co-created the off-Broadway show, “Chamber Magic,” which has played for twelve years, and is the longest-running one-person show in New York City.

For more information, visit Mark’s website.

Contact Info for Mark Levy

Web address: levyinnovation.com

Travels From: Clinton, NJ

Follow Mark:

twitter Facebook

Books by Mark Levy:

Additional Resources Mentioned 

Bill Treasurer’s Courageous Leadership

Lisa McCloud’s Selling with Noble Purpose