This was an unassuming instant classic of a Podcast. Todd has too many nuggets of insight, you need to listen to this podcast.
Stan Lee was a humble and genuinely a nice guy
Todd McFarlane has some amazing Stan Lee stories. The first time he met him it was at a ComicCon, before Stan was a “big deal”. Todd asked if he could ask Stan a few questions, Stan grabbed a chair and said “sit down and fire away”. Todd sat there for the next five hours asking questions to one of the greatest creative minds who ever lived.
That interaction set in motion the world that would be Todd’s creation.
Later on in his career, Todd got to introduce Stan at an event and said some nice things about him. Stan was flattered, and the next day he offered to tag along with Stan to any show he was going to. This was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Stan was always enthusiastic, he had the energy of someone half his age. The only performance Todd went on with Stan where he wasn’t overly joyed to be there and enthusiastic was his last stage appearance before Stan passed away.
The one really cute story about Stan Lee was that very often, on a stairwell or small hallway, just before they were to go on stage to thousands of screaming fans, Stand was turn to Todd and say “Aren’t we the luckiest guys? We get to do THIS today? We’re so lucky.” Every appearance he cherished, he never took fame for granted. He loved to talk to fans and would allow strangers to ask him questions for long periods of time.
Stan Lee was a wonderful human, we could all learn a thing or two from Stan.
The Four Pillars of Spawn (Toys, Video Games, TV, Movies)
This was an inspiring part of the podcast. Not just because of all the things Spawn did, but how Todd went about it.
Build a strong foundation, if you have a strong foundation you can build a skyscraper on it.
He believed you needed a strong foundation to build off of and wow was he right. When you have four pillars of creative business you can play each off of each other. Each success begets more success. He sold the distribution of his toys without even a prototype to Toy R’ Us. This was remarkable because 99% of deals are made after seeing a prototype. Turns out the buyer had an assistant who Todd had talked to.
Be 3% better than the average
When he went to make his toys he immediately realized how poorly the market treated these toys. No quality, all cost savings, no price fluctuations. Todd was going to turn this industry upside down. All he needed to do was to be 3% better than the average (which at the time was pretty bad). The toys were built first and then priced out, the opposite of how the big toy manufacturers operate. He tells a funny story of other toy manufacturers telling him he couldn’t sell toys for more than “the price” they sold them at. Which he found to be absolutely wrong. People will pay for quality, they always have and always will. You just need to figure out what your customer want.
How do you get a meeting with MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL?
You buy a $3 million baseball, that’s how. Todd couldn’t get a meeting with anyone from any of the big 4 sports in the US. How could you make headlines AND get a meeting after that? By purchasing something so outlandish that people will never forget you. That’s what Todd did. The $3 million was basically all he had at the time but when asked if it was a good investment his answer is: “We made $3 Million many times over once we got the deal to make MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL player figurines. Was it worth it? You better believe it!” The number of interviews, news articles, and media appearances turned him into the guy who bought the BALL! Now he could get a meeting with ANY executive from any of the sports. After all, he just spent $3 Million on a baseball!
Sometimes doing things that “signal” your worth in a unique way are much smarter in the long run than just simply “trying to get the meeting” the traditional way.
Lower the bar of expectation, “today won’t be perfect”
I loved this part at the end. If you lower your expectations you’re always going to be satisfied. The problem if most of us are afraid to lower expectations. Tell yourself that “today won’t be perfect” and you’re going to meet your expectation almost every day. And when you do have that perfect day, well then it’s a pleasant surprise.
Today won’t be perfect and that’s okay.
If you’ve never been the first on the dancefloor, you aren’t cut out for entrepreneurship
Todd tells the story about how he and his wife love to go dancing. Many times, they’re the first on the dancefloor and that doesn’t bother him one bit. Why would it? Why would he give power to a stranger? Why do we all give power to strangers? We don’t have to. We can stop caring about what others think of us.
The first step is to be willing to be the first on the dancefloor.
What’s your big purple elephant? And how can you get people to keep looking at it?
When Spawn would go to comic conventions Todd always wanted to be different. That’s why when given the chance, he bought a box car race car, painted it extreme (on brand for Spawn), and brought it to comic conventions. What happens when you bring something to an event, that no one has ever seen there before? They stop and stare, they ask questions, and they take pictures. All the things you want people to do at an event where you’re marketing your comics and toys.
On top of the unique race car, he took it a step further. He painted one-half white, with the logo having red splattered all over it like they’d hit a deer on the way, and the other half was the Spawn logo on black, a little scarier and much different. He tells the attendees he wants to finish the car so you need to vote for their favourite side.
He never tallied the votes, he just wanted people to stare at his logo on two different sides of the car, emblazing it into their brains by the end of it. Genius.
How creativity happens (it’s not as planned out as you think!)
Spawn’s suit can change itself, but that wasn’t always on purpose. During the early stages of the comic, Todd admits to not following the precisely same design after each comic. Some readers noticed the suit was different and inquired about “why” the suit was changing. Todd says you can either admit you’re an idiot or you can play along with the mistake. And that’s why the Spawn suit morphs, changes, and sometimes has a life of its own.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!