Meet Jackie Huba – An Interview with our Upcoming Guest Speaker
May 31, 2017
Meet Jackie Huba!
When Jackie speaks, you never know what will happen. From spontaneous dance-offs in the aisles to surprise costume changes, it’s always a treat for the audience.
That’s why we’re so excited to have her join us in Chicago at our summer conference, speaking about how to build a cult brand.
The Brand Establishment caught up with Jackie recently at her Austin home to see what this sought-after, best-selling author on customer loyalty has in store for us.
TBE: First of all, your TED talk was incredible! (P.S. If you haven’t seen it, watch the video below.) It was inspirational and, I imagine, very challenging for a speaker! How did you ever pull that off?
Jackie: That was the most insane thing I’ve ever done! It was given in front of 3,500 people in the NHL hockey arena in Vancouver so I needed to not only talk about unleashing power – I had to show them! I won’t spoil it but there’s a big reveal at the end. It involved a six-month process of preparation with two speaking coaches, a choreographer, dancers, a costume change and lots of rehearsals.
TBE: So you won’t be traveling with an entourage when you come to Chicago?
Jackie: Ha! No, no posse this time! But I have to admit, that part was fun.
TBE: One of the things we’ll be talking about is our biggest accomplishment. What do you think yours is?
Jackie: Gosh. I think it’s been the continued reaction to my last book (Fiercely You – Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen was published last August). I get Instagram messages from people who tell me the book was life-changing for them; how they’ve been transformed. That’s just the ultimate validation. I love helping businesses. It just takes it to another level to say I’ve helped people become the best version of themselves. Teenagers even write me. At that age, they’re trying so hard to find themselves and figure out who they are.
TBE: 2017 has been a bit of an odd year for branding so far. There have been some very public brand missteps reacting to customers and the changing social climate. Do you see any examples of brands handling it well?
Jackie: Yes, do you feel it, too? It can be hard today to stand out as a brand. It’s really noisy out there. Great brands stick with who they are, in good times and bad. You have to both stand out and stand for something. Take Alamo Drafthouse, the theater chain that’s become something of a cult favorite. Entertainment Weekly called them the best theater in America. They’ll warn you first but they aren’t afraid to kick anyone out who’s rude enough to text or talk during a movie. Well, they wanted to do a ladies-only screening to celebrate the new Wonder Woman movie – just one screening. But some guys started complaining online about discrimination. Alamo didn’t back down. They said, ‘Sorry gentlemen, we’re embracing our girl power.’ They’ve gotten great PR for their follow-through.
Southwest Airlines is another example. They can be funny, even kooky. I mean the founder used to dress up as Elvis for events! They also live their brand so well that they can execute quickly. On Texas Independence Day in March, a customer tweeted to Southwest that they should provide free Whataburger (another famous Texas-based brand) on their flights to celebrate. Well, someone at Southwest thought the dual Texas brand collaboration was a great idea and thanked him for it. Within a matter of hours, they were treating travelers in Dallas to free Whataburger meals.
TBE: We know your speaking schedule takes you everywhere. Do you have any favorite places you like to hit up when in Chicago?
Jackie: I used to live in Chicago so I know it well! One thing people will want to check out is Garrett Popcorn. The best popcorn in the country can be found at their flagship on Michigan Avenue. They have these big metal popcorn tins you can get. They’re famous for their caramel and cheese combination – sweet and salty together. It’s amazing.
TBE: What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened at one of your speaking engagements?
Jackie: I like to create talks where everyone feels they’re a part of it… a shared experience. To demonstrate concepts from my book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, I bring Lady Gaga’s perfume with me and I give it away. It’s a great example of how she incorporated her brand into a product that reflects her. The fragrance is black in the bottle – a little scary looking – but it sprays on clear. She actually pushed the fragrance manufacturer, Coty, to figure out how to do it and they got a patent. Well, at one of my talks in Berlin, everyone wanted that bottle. I didn’t know who to give it to so we decided to have a dance-off. The whole room turned into a dance club. One lady in the back row was even up on her chair dancing.
TBE: You’re so busy. What’s your favorite way to de-stress and relax?
Jackie: Well, it’s hot already in Austin. Summer is definitely here. So tomorrow, I’m sitting by the pool with a margarita.
TBE: Ahh, enjoy! And thank you for your time. We can’t wait to see you in Chicago!
For more information on Jackie Huba, visit her website @ jackiehuba.com.
About The Brand Establishment
The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.