I want to personally invite you to join me Wednesday morning at the Averitt Center’s Emma Kelly Theater to meet “The Man in the Yellow Tux.” The Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and the Averitt Center for the Arts have teamed up to bring Jesse Cole best known as “The Man in the Yellow Tux” to Statesboro, Wednesday morning, January 30th. Jesse Cole is the owner of the Savannah Bananas and best selling author of “Find Your Yellow Tux“. The event starts at 9 am with a meet and greet and Jesse will speak at 10 am. Tickets are $20 for chamber and Averitt Center members and $25 for everyone else. You can purchase tickets online on the Averitt Center website. I highly recommend that any business owner, manager or supervisor should attend this event. Jesse’s story and program “How to be Successful by Standing Out” is inspiring and he has a tremendously, unique but proven way of helping you look at your business and life much differently.
Here is a story I wrote about Jesse last year in my column in the Statesboro Herald last year:
A little over three years ago, Jesse and Emily Cole traveled to Savannah on vacation. The Massachusetts native and his wife owned the Gastonia Grizzlies, a collegiate summer baseball team, playing in the Coastal Plain League in Gastonia, North Carolina. When Jesse took over managing the Grizzlies, they barely had 200 fans attending the games. He went to work transforming the experience and saw attendance grow to selling out five to seven games per season. He was looking for a new challenge to test what he had learned in Gastonia in a larger market.
The Coles had already fallen in love with Savannah when they attended a Sand Gnats game and were shocked by how poorly attended the minor league game was. However, they loved the nearly 100-year-old Grayson stadium and saw tremendous potential in Savannah. After doing some research, they learned that the Sand Gnats were pulling out of Savannah. The Sand Gnats cited, as one of the main reasons for their lack of support was “the poor condition of Grayson Stadium”. This was a parting blow to encourage the City to consider tearing down the historic stadium the Coles loved.
Jesse convinced the commissioner of the Coastal Plain League to allow them to start the first ever Coastal Plain League team in Georgia, in Savannah. They would name the team “Savannah Bananas” an idea given to them by a fan. What they have accomplished in just three seasons after, a very rocky start in Savannah, is nothing short of miraculous. For the past two seasons, they have broken league attendance records and are one of the few baseball teams in any division that has sold out their season two years in a row. Savannah Bananas is now the hottest ticket in Savannah. They have over 1,000 people on the waiting list to purchase season tickets even after adding seats and re-configuring the stadium to get as many fans in as possible.
I had to opportunity to meet Jesse earlier this year when Statesboro based concert and event coordinator Will Britt introduced us backstage at the Kane Brown concert at Grayson Stadium. Will coordinates some of the most famous music festivals all over the country including large market events in Atlanta and Boston. Few people Will has worked with have impressed him as much as Jesse.
After spending a few minutes with the “man in the yellow tux” (yes he dresses completely in a trademark banana yellow tux every day complete with a yellow top hat and yellow shoes) his confidence and passion was contagious. No surprise that P.T. Barnum and Walt Disney are two people who inspire him the most. I was immediately impressed with his incredible desire to disrupt an entire industry with a focus on restoring the fun back to the game of baseball. He shared with me briefly his story and his vision for Savannah and the industry as a whole. His book “Find Your Yellow Tux; How to be successful by standing out” had just been released and he encouraged me to read it.
I ordered the book the next day and for every page I read, the bigger fan I became and I had not even attended a game. He subscribes to Simon Sinek’s theory explained in his book “Start with Why” and through Sinek’s thought process named his company “Fan’s First Entertainment” which is also the Banana’s mantra. At the end of each chapter, there are several questions to rate your willingness and ability to disrupt whatever market segment you serve. He also includes a list of books that he has read that have inspired ideas shared in the chapter.
Last year, my family and I snagged a few tickets and attended our first Savannah Bananas game. The best way to describe it is a three-ring circus with a side of baseball. Everything I read about the dancing first base coach to the Banana Nana’s, and all the other stories friends had shared of their experience were exceeded. I now understand what all the hype is about.
But I am even more interested in sharing his book, this experience and his challenge to “begin with why” and the importance of focusing on fun to every business owner reading this column.
“We never could have imagined the excitement and draw regionally that the Savannah Bananas have especially in Statesboro. We have tons of fans from there that are season ticket holders and each season we have a Georgia Southern University player”, said Jesse. “This season it is Mason Miller. Every time he makes a great play or comes to bat the fans go wild. We definitely have a lot of Georgia Southern Fans who love what we are doing”.
The historic stadium does not include a lot of modern technology and that is by design. Jesse understands the desire for families to disconnect for a few hours and have a great fun family experience at an affordable price. One of the unique innovations is including all you can eat food in one set ticket price. This is a great example of his focus on creating the best possible experience for every fan.
“Families need time together without breaking the bank. Food can be very expensive on top of the ticket price for many sporting events. We wanted to simplify the experience and have one ticket price that allows families to focus on the fun and not worry about over spending”, said Jesse.
I asked Jesse if he could share three ideas with you what would his top three be:
- Discover what makes you and your business different.
- Put yourself in your customer shoes. He describes this in the book as a “mirror moment”.
- Do not be afraid to have fun!
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning at the Avertitt Center to hear Jesse’s story. If you can’t make it, buy his book, devour it and then attend a game and begin to start the process of searching for why and rediscover the fun in your business.