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  • Joseph Panetta

Winning Really Is Everything

I’m often asked how my brain works – like I understand it! People ask me how I arrive at certain ideas – because what they see/experience is the ideal arrival moment – not the synthesis that leads up to it. It’s like they cannot put faith into the concept unless, to quote my 10th Geometry teacher Mrs. Edon, I “Show my work.”

Sometimes it takes an outsider to explain it and I’ve had that happen twice. This little tale is about one such creative concept and how I THINK I got there….

Key Takeaways:

​Creativity comes from all corners

Apply and adapt what works in one industry across others

​Analogies are akin to brain mapping

Unlock message perplexity using analogies to real life

Stand out by making your message simple

Engagement = immersion

Competitor walks over: “Wow, you guys have a line to talk with you – what gives?”

Las Vegas, January 2020 BC (‘before Covid’). The SaaS platform I consulted with sold to professional services firms (legal, accounting, consulting, etc.) WiE: Winning is Everything is the accounting profession’s only conference on “practice management” and aside from the World of Concrete, potentially a massive snooze fest.

The SaaS company’s premise was about “Client Experience” – how their customer’s client’s feel about the firm. Like Intel – they don’t make the firm, they make it run better for its clients.

How do you bring a message like that to life? Neither accounting nor SaaS are the most inspiring of categories.

It’s Like That….But Different

In high school, I was “selected” to take part in a special course called “Analytical Reading and Reasoning” – it meant I had to be in school a full hour before everyone else. This made a fairly unconventional me that much more “unusual” - Sigh. The course amounted to an expanded use of analogy to understand things we did not yet comprehend. The short form of this is a line I heard many New Yorkers say when I arrived in the late 80’s: “It’s like that…. But different”

What I did not know; what took me years to understand - is that my brain is wired to analogy. I almost only understand new things by linking it to something that’s “like it…but different.”

I am not alone, there is a great book by John Pollack called Shortcut that explains how the human brain seeks connections to make sense of new things.

Back to WiE – in my analogy-wired brain I reasoned:

If seamless customer experience is the goal against a background of enormous accounting firm complexity – it’s like….it’s like…. Well, a watch.

The customer simply wants to know that time it is. In order to deliver that ‘simple’ answer, the firm must master all the moving parts of the back office. There are roughly 155 moving parts in any mechanical watch. Lying behind the watch dial is an interlaced network of highly precise, specifically measured pieces that must move in perfect harmony to deliver that simple response.

The idea was instant (drawing on my former role as CMO for the world’s largest watch company),I brought a prestige watchmaker (Breguet), watchmaker’s bench and some equipment to our booth.

WiE attendees, I guessed, would largely be male and given their higher HHI, it made

sense that if they were not wearing a nice wristwatch, they probably appreciated them. I

was right.

Breguet was a draw. Talking to a watchmaker was a draw. But the offer to place their

watch on a machine that could instantly tell if ran slow or fast was just the bait we

needed. After all, these folks get paid for their time!

The line to our booth stretch longer than the space we had to hold them. The perfect

segue from client experience and “paid for time” pulled our guests in for deeper

dialogues and the company made more connections and sales off its debut at WiE than


By any measure, it was an unqualified success. Thanks to Mandy Hanson, Abir Bandy,

Costa Harbilas and Bradley Cotton CPA, MBA who fought for this activation and made it

work for all involved.

BTW – our booth competition brought putting greens (3 of them brought the same one)

and one brough sofas. #winning!

LOCC connects your ideas to the things your targets care about or are interested in.

That magic is waiting for you – reach out.



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