Pubcon Keynote Liveblog: Chris Brogan on Mission-Driven Execution

Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group, opens the Wednesday morning keynote with a discussion of spirit and war. He recalls the Spartan war – the training, the vigilance, the stacked odds – and quotes King Leonidas: “Action produces the appetite for more action.”

Chris Brogan at Pubcon Las Vegas 2014
Chris Brogan at Pubcon Las Vegas 2014

Recently, Brogan began competing in Spartan races, modern adventure races that are a cross between running a marathon and getting beat up. There’s a certain shoe that you can only get after completing three Spartan races that becomes a coveted goal of many racers. People are eager to talk about their participation in a Spartan race, and it becomes a lifestyle.

CrossFit is similar – how do you know if someone’s a CrossFitter? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. As with Spartan races, CrossFit enthusiasts adopt CrossFit as a lifestyle and are more than eager to spread the word on social media and talk up the CrossFit life.

CrossFit and Spartan races, Brogan says, are prime examples of brands that have a mission and a story – they’re so much more than simply a membership to a gym – and that’s why people are willing to spend $150 on Crossfit when an inexpensive gym can cost $10 a month.

Keep the mission alive with content and participation. Make the users the content creators. The CrossFitters and Spartan racers are telling the brand story.

Brand vs. Mission

Brand is the outward expression of a mission. Mission is what drives your deepest purpose. Match these well for excellence.

Mission is the mast. Service fills the sails. Content is the drum that calls us together.

Mission and service together is the best it can be.

Make Content Drive Mission

Business is about belonging. CrossFitters feel like they belong to something.

Give people something bigger than the sales pitch and they’ll sell it FOR you.

But YOU have to believe, too.

Start with a need. Owners struggle with making the best use of their freedom and learning how to best serve a community.

Side note: entrepreneurs are crappy with their time – they spend time as if it’s infinite and money as if it’s finite.

The Russell Simmons Method of Marketing

Brogan shares an anecdote – when he gave free webinars, he would have about 100 attendees. When he decided to charge $20 for the webinar, he had more than 600 signups. There’s obviously a lesson there. The small charge made it feel like a value add.

Moreover, in the webinars, Brogan was pitching a $1,000 product. He was working with very different price points, which he refers to as the Russell Simmons method of marketing – because you can find Russell Simmons products in both Kmart and Nordstrom.


Brogan includes messages like this on his site: “We equip owners for success. Not people. Not us. This is a mission. We serve owners and help them own the game they most want to win.”

Doesn’t this sound more interesting than “we want to help you with your business?” What’s on your website? Is it something someone would put on a flag and follow behind? Is it a true mission that people can believe in?


When you hit reply on Chris Brogan’s newsletter, you are able to reply directly to Brogan. Brogan points out that this is important – and 80% of the time, the people who reply are the same people who are going to be willing to open their wallets.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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