Rebel Stories

Paul Pirozzola

Chemist turned B2B Marketer; innovator with over 15+ years working for, leading or supporting big/small; private/public; start-up/well-established; for profit/not-for-profit companies.

What has been your most notable rebel accomplishment or experience?

My entire career has been built on moving companies away from outdated business models and cultures to newer, bolder and more sustainable ones.  My greatest accomplishments have been infusing a healthy disruptive thinking in all of the companies that I have worked for; through new product/service development, adapting different business models/activities or simply creating a successful environment for growth.

It has been my experience working for many B2B companies that most of these companies struggle with defining, establishing and valuing marketing as a core competency for their businesses.  Unleashing the strategic value of marketing is often a rebellious effort at B2B companies (especially in the modern era).

When did you first realize that you are a rebel?

5th grade.  We couldn’t afford nice uniforms, so I made our small, country school basketball team wear green headbands against the rival private Catholic School– to showcase our spirit (and not-so-directly) confuse the opposition and get them to focus on something else but playing, defending, and scoring.  As they spent time laughing at our headbands, we racked up an early lead.  Ultimately, we beat them — and we had no business beating them.  Our coach said,  “I don’t get it, but keep coming up with those ideas.”  I knew I was different.

What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?

Celebrate the small wins.  Like in sports,  not every team wins the championship.  But many teams have great years, great wins, and great journeys.  Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

What is your favorite rebel characteristic?

Healthy instigation.  Being able to instigate in a healthy, constructive fashion.

What’s your favorite question?

How do I know change my [insert: culture, department, strategy, biz model, engagement, job purpose, corporate impact] ?

What one clue tells you you’re effecting positive change?

You are asked to be involved (not leading) more game-changing initiatives.  More money is being allocated for changing initiatives.  You are spending less time justifying and more time implementing.

If not– you one step closer to martyrdom– and we all know how that turns out!

What do you think it’s most important for people to understand about rebels?

They are purposeful, strategic and company/customer first.  So many times, I have encountered non-rebels at work that misconstrue rebel behavior as one of the following: undisciplined, not for the company, or simply not purposeful or aligned with business goals.  In fact, rebels are quite the opposite in most cases.

Rebels see the same end game as non-rebels, but choose a more disruptive or less defined way of reaching it.  I challenge anyone to spend an hour in the gym with me or an hour in a product development session with me or an hour with me and a customer — then tell me I am not purposeful, strategic and company first!

What’s your one word piece of advice for rebels?

Genuine.

Be genuine.  Laugh, cry, swear, fight, sleep, mourn….do all thee things that make others realize you are human– and not a spreadsheet or a plan or God-forbid, a “manager”….

What’s your one word piece of advice for non-rebels?

Rebels will never forget who supports them and encourages them — and will be your strongest allies and most genuine companions in your career.  They won’t tell you what you want to hear  so be confident in yourself and LISTEN; don’t placate.  We can tell.

Where do you think rebels are most needed today?

No doubt about it– in high-end manufacturing.  In a world that still struggles to make high-end manufactured parts with the quality, ingenuity and speed that is needed to be sustainable.  Those U.S. companies that resisted the temptation to give away (read:outsource) their decades of high-end manufacturing/engineering competencies are at a cross roads and need rebels to help parlay what they still have into competitive advantages in the marketplace.  Creating new conversations with customers, developing new business/innovation models, and inventing the new value-props for the future…those arenas are where rebels shine!

Who is your favorite rebel from the past 100 years?

So many to choose from, but I always thought Elvis was the most remarkable and most disruptive rebel of our time, and he did it in a genuine fashion because he had talent, demeanor, and grit.  In a time when it was hard to connect and hard to “go viral” his innovative spirit in music, movies, and style  inspired millions, and still does from generation-to-generation.

What’s the one thing you should never say to a rebel?

Yeah, but.

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