Posted: 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, 2013
By Damian Bazadona
A conversation with Peter Mack, vice president of experience and innovation at Tough Mudder, the company that hosts extreme obstacle course events.
Tough Mudder, a $70 million company that hosts extreme obstacle course events, reaches to the heart of what today's consumers are looking for: A way to connect deeply with the people around them while achieving profound self-fulfillment and achievement (not to mention an awesome Facebook profile picture). Peter Mack is vice president of experience and innovation at the Brooklyn, New York business. Prior to joining Tough Mudder, Mack was the senior director of sales strategy and operations at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. I recently sat down with Mack to talk about creating great experiences for customers.
What are your primary job responsibilities?
I spend most of my time trying to figure out the next big thing we can do. I come up with ideas for innovative new obstacles and overall course designs. I think about event innovation and the way that people assemble teams. At the end of the day, it’s always about delivering new, unconventional, and mind-blowing experiences.
What makes Tough Mudder a brand that you have to see to believe?
You can see people having their lives changed right in front of you. A cool aspect of Tough Mudder is that people wind up overcoming a lot more than they believed they could. Teamwork and camaraderie make people much stronger and much more capable than they are on their own. Watching people overcome substantial obstacles in person and seeing the look on their faces before and after is pretty amazing.
What would you say is the best thing about working in the experiential business?
I’ve been in the experiential space my whole life. One of the best things about it is the knowledge that, when done well, great experiences bring people together, whether they're sharing the actual experience or telling their stories afterward. After a Tough Mudder event, in barrooms around the world and in offices on Monday mornings, people tell amazing stories of how they overcame something immense. They talk about the wonderful people they met and the crazy team costumes they saw on our course. Once you’ve delivered an amazing experience, the storytelling that comes after the fact makes it that much better.
What characteristics do entrepreneurs need to be successful in the experiential business?
Intuition and compassion. The ability to care deeply and understand what satisfies and fulfills others is not an easy thing to come by. It's something I work on all of the time. The more open you are to understanding other people, the more deeply you can understand what fulfills them and what they desire. That’s the key. If you can’t figure out what makes people feel satisfied, fulfilled, and happy, you’re nowhere.
Tactically speaking, you have to be someone who thrives in environments with a limited amount of time and space to deliver something special, whether you're checking a hotel guest into a great room or hosting a huge event. Experiences are perishable goods. And they're usually very complex and detail-oriented.
What's your definition of success?
For me, personal success is defined by how many people with whom I connect deeply, how I can make myself feel fulfilled by connecting with others, how I can help myself change for the better by connecting with others, and how I can help others change for the better by my connection with them. In my professional role, it’s delivering an experience that can change people for the better, give them satisfaction, and make them smile.