Lonnie, like any other kid, had people he looked up to. For him, it was pro wrestlers—Andre the Giant, Captain Lou Albano and Moondog Mayne, to name a few. But unlike other pro wrestling geeks from the 70s, Lonnie didn’t emulate them via watching TV. He was up close and personal.
Moondog Mayne, the National Wrestling Alliance United States Heavyweight Champion and wrestling “bad guy” was, after all, Lonnie’s dad.
It was his exposure to the wrestling world—specifically the way his dad treated the fans—that gave Lonnie the tools to run his business.
“My father was a larger-than-than-life character playing a role in a larger-than-life and very unusual industry,” Lonnie says. “While some people probably find the crazy atmosphere I was raised in less than ideal for a child, the diversity of humanity, the passion, and commitment to never disappointing fans—their customers—has impacted every professional decision I’ve made throughout my career.”
Lonnie Mayne is president of InMoment, a customer experience optimization company based in Salt Lake City. Essentially, InMoment collects customer stories and uses them to help brands offer a better experience. Lonnie’s ability to really understand customers’ stories is rooted in his childhood experiences.
He specifically remembers sitting in the locker room with his dad before a match, and he watched Moondog prepare for the fight.
“I could see the bad guys and the good guys next to each other and kind of choreographing the show,” Lonnie says. “Then they’d go into character. … Those doors would fly open and he would go out into this crazy energy, this crowd that was going nuts. Then the doors would shut; I never got to walk through the doors with him.”
The show young Lonnie got was far better than the one put on for the audience, though, since the wrestling world literally went home with him. He recalls an evening when Andre Rene Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant, was at his family’s house for dinner.
“I was scared to death of him when he used to stay with us,” Lonnie says with a laugh. “He was like 7-foot-4 with an afro!”
Lonnie remembers his mother had just purchased a new dining table. And as Andre sat down for dinner, he leaned against the new piece of furniture and broke it.
“She kind of walked over to him and hit him on the arm and said: ‘Andre! That’s a brand-new table!’” Lonnie says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Mother, don’t hit this guy!’”
Of course, Andre, like most wrestlers, have their stage persona. And Lonnie’s dad was, for the better part of his wrestling career, a baddie. Lonnie even remembers watching his dad throw an old woman’s cane into the audience (it was all part of the act).
The senior Mayne was, in reality, a very kind, very generous person.
Moondog would often be inundated with admirers wanting to talk to him and get his autograph. Instead of turning them away, Lonnie’s dad would always engage.
“My dad would always take the time to talk to everybody. It was very impressionable,” Lonnie says. “As I got older and as I got into business, I reflected back on that from an experience standpoint and I realized what my dad was doing: creating an amazing experience for people. He was creating an even more personable connection with individuals.”
One specific moment stands out in Lonnie’s memory. His father was talking to a fan when the man complimented Moondog’s shoes. So Moondog took the shoes off and gave them to the fan. Utilizing showmanship and really paying attention to what customers want rubbed off on Moondog’s son.
Even the concept of shoes stayed with the young boy.
“His ability to know and personalize the experience to his audience—whether he was in the ring entertaining, or on his way to the dressing room making a quiet, personal connection with a young fan—showed that he sincerely felt a deep responsibility to each person, in every interaction, and in a way that stands out. I refer to this ‘stand-out’ approach as ‘Red Shoes’ because people definitely take notice when you don a pair!”
Lonnie says he likes to foster a “red shoes” culture at InMoment, where he and his team will even wear red Chucks to a meeting to help set the experience apart for their clients. He’s seen that giving the audience what it wants—just like his dad did by playing up the bad guy role but being approachable when the spotlights turned off—really pays off. Lonnie’s team will personalize a client’s experience whenever possible, “from white lab coats for a pharmacy client, to our entire home office staff decked out in a retail client’s logo.”
“The spectacles obviously have an impact, and give us the chance to explicitly state our commitment to our partner to work side-by-side as a co-creator of their business success,” Lonnie says.
Who knew being immersed in the world of professional wrestling could have such spoils?
Wrestling geeks should be armed with Lonnie’s story the next time someone calls them out for their obsession. There’s a reason it’s so successful: It seeks out what the audience wants and gives them more of it. And really, what better way is there to succeed in life than to emulate those who are successful?
Just heed Lonnie’s advice.
“If somebody says, ‘Hey, I like those shoes,’ put yourself out there and hand them the shoes.”