A few times a week, Mark Wyzenbeek of Auburn, Washington, dresses up in a perfectly hand-crafted Superman costume and goes about his daily routine. He fills up his car with gas. He goes to the local bar. He buys milk. Mark follows a pretty normal routine, except he wears his Superman costume. In his words:
“You can go into a bar and be a fly on the wall and look and watch what everyone else is doing and be yourself and not really have to interact with a lot of people. You can turn around and go into that same place with a costume on and everyone just has to interact with you.”
Mark originally started dressing as Superman after his wife suddenly died in a tragic car accident. For him, dressing up is one-third an homage to his wife, another third an indulgence of his comic book fandom, and the last third is for the reaction and joy he gives to others.
“As soon as someone sees you, you know their day is going to be different. They have a story to tell.”
If we dissect Mark’s Superman hobby based on the four rules of a Blender Event, we see that Mark created the perfect Blender Event to engage the Neutrals on his Dance Floor.
Rule #1 – Bring It To Them: Mark doesn’t sit at home with his Superman outfit, instead he goes to where the most number of people are trafficking in his town. The Neutrals on your campus won’t come to you, you have to go to them.
Rule #2 – Positive Reaction: Mark admits that some people do make comments that could be taken as a jab, he says his response is to always respond with kindness. In the end, Mark says even the toughest of critics have turned around and given him a hug, smile, or thanks.
Rule #3 – Connect The Dots: Mark isn’t trying to “be the big event,” rather he’s taking situations that most people take for granted, like filling up on gas, and creating an experience out of it for others to remember. He’s putting a smile on the faces of others in what are otherwise normal daily moments. Most of the time, your students on campus aren’t at your big event, rather they are engaged in their daily routine. In what ways are you creating stories on your campus out of the ordinary?
Rule #4 – It’s Cheap: Mark handmade his costume. The financial cost for him to wear his costume and change the day for hundreds of people is very nominal. Mark, however, is very clear that low cost shouldn’t mean low quality. If you are going to commit to hosting a low-cost Blender Event on your campus, don’t let low-cost equal low-quality.
“Authenticity is the key to being taken seriously. If it wasn’t 100%, I’d be letting down the costume. I’d be letting down the people looking at it.”
One final lesson of Mark’s story that every campus leader could take away is that he approached his Blender Event with vulnerability and passion. He’s not blind to the fact that wearing a Superman costume isn’t normal; he is, however, willing to be vulnerable to give others a positive moment in their otherwise boring day.
Wearing a Superman costume a bit too much for you? Maybe wearing a Free Hugs shirt would be easier. What are you doing to create moments for others on your campus?