2 Insights Entrepreneurs Can Take From Marty Crane and His Chair

That ugly, green recliner symbolizes the downsides of comfort, a reality entrepreneurs need to appreciate.

learn more about Allen Adamson

By Allen Adamson

Paul Drinkwater | NBCU | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

John Mahoney, the wonderful actor who played Martin Crane, the cantankerous but lovable father of the insufferably snobby Frasier and Niles Crane on the series Frasier, died February 4.

I watched Frasier when it aired in the 1990s, and I watch reruns these days on Netflix when I need a dose of humor (which is often). It's a great television series that has stood the test of time.

Related: What Netflix Habits Reveal About Your Target Audience

It is Mahoney's character, Marty, from whom Joel Steckel, co-author with me of Shift Ahead, drew two business lessons for our book, which is about the struggle that companies face to stay relevant in today's hyper-fast market.

Keeper of the chair.

The first lesson is actually about Marty's chair, a bilious green, duct-taped recliner which he brings with him when he moves in with Frasier. As we write in our book, this chair, and Marty's attachment to it, are emblematic of why some companies can't shift ahead of exponential changes in order to stay current.

Like Marty, they're creatures of habit. They want to hang onto things that are in their comfort zone, that are familiar, especially as the world spins faster.

This is human nature, of course, the tendency to hold tight to what's comfortable. In our research, after interviewing over 100 executives and experts in the field, we found that a key barrier to organizational change is an inability to get out of Marty Crane's chair.

Related: 5 Tips to Avoid Creating Change Spectators

Prisoner of the comfort zone.

Companies, brands, organizations and people -- including Marty Crane -- are all challenged by the currents of change. This, however, is complicated by the challenge of not losing what makes them what and who they are. Which brings me to the second lesson inspired by Marty.

Just as it is critical for companies to be able to get out of their comfort zone in order to successfully shift ahead, it is also critical for companies to maintain their authenticity. Martin Crane is who he is -- a straight-talking, retired police detective who just happens to move in with his pompous, smarty-pants son.

From one episode to the next, Martin Crane never veers from his true character. He is the television show's moral center, at times cranky and at times showing great love and compassion for his sons.

Related: Father and Son Business Owners Share Their Secrets to Success

I'd say that his ability to convey how much he cares for his Frasier and Niles, while yanking their chains, is what makes his character so real.

John Mahoney was a super actor, and he created a great and memorable character in Martin Crane. If you're not already a fan, I urge you to watch him in Frasier, if not for the business lessons we derived, then for the sheer pleasure of watching a master at work.

Allen Adamson

Co-Founder Metaforce

Allen Adamson is an expert in branding who co-founded Metaforce. He is author of BrandSimple, BrandDigital, The Edge: 50 Tips from Brands That Lead and Shift Ahead. Prior to Metaforce, Adamson was North American chairman of Landor Associates, a global branding firm.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law