What’s black and white and red all over? There are three responses to this question.

1. The set-up to the old corny joke. A newspaper.

2. The set-up for a joke by Rebecca in “Ted Lasso.” Rebecca offers it as support for her position on picking a lion over a panda. She says, “What’s black and white and red all over?… A panda that gets anywhere close to a f*ing lion. The answer is lion.”

3. The name of a set of “impossible” puzzles by Blue Kazoo. According to their website, the puzzle company has created, “Three of the hardest, impossible jigsaw puzzles…[ominous announcer voice] …OF ALL TIME.”

Big thanks to Keith Herrmann for sharing the company as an example of a Pink Goldfish.

Aren’t puzzles supposed to be hard? But, what if you lopsided that and made them almost unsolvable? Throw in some antagonizing for good measure. Then some withholding to rounds things out.

LOPSIDING – from their website, “If you thought ‘Squid Game’ had hard games to solve, wait until you find out about our Impossible Series. A solid black, a solid white, and a solid red. Like the old joke about newspapers, but without the newspapers. Or the punchline. A thousand pieces each of impossible. In total, 3,000 pieces of relentless torment and anguish. You know. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.”

ANTAGONIZING – Blue Kazoo realizes this is going to tweak some puzzle fans, “We can safely say that this is the most difficult, most challenging, impossible puzzle series that has ever been contrived. We’re sorry.*
(*Not even a little sorry.)”

To rub it in, the company says it includes a colored poster for reference with the following emoji 😆. As if a solid color of paper will help with solving.

WiTHHOLDING – Blue Kazoo made them a limited series, “Whatever your reasons for being interested, you’d better do it fast, because we’re only making 1,000 of them. Each meticulously crafted torture device will look amazing on a shelf even if you don’t spend hours and hours putting them together.
Which you will.
Again: we are sorry.*
(*Nope, still not sorry.)

Is the Impossible series a success? Yes – White and Red are currently sold out. Black is still available. Customers have reacted positively. Adam C. says, “Yeah this one is crazy! 😂 But I wasn’t letting this puzzle get the best of me.” Princess K. says, “Challenging? Yes! But definitely not impossible. After all, it includes a poster for reference. 😂”

Takeaway – In the words of Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon, “True differentiation is rarely a function of well-roundedness; it is typically a function of lopsidedness.”

PS – Back to “Ted Lasso” and the panda vs. lion debate. My favorite part of the scene involves Jamie Tartt.  When Ted asks the star player to choose between the two animals. Jamie gives a classic Pink Goldfish response, “I’m me. Why would I want to be anything else?”

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Stan Phelps

Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at StanPhelps.com.