If I Were Running A Company…Mel Kiper Award (August 2011)

I haven’t done the Mel Kiper Award since January because…well, I’m very busy with work and other ventures and couldn’t think of anyone to do a solid blog post. Recently, I have found that someone. This person has change the industry just by being himself and it took a company a long time to figure this out. The 12th recipient of the Mel Kiper Award is…

CM Punk

If you do not know the story of CM Punk, he has been a wrestler for over 11 years. He work in independent wrestling organizations and was named, “King of the Independents” for his work in the ring and his mike skills. In 2005, he signed with the WWE. During his time at the WWE, he was an Intercontinental Champion, a World Tag Team Champion, and a World Champion, but wasn’t respected within the front office, mainly Vince McMahon. However, in the past two months, CM Punk moved the needle that is defining not only himself, but the wrestling industry.

In late June, Punk won a four-way match to become the number one contender for the WWE against John Cena. At the same time, CM Punk’s contract with the WWE was going to expire on July 17th. Between that time, Punk exposed WWE’s behind-the-scenes politics and giving shout-outs to people who were fired by the WWE.

In the pro wrestling world, what happens in the ring stays in the ring and no one will discuss the backstage politics. The only time both reality and fantasy intersect was in 1997 when Shawn Michael beat Bret Hart when Vince McMahon called off the match and handed the title to Michaels. This time around, the WWE and Punk agreed to do a “worked shoot” to work around Punk’s expiring contract and Punk is showing why he is the “Best In The World.”

The new angle has attracted two different audiences: kids and families, and the hardcore wrestling fans. The wrestling fans were frustrated when Linda McMahon made her Senate run in 2010, wrestling lost its soul because the product was aimed at families. When McMahon lost her Senate race, wrestling fans wanted to return to the “Attitude” era where anything goes and people can do whatever they want in front of a camera. The problem was the WWE was making a lot of money from families who bought a lot of merchandise and tickets, mostly for John Cena. How could they stray away from a money-making machine of families buying merchandise and tickets to give what the hardcore fans want? Enter CM Punk.

Since the “worked shoot” was established, CM Punk has won the world title in his “final day”…and then came back, he’s been guests of radio and television shows around the country as one of the faces of the WWE, he has become an internet sensation with his Twitter account and the Colt Cabana podcasts , his “Best in the World” t-shirts have been selling out, and his “impromptu” appearance at Comic-Con got huge buzz:

What does CM Punk represent in the HR department? Two things: the first is CM Punk said in his many interviews, “you have to facilitate change from the inside.” Either working in an organization (or SHRM), if you want to change something, you have to do it from the inside. Let your voice be heard if you think something is not right with your business and become the “Voice of the Voiceless”. The second thing CM Punk represents that HR should learn is a quoteDave Lagana sums up best about Punk:

“…being yourself and never compromising what you believe will make you successful.”

People should know the rules when working with the organization, but if you know all the rules, then game the system to your benefit. Most businesses have one identity and that one identity trickles down to your organization, but a long-term and strong organization should have multiple identities to optimize your audience. Although John Cena establish himself as a top WWE guy because he brings what the WWE wanted, CM Punk brought back the hardcore wrestling fan and brought wrestling to a new era…”The Reality Era” as he calls it.

Congrats CM Punk on being the 12th recipient of the Mel Kiper Award

Side Note: Read Dave Lagana’s terrific three-part piece of how CM Punk climb the ranks of the WWE. Part 1Part 2Part 3

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