The Future of Innovation with George Blankenship

DALLAS–George Blankenship considers himself to be “the luckiest person in the world.” A career that included weekly meetings with two of the most innovative tech gurus in the world, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, might shape that notion.

TechBlankenshipBlankenship, whose career includes stints with Tesla Motors, Apple Computers and Gap Inc., has been on the cutting edge of technology and marketing for nearly three decades. At Tesla, Blankenship redefined the car-buying experience, and in turn revolutionized the auto industry with the Model S. It was named the Motor Trend “Car of the Year” in 2013, only a year after its introduction, and was the first electric car to ever receive this recognition.

At Apple, he was the architect of the company’s brand-building retail methodology after formulating and executing the company’s successful retail growth strategies. That Apple retail store at the mall you’ve been to dozens of times? That’s thanks to Blankenship.

“We were told the Apple stores would be closed within two years,” Blankenship said here at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Technology Solutions Conference & Expo “But people came. And they didn’t leave.”

The customer service function at the Apple stores grew to include the “genius bar,” in which customers could ask questions about anything Apple-related, to workshops and $99 courses. “And when Steve Jobs said Apple would develop a phone, something happened,” Blankenship said. “Everyone wanted Apple products.”

Similarly, Blankenship said, Tesla did not disrupt the auto industry because it designed an electric car. “It disrupted the industry because it changed the customer service experience,” he said. “The reason people buy and stay with Tesla is because it’s fun.”

So, how does this apply to the mortgage industry? “Consumers want to save time and they want convenience,” Blankenship said. “Who does that the best? Amazon. You want one-hour delivery? In some areas of the country, you can get that.”

“What you should be doing is looking at the world around you and take disconnected things and connect them,” Blankenship said. “Think about all the technology you can harness that customers will never see, but will enhance their experience.”

“Who in this room is going to have the next great idea for your industry?” Blankenship added. “Whoever it is, you’re going to hold the world in your hands. Someone is going to do it. Will it be you?”