A Case Study in Differentiation: The Curtis

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We go through life striving to fit in.


Wearing the right clothes.

Saying the right things.

Acting the right way.

Not taking unnecessary risks.

Not making waves.


“There’s safety in numbers,” we’re told, explicitly or implicitly.


This life-long reinforcement in conformity fails us when it comes to developing a strategy for our business… or our careers.


The essence of strategy is differentiation in ways customers care about.

Differentiation is hard to do if you’re just like everyone else.

Companies and individuals that do differentiate… stand out.


Differentiation means you won’t appeal to everyone, but hey – who are you kidding?

You can’t appeal to everyone anyway.


Case in point: The Curtis Hotel in Denver, CO. I’m here attending the Association of General Contractors (AGC) Safety & Health Conference.


This place is different. 


Each floor has a theme.


We are spending most of our time on the 3rd Floor.

The Theme? 



Hearing construction guys announce subcommittee rooms named Dodgeball, Duck Duck Goose, Marco Polo, Patty Cake, Red Rover and Peekaboo is pure entertainment.


The bathroom entrance is noteworthy.

Ken Barbie



The bathroom stalls speak for themselves.

Stall 1

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The mini-breakout areas are hip. And the comic book/superhero vibe is perfect for this testosterone-laden group too.

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This wall has 90 spinning tiles with different colors on each side.

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Board games mounted on the wall has attendees remembering their childhoods.

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The hallway leading to the conference room “Jacks” has famous Jacks on the wall.


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Jack Daniels

Jack Lambert

Jack Black

Jack Palance



Is this place for everyone?




Many attendees said they’ll never be back.

Too weird.

That’s OK.


They may never come back, but they’ll never forget it.


And let’s be honest – The Curtis isn’t targeting 45-year old construction guys with this joint.

At least not the “normal” 45-year old construction guy.


This place is memorable.

This place is a conversation.

It’s different than any hotel I’ve been in.


Be like Curtis.


Be different.

Be memorable.

Be a conversation.


Have fun.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry. 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please blow it up with others in your network. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

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