When it comes to telecom executives, T-Mobile CEO John Legere is crazy — in the absolute best possible way.
Rather than the typical, buzzword-laden speech of his peers, Legere steers completely in the other direction — he’s known for trash-talking other wireless companies, swearing and being, in his own words, “one of the kings of mean on Twitter.”
In a sea of polished and put-together telecom executives, John Legere is an outlier. Legere takes to wearing his hair shoulder-length and often dresses in a black leather jacket featuring a vibrant magenta T-Mobile t-shirt. He even wears socks emblazoned with a picture of himself under his pink sneakers, according to CNBC.
But despite his less-than-buttoned-up antics, Legere is largely responsible for rebranding T-Mobile as America’s “Un-carrier” — a “disruptive force” that can “revolutionize the wireless industry,” according to an annual report sent to stockholders in 2012 — which adopted a slick design and magenta color scheme. By comparison, here’s 2011’s annual investor report. Can you spot the difference?
“This industry needs a revolution. Because there’s no question it’s broken,” the report read. “Wireless today is anything but consumer friendly.”
And that underdog-tinged, customer-first strategy seems to have worked. Since Legere was named CEO, the company has been brought back from “near death,” according to Fast Company. Customer growth has steadily risen, and revenues have increased by 13 percent year over year in Q1 2015. For the fourth quarter of 2016, T-Mobile reported 2.1 million net additions — an industry-leading number, the Motley Fool points out.
“These results are proof that doing right by customers is also good for shareholders,” Legere said in T-Mobile’s Q4 earnings release. “The competition just doesn’t get that customers want to come first. That’s three years in a row we’ve added more than 8 million customers and taken all of the postpaid phone growth in the industry.”
And T-Mobile’s success may have inspired other companies to sway in its direction, including Verizon, who just recently started offering unlimited data plans again — a move that Legere simultaneously openly mocked and took credit for. Verizon has reportedly resisted doing so for years, according to Fortune.
“I don’t blame Verizon for caving. They lost their network advantage, and they know it,” Legere said in a press release. “This is what the Un-carrier does — drag the carriers kicking and screaming into the future.”
It seems Legere, more than anything else, embodies and projects blunt honesty and authenticity — something today’s consumers, and especially millennials, value the most, according to Forbes. As Fast Company points out, Legere could be a pioneer of “an alternative, thoroughly modern model for corporate leadership.” By bucking the status quo and standing out among competitors, Legere’s T-Mobile is likely to shift the wireless industry even more than it already has. Perhaps there’s a reason why Fierce Wireless readers voted him the most powerful person in the U.S. telecom industry in December 2016.
As for the future, Legere isn’t giving up on his plans for the Un-carrier — or the telecom industry as a whole — and is set on pushing other carriers to do right by their customers as well. “Next up, we’re going to force [carriers] to include monthly taxes and fees. Mark my words.”