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In 1995, despite zero prior experience in politics, college professor Antanas Mockus was elected mayor of Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. Two years earlier, he had dropped his pants and mooned an auditorium full of unruly college students because they wouldn’t quiet down.
For several years prior to Mockus's election, Bogota had struggled with rising traffic fatalities, homicide rates, and unemployment. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and, with Mockus, the city got just that. To confront the streets of Bogota, Mockus hired 420 mimes and trained them to control traffic. Why? Because he believed Colombians were more afraid of being ridiculed than being fined.
As mayor, he also took a shower on TV to show citizens how to conserve water; performed random acts of kindness around town while wearing a superhero costume; and created a “Knights of the Zebra” club for good taxi drivers.
Under Mockus’s leadership, homicide rates fell 70%, traffic fatalities dropped 50%, and water usage dropped 40%. The success of his bizarre measures are best summed up in his own words: “Innovative behavior can be useful when you run out of words.”