Tag Archives: interest

Got Scars?

Today I was out in the gray chilliness that is Winter in Connecticut and doing some pushes and pulls with my beloved Prowler.  I strained and struggled and fought it with all I could for a shade under 30 minutes before calling it a day.  As I completed the last push of the day, I finished and immediately dropped into a semi-kneeling position, almost like genuflecting.  However, I successfully kept my breakfast down.  But you know what I thought to myself?

“Huh… no puking yet again… maybe I’m not doing this hard enough.”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the insanity that is my noggin.  Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times because I really can’t be held responsible for what may happen otherwise.

Now why on earth would I think that?  Seriously.  First of all, I really hate puking.  I know that is not a penetrating insight on par with the work of Plato or Immanuel Kant, but I mean I really hate it.  Second, how can anyone rationally think that puking could be a sign of anything remotely good or positive?  It’s like those kooky powerlifters who seem to enjoy the fact they get blood shins from doing deadlifts where the bar drags along their legs.  That can’t be sane… can it?

I’ll tell you why I think this… because I often wonder, if you don’t bear scars, have you really tried hard enough?  Or put another way, have you truly found the thing you are just so passionate about that you are willing to run the risk of skinned knees or puking or falling short in the process?  Willing to run the risk of embarrassment over not coming through as a total success because you just love the process so much that winning or losing is a distant second?

I wonder this because I believe (at least in my own personal case) that for things that truly and deeply matter to me, I am willing to risk the scars or the falling short or the skinned knees or possible ridicule of polite society.  I know if my heart was not truly in whatever this “thing” may be, I wouldn’t be willing to run the risk of any of that.  Who wants any of that for something that doesn’t stir up the passion of your soul?  Not this kid right here, I’ll tell you that much.

The physical acts of which I speak and the scars that can accompany them are just one tool or expression of what any person walking this beautiful planet can be passionate about.  As you and I well know, not all scars are physical and those that are not can certainly mark you more deeply than ones etched upon your skin.  But the fact still remains… that for those things we care most about… our families, our faith, our ideals or whatever it may be… we will put ourselves out there and run the risk of the scars.

I’m still working on this all the time… the process to find my true passions for all aspects of my life.  It’s certainly not easy because it’s rare to just wake up one day and think “By Jove!  I’ve got it!” and just know what you were meant to do or who you were meant to be.  So I keep plugging away at those things I know I love and by virtue of the struggle, sweat and scars, I hope to find it.

Even if I may have to get a little sick to do it.

The Lemonade Stand Experience

lemon1Seth Godin is a pretty gosh-darn interesting guy.  My proof?  He’s generally acknowledged as the creator of permission-based marketing (i.e. you give someone permission to market to you based on your preferences and interests) and author of the book “Purple Cow”.  Let’s be honest people… purple cows are just de facto interesting.

Seth also does a pretty cool blog and his post from a few days ago is pretty thought-provoking.  It’s analogy of the most classic form of childhood entrepreneurial dreams: the lemonade stand.  The analogy compares two lemonade stands with profoundly different approaches to selling their cold, tart and refreshing products.

The first stand is very typical: a fold-out table and $1 to buy a cup of lemonade.  Pretty straightforward.

The second stand is a different matter entirely:

The other stand is different. The lemonade is free, but there’s a big tip jar. When you pull up, the owner of the stand beams as only a proud eleven year old girl can beam. She takes her time and reaches into a pail filled with ice and lemons. She pulls out a lemon. Slices it. Then she squeezes it with a clever little hand juicer.

The whole time that’s she’s squeezing, she’s also talking to you, sharing her insights (and yes, her joy) about the power of lemonade to change your day. It’s a beautiful day and she’s in no real hurry. Lemonade doesn’t hurry, she says. It gets made the right way or not at all. Then she urges you to take a bit less sugar, because it tastes better that way.

Pretty different approach eh?

While the first scenario was about the selling of a product, the second was clearly the selling of an experience and also a connection.  There was something that causes a connection between the person providing the lemonade and you as the person soon-to-be enjoying it.

Seth’s essential question is which of these two aspiring entrepreneurs will end up better in the long run?

I thought about this one for a little while, even though it’s pretty clear which way Seth was going on his post.  Honestly, I was trying to think of whether I could refute it… not because Seth would even care, but just to see if I could.  But truthfully?  I really couldn’t because I do believe in the power of connection provided by the second example.

Perfect examples. Even though I know it costs more to shop for suits at Brooks Brothers, that’s where I went before starting up my new job to pick up a new navy suit and 2 pairs of dress slacks.  There is something about the professionalism and sheer classiness of how you are treated as a customer that makes the experience worthwhile.  It’s less a business transaction and more the feeling that you are being properly fitted for a high quality garment.  The measurements are precise and the tailor checks every fit point like a master craftsman.  I know I am walking out of that store with something that will last me an inordinately long time, it will have a perfect, classic fit and will look sharp whenever I wear it.  That’s all part of the experience they bring.

The takeaway from all of this, for me, is not simply about making the provision of an experience part of a marketing effort (although I do enjoy that concept).  For me, it’s bigger than that because what creates the experience here (even if you remove it from some kind of commercial context) is the joy, interest and passion of the person providing it.  This all works because there is someone who truly cares about the thing they speak about, whether it be the lemonade in Seth’s analogy or the Brooks Brothers salesperson in mine.  You can’t fake it.

It’s probably one of the more fundamental way to have a positive effect on others – to share your joy and your passion with them.  It’s an amazing way to connect with people because when you bring your true joy forward, most people cannot help but share in your excitement to some degree… even if they never shared that same interest in their lives.  Most people (except for you crotchety and cynical bastards) enjoy enthusiasm and find it kindles your own.

Now if I can just figure out a way for everyone else on the Interwebz to see how gosh-darn cool my blog is, THEN I could be getting somewhere.