“Without promotion, something terrible happens…
That’s a quote from P.T. Barnum, one of the greatest marketers and promoters ever. If you’ve seen the Movie, “The Greatest Showman” you’ll know his story.
One of the ‘rest of the story’ stories that is not fully portrayed in the movie is that when P.T. Barnum finally convinced Jenny Lind, a European opera singer, to come to the U.S, he realized that even though she was very famous in Europe, no one new who she was in the United States.
So, he went to work promoting her heavily in many newspapers before she even arrived in the United States, while she was on the boat on her way over. So when she arrived, she had 30,000 people gathered to meet her at the dock.
He then continued to promote her and she sold out every show. After a while, she thought she was so good that she didn’t need P.T. Barnum anymore, so she cut off her partnership with him.
After that, she couldn’t fill up any shows. And finally left the country without fame.
She thought it was because of her incredible talent that people flocked to see her, but in reality, it was the promotion of her by Mr. Barnum that produced her fame.
Nothing happens without promotion.
Did I ever tell you the story about when a consultant I hired for my company suddenly died?
I used to work in an organization that provided unique training for employees that they couldn’t get anywhere else. It was around productivity, employee engagement, leadership, and such. It was a dream job because my task was to figure out how to spend a bunch of money.
I would find consultants who had certain training programs and would hire them to bring them into my company.
I found this one consultant who offered to build a unique training course just for us around being Change Agents. It sounded awesome and so I hired him. In fact, consultant fees are always crazy and fluctuate up and down so much that you never know what someone is going to charge. So, during my negotiation with him about his fees he said, “You can pay whatever you think it’s worth.”
It blew my mind, but was a perfect move on his part because he could have said a price too low and I would have taken it, but if he said too high, then I’d think he was crazy and maybe not hire him at all. He also knew that I worked for a respectable company and I had budget to pay him, so I wouldn’t just give him pennies. I ended up paying a somewhat standard price, which I think was a lot for him, so he was happy.
Anyway, he developed the course and we had an awesome experience. It was a multiple day course where students would come in for half the day, a few days in a row.
After his first successful course, we planned to have him come back a few months later and do it again. He was about to get on the plane, but wasn’t feeling well, so he decided to delay his flight and go get checked out. It turned out he had a serious blockage in a vein or heart and the flight would have killed him. That’s what he told me.
Well, a few weeks later, it didn’t get fixed and it took his life. And he was a young guy, probably in his 40’s.
It was a shock and devastating blow to our program.
We learned that nothing is certain.
And to listen to your body.
Many years ago, back in the early 2000’s I met a small group of guys at work who were studying the Theory of Constraints. They would meet on their own time, either during lunch or in an after-work meeting, and talk about the concepts in the various books written by Eli Goldratt.
I was invited into the club and began learning all kinds of very interesting concepts around productivity, removing constraints, and continuous improvement. It was so awesome, I thought more people should learn about it.
At the time, there were a variety of Technology Interest Groups (TIGs) within the company that you could join and learn about different technologies. They spanned a wide variety of topics, and were usually large organizations run by a steering team that managed and planned their efforts. I thought that maybe our little group could be an official TIG so we could grow bigger and get the word out about these cool concepts that we thought could really help the company.
So, I called the guy who was officially in charge of all the TIGs and asked him how to start one.
He said, “Well, you just get a group of people interested in your subject and start meeting.”
“I can do that”, I thought. We were already doing it really. He didn’t say there was a minimum number of people required or anything.
So, I went back to the gang and said, “We’re a TIG now! The TOC TIG!”
But we needed a few more people to join us. Just because. And we wanted to grow. So, we decided to have what they called back in those days, a “Brown Bag” event. (I’m laughing as I write this, because it was a funny term. But it was so incredibly common that everyone knew what you were talking about and no one made fun of it.) The term came from way back when people used to bring their lunch to work in a brown paper bag. So if you wanted to meet during lunch, you called it a ‘Brown Bag’ and people could bring their lunch and eat during the presentation. Even though even back then, nobody really brought their lunch in a paper bag. (Funny, now because of the sustainability movement that trend is coming back, I recently saw a guy bring his lunch in a big grocery paper bag (before COVID, when we were in the office, of course.))
We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to present at our first Brown Bag. We didn’t think anyone knew or cared about this Theory of Constraints stuff, so we decided to bring in a guest speaker. We asked a guy in Sales and Marketing to give us a presentation on the commercial airplane market.
We didn’t even really exist yet, but we were ‘sponsoring’ a guest speaker to make us look even more legitimate, like we had been around for a while. That was strategic positioning.
And then, we did what validated our existence the most for me… we posted flyers.
We made eye-catching flyers that said something like, “Join the TOC TIG Brown Bag with Special Guest Speaker, Joe Marketer, talking about something interesting!” (I don’t remember his real name. And it didn’t say that exactly.)
We made a whole bunch of flyers and put them up on bulletin boards in buildings all around the site – break rooms, just outside restrooms, and other places with bulletin boards. There were always flyers on those bulletin boards about all kinds of things, so when I was able to put one up, I felt legit.
This is what made me feel like I was starting a movement. I organized an event without asking permission from management. People came and enjoyed it. I had made a splash. I created an experience for many people. And subsequently, we increased the membership of our little interest group.
We went on, over the next few years, to grow a huge organization and hold multi-day, annual conferences with multiple tracks of presentations, factory tours, and outside industry expert keynote speakers, that drew in hundreds of people from all over the country. All with a little band of volunteers and no direction from management.
It was an exhilarating time in my career. And more importantly, personally…
I had become a movement maker.
I only had 3 simple tasks on my ToDo list today for work.
“So easy!” I thought.
Then, one thing after another came up. A meeting here, a request there, another meeting. No biggie, these tasks are so simple I can do them later.
Well, later came, so I started on one and I ran into a snag. Of course, software issues through me a roadblock. So, while I was waiting I decide to do the other task. No problem. Done.
Then I decided to do the other task, and it had some weird software configuration issues too, so I couldn’t actually do what I wanted.
Meanwhile, the first task required a call from the help desk. They helped, but then immediately after I hung up, I pushed the wrong button in the process, and had to call them back. They said I had to completely start the process over again.
So I did.
But I hit another roadblock. And had to call the help desk again. And I happened to reach the same guy who helped me the first time. (His name was Christian Tiger, coolest name, and super nice guy.)
He finally helped me through the rest of the process and I was done!
(It was 11:30pm.)
What did I learn from this?
- Software is complicated (I know, it makes me sound like an old man, non-tech guy, but I think I’m actually pretty tech savy.)
- Don’t be afraid to call the Help Desk back.
- Get your tasks done early.
If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re usually right.
So much of ‘success’ is based on your belief system and the identity you hold about yourself. Are you the kind of person who does this or not?
What do you believe?
Most people are way more capable than what they are currently experiencing.
And you’re most people.
So let’s do something more. Let’s expand our vision. And take massive action.
I’m on it.
It’s hard to write something useful when you’re really tired.
Maybe there’s a lesson we can learn from that.
Since we don’t have full energy all the time, we should save our most important tasks for when we do have high energy. It fluctuates during the day, sometimes we have a lot of energy, sometimes we don’t, . So, we’ll be more productive if we are intentional about when we accomplish what tasks.
Now, some of us think every task is important. We have a list of things to do and each one must get done today. Well, burning bright too long can wear you out. Be patient with yourself. Set low expectations.
Do what you can. Give yourself some rest and relaxation. It’ll be worth it in the end.
Today I realized that I get excited when I’m brainstorming and creating with someone. And mostly when we’re creating an experience for a group of people.
There’s just something about all the logistics, messaging and details that go into an event that creates a unique, memorable experience for people that I get juiced about. Maybe it’s something about the fact that the design of the details matters.
Ultimately, I’m a designer. I design experiences.
We all do, really.
But maybe the problem is that we are not intentional about it. We don’t design it. We just do it.
Everything we do creates an experience for someone else.
Even in private, we are conditioning ourselves, or doing something that creates our character, that then surfaces when we interact with others.
So, who do you want to be? What do you want others to experience around you?
Design your life. Design the experience of you for others.
You have the power.
That is exciting.
Hey. Do you think it’s possible for someone to have something to say every day?
Do you say something every day?
Do you talk to at least one person every day? (Even if that person is yourself?)
Then you’re probably thinking and processing information every day.
Granted, posting a blog is like talking to yourself, because no one is there… yet. And you have no idea if anyone will even see it. So yeah, it’s weird.
But it’s a recording of your thoughts.
And you think every day. I promise.
(I didn’t even know what I was going to say in here, but when I started writing, it got me thinking. Writing can do that. Try it out.)