12 March 2011

Where Will You Find What's Next?

"The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind; the answer is blowing in the wind."

Ever tried to catch that wind? Ha! Now you're getting it!

A friend emailed earlier this week and asked if we could talk on the phone and toss some ideas around. When she called, she said she had seen a news item on a network's evening newscast. The newscast was discussing a dearth of a specific type of products that she and her husband produced. She immediately saw an opportunity for their company and wanted to brainstorm with me how she and her husband could answer that need.

This is one of my friends whose intelligence, beauty (inside and out) and charm have never been doubted. By anyone. Ever. So it's always flattering that she wants my ideas. This time, she asked what my experience with that group was? Had I been in their stores lately? I said being a Washingtonian, I tried to avoid such places at all costs, but it turned out that wasn't really what she wanted. She just needed a little "goosing" to get to the meat of the matter. I said if it was me, I would start at the top and go straight at it: "Google" the person in the news report. Find some company contact information. Call the main office (of the huge national group) and ask for the person and talk to them.

She said "Just like that?" Absolutely.

Here's the good part. The next day, she emailed back to say, "Ok, I've got the number for the person. I'm going to get up and try to contact them tomorrow."

And the day after that, her email said, "I called the person and you know, we hit it off. I'm going to put together a proposal and send it to her."

No one in the history of this woman's universe has ever failed to "hit it off" with her, so why wouldn't she succeed? No reason at all. Except that right now, some of us are too tired, worn down, scared, exhausted, freaked out, lazy, distracted, over-stimulated, over-indulged and all out done over to try.
As a people, we're watching the stock market, Charlie Sheen, earthquakes in Japan, the Chinese economy and the unrest in the Mideast a little too closely. It wears on a soul, doesn't it? (Listen, if that much mental terrorizing doesn't wear on you, then you don't understand the import of events at hand.) But it's time to put them aside. Particularly Sheen. Put him FAR aside.
The good news is, putting in a little elbow grease and one thin dime's worth of technological effort (although maybe she has free nationwide long distance?) can pay dividends. My friend may have found a whole new market for her husband's products. They would never have found that if she hadn't caught a glimpse of something as she walked through the living room picking up her kids' toys. There wouldn't be a chance if she hadn't motivated herself into finding that contact information and making those calls.

The same goes for all of us: we never know what we can do unless we try. A lot of time can be wasted wringing hands and worrying the what-if's or we can get started, go forward and find out.
There is nothing as satisfying as putting a hand up in the air and asking a question that gets the ball rolling. I would know. I ask a lot of questions. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a Good Thing."
By the same token, there's nothing as powerfully seducing as getting a positive response. In general, emotionally healthy people want to say yes. They long to hear about a great idea, incredible new product (iPad 2? You don't say!) or a new way of doing things. But they can't hear about it if we sit on our hands.
The worst thing that can happen is someone says "No." But even then, that's information. Something is learned. Sometimes information that helps tweak the idea-product-way of doing something into another thing even better.
Which opens the door to The Best Thing; when they say yes and a whole new horizon opens up.
But until you ask, the answer and you, my friend, are just blowing in the wind.

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