The Family Circus
Something happened to me years ago. I went to bed one night one way, and woke up the next morning a different person, a different way. I can’t really explain how or why it happened, but it most definitely DID happen. I’d like to explain it as a “Mensa thing”, but it’s probably more of a “dementia thing”. You already know enough about me from past columns, to know that my name and Mensa aren’t normally used in the same sentence. Oh, for those who don’t know what Mensa is, it’s an international High IQ Society.
When I woke up that morning, my mind acted differently, like a fog had left. I mean, I’ve always been a Steeler and Penguin fan, so I’ve always been able to see clearly and make sound, rational, and excellent decisions. No, something was different that morning. This was the beginning of my “Invention Stage” of life. I started getting ideas for songs, musicals, books, products, art, etc. I don’t know why, and I can’t explain it. I look like an engineer, act like one, think like one…I Are an Engineer!
I remember one of my first initiatives was to sculpt a bison out of construction tie-wire, the wire you use to tie re-bar together on concrete projects. Why? I have no freaking idea why. It just came to me to sculpt a bison, or was it a buffalo, what’s the difference? I know that bison are tasty and a lower fat option to beef. I scraped and cut my hand like crazy, had no instructions, just instinct. It was fun. I’ve since sculpted an Eifel Tower (again, why? No idea, never been to Paris and don’t even want to go there), an eagle, a duck, and others.
One day, the new me decided to try to get on a TV show called, Everyday Edison, on PBS. They were touring the U.S., hitting eight markets and picking eight products to showcase and make businesses out of them. I went to the show, stood in line behinds of hundreds of “Want-To-Bes” and pitched my idea. Anyone my age knows words like Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, etc. from reading every inch of the back of a cereal box, sides, etc. each morning.
I got to thinking, it’s the one time you don’t have to beg a kid to read. What if we used the back of the box, put a clear sleeve on it and stuffed it with valuable information for the kids to read? A page of a novel, spelling words, a letter from the First Lady, a U.S. map, etc. Well, I was in the mix through all eight cities from first (Indianapolis) to the last. I came in tenth place, two places away from making the show.
BUT, I was vindicated. Shortly after I received the letter congratulating me on almost making it, Bill Keane from the cartoon strip, Family Circus, used my invention in his cartoon one day. How crazy cool is that!
Some time ago, in a previous Marketing Minute, I wrote about another of my inventions/patents, the Two-Can. A product that combines a reduced size beverage and a snack to vend together, or two-reduced sized beverages stacked, bound, and vended together to share. Why? Kid sized…Fewer calories…Build brand loyalty…etc. Pepsi seemed to love it, but they didn’t move forward. Coke knocked it off. I’ve seen their commercial. They are test marketing it overseas.
It’s an exact copy of what I sent them confidentially and protected through their “Secure Submission” site. Am I bitter or angry? Not really: I’m validated. People thought I was nuts with my idea, but when a company valued at $78B and trades at $44.61/share (today) steals your idea, you A. Can’t afford to sue them, and B. Should just be flattered.
My thoughts are this. Probably 99.9% of all ideas never leave the mind. How many of you, while reading this, are remembering the invention(s) that you never attempted? I invented Google Maps before they did (in my head). I invented the cell phone (in my head). I invented the internet.
Oh, wait, that wasn’t me, that was Al Gore.
So, my motto, and it might sound eerily similar to another motto about Love, is this: “It’s better to have invented and lost at inventing than never to have invented at all!” Keep this in mind.
Our Falcon Vision Parking Guidance solution, the worlds’ only wireless and integrated into a parking fixture, was our invention. It works, and it’s amazing. It’s time to rethink what failure is. My cereal invention wasn’t a failure, Bill Keane loved it. My Two-Can invention wasn’t a failure, Coke stole it. These were all just activities that taught me how to invent, how to win and lose with dignity, and how to see things through….The pavement for Falcon Vision!
I’ll leave you with these challenging quotes.
• “No means YES later” – Jeff Pinyot
• “Honey, I dipped into the 401k” – Every Inventor
• “Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. One fails towards success.” – Charles Kettering
• “Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
• “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” – Thomas Watson Sr.