Saturday, June 14, 2008

Threading the Needle

It is a great Saturday morning. My girls are in the kitchen drawing and my lovely wife is making breakfast (I am indeed a lucky guy, 27 years later). Of course, I am making a few postings on Twitter and just answered a LinkedIn request from my friend Lataya Ballard. Getting ready to read a chapter from "Become a Better You" by Joel Olsteen. My wife and I are excited about reading this book together.

What is "threading the needle"? "Threading the needle" to me is doing the seemingly impossible. Business ownership and creating successful Marketing campaigns is like "threading the needle". The odds are always against you, your campaign, or strategic plan. One has to be very fluid in today's business climate.

What is your biggest challenge? What dream can you envision for your company and what will it take to make that happen? I am a dreamer. I love dreaming big dreams and acting on them. The thrill of the chase of making a big call, floating a big idea, and leveraging opportunities inspires me. As a Marketer, our goals are to sway public opinion, change patterns of behavior, and impact the world. How one does that is by "threading the needle".

It may take years to "thread the needle". Do you have the temperment for that? We have to look for patterns and connections that could help us to create something truly remarkable. A phone call leads to an e-mail, that gets the attention of someone totally unrelated to the objective at hand - remember to avoid small minds. Two years later it all circles back and now you know why and how to make the "needle thread". Shazaam!

A quick example. My wild motorcyle riding sister "Jodie" visited our family last year and convinced us to attend the International Motorcycle Exhibition show here in Houston. I reluctantly agreed (I was busy). I figured I could work and be with family at the same time and my family needed to get out, so we ventured.

I took my video camera with me and was able to get in as part of the media because of my involvement with a local business radio show (the psychology of presentation is critical, by having a press badge (if you blog you are part of the press these days), people are more willing to talk to you openly - try it sometime). Of course, I had no "press" reservations so I had to do some fast talking, but the lady who ran the event was young and hip and she let me in (she was fluid) and introduced me around (how cool is that).

My girls went and looked at the cool bikes (a few pics here). I was in the hunt, looking for opportunities (they are everywhere, you have to be looking for them) and would circle back with my girls and update them on all of the cool interviews I was capturing. Well, I had a chance to meet motorcycle racer builder Denis Manning (see his intervew) who recently broke the world's record at 350 MPH (and many others).

After meeting Denis, I continued to mull on a few ideas a year later and called up his daughter-in-law to discuss a few ideas (it is important to be great on the phone, expect to communicate well). She asked me to put those thoughts in an e-mail. Well, I waited a few months (sometimes you have to let some projects stew) and fired off one hell of an e-mail (it is important to think through your e-mails, make it short, compelling and exciting). Well, I got a call from Denis yesterday and he was very happy about his plans to break the record again next year and confided in a few interesting details about his strategy to break the new record.

This discussion opened up the other possibilities for a few other non-related projects in film, racing, and advertising that we are working on (it is amazing how one project helps another). The "long-thread" of the needle will enable more opportunities to be sewn up. So keep "threading the needle".

Warning: I am convinced that far too many people are "too focused" (narrow minded) and miss opportunities. If this is you, learn to be like water and flow.

"Be water my friend" - Bruce Lee

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Unknown said...

Andy, I enjoyed reading your blog. And much more agreed to it. Only the "Warning" wasn't convincing though! I mean:
don't we need great focus in the end, to really excel in a field ?

At the same time, may be you attacked being "too focussed".

In the book "Become a Better You", there is a chapter:
"embrace the place where you are",

that seem to suggest the opposite of the Bruce Lee's one :

"Be water my friend"

I have spent most of my career in line with Bruce-lee, like water. And want to now switch to Joel's "embrace", which would want me to focus on something.

Andy Valadez said...


Ah! You made me re-read my post. Great! I think being focused is a good thing, but you have to be fluid.

For example, Denis manning is very focused on breaking landspeed records, but he is very opened to how he does it. He is a great guy to talk to and bounce ideas off of (my experience so far).

He has had to be very creative in how he got his bikes built and financed. He has built a following of BUB Racing enthusiasts. He is know for speed and so much more. Because, of his creative thought process, he has broken several landspeed records. He is very non-conventional in how he thinks about bikes and speed for sure.

He is in the realm of the impossible every day. I think Joel Olsteen makes reference that we only use 10% of our brain capacity. He wants us to embrace who we are in the world, knowing that God has given us the seeds of greatness to do better. We must be open to what God has planned for us.

We are built to go 180 MPH, but we think 80 or 90 MPH is fast, we have more throttle left. He also says our best days are ahead, but people are "too focused" on today and may miss tomorrow.

Another great example is Chick-fil-A. The founder Truett Cathy has instilled a culture of "looking for unexpected opportunities." He discovered and invented the chicken breast sandwich and they are known for doing so much more. In fact, Chick-fil-A has an interest in the entertainment business (i.e., books, film, music, etc.).

The "too focused" or "narrow minded" people I speak of are the ones t0o quick to discount opportunties, blow people off, and shoot down ideas. They won't allow themselves to explore under the guise of being "focused". I am very focused on Strategic Marketing and my posts are really written for other Marketers. As Marketers, we are always enabling change. It is easier if we leverage and big ideas make it easier to make change happen. There are many ways.

Also, the bible references that God can make a camel go through the eye of the needle, for him it is possible. So, if God can do that, he can help us to thread the needles in our lives. We can't be "too focused" and insist it be done our way. Hope this helps. God bless.

Andy Valadez
The Marketing Evanglist/StealthMarketer