The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased
as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor
and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris,
author of My
Wife and Times. —Ed].
By Daniel Will Harris
Lately I've been having some really odd dreams.
I enjoy them for the most part, even if I do sometimes wake
up feeling like I've been up all night at Mardis Gras.
I won't go into the dream about the five foot tall denim-colored
rabbit, or the one where a child swallowed Julia Child (creepy,
I know, and if you're a psychiatrist and afraid for my sanity,
feel free to write me).
I'll just tell you about the dream I had two days ago because
I think you might find it useful. (I'll skip the beginning,
where I'm looking around Martha Stewart's bathroom, amazed
that her shower is as big as a locker room and doubles as
a bumper car rink, complete with white and gold gilt bumper
cars in styles ranging from rococo to Jetsons.)
Here's the useful part: I'm in the wings of a theater (the
wings are the area to the left and right of the stage, areas
the audience can't see). I'm watching the performance on stage—Don
Johnson (who is a musician in real life) is rehearsing a kind
of dance/mime play. People are in a long line, with big pieces
of cardboard on their sides, and it's clear they're supposed
to be driving on the freeway, stuck in a traffic jam.
They get out of their cardboard cars in unison, pull out
cardboard musical instruments, and start to play. The group
has created a "happening" where musicians are invited
to drive onto on crowded freeways and when the traffic stops,
they get on top of their vans and jam.
They are jamming traffic to promote awareness of conservation—showing
that traffic jams are a big waste of time and energy. They
want to encourage people to telecommute, which efficient and
They get lots of press coverage. Trafficopters flying overhead
get the perfect view of the group's name, painted on top of
their vans, and transmit it to the evening news. Soon the
group starts making and selling CDs they sell on freeway onramps,
donating the proceeds to the non-profit group, "Traffic
Genius marketing—it's entertaining so people like it,
it costs nothing, gets a lot of attention, and is memorable
later on, every time someone's stuck in traffic.
I'm watching all this from backstage, drinking ginger/bacon
tea (it's a dream, I can't explain these things) and thinking,
"That's a brilliant idea, I wish I'd thought of that."
Then I woke up and realized I *did* think of that. And I
wrote it down on the pad next to my bed, so that I could tell
you about it—because it has two important lessons.
The first is about marketing—about how marketing needs
to be entertaining, and about how there are many ways to get
The second, and more important, is that you have to listen
to your own ideas—no matter how stupid they may sound
at the time.
The thing is—everybody has ideas, but *most* people
don't listen to themselves.
We all spend years listening to other people tell us our
ideas are no good, and sometimes we start to think other people
are right. Well, what do *they* know? There's no harm in *having*
the idea. Write it down. Maybe you'll use it, maybe you won't.
Maybe it will lead to another idea you *will* use.
Let the idea age (like fine wine or cheese, but a lot faster)
and see which ones still sound good in a day or a week. Then
tell other people about it. Don't be upset if people try to
tell you all the reasons why your idea is impractical, if
not impossible, or just plain stupid. They may be right, but
it's *just as likely* that they're wrong.
Most of the inventions we use every day wouldn't be here
if the inventor had listened to the people who told them all
the reasons why things wouldn't work. It works both ways—next
time someone tells you their idea, first try to think of how
it *could* work, instead of the other way around.
So excuse me—I've got to go put my guitar in my van.
OK, so it might help for me to buy a van and learn how to
play the guitar—but at least I know the first steps.
That's how it starts. Watch for me playing in traffic. Film