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 easy.
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 Jamming."
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 free publicity.
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 at 11.