January 27, 2017
January 25, 2017

A true answer vs. A good answer

I was recently charged with writing a small piece about an inspirational business.  Because I think quite often about motivations and inspiration this seemed right up my alley.  I started looking through the Fortune 100 list of best companies.  Surely, a great inspirational story was there.  Soon, I was writing what I thought of as a very "good" answer to what inspires me.  A success story.  A company that was thriving.  

By the second paragraph, I was blank.  The words weren't coming easily and I was not excited about what I was writing.  The irony sank in.  I was bored while writing about what "inspired" me.  Something was wrong!  I was trying to give a good answer.  I wanted to show that I was excited about brilliant, smarty-pants business models.  I was trying to say the right type of thing.  But sometimes, what sounds like a good answer, isn't a fully true answer.  And it's truth that can bring us past good, and into great.  

So I scrapped that one. I started fresh and instead of thinking of some list of successful companies, I thought of the actual question.   When was I inspired by a company?  What made me feel something, excited me, moved me?  

My final answer was a lot different than my first draft.  But, it was a true answer.  And that just feels right.

How do you keep things "true" and not get lost in trying to give the "correct" response?

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My True Answer of A Business That Inspires Me:

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is a wondrous adventure.  An inspiring service has taught me that this same lens can be applied to business.

Nine-year-old Caine started his arcade during the summer of 2012.  Using the extra space and supplies from his father's auto body shop, Caine transformed cardboard and scraps into a fully-functioning arcade.  Caine's efforts were turned into a documentary when his long-awaited first customer serendipitously turned out to be a filmmaker.  He shared Caine's story with the Reddit community, garnering millions of views and thousands of arcade clients.  

I was inspired not only by Caine's sense of wonder, but his ingenuity, resourcefulness and passion.  The business solutions Caine developed are astounding.  In the design innovation world, they'd be called workarounds, home remedies or mockups.  But to Caine, they were just ways to accomplish his vision.

My favorite service within Caine's Arcade inspires me to incorporate a bit of play into even the most strategic of business choices: his Fun Cards. 

Fun Cards served as Caine's customer loyalty system.  He implemented a whimsical pricing strategy:  

  •  $1 for 4 games (single purchase) OR
  • $2 for 500 games (Fun Card)

How's that  for a customer incentive to "trade up"?

Another inspirational workaround is the Fun Card verification system.  The system was, obviously, put into place so that no one who came in with a falsified Fun Card would get away uncaught.  Each pass had a code on the back, corresponding to the square root of that pass's PIN number.  A calculator was duct taped to each machine so that Caine himself could verify the card's authenticity before usage.

When facing new challenges, I like to think of Caine.  His natural "home remedies" were a mix of passion and dedication.  That is a combination that can work wonders.