Myths are powerful. They are seminal storytellers of events that may or may not have happened. The most powerful are semi-believable, but contain some element of wonder and magic.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
It’s hard to dream up a myth, like you can think up some marketing campaign: They can feel forced. They can feel like they are selling something. And so they don’t get shared.
The best ones just happen all by themselves. And when they do, they will be shared. And they can really help build your brand. Because, like I said at the start, myths are powerful.
My learning from myths is what you can do as a brand builder is to create a space for myths to happen. And, just wait and see what unfolds.
For the last 7 years we have been building The Do Lectures. It is a gathering of people around ideas and how they can change the world. It takes place on the far western edge of Wales. In an old cowshed. (And, it now takes place in California, Melbourne and for the first time this July in Costa Rica)
At this year’s Do Lectures Wales, we created a secret gin parlour that no one at the event knew was there. On the Friday, we Instagrammed a barman wearing a black suit and tie serving some fine seaweed gin in it. And nobody came. The Wi-Fi is so bad that no one was able to see the post on his or her phones. Instead, we told two people, and before we knew it, you couldn’t move.
The Naim Audio equipment played the music. The Hendricks flowed freely. We had bought enough for the 3 days. But it only lasted 3 hours. One of the rules of the secret gin parlour was when the bell sounded there would be a 60 second disco, and everyone had to take part. Most of that was planned.
But what we hadn’t planned to happen was for Tom Herbert to walking in a 1 am with a sourdough loaf that he had just baked in the Big Bertha’s oven in the back of their Land Rover. It had ‘Do’ written on it. And it was still hot. He gave it to me. I took a chunk of it. And I passed it on to the crowd. I can still see it now, everyone passing it on with hands a loft like someone crowd surfing but with a loaf of Sourdough.
The next morning, it was that moment everyone was talking about. It wasn’t planned. But all we did was to create a space for it to happen.
This week the Do Lectures was voted in the top 21 coolest brands in Wales along with a small jeans maker called Hiut.
From time to time I run a Do Workshop: How to build a great brand with very little money.
Pareto’s Law is named after an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It is also known as the 80-20 rule, which Richard Koch wrote about in his brilliant book.
The thinking is this: If you run a business, 80% of your business probably comes from 20% of your customers. If you are a creative person, 80% of your awards/ recognition/income will come from 20% of your output.
So how can knowing this principle help you manage your time?
Well, start by looking at your day. See where you spend most of your time.
The likelihood is you will find out you spend most of your time is spent on the things that you are not that good at.
Too many meetings. Too much admin. Too much politics.
This is called The Law of Oterap. (Pareto backwards).
This is where you spend 80% of your time on the things you are least good at. And where you can make the least difference.
You don’t need more time in the day. You don’t need to work longer hours. You don’t need to work weekends.
You just need to spend more time on what you are brilliant at.
And less time on all that other stuff.
1, Stop hiring the awkward ones.
2, Chase the numbers, not the change.
3, Stop innovating.
4, Only back sure fire things.
5, Stop trusting the team.
6, Make slow decisions.
7, Forget why you started.
8, Oust the founder.
9, Let success steal your hunger.
10, Stop socialising together.
It wasn’t supposed to be there. It was only there because the first speaker had problems with a tripod, so he borrowed the chair to have something to put his old camera on.
But, there it stayed. No one questioned its right to be there. Why should they? It was there from the beginning so it was meant to be there, right?
Roald Dahl wrote: “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.
It’s also true that some of the answers are staring at us right in the face, and because they are so obvious we don’t think they can be the answer.
In our lives, in our businesses, we all have lots of ‘Invisible Red Chairs’. We do things this way, because we did it that way yesterday. We put down a piece a plank of wood and it stays there for so long that everyone thinks it’s supposed to be there.
We have our set ways. And yet, it may not be the best way of doing it. Very often, it isn’t. But we stick to our ways, mostly because we don’t have to think too much.
But one habit that a lot of entrepreneurs seem to have is the ability to walk in stupid each day. They don’t mind asking dumb questions. They don’t have any problem asking the blindingly obvious. Like why is that Red Chair up there on stage?
Walk in stupid every morning. That way you won’t just carry on as you always have done.
At Hiut Denim Co, we are learning to Vlog.
We are learning by making one each day.
This is day 3. Young Huw is shooting, editing and re-shooting all on the fly.
He is super keen. But right now, not super experienced.
And yes, there are some very, very good Vloggers out there.
So why bother unless you can be better than them, right?
Just look at Casey Neistat. He is on fire at the moment.
Ze Frank posts rarely post these days. But, when he does, it’s pure gold.
And those Jack’s gap twins, oh boy they are doing great vlogs too.
But I am guessing they didn’t start out as good as they are now.
I reckon they got that good because they weren’t frightened to suck.
They just did lots. Learnt. Did some more. Learnt some again. And overtime, they got good. Great, even.
The downside of perfection is it stops you from being prepared to suck for a bit. And that means you will never get to learn what you need to be great at something. Perfection is a curse in that way.
Bill Withers said it best: You can’t get to wonderful without going through alright.
But when you see ‘Alright’, tell it that you are just passing through.
Here are some weaknesses of the iconic Do Lectures Wales:
1, It is hard to get to. It takes place on the far western edge of Wales.
2, The Wifi is woeful.
3, It lasts for 3 days. And 3 nights.
4, 150 people is its limit.
5, You have to camp.
Here are some strengths:
1, As it takes so long to get to, speakers stay for the entire time.
2, People have to put their phones down and talk to each other.
3, First day, awkward. Second day, ice broken. Third night, 4 am camp fire pals..
4, You get to talk to everyone.
5, You go home smelling of wood smoke. And are proud of the fact.
I don't think you can separate jeans and music.
Hiut Denim Co has made jeans for some great musicians from The Stranglers to the Arctic Monkeys.
We briefed Weareknit, an uber cool technology company that makes ideas come to life, to make that link even stronger in this crazy digital world.
This is what they come up with. The Internet of radio. It allows our followers on Twitter to chose the music that the factory listens to. All our Twitter followers have to do is write: #hiutmusic followed by the name of the artist and the track. And that's it. Then it plays that track at the Hiut Denim Factory. I love this connection of making a great pair of jeans and this digital world we live in.
When a company has no marketing money, it has to do interesting things. Or die.
The more we do interesting things, the more interesting things happen.
I love that equation.
Here's a film to explain more: http://hiutdenim.co.uk/blogs/films
After The Do Lectures last year, I had some help from an attendee in packing up mattresses into black bin bags. We got talking.
Her view on The Do Lectures was it was amazing. But she thought we would have problems with it. And those problems were how were we going to keep it small. Because it was so amazing. And he belief was one day, word would get out.
She had lots of ideas with what we could do with it. Mind you, as it I found out later, she had over 40 patents to her name, so having lots of ideas came easy to her.
And yes this year we are going to try her ideas out. Plus lots more. It will be no bigger than last year. We are limited by the size of the barn. And parking. Instead our efforts will be concentrated on making it more magical, have more surprises, more craziness, more magic.
But as it stands now it can’t get any bigger.
I take comfort from what Rene Redzepi has done over at Noma. It seats just 45 people. And yet it has a world-class reputation. And has changed how we view Denmark.
I have some regrets about The Do Lectures. When Mickey Smith spoke at the Do, I had an idea about covering the floor with seaweed so we would all get a sense of the sea. I got busy, and I didn’t follow though. Last year, I wanted to build a death slide. A waterslide that went down the field. But again, we ran out of time.
But this year, we have had time to dial up the craziness. We can’t fit more people in, but we can fit more magic in.
The Guardian put The Do Lectures in the top ten ideas festivals in the world. But being amongst the best is not good enough. We need push on ahead.
From the very edge of West Wales, we are dialing up crazy.
The Do Lectures. Remarkable stories from remarkable people.
Photo by Andrew Paynter.
Stories are important. They have a power to change things. Stories are how we learn. They can change how we do things.
They explain complex things simply. They inspire us. They spark our imagination. They often have a moral to share. With each great story comes life’s important lessons. About determination, about struggle,about what drives us, about why we never gave up.
When you have heard a great story, you seldom forget it. They stay with you.
The Do Lectures. Remarkable stories from remarkable people.
Photo by Andrew Paynter.