takes took to execute a vision
This is a story about a vision I pursued to bring a quirky idea to life when I was 18 years. An idea that was planted into my brain like a seed with only one direction to grow: outward. I did not have a choice. I did everything in my power to bring my idea to life.
You get the point, and you know the feeling. That eureka moment.
We each attack our ideas differently, and have a unique approach of what we do with an idea when it strikes.
Maybe you know exactly where to focus your energy to make the magic happen.
Perhaps your idea is so profound that it drives you to browse the internet all night – to confirm that you are in fact a genius. Or at least you felt this way when you discovered that nobody else on earth is doing what just ‘popped into your mind’.
And that is a great feeling.
So, where do you start?
I stumbled upon a post by Richard Branson. He writes, “Purpose spurs passion, which fans the sparks that light the fires that fuel change”.
Really Richard? Why did you just make me think so hard? Only you can write about sparks and fires with such motivational rhetoric.
And he continues, “We all have the ability to start something simple, and grow it into something great, if there is a clear purpose behind our actions.”
Now we’re talking. Thank you Sir for the clarification.
This is what I interpret, in my own words:
Bringing an idea to life is going to take a lot more than just the idea itself. You need to be passionate about your idea and you need to have intent with what you want to do with your idea. And then you take your torch and go light the world on fire.
Here is one of my favorite cases of Vision Lock.
The vision: To walk on a wire between the two World Trade Center towers.
The visionary: Philippe Petit
The Vision Lock: One day in 1968 while Philippe was waiting for his dentist appointment he picked up a magazine. Therein the magazine he discovered that the two World Trade Center Towers were undergoing construction. And from that moment onward, he was locked into the idea of performing there. And nothing would stop him.
And so the story goes…
Once upon a time in high school I was in my friend’s room.
On his wall there was a framed picture of him at a younger age, playing football. He was about 12 years in the photo.
It was an epic close up shot of him running for a touchdown, as he left the defenders in his dust.
The moment I saw the picture on his wall, the idea came to me – to do something great with this image. (It was just a silly t-shirt, but I was stoked about it)
You should know the two teams in the photo are cutthroat rivalries. Our team, Kings Knights vs. Loveland Tigers.
We were in his room, beating our hi scores in Snake with our awesome Nokia phones. I asked him, “Hey, you know we’re playing Loveland next Friday, right?”
He replied, “Yeah, what about it? Are you going to the game?”
I continued while I pointed to his picture, “This picture on your wall is awesome! You were always the fastest kid on the field. I imagine we won that game then, and we’re going to whoop them again next Friday night. I am going to make t-shirts using this photo with a phrase that reads ‘COULDN’T CATCH US THEN. CAN’T CATCH US NOW’. And I want to sell the t-shirts at the game. What do you think, man?”
He laughingly replied, “Alright, I guess that makes sense. What’s your hi score on snake?”
I removed the picture from his wall, set it on his desk and asked him if I could borrow it for the evening.
“I will give it back to you tomorrow,” I said.
The following day, I brought it in to my multimedia arts class. I scanned it and started to design the t-shirt I had in mind, of course with my teachers help. This was like the eighth time I ever opened photo shop.
Our teacher was a great guy. Very open minded. The year was 2007. It was the first year my high school offered this ‘new’ digital media arts class. We were the guinea pigs and were given total creative freedom on the projects we pursued.
Some students designed album art. Others edited homemade footage or mocked up posters of their favorite movies. And I was designing a t-shirt, in pursuit to make a buck.
We were just 25 students playing around with mind blowing applications and expensive Apple computers. The iPhone did not even exist yet (for your perspective).
The high school principle was also an awesome guy. He drank like ten cups of coffee throughout each school day – which I thought was insane at the time. He always had a cup of coffee in his hand. Always super fired up. He stepped down as a football coach when he took the new position as principal.
The principal was curious about all the buzz in the multimedia arts class…What are they building in there, he always wondered.
At this point, everybody knew about my idea and and their points of view came to the surface.
My teacher’s perspective of my t-shirt project: I was a starving artist, myself. I want to help Jordan design this awesome t-shirt and frankly, I could care less what he does with it.
The perspective of the principal: You cannot use my school’s equipment to make a profit selling your t-shirts at my game. Cool idea Jordan, but that’s not going to fly.
And then the conflict ensued.
On the day of the big game, I brought to school 50 sheets of iron on transfer paper.
By the time my teacher and I printed off 24 sheets, the principal rambunctiously entered the classroom. He set his coffee on my desk and shouted with flailing hands, “So, you think you’re going to use my equipment to make t-shirts and sell them at tonight’s big game? Nah, nah, nah, no, no, no”.
I argued back, “I bought these iron on papers and all I’m using is the ink! After school, I’m going to buy white shirts and then iron them on, right before the game.”
My teacher stayed out of the conversation and shied away.
The principal resumed, “You are also using the computer. How many more sheets do you have to print? That ink is expensive stuff, Jordan!”
The principal looked at my teacher for an expression of agreement about the expensive ink.
I looked at my teacher and nodded my head back and forth, to try and get my way. I wanted to print off all 50 iron on sheets.
The principal turned back to me and asked, “How much are you selling the t-shirts for tonight?”
“It depends on how much the t-shirts cost me,” I replied.
And at this moment, an executive decision was made.
He said, “Stop the printing now. Go on and do your thing with the t-shirts you can make with whatever you printed so far, and on Monday you need to bring the money you make selling t-shirts back to school, ok?”
This was nonsense I thought, but I went along with it.
I went home after school with 26 blank iron on sheets, 24 sheets which had the printed graphic and then 25 plain white t-shirts.
While I was ironing t-shirts in my front yard, one of my friends stopped by. We were going to the game together. He looked at me and said, “Man you’re crazy, do you really think people are going to buy this crap?”
And that was when I had the idea of attaching the poster to a broom stick. I planned on waving it in the crowd to promote my t-shirts during the game. There were many naysayers about my t-shirt idea, but I blocked out the bullshit. And in my mind, it was time to execute – to do everything I could to sell each and every one of my t-shirts.
I looked to my friend with the iron in my hand and asked, “Did you come over to help me or to make fun of me?”
He stopped the naysaying.
He helped me fold up the 24 shirts and I placed them nicely in a red Kings Knights bag. Kick off was thirty minutes away and I lived a stones throw away from the stadium. It was time to go.
My naysayer friend hopped in the front seat and we started driving to the game.
The stadium was packed when we arrived.
The marching band was warming up and I stepped along to the beat of the drum. All I could think about was selling my t-shirts. As soon as we walked into the stadium, my friend began talking to a girl. I kept walking toward the red swarm of Knights fans I saw off in a distance.
I held my broom stick in the air and climbed the stadium stairs to the student section. The entire student section looked down at me and started to cheer loudly. That was a great feeling.
They didn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing. And that was ok – I just wanted people to cheer and notice me. I waved my broom stick back and forth in a bowing motion and had the entire student section doing the ‘wave’.
There were no naysayers. It was just me, a bag of t-shirts and hundreds of customers – all the parents and teachers and family and neighborhood.
I walked through the crowd like a hot-dog salesman at a baseball game.
I sold 24 shirts at $5/shirt before the game even started.
I came to school with $120 in my pocket, anxious to start multimedia class so I could tell my teacher how everything went on Friday night.
I step into class and I see the principal speaking to my teacher.
The principal turns to me and says, “Show me the money, Jordan”.
I opened up my wallet and let the principal look inside and said, “120 dollars!”
He insisted that I hand all the money to him. And so that’s what I did. Then he gave me back a ten-dollar bill and said, “You can use that money for your lunch tomorrow. I want you to come to my office, please.”
We stepped into his office and we both sat down. He opened his drawer and dropped the money inside. I noticed a pack of cigarettes in his drawer and I laughingly asked, “Did you steal those cigarettes, too?”
He leans back into his chair and he rambunctiously says, “Jordan, I’m going to miss you when you graduate. I cannot tolerate you running a thrift shop in my class room, but I think you’re going to do just fine at Ohio University.”
I’ll always wonder where my hard earned $110 went…
My bet is coffee and cigarettes. Or perhaps a couple ink cartridges.