What seems like a lifetime ago, in the summer of 2001, I got one of those crazy ideas. For those of you who know me, you know that this is not terribly unusual.
I was in Seattle, running my corporate events company, Impression Events, and I found this breathtaking spot at the foot of Mt. Si for a 700 person picnic. The problem was, there were no picnic tables.
Now a sane person would say: (a) rent the tables, or (b) find a different spot – but as we’ve already established I’m known to doing things a little differently. I like to think of it as “creative” thinking.
Anyway, the gorgeous site was owned by the City of Snoqualmie. They occasionally had concerts there – as the site was situated on a gentle sloping hill – but most of the time (since it was table-free) it was just one of those hidden gems that taxpayers had the privilege maintaining, but not using.
But it was so beautiful! It was perfect! I had to have my Graceland-themed picnic there! Yes, imagine…Elvis and Priscilla making their grand entrance via golf cart down to the stage…
I tend to not only think outside-a-normal-box, but I’m also stubborn (since I’m outing foibles), and I just had to figure out a way to make it happen. That’s when it struck me! What if… rather than renting normal tables that would stick into the grass and look out of place in the middle of paradise, we were to use the same amount of money and instead build gorgeous picnic tables to donate to the City of Snoqualmie??? Hmmmm…..
So of course, that’s what we did. I sweet-talked my brilliant-former-engineer-husband into designing picnic-table-blue-prints, helping me order all the materials, and oh, also heading up the construction assembly-line (we were newly-weds at the time). I pulled together a team of extraordinary volunteers, we brought in Krispy Kremes and lunch, had the materials delivered, and we had an absolute blast spending a day in paradise building 100 gorgeous picnic tables that the City of Snoqualmie now owns.
I’m sure you won’t find this kind of thing in your normal business play-book.
So why the trip down memory-lane this holiday season? Well I just finished reading Blake Mycoskie’s, Start Something That Matters, and I’m completely inspired. He’s reminded me of the impact we all can make when we think creatively. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Blake, he’s the guy who founded TOMS. TOMS shoes breaks all the normal rules of business. They are a for-profit company that has making-a-difference woven into the fabric of their organization. For every pair of shoes they sell, they provide a pair of shoes to a child in need. They have given more than 1,000,000 shoes away – and are making quite a nice business out of doing so in the process. And people who work for TOMS aren’t simply “employees”, they’re part of the TOMS ”movement” – so how’s that for engagement?!Read the rest of this entry »