I grew up on Dr. Seuss books. His wonderful cadence and charm inspired me towards a love of reading at an early age. Included in his whimsical rhymes are timeless bits of wisdom that have stuck with me over the years.
Now that I have two toddler children of my own, I find I’m interpreting these bits of wisdom in new ways. During a recent bedtime reading of Green Eggs and Ham, I found it could very well be used as an allegory for selling creative ideas.
If you’re not familiar with the story, an unnamed protagonist is approached by a character named Sam and offered a meal of green eggs and ham. Our protagonist politely declines stating simply, “I do not like green eggs and ham.” Throughout the remainder of the book, Sam offers the same meal in increasingly silly situations all the while being flatly rejected. Finally, after an altercation with a boat, a train, a car, a house, and several animals, the protagonist relents only to find he loves green eggs and ham and vows to “eat them ANYWHERE!
As someone who designs digital products for a living, I can identify with Sam. Nothing is more frustrating than presenting an innovative new concept only to be met with instant rejection or dismissive opinions. Convincing clients to try something new can be a challenge. Many like what they know and don’t want to be bothered with a disruption to their current workflow.
I can understand hesitation towards new products and functionality. Keeping up with digital trends can feel like merging onto the interstate while riding a tricycle. It’s up to us as creators to demonstrate why our new ideas are worthy of attention and a test drive. When you finally get that ultimate buy in, big things can happen.
Steve Jobs was a great example of this. When he first unveiled the iPod, it was met with mixed reviews. Users across the internet dismissed it as too expensive and superfluous (the original iPod release thread at Mac Rumors is still accessible and makes for fantastic reading). Of course, Apple’s clients are consumers, but the sentiment remains. Thankfully, Jobs and the folks at Apple were forward thinking enough to continue with the iPod and eventually revolutionized the music industry.
Not all products are destined for the same level of success as the iPod. But, persistence and passion can pay off on ideas of any size. Are you patient enough to give your clients the time and information they need to try your innovations? Once you capture their attention, will they love your ideas much as you do? Are you willing to continue to grow and refine your creation even if it’s initially met with rejection? If the answer to these questions is anything but a resounding yes, you’re in for a tough career.
Who do you identify with in this story? Are you like Sam, waiting for the day your idea is given a fair shot? Or, are you more like the protagonist? Whatever your answer may be, don’t let fear or complacency determine your fate. Dr. Seuss said it best in Oh the Places You’ll Go!:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”