Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Something about imagination

When Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka opened the doors of the Chocolate Factory to the children and looked at the sparkle in their eyes while bursting out his song and dance, I wonder if he would have needed business financing. How exactly did Willy Wonka build such an elaborate factory of chocolate rivers and jelly filled mushrooms? Did he realize that those Oompa Loompa's were probably illegal and he would have to face severe monetary as well as public relations damage? Who finances a world of sweet imagination? Well if you work in Ashland, Oregon...that would be me.

I'm sure Willy would have started as my client. There is a pull visionary/lunatic clients have to me that must be cosmic. Maybe it is because I can reference most of the ideas they came up with. You want to build a pirate ship? Great idea. Remember Goonies? That was based in Astoria..you should have the boat visit there! You want to start a dream studio where people use their dreams as therapy? Awesome. I just watched Inception last night, that sounds like it could really work! Oh you want to eliminate space based satellites to welcome extra-terrestrials? I was just watching Ancient Aliens. I am amazed we haven't done that yet! You play the renaissance flute? I just listened to some renaissance music. Does Milli Vanilli count? No? Culture Club?

Ashland lives in a bubble of hope, dreams, positive energy, and pixie dust. In it people make their own realities and block out those that don't necessarily fit in...aka, financial capital, business plans, built in market, and general realistic expectations. There is a beacon flickering like a distant lighthouse, calling out creative minds from the foggy seas to its tiny inland shore decorated with Shakespearean pirates, musicians, and bums. It's a lifestyle choice, personal income be damned. And yet if this rolling economic blackout has told us anything it is that it is better to be poor somewhere you are happy then somewhere you are not. A pirate ship business has as much chance at failure as a restaurant, and even less so. If the business model fails you can always take the ship to high seas and start pillaging a few cruise liners. Or as we in corporate America call it..your contingency plan, aka Plan B.

I've become immune to the standard business model. You say you want to start an auto repair shop? What else are you offering? Are there jugglers? What about fire-breathing acts while I wait for my oil change? What can you give me?? I am not going to just sit there and wait for you to sell me. At least dazzle me and distract me before you serve me the bill. That standard shop may work in some small towns..but this is Ashland kid. Come back and see me when you are ready.

We can't all live in Never-never land, but why not. If reality is the same in every city across the country, if we are all mired in the same downturn why can't we serve ours with a little pizazz? You know who used to live there;.. we did, our children did, or still do. They never forgot that life was what you make it not what CNN or the Wall Street Journal tells us it is. Our reality is truly what we make it not what society shoves down our throats.

My reality? Lets go back to that pirate ship, I'll be driving glow in the dark golf balls into the midnight sea where they float on the water safely (as not to harm any marine life) illuminating the ocean and serving as a beacon to welcome extra-terrestrials to our planet. Of course, that reality comes with a contingency plan of white padded walls and a straight jacket, but lets not get ahead of ourselves!

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