The Roll-on Butter Story

Josh_Fleming_Roll_On_ButterThe Business Record gives all Forty Under 40 honorees a list of about 10 questions, Miss America style, that honorees may be asked upon receiving their award.

And I felt like I was prepared for all of them.

So as we’re standing in line waiting to enter the ballroom, fellow honoree, Lindsay Alderman tells me “If I get the passion question, I’m going to tell people I am passionate about passion.

I smiled.

Then I cried a little bit inside.

Because that was my answer. Passionate people make everything better and that was the way I was going to go with my answer. I didn’t think much of it at the moment, given that there was really only a 10% chance I would be asked that.

So you can guess what happened next. I get asked, “Josh, what are you most passionate about?” I took four really slow steps to the microphone trying to plot out my answer. I’m passionate about a lot of things but what could possibly trump passion?

I had an answer.

I’m going with this.

Big Ideas.” I said. “For example, I have this crazy idea for a roll-on butter product. Imagine butter in a deodorant stick and you roll it on corn cobs.” I said, making hand gestures indicating how this would work. “But the problem is that if you use it on toast, the bread crumbs get stuck on the butter and everything gets messy.

Did I just say that out loud?

I got more laughs than I anticipated. But laughs were what I was aiming for.

I think.

So there I was in front of 450 of Des Moines brightest minds hyping roll-on butter. At least I had a captive audience.

I went on to make some sense of it all.

I think.

“My ideas make people uncomfortable. Sharing your ideas with others who can make them better allows a good idea to become a great idea. Big ideas can change the world.

Or something like that.

And I supposed I gave this answer because I have always been full of big ideas, many of them bad. But in having the bravery to share my ideas, even the ridiculous ideas, a lot of people more talented than I am have made those good ideas – great. And if only 10% of your ideas are good, you might as well give people ten of them and see what sticks.

In 2010, the startup I co-created, vineme.com. It started as Tony Muse’s IDEA of photos on a timeline. I took that IDEA and ran with strategy. Ben Milne gave us validation of the IDEA. Chris Taulborg took all those IDEAS and built arguably the most beautiful website I’ve ever been a part of. And I’ve created more than a few.

Big ideas can change the world.

Now pass the roll-on-butter.

40 Ways You Can Too

Josh_FlemingSeriously. I am honored, humbled and somewhat shocked to have been named to the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2013. It’s actually a little overwhelming and a much bigger deal than I anticipated initially. It seems like everyone knows about it and I feel like a meat head when I run out of creative ways to thank the folks kind of enough to take the time to congratulate me. Typically saying something silly like “The Marketing Coup of the Century!”

I guess that’s my way of humbly handling it.

Since the announcement, I’ve been wondering how to best parlay what I’ve learned into something tangible for others. Sure, it’s great for me and the organizations I’m a part of, but how can what I’ve learned through this insanity we call life benefit someone else? And make no mistake, I am still an active learner on the whole life thing.

But, I’m proof that if a middle-aged ginger with B+ marketing skills (at best) can be so honored, then I’m pretty sure you can too. Unless you’re over 40, then you’ll need to find another list!

So here’s my 40 ways you can too…(in no particular order)

  • Be passionate about what you are doing.
  • Don’t like what you are doing? Don’t do it.
  • Be engaged. With everyone. At all times. No exceptions.
  • Try something new. Central Iowa Bloggers seemed like a geek fest. It is. And I love it.
  • Find value in others. Everybody matters. You matter.
  • Volunteer. Thank you AMA Iowa!
  • Volunteer again. Thank you Prevent Blindness Iowa!
  • Ask a lot of questions. People like to talk about themselves. Listen to them.
  • Wherever you are, drink the Kool-Aid. And then shout about it!
  • Have an opinion. Just not on everything. Focus on what really matters.
  • Have fun on social media, but set limits on that fun.
  • Be self-deprecating. Saying “I collect BBQ” makes me instantly human and lets people know – that I know – I need to drop 30 pounds.
  • Take smart risks.
  • Dream big and create something. Even if it fails, you’ll learn.
  • Meet people that you met on Twitter offline. Do this regularly.
  • Take the sales call. Tell them now is a bad time. But schedule something in three weeks. Hold the appointment.
  • Don’t burn bridges – even if people have burned bridges with you.
  • Call your mom at least two times a week and tell her about your life.
  • Find a true peer. Not a mentor, but your business equal. Bounce career decisions (like this blog post) off of them. Word to you Claire Celsi!
  • Don’t settle for being average.
  • Don’t spend your time with Eeyores.
  • You are who you are. The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you’ll be embraced.
  • Surround yourself with talent greater than your own. Harness it for good.
  • Friends with photoshop skills are invaluable.
  • Your ideas are not in stone. Allow your ideas to be made better by others.
  • If you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t know the answer. Then go find the answer and report back.
  • “Fake it till you make it” is a flawed strategy. Figure out how to make it.
  • Go out of your way for someone else. Do this more often than you can actually handle and expect nothing in return.
  • Everyone is busy, stop telling people you are as well.
  • Always say thank you.
  • Call service staff members by their first name.
  • Using smiley face emoticons in email let people know you aren’t pissed off.
  • Give praise when others do well.
  • Stand up for people you believe in and do not waver.
  • Become an expert at something.
  • Make friends with the media and return their calls. And give them story ideas that don’t benefit you directly.
  • Celebrate the success of others with vigor.
  • You can’t get what you don’t ask for. So you have to ask.
  • Close the _____. (Sale, Interview, Next Meeting). Move it forward.
  • Pick your battles carefully.
  • Karma is a very real thing and happens when you least expect it.

Ok, there are a few more than 40, but none that I wanted to leave out. A big thank you to all of you have been a part of my path, you know who you are. : )

-JF

Random Memes: Denika Jones Almburg

Denika Jones Almburg (Duh-Knee-Cuh) – former Iowa resident making a scene now in Colorado and apparently renting scuba gear from time-to-time. And who doesn’t like a scuba fart reference? Raise your hand Denika!
What are 365 Days of Memes? The context you seek is here. 

Random Memes: Ellen Held

Ellen Held, all around awesome gal and my former intern. When she’s not dominating the marketing world at Carrier Access, Inc., she apparently is a maniac and dances like she’s never danced before. The accompanying song makes this meme really sizzle.

What are 365 Days of Memes? The context you seek is here. 

Random Memes: Bill Davis

If you actually know Bill Davis you might have just sh*t your pants as well. The St. Louis man of no mystery will think this is the greatest thing ever or will probably retaliate in a way that this will not have been worth it. Seemed like a good idea. Cheers, Davis!

What are the 365 days of random memes? The context you seek is here.