The Joy Of Wrong

In the Pike Place Market in Seattle, you can still find the first Starbucks.  There’s something wrong with it, though.  It’s not quite right, not quite a Starbucks.  The logo is different; the layout is different.

It turns out that the original Starbucks didn’t sell coffee.

They sold coffee beans and tea leaves and even herbs.  But except for a sip or a taste of coffee brewed from a particular bean (drip, no espresso!), there was no cup of coffee to be had.

Starbucks was wrong.  Jerry Baldwin, one of the founders, made a mistake.  He thought the beans were the point, not the coffee.  Left to Jerry’s vision of the future, Starbucks would certainly have failed.  It took Howard Schultz, a trip to Italy, and an obsession with espresso to turn Starbucks into Starbucks.  And Howard gets a lot of credit for making that happen.

But what if the “wrong” Starbucks had never been built?  What if Jerry and his partners had said, “Well, we’re not sure if this bean thing is going to work, so let’s do nothing”?  Without Jerry Baldwin and his flawed idea for a coffee bean store, there’d be no Frappuccino.  One led to the other by the usual route, which is never a straight line.

The original Starship Enterprise was conceived by Matt Jefferies.  It looked like a cross between a Frisbee and a can opener.  Clearly wrong.

But Matt had the drive to deliver.  He took the wrong start and revised and improved and innovated until the Enterprise we know and love came to be.  The hardest part, it seems to me, was the first one, the wrong one.

Poking doesn’t mean right.  It means action.

The above is an excerpt from Poke The Box by Seth Godin.  It raises some very important questions.  Like what happened to creativity?  What happened to initiative?  What happened to the desire to do important work?  What happened to the childhood wonder and adventure we all used to have – where we constantly pushed limits and chartered into unknown territory?  Did we all get old and fall into a world of “safe” and “predictable”?

If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe and predictable, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.  So don’t be afraid to start something new or take the first step into the unknown and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.  For often out of failure comes our greatest discoveries and our greatest triumphs.

Happy Wednesday!



2 comments so far

  1. chad on

    Yeah man I read it. I thought it was a phenomenal book. It pretty much tells the story through Howard’s eyes how Starbucks came to be and how it struggled to right the ship during all the Starbucks turmoil and economic turmoil. If you want to read a book about business and leadership and a great company this is a definite read.

  2. Nick on

    I read the sample of “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul” in my kindle. Wan thinking about buying it. Sounds like you may have read the book, if so, was it good?

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