There are moments in our lives that define who we are, moments that allow us to truly shine as leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives, or any kind of expert in our given field. They are doors that have been opened to us, kind words in our favor or an acknowledgement of our skills. We tend to attribute these moments to luck or to chance. Too often we consider ourselves passive participants. We are not passive participants. Luck can be created, and opportunity can be manifested through action. We can’t make progress or see results by sitting idly waiting for things to happen. We make things happen through countless introductions and pitches. We open doors by doing.
Creating Opportunity Where None Seems To Exist
There was a janitor, born in Mexico, high school dropout. He was a humble guy who cleaned at the Frito Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He saw a company video, where the president of the company encouraged everyone to “act like an owner”. One day, during an equipment malfunction, a batch of Cheetos had come out plain, not covered in their signature orange powder. He took the batch home and concocted his own flavors based on “elote”, a Mexican style corn usually served with cheese, mayo and chili powder. His chili recipe for the Cheetos was a hit with his family and they encouraged him to pitch it to executives at Frito-Lay. Shortly after, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos hit the market and the janitor, Richard Montanez, became an Executive Vice President for PepsiCo.
From Bee Sting To Shark Tank
A little girl from Texas, Mikaila Ulmer, turned a bee sting experience into a business venture. Instead of being preoccupied by fear of the insects, she began studying bees and became interested in their role in the ecosystem. She was reminded of her great-grandmother’s recipe for lemonade that called for honey. By bringing those interests together, Mikaila developed a recipe using local honey which would be sold with a portion of proceeds to organizations dedicated to researching and saving honeybees. Her project earned her a spot on Shark Tank and resulted in a $60,000 investment–and most recently a contract with Whole Foods to distribute her lemonade in 55 stores across multiple states.
Commonality In These Stories
What these stories have in common is that they were not only inspired to take action, but they drew from a place that was personal and real. Richard drew from his culture and experimented with flavors he knew and loved. Mikaila’s love for her grandmother inspired her and fulfilled a need to find a way to make a difference. They believed in what they were doing and happened to convince the right people to believe in them too. They were not considered “qualified” by traditional means, but rose to the occasion to pursue something they were passionate about.
We will not always be ready for things to happen. We won’t be handed opportunity. We must seize it and remember that it may not always look like we want it to. It may be scary, or intimidating. There may be a lot that we don’t know. But there are no true experts. Being qualified is a myth. It is not a matter of knowing everything there is to know or being the smartest person in the room. It is about daring to do things that others won’t. It’s about having the audacity to build the door rather than wait for one to open. There are many things that will pass us by if we are too afraid to leap. The time is right now. Spend none of your time convincing family and friends that you’ve got a great idea. Instead, spend your time tracking down the right people and convince them that you are worthy of their time or their money. Take any rejections for what they are and move on. Regardless of the elements you may feel are against you, make things happen.
Greg S. Reid
Author, Speaker, Filmmaker
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