Unconventional Thinking Leads to Success and Bread Sliced Bagels
Your first cup of coffee is finished and you are settled into your morning workload when that 10:30 carb craving hits, so you make your way to the break room for a quick fix. Upon opening the box of obligatory bagels, you find that tragedy has struck: some madman has gone and cut them up the wrong way, leaving their marred remnants scattered before you like a grizzly scene from Seven.
Or was it a mistake? There's nothing the Internet loves more than arguing over trivial matters, and this is no exception. This particular teapot tempest was set off when Alek Krautmann brought in some bagels to share with his coworkers at the NOAA office in Washington D.C. They were sliced, as it is notoriously known now, in the St. Louis style of “bread sliced bagels”, i.e., the bagel is put through the slicer as if it were a loaf of bread. He then tweeted a picture of the carnage.
The dogs of war let slip. Buzzfeed, Fox News, Delish, even staunch the bagel supporters at Philadelphia Cream Cheese had something to say about it. #BagelGate is a thing. A sad, sometimes hilarious thing.
I'm not here to weigh in on whether bread slicing your bagels is a proper, prudent, or pleasing option. (No, no it is not.) What I do want to point out is that there is a lesson here about opportunity and creative thinking in life and in business.
“It was a hit!” claims the Tweet, and I'm not going to call Mr Krautmann a liar and slander his good name. (If we're being technical it would be libel, not slander, but that's neither here nor there and the topic for a separate blog post in any event.) Regardless of what Brooklyn boo-hooers might be saying, there are people who enjoy and desire exactly such an...unconventional approach to the breakfast bagel. There is appeal simply in the novel, and as its defenders state, there are advantages over the traditional way of slicing a bagel, depending on what you want out of your bready snack.
Success isn't always about being the biggest, the best, the cheapest, or the fastest. Sometimes it is about finding underserved markets and serving them. You can make the sharpest scissors in the world, sell them at rock bottom prices at every Walmart and Target in the nation, and still not get a sale to that left-handed market. Maybe your slacks are the most durable, most stylish, most economical, but the guy who is 6' 7” and 385 lbs isn't going to buy your skinny jeans; he'll shop at the big and tall store, he'll pay more, and he'll leave happy.
You already know what you have to offer your customers. Today I'm telling you to think about whether you have customers you don't even know about, or services to offer your existing customers that neither you nor they have considered. Kimberly-Clark took their WWI door-buster bandage material Cellucotton and marketed it to post-war women under the brand Kotex. Who else needs your product that you haven't reached out to? Farmer Mike Yorusek got tired of throwing money out the window in the form of perfectly healthy, edible, but odd looking carrots, and hit on the idea of using existing industrial machinery to whittle them down into the now ubiquitous “baby carrots” found in grocery stores, lunch bags, and even fast food joints. What is it that you have or do that someone wants?
Someone had to sell the first dog coat. Someone had to think a pie plate could be a Frisbee. Someone decided they wanted to wake up to the smell of coffee built an alarm clock that wakes you with smells instead of a Mr. Coffee with a wake timer. And yes, someone had to jam their bagel into the bread slicer for the first time.
The next someone could be you. A little hard work and outside the box thinking and you could be making money off the greatest thing since bread-sliced bagels.
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