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.

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