Gregory Noack

brain surgeon and rocket scientist *

call me on my cell: 847.732.4882

Say it forward

This is a blog about telling stories that spread. Stories about remarkable products, remarkable people, and remarkable companies. And sometimes it's about people, places and things that aren't remarkable–but could be.

What are you waiting for?

Start.Wanna lose weight? Start.

Have a great business idea? Start.

Feel the desire to repair a broken relationship? Start.

Here’s your nudge. A quote from W. H. Murray:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness had genius, power and magic in it.’ Begin it now.”

Start. And listen, to yourself. You might hear yourself say, “But they’ll criticize me.” “What if I fail?” “I don’t have time!”Every great artist, every successful entrepreneur, and every world-class athlete has heard that voice too. And they didn’t ignore it. They owned it and then they turned it upside-down, inside-out.

So when you hear it, and you will — talk to it, laugh at it, and let it know the gig is up. Take it out of the shadows and expose it — shine a light on it. Give it a name if you want. Dress it up and give it form.

Fear hates to be exposed.


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“That’s none of your business!”

What business are you in?

Pretty simple question, right?

Oh, I see. You work in advertising, or you’re a teacher, or you cut hair in a salon.

Well, I still don’t know what business you’re in.

Maybe these stories will help…

70 years ago railroad companies thought they were in the railroad business. They pretty much owned the market for transporting goods and people. Then airplanes, semi-trucks, and interstate expressways took over. People started flying long distances or driving. And companies with freight started using trucking companies.

Railroad companies were in the transportation business, but they didn’t know it. If they did, today we’d be flying B&O Airlines, landing at O’Hare, and taking one of their trains to Rockford or Peoria. B&O would own a trucking company too.

Fast-forward to today. What business is Zappos in? Selling shoes online? Nope. When Tony Hsieh started the company he knew they’d have to offer free shipping, both ways, because shoe-fitting is so random. Advisers and investors said he was crazy. Said it would never work–too risky and too expensive. But Tony had a secret. He knew what business they were about to enter (and it wasn’t selling shoes online). Ask Tony what business Zappos is in and he’ll tell you, “We create happiness.”

Whenever I ask a woman if she’s heard of Zappos I get one of two answers:
1. “No.”
2. “I love Zappos!”

And it’s almost always #2.

BTW…two years ago, Amazon bought Zappos for $800 million.

So if you work in advertising or marketing, maybe you’re a storyteller that helps businesses grow. (That’s the business I’m in.)

And if you’re a teacher, do you think maybe you help kids learn how to make their dreams come true?

What if you cut hair in a women’s salon? I think you might be in the business of helping women find their inner beauty, and proudly display it.

One more time — what business are you in?


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Rainbow of Colors?

Heard a radio commercial recently for a women’s clothing store that’s touting its new Spring Collection.  “A rainbow of colors, the perfect way to get Spring fever,” is what I think it said.  Did anyone hear that, feel that, see that? Nope. Cliches — way overused.

How about this radio ccmmercial instead…

“Remember in The Wizard of Oz  — the house is spinning, everything’s in black and white.  And then…crash…the house hits hard and wakes up Dorothy.  She slowly makes her way to the door…and slowly opens it. Do you remember what she saw? So many bright, vivid colors! Take just a second…can you see it right now? You can at XYZ — we call it our Spring collection…”

Did you see that? Sure you did. And it looked a little different to you than it did to me because you created it yourself, in your own mind.

But they won’t say that because it takes too much time.  It doesn’t give them time to talk about their “great customer service” or their “large selection of sizes” or  “ample parking.”

They do this because they think the message has to have something in it for everyone.  Who’s everyone?

What about you?  Do you let your customers use their imagination?  Do you tell them a story they can spread?

Or…do you go from cliche to cliche listing “benefits” that nobody hears?  And then, lemme guess — you probably wonder why very few people show up.

“The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.”  –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Take each customer on a trip. Expand her mind — it won’t return to its original size, but she might just return to your store.

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