In 1997, Steve Jobs famously said in an interview with Businessweek Magazine “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I have found this to be true.
When I was starting Cards Cook, I asked my friends and classmates if they would be interested in participating one day after school to cook food for the homeless. There wasn’t anything like it that had been done before so I was trying to see if people would be receptive to putting in time after school to help others. The answers I got were resoundingly negative. I understood why. Very few busy sophomore and juniors had the time or frankly the interest to participate. I knew that it would be tough to get participants, but still, I thought that I should start CC and see what happens.
What ended up happening was very different then what the initial interviews suggested. Once I actually created CC and turned it into a reality, the public interest went way up. Now, every single week ten to twenty students participate for three hours after school to cook 500 meals for the homeless. They skip varsity football and soccer practice. They reschedule meetings with tutors and miss extra credit lectures to participate in CC. Full IB students who months earlier scoffed at the idea claiming their workload to be too much, when it was actually created jumped at the opportunity to serve.
Thursday I had class. One of the companies that are starting is a clothing company called Fruitee. The premise of the company is complex and I will not take the time here to go over it all. When they asked their friends if they wanted the first edition of their shirts, everyone made fun of them and said that there was no way they would buy them. They said that the idea was dumb and the price was wayyyyy too high for the value.
I shared with them the story of my own experiences. I told the story of CC. My message was that in order to be successful, you cannot rely on the public opinion. You must be willing to get started, at whatever cost. You may not be successful. You may fail. But you will certainly never succeed if you don’t get started. Asking people if they would buy a shirt is very different then having the inventory in hand and finding customers. Just as students initially laughed at the idea of service but when service opportunities presented themselves they participated eagerly, students who didn’t consider buying shirts would change their oppinion when a product was presented.
I know that my writing may come off as being all platitudes and little substance. But it is what I have found to be true.