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January 16, 2009

A Snowmaking Machine in Duluth? Just Crazy Enough to Work!


I am such an idiot. I obviously donít understand anything about how one makes it in this world. Here I sit in this office day after day, running this company, trying to provide enough value to clients to bring in the money that will pay our expenses and Ė if good fortune smiles upon me Ė perhaps provide a little left over for D.F.


Screw me.


I need to think more like the people running the show in Duluth, Minnesota. They just ask the federal government to give them money. But wait, you say, doesnít every city do that? Sure. Every state. Every city. Every county. Every everything. Begging to the federal government is lame and sad, but that is not really the subject of my missive today.


What caught my attention about the latest request out of Duluth was the nature of the request. They are asking the federal government for $600,000 to buy equipment. Snowmaking equipment. Snowmaking equipment. In Duluth.


Do you know where Duluth is? Perhaps some of you have visited there. When people in really cold climates think to themselves, ďI wonder where itís colder than it is here,Ē they come up with the answer: Duluth.


As I write this, it is 17 below zero in Duluth. There is an abundance of snow on the ground. Surely enough for anything they would need to do with it. And yet they are asking the federal government to buy them a machine with which they can make more.


See, this is my problem. Sometimes I donít think big enough. Other times, I donít think outlandishly enough (despite what regular readers of this column may think). Iíve often said that 85-to-90 percent of success in life comes simply from having the nerve to actually ask people for what you want. I think I now realize what the other 10-to-15 percent is. Itís having the audacity to ask for the completely outlandish.


The next time I am hoping for a $2,000 contract, I am going to price it at $10,000. The next time I am looking for an experienced executive type to work for my company, I am going to make an offer to Jack Welch.


Tomorrow, I am going to call up the client I think is probably least satisfied with our services and suggest that we triple the budget from now on. The next time Iím hungry, I am going to call up the richest person I know and suggest we go to a very expensive restaurant Ė and that he pays.


I realize this is not precisely in the spirit of what Duluth did. Better comparisons would be to, say, Florida asking for a subsidy to plant palm trees, or General Motors asking for Congress to train it on how to waste money.


But what I like about Duluthís approach is that they surely knew the looks they would get for asking for snowmaking equipment, and yet they asked anyway.


So why make outlandish requests that are going to inspire such looks? Because hey, you never know! Some people get jazzed by others who have a lot of nerve, and respond in ways you wouldnít expect. Recently an 18-year-old kid ran for mayor of a city in Michigan. He won. Maybe the next time you ask someone for something so outlandish they could never say yes, theyíll be so blown away, they wonít be able to say no.


That said, if I were a member of Congress, would I give Duluth money for a snowmaking machine? Of course not. Iím not an idiot. Wait. I just re-read the first line of my column and now Iím contradicting myself.


Ahem. Want to make me the CEO of your company? Iíll work for $1 million a year. You canít all say no!


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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