Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
January 16, 2009
A Snowmaking Machine in
Duluth? Just Crazy Enough to Work!
am such an idiot. I obviously don’t 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 – if good fortune smiles upon me –
perhaps provide a little left over for D.F.
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, doesn’t 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
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.
you know where Duluth is? Perhaps some of you have visited there. When
people in really cold climates think to themselves, “I wonder where it’s
colder than it is here,” they come up with the answer: Duluth.
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 don’t think big enough. Other
times, I don’t think outlandishly enough (despite what regular readers
of this column may think). I’ve 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. It’s having the audacity to ask for the completely
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 I’m hungry, I am going to call up the richest
person I know and suggest we go to a very expensive restaurant – and
that he pays.
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
But what I like about Duluth’s approach is that they surely knew the
looks they would get for asking for snowmaking equipment, and yet they
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 wouldn’t 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, they’ll be so blown away, they won’t 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. I’m not an idiot. Wait. I just
re-read the first line of my column and now I’m contradicting myself.
Ahem. Want to make me the CEO of your company? I’ll work for $1 million
a year. You can’t all say no!
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