While on sabbatical, between leaving my former job
and starting my own company, I purchased a house on a monstrously
overgrown lot. As I attempted to revive what had once been a meticulous
lawn with well-kept gardens, I often faced the challenge of trying
to decide if a particular plant was a parasitic vine, a weed or
a desired garden plant.
I began to pull up, turn under and chop out these annoying renegades
in what I hoped would one day be an orderly, controlled environment,
a thought occurred: “Who the hell determines what is a weed
and what isn't?” I mean, what makes a weed a weed any way?
felt an affinity for the weeds slated for removal, and at that
moment, the reason for my feelings dawned on me. The etiquette
of suburban gardening is identical to the hierarchy of politically
correct corporate life. Let me explain. If something sprouts
up in your flowerbed, that does not resemble the seeds and bulbs
you so carefully planted, you immediately rip it out to maintain
your flowerbed design.
is no different in the corporate world. How many times have
we seen a newly hired employee, sprouting with fresh ideas,
come into a painstakingly organized corporate landscape, only
to get pruned back or, even worse, terminated in the name of
preserving the corporate culture? So it goes for weedy flora
and their human counterparts.
realized that my affinity for weeds stemmed from years of having
my innovative and “untraditional” ideas about business cut back
by the corporate powers that be.
at LiNE Zine
help us all grow a little weedier, to thrive when and where
it matters, in the up coming issues of LiNE Zine this column
will feature a variety of real-life, human, weeds. But enough
about what’s to come! In this issue’s Weeds column, we’ll
talk about what it is to be a weed. Who knows, maybe you can
be the next featured weed! Not sure you want to be a weed?
Read on, and then send me an email to tell me what you think.
Back to the
a weed in the corporate flowerbed, I had simply wanted to put
down roots and grow. I continually searched for new ways to
help my fellow weeds grow and thrive in their unusual niches.
have amazing qualities. They can grow anywhere. They can survive
almost anything, including dogs. Yet, when flora of this type
creeps into a backyard or garden bed, we treat it like the plague.
We wheel out the toxic spray and administer it. Then, just to
make sure the weed is truly gone, we mill the weed-and-feed
mixture through the spreader on to the oh-so-perfectly-manicured
patch of grass.
should a weed be a threat? It is a tenacious grower with tremendous
power for preservation and survival-of-the-fittest tactics that
lay to waste any species of grass. Yet it does not, and will
never, conform to the standards for lawn configuration.
Tomima Edmark for example. After finding out what it was like
to bump her head on the glass ceiling at IBM, she decided to
go out on her own. Edmark had an idea about a hair-styling device
but not enough money to finance her invention.
Edmark wrote a book on kissing and with the money earned from
it went into business with the Topsy Tail. Her drive coupled
with wise marketing tactics, such as securing spots on the QVC
shopping channel, has generated over $100 million in revenue.
In my opinion, Edmark has the characteristics of the most tenacious
and resilient weeds.
personal favorite, though, is the weedy decision made by Jack
Dowd of Hershey Foods Corp.[  ] In 1981, Universal
Studios was filming a movie about the friendship between a boy
and an alien. Universal asked Mars for permission to use M&M
candies as the enticement the boy uses to draw the scared alien
out from hiding. Mars said no.
then approached Hershey's head of marketing, Jack Dowd, to see
if they could use Reese's Pieces instead. Such co-promotion
deals were not common then. Dowd was uncertain. But after visiting
the set and learning the story line, Dowd saw the sprout of
a very good possibility and agreed to sign on.
agreed to sign Hershey on by offering Universal one million
dollars in promotions for the rights to use the film in Hershey's
advertising. Upon hearing the news, Dowd's staff and former
Hershey president Earl Spangler thought Dowd had lost his mind.
How could he commit to spending a million dollars on a movie
script about a space creature they had not even seen?
course, the movie “E.T.” broke several box-office records. More
importantly, sales of Reese's Pieces tripled within two weeks
of the movie's opening. What a wise decision Dowd made by agreeing
to Universal's then-unconventional movie endorsement of a food
assert that a weed is a weed only because someone has said so.
Not because it lacks quality, character or true grit, but only
because it did not blend into the gardener's landscape design.
The enforcers of the corporate landscape weed out great ideas
before they have a chance to sprout—not to mention the frequent
extermination of brilliant employees through neglect or a pink
slip before their skills bloom.
so, from the tip of my roots to the fullness of my voice, I
say to the corporate lawn with their First Lady holly bushes
and Presidential peonies (varieties that thrive only in full
sun, enriched soil and adequate water): “You may squash us in
your patch of grass, but not every lawn has a traditional gardener!
We will thrive and live to succeed where mere grass can only
any thriving weeds? Think you might be one? Send me an email
and tell me the story! email@example.com