Connect the Dots

My friend Rick Clunn (that’s right, I’m a name-dropper) once told me that when he was getting started as a professional angler he would look at everything from the perspective of how it might apply to bass fishing — from what he ate to whatever he might be reading. Like just everything else he says, it was worth remembering and applying to my own life and work.

I think about that sort of thing a lot. If I’m driving down the road, how does that relate to fishing? If I’m visiting Hobby Lobby with my wife, how does what I see there help a tackle retailer? If I’m going through security in an airport, what can I learn that translates into something more meaningful in my life?

Obsessive? Maybe … but sometimes it’s tough to get ahead without being at least a little obsessive. The real benefit of going through an exercise like that is it brings incongruent elements together in ways they might never otherwise meet, and that’s the real core of creativity — connecting dots that have never been connected before.

So how does that impact you as a retailer or manufacturer of fishing gear?

The short answer is that I don’t know … and neither do you, until you try. There are few meaningful things we can say about breakthrough thinking or real revelations in our lives and business, but one thing we can say is that they’ll come from unexpected places.

But where do you start? How do you get these creative juices flowing and these ideas percolating?

I think it begins as close to home as you can get. It starts with the things that matter most to you and that you know the best. There are ideas and breakthroughs to be found there if only you can uncover them.

I’ll assume that your business is one of those passions or interests. The other could be something as conventional as your family or as offbeat as your fascination with the Shakespeare authorship controversy. (We really know remarkably little about the Bard —who really wrote the plays and sonnets?)

As an example, I’m interested in fishing history. If I owned a tackle shop, I’d want it to be the go-to place not only for gear but also for angling history in the region. Whether you wanted a pack of sinkers or to see a replica of the lake record crappie, my shop would be the place … and that could give me an edge, an angle, a niche that others don’t have. I’d have more than a store; I’d have a destination.