Anyone who works in an office knows, the shared bathroom can turn into a real stink-a-palooza in the morning (the coffee hours). Every day, when I venture into my office’s restroom, I mentally prepare myself for the worst possible olfactory scenario to ensure that I’m not ever caught off guard. Most of the time, the situation is fine. Othertimes…..
This is not a post about bowel movements.
This is a post about opportunity.
Today, I took my usual 15-second mental prep period outside the bathroom door, hesitantly stepped inside…and was pleasantly surprised by the most wonderful array of floral aromas. For a second I thought I had stepped through the closet door into the Martha Stewart version of Narnia (talkin’ bout the cronic – WHAT – cles of). When I opened my eyes, this was still the same dim restroom I had walked into a hundred times before. The mental image of a lush garden was a figment of my imagination put in place by a newly installed air freshener.
Yes, I really just dedicated 172 words when the preceding could have been summarized, “the company bathroom got a new air freshener.” The beauty of this story is not the drastic improvement in stench (although it is quite nice). The value lies in seized opportunity.
The stink bathroom situation was one which, although I didn’t like, I had grown accustomed to. Because I repeatedly exposed myself to this, I learned to accept it. I am the symbol for the common majority. Some other courageous soul also was exposed to the stink situation, and instead of simply accepting it, exercised problem detection and problem solving skills, and built a virtual rose garden where excrement once reigned supreme. This person is the symbol for the American dream.
I will grant you the previous sentence might be a slight exaggeration, but fundamentally there’s not a huge gap between a stink situation and communication quandary. Let me explain…
As we pass through life, we expand our social circles through a variety of experiences. You have your neighborhood friends, your high school friends, your college friends, your study abroad friends, your softball league friends, your work friends, your theater friends, your “my old-roommate’s friend was the older brother of your friend and now we live in the same city 2,000 miles away from home” friends (hey ian), your Yahtzee club friends, etc. Although you would like to keep in touch with every friend you make along the way, it’s simply too daunting of a task to accomplish. Some friendships are fleeting. Well, some friendships were fleeting.
Mark Zuckerberg saw what was a common communication quandary and turned it into an opportunity. He created (some say stole) a simple college networking service that has evolved into a social networking tool adopted by almost half a billion people.
Problem: The office bathroom is a serious stink situation.
Solution: Air freshener.
Problem: “Keeping in touch with several different groups is way too time consuming”.
Although one of these solutions resulted in a $14 billion company and the other only got a brief mention on the #5,742,860th most visited website in the world (according to Alexa), they both share the same theme. Problems lead to opportunities. Opportunities lead to wealth. Wealth leads to Hawaii. Hawaii leads to hula dancing.
Problems lead to hula dancing.