33 of the world ' s best business minds tackle one urgent question: What does it really take to make your organization remarkable
Most organizations are stuck in a rut. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they ' re petrified that growth means change, and change means risk, and risk means death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so most companies (and individuals) just keep trying to be perfect at the things they ' ve always done.
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October 20, 2005
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Excerpt from The Big Moo by Seth Godin
HARRY HOUDINI WAS A LOUSY MAGICIAN
Historians of magic are in total agreement about this: Houdini did hackneyed mechanical tricks, showed little evidence of talent, and had almost none of the suave charisma that the great magicians of his era had.
And yet when I ask you to name a famous magician, odds are you'll say, "Houdini!"
So, how did he do it How did a lousy magician become such a spectacular success
Simple. He wasn't a magician.
Harry Houdini invented an entirely different sort of vaudeville attraction. He was not a magician at all, but an escape artist. Crowds didn't line up to watch him cut a lady in half. Instead, they were fascinated by his taunting of death, by the way he used himself as the most important prop in the act.
One of his breakthrough performances took place in England. Houdini was challenged (by a renowned locksmith ' something you don't see very often) to free himself from a new kind of escape-proof set of handcuffs. At first he hesitated, but, motivated by the cry of the public, he accepted the challenge.
After half an hour in a tiny, isolated chamber onstage, Houdini came back before the audience and asked that the cuffs be removed so that he could take off his heavy wool coat (he was sweating from the heat) and then replaced. The crowd angrily refused ' Houdini would not be permitted to trick them. Unflappable as always, Houdini used his teeth to extract a razor from his coat, which he then dramatically shredded to pieces in front of the crowd. With a grimace, he returned to his chamber. An hour later, he emerged triumphant, holding the opened handcuffs over his head.
When Houdini made the decision to focus on escapes instead of magic tricks, it was considered professional suicide. There wasn't a market for escape acts. There wasn't a demand for it. It had never been done before. No one knew what it was worth and no one could tell him how long or how demanding his act should be.
Who could have imagined that Houdini would succeed by spending more than an hour and a half doing just one trick, in a closed room, out of sight of the audience Where is it written in the magician's manual that the best way to become famous is to fake not only the outcome but the event itself (Houdini made those handcuffs himself and paid the locksmith to challenge him in the first place ' it only took him a minute to open them when the time came.)
Sometimes, making an original choice when there seems to be no choice at all is daunting. But this is often how the brave succeed while the masses are consigned to failure.