Nobody Remembers the Naysayers

Remember when the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, refused to believe that the Dark Lord had returned to cut Harry Potter open, take his blood, mix it with the bones of his father, then burst forth in a blaze of fiery magic?

In a magical world of possibility, Fudge was blind to possibilities. He was a bureaucrat whose close-mindedness led to great losses against the Death Eaters, and you probably don’t remember him because he was a naysayer.

“Nobody remembers the naysayers,” said eternal optimist Bill Clinton in his speech to the graduating class of Yale College last week. “In the end, all that endures are the builders. And in the end, even the builders are forgotten and all that endures are the ripples of what they built.”

This blog is called Possibilities because I’ve seen too many great ideas not get built when probability gets in the way of possibility. “Unlikely to get past legal,” says the naysayer. Or, “Why waste time when odds for success are so low,” says another. “Too complicated,” they all snap.

Considering possibility means seeing potential, and seeing potential takes an open mind and a builder’s spirit. In my business where ideas are my capital, I come to work each day hoping to think up great ideas, but I’m also looking for the construction crews with the spirit and energy to help me build them. It certainly takes imagination, but it takes a good amount of toil too.

Just consider these nay-sayings that might have killed the possibility of great ideas had the tenacity of idea builders not prevailed:

This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication (Western Union memo, 1876)

We don’t like their sound (Decca Recording Company, in rejecting The Beatles, 1962)

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home (Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977)

So join me in seeing possibilities. Be brave like Harry Potter, and like the gifted wizard apprentice, be remembered and endure.

Karen loves winning trophies for clients, believing awards affirm how much strategy and creativity matter. As Ketchum’s chief strategy and creativity officer, as well as co-lead of Ketchum’s 50+ specialty, she is an evangelist for courage and creativity in communication, and she ensures strategic discipline and creative liberation for the firm’s global network of planners. Her devotion to studying human behavior, crowdsourcing creative ideas and working across silos have contributed to Ketchum winning more awards for clients than any other PR firm. Some of her initiatives include the creation of Mindfire, Ketchum’s crowdsourcing site for fueling creative ideas; the Ketchum Creative Community and related Passion Panels to solve client challenges; and the Ketchum Media Optimizer, the first media planning discipline in the public relations business. As a member of the small minority of female agency creative chiefs, Karen is on a mission to inspire and empower more women to take on lead creative roles.