In 2001 Erik Weihenmayer reached the peak of Mount Everest — an impressive feat in-and-of itself. But one thing should be noted: Erik is blind.
I first learned of his story a couple of years ago thanks to a story on NBC’s Today Show. I’ve been a raving fan ever since.
But Everest is only part of the story.
In 2005 Erik became the first blind climber, and 1 of only 150 total climbers to complete the Seven Summits. He has scaled the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite, ascended Losar, a 2,700-foot vertical ice face in the Himalayas, and kayaked the treacherous whitewaters of the 277-miles of the Grand Canyon.
Did I mention that Erik is blind?
In 2005, he co-founded No Barriers, a nonprofit organization with a most appropriate brand tagline, “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”
What Does This Have To Do With Marketing?
I hear you — cool story; but what does this have to do with advertising, marketing and communicating in the marketplace?
Individuals who inspire others to take action possess an uncommon perspective.
The perspective might manifest in any number of ways — from visual arts to mixed media to compelling copy to creative expressions we have yet to see. But whatever form it takes, the rare message that inspires us to actually get off our keisters and take action is born of an uncommon perspective.
This is marketing and communication of the highest order.
And — watch this — it is not born of fear. Or cynicism. Or our-right self-interest.
I don’t know what the appropriate label is for the lazy click bait that drives so much social media activity and is becoming more prevalent in so-called news headlines. But I know it is not creative.
Nor is messaging rooted in fear. Or outright lies.
The creative geniuses I have known have a different brand of vision — one that, among other things, sees through barriers.
Even if you’re not on a mountain’s peak, you know you’re in this rare air because there is amazing clarity. Things are seen through the mind’s eye.
This is where creative thinking and innovation find some real traction. In this environment, we have a shot at making a difference — at moving a market.
An Aspirational Vision For Brands
It may be human nature to seek the shortcut — the easy click bait. It is always easier. It is tough to resist playing to fear or cynicism or ingrained stereotypes.
But the work most of us want to be part of — the messages of enduring brands and campaigns that change the shape of the market — this work is captured by what the poet T.E. Lawrence refers to as dreamers of the day.
”All men dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night
in the dusty recesses of their minds,
wake in the day to find that it was vanity:
But the dreamers of the day are dangerous,
for they may act on their dreams with open eyes
to make them possible.”
As marketers and brands we have an outsized opportunity to impact not just the language of the marketplace; we can exhibit and seed the kind of vision that inspires change, that acts on our boldest dreams with open eyes. That enables us to scale impossible mountains.