Helping One Million People
By Levi Andersen
I have a few of those select memories of my father that really stand out for me. Usually these memories are from times when we worked with our hands while on remodeling our home. Working together always seemed more special than attending a sporting event, maybe it was because I felt more like a friend or peer than a son?
One day during a trip to the local hardware store my dad and I were talking and he asked me, "Would you rather invent something big and sell it once for a million dollars - or - invent something small and sell it a million times for one dollar?"
The thirteen-year-old me was puzzled. I said "I don't know. I'd like to make something special and one of a kind. Something really awesome. Not like a simple toy or pen or something. What about you?"
My dad said, "I would rather invent something affordable that could help a million people. It would be special because a million people would have wanted to buy it, even if it was simple. Seeing a million people helped by my product would be a really cool thing, wouldn't it?"
That was the first time that I realized something key: not all inventions are designed for their creator. Inventors find a need in the world and invent a solution around that need. I always thought it was the other way around. I didn't realize the best inventions came from people who are the best listeners.
In my life and on a personal day to day level, I get distracted by the big 5-year plan and forget to make the small moments special and memorable. As baristas and servers we need to realize that success is built after hundreds of small wins. Every detail matters and is worth our attention. Let's treat even the cup placement special. Even the way we ask someone a question. It all matters.
What is the smallest way you helped someone today?