“So let the other guys keep dreaming about the future; we’ll be the ones building it.”
Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston growls the line, dust flying through the open windows behind him, which frame a secluded desert road. It’s a scene straight from a modern Western flick or hit tv show about a teacher turned meth maker, but that’s not what this is. This is a Ford commercial.
Like most modern viewers, we don’t take much stock in commercials. With the advance of streaming platforms, it’s rare that we’re exposed to them at all, and when we are, we tune out or fast forward. Occasionally, however, we’re struck by a commercial. Maybe it holds our attention long enough to garner a laugh or a sense of curiosity in the product, and maybe, just maybe, it inspires us.
Such was the case with this Ford commercial, released last fall and delivered by algorithms and marketers to the right audience. The message behind the Ford commercial—the one hidden behind tech-heavy scenes of futuristic freeways or factories—is one we believe in: the key to success lies in hard work. You can have a vision, but without tenacity and good, old fashioned labor, it’s only that: a vision, a mirage, and a dream.
Don’t get us wrong—a good vision or intention marks the beginning of something great; but it’s only the beginning. The Ford commercial points out that the future isn’t created in a keynote address, and that it wasn’t the president’s speech that got us to the moon. A keynote can inspire great ideas, and the president’s talk of the moon created the passion and fervor that carried a nation—but it didn’t actually accomplish anything. It was the effort of hundreds of scientists, thousands of manual workers, and a dozen brave astronauts that did that.
As inspirational as we found the commercial, we did also find it flawed. Cranston spends a lot of time belittling visionaries, and though his argument in favor of hard work rings true, his assertions against ambitious aspirations are wrong. It’s not either/or—it’s both.
It’s the difference, we’ve realized, between passion and effort. Both are necessary for success, but they rest in symbiosis; without one, the other is largely useless. Talking about the future is great, but without hard work, it’s just talk. Correlatively, hard work is necessary to instigate change, but without a set intention, it’s just work for the sake of work.
The best businesses find the balance between passion and effort and between vision and creation. That’s why a great strategic plan is just as important as constant training for your staff; it’s why hiring people who care about your business and your product is only as important as hiring people who understand how to interact engagingly with customers. Without one, the other is never going to be truly effective.
And it’s in striking this balance that we, The Mann Group, thrive. We help retailers create inspiring strategic plans, but without the tough work of implementation, it’s just a plan. We can provide trainings that we know work, but without the guidance and intention of a leader, they’ll dissipate. It’s in the constant duality of passion and effort that we, and the retailers and manufacturers we help, find success.
So let us all dream about the future, and let us all build it.