Our friend Tyson is trying to get the acronym DTF to replace the “outdated” phrase “down to clown” because clowns are gross.
Me: You guys wanna grab a burger?
Tyson: I’m DTF!
So by Tyson’s definition, I’m DTF for most things except for one: karaoke. No. I’ll be damned if I have to listen to another die-hard Adele fan warble “Hello” over her third beer or another Boomer whisper-crooning his way through Sinatra’s “My Way.” But honestly, they have nothing to do with it.
The reason I’m not DTF for karaoke is two fold:
- I’m an absolute terrible singer.
- That stage is CALLING MY NAME (and it’s a little too loud for me to reign myself in properly).
You see, in the halcyon era when Nelly was telling us how hot it was in herr, I was hard at work perfecting my vocal skills. I poured SO clap MUCH clap MONEY clap (I don’t really know how emojis work) into learning how to sing that I was sure my investment would pay off in at least a few off Broadway roles. I auditioned for every solo in school choir– and you know how many solos I landed? A thrilling ZERO. Because my nemesis Jeremy Dulin could “hit the right notes” and “nail the harmonies” and “had the voice of an angel.” What a jerk. I have spent more money and more time trying to perfect these vocal cords’ dulcet tones than I have most endeavors in life and you know where it got me? NOWHERE.
Well, kinda… I still wanted to show Jeremy Dulin that I was a force to be reckoned with. So I figured out how to do choral arrangements (can you do them, Jeremy? Didn’t think so). And by the time 2003 rolled around, I put together the finest arrangements of Clay Aiken’s “This is the Night” that my high school stage would ever know. Yes, fine, damn Jeremy Dulin got the solo but after the piece was over, the conductor put her arm out and had me take the last bow. That’s right, the thunderous applause of the tens of people that had come to our performance was the glory I’d been waiting for my whole life.
So now I have this weird party trick… If you ever put on a piece of music that was composed in the western world before the year 1900, chances are, I can guess the composer. And if not the composer, I can give you the decade and probably country of origin. What started with trying to rep for my boy Clay (since America got it wrong), ended up with me diving headfirst into music composition throughout college. I never did figure out how to sing, but music theory became a home. I couldn’t croon you a major scale but if you gave my Wagner’s Ring Cycle, I could do a complete chordal analysis and tell you how it stylistically fits into the musical language of its day. This has led me to years of blissing out on music. A pair of noise cancelling headphones, a glass of wine, and some Debussy is now my idea of a perfect Saturday. Even professionally, every Moveable Feast gets a carefully curated playlist of local music for each evening to match the mood, acoustics of the room, and even pair with the dishes at dinner. I’m not starring on Broadway, but my life is a million times richer and better for having tried the music thing.
Here’s my point… Whatever the thing is that you wanna do, even if you fail hard, you will be a totally new person for trying. After doing the thing, even if it doesn’t lead to the perfect Broadway dream you start with, your life will be enriched in ways you can’t possibly imagine now.
To bring this back to branding, did you ever take a Ted flight? Ted was United Airline’s answer to low-cost carriers and existed between 2004 and 2009. They took existing planes, removed the first class cabins, put in 156 economy seats, and gave it the personable, affable, and approachable moniker “Ted.” Their initial guerrilla campaigns involved things like going to a busy downtown coffeeshop and buying everyone’s coffee and having the baristas say, “This one’s on Ted.” They sponsored major sporting events just saying, “tonight’s game was brought to you by Ted.” Then there were billboards like this:
About the same time the Clay Aiken wasn’t famous anymore, folks around the country were asking “who the heck is Ted?”
Then right when curiosity was at its height, BOOM, this landed (pun intended):
Complete with the tagline: “Be on a first-name basis with an airline. Meet Ted. A new, low-fare service that flies to fun destinations. Ted, part of United.”
Two years earlier, United had filed for bankruptcy. Two years after Ted was announced, they exited bankruptcy. Ted was consistently profitable and ushered in a new wave of innovation by United Airlines. Yes, Ted did eventually tidily get swallowed up by its parent company, but the team that dreamt Ted up has said that putting the project together was a galvanizing experience, that creating something from scratch forced them into a new way of innovative thinking. They then applied that same thinking to creating a renaissance for United Airlines.
Back to my point — DO THE THING THAT’S CALLING YOU. Whether it’s starting a photography career, redoing your website, starting an Etsy shop, or finally writing that blog… Do it. Just friggin’ do it because the YOU that’s on the other end is infinitely more interesting than the YOU that is still wishing that you’d tried for something but let fear of failure stop you.
And what’s the alternative? Spending your entire life wishing you did something? Frankly, I’m not DTF for that.