Reaching for the stars

In my past life, one of the advertising agencies I used to work with was Leo Burnett.  The very famous story about this man and his eponymous agency is that he started it at the height of the Depression of the 1930’s with one client.  His contemporaries thought he was crazy and a Chicago newspaper columnist predicted he’d be selling apples within a year.  Well history has shown how good that prediction was.  Instead he gave away apples and on every reception desk in his now global ad agency to this day, there is a bowl of apples there for you to help yourself to.  I used to say when I was going to make a sales call there that I was going apple shopping.  I like the fact that 74 years later, the presence of a lowly apple  is a gentle “oh yeah, I’ll show you!” to those that didn’t believe.  One of the other iconic symbols of the venerable agency is a hand reaching for the stars.  Leo used to say that “when you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either”.  Striving for goals that seem beyond our grasp is how we keep pushing ourselves a little closer to achieving them.  It’s how the sprinter shaves a second off her time, a 40 year old QB annihilates his old team, the 20 year veteran who’s been struggling in obscurity wins an Oscar.

Examples of people reaching for the stars usually focus around sports and entertainment endeavors but I think it’s more about anyone who dares to dream a different life for themselves than they’ve been living thus far.  It could be going back to school at age 60, starting your own business, inventing a new gadget or starting a family.  You are never too old, too poor, too uneducated or more importantly too scared to find that dream that is your star and reach for it.  The key is to figure out what that passion is and then fire up the booster rockets to make it happen.  Think of how amazing that journey to the stars will be.  And make it happen for yourself.

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7 Responses to “Reaching for the stars”

  1. Peter K. O'Connell Says:

    Pam,

    Very nice insights. Leo was a smart man.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  2. Twitter Trackbacks for Reaching for the stars « Pam Tierney's blog [pamtierney.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com Says:

    […] Reaching for the stars « Pam Tierney's blog pamtierney.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/reaching-for-the-stars – view page – cached In my past life, one of the advertising agencies I used to work with was Leo Burnett. The very famous story about this man and his eponymous agency is that he started it at the height of the… (Read more)In my past life, one of the advertising agencies I used to work with was Leo Burnett. The very famous story about this man and his eponymous agency is that he started it at the height of the Depression of the 1930’s with one client. His contemporaries thought he was crazy and a Chicago newspaper columnist predicted he’d be selling apples within a year. Well history has shown how good that prediction was. Instead he gave away apples and on every reception desk in his now global ad agency to this day, there is a bowl of apples there for you to help yourself to. I used to say when I was going to make a sales call there that I was going apple shopping. I like the fact that 74 years later, the presence of a lowly apple is a gentle “oh yeah, I’ll show you!” to those that didn’t believe. One of the other iconic symbols of the venerable agency is a hand reaching for the stars. Leo used to say that “when you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either”. Striving for goals that seem beyond our grasp is how we keep pushing ourselves a little closer to achieving them. It’s how the sprinter shaves a second off her time, a 40 year old QB annihilates his old team, the 20 year veteran who’s been struggling in obscurity wins an Oscar. (Read less) — From the page […]

  3. Bob Souer Says:

    Pam,

    It’s so much fun watching you reaching for the stars! Keep up the good work. You’re on your way.

    Be well,
    Bob

  4. Mary McKitrick Says:

    Pam, that is a glorious & inspirational story.

    You might be interested in Life List, by Olivia Gentile – the true story of someone else’s journey to the stars – a woman who decided to try to see as many birds as she could before her melanoma made it impossible to do any more. Eighteen years later she was still going strong and had seen more than 8,000 species, several hundred species more than anyone else in the world. Her name was Phoebe Burnett Snetsinger – Leo’s daughter.

  5. Pam Tierney Says:

    Mary, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see if I can find it at the library.

  6. An apple and a star | Voices Of Advertising Says:

    […] friend Pam Tierney tells the story of why Leo Burnett Agency has a bowl of free apples in every office. If you don’t know, or even if you do, check out Reaching for the stars at […]


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