“You have lost your mind!” Thus spoke a good friend to Thor Heyerdahl, who was unveiling his bold plan to sail across the Pacific Ocean in a balsa wood raft.
Thor had done his research and listened to his gut. His curiosity had been piqued by very old reports and illustrations created by Spanish Conquistadors, revealing some intriguing Inca rafts. He was fascinated by native legends and obscure archaeological evidence that suggested people from South America could have journeyed to Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. After some very careful planning, he acted on his ideas. He took the calculated risk, along with several other intrepid companions.
The small but sturdy Kon-Tiki balsa raft demonstrated that it was indeed possible to sail the Pacific with relative ease and safety—especially to the west, going with the flow of the trade winds. The craft left Peru on April 28, 1947 and reached landfall in the Tuamoto Islands on August 7, 1947. This was experimental archaeology and heroism at its finest.
In the business world, entrepreneurs must also have the courage to run experiments based on their passionate ideas. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! There can be an element of heroism in some marketing adventures, where sheer guts are required to push through the doubts and fears.
Taking bold, calculated risks does not mean that one does not feel any fear. It is not commonly known that Heyerdahl had nearly drowned on at least two occasions in childhood! As a result, he did not take to water easily. When interviewed, he stated that that there were times in each of his raft voyages when he really feared for his life. However, living through the horrors of World War II had taught him some valuable lessons about courage:
“I was in uniform for four years, and I know that heroism doesn’t occur from taking orders, but rather from people who through their own willpower and strength are willing to sacrifice their lives for an idea.”
As you continue your courageous journey through the challenging modern business environment, remember the example of Thor Heyerdahl. Make your marketing a pioneering adventure, and don’t be afraid to explore options that may take you further than most can even imagine!
Postscript: Up till 2010, most anthropologists doubted Thor’s theory. But in 2011, new genetic evidence was uncovered proving that Easter Island inhabitants do indeed have some South American DNA. Turns out the old boy was right!
Kelly Walker is creative director for Intrepid Marketing, a leading Bend, Oregon marketing agency. For more information, contact Kelly at: 541-419-9976 or Kelly@intrepidforward.com.