Late last year I found out that one of my favorite drinks was actually created by accident. Growing up in New Jersey every other street corner had a 7-Eleven store that sold my favorite drink—the Slurpee. However, the Slurpee was the result of a failure. The owner of a Dairy Queen in the 1950s had some old machinery that was always breaking down. He put some of his soda bottles in the freezer to try to keep them cool. When he took them out, they were slightly frozen and delightfully slushy. He found out that his customers loved the half-frozen drinks and the ICEE was born! Years later 7-Eleven took the marketing to the next level, renamed the machine and the Slurpee was born. According to a recent CNN story, since 1966, close to 6.5 billion Slurpee drinks have been sold.
The Dairy Queen owner responded well to his failure and did these important things:
- He looked at his failure with an open mind and served the imperfect drinks.
- He recognized the opportunity when people liked the new, unintended drinks.
- He took advantage of the situation by building a machine specifically to produce what his market wanted.
- He involved his customers in product creation by running a contest and letting them name the drink.
- He created a system to duplicate his success (machines) and sold them to other convenience stores.
What a smart man! He could have taken his failure personally, tried to hide it from everyone by throwing away the slushy concoctions, and moved on quickly, perhaps even purchasing a new machine that would have kept his sodas cooled to the right temperature. But what would we have lost if he had? By stepping back from the emotion of the situation he changed his life and the lives of many others.
What mistakes have you made that had within them the potential for success? Could you have applied any of the Slurpee lessons to change your attitude about the failure? Please use the comment box to let me know of a time when something went wrong but the result was better than your original goal.
I hope you’re planning a POWERFUL week!