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I’m Alive: A 14-City Adventure

Car2Go challenged us to spend 72 hours in each of their 14 cities throughout North America———and have the adventure of a lifetime.

It’s a common misconception that the funnest (yes, it’s a word) jobs in the world are the hardest ones to get and that there can only be one. The truth is that everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes the ‘best job in the world’. Personally, I believe the best job in the world is the one you dream up and bring to life yourself.

MindValley, a company I admire and have participated in, basically markets “the world’s most awesome job” opportunity as a contest of sorts. I just use this as an example, I am a huge supporter of MindValley and Awesomeness Fest. It is really cool, but it also creates the impression that there can only be one (and that traveling to islands and organizing elaborate parties is the Holy Grail). My assumption here is that when people don’t make the cut they think, “Well, that’s it… I tried… back to the grind I guess.” This really couldn’t be further from the truth.

This story is a testament to taking matters into your own hands and creating an opportunity when there isn’t one.

Recognizing an opportunity

The first time I saw Car2Go, I was with some friends in San Diego going to Ocean Beach for the afternoon. We parked in a neighborhood, and my friend Katie insisted I back up an extra 4-5ft. to ensure the car was nearest the end of the available parking space. Why? Well, just in case a Smart car needed to slip into the tiny spot between our car and the next one… The rest of us joked about the likelihood of this actually happening and the certainty of it still not being able to fit in the spot should one magically appear.

Upon returning to the car a few hours later, we came around the corner to find — you know it — a Car2Go perfectly parked between our car and the next in the most improbable spot. Fits of laughter ensued.

The point is that it stuck with me. I was in Denver a couple weeks later and saw a few Car2Go’s driving down Colfax Ave in a follow-the-leader style . I thought to myself, “It’d be cool to make a funny video of these things doing some synchronized driving around the city.” I took a note on my phone and figured it would be worth contacting the company at the very least. Later, the idea evolved into a “winning” theme (because the cars have so many little benefits to make your life better) based on the popular meme of the same name.

Reaching out

All too often people fail to even make an attempt at contacting a company because of two common misconceptions. The first is, “Oh, they’ll never read my email or even reply if they do.”

Everyone (especially in leadership positions) reads their emails and takes action accordingly. Quite often the appropriate action may be to simply just forward your email along to the person that is right for exploring the offer you proposed. If you’re wondering why [insert famous/successful person of your choice] didn’t write you back, it’s probably because it’s not their job to email you. Their managers, agents, etc. handle that.

The second misconception is, “They’ll just take the idea and do it themselves.” See, here’s the thing… Companies can practically rely on the fact that some person with radical ideas is going to contact them presenting a fresh idea they had previously never considered. These companies thrive on these ideas and want to pay you for being you and conceiving these miraculous ideas. It’s much easier for them to write a check than to reallocate personnel or hire a new team altogether. Not only that, but if what you’re proposing is valuable, they know that it will make them money. I say this because people don’t seem to think about it this way too often.

I emailed the CEO of Car2Go on March 3, 2014:

Nicholas,

I’m the Founder of a design and video production group based in Boulder, Co. & Hollywood, Ca. We’re a seasoned in design, web, mobile, animation, film production, etc. 

After a funny parking story (related to Car2Go) during a visit to San Diego, we were discussing how awesome it would be to create a viral video for you guys. We have in mind something comical that has to do with “synchronized driving” — witty and clever, but shows the true genius of Car2Go‘s service.

The concept would be based on the meme of “Winning“, starting from simple things like not having to pay for parking, whizzing through traffic (safely, not recklessly), making new friends — then building up to a more absurd adventure that is intentionally dramatic, where everyone gets in a bunch of cars and does synchronized driving. 

We have access to everything to make a video like this work, including professional drivers, camera ops, equipment, etc.

Here are a few different productions of ours to show you some variety:

  • [Videos removed]

Would you be willing to jump on a short phone call to discuss?

I look forward to your response.

Follow-Up

A marketing specialist wrote back a few days later and said that his CMO had forwarded him the email. Reiterating my previous point: the CEO forwarded my email to the CMO, and then the CMO forwarded it to the marketing specialist who happened to be the right person for exploring my idea. Remember, it is their job to work with people like you.

Wait, I thought you said they challenged you to go to 14-Cities?

Right. After discussing our idea on the phone, they politely told us that our idea wasn’t big enough. They challenged us to think of something much bigger, broader, and impactful. This is a company who is ready to change the world, and a little internet meme wasn’t going to do it. Fortunately, the door was open to call them back and present another idea whenever we were ready.

We brainstormed for about an hour the following week. After looking at the company’s Wikipedia page, seeing how many cities they were in, and that they’re owned by Daimler AG, we said, “Wow, this is a major company.” Bingo. “So, what if we traveled to all their cities making the most lively, adventurous video possible and showed just how many adventures these cars would allow us to take?”

We presented this on a follow-up call a few days later, and they were just as excited as we were. Admitting that we were a bit insane, they loved our energy and willingness to commit to a two-month project for them. We were prepared to dedicate two months of our lives to working for our mutual success, and it showed.

Less than two months later, we took our first of 14+ flights to Portland.

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