Remember that rap battle in 8 Mile?
When Eminem went toe to toe with Papa Doc (“this guy is a gangsta? His real name is Clarence”) ?
Eminem was the underdog in the rap battle and if he were to stand any chance of winning, he had to strip Clarence of all his ammo. And he did that by owning who he was and where he was from.
In his rap, Eminem said “I know everything he’s got to say against me.”
He mentioned how he’s a bum and that he lives in a trailer with his mom.
He owned where he was from.
And because Eminem had owned where he was from, Clarence had no ammo to try and diminish his rap opponent.
In a sense, Eminem had diminished himself.
But at the same time, he garnered the support and admiration of the crowd.
All because he owned who he was, what he was about, and where he was from.
In short – he owned it.
You’ve probably never heard of the story about the Orangina juice drink and you’ll be surprised to learn how this ties in with Eminem owning everything about himself.
When Orangina first hit the market, people were quick to notice how residue accumulated at the bottom of the bottle.
People began to shy away from the product, not knowing what that residue exactly was (plus, it didn’t look too appetising).
The makers of Orangina had their backs against the wall with the whole residue issue.
They knew that if they didn’t accept the residue as an integral part of their product, they’d perish.
So what did the marketing/advertising team do to save Orangina?
They had to own it.
They owned the fact that there was a residue at the bottom of every bottle.
And because people didn’t like the residue, they actually made it a thing to “shake it to wake it”(they also claimed this would make the drink taste better.)
The “shake it to wake it” ad campaign was a hit and the beginning of a new trend that saw the residue problem become a thing of the past.
The Post-it Note
Sometimes things don’t quite work out as we hoped.
This automatically sounds like a bad thing but it doesn’t have to be.
And the 3M – the creators of the Post-it Note – showed us exactly that.
Because the Post-it Note, in the words of Scott Belsky in Making Ideas Happen:
“(…) [was] the result of a batch of poorly developed adhesive. The adhesive, concocted in 3M’s labs, was so weak and unreliable that it sparked the idea for a temporary adhesive-one whose weakness was, in fact, its greatest features.”
3M was able to turn a bad situation in a super profitable enterprise and introduced a revolutionary and now indispensable piece of stationary.
3M owned the fact that they had produced an inferior batch of adhesive and instead of throwing it away and wasting money, they rolled with it and owned it.
Behold, the Post-it Note.
“Oops! I dropped the lemon tart”
Another way of owning something is when you make a mistake.
And I’ve got the perfect story to illustrate this point.
Massimo Bottura, chef patron of the world renowned three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana restaurant, tells the story of how a new recipe was brought to life because of a mistake that was made just before serving the last two lemon tarts.
Massimo and the sous chef were just about to start serving the last two lemon tarts when the sous chef dropped one of them in away that half was on the counter, and the other half was on the plate.
The sous chef turned pale and gazed in horror at what had happened.
Massimo on the other hand was intrigued by the beauty of this ‘broken’ lemon tart.
“I thought to myself – it’s beautiful,” Massimo recounts, as he tells the story, “Let’s rebuild that first broken lemon tart with the same precision, with the other.”
Puzzled, the sous chef trusted in Massimo’s vision and they intentionally dropped the lemon tart that was intact onto the plate to ensure that the ‘broken’ look was on purpose.
This is how the “Oops! I dropped a lemon tart” was born.
Massimo, similarly to 3M with the Post-it Notes, was able to turn a horrible situation into something great – an intriguing new recipe.
Sometimes, if you want to succeed at something – you have to come clean.
About who you are and what you’re about.
And instead of downplaying a weakness, leverage it as a strength and use it to your advantage.
You have to own it and own up.
Because if you don’t, it’s game over.
But if you do – who knows where it will take you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it for you.