August Tip: Ice Water

Is it 1936 or 2012?

A few weeks ago, I’m driving hundreds of miles across the South Dakota plains, and we spot a sign: “Homemade Pie WALL DRUG.” Not a minute later: “Coffee 5¢ WALL DRUG.”

We keep going. More signs appear: “Western Wear WALL DRUG,” “Homemade Lunch Specials WALL DRUG.” By now, our van of 11 is chanting: Free coffee and donuts for Honeymooners at where? WALL DRUG!

A must-do pit stop. We explore, eat, shop, and pile back in the van. I’d found a coffee mug with all those great signs on it. Woo Hoo! Plus a fridge magnet with the slogan “Free Ice Water.” At the time, I didn’t catch the significance.

In 1931, Ted and Dorothy Hustead bought a drugstore in Wall, South Dakota – population 326. All 326 people were poor; it was the Depression. This Catholic couple felt led to buy this store. With $3000 from his dad, Ted said he would give it five years. In 1936, it had still not taken off, and Dorothy finally said, “Ya know that traffic headed to Yellowstone? We’ve got to figure out how to make those cars stop!”

It was 105° that day. “Let’s offer free ice water!” They thought up the corniest slogans they could, put out signs for Free Ice Water and a Travelers’ Chapel, and people started coming. Then, one day, someone asked, “Can I buy an ice cream cone?” The rest is history. In 2012, they now draw up to 20,000 people on a “good summer day.”

Free Ice Water took the Husteads a long way. They learned that “no matter where you live, you can succeed, because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something that they need!” This is marketing 101 at its best.

What blows me away is that the land was desolate and dry; people were poor and disheartened. Is this 1936 or 2012? The Husteads saw the need and met it; they gave water and rest. Though it looked hopeless, they stuck to their vision. People now come from all over the world to see WALL DRUG!

Catch your vision, determine the need, and don’t be afraid to give. These are the foundations of every presentation you deliver, every proposal you write, and every project you design and build.

PS   Next time you’re in South Dakota, check out Wall Drug.


Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

When SMPS asked me to emcee the Awards Gala at the National Conference, I was excited and frightened. Granted, I had spoken onstage before, but never to an audience this large and made up of so many of my friends. The two saving graces (pardon the pun) were that I was co-presenting with a dear friend of mine, Emily Crandall, and we would be able to spend some time practicing with a Graceworks coach beforehand.

As the date grew closer and closer, so did my nerves. That is, until Emily and I met Graceworks’ Freedom Finder, Judy Straalsund. Judy immediately calmed my nerves with her serene attitude, but that didn’t stop her from encouraging us to be “big and bold.” Once we sat down with our scripts, she suggested that we change the text to bullet points and allow the story to flow. At first, this approach seemed risky, but Judy pushed us to try it in rehearsal and see how it worked. We loved it.

That night, with Judy backstage keeping us loose and motivated, I stepped onstage with the calmest feeling I could have ever imagined. Typically, I clam up, ramble and feel like my entire body is shaking. Not this time. I stood empowered, confident and ready to take on anything.

The rest of the night flew by. Emily and I had a blast, all thanks to a little coaching from Graceworks.

Barry Sutherland
Marketing Coordinator
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
St. Louis, MO

Got Bigness? Got Boldness? Email us your most outrageous leadership story, your most hilarious presentation tale, your most ridiculous communication anecdote.

If we print your story, you’ll receive $750 towards training or coaching with a Graceworks trainer for you or your firm! Send a story now »