Marketing the Impossible

What kind of a mindset do you think it requires to market the impossible?

If you need help with finding the answer you could just search on the net for the name Rufus Harley.

Rufus knew a thing or two about what’s possible and what’s not. You see, he spent a good part of his life branding himself as “the world’s first jazz bagpiper”.

Did a great job of it too despite some… ugh “difficulties”. Rufus, you see, is not the typical bagpiper you might visualize standing in a Scottish Highland. Rufus was an African-American.

Picture it: A black adult 6-foot-2 man dressed in a bright red kilt, sometimes in a dashiki and a Nigerian kufi, playing jazz with all the passion you’d expect of a great jazz performer and you’d be looking at Rufus Harley.

Starting in November of 1963 when he watched the funeral procession of John F. Kennedy on television, with the mournful wail of the sound of the Black Watch Pipe Band resonating within his soul, he was hooked. He found his first set of bagpipes in a pawn store and couldn’t even get a sound out of them at first but after many months of practice he was ready.  He then went on to perform with some of the greats like saxophonists like Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt, with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and with the flutist Herbie Mann.

He even went on to travel the world as the unofficial goodwill ambassador of his home town of Philadelphia.  He billed himself overseas as a “messenger of peace” who liked to hand out miniature copies of the Liberty Bell to heads of state when ever he got the opportunity.

Talk about getting into and being your message.

He even ended up on top TV shows like ” Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” and Bill Cosby’s “Cosby Show.”

Rufus died at age 70 on August 1, 2006 in Philadelphia, his hometown.

I play bass drum in a pipe band. The link is a remote one but that’s the closest I think I’ll ever come to the likes of Rufus. He reminds us that some things may look impossible but if you’re willing to become your passion quitting is not even on the table.

It’s just not what a mindset like that is made of.

Belief Thief

I got to thinking about the mindset of all these people, many of whom are ordinary career employees, who are struggling to make sense out of the economic rubble around them. Seems like every time I look into one of those on-line forums the complaints pour out like a torrent out of a ruptured dam.

I hear a lot of them center their complaints around the lack of belief they now have in themselves because of the bind they find themselves in. They seem to feel that, as economic downturn victimitis sets in, their sense of control over their family’s future is weakening. They sound rather helpless like they’re all on the verge of falling into the chasm of despair and hopelessness.

Closeup of young and old men's eyeballs

A good example of this was an interview on TV one night with a news reporter and some autoworkers from Oshawa Ontario. This particular family had two generations who had followed the heard and went to work at the same GM plant every day collectively for several decades. One was a retired worker and the other was his son. Both looked like deer caught in the headlights of the new reality.

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