Are you daring to be different?

Sometimes,  great advice comes from people not remotely connected to our sector.

Take that gem from Wayne Gretzky, for example. The one where he advises us to “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” 

Another one of my favorites, also from the sports world, is this one from Wee Willie Keeler, American right fielder who played from 1892 to 1910, primarily for the Baltimore Orioles. You probably have heard his bit of advice, which recommended that “You hit them where they ain’t.”

In a sense, both of these athletes are advising the same thing — be a step ( or more, if possible) ahead of your competition.

As a guy who has reported on home furnishings for most of my career, and in the spirit of total transparency, I think we could do a better job in that department.

As an example, when I first started reporting on the industry back in the early 1990s, a major complaint from upholstery buyers was that they were “drowning in a sea of brown.”

The comparison was often made to a comment from Henry Ford regarding his early cars. The story was that Ford said you could buy a car from him in any color you wanted as long as it was black.

To be fair, there were sofas being offered back in the ’90s in colors other than brown. 

And, yes, retailers were rumored to have asked for sofas in peacock-blue or lipstick-red.

And, yes, some suppliers actually listened and showed those colorful samples at market.

But the story did not have a happy ending, because suppliers said most buyers ended up sticking with what was safe, rather than what was exciting.

Wait, there may be light at the end of this tunnel! According to the hip Apt 2B, and I quote, “The No. 1, most popular choice for sofa color is … gray.”

“Sure, gray might not be the most exciting color in the spectrum, but it just works so darn well in so many different situations.”

Alright … gray! Maybe not a blinding light of excitement, but, hey, it is not brown.

And since I started off with a few catchy sayings, here’s another one, although maybe not as clever: Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Over the years, I’ve chronicled numerous lawsuits involving alleged patent infringements.

Within the past year or so, mattress maker Purple filed a suit against Diamond Mattress, Williams-Sonoma and Wayfair mixed it up in court and perhaps the most chronicled lawsuit involved Raffel Systems filing a suit against upholstery giant Man Wah.

So, where am I going with all of this besides applying to law school?

Right to one last inspiring quote attributed to Steve Jobs, who as brilliant as he was, actually borrowed it from a guy named Rob Siltanen, CEO and chief creative officer of Siltanen & Partners Advertising.

Most people don’t know Siltanen, but are very familiar with the quote made famous by Jobs.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

People, the world is changing right before our eyes, and that change means opportunity to address those changes.

We are aging. Are there opportunities here?

More than 1 in 6 Americans are now 65 or older as the U.S. continues graying. Some 17% of people living in the United States, or more than 1 in 6, were 65 or older in 2020, according to a report from the Administration on Aging.

There are millions of single Americans. Are there opportunities here?

There are more than 127 million single people 18 years and older living in America, according to U.S. Census data. That accounts for nearly 40% of the nation’s population

We are becoming more health-conscious. Are there opportunities here?

Overall, around 50% of U.S. consumers now report wellness as a top priority in their day-to-day lives, a significant rise from 42% in 2020.

At the end of the day, we don’t only compete with the competitors in our sector. We compete with the automobile sector, the technology sector, the consumer electronics sector and more.

The last thing we need — or can afford — is to be predictable.

Thanks, as always, for listening. And, I am a good listener, as well. Let me hear from you!

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