3 Principles for Building a Successful Business, Part 2: Breakthroughs Happen in the Margins
February 16, 2023

I want to do a little exercise with you. Make a mental list of the best ideas you’ve had that propelled your business forward.

Seriously. Do it. I’ll wait.

Now, where did those ideas come to you?

Was it during:

• Your weekly exec team meeting?
• A quarterly employee review?
• Any other run-of-the-mill meeting?

If you’re like me, the answer is a hard ‘no’ to all of the above.

Most likely, you've experienced your breakthrough ideas outside of your regular day-to-day routine. During a portion of life that I like to call the margins.

I’m guessing your best ideas come to you either:

• On a walk in an inspiring city
• Over last-minute plans with old friends
• A moment stolen from your day-to-day routine to try something new

I can imagine some of you are rolling your eyes right now, thinking that "living life in the margins" sounds like the type of vague advice you get from a bad creative director. But I'm a firm believer that spending time in the margins allows you to ultimately produce the best work of your life.

Our greatest strength at Vers is our staff’s creativity in solving the most challenging and complex problems for our clients, and I fully believe that in order to do the hard work of solving these problems, we need two elements:

Element #1: Curiosity

We often have clients come to us with a problem and what they think is the right solution. When this happens, it's our job to get curious. This might seem confusing, but it can be pretty simple if you're intentional. Curiosity just means asking a lot of really good questions--it's our way of digging to find the best strategies. Questions such as:

• If this problem was solved tomorrow, what would success look like?
• Is your desired outcome of this solution going to yield you the same results as if we went in a different direction?

Element #2: Wonder

What is the result when brilliant minds get curious?

You get Rihanna suspended in the air in front of millions of viewers.

Bruce Rogers, a 16-year veteran production designer for the Super Bowl halftime show, was given a complex problem to pull off this year’s event.

The show has to be half the size of years past because the weight of the staging would ruin the turf.

Yes, many of the technical meetings for halftime shows are spent on Zoom calls, but in years past, just getting out of the office and on the stadium field has resulted in breakthrough ideas to solve some of the most complex technical problems the Super Bowl can throw at a creative team.  

The result of Rogers and Rihanna’s creative team coming together and getting curious was a mind-blowing 13 minutes of Rihanna and her dancers moving between suspended platforms 60 feet in the air. The performance left many that viewed it asking, “how did they do that??”

Kevin Sabitus // Getty Images

Leaving the audience with a feeling of wonder and awe is the result of carving out space in the margins, getting out of the office, and getting curious. It’s essential for the work we do at Vers.

How do we come in with curiosity? How can we accomplish wonder?

Simple. Eliminate busy work and maximize carving out time for deep thinking. Life in the margins is not a luxury for our team at Vers – it’s a necessity for our high-caliber creatives to deliver the best solutions possible.

Life in the margins is not free time, and it also does not come easy. At Vers, we:

• Use AI writing tools for more technical work, so we have time for deeper creative writing
• Make room to get away as a staff somewhere off the grid or experience an amazing new restaurant together
• Set up automation on our systems so that our best people-oriented staff spends less time in the weeds and more time with our clients

These tools are how we are efficient so that our clients are getting the best work because we’ve made time for life in the margins to develop curiosity and wonder.

Carve out the time to get curious so you can make your audience wonder, “how did they do that?”

Take that walk.

Get out from behind your desk.

Get on that sailboat.

Change that playlist.

Try that new restaurant with some good company.

Get curious. Create wonder.

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