I was doing a weekend seminar at the Deerhurst Lodge,
north of Toronto. On Friday night a tornado swept through
a town north of us called Barrie, killing dozens of people
and doing millions of dollars worth of damage. Sunday
night, as I was coming home, I stopped the car when I got
to Barrie. I got out on the side of the highway and looked
around. It was a mess. Everywhere I looked there were
smashed houses and cars turned upside down.
That same night Bob Templeton was driving down the
same highway. He stopped to look at the disaster just as I
had, only his thoughts were different than my own. Bob was
the vice-president of Telemedia Communications, which owns
a string of radio stations in Ontario and Quebec. He
thought there must be something we could do for these
people with the radio stations they had.
The following night I was doing another seminar in
Toronto. Bob Templeton and Bob Johnson, another vice-
president from Telemedia, came in and stood in the back of
the room. They shared their conviction that there had to
be something they could do for the people in Barrie. After
the seminar we went back to Bob's office. He was now
committed to the idea of helping the people who had been
caught in the tornado.
The following Friday he called all the executives at
Telemedia into his office. At the top of a flip chart he
wrote three 3s. He said to his executives "How would you
like to raise 3 million dollars 3 days from now in just 3
hours and give the money to the people in Barrie?" There
was nothing but silence in the room.
Finally someone said, "Templeton, you're crazy. There
is no way we could do that."
Bob said, "Wait a minute. I didn't ask you if we
could or even if we should. I just asked you if you'd like
They all said, "Sure we'd like to." He then drew a
large T underneath the 333. On one side he wrote, "Why we
can't." On the other side he wrote, "How we can."
"I'm going to put a big X on the 'Why we can't side.'
We're not going to spend any time on the ideas of why we
can't. That's of no value. On the other wide we're going
to write down every idea that we can come up with on how we
can. We're not going to leave the room until we figure it
out." There was silence again.
Finally, someone said, "We could do a radio show
Bob said, "That's a great idea," and wrote it down.
Before he had it written, someone said, "You can't do a
radio show across Canada. We don't have radio stations
across Canada." That was a pretty valid objection. They
only had stations in Ontario and Quebec.
Templeton replied, "That's why we can. That stays."
But this was a real strong objection because radio stations
are not very compatible. They usually don't work together.
They are very cutthroat. They fight each other. To get them
to work together would be virtually impossible according to
the standard way of thinking.
All of a sudden someone said, "You could get Harvey
Kirk and Lloyd Robertson, the biggest names in Canadian
broadcasting, to anchor the show." (That would be like
getting Tom Brokaw and Sam Donaldson to anchor the show.
They are anchors on national TV. They are not going to go
on radio.) At that point, it was absolutely amazing how
fast and furious the creative ideas began to flow.
That was on a Friday. The following Tuesday they had a
radiothon. They had fifty radio stations all across the
country that agreed to broadcast it. It didn't matter who
got the credit as long as the people in Barrie got the
money. Harvey Kirk and Lloyd Robertson anchored the show
and they succeeded in raising three million dollars in
three hours within three business days!
You see, you can do anything if you put your focus on
how to do it rather than on why you can't.