The Value of Playing Outside Your Sandbox

After five hours of driving through snow, sleet and rain, I answered my cell phone to hear the manager at our bed and breakfast destination tell us they were out of power – an ice storm. By now we were only fifteen minutes away. The Inn, and the associated event (the entire reason for the trip), he said, were in the dark. We pulled over and were still in shock trying to figure out what to do next, when the phone rang again. “Nevermind,” he said, “the power is back on.” False alarm.

This is just one example of our traveling life adventure. We drove five hours through dicey weather for an evening dinner, and then drove back the next morning to meet other commitments. The manager of the Inn laughed when he told us at breakfast the next day, “You get the award for the longest ride for a dinner.” It was a long twenty-four hours, but it was worth it. We received quite an education on how to showcase a spectacular evening of food, wine and hospitality, in a beautiful setting outside of Charlottesville, VA.

This business requires a lot of creative energy, as I’m guessing yours does. I get asked why we spend the money to travel to dinners and abroad if it isn’t directly related to a specific sale. But I say it is. It’s important for us to see first-hand how different professionals select their décor, host an event, and display their wares. How do others put on a show? How do they show off their products? What are their products? This is how you see trends and spot new ways of doing things. Or see what’s possible. Sometimes, you see what not to do.

Our travels have taken us down the road to Philadelphia and the Eastern Shore, up north to Vermont, along the Hudson in New York, and flying west to Colorado. We’ve also journeyed to Rome and Paris. These trips have inspired us to figure out how best to bring the beauty of the world around us into what we create in our artisan business - in terms of color, accent pieces and textures. We have a better understanding of just how many choices there are, with a lot more to learn. It has broadened our minds.

The expense of travel to locations and events outside our niche, or sandbox, is tied to business growth, creative energy and our own inspiration, I’m sure of it. You don’t have to travel around the world – although that would be nice – it’s amazing what you can learn from people just down the street. Saddle up, start your engines, hit the road. Play in someone else’s sandbox and see where it takes you.