The St. Patrick’s Day Symbol

This weekend, while you’re pouring yourself a Guinness and toasting to Ireland, you will probably be wearing green, in honor of the Irish. And if you’re headed to a bar, you will find the iconic four-leafed clover everywhere you look. From banners across the bars, to logos on beers and decorations on T-shirts where flirtatious women might want men to look, they’re everywhere!

You'll see a lot of this symbol on Sunday, and that's, in part, why St. Patrick's Day is so popular.

You’ll see a lot of this symbol on Sunday, and that’s, in part, why St. Patrick’s Day is so popular.

And the four-leafed clover grew to become a myth to not just represent St. Patrick’s Day but all of Ireland. ‘The luck of the Irish’ is tightly entwined with the belief that a four-leaf clover will bring you good luck, which is just an uncommon form of the three-leaf variety. The small, delicate little shamrock has become enmeshed with the Irish people, at least in myth and lore.

But where did it come from? When Saint Patrick traveled to Ireland in the fourth century, the story goes, he explained the Catholic religion and its belief in the Holy Trinity, using the three-leaf clover. That’s a neat story. It’s interesting, memorable, easy to share and plausible.

Now, no one can truly say if that really happened. Not many records have been kept that provide much insight into the life of St. Patrick. Yet, the Catholic church celebrated the day, and Irish immigrants throughout the Western world began to share the tradition, turning it into a day of recognition for the Irish culture. Not bad from just a little story of a three-leaf clover.

But that’s the power of a strong story that can turn an object into a symbol. It doesn’t need to be real, and it doesn’t have to be large, but it can grow to mean so much to so many.

On a smaller scale, that’s the type of myth or allure you want to develop as you create your own story or content. Continue reading

photo by: faith goble

Innovation Or The Nutcracker: What Do You Want to Create

This past weekend, Laurie and I had plans to go see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. She has a list of things she’s always wanted to do in New York City, and this is on it. So that means I’m dragged along.

The Nutcracker felt more like a checklist experience than something spectacular. Works for the ballet, but not a great goal for business.

That’s okay, right, as it’s an iconic ballet and people go in droves every year. This meant it would be great, so I thought. Plus, I enjoy theater so as long as the ballet was going to tell a story, I could probably find something I enjoyed in it. After all, it’s people practicing what they love to do, which is infectious and invigorating.

There’s one problem: I hated the Nutcracker. I found the story line completely impossible to watch, care about or enjoy. I know it’s a classic, but when there’s 10 minutes of bowing and curtsying at the beginning of the play, I’m immediately turning away.

For the readers who don’t know, the Nutcracker, which first premiered in 1892, is set in 1800s-esque household on Christmas. Friends and family gather, they play a number of games and then the girl dreams of her nutcracker turning into a prince, who takes her on an epic journey to celebrate in a land where every nation has dancers who perform for her. It’s quite the party.

But the Nutcracker, in my humble opinion, had trouble relating to our time. Even Laurie, who saw it as a kid, said she remembered it being much better. And, trust me, the whimsical-ness of the story wasn’t lost on me. Yet, even as the dancers do their best, the choreograph tries to hit the exact spot that creator laid out over 100 years ago. This is the downside to the play. It doesn’t offer new ways to excite. New ways to energize. Or new ways to entertain.  Continue reading