An Ad by a Murderer

Smart people can learn from almost anything.

Some of life’s best lessons don’t come from professors in classrooms or stacks of textbooks. They tend to happen when we pay attention to life and look for connections to the truths we know.

Dan Wieden, co-founder of a prominent ad agency, was struggling to come up with a tagline for a series of commercials his company had produced for an athletic apparel company. The night before this slogan was due, his mind wandered to Gary Gilmore—a murderer who had been executed in 1977.

Gilmore was dragged before the firing squad in Utah. Before he was covered with a dark hood, the chaplain asked if he had any last words. He paused and said, “Let’s do it.”

Wieden thought about the crazy courage of a statement like that—and from it was born one of the most famous sports mantras: Nike’s Just Do It. Needless to say, the ad campaign was a success.

I don’t often find myself looking at murderers for inspiration when I prepare sermons…but if I pay just a bit more attention to the world around me, there’s no telling what I’ll learn.

(H/T to Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer).