I have had the privilege of listening to Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool speak four times now, and each time I am so impressed with how down-to-earth this woman is. Her story is so inspirational. Laura and her husband Doug are software engineers who ditched the industry when it busted in 2000. They traded-in their San Francisco city lives for the quaint mountain town of Truckee, CA. By the means of fate, Laura stumbled into the yarn business and opened a tiny shop in Truckee. 13 years later, Laura and Doug are running a $7 million online retail business selling, yes, yarn.
Laura Zander has made yarn damn cool. I want to share one of her stories that really stuck with me, and has so many underlying messages in not just business but, in life.
Laura has a 5-year-old son named Huckleberry. Once upon a time, when Huckleberry was 2, Laura and Doug were boarding an airplane with him when the pilot walked by and caught Huck’s eye. Laura leaned over to her starry-eyed 2-year-old and whispered, “Hey, you should go ask the pilot if you can fly the plane.” Fly the plane? Really? Come on. “He is probably going to say no, that’s what he should say. BUT… what if he says yes?! Could you IMAGINE? You could fly a real-life airplane!” Huck looks over at the pilot excitedly, jumps down from his seat and makes his way to the front of the plane. The young boy speaks, “Can I fly the plane?” The pilot is stunned, and at a loss for words he says, “Sure.” Huck jumps into the pilot’s chair and goes crazy. Buttons, throddles, wheels, channels are all poked, prodded, and turned. The kid can hardly focus on what he is doing because he is so full of excitement. He is flying a real plane.
Many trips were taken after that, and each time, Huck prepares himself for a big-fat NO, and asks the pilot if he can fly the plane. Sometimes, the pilot will say yes! Sometimes, they say no and Huck understands, because after all, he was expecting it.
There was one occasion when Huck asked the pilot if he could fly the plane and the pilot replied, “I am sorry buddy, I can’t let you do that. BUT… I can let you under the plane to check out the cargo.” Huck looks over at his mom, and she says, “AWESOME! You never know what could be down there! There could be a whole circus down there, cotton candy, maybe even ice cream, and that would be way cooler than flying the plane! You never know!” Grinning ear-to-ear little Huck followed the pilot to the cargo.
You never know what kind of opportunities are out there if you don’t ask. And often, even a “no” will lead to an open door, if you are looking for it…a door that could be way cooler than the one you were originally trying to open.
Thank you for sharing your story, Laura.