“Butch, the Next Time You Say ‘Let’s Go to Bolivia’, Let’s Go to Bolivia.”

Dear Students,
This is a great movie.

Not just good film, good dialogue, good music and fun to watch, it’s got a lesson for you that could mean the difference between greatness and whatever else there is.

The line above is said by The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) to Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman).

They’re surrounded on all sides and about to get captured & hung, or shot outright, when, in a moment of ultimate cool, they have a conversation about what they should do when they get out of the mess they’re in–leave the American West where they were being chased for robbing banks to go to Bolivia where the US lawmen had no jurisdiction.

It illustrates a principle which has become crucial to high-level success in advertising:

Do your ideas as soon as you have them.

Time eats ideas.
If you wait, not only may someone else come up with the same idea, or a better one, someone may simply come up with an idea that gets through the gate into production before yours.
Then you’re left watching while someone else eats your cupcake.

Emerson warned of this in Self-Reliance, admonishing us: “… to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”

Move immediately when you’ve got an idea.
Jump on it.
Make it move right then when it’s loose and jangly and feels wrong.
Don’t let it get solid.
If you don’t fear it some, it probably sucks.

(I don’t know how many times I’ve suggested people read Emerson.
It’s got to be boring to hear me say it again.
Look closely at that line quoted above though.
Knowing that what he’s suggesting goes against our nature, he exhorts the reader to not only be a person who sticks with an idea when he has it, but to especially do so when other people speak out most against it. That’s the hardest part, and the most important. Tough to put in practice. Which is why there’s not many Emersons)

Intelligence is good.
But without action it’s only unused potential.
I often feel I could be the king of that.

p.s. Yes, in the movie, going to Bolivia didn’t work out after a while for Butch & Sundance, but that was more the fault of their professional choices, not their acting on ideas as they had them. Another good principle from the movie is the number of rules there are in a knife fight. You’ll have to watch it to get that one.