How do I find my purpose?
Build something you would never sell. ↓
David Hieatt makes Jeans for a living. As well as starting the Do Lectures. He lives on a farm on the west coast of Wales now, but apprenticed under the late advertising legend Paul Arden so he knows things about story telling and brand building that most farmers don’t.
David: Farmer Bill owns the farm next to ours. He’s a good 70 years old. He’s as strong as he is thin. His front teeth are long gone. His hands are like the contours on an ocean map, but they don’t map depth, they map hard work.
I sat and watched Zach Klein giving his talk at this year’s Do Lectures in Wales. This was the guy who co-founded Vimeo. He told the story of building Vimeo from nothing. The fun they had. The team they built. The following they amassed. And, then he told us how he felt after selling it. And how quickly he realised that he missed it. He ended his talk with a slide that summed up his learning from his adventures: Build something that you wouldn’t sell.
I watched his talk and, I will be honest with you, it tore me to bits. Because I knew, perhaps better than anyone there, what he was talking about. You see, I had started a clothing company called howies, and I had sold it. And it was a mistake for lots of the same reasons.
The day we signed the deal with Timberland was the day howies was over. I thought it would change nothing. But we had lost our purpose in a single day. And so it was all over. Some of us knew that much earlier than others.
The designer, who was away in the Far East, went to his hotel and cried on the day the deal was done. I developed a rash on my side that still flares up to this day. One of the main drivers of the business threw his Timberland boots out of the window. We all knew the dreams we had for howies would no longer be possible to complete. And so, one by one, a very driven team disbanded.
I bumped into Farmer Bill this weekend whilst writing this for you. We got to talking in the rain. He was talking about another farm that had to sell. It was a big sum that he quoted. But in the same breath he whispered “But you only get to sell once”. And, of course, he is right.
I don’t know Farmer Bill that well. But I do know this: He won’t be selling. He will carry on working his land, come rain or shine, until his last day.
He loves his land. He loves the work it provides for him. I believe his exit strategy is a coffin.
And, I don’t know a better one.
Co-founder of Hiut Denim Co.
Our town is making jeans again.