imagination.

We all want to capture someone else’s interest. Marketers. Managers. Singles. Parents. Children. Pets. Everyone. My rule of thumb for getting people intensely interested is pretty simple: Capture their imagination.

I took advantage of living in a major city yesterday. I saw a movie before it opened in wide-release. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (I liked it.) The movie crystallized this thought for me. That other things certainly matter. Other qualities, accomplishments, events. But they all really build to someone or something capturing our imagination. And that was the power of Jessie James. He captured the imagination of millions.

It’s the same power that cities like San Francisco have. They capture your imagination. It’s not any one thing. It’s not just the views of the Golden Gate. Not just the Bay. The Pacific. The fog. The temperate climate. The quirky neighborhoods. The multitude of hole in the wall restaurants. The diverse people. The braintrust. It’s not one of these things. It’s all of these things. They add up to capturing your imagination. On any given day, it’s easy to be struck is by the thought that anything is possible. That captures your imagination. That’s powerful.

It’s a random thought that’s bounced around my head for a few years now. I happened to see Jesse James yesterday and the Matchbox 20 music video for “Let’s see how far we’ve come” a few minutes ago on MTV (yes, let’s put aside the shock that MTV just actually played a music video for the first time since 1993.). It’s an amazing video for an awesome song. Scenes that captured the world’s imagination are inter-spliced: JFK campaigning. Ali being Ali. Tiananmen Square. Berlin Wall. Powerful stuff.

You didn’t have to agree with JFK’s politics. But you couldn’t look away. You didn’t have to like the cockiness, swagger, and smack that Ali talked. But you watched. Jessie James was an outlaw. He robbed and killed innocent people. But the lore of his aim, his ability to smell a trap and his daring exploits (and his love for the Confederacy) captured imaginations.

Want to have people buy your product? To follow you? To want to be around you?

Capture their imagination.

5/28/13 – I should have added this then: Easier said then done. But I still think it’s the right goal 🙂

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