Like most Americans (at some point this summer), I have spent at least a day or two with “Call Me Maybe” stuck in my head. It’s incredibly catchy, light, fun and has caught fire through social media and YouTube, but what are the odds it would have been that successful as a folk song?
Carly Rae Jepsen’s runaway hit apparently started life as a folk tune, written by Jepsen and Tavish Crowe. It wasn’t until they were in the studio with producer Josh Ramsay that it was “popified”. In today’s business lingo, turning it from a folk song into a pop song definitely qualifies as a “pivot”. It also shows that, despite what some may think, a pivot doesn’t have to result from running into a failure or a dead end.
A pivot is generally about separating everything in your project into two groups: what’s working and what’s not. Then you look for new ways to use the part that’s working to generate success. I did this with my partners back in 2000, pivoting from an unfundable business into a funded, profitable one that we sold to About.com less than a year after launch. This is usually what people think of when they hear “pivot”, but it’s not the only time that you should think about pivoting.
We often hear that “good is the enemy of great”. Its true. If something seems like its working (translation: it’s not failing), we are often afraid to mess with it. By mentally committing ourselves 100% to pushing forward with the existing plan, we block out any other options.
I’m sure that “Call Me Maybe” would have made a lovely little folk song, but somewhere in the production process there must have been an “Aha!” moment, where they realized it had much greater potential as a pop tune. This willingness to deviate from the original plan, even though the original was probably working “well enough”, is the mark of greatness.
We have to remain open-minded to the new possibilities that present themselves every single day. Each day, you should ask yourself “what’s working best?”, and then ask “is there another way I can use that to get even more value out of it?” Whether this leads you to a pivot, a spin-off, or simply validates your current direction, the important thing is that you are listening for that little extra dash of inspiration that could take you to the top of the charts.