On a recent trip, I boarded a plane with a sign I bought—and I really shouldn’t have been allowed to. Here’s the story! Don’t miss the end for a picture of what I boarded with and my 6 secrets to getting what you want.
Earlier this year, I was in San Diego (yes, I know, again!), but this time with my daughter Mirabelle. I was so thrilled to share with her my favorite sites, restaurants and friends in my home-away-from-home city.
My dear friend there has children who live all over the world, so when she travels to visit them, I am on her short list of people she asks to be the concierge of her Airbnb. This was one of these sorts of visits, so bringing Mirabelle along meant we shared a twin bed. Yes, that’s right—I slept in a twin bed with my teenage daughter for a week! Don’t tell her, but that was the best part of the trip because it totally took me back to her baby days of snuggling her to sleep.
One of our days out and about, we went to the Old Town Farmers’ Market where we bought fresh lavender, homemade salsa, and ate at Café Gratitude where you order your food starting with the phrase “I am…” and then each item menu is a positive adjective. I am intuitive was the name of my meal and I am dazzling was Mirabelle’s. (Love this!) Mirabelle is a city girl, so after the Farmers’ Market, I drove her around the downtown area.
Driving up and down the streets, we came upon a building that had my name on it—literally! “Elle” was elegantly scripted in gold lettering against a brick backdrop. It was so beautiful that I went around the block in order to stop and take a picture. Getting closer, I realized it was the sign for a bridal boutique named “elle.” It was Sunday so they were not open, and after googling I found out they were closing their brick and mortar site in two days to offer online and appointment only services.
In two days? If they closed, they wouldn’t need a sign, right? So I called. Why not? I called and left a message. I got no return call. So I called again and emailed. This time I left a detailed message explaining that I would be interested in buying the sign. I got a call. I explained to the elle boutique owner how I stumbled upon her beautiful sign and if she was closing, I would be interested in taking it home with me. Why not? Of all the things she needed to liquidate, the sign was not one of the things she even considered selling but hey, Elle showed up. I found out there was an even bigger sign and said I’d take both. This was such a fun find and a delight for both her and me.
But then it hit me…. How in the world am I going to get this home? And how big is the big sign?
The big sign ended up being in two pieces and probably 4 feet long. Keep in mind that I am just over 5 feet tall. Where would I find a box or even could I find a box?
I picked it up and decided it was doable. I could carry this on my plane ride home, couldn’t I? Of course, my daughter thought I was crazy. We already had the limit of carry-on items, and this was definitely not going to fit under the seat in front of me.
“You will never make it home with those,” Mirabelle said.
I began creatively strategizing the journey. I got packing tape, plastic grocery bags, bubble wrap and went to work. Thank goodness the sign material was lightweight, but it was also delicate and snapped too easily. I stacked the pieces, mummified it in the plastic bags and bubble wrap, taped it like a cast and created a strap with anything left over. It ended up fitting over my shoulder and on my back like some oversized, very flat, instrument. I felt like a traveling indie musician toting her guitar, needing no other luggage. Mirabelle was still unimpressed. And we still had two carry-on bags.
Every step of the trip home was an exercise in customer service. I tried to be the best customer possible so that every person along my travels would provide me with the service I needed in order to get this thing across the border—the Ohio border.
I told the story of the bridal business that had my name and how my daughter didn’t believe I could actually get the sign home. I told the story of serendipity, timing and my hunt for supplies to wrap my masterpiece.
All along the way, people listened in and shared my excitement. It was an adventure and everyone wanted to be part of. They knew I had gone to great lengths and wanted to help me get this thing home.
And guess what? I did. Although the signs weren’t anything close to the size of carry-on bags, I carried them onto every plane—with permission. Soon, I’ll hang the elle sign on the wall in my office.
I love telling this story because it illustrates a maxim I live by: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” This philosophy has won me pitches no one thought I could win, secured a spot for me in an elite conservatory that I missed the application deadline for, and has even gotten me special permission to import juggling balls from U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Pentagon. I’ve used the same six mindsets every time I need to achieve an impossible outcome.
- Let life surprise you and be flexible enough to follow through. Because I was observant and present, I noticed the elle sign in the first place. Granted, my brain was in vacation mode so the flexibility came easily—but who says we can’t keep our eyes and minds open all the time!
- Ask the next question. If I hadn’t dug a little deeper into learning about the bridal boutique, I would have never known they were closing and that the sign was even an option for me.
- Believe that what may seem impossible is possible. Cheerfully ignore the naysayers (looking at you, Mirabelle) and be optimistic. Is there a chance you won’t achieve your outcome? Sure. Could you achieve it if you didn’t believe you could? Probably not! It starts with a mindset of abundance and possibility. Make a choice and move forward as if you will get the outcome you expect.
- Tell stories. I didn’t convince airline customer service agents to let me take the sign on the plane by being demanding—instead, I treated them like a fellow human being and told them my story. When you are authentic about what you need and why you need it, people are way more likely to say yes.
- Never underestimate the power of kindness. If you’re kind and genuine, most people will want to be on your side. Instead of assuming the world is against you, assume that people want to help you. You’ll be amazed by how true that becomes!
- Embrace your creative genius. You may have to make your own rules or turn a 4ft sign into a carry-on bag, but be open to new possibilities. Obstacles aren’t problems—they’re opportunities for creativity!
P.S. Want to embrace your creative genius and stop accepting “no” for an answer? If you’re ready to start living out your creative purpose at a deeper level, let’s spend a day strategizing together!
After two decades of building businesses and launching creative ideas, I’m now offering one-on-one Creative Strategy Days to create a plan for executing your brilliance. Email me to find out more!