Monday, December 24, 2007

What candy and a confectioner can teach us

“Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple” ~ Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

I giggled when I read this quote in a magazine recently. We always read about people like Jack Welch or Michael Porter commenting on what elements go into success, or growth, or innovation. It’s refreshing to read what a fictional character thinks about these things while poking a bit of fun at all of us.

There isn’t one element or personal characteristic that helps achieve something. Success comes when we fuse a number of things together – maybe some luck, some support from people who care about us, hard work, a dash of experience, a string of failures we learn from, etc. We all have some special recipe that contributes to how we got to where we are.

The other thing I love about this quote is that the percentages add up to 105%. At first I thought that maybe this was meant as a joke. Maybe Gene Wilder was trying to say that there’s no way to know exactly what contributes to invention. Is it a mystery? Is it something that truly cannot be quantified?

Or maybe it means that even if we have all of our ducks in a row, if we line up all the cosmos perfectly, there still must be that little something extra that sparks invention, the creation of something new and uniquely ours. Is Gene Wilder trying to say that the most important thing we ever do is find our own butterscotch ripple?

The photo above can be found at:

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