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What Happens When You Break the Rules?


humming When I was four, I was enrolled in the Pied Piper Nursery school’s afternoon program. We would start the day by having a snack and afterwards, a teacher would play the piano and we would sing songs.

The teacher playing the piano was rather short-tempered and if any of the kids spoke out of turn or goofed around, they would have to sit alone in the corner. I remember thinking the songs were boring and wished they would teach us some new ones.

Then one day I got tired of the mean teacher making us sing the same boring songs all the time and I did something about it.

It was the day before my birthday and I was really excited because, well, when you’re four, birthdays are pretty freaking awesome! So when we were sitting in a circle around the piano, I started humming Happy Birthday.

I didn’t mean to upset the teacher but I was humming loudly enough so she heard me. “Who’s humming? Stop that right now!”  The teacher yelled.

Because my mouth was closed whiled I hummed and because all the kids were afraid to open their mouths (or risk a Time Out), it was impossible to tell who in the room was responsible.

Finally the teacher gave up and we went back to singing the Pied Piper Nursery School Top 40 (Farmer in the Dell, Frere Jacques, etc.).

I was amazed first of all because I didn’t get caught and second because it was a pretty scarey thing to do.

I’ve never been the kind of person to break the rules because, it’s fun to upset people. Okay, sometimes people like the teacher at Pied Piper do need to learn to lighten up. But there are times when the rules don’t work or at least don’t work consistently enough to take too seriously.

One such rule in the marketing realm is Thou Shalt Not Stop Marketing. Break that rule and the gods will smite you, competition will eat you alive, and all other manner of dire consequences will occur. But I broke that rule and like Ismael I’ve survived to tell the tale. Unlike Ismael, I’m much better off having lived the adventure.

Read on When Taking a “Marketing Holiday” Can Be Good for Business.