Ice Cream Trucks, Impromptu Hobby Horses and Marshmallows

By Lisa Moore, gira{ph}

I sometimes wish we could go back to the point in life where fear had no place – the point where the weight of management, industry norms and regulations didn’t outweigh the ambition of a wild idea.  Would we be fearless?  Would we take more risks?  Would we disregard embarrassment for the sake of success?

Ice Cream Trucks

Last summer, my friend’s third-grader had a neighborhood ice-cream sale when the inevitable happened. An ice cream truck pulls up, and naturally the kids flock to it like bees to honey. I thought for sure she would give up on selling ice cream and get discouraged. Instead, she just switched it up.  Next thing I know, she is back outside selling lemonade to all of the thirsty children who just purchased ice cream.  Her strategy paid off as she turned a small profit from her lemonade stand just by adjusting to new market conditions.

Lesson: Constantly change with your surroundings. When something happens that prevents an idea from being successful, think of a way to capitalize on the situation and create other opportunities

Impromptu Hobby Horses

This past weekend I spent time with my business partner’s nine-year-old daughter Julia, and my best friend’s 15-month-old daughter, Brooklyn.  Here’s what I learned from a 48-hour adventure.

First, children have little fear, and failure does not embarrass them.  I watched while a nine year old shrugged off messing up a gymnastics routine she has worked on for months.  Then took notice as a 15-month-old created an impromptu hobbyhorse by jumping on a rocking chair, which consequently instantly flipped over.

Lesson: Don’t think about fear as something that keeps you from pushing the envelope, think of fear as something you should do that your peers are too afraid to try.


One of my favorite exercises to do with teams is called the Marshmallow Challenge (from the TED conference). The object is to build the tallest freestanding structure possible in 18 minutes using spaghetti sticks, tape, string, a marshmallow, and scissors.

It never fails. During the challenge, teams spend more time coming up with a plan than actually executing, which ultimately causes an “uh-oh” kind of moment when the structure collapses.

What’s fascinating is that business school graduates consistently perform the challenge very poorly because they are trained to come up with the perfect plan.  Who does consistently well? Kindergartners, because they prototype.  Since young children aren’t afraid of messing up, they keep trying new strategies until their plan works.

Lesson: Prototype. Don’t be afraid to fail in small ways.  Those lessons bring a big pay off for the end goal.

Your members are thirsty

We can learn so much from children, and sometimes I believe if we could reprogram our minds to forget what we learn as adults we may find more success in our endeavors.

So when an ice cream truck rolls past your credit union – don’t give up. Your members are still thirsty.

Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore

Lisa formerly served as Marketing Manager for Pioneer West Virginia Federal Credit Union before becoming a partner at gira{ph}. At her previous post with Pioneer, she helped spearhead an ... Web: Details