somebody that i used to know :: bob’s beans, post-it style bootlegging and the creative process

February 8, 2012 — 3 Comments

In one of the greatest stories in our family lore is the tale of “Bob’s Beans.”

My wife’s mom, Gloria, has for years and years made a delicious baked bean, hamburger, and bacon concoction that redefines savory goodness.  It’s like Bush’s Baked Beans on steroids.  As far as I can tell, the family has been savoring said bean concoction for decades.

One year, as I understand the story, my Father-in-Law had made a batch of fresh salsa from tomatoes and peppers in his garden.  The details are a bit fuzzy, but it seems that some of said salsa was added to said bean concoction, and… well, it was a flavor combination made in heaven.  Apparently, these beans have ever since been lauded under the new moniker, “Bob’s Beans,” much to the chagrin of his wife.  In fact, I have no idea if there is any salsa left in the modern day rendering of this baked bean recipe, but we still call them “Bob’s Beans.”

I tell you this story because it has happened a million times.  A hundred million.  One idea merges with another idea and another and what comes out the other end is something new, different, and sometimes better.  For this reason if you flip through our recipe book in the Skogerboe kitchen, you will find index cards with labels that read “Joshua’s Buttermilk Pancakes,” “Joshua’s Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and my favorite, “Joshua’s Hot Fudge.”  Truth be told, I may or may not have basically ripped off my mother and made minor alterations to her best recipes and then given myself credit.  I’ll never tell.

GREAT ideas are often the result of bootlegging good ideas.  To quote the great Pablo Picasso once again, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

Post-It Notes were developed when one 3M employee created a low-tack adhesive that wasn’t able to capture anyone’s attention in the company.  Then one of his co-workers thought, “Hmmm…  I bet I could make myself a nice non-stick bookmark for my hymnal.”  I know.  Unbelievable that they didn’t go with “Plan A” and corner the cut-throat Hymnal bookmark market.  Just think where 3M might be today.

But ideas evolve.  Thanks to 3m’s “permitted bootlegging” policy, allowing their employees to spend 10% of their time on pet projects, the world is far more organized.  Sticky note by sticky note at a time.  Now several other major corporations (such as Google) have similar policies.

Ideas are canvas.  They are seeds.  Don’t be quick to throw them away if your “Plan A” fails.  Write them down.  Let them stew.  Add some salsa.

I could give a million examples.  A hundred million.  But I am inspired this week by one song that I can’t get out of my head.  See three very different and equally compelling renditions below.  The first video is by the original artist.  The next two are variations on the theme.  These guys make me want to write.  And maybe steal someone’s good ideas, and make them better, and label them with my name on a Post-It Note.  Or maybe I’ll work on creating something altogether NEW that you will make brilliant one day.  It’s all creativity, all part of the process.  When we create, we reflect our Creator.  Long live good ideas.  And long live bootlegging those good ideas to make even better ones.  Long live Bob’s Beans.






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“somebody that i used to know :: bob’s beans, post-it style bootlegging and the creative process” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

3 responses to somebody that i used to know :: bob’s beans, post-it style bootlegging and the creative process

  1. Love! I think they get progressively better. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I feel the same as Tami. I LOVED the first one, thought that was going to win, unique voice and vocal ambiguity. I’m more moved by the musicianship of the 2nd one, and emotion of the 3rd one. Overall, greater connection to a crappy feeling in the third A Capella version. (if you really wanna know)

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