How a Smile Became a Frown! (Encouragement for Creators)


Each year, thousands of designers, artists, inventors and businesspeople come up with multi-million dollar ideas. Some of these men and women instantly recognize the potential of their creations, and cry EUREKA!  Others apparently don’t realize what they have. They view their creations as “throwaway ideas”; serving only an immediate need; perfect for the moment, not much else. They minimize their own dreams and creativity, believing their creations are not that innovative, not that extraordinary, not that much of a big deal. Humility? Or shortsightedness? Often they fail to see the full potential of their inventiveness, or its possible future applications — a bitter lesson Harvey Ross Ball probably knew well.

Ball was an American graphic artist and advertising man. In 1963, one of Ball’s clients, State Mutual Life Assurance Company, commissioned Ball to come up with a simple cartoon design, which they planned to distribute throughout the company on memos and buttons. The insurance company had just gone through a complex and stressful restructuring, and they hoped the design would help boost the morale of their employees. Ball quickly sketched a yellow circle with two crooked eyes and a winsome smile — the prototype of what eventually became the Smiley Face. It took the artist a mere 10 minutes to come up with the idea and dash it off. He was paid $45 for his labor and, at the time, probably felt well compensated for what’s essentially a doodle. The insurance company plastered Ball’s smiley design on posters, signs and thousands of buttons. Soon, other businesses were copying it.

But no big deal. Neither Ball nor State Mutual bothered to trademark the image. After all, how could they know the little yellow face with the big smile would become so popular, even fifty years later, or that the smiley would make someone (NOT them) filthy rich?

In 1971, a French newspaper publisher, Franklin Loufrani, decided to use a variation of Ball’s design in the logo of his paper, to remind readers that not all news is bad. And it’s Loufrani who named the little guy Smiley. You must surely know the rest of this story — the smiley is profitably marketed throughout the world today — but it’s possible there’s one little detail you don’t know: since neither Harvey Ball nor State Mutual bothered to register their creation, Loufrani decided to trademark both the design and the name “Smiley” in 1988. Loufrani launched the Smiley Company and began selling tee-shirts, but in 1996 his son Nicolas took over the family business and transformed it into one of the top 100 licensing companies in the world.

Today, the Smiley Company makes over $130 million a year. One of its most significant licensing agreements was for all those tiny emoticons we use when texting on our phones and tablets. But good old Smiley shows up everywhere — stickers, mugs, hats, greeting cards, you name it! — making it the most recognizable icon in the world, with a smile second only to that of the Mona Lisa. Not bad for a 10-minute, $45 doodle.

Lesson: little ideas can be like little stones thrown into a pond, and make big ripples in life. Small beginnings can lead to bigger and better things. And no goal is insignificant. Never underestimate a good concept, and believe in your own dreams. Above all, have faith in God and in the creativity with which He’s gifted you.  And Have A Nice Day!  🙂

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin….” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)


The Downpour of Diminutive Dreams


No dream is ever too small to affect the world. And yet, every minute of the day, someone somewhere tosses away an innovative idea, abandons a worthy project, walks away from a golden opportunity, and decides to give up on their dream — all because he or she feels it’s not worth pursuing; that their dream is insignificant, not worthy, just too small.

Is your dream too small? Does it justify the time and effort of pursuing it? Or do you view it as a tiny fish you ought to throw back into the sea? Not sure? Then answer these seven simple questions:

1) Does your dream (or goal) excite you?

2) Does working toward it make you happy?

3) Does pursuing it give you a sense of purpose?

4) Do you frequently think about your dream (or goal)?

5) Have you held essentially the same dream (or goal) for years?

6) Would achieving it bring you feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment?

7) Can you or someone else benefit in any way, through the fulfillment of your dream (or goal)?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you should hold on to it! Any dream that’s big enough to prompt a positive response to our Dream Diagnostics, is worth pursuing — no matter who tells you otherwise, and no matter what obstacles you happen to encounter.

The Biblical Prophet Elijah faced his share of nasty naysayers. He also had to overcome numerous obstacles. And an event in his life perfectly illustrates our point about dreams. Elijah was forecasting rain. Big deal, right? Well, actually yeah! The prophet’s homeland was parched by a drought that had lasted three years. And there hadn’t been a single cloud in the sky for just about as long! Until the eventful day when Elijah’s servant sees a tiny one.

Dreams are a lot like clouds in the sky: they drift along, appearing distant, insubstantial, and unreachable. And even the smallest cloud (or dream) can affect our lives — like the one spotted by Elijah’s servant: “His servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry … Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!'” (1 Kings 18:1, 44 NLT)

Really? From that tiny cloud? But as things turned out, the world soon witnessed exactly how much can develop from something so seemingly insignificant: “…Soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm…..” (1 Kings 18:1, 45 NLT).

By “terrific rainstorm” the scriptures mean what us “country folk” call a gully washer! Enough rain to restore the land after 3 years of drought, and thoroughly soak all the naysayers. Sorta brings new meaning to the term “wet blanket”!

Lesson learned: Like the Prophet Elijah’s insignificant-looking little rain cloud, what may sound like an easy (or unusual) goal, or a diminutive dream, can eventually produce a downpour of blessings, for both you and others.

Someone once said, “Dream BIG, or don’t dream at all.” Nonsense! God never intended dreams to be “one size fits all”! And besides, every dream is worth pursuing, and every dream has the potential to soak you with joy, satisfaction and blessings. So embrace your own special dream. You’ll quickly realize it’s just the right size for you!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap….” (Galatians 6:9 King James 2000)