Do It Now

This is the 75th, and final, in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

If you’re putting off something you’ve been meaning to do, what are you waiting for?
Always wanted to play the banjo?
Start taking lessons.
Dreamt about visiting the Greek Islands?
Call a travel agent.
Hate your bathroom wallpaper?
Scrape it off and paint.
Feel better if you exercised?
Start jogging.
Love the taste of home-grown tomatoes?
Plant your own.
Angry about the potholes in your street?
Gp to your town meetings.
Whatever you’ve been putting off, do it now.
Tomorrow may be too late.

Great words of advice.

I remember a few years ago when I was thinking about going back to the local community college to get a degree in health and fitness. I met with one of the college’s counselors and told him that one of my concerns was that the program would take three years to complete and as a result I would be almost 50 years old by the time I finished. His response was perfect, and memorable. He asked me a simple, but powerful question,

“How old will you be in three years if you don’t enroll in the program?”

His point was that my age was irrelevant to the decision whether to start the program. I had to make a decision to do it now if the opportunity presented itself, and since there was no good reason not to do it, I started the program, and ended up loving it. (Thanks Montco!) Three years later, I had my degree and it started me on a journey towards opening my own business.

Doing something now gives you the ability to look back on that decision several years later and see what impact such a decision has had on you. And the sooner you get started with something, the sooner you will reap the rewards for having done so. And the sooner you make the decision, the longer the time frame you have to enjoy those rewards.

A perfect example is planning for your retirement. The sooner you start, the sooner you may be able to retire. And the sooner you start, the more valuable your retirement funds will be in the future.

When I saw the title of today’s ad, I immediately thought of Nike’s famous slogan, “Just Do It”, and I was curious if this United Technologies’ ad came out before or after the Nike slogan. Well this UTech ad came out in the early 1980s, and the Nike ad was launched in 1988.

While researching the Nike slogan, I came across an interesting fact, albeit a somewhat shocking one.

The founder of the Wieden+Kennedy agency that came up with the slogan, Dan Wieden, credits the inspiration for his “Just Do It” Nike slogan to Gary Gilmore’s last words.

If you’re not familiar who Gary Gilmore is, he gained international notoriety for demanding the implementation of his death sentence for two murders he committed in Utah. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new series of death penalty statutes in the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia, he became the first person in almost ten years to be executed in the United States.

Not sure why you would want your corporate slogan associated with a convicted murderer’s final words before his execution.

I wonder if Nike was even aware of the origin of the phrase, although it seems to have worked out quite well for them.

Maybe that just goes to prove how powerful the slogan is; despite its questionable origin, the fact that Nike “Just Did It” made all the difference.

What’s holding you back?