A Big Aha From A Mishap

Over the last 12 years of growing Walden Hyde, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn from our failures and shape our business into the special place that it is.

I thought I’d share one particular wake-up call I had during a pitch for a big piece of government business on the East Coast.

To dress the part for this pitch, I actually had to buy a suit.

So I did, brought it home, and packed it. We were on a plane early the next morning and got to the hotel in time for dinner and a run-through of our pitch, which was at 8am the next morning.

After waking up with plenty of time, I took my suit out of its bag and preceded to get dressed. I pulled on the foreign feeling slacks and felt a funny weight to one of the legs. Looking down, I realized the store left the giant plastic security ink tag on the pants.

The pitch was in an hour.

I could see the Capitol building where we were headed from the hotel room. While it loomed large it was not as large as the problem I needed to solve.

My first thought was to turn the pants inside out and hope the jacket would cover the inside out pockets. That definitely didn’t work.

My next idea was to get a sharpie and color the white tag black to match the pants. As I started to color I quickly realized it wouldn’t work.

By this time, I’d been joined by Katie Dunn to help troubleshoot the problem; if our director of insights and strategy couldn’t help solve the problem, no one could.

We panic-searched online and found the solution (and you may want to file this away if you’re ever in a similar predicament). We took a towel, slotted it under and around the ink tag and then used a hanger to pry apart the tag. It worked! The ink didn’t explode and it only left a small hole.

Pants on and tie tightened up, we hustled to the Capitol for the pitch … and, we completely bombed it.

This experience helped us embrace the idea of softening into our strengths. I realized we needed to be ourselves and be more selective about clients and projects, rather than go after every type of business that we could do.

​Over the years, we’ve grown Walden Hyde to be an unapologetic reflection of these standards:

  • We only do work we’re passionate about…
  • In the industries that we’re experts in (outdoor/ski/bike, travel hospitality, natural food, and sustainability)…
  • With clients who share our values.

We’re here to to build the brands that people love.

And when you have the word love in your reason for being, you need to take a different approach.