Several months back, I saw Seth Godin speak as one of the keynote presentations for the CMA - Canadian Marketing Association - National Convention and Trade Show (full disclosure: I am the co-chair for this event and sit on the Board of the Directors as well). In the question and answer segment of his presentation, one of the attendees asked Seth about where he gets his ideas for his books and his Blog postings from. Seth went on to explain that he follows what's happening in the space, does a lot of reading, uses many of the tools I wrote about here: Online Chatter - Six Free Tools To Monitor What The Public Is Saying About You, etc..., but the attendee kept on prying into the thought process.
Seth simply replied, "that's my secret sauce."
What he meant to say is, "who knows? It just comes to me."
It's the perfect answer.
Most of us know the seven notes that make up all music. None of us are able to put them together quite like John Lennon.
Lennon's ability to weave those seven notes together was his secret sauce.
Each one of us has our own secret sauce.
I think part of life's mystery is one's ability to figure out, exactly, what their own secret sauce is.
My guess is that some people find out really early, some figure it out only later in life and the vast majority of us never ever do (which is sad). So, when we see someone who has found it - whether they are an artist, project manager, scientist, speaker or plumber - we all marvel at the skill set, result or constant ground-breaking passion they bring to whatever it is that they do.
Brilliant ideas come out of this lifeforce, but they have to be nurtured, practiced, pushed, prodded and questioned. I think a lot about this lately. When I see a new businesses idea proposed to me, when I see a rock band live, when I read certain Blog postings, when I see specific marketing campaigns, I don't ask, "how did they come up with that idea?" I let it all soak in and ask myself: "what's their secret sauce and how did they discover it?"
We tend to think that only celebrities, famous people and the rich have discovered their secret sauce. It's not the case. We've all seen people from all walks of life who just do what they do in their own - very unique and special - way. Knowing your secret sauce is not correlated to a hefty bank account. I also happen to think that it's not about how much self-reflection you do either. I think it's about doing lots of stuff you're passionate about and playing full out (especially when you're working). We tend to look at people who have embraced their secret sauce as having an easy life. My guess is, life is easy for them because they're doing what comes naturally and what keeps them inspired.