There are no big ideas or small ideas only powerful ideas

There Are No Big Ideas Just Powerful Ideas

It’s true. Just think about Coke’s Big Idea of some 30 years ago. The company decided to change Coca-Cola’s formula and launched New Coke. Fans of old Coke were so enraged that the company completely backtracked. It’s considered one of the biggest blunders in corporate history. Little ideas we don’t hear about for obvious reasons.

As the creative director at my old agency often said, “There are no big ideas, or little ideas, only powerful ideas.”

Powerful Ideas Drive Action

A powerful idea was behind the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on March 24, whose most prominent spokesperson was an 18-year-old teenager named Emma Gonzalez. She and four other classmates who survived the mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. became the public face of the movement in support of stronger gun control laws.

Spontaneously, a powerful idea and the #neveragain movement sped swiftly around the globe where some 800 local marches were organized in cities both small and large.

A powerful idea isn’t dependent on starting out with big money. Powerful ideas draw big money and support from individuals and celebrities like Ariana Grande, Vic Mensa, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson, who performed at the DC rally. The student-created March for Our Lives website isn’t fancy. Powerful ideas don’t have to be fancy — but need to resonate at the gut level.

How powerful were these young voices who led and represent the best of our humanity? The Governor of Florida, their home state, and the legislature finally acquiesced and passed new legislation that raised the minimum age for purchase of a gun from 18 to 21, outlawed bump stocks and mandated a three-day waiting period to allow for a background check of buyers.

These children pushed change overnight where others had failed for over 20 years.

How Are Powerful Ideas Born?

So you’re in business and have an idea for a product or a service. How do you make that a powerful idea? The answer is I’m not sure and even the largest companies with huge budgets have gotten it wrong (i.e., Coke).

But I think it begins with a compelling story. The Parkland students surely had one and they tapped into the frustrations and fears of people around the globe where gun violence has become an everyday occurrence. I attended my local march. It made me feel less helpless. I don’t know how I’ll follow-up besides sending money to help keep up the momentum.

Martin Luther King had a powerful story that he told in his I Have A Dream Speech demanding civil rights for all regardless of color.

Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of India’s movement to gain independence from the British through peaceful activism.

Nun and missionary Mother Teresa devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor.

Their legends live on for their stories and the righteous beliefs that resonated with their followers. Their powerful ideas endure.


Leave a Reply


  1. Thanks for penning a great post, Jeannette. I also attended our march here in Seattle and felt less helpless, and also inspired by the brave and articulate young people who are taking a stand and taking the lead in forcing these conversations, and actions, to finally happen. That itself is big.

    • Paul — These youngsters are our future. The big problem for both political parties is that young people have tended to vote in lessers numbers than their elders. But that’s changing. I just learned that 50 students at one of our local high schools have registered to vote. It gives me hope.

  2. Powerful ideas is a good description of something new and innovative ideas. To make them work you also have to be determined and perservere. If not the idea will no longer be powerful. Martin Luther King is proof of that.

    • Catarina — powerful ideas do need advocates, like the teenagers who forced the issue on gun control in the U.S.

  3. Jeannette, this is a powerful post about the impact that bucking the norm thinking can have. What the grass roots efforts of those kids has done so far and will do–I find it amazing. Have they been looking back over protests from the sixties and seventies? The non-violent ones, of course.

    New ideas are so critical. Pennsylvania just had an important Congressional race and replaced a shame former old white guy and an old white guy opponent with a young man. Granted, another white fellow, but he young and vibrant and believes there is a way for people to work together to meet common goals. Our government is dying for diversity.

  4. Powerful post, Jeannette. Citing those powerful influencers makes me wonder … where would we have been without them? We have to step out of our safety zone in order to effect positive change.

    • Donna — yes, it was a powerful call to action by the next generation that doesn’t want to see a continuing escalation of violence.

  5. Great article! I love that you used social examples, as well as, retail. I am amazed at the reactions in the US that are surfacing as a result of the efforts of young people like Emma Gonzalez, and I also think the timing is a contributing factor to the success of these great ideas.

    • Debra — as Shakespeare wrote, “Timing is All.” Yes, the timing was right but it was a powerful idea to rally young people to cause that the majority of Americans believe in, which is gun control.