Is it time to jump off the train?

Founding Mother, Chard & Stripes

While the rest of you were streaming movies, my man Jeff was renting DVDs for us to watch.

And from the back of a pharmacy, no less.

Anyway, he kept considering this one documentary that took him ages to bring home, which was puzzling given what it promised: Success Scandal Sex Tragedy Infamy and That’s Just the First Reel…

“When I found the train was not going in the direction I wanted,
I jumped off.”


As puts it, the documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, “traces the meteoric rise, fall, and rise again of legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans.”

Robert started his career as an actor. The problem was he couldn’t act. In one film, his fellow cast members tried to get him fired, but studio head Darryl Zanuck let his thoughts be known:

The kid stays in the picture!

Robert got to keep his job, but the ordeal helped him see there was more power behind the camera than in front of it—he changed course and found success as a producer.

Now me:

Early in my small business journey, I wanted to build a booming t-shirt brand and got the newsletter of someone who’d done it and helped other folks sell their stuff.

“Would you like to be featured in O Magazine?” one of her emails asked.

I’m presuming she thought her question was rhetorical because who wouldn’t want a spike in sales that comes with an Oprah endorsement? And yet, I wasn’t interested and had a Robert moment:

“Forget O!” I thought, “I want people hoping for a spot on MY list!”

Said differently, I preferred to create an Oprah kind of power rather than be graced by such.

Presto change-o!

Though my path forward wasn’t as clear, I committed to my higher aspiration in fashion:

Promoting kind clothing brands—thus influencing sales—while growing a micro brand of my own.

Poet Robert Brault has said, …

“We are kept from our goals not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”

And here’s why I’m saying all this:

  1. To introduce the Chard & Stripes Lists of National Treasures and Earthly Delights, which are described here and will launch this month!
  2. To get you thinking about which train you’re on in your work.

Is it one going where you truly want? Or one with a clear path to a lesser destination?

Unless the journey is feeling good (even though it can sometimes be hard), it might be worth changing tracks like Robert and I did.

But DON’T get tangled up in murder and drugs like he did, OK?

P.S. I learned t-shirts have a large environmental footprint (more on this later), which made growing a big t-shirt brand less appealing and changing course more gratifying.

Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon is a scientist turned storyteller and Founding Mother of Chard & Stripes, a “school” of prosperity making and word-of-mouth marketing platform for kind people, products and businesses in food, fashion & more. Subscribe to her newsletter here.