Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Gotta' Have More Cowbell!

During a late-night break from programming this week - I caught an old episode of Saturday Night Live that cracked me up - and inspired me to ask this question:

The Mac OS is cooler than Windows because:

a) It's built on Linux

b) Steve Jobs can do do wrong

c) It's got more cowbell

Answer: C - more cowbell.

"More cowbell" is the punch line to a five year old skit that featured Christopher Walken and was a spoof of VH1's "Behind the Music." The "show" takes a "behind-the-scenes" look at what might have happened when the 1970s band Blue Oyster Cult (BOC) went into the studio to record "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" - one of the bands most recognized songs.

Those of you who are old enough to know what a "record" is (hint - has nothing to do with databases) - you know that "Don't Fear The Reaper" features a prominent cowbell during the entire song.

I won't ruin the fun by explaining the skit - but Walken steals the show with "I gotta' have more cowbell!" - as he pleads with the band members who are annoyed with Gene Frenkle's (played by Will Farrell) incessant cowbell beating.

That got me to thinking about what "I gotta' have more cowbell" really means. On the surface, it's just a silly saying really only aprapose in the context of the skit. On a deeper level (stay with me here) it's actually got some meaning beyond the context of a "cute" skit.

To me, it's a battle cry for accentuating the positive - and calling for more of "it." "It" in this case is whatever "it" is that makes a product or service go beyond just acceptable and brings it into the realm of "gotta' have it."

Some examples:

  • The Ritz Carlton's High Tea
  • Riding a BMW R1200 RT over a winding mountain road
  • Servoy
  • Wired Magazine
  • Nordstrom's

It's not often that I have a "cowbell moment" - but when I do - I'm generally hooked. I look forward to having that moment again and again. Even more than that - I EXPECT it. It raises the bar for not only that product or service - but my baseline expectation is that of excellence - everytime. That's not necessarily a bad thing - until the inevitable happens - the human factor.

Someone drops the ball.

Some invoice gets lost.

Some phone call gets missed.

Some website goes down.

Basically - life happens. No matter how hard you try, or how well the planning goes - there are those times when everything goes to hell in a handbasket and there is little or nothing you can do about it.

So how does that affect the "cowbell" experience? If you've already had the "cowbell" experience, and you're a "fan", then it's probably not that big of a deal. I mean, everyone (person and company) has a bad hair day occasionally.

However, If you're not already a "fan" - then it can sometimes make the difference between becoming one and not. Or at least your expectation is set lower than the reality - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. This just means, in the case of a really great company, you'll be delighted (if you give them a second chance) and then hopefully, you'll have your own "cowbell" moment.

Thought for today: "Guess what? I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell!"

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