It's Mardi Gras!

Ashton at mardi gras (blurry as hell)

*Before you read: Here’s a soundtrack for your reading pleasure.

Last night, I plastered purple glitter on my face and wandered the streets of downtown New Orleans with two of my oldest friends—and made some new ones—while we watched the sassy revelers and satirical floats of Hermes and D’Etat roll by.

Tourists in tutus and locals in jeans (and the odd Sonic the Hedgehog costume) were laughing and cheering one another to dance and sing for hours before the parades started. A man near me took up a three-hour football game with a little girl on a balcony that involved at least a dozen foam footballs. That's the spirit of Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras is infectious, fun, and completely unapologetic—despite all its flaws, mistakes, and the occasionally sketchy past.

A quick google will return a million overviews, insider’s guides, bests & worsts roundups, and angry mobs of opinions about Mardi Gras. Most of them, to me, are unimpressive. But then, nobody can capture the essence of NOLA without ambient sounds of Trombone Shorty and the smell of crawfish spices in the hot, sticky air.

You have to experience the confetti bombs landing in your hair, get pelted by at least one bag of beads, make friends with a dozen strangers, and taste the strongest daiquiri of your life (on the street! Walking around!) to truly understand what it's like.

Mardi Gras is a huge, lavish, creative, welcoming, guaranteed ball of a time. Everybody around has made a CHOICE to be there. They want to kick back, throw down, and laugh it up with people they love—or brand new friends. You don’t just “end up” in New Orleans on Mardi Gras by accident (that’s how you get to Memphis…)

But Mardi Gras is also a 200-year-old mega-successful enterprise & brand. Cities and conferences spend millions trying to generate the PR & tourism boost that New Orleans gets every year, without fail, from this spectacle.

Think about it—if Mardi Gras were just one businesswoman, she wouldn’t be selling homely slices of King Cake on the corner of Canal St. She’d have a giant operation overlooking Old Man River with ravenous locals & tourists lining up for days to lick her powdered sugar off their lips.

Why?

Because Mardi Gras isn’t afraid of “not being your cup of tea.”

This huge, drunken soiree is guaranteed every year from Twelfth Night right on up to midnight on Fat Tuesday. You know where it is, what to eat, and that you /better not/ take your kids (get that seven year old off the barrier before she falls into the fire).

No, it’s not for everyone. Some people believe Mardi Gras is the spawn of satan himself (just read my hate mail!)

Mardi Gras don’t care. Mardi Gras thrives on all these flavorful opinions and the flamboyant attention. Mardi Gras probably believes, just a hair to the side of cutthroat, that ANY publicity is good publicity. Maybe you’re not quite there, but…

How can you apply that fun-loving, self-confident-as-f*uck attitude to your business?
No fear.

Don’t be afraid that you’re going to offend someone.
You will anyway.

Don’t be afraid that some on-the-fence clients will turn away from you.
They will anyway.

You will never be able to please everyone.

But you can seduce the ones who were already ready to love you. The ones who would fly all the way down South and attend your parades and eat your beignets and yell, “Throw me somethin!” just for a chance to work with you.

Who’s your parade-going, trumpet-blowing fan base? You can’t please everybody, but you can certainly blow your fans away so they’re talking about you all year long. Listen to what they’re asking for, those wild-eyed revelers who already love you. And then throw ‘em somethin, mister!

XO
Ashton 

When you're ready, here are three ways to work with me on shouting your message from the (hurricane-ready) rooftops: 

What Mary Oliver taught me about business

What Mary Oliver taught me about business

“When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real. 

I don’t want t offend myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” 


—Mary Oliver, When Death Comes