Emma McIlroy founded Wildfang a few years ago. You know her company because of suddenly-world-famous designs like this.


She came to speak at the 3% Conference last month. Was it the best talk?

Yeah, maybe.

In her presentation she recalled a day at the beach when she was seven years old. Searching among the rocks, she absolutely, definitely found the fossil of a mammoth’s foot. She showed it to her mom. And because her mom was not busy checking Facebook on her iPhone, she did not absent-mindedly mutter, “Yeah, right,” without looking up from her screen. Instead, she knelt down next to her little girl and changed her life by saying “Yeah. Maybe.” Which sets up the entire premise of Emma’s speech — the vast path that opens up when you say maybe.

But what her mom did next is the thing that really stuck with me. And seems to be what we need to do more of in life. She took action.

“Let’s go to the museum,” she said. “And we’ll hand it in and we’ll see what the experts think.” Go watch her story to find out what happens; I won’t ruin it here. But I will spoil the smaller tale. After they turn the rock in, they tour the museum. That trip to the museum and the tour is what gets me; that’s the most important part of her story.

Because it reiterates three critical points. Absolutely nothing can happen when you say, “yeah, right.” Something good might happen anytime you say, “yeah, maybe.” But something undeniably powerful will happen every single time you say “maybe” and then go take the very smallest first step.

Here, that last step could have led to Emma becoming a paleontologist. Or a museum curator. Or even just a young girl who understood that chasing her curiosity was the path toward whatever was next. For Emma, it started a journey and eventually she left an incredible job at Nike to found Wildfang.

And if that alone doesn’t inspire you to “maybe” more in your life, here are just a few of the many other talks that took place at the 3% movement over two days in Chicago:

with a maybe, the brilliant Sallie Krawcheck founded Ellevest to redefine investing for women

• Amanda Enayati beat a revolution and late-stage cancer with maybes

• it seems like the marketing maven, Cindy Gallop, uses maybe every single day to continue to shatter barriers in the ad industry and far beyond

• and Corinna Falusi found that just maybe the secret to better workplaces is to “never hire yourself”

When you have time, go watch to all these fascinating stories. Will they change your life? Well… you know.

Nick ChildsComment