BRAND AWARENESS: Have You Ever Had A Sign From The Universe?

by Anne Berg

I think it was 1995. I was visiting friends in San Francisco, taking a break from my ad agency job in Minneapolis. While walking through the city, I was delighted to discover a stand-alone, brick-and-mortar Patagonia store. I had always admired the brand. Loved their catalog. Wore their clothes while sailing on the Great Lakes. I particularly liked their dedication to protecting our environment.

The store felt magical. Navigating the aisles, I found so many things I wanted. But I gave myself a spending limit and decided on a heavy fleece layer to wear under my foul weather gear. As I was checking out, the top of the cash register had a digital crawl line with bright glowing letters. It read: “Do you really need a job?” And then it disappeared.

I was stunned. Could it read my mind? I had been searching in my career — feeling stalled out, with no clear opportunity for advancement. The Universe now was speaking to me. Was I ready to venture out on my own? Was now my entrepreneurial moment? Was it really my turn?

As I caught my breath, I began to share my wonderment with the calm and capable sales person behind the counter. My excitement was palpable. Then, he said, “What do you thinkthe message said?” I replied with great enthusiasm, “Do you really need a job!?!” He smiled and hesitated while thoughtfully composing his next reply. I gazed deeply into his eyes seeking affirmation. Alignment. Permission. Anything to confirm my intuition. The young man finally said, “Ma’am, the message was: do you really need a bag.”

Oh! Right. Of course it was. How silly of me. He put my purchase into a bag. I was too distracted to say no, I don’t need a bag. Yet walking out of that store, after my slightly awkward encounter with a stranger, I confirmed what I already knew: I didn’t want the job I had.

About a year later, after being let go from my agency position, I started an S-corporation — my own virtual agency. Took my favorite client along with me and began this amazing 23-year journey to focus on demystifying branding and marketing for clients.

Looking back through the years and thinking of that singular moment in time, I reflect on the learning…

  1. Pay Attention: slow down and be curious
  2. Choose Yourself: prioritize you and take action
  3. Work Smart: plan early and gather knowledge
  4. Take Risks: be bold and trust yourself
  5. Believe It: build confidence and go forth

Now, I’m celebrating nearly a quarter century of entrepreneurial success. Even though the path has had its ups and downs, I’m thankful for the initial not-so-subtle push. Have you ever experienced a powerful signal from our Universe? I’d love to hear your story. Please follow me for more stories, ideas, and viewpoints. Meanwhile, just be human (kind).