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The Simple Things

In this world of short attention spans and technology that advances by the minute, innovation seemingly gets more and more difficult to attain. But every day I read about really amazing things being done by people who simply pay attention to what's going on around them.

A few months ago, I read an article in Inc. magazine that really struck me. I don't know why exactly because I read and hear about cool things all the time now thanks, in large part, to the Internet and, more specifically, podcasts and Twitter.

This story I found particularly poignant, though. Perhaps because, as a small business owner trying to make my way through an uncertain economy, I could relate to it more than some of the other mind-blowing things I hear about. The story is about a young man who, almost unknowingly, helped save his mom's small, independent bookstore in Portland, OR in December of 2008.

Now, he may not have found the golden egg, ensuring Broadway Books will be handed down from mother to son to grandson and on and on, but he took something he did every day and gave this little bookstore life...for another year and a half anyway (the store is still open 7 days a week).

Using his Twitter account (@everydaydude) and his blog, he sent a simple message to his friends. Well, you can probably deduce what happened from there and I want you to read the story for yourself so I won't bore you with it here.

Suffice it to say that what Aaron Durand did was simple, but—to me anyway—amazing. While his actions were not exactly unintentional, he had no idea the effect it would produce. It may not have been an innovation that changes the world for generations to come, but it was an innovation that changed the outlook of his family, and this little gem of a bookstore, for the better.

When I get down on myself thinking that I'm not creative or imaginative enough to do anything truly innovative that will set a new standard or affect people in a profoundly positive way, simple stories like this remind me that ordinary people do incredible things every day. And these things matter. All it takes is to pay a little bit of attention to what's going on around you. And then do something with it.