During a cold November in a Maine cabin, I fell in love. Nestled within 60 acres of forest, about 10 miles between two small towns, the silence went on forever. I was thoroughly alone. The only electrical current came from a small, solar-powered battery, and the “toilet” was a bucket filled with sawdust.
What I loved most about that month was cooking on an old wood stove.
I'd used cast iron before, and recognized it from my grandmother's house. Pots and pans hung from a metal bar above the stove. They were easy to use and clean. And they were indestructible. Also, I imagined, 100% recyclable. The design signaled one intent: cooking food. Out in the wilderness it made sense. Things had to last.
Growing up, I knew about cast iron, but not from real experience. My parents and most of those around me said the same things. Too heavy. Outdated. Not dishwasher safe. The pots and pans got a bad rap because of seeming inconvenience. So, instead, we had cheap non-stick pans with plastic handles. Good enough. When the handle broke, or the enamel started to crack, we tossed them on the trash heap and bought a couple more.
After this month in the woods, holed up with cast iron cookware, I did some investigating. Lodge, the company that made the cookware, started in 1896. A skillet or a frying pan runs about $25.
You can imagine my surprise. Who would exchange a cheap, indestructible commodity for a disposable alternative often at twice the price or more?
I decided that it was a story of convenience. We make less and less time to do things like cooking, especially with heavy, outdated implements. That stuff is for the old days. We're past that now. Why spend the energy to maintain goods that you can throw away and replace so cheaply?
But this was the very conundrum which drove me to the woods of Maine in the first place. I wanted something different than the constant drill of recreating proposal material. Deadlines. Stress. Correcting other people's mistakes. Watching money go to waste while struggling to create something of value. No one cared about my labor, a proposal writer punching above his weight.
I felt like the cheap pan. Easy to use. Easy to dispose of. I needed a break, a new perspective, a shift.
So, cast iron and the woods taught me some lessons. Simplicity. Utility. Durability. Quality. Work on these. Just as cast iron takes time to forge and shape, good proposal work does too. At least the kind you can return to - rather than burn through.
Lodge cast iron, if you've never cooked with it, is the epitome of simplicity. It's easy to maintain. It's useful on the stove top and in the oven, even at very high temperatures. It lasts forever, and it looks great. If you're lucky enough to be cooking for 50 years, odds are that your Lodge cookware will be with you.
The reality is, proposals are as old as time itself. The timeless elements of a proposal - the story and the delivery - are simple. Yet it's easy to get caught up in fads and promises of something better. Turning to quick fixes, cheaper alternatives, or the latest technology tempts us. We can forget the fundamentals, the truths and treasures that outlast time.
Lodge's brand thrives today. Their focus on quality and affordability make them great contenders in the market. They don't have to say a lot, because the work speaks for itself. And yet they innovate too when new is necessary.
This same truth applies to usable content, the heart of a good story. True. Real. Substantive. Something that will last. Something with style that persists, even through changing obsessions and industry advancement.
Lodge cookware gives hope to a young company like Qocreate. We're building on timeless principles. Winning ones that generate revenue, powered by story, system, and style. We do this through a simple, useful approach. Get the story right. Build a successful way to tell it again and again. Make the proposal process enjoyable and compelling. And insist that the work looks good.
In the About section of Lodge's website, there's a quote I like to think about. "While many worthy competitors have fallen by the wayside, Lodge’s dedication to quality, technology, and employees have helped it not only survive but flourish." Through world wars, a depression, and globalization, Lodge has persisted and flourished, right here in America. We hope someday to be able to say that Qocreate has done the same.
If you're wondering how to cut the crap, increase revenues, and enrich your proposals, give us a call. Simplicity, utility, durability, and quality have rewarded us with client revenues topping $300 million. This winning combination of values reinforces itself over time. Again and again. And if you're interested in Lodge: well, just check out the video below!