What Do Woodpeckers and Walls Have to Do with Building a Business?


Over the last couple of days, I have been thinking about Woody the Woodpecker.

Have you ever wondered why you keep banging your head against a wall? Asking yourself why you keep trying again and again when all you seem to be accomplishing is getting a big ol’ lump on your forehead? Right now, I have one hell of a big lump up there. It is invisible to the eyebut I know it is there.

Why? you ask.

For two years now I have been designing and redesigning the business bags for Mountain Bird Designs. I can’t count the number of times I have determined that this time I had the final prototype ready to go into production mode. Beautiful artwork, eco-friendly fabric, functionality that suits the needs of the busy woman. And a bag that is true to our tag line. “B.U.S.iness bags for women. Beautiful. Unique. Strong.”

To design the right bag I have been working to find the solution to these questions. Does it finally have the look I am going for? Does the printed image on fabric look the way I imagined it would? Do I have the right fabric and hardware? How about functionality? Does it keep my stuff organized?

So does the current design make the cut?

This time I am pleased with the look and functionality. So I decided to take it out for a test run on my flight to Louisiana. I loaded the bag with my computer and my iPad and they fit just as I wanted them to. Everything is tucked away where it needs to be. I am feeling happy and proud because I only need one bag to carry everything that I used to carry with a work bag and a purse. I traipse off to Louisiana thinking finally this design is complete.

But then I realized there was a problem. While the bag made it all the way to my destination without a hitch, the next morning I noticed that the fabric where the shoulder strap was attached was a few strands away from ripping off. Well shit.

The lump on my forehead just got bigger.

My heart sank and I heard my Pitty Party music kicking in. I sat down with my morning coffee thinking about and dreading the further delays that were now inevitable. And ruminating about what the delay of the launch would mean. The implications are serious. A lot is at stake here. My husband’s and my financial well being. But also my commitment to supporting those that have been harmed by domestic violence and the children in the U.S. that struggle with hunger.  In order for my business dreams of contributing to positive change to become a reality, the most important thing is a product that I am proud to stand behind. Definitely not there yet.

So what do woodpeckers have to do with this anyway?

Well, after my brain settled a bit I thought about what had happened a few days earlier while I drank my morning coffee at home, looking over the blue ridge mountains and listening to “Woody the Woodpecker’s” cousin pounding away at a near-by tree. You remember Woody on Looney Toons, right? That crazy red-haired guy with the maniacal laugh? A cartoon characterization of the real pterodactyl-looking pileated woodpecker and its raucous “ha ha ha ha ha” call.



I was marveling at how hard woodpeckers can pound their beaks against trees. Crazy that their beaks don’t break and their heads don’t fall off. Right?

They are so persistent in going after the bugs they like to nosh on. Pound, pound, slam. Am I there? Almost. Let’s try it again. Pound pound. Oh yeah. Hmmmmm. Yummy. What about over here? Nope, gotta move along. It is mesmerizing to watch them hopping up and down and around the trunk. Turning their heads to listen to what is happening beneath the bark. Refusing to give up. But then, for them failure is not an option.

Birds have something to say about business.

Watching nature’s silver screen offers an opportunity for wisdom to come to you if you open yourself up and pay attention. For me, bird’s frequently have something to say. After all, I am Mountain Bird Designs.

Mr. Pterodactyl, a.k.a Woody’s Cuz, reminded me of what one of my mentor’s in the textile industry told me. “To be successful, you need to be methodical not maniacal.” That crazy woodpecker seems to have figured that out. Mostly. At least the methodical part. Not so sure about maniacal.

Mr. Pterodactyl also made me ponder about something else my mentor said. “Navigating the textile industry isn’t always easy. It requires patience and persistence.” Woodpeckers definitely have that right.

So what about me? Methodical not maniacal? Patience and persistence? Well, if Mr. Pterodactyl can do it, so can I. Giving up is not an option for me either. Only the ones who give up are the ones that fail. Any way, I am 90% there. What’s so bad about getting a few more little bumps?

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