THE BLOG
11/01/2012 12:51 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From W.C. Fields

W.C. Fields was always an exceptionally gifted performer. But some of his most unforgettable performances actually took place off-camera.

Like most actors in the start of their career, Fields found himself a little short of cash. A problem? Not for him.

The non-traditional Mr. Fields simply created a "Blue Ocean" job for himself in Atlantic City one summer, as a professional drowner.

Here's how it worked:

Several times a day, Fields would swim out to sea, pretend to be drowning, and then be "rescued" by one of his accomplices, the lifeguard.

Invariably, a large crowd would gather on the beach as the no-longer-struggling actor was "resuscitated."

Once it was clear that he was going to live, the suddenly relieved crowd would turn to Field's third accomplice, the hot dog vendor (who just happened to be standing nearby) and treat themselves to an "I'm-so-glad-he's-alive" snack.

At the end of each water-logged day, the lay-down-comic would split the take with his buddies -- the lifeguard and the hot dog vendor.

Brilliant!

Now, I'm not suggesting that you, oh, underfunded entrepreneur, do anything to deceive your customers. Not at all.

But what I am suggesting is that you step back and take a fresh look at what you might do differently to get an extraordinary result.

Is there a new risk you need to take? An experiment to try? A non-traditional collaboration to enter into?

Simply put, if your product, service, or venture is drowning, what can you do to resuscitate it?

PS: My company, Idea Champions, once got a sizable contract from AT&T by teaching the Director of Training and Development how to juggle in five minutes -- something he'd been trying to learn for 25 years.

That's what I'm talking about, folks -- a new approach, a different twist, a unique angle with the potential to spark extraordinary results.

So... what is your idea?

Mitch Ditkoff works with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and other assorted humanoids attempting to make some magic in the marketplace. He is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of the forthcoming book, Wisdom At Work -- a fresh look at how moments of truth in the middle of a seemingly ordinary workday can spark extraordinary insight. PS: He almost drowned once, but never made a dime off of the experience. Not even a frankfurter.