Sourdough bread and patented Swiss watches is quite the title but with everyone having to shift their rhythm of life over the last few months, many things have changed for all of us. Some changes are perhaps permanent and what would have been strange now seems seems perfectly normal. So maybe our title the title is not so strange. But one thing is always constant and continues to unfold daily, the willingness of the human spirit to take on new challenges.
One new challenge I took on recently was, it appears in retrospect, laid for me by my wife. For a number of weeks there had been a strange jar of goo staring at me each time I opened our refrigerator. I was informed that this was the starter for sourdough bread. A close friend of hers was now an accomplished home baker and my wife wanted to get onto the bandwagon. I licked my lips with anticipation.
A few weeks passed but there was no fresh sourdough, no fresh bread baking aromas emanating from the kitchen. Rather there seemed to be a lot of concern about feeding the starter. I was just left scratching my head. I was blissfully unaware of the needs of the starter and how its predisposition could impact the outcome of the baking process. My only hope was that one day there may be as much attention to my well being as was being paid to the starter, and maybe a loaf of fresh baked bread?
Another couple of weeks and there had been no further progress towards a beautiful, fluffy, crusty loaf of sourdough bread being produced in our kitchen. With a burst of confidence I downloaded a recipe, “How difficult can this bread baking thing be?” I thought to my self. As it turns out, really quite difficult.
Previewing the end result of my first efforts, it was a disaster! The result was far from fluffy. Dense would be more applicable. Crusty? No, I would say that tough would be a more appropriate adjective. As for its physical appearance? Not very appetizing would cover that one. The only saving grace at this point is that the bread tasted pretty good.
Been Here Before?
As I was surveying the results of my efforts I realized, from the pit of my stomach, that I had been here before. My baking efforts were being judged by the world at large and it was delivering its verdict. FAIL! The same outcome that confronted Daniel and I from our initial application for the SNGLRTY patent, but in this case the word chosen was – REJECTED.
All that work and nothing to show for it. That was all I could think when I looked at that sorry loaf of bread and it transported me back to the day that rejection letter landed in my inbox.
Where It All Starts
Wind the clock back a bit further and it is apparent that the sad loaf of bread and the rejection letter both started in the same place. There was a sudden rush of enthusiasm, a belief in being able to achieve the desired goal. An optimism and openness to the potential that the world lays open for us all. It was all so familiar but it sneaks up on you.
The phone call Daniel and I had after that fateful evening when we were just chatting, once again, about creating a watch. We had discussed making watches and our common desire for a shift to something novel, but we had no idea what. The phone call we shared after our evening of red wine and speculating on the back of a beer mat had a certain frisson (even through the slightly foggy heads). What had all just started with the desire to create a watch that was “different” seemed now to have taken on a life of its own. The gauntlet had been thrown down and unwittingly Daniel and I both accepted the challenge that day, on that first phone call. I doubt either of us realized at the time, but in retrospect, this was the moment we were committed.
At the time we were both a little hesitant over the idea but the excitement and enthusiasm of the emotional commitment set us off down the path of discovery and learning – to challenge ourselves. And what a challenge it has been. When I think about our journey so far it has been a constant cycle. It starts with enthusiasm to experiment with the unknown, a knock back, failure, rejection (choose your word of choice) and then a little learning to take us one step forward. Each step has to be paid for but once that sacrifice of effort has been made a new understanding is revealed and we find ourselves in an infinitely better place. That process of harnessing the initial enthusiasm and excitement into learning transforms an idea into something more permanent – learning. Rinse and repeat and we ended up with SNGLRTY.
Our development process should be brought into perspective here. The creation of SNGLRTY by two guys with a simple desire to create a little legacy in the watch world has not been a short or simple journey. Daniel and I commissioned our first patent search in July 2015 and when that came back it had all the hallmarks of failure writ large on it. Undaunted we overcame the initial issues with the patent search and dispatched our patent application in October 2015. The fateful first rejection letter that I mentioned earlier, landed in our inbox in December 2016. Months of research, refinement and finely detailed argument crafting and we were awarded our patent on 15 August 2017.
When I lay out the process like this and look at the time that has elapsed since Daniel and I had our first conversation it is quite a shock. We have been working on SNGLRTY for over 5 years now. I can assure you it does not seem that long. When motivated by a true orientation of purpose I find it amazing how time changes. This is something that came up in my conversations with The Watch Whisperer. When he is investigating a new watch that has caught his attention he also sees time disappear. The common theme is that time appears to slip by in a haze of enthusiasm, learning and excitement. In reality, during the process, there is frustration, knock backs and rejections – but without these challenges there is no way the journey would hold any satisfaction.
This learning process is a painful one. To have your own limitations of knowledge laid bare in front of you, or worse, publicly, is not a natural process for the human psyche. Each of those challenges, frustrations and knock backs can now be seen, in hindsight, where we encountered the world at large, and the world told us that we needed to do better!
This is not the message you want to have to acknowledge when all you want to do is get your watch to market and tell the world about it! Each of the challenges, rejections and failures we faced was exactly that. It started with the patent application process. This was an an amazing process to be part of – especially as it was the first time I had ever been part of a patent application process. The process started with describing our invention to a new degree of detail I had never previously considered. We managed to cover 11 pages with the unique and minute details along with the references to various other patents that were considered in the process.
But it is the failures that hurt the most and also teach the most. The first prototype arrived with much anticipation. I had it on my wrist to test it out. Each glance of my new watch put a big smile on my face. But then, about a week later, I glanced at it and something was wrong – it was not close to the time it should be telling me. A nervous look at my phone and it was true – the time was wrong!
But What was wrong? Thankfully, after fears that our gear calculations were wrong and other more serious problems were all considered it turned out that the hand had not been attached correctly. The hand had merely slipped on its arbor! Thankfully that was an easy fix for Daniel.
One of my favorite reflections on this whole adventure is the phone call from Daniel when he told me that we had to redesign the watch face. At that moment I thought it was a complete disaster. And yet after a number of weeks it turned out to be the opportunity to ensure SNGLRTY is unique for every single customer and we still expect it to be the stand out feature for our watches for the centuries to come.
For me personally, my crushing and enduring challenge has been creating a website. It has been an epic journey to understand the finesse and dedication needed to create a great website. A long journey would perhaps be an understatement. I can trace my efforts at website creation or direction back to 2009. I think I am at an intermediate destination. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel and it feels good to be here. But time will tell.
If you want to hear about my website failures over the last 11 years throw a comment below and I will get on it! Believe me it has been an expensive and emotionally challenging process. What I am pleased to tell you is that in the next week or so we will be releasing our new look website to the world and I think it is something that I can, finally, be proud of!
And so back to my sourdough. Well the first knock back has happened. The world has judged my efforts and my bread-making skills have been judged to be lacking. I am feeling a little bit frustrated. I have restrained myself from purchasing a bread bakers cookbook although my YouTube feed is now recommending a list of videos on sourdough baking. I clearly have more to learn.
So I take on my sourdough challenge with the same desire to learn that I continue to work on SNGLRTY. I have every expectation that I will create beautiful, fluffy crusty tasty sourdough soon. There will be key learning moments (disasters) along that journey, but each will lead me to a new insight, something the world wants me to know and before I know it I will master that sourdough oven spring. I will keep you up to date with my progress. I just hope it will not take as long as it took Daniel and I to bring SNGLRTY to you.
A great many of the mistakes and more importantly what we learned has been distilled into our webinar. Daniel and I take you through our 5 step process for thinking about buying your next watch. Most of the learning is from mistakes we made creating watches, but it is just as applicable to you if you are looking to buy a new watch – especially understanding the “walk away” questions – those red flags that mean you need to look elsewhere.
Just click HERE to sign up and join us at our next webinar. We cannot wait to see you there.