We’re Not Just One Thing

May 6, 2019

If you have every watched MacGyver (in the original series or the reboot), you quickly come to admire the main character. He’s hard to define because he’s not just one thing. He’s a quiet guy just trying to live his life but he is also a secret agent. Once you’ve seen a few episodes you know that while he is not actually a scientist by trade, he knows a lot about science. With that knowledge and almost any object within reach, he can create the perfect gadget to get out of a scrape. That puts him in the running an original multihyphenate.

Don’t know what that is? Well, in today’s terms, it’s someone who has a career made up of multiple part-time or even several full-time jobs instead of one singular job. Multihyphenates participate in the Gig Economy. They may be a full-time accountant and a part-time Lyft or Uber driver while also moonlighting for a catering company. This is a shift from even the recent past, where a career was one, or possibly two long-time jobs in a person’s lifetime – and only one job at any given time.

The reason MacGyver, multihyphenates and the Gig Economy are on my mind is that I keep coming across this particular phrase “not just one thing.” My pay-attention-to-this alert system has been triggered.

Last year I saw that Vans Classics “Not Just One Thing” in an ad campaign. The blog superbalist.com describes the idea behind it as “Vans are not just one thing and neither are you. Celebrate being you and expressing yourself in every way imaginable.”

This is a trait that Malcom Gladwell, the bestselling author and podcaster supports. In his work coaching entrepreneurs, he stresses that “…the creativity required to be successful as an entrepreneur means you should steer clear of just being one thing.”

As businesses, we can use this trending concept to recharge our ideas of what a product can be to best serve what our customers really want. Possibly the best example of this idea is the trend of apparel that does more than one thing.

This multi-functionality is key to buying decisions. The Collective System of zip-in-zip-out outerwear launched by SanMar last year addresses this idea in a very MacGyver way. Based around flexibility and choice, the garments layer together or stand-alone allowing them to do many things in your wardrobe.

Do you have enough MacGyver-type items in your line to satisfy a customer base who is participating in a “not just one thing” life?