To Create Something Purposeful, You Don't Need To Build Something Well-Known

  • How Art Fry came up with the idea to create the Post-It Note, which is one of the best-selling office supply products in over 100 countries across the globe.
  • What lessons should we learn from the story of Art Fry?
  • We need more smart people to create things.

It was 1974 when Art Fry was dealing with a problem while singing for a local religious event. Art Fry was not able to keep his bookmarks in place on that particular Sunday. Fry used to stick little pieces of paper between the pages as bookmarks to find hymns easily. The problem with this solution was that those small papers which he used as bookmarks would move down deep between the sheets or sometimes even fall out of the book every time Fry stood up. Fry started to think of a solution being annoyed by the constant placing of his papers as bookmarks.

Fry said that he thought during a sermon that he needs something that will stick to a paper but will not tear it when removed. He went back to work with this thought in mind and started creating a solution to his problem. Luckily, Fry was an employee at 3M, where one of his co-workers, Spencer Silver, happened to be an adhesives specialist. In the next few months, Fry and Silver were able to create a piece of paper called ‘The Post-It Note.’ Post-It Note was some piece of paper that would stick to a page and could easily be detached and applied again and again on a page. The Post-It Note was a huge success, and eventually, it became one of the best-selling office supplies in over 100 countries across the globe.

What are the lessons that we can learn from Fry’s story that may help us make our lives and the world better? In the beginning, Fry was not trying to build a best-selling product. He was looking for a solution to his bookmarks problem. He tried to create something small which eventually became one of the best-selling office supply product. From Fry’s story we can learn that the most important thing is to create instead of developing a world-changing product. You don’t need to create a popular product to create something purposeful.


This brings us to the most vital lesson: when the world comes up with something provocative or curios, choose to be a creator and think of a solution. We need more smart people to create things. The world needs more innovative employees, creative entrepreneurs, thinkers who design new things. We need more creative and intelligent people such as secretaries who may create jewelry as their side project or dads staying at home who may write incredible novels. The world needs more leaders instead of followers and more creators instead of consumers. This may help us make our lives and the world even better.

Perhaps, the most vital thing to realize is that we should not only focus on creating things for each other but on creating something for ourselves too. Creating amazing and beautiful things will help us avoid wasting the precious moments of our lives.



Read next: What type of problem solver are you? (infographic)

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