Seeing the “Odd Duck” – Why I love John Ratzenberger

why i love john ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger is famous for his role as the mail carrier Cliff Clavin on Cheers. What you probably don’t know is that Ratzenberger had originally read for the part of Norm Peterson which, eventually, he was passed over for.

Sensing an opportunity, John asked the producers if they had written a role for a know-it-all bar fly. They hadn’t, but they loved the idea and made room for the character that Ratzenberger had created. Cliff eventually went on to become one of the most iconic television characters in history, known for his “outlandish stories of plausible half-truths, uninteresting trivia, and misinformation.”1

John is a master of creativity. He not only saw what was there but also, what was missing.

Finding the rare “odd duck” isn’t easy. What is easy though, is to tell yourself that if it were doable, it would have already been done. Don’t take the easy route.

These are the type of people I look up to. Those who see patterns where none existed before. The opportunity creators. They fill holes rather than accepting the status quo.

JR totally made serendipity work for him.

What I’m Learning: Run Your Own Race

During a race, thoroughbreds wear blinders to prevent the use of extensive peripheral vision thus, cutting them off from their opponents. This enables the horse to focus only on what’s ahead and hence, run faster.

run your own race and nobody elses

(image edited, source)

After her first gig bombed in the early 50s, Danny Thomas (a respected veteran actor to whom his daughter, Marlo, was constantly being compared to) consoled his daughter by telling her he had raised her as a thoroughbred. “Wear blinders,” he said,”ignore the crowd and run her own race, baby.”

Jake Lodwick, the creator of Vimeo, is a modern-day, digital thoroughbred. Vimeo’s first incarnation was born from spontaneity and a healthy dose of impatience as a way to solve his own problem of getting video clips onto the web (this was pre-YouTube days). Today, Vimeo gets 100 million visitors a day and has carved a nice niche for themselves in the video-sharing market.

“We’re not a company that goes out and tells the same story that everyone else does. So that’s what we did. We told a  different story.”-Jake Lodwick

Strap on the blinders, tune out the crowd, and run your race.