“What I always tell them, and nobody ever takes note of it because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear… What I always say is “Be so good they can’t ignore you. If somebody’s thinking ‘How can I be really good people are going to you.'” – Steve Martin

I’m at Powell’s book store in Portland and witnessed this man creating the most gorgeous art.

Out of napkins.

At first I assumed he was some cooky dude. Swaying back and forth to the music in his headphones and twirling paper towels between his fingers, I wasn’t sure at first if it was even him who’d created the beautiful pieces of art on the table in front of him. He’s dressed like he’s living on the street. He probably is.

But then I went and sat at his table, and in about 2 minutes I’d sold myself on buying one of his flowers.

I went to the ATM and took out $60, he was asking $10-$20. The more ornamental of the two takes him about 3.5 hours to complete.

Not only did I come away with two beautiful pieces of art (one for my lady, one for me that he threw in as a gift), but I had a great conversation with him.

He bases what he’s creating off of the male/female ratio in the room at the time. He’s found that the different genders prefer different shapes and adornments.

He bases what he’s creating off of the average age range in the room. Older folks prefer simpler pieces. Younger prefer the more fancy ones.

He incorporates the Fibonacci sequence into his art. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 in the spirals and folds in the petals.

He gives you an official certificate. Made from a napkin.

He also offers a lifetime warranty.

The experience extended beyond simply coming and buying something. I got to experience a very sweet man who began making his art so that he could feed himself while living on the streets.

He’s been featured in every local newspaper, has a book and DVD, yet is still averaging ~$100/day. I told him I thought he was worth much more than that.

Every aspect of my experience with him was special. The art itself, the conversation, the certificate he included, and the intriguing story behind it all.

For me it was a very powerful experience of an extremely natural enrollment process. It was a beautiful lesson on being so good they can’t ignore you.

You can look “The Flower Man” (as he’s known around here) up on Google at Arnold Drake World or take a look at this short video by The Oregonian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrPNMfwsa8s