What toilet seats can learn from garbage cans and what entrepreneurs can learn from toilet seats
Since the dawn of time, men and women have returned to the same old argument: The toilet seat.
Ok, maybe not since the dawn of time. But that discussion has been around for a while. And yes, I literally just spent the last 5 minutes trying to find the exact history of the toilet seat (not the flushable toilet, created in 1594, but the seat itself). Then an overwhelming, shame inducing voice in my head quietly whispered: "What are you doing with your life?" So I stopped. Because it really doesn't matter when this whole toilet seat issue became a problem. What matters is that it's a problem. Now, from a woman's perspective, I totally get it. Even in the days of unquestionable feminism, chivalry isn't so dead that men can't simply take two seconds to put the toilet seat down. And in my private life, I do. In fact, after nearly 7 years of being with my wife, even she would have to admit that I've only forgotten to do so once or twice. Hell, if it wasn't so wildly inappropriate, I'd probably add this under "special skills" to my LinkedIn. But that's private life and, generally, we can all agree it's just a common courtesy that every man and boy should show to wives, moms, sisters, and daughters. The real problem is when we start entering public ground. By that, I mean public restrooms. See, as a man, if I walk into a uni-sex bathroom and the toilet seat is down, I'm faced with two options: 1) Take my chances, aim, and put it all in God's hands.
2) Use my own hands to lift up the seat, increase my odds of trajected-accuracy by roughly 33%, and then use my own hands to lower the seat again. In a public bathroom, guess which one I'm most likely going with?
Why? Because when I'm in a place that even has uni-sex bathrooms, guess where I am? A bar. A restaurant. A café. Basically anywhere that requires me to return to a table where I will use my hands to put food or drinks into my mouth. If you think I'm going to use my bare fingers to lift up the seat and put it back down again, you're out of your d*mn mind—especially when I know that the guy using the bathroom after me will probably undo everything my good deed accomplished. It's demoralizing. And somewhere along the journey to manhood we all end up asking ourselves, "What's the point?"
But one day, I had an epiphany. I used a public bathroom while attempting the whole "try-to-lift-up-the-seat-with-my-foot" thing. Then there was the balancing act of trying to lower it again (same method) without the porcelain crashing down and breaking into a million little ass-cutting pieces. When I was finished, I went over to the sink and washed my hands which, for some reason, felt dirtier even though I had used my right shoe to do all the grunt work. I grabbed a couple of paper towels, dried my hands, and turned to throw them away in the garbage can. Mindlessly, I put my foot on the trash can pedal to lift the lid and that's when it hit me like a ton of porcelain bricks: Why do we have this function for the garbage can, but not for the toilet seat? I stood there, like an idiot, looking at the garbage can and back to the toilet. That voice from the Million Dollar Man kept repeating in my head: We can rebuild it. We have the technology. Let's just put a pedal-like device (which we already use for trash cans) on a toilet seat so men can lift and lower the lid with their foot. The solution is as simple as it is elegant. No more pee on the toilet seat for women and no more touching a dirty toilet seat for men.
"But surely," you're probably wondering, "someone has already created a product like this." And you're right. Someone has. It's called the Flipper but, according to Amazon reviews, it isn't a very quality product (and the example photo with someone using their barefoot isn't helping the branding much). The Flipper, and products like it, haven't done a good enough job in production, marketing, or distribution to make it an actual solution to a daily and (first)world-wide problem.
So what can entrepreneurs learn from this? That's easy.
Stop selling online courses that teach people how to create online courses that teach other people how to create online courses...
...and build a product, better than anyone else, which solves some kind of problem and contributes to society in a tangible, meaningful way.
I'm sick of my YouTube videos getting interrupted not with products, but with tactics, techniques, and strategies all guaranteeing they'll make me money for little-to-no work. The solution to leading a rich and happy life is simple and can be learned from something as stupid as the toilet seat:
You want to get rich? Build something—or DO something—better than anyone else that solves a problem.
You want to be fulfilled? Build something—or DO something—that you care about. You want to be rich and fulfilled? Build something—or DO something—better than anyone else that you care about and that solves a problem.
It really is as simple as that. So why don't I go out and build a better version of The Flipper? Because I don't care enough about that specific problem to do justice to the solution. That means I could make money, but wouldn't be fulfilled. Call me an idealist, but I'm shooting for both.
If anyone reading this does care enough though (or just wants to get rich), please build, market, and sell it. In fact, build market, and sell any quality product for that matter. Just stop teaching me how to do things you clearly couldn't actually do yourself. And, I promise, if you interrupt my YouTube video with a great product like the toilet seat pedal instead of another Amazon dropshipping scheme, I'll skip the "Skip" button. Hell, I may even just buy one.