04/11/2001 - Updated 03:23 PM ET

Creative marketing brings success

Traveling around the country puts me in touch with many people sharing their business stories, and it's exciting when I can bring their creative and inspiring ideas to you.

Last February, my book tour stopped at Border's Books in Chicago. I was busy signing books when a young man gave me a black baseball cap with a note saying it was a gift and asked me to wear it. On the front of the cap in white letters is the word "ego" circled in red with a red diagonal line through the word.

A number of people were waiting to get their books signed, so I couldn't chat with him. I quickly asked how to reach him to send a thank-you note. He said, "Look at the back of the cap for my Web address." On the back of the cap was the address noego.com.

That was how I met Glenn Cosby and his cap business. Each time I wore the hat, people would ask me where I got it and how they might get one.

I contacted Glenn to learn more about his no-ego cap. The reason he started the cap business is remarkable, but the most fascinating part is how he markets his product.

Glenn's inspiration to launch his own business occurred in 1995 when his father died. Glenn said his father had always wanted his own business and mentioned it frequently. But with a family to support, he thought it best to continue his job as a Chicago police officer.

Glenn had often thought about entrepreneurial endeavors, but like his father he put his dreams on hold and took a job as a radio announcer. But the loss of his father made Glenn look at life and spirituality more seriously. He realized that dreams deferred are dreams denied.

Glenn decided that whatever business he embarked on would have a connection to spirituality.

Thinking about his father's life helped him decide. "My most vivid memory of my dad is that whatever he did he always prayed first and never edged God out of the process."

That memory gave Glenn his slogan. "No EGO" actually means "No Edging God Out." He says, "The meaning is something that most people in the world can agree on and represents something that many strive to do in their work, family relationships and social responsibilities, and 'No Ego' serves as a constant reminder."

His creative genius came into play when he laid out his marketing plan. Glenn believes the best marketing tool is endorsements. He set out to find famous people to wear the caps. What better endorsements than having Hollywood stars and famous athletes wearing your merchandise?

Glenn has famous people such as Steven Seagal, Erin Brockovich, Queen Latifah, the Chicago Bulls' Elton Brand and others sporting his caps. I visited the Steven Seagal Web site (http://www.stevenseagal.com/), and sure enough, when I clicked on the links icon there is Steven himself with a No Ego cap. Click http://www.noego.com/ to see other celebrities wearing the Ego cap. Glenn says he has photos of many stars wearing the cap but hasn't had time to put them on his site because of the large volume of orders.

I asked him how he managed to get the rich and famous to wear the hat. He said, "I quickly tell them what No Ego means, and then I ask them just like I asked you to please wear the cap."

There's something to be said for the saying, "Ask and ye shall receive."

Glenn has plans in the works to expand to a full line of casual clothing using this trademarked name.

Stop back next week to meet a young entrepreneur who helps us gain more hours in the day.


About Gladys Edmunds

Entrepreneurial Tightrope appears Wednesdays. You can write to Edmunds here and visit her Web site at http://www.gladysedmunds.com/. Click here for her previous columns.

Gladys Edmunds was a single teenage mom in early 1960s Pittsburgh. She posed as an adult to make money by doing other people's laundry, whipped up chicken dinners in her grandmother's kitchen for taxi drivers and stared down snarling dogs to sell fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds, 52, is an evangelical entrepreneur preaching the value of self-employment. The founder of a successful travel agency, Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, she is the author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, a six-step guide to success published in February by Viking.