Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Avatar and Global Eco-consciousness…

Avatar (2009 film)The NFO MADE me go watch Avatar the other night.

By myself.

She was convinced that I would really enjoy it. As usual, she was right.

Not just for the obvious special effect reasons, but its message played into a growing thought process for me.

Our global ecological responsibility.

A few weeks prior, I had watched James Cameron’s talk at TED which explained his childhood curiosity AND why he felt like needed to make Avatar.


Soon thereafter, I watched Dan Barber’s talk (“how I fell in love with a fish”) about sustainable fisheries.

As a lover of sushi, his words struck home. Humans are just too good at killing other animals. Our efficiency can lead to our own demise.

It has been on my mind ever since “An Inconvenient Truth” and more recently, “Blue Gold: Water Wars.”

In between, I saw a powerful documentary called “the Story of Stuff” which further drove home how our resources are finite, yet we treat them as though they are infinite.

Combine that with a book I’m reading (and will review shortly) called “Status Anxiety” which brings into question the psychological impact of our ability to create (and desire) all of this stuff) and you start to understand how this is affecting us physically and mentally.

To top it all off, Bill Gates, my former boss, and his talk about the need for “energy miracles.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gov’t Fiscal Irresponsibility


So, I wrote an email to 3 of my state delegates/senator about an upcoming bill and my opinion on it.

What I can’t understand, however, is why they felt compelled to respond to the email with a letter?

  • 44 cents for postage
  • cost of paper
  • cost of envelope
  • cost of labor
  • cost of stationery

When Maryland is facing a budget deficit of record proportions, it just seems like this doesn’t make much sense.

I’m looking forward to their (electronic) response.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Quakers, History, and Plan B

IMG_0010One of the things that Tikkanen, Lakkanen, Jokkanen (aka my kids) and I try and do is a special “unique DC outing.”

It’s such a shame to live in a great city as we do and not take advantage of all of the attractions here…if only for 1 hour.

The point? Inspire my kids to be curious and learn how to ask questions.

The other day, we had planned to go to the new National Capital Trolley Museum. It looked promising and we were exciting to ride the trolley.

When we arrived, however, we saw a sign that said “Closed. No electricity.”

Now, I give my kids A LOT of credit…they took it in stride and were not upset at all.

As they ran around the empty parking lot, I used the power of the iPhone “Around Me” app to search for other museums in the area and came across the Sandy Spring Museum.

“What the heck?” I thought, so we made the 4 mile trip and discovered something that I didn’t know existed…and learned something in the process.

The kids got to play with toys from the 1800’s, see a Model T, an icebox, and a hearth for cooking.

An area that was founded (and still heavily so) by the Quakers and covering 100 sq. miles in upper Montgomery County, Maryland became another little journey for us and 45 minutes (that’s really all we were there) when we could take the kids out of their normal routines, see some new things, and appreciate the world a bit more.

Pictured: Lakkanen (aka Gianni) writing on a slate.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What’s your BHAG?

Devotees of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and their book Built to Last will know this acronym immediately.

A BHAG is a core defining features of companies that endure.

  • Big
  • Hairy
  • Audacious
  • Goal

So, driving the other night, I realized what the BHAG for Never Stop Marketing is.

For the clients I serve:

  1. every person in the org understands what marketing really is
  2. every person thinks of themselves as a marketer (in addition to whatever else they are charged with doing)
  3. everyone lives by the mantra: never stop marketing

Big and hairy enough for you?

So, what’s your BHAG?

Post was written while listening to: Public Enemy - He Got Game

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blood for Water?

Close-up of tap water

Image via Wikipedia

The mantra used to be “no blood for oil,” but what about “blood for water?”

In the very depressing moving “Blue Gold: World Water Wars,” the filmmakers explain the global impact of not only the privatization of water resources managed by companies like Suez and Veolia, but equally important, the ecological impact of taking water from one place and moving it to another place.

This, apparently, has dramatic impacts on watersheds, water tables, and the natural environment. If you think about it, this makes sense. The problem is, most of us don’t think about it.

Bottled water, I am now more convinced than ever, is one of the great hoaxes of all time (I wouldn’t call it marketing, since it’s not really based in fact).Blue Gold: World Water Wars

In any movie like this, the point is to shock you and get you to act. Plus, it’s easy to dismiss it as an anti-capitalist screed, but given how efficient our production/technology systems are, the underlying thesis doesn’t seem so far fetched.

I highly recommend you watch this to, at a minimum, educate yourself about something we all need.

If even half of what they say is accurate, a water war is not that far-fetched.

Updated: an article that shows this isn’t fantasy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Law: out of control…

For all of your lawyer friends (and more)….here’s a fascinating talk by a lawyer saying that law has gotten to the point where it has taken away our freedoms. And what we can do about it.

And no, it doesn’t involved “killing all the lawyers.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Buy Disability Insurance

The foremost expert in my world when it comes to all things insurance (health, that is) is my cousin, Lee Nathans.

Here's an interview of the two of us discussing how one should go about buying disability plans and what you should look for when you do.
You can reach Lee at 800-846-4120 or LeeNathans AT

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fantasyland: a movie for fantasy sports folks...and others

My friend, Jed, is the star of this movie and it is HILARIOUS.
I avoid fantasy sports because I'm worried about getting too addicted to thm.
Well, Jed...he almost missed the births of his twin kids because he was trying to trade some players.

More info at:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeing the Unseen Los Angeles

Los Angeles Art Deco

Image by colros via Flickr

Before my recent trip to LA, I get a note from Jeremy Cohen who says, “I’d love to sit down and pick your brain about my business.”

Now, I didn’t know who Jeremy was (except that he followed me on Twitter), so I made the following offer:

So, I’m a traveler by nature…and wondering if you might be able to help me take advantage of my time in LA and…at the same time..we can brainstorm about your future.

I’ve been to LA, but nothing extensive (Santa Monica pier, Venice Beach, Getty, Universal Studios), but am looking for something “uniquely LA.”

Perhaps we find something that is sort of close to the LA office and go do it for an hour, all the while discussing your biz. 2 birds, one stone.

Well, did I do well!

Here’s what he proposed…and what we did…all while discussing his business and career.

Here's my idea for an itinerary. I promise it's the LA no one else would ever show you, and it's filled with stuff from a bygone past and places only a real local would know.

  • Walking tour of Broadway, home to the most ornate movie palaces of early America. Beautiful architecture everywhere in a revitalized neighborhood.
  • Angels Knoll Park. One of the coolest hidden gems in LA. Get a great view of the city in a rare green space.
  • Grand Central Market if you want a bite to eat. An incredible, ethnic food court, with cheap, authentic grub.

Not only did I find another marketer at heart, but a history buff as well.

I hate business trips that are airport-hotel-office-airport, so I always try to inject something (even if it is small, like the Roger Maris museum in Fargo, ND).

That makes each trip more memorable.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Survey for Entrepreneurs…

If you are an entrepreneur, check out this survey. They are looking for an “entrepreneurial gene.”

Otherwise, feel free to forward to a friend.

Even will send you a kit for a saliva sample.

It’s a bit long, but I’m interested in the results.

Still, they should have had a question that said:

“do you feel like you are wasting time by taking this survey and you could be doing something else that is more productive?”

State 47 in the books…

Tanner Springs Park

Image by Scout Seventeen via Flickr

It took 18 months since my trip to Michigan to knock off state #47, but I did it.

24 hours on the ground in Portland, Oregon and I made the most of it.

First, a stop at Stumptown Coffee Roasters then a walking tour of the magnificently beautiful Pearl District. Read the Wikipedia entry. It’s such an inspiring piece of urban renewal with a very European feel. I loved it and the two centerpiece parks are just fantastic.

And after a presentation, you know where I crashed for the night? The home of the couple I met on the plane a few months ago ;-)

Ok, what’s next, you ask?

  • Nebraska
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii

Friday, March 19, 2010

California Dreamin’

I don’t know about you, but the IDEA of California for me has, for a long time, represented the great possibilities of America.

Maybe it was Grapes of Wrath in 9th grade or the idea of Tinseltown.

But, I suspect, in the American psyche that California holds a special position among states.

And, building off that, the citizens of California bought into the vision in an effort to create an American Utopia.

California, in my mind, was always a glimpse of where America would be in 5-10-15 years.

Usually, that was an exciting or good thing.

Now, it’s not.

I was in LA for three days and discovered a state where the surface still looks good; People, beautiful weather, activity, but underneath, the structure is rotting.

My hosts own a construction company that does work for the state. Their chief complaint? Unions.

“I can hire an electrician for $14 per hour, but if I am doing a job for the state, I have to use someone from the union. Know what they make? $71 per hour!

I don’t care, really, because the markup is the same, but that $57 per hour per electrician that the state is paying out of taxpayer money that they don’t have to. It’s just a huge shame.”

Then, he pointed out the other side of the equation (for him). “Illegal immigrants.”

“50% of the people in this area are illegal. They are consuming services, but not paying taxes. I don’t care,” he said, “about the message it sends if we just make everyone legal. At least this way, we’ll get the money. Right now, fewer and fewer people are paying to support more and more people. It just doesn’t work.”

So, on the one hand, less revenue. On the other hand, more expenditures to support more services. And, add a hugely inefficient union-centered state system and you have a recipe for disaster.”

This wasn’t one person’s rant alone. It was repeated again, and again, and again.

So, what happens?

As one woman said to me, “well, either we figure out a way to get more money, spend less….or, well, we’re screwed.”

Not the California Dream of yesteryear.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working with National Speakers Bureau

I am super-excited to announce that I’m now working with one of the leading speakers bureaus in the country, the National Speakers Bureau. Here’s my speaker page.

So, if someone you know is are interested in having me speak at one of your events, feel free to contact them at 800-323-9442 or 

They are super-fast responsive (after all, they Never Stop Marketing)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Never Stop Marketing Job Board

I’m fortunate in that a lot of people come to me with job openings looking for good people. Also, that a lot of good people looking for jobs come to me for networking.

To simplify the connection process, I’ve started a job board where I will post opportunities that come across my desk.

You (or your friends) can subscribe here if you are looking for a new position (or below).

If you are looking for people, just send me the opening.

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Google Groups
Subscribe to Never Stop Marketing Job Board
Visit this group

Appreciation over time…

Man working in a ricefield.

Image via Wikipedia

It is great how your appreciation of the past can grow with age. (Like wine, I suppose).

Back in 1997, I was fortunate enough to receive admission to the International University of Japan for a two year Masters program in International Relations.

The academics were great, but it was my classmates who really made it special.

There were people from over 40 countries and the insight they provided on the world helped truly prepare me for the globalized, “world is flat’ era in which we live.

What’s more, the promise of “a network of people around the world” has proven to be of immense satisfaction to me.

For example,

  • A friend of mine is headed to Sarajevo, so I put him touch with Amer, a fellow IUJer who lives there.
  • My kids and I were watching the Finland-Sweden Olympic hockey game, which gave me incentive to ping Heikki in Helsinki and reminisce
  • Christiane drops me a note via LinkedIn. She and her husband are doing some exciting stuff in Kabul

These connections, forged in the rice fields of Niigata-ken, are really fascinating and very rewarding as I get to see the world evolve/develop from multiple perspectives.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Culture Clash…

Was invited to a meeting at a government contractor’s office that does security-clearance level work.

When I got there, the receptionist said, “You will have to leave your cell phone here, since we don’t allow cameras in the office.”

Also, any other devices you have that can capture or record data.”

“Like a USB thumb drive?” I asked.


I looked through my bag.

  1. cell phone
  2. iPod Touch
  3. Netbook laptop
  4. Flipcam
  5. 3 USB thumb drives
  6. 2 SD RAM cards

Finally, I just said, “you know what? Take the bag.”

All I took into the meeting was a pad of paper and a pen.

In the middle of the meeting, I looked around the room and noticed that there were no clocks.

I haven’t worn a watch since 1999, since I always have a device with me with the time.

The meter was running (literally, I had parked in front) and the NFO expected me home.

I had to actually interrupt the meeting to ask my prospective client what time it was!

I laughed, “I wonder if our cultures are just too different!”

It was like visiting another world.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Art on a Plane…

Longtime blog readers know that I have a penchant for conversations on airplanes.
Sometimes I run into ignorant anti-Semites and lose. Sometimes, I meet awesome public health officials and win.
Most of the time, I win.
On my recent flight to Chicago, I met Heidi Neff, who is an Assistant Professor of Art at Harford Community College.
We started talking elements and principles of design and drawing (actually, she did the talking and I did the listening).
She agreed to a “design crash course” for the time on the flight from the moment when they told us to turn off our electronic devices until we could use them again.
And in that time, she managed to take the Sky Mall magazine and turn it into a textbook of design principles, explaining why photos were shot the way they were or why colors were placed as they were.
It was a great example of “world as classroom” and gave me a nice right-brain exercise early in the day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why You Should Ask Questions at Events…

At an event the other night with Alexandra Levit and Daniel Pink (client) speaking about their new books (links not available as I’m on a train), a few brave souls raised their hands to ask questions.
They got good answers.
But, what happened after the event was even more interesting.
Others in the audience went up to the question-askers and offered their own insights.
So, Ellen Perlman not only got ideas from Dan and Alexandra, but from a few of the other people in the audience who wanted to help her. (I suggested she check out Jeff Jarvis re: the future of journalism).
It was like a two-fold benefit to the question.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to Better Control Your Facebook Privacy

One of the critiques I hear most about Facebook is fear of exposure of unwanted personal information.
Not financial or stuff like that, but “what if someone tags me in a photo that I don’t want shared?” kind of stuff.
Well, here are two posts that help you assert some control.
How To Stop Facebook From Publishing Recent Activity To The News Feed
How To Avoid A Facebook Photo Tagging Disaster

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Semester of Spanish Love Song

For your viewing pleasure.
Click here or watch below.

HT: Barak (not Obama)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity

I read a great book a few years ago called ".Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities" It really helped me understand the value of adversity in your life. Well, I highly suggest this inspiring video along those line
Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity | Video on

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Evolution of the Legal Marketer

My dad is in the process of reinventing his legal career and service offerings.

This video is his first and 2nd efforts at explaining his competitive offering. He’s open to feedback.

Audio isn’t phenomenal, but hey…it’s a rough draft.

Let him know what you think: SirDavid1 AT

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spot Interviews…Family Patriarch Edition

I’ve become a big fan of the service Cinchcast to record spot interviews.

My mother’s business (for many years) was conducting oral histories of family members for their descendants.

It was a big undertaking. Now, however, you can do it from your iPhone (app) or any phone.

Here’s my dad pontificating


Friday, March 05, 2010

Movie: Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

Image by sea turtle via Flickr

Once again, I have NO idea who recommended this movie to me.

While the reviews I read on Netflix were overwhelmingly negative, I felt that it had some redeeming qualities.

It did start a bit slow (and I watched it in two installments), but I found the latter part of the movie to be a nice commentary on life and a moment to help you reflect on how, in an instance, things can change and that that has dramatic effects down the line.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Brief Interview with Paco

Meet Paco (not his real name). My 4.5 year old son.

Here’s an interview I did with him.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Inch by Inch….

it’s a cinch.

I despise doing taxes.

I’d honestly rather clean up my kids projectile vomiting from the floor than prepare them.

In the past, I’ve said, “Ok, I really hate this job, so I’m just going to do it in a marathon session so I can just get this out the door.”

What happens is that I spend 4 hours doing something I can’t stand and, what’s more, there’s always some information that I don’t have and thus can’t complete it.

This year, I took a different tack. Perhaps because I felt like I couldn’t devote a marathon session to it.

I just said, “ok, I’m going to do an hour every other night for 2 weeks [deadline] and then I’ll be done.”

What happened?

I got it done, still hated it, but the stress level was much lower. It was manageable (or at least more so).

A mental trick perhaps, but for me, it worked.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

40 Free Hours of Time…

By far, the best business decision I made in 2009 was hiring a virtual assistant, Mary.

She is INCREDIBLE and can do as much online as 98% of the people you know.

What’s more, however, is that she saves me valuable time.

Here’s an example.

I needed a label created for a package I was going to send. Mary has access to my calendar and contacts, so I wrote a 7 second note to Mary saying, “Label for Sara Miller.”

Next thing I know, a PDF comes back from Mary, which I print out and tape to the package.

Elapsed time: 15 seconds.

Now, contrast that with the effort to go to the site (admittedly, it’s pretty good), fill out the form, click next, verify the credit card info, etc. 4 minutes? 5 minutes?

Now, multiply that out by 500 tasks.

That’s 2500 minutes of time that Mary has done for me (and more).

Which is 40 hours.

An ENTIRE work week of time savings.

Just HUGE.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Wild and Crazy…with Kids

What is the hallmark of your young “wild and crazy days?”
I’d say that one of them is doing things without fully considering the consequences.
The other night, we put the kids to bed around 7.15pm and the NFO and I were so exhausted from accumulated late nights, we decided to take a nap.
Set the alarm and everything.
Then, hit snooze.
She got up at 10pm. I got up at 11.40pm.
We knew that come 6am, the activity would begin again, but hey…who says you can’t “live in the moment with no thoughts of tomorrow” when you have 3 kids? ;-)