Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Burn Notice and the Yogurt Lobby

This really only applies to fans of the show Burn Notice.

Now, if you are a fan, you'll know that Michael's favorite food is yogurt.
He eats it all the time.
Makes it seem "tough guys eat yogurt."

So, I started eating more yogurt.

Yeah, subliminal messaging works.

Then, I started to wonder..."is the yogurt just part of the script from the storywriters?" OR (more likely), did the yogurt industry say, "hey, instead of a blatant product placement, can we do a category placement?

Just seems like it's too much of a coincidence.

Any fans out there with thoughts?

Am I over-marketing-focused?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Calling of Harley-Davidson…

Daytona Beach Bike Week

Image by ottofocus13 via Flickr

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocatio, which means “a calling.”

The other day, I was teaching a class and talk about Raving Fans. During the class, I put up a picture of a few people with Harley-Davidson tattoos on different parts of their body.

As I was talking about the passion these people had for the brand, I was transported back to Daytona Bike Week in 1998 where I was in a convenience store.

Walking through the aisles, I saw a gentleman wearing a jean jacket (well, vest, as the sleeves had been cut off) and on one tricep was tattooed the word “Harley” and on the other “Davidson.”

At that moment, I asked myself: “what possesses someone to feel so strongly about a for-profit enterprise that they would go to those lengths to display their allegiance to the world?”

And then, the follow on question, how can I help others inspire that same passion for their customers?

I think that’s where the true journey began.

And that’s what I’ve been studying and practicing ever since.

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane.

Monday, August 29, 2011

“You’re Killing Me…”

Sometimes, as a parent, you ask yourself, “where did they ever learn that?”

And, sometimes, you just know.

Waiting at a traffic light the other day behind a few cars, my 3 year old (aka Lakkanen), blurts out:

“Come on cars…You’re Killing Me!”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Steve Jobs, Our Family Babysitter…

Given how much time our kids now spend on the iPhone and the iPad…I’ve started saying that “Steve Jobs is our family’s #1 babysitter.”

Here’s the video that started it all…(and the story behind it)

She’s even better at it now Winking smile

Friday, August 26, 2011

Republicans and the No Taxes Article of Faith

Republican Party (United States)Image via WikipediaI was watching the Iowa GOP debate the other night (I know, a lack of judgment...not a good use of time), but one thing that struck me was how the idea of "no new taxes" (yes, I get the reference) has become an article of faith among the GOP.

Now, don't get me wrong...I think it's ok for us to say to Congress, "hey, before you raise taxes, I'd like to see you show us that you can spend the money we give you already in a more responsible, transparent manner."

I also think that the private sector does a better job of creating jobs than gov't.

Still, I do believe that there are times when taxes can be used to drive social good.

Cigarettes are a good example, in my mind.

Want to smoke? Fine. Go for it, but we're going to tax the hell out of it.  It's ok to tax undesirable behaviors like that (obviously what is/not desirable can be debated), but taxing productivity and innovation (in the form of income) is tougher for me to handle.

Be that as it may, I didn't understand why the hard line approach by the GOP candidates vis a vis ALL taxes was necessary.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Street Talk…

Paco has a fascination with streets.

He is always asking “Is such and such street longer than such and such street?”

He knows every single little street we pass on the way to camp, school, etc.

He likes the names and the numbers.

He talks about it ALL THE TIME.

Studies maps, etc.

It’s great.

Except Tonka doesn’t like it. She occasionally will ask him to stop.

He doesn’t.

And, as brothers do sometimes, he challenges her.

“Name 3 streets then!” he shouted.

“Georgia, Randolph, Connecticut…DONE!!” she replied. “Now, let’s stop!”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Raise Money For Your Big Idea…

One of the things I know is that no industry will be left untouched by the forces of the network that the Internet enables.

So, I was particularly interested after I watched a TED talk by the founder of Kiva when she introduced a new concept called “Profounder.”

Essentially, what it does is allow anyone starting a business to go out and raise money from their friends and family, BUT to do it in a way that makes them investors in an easy to manage manner.

If you wanted to raise money before, you either had to go to VC’s (or Angels…people with a lot of money), now, you can distribute that to many smaller investors and manage it using a scalable technology.

Kind of like Prosper and Lending Club, but very business focused.

It’ll be fascinating to see how this model plays out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Israel and Europe…

Relief map of Europe and surrounding regions

Image via Wikipedia

Say what you will about Don Rumsfeld (and I know there’s a lot to say), I think he got it right when he called it “Old Europe.”

For historical reasons (both recent Jewish and recent geo-political reasons), Israel has put a lot stock in the opinions of European countries, particularly UK and France, it would seem.

However, I think it is time for a paradigm shift…

After what we have seen in Europe recently…(riots in UK, shootings in Norway, debt issues everywhere), it’s clear that Europe is preoccupied with major structural issues, its relevance is waning, and, frankly, this is opinion, it has lost its moral compass.

So, where should Israel turn?


India and China.

They don’t have the historical anti-Semitism issues. In fact, Jews, are often times revered (ok, it’s for “they control the money and are rich” reasons), but at least it’s not “we have you because you’re the other or you killed our Lord.”

Fortunately, this is happening, in many ways.

Look at El Al’s flight patterns, for one. The work of the Israel-Asia center and I know there’s a lot of cooperation already, but I think it’s time to just stop worrying about the Europeans…the paradigm is shifting and while you just have to “play nice,” I don’t think you need to kowtow too much.

Old news to some, but on my mind today.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Israel and the Annual $3 Billion…

Gilad Shalit on Hamas poster, Nablus

Image via Wikipedia

My pro-Israel bonafides are pretty well established I believe, so there shouldn’t be a doubt as to where this idea is coming from.

It’s not even a suggestion, more just a wonder…

One of the almost sacrosanct cornerstone tenets of the pro-Israel audience (not saying ‘lobby,’ since that is a loaded term) in America is annual support for $3 billion dollars in aid to Israel.

If I’m not mistaken about 60% is in the form of military and 40% is economic. The military is to help maintain Israel’s “qualitative edge” over its hostile neighbors.

Now, let me be clear.

I don’t believe in the “peace process” as it currently stands. I don’t believe that Israelis have a true peace partner who wants to live side by side with them. I believe that both Hamas (obvious) and Fatah (less obvious) have one goal…the destruction of the entire state of Israel.

I think the ‘67 lines are a death trap.

In short, I have no illusions about the true aim of most of the Arab world and certainly not Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Fatah…and those are the ones that are just at the top of the list.

However, that being said, I’m wondering if it’s time for Israel to forego the annual aid.

Sure, it’s easy for me to say to Israel, “give up $3 billion in aid,” but I think a few things are important to consider potentially.

  • When the aid began, Israel was a far poorer country. Now, it’s got a standard of living higher than Spain…or along those lines.
  • Let’s admit it, $3bn isn’t what it used to be
  • Given the state of the US economy, I think it could be a PR win to say “you know what…keep the money, use it at home.”
  • It removes a big source of anti-Israel rhetoric (not that it won’t be replaced by something else, but hey…at least it won’t be “US $ are being used to ‘kill innocent Palestinians.’”)  That’s BS, of course, but may as well let the haters find some other anti-Israel ammunition that may not resonate as much!
  • It’s probably a good thing for Israel to “fly the nest.” The country has many challenges, for sure, but anyone who has been there will tell you…it’s 1st world all the way.

Again, I don’t know if this is the right approach or not.

There’s no doubt that Israel is a strategic ally to the US and the only democracy in the Middle East. Heck, it’s the country in the world with the only and largest registry of Arab bone marrow donors and it’s the only country in the Middle East where where Arab women can vote. 

There’s no doubt that it is in the US’ interests to support Israel fully…I just wonder if, given everything else, cash is the best way to do that now?

Friday, August 19, 2011

How are jobs created?

The inside of James Watt's garret workshop, pr...

Image via Wikipedia

In the debates I have been having recently, this seems to be the core area of disagreement.

There are some who believe that the government can create jobs.

Others believe that the government can create jobs, but that they are jobs for the sake of being jobs…not that fundamentally help the economy.

It’s all well and good to talk about jobs, but frankly, I think our paradigm is outdated.

The Internet and social tools are creating an upheaval in the definition of work in the same way that James Watt’s steam engine brought people from rural to urban areas.

It’s that big…only bigger.

Along those lines, I think Rob Patterson has the best summary of it all.

What we can do is to stop worrying about the next Job.

It wont come anyway.

Start working instead on recreating an economy that is based on mobilizing all of us in networks to do the things that are useful.

Yes, there may be some “jobs,” but the idea of a 9-5 “show up and get paid” type job is going to be increasingly anachronistic and limited.

Mobile and internet technologies, social networks, globalization, digital measurement and automation…all of these will require us to focus on value creation…in one form or another.

The government can’t create these types of can do things to help, but it can’t make the jobs happen.

Only people with the right skillsets and ability to identify the opportunities can.

I don’t have the answers, but I do believe that’s where we need to focus our energies, not on creating “jobs” just for jobs sake.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tea Party, MicroTrends, and the Knesset-ification of America…

I’ve been thinking about the Tea Party a lot.

Not because of what they stand for, but because of what they represent in terms of changing the face of American politics.

We just kind of accept the fact that there are 2 big parties in America. That’s pretty much the way it has always been.

But, never before, has a technology as disruptive as the Internet arrived on the American political scene.

Sure, we saw how Obama used it masterfully, but what the Tea Party is starting to do, I think, and what others can do as well, is to use it to connect like-minded people with each other and then cost-effectively concentrate their forces on the locations where they are most likely to win.

Before, you needed a big party machine.

Now, obviously, you don’t.

If you agree with the Tea Party (or, let’s take them out of it and just say the “coffee party,”) and you live in a district where that party has no chance of winning, you might (and would say), well, “I’ll focus my efforts on helping a Coffee Party person win in Colorado/Nebraska/Vermont/wherever” and, in so doing, you start creating voting blocs (as we already have) that, in name, represent a district, but also are allied with a core ideology.

I just finished Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes and the book talks about how we have moved from a “Ford Economy” (one size fits all) to a “Starbucks Economy” (a bajillion ways to customize your experience) and how small groups of committed people can force significant change on the rest of us.

To some extent, we saw this in the debt debate. We definitely see it in our ongoing embargo of Cuba (a few people in S. Florida REALLY care about it..the rest of us..not so much. So the passionates win.)

It seems to me that it is quite possible that we will see more and more “Tea Party” like expressions of political will in the future.

This will create smaller and smaller factions and create the need for coalitions (like the Knesset in Israel). This has obvious pros/cons to it, but I think Mark Penn’s point is…”look, this stuff is happening. Instead of fighting it, be prepared for the change that is coming.”

I fundamentally believe that there is NO part of our lives which will not be dramatically altered by the Internet (obviously, many already have), but I think we are still at the beginning. So, in my mind, it’s not such a far stretch that we’ll see the end of the 2 dominant parties (we’re kind of seeing it already, aren’t we?)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Most. Productive. Day. Ever.

Four months ago, we got word that my brother-in-law and his family were coming from Israel for a visit.

They were planning to stay with us on the 4th and 5th of August.

I didn’t even have to ask…the message was obvious. Do NOT schedule anything for those 2 days.

So, I didn’t.

Now, you know that I am a big scheduler, you know that.

In fact, one of the most valuable skills I have picked up was the idea that “for every task you have on your list, you MUST put it down at a specific time on your calendar when you will do it.”

Without the time commitment, the task is meaningless.

So, I do that, relentlessly.

And, then, I use my Outlook Calendar kind of like a chessboard, constantly moving slots of time around to optimally and most strategically do the right thing at the right time.

So, here I am with 2 open days and everything scheduled before and after that….until we get word, late on August 3rd that, for a variety of reasons, they aren’t coming to us (they made it to the US, but not to DC).

Now, I wake up on August 4th in the morning and have a totally free day in front of me.

What’s more, my in-laws are here (as they were planning on spending time with my brother-in-law and his family as well as us). Plus, the NFO and our Nannie.

It’s like a perfect storm of “you can pretty much do whatever you want to do today and there are 4 other adults who are in front of you in priority for taking care of the kids.” [the NFO may not have seen it that way, but let’s just go with it, shall we?]

(Now, I’ve hopefully demonstrated that I do love my kids and I do love spending time with them, so it’s not like I don’t want to, but compared to grandparents, I lose every time and, well Sun Tzu would tell you to not even fight that battle.)

The stage is set. It’s like I just won the Time Lottery. There’s a total tabula rasa in front of me and it’s an opportunity.

Chill out or, double down.

The company, the mindset, the mantra is what?

Say it with me.

Never Stop Marketing.

So, I look out at the next few MONTHS worth of client commitments and I start asking myself: “What can I do today so that I have more flexibility to deal with the future unknown AND feel less stress at the same time?”

Once I did that, I made a prioritized list of things and just attacked it like a Pit Bull.

  1. I have insomnia about innovation and was able to spend 90 minutes driving a project that is a huge potential innovation. Even if it fails, I tried, and that’s the point. I was able to give it the attention it deserves…which is of strategic important in the long-term.
  2. prepared for a client presentation/workshop on August 29th
    (I’ll touch it up the day before, but the heavy lifting is over)
  3. prepared for a presentation on August 24th.
  4. prepared for a presentation on Sept. 14th
  5. worked out…twice Winking smile
  6. prepared for a presentation on Nov. 10th
  7. wrote 9 blog posts and pre-published them
  8. answered a 6 part Q&A via email for a feature in a magazine
  9. sent a proposal to a potential client (it was tricky as it has an equity component)
  10. watched a few videos that I had queued up (all marketing related)
  11. called a few folks for their birthday
  12. participated in a few Facebook conversations (like this one) and commented on a few blogs
  13. outsourced a TON of stuff to Mary (my admin) in terms of travel plans, calls, etc.
  14. and, frankly, there are a few small odds/ends that I have probably forgotten.

What’s more, on top of that, I spent 2 hours in the evening, playing with the kids, reading with them, and clowning around.

Look, I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun and when I get to see things come together, it’s a huge adrenaline rush.

I feel like I have to defend myself, I’m not sure why.

Seriously, I didn’t want to go to bed…so I just kept going…until 2am. I felt like Rocky climbing the steps in Philly.

When all was said and done, I said, “this may have been the most productive day in my life. A 100 year storm.”

Of course, when I posted that on Facebook, a few people challenged me (rightfully-see below or here'), so I’ll modify it to say “most productive work day ever.”

Still, it felt good.

I felt a *little* guilty that this came at the expense of time with my brother-in-law, but as the NFO wisely pointed out, “it’s not like you told them not to come…you just took advantage of the fact that they didn’t.”

Ok, good, I’m over that.

Chalk this one up.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Accidental Discoveries…

IMAG0020The US Patent and Trademark Office museum is full of stories of accidents that became innovations and products.
I loved the one about how Popsicles were created. Basically, some guy mixes soda, water, juice and leaves a stirring stick outside and then, wouldn’t you know it, there’s an unusually cold night and bang…
People love it.
Next thing you know, it’s a product being sold 2 billion times a year.
The Planters peanut guy? Designed by a 14 year old in Chicago after the company made a contest for their new mascot. I guess “crowdsourcing” isn’t a new idea.
And it was an accidental discovery that I found it in the first place.
I had been invited to speak on a panel about social marketing to people at US PTO. It’s a beautiful facility (I had never been there) in Alexandria, VA and as I was walking through, I saw the museum, so since I think about innovation a lot (i.e. all the time), I stopped in.
I’m glad I did.
It was inspirational.
Not a huge museum, but if you’re in the neighborhood, worth a look (and free!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

More on Resume as Relic…

Not everyone agreed with my take on the role of the resume.

For more on this, see how this enterprising young man got 100,000 views of his video job application to Google within 5 days and what I think the implications are.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Berenstain Bears and Whining…

The other day, the kids were a particularly whiny group. It was frustrating.

We happened to all be driving to Baltimore that day, so while the NFO did that, I sat in the back and the four of us (a lot done by them) created our own “mash-up/remix” of a story called “The Berenstain Bears and No More Whining.” (I’ve since learned that this already exists, but here’s the one the kids came up with).

BTW, I’m Papa Bear, Paco is Brother, Nadia is Honey bear, and Tonka is Sister Bear.

We’ve read this to each other a few times since and it’s still a hit!. Also, they are going to illustrate it as well Winking smileEnjoy.

Brother bear is playing with his skateboard.

Honey bear is playing with blocks.

Sister bear is at ballet with Lizzie and queenie.

Papa bear is reading on the iPad.

Sister bear and mama bear come home after ballet and Sister is upset about not getting the part she wanted in the ballet because Millie got it.

Mama bear explains to sister that she won't always get the parts she wants, but sister is still upset and starts whining about how she really doesnt like her part.

Sister bear is so angry that she  kicks brothers skateboard and he starts whining that sister always annoys him and he kicks honey bears blocks, so she starts whining and then honey bear kicks the skateboard also and whines that brother bear always bothers her and says 'what are you doing?'

Honey bear picks up the iPad and throws it on the floor, so papa, who is really tired because he stays up too late on his computer, starts whining  that none of the bear kids respect his iPad.

So now, everyone is whining at each other.

Mama bear says in a loud, but stern voice, full of conviction, 'the bear family must stop whining now!'

Mama bear says...if you whine, you lose a privilege and we will have a chart on the fridge of who whines the most.

At first. The bears had a hard time and lost a lot of privileges, but then it got easier and they all saw that the house was much quieter, more peaceful, and they got along much better.

Pretty soon, there was very little whining in the bear house.

Mama bear was proud and told everyone they were doing great.

Papa bear looked in the fridge...but mama, he whined, “there is no yogurt!”

"You lose a privilege!" said brother and sister.

They looked at the chart...papa had lost the most privileges.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Watching and Playing…

Speaking of “playing the game,” one of the things I enjoy doing is both playing and watching…at the same time.

Say, you are in a fight with your teenager about whatever people fight about with their teenagers.

It’s intense and unpleasant. You’re frustrated.

But, at the same time, while you are screaming, you are saying, “oh, so this is one of those times when we are going to be looking back at the time we were fighting with each other.”

It’s not quite perspective in the sense of “oh, this isn’t really a big deal,” because it is. It’s more of “I see which scene I’m in in the story right now.”

Not sure I did a great job of explaining this, but maybe an example will help.

I was reading the Berenstain Bears to the kids the other night.

All three of them were listening (unusual since Tonka is normally reading on her own).

We were all snugging on Nadia’s bed enjoying the story.

As I was reading them, I made a conscious effort to stroke the scalp and back of each kid, savoring how they felt at that particular, fleeting moment in time, and I watched myself, as if a spectator, being a father who was cherishing the moment in a private way.

Maybe everyone does this, I don’t know, but I wanted to share it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Loving the Game…

I once heard a marketing speaker describe herself as a “student of the game,” and I thought “I love that. It drives a growth-mindset.”

This came to mind recently as I was going over my calendar and re-arranging tasks on my calendar (this is a critical skill I learned once and it has served me well—always put a specific time down to do a specific task).

The goal of this exercise (as with every calendar rearranging exercise) was to figure out how to organize the “pieces” so that I could “win.”

In this case “winning” meant a combination of doing everything that needed to be done for my clients, having time for my family and myself, and getting at least 5 hours of sleep every night Winking smile

It was tough, it was challenging, but it was like a very good puzzle and I found myself just thinking, “you know, I just LOVE playing the game…of LIFE.” (not the board game, but I think you know that).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Promoted to Commander….

Seal of the Office of Naval Research departmen...

Image via Wikipedia

Every now and then, you have a special opportunity to see a glimpse of true tradition.

Usually, for me, at least, it’s a religious experience, but the other day, our friend then-Lt. Commander Joseph Cohn invited me to his promotion ceremony at the Office of Naval Research (I’m almost the mayor on Foursquare Smile)

First off, if every institution ran their ceremonies with the same degree of efficiency as the Navy (they are definitely Time People), I would dread going to so many of them. The whole thing was over in 15 minutes.

But, it’s about quality vs. quantity.

In those 15 minutes, the Admiral made a heartfelt, emotional presentation about the impact that Joe has on his office, the ceremony itself was meaningful as his epauleimagets were replaced and he reaffirmed his commitment to defend the Constitution and now-Commander Cohn made a very nice and brief speech about how he appreciated not only the proud tradition he was a part of, but how special it was.

In very few jobs, he noted, do people take an oath to do their job up to the point of giving their life away.

“No one says, ‘I’m going to give my life to Target,’” he pointed out…correctly.

It’s a special type of person who serves in the military and I feel blessed that I had a chance to participate and share in the moment.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Phones and Childhood Development

I wonder how the arrival of mobile phones changes parenting and child development.
I was watching a mother (this just spurred the thought NOT because I don’t ever do this myself) on the Metro the other day.  Her 3 year old daughter was sitting quietly in a stroller. No issues.
The mother was tapping away on her phone.
In a previous era, would the mother have been engaged with the kid?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Lilies in the Nation’s Capital…

It is always a little embarrassing for me, as a native Washingtonian, to learn about unique sites Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens with Lev and Kids (1)about which I had previously never heard.

Added to that list recently are the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

My sister, (aka Dunam), gave me the heads up on these so she and her son joined Tonka, Paco, Nadia, and me as we explored this hidden treasure.

It was hot, so I didn’t get a chance to soak up the full story as I was there, but it seems (and you can click on the link) that back in the ‘20s, a botanist became a devotee of water lilies and started cultivating them…all within miles of the White House.

At one point, the US Army Corps o Engineers wanted to take it over, but a group of citizens successfully lobbied Congress to have it become part of the National Park System.

It’s a vast, marshy reserve that is covered with all kinds of unique flora and fauna.Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens with Lev and Kids (2)

The part that my kids liked was the boardwalk that took you out to the middle of the pond/lake.

With the exception of the occasional helicopter or train, all we heard were the sounds of nature.

Pretty remarkable given where we were.

The kids, initially (as usual), were skeptical, but soon grew to find many things which they really liked about the place. Tonka even was inspired to pull out her sketch book, doing a pretty good job.

As usual, the point of the exercise was to instigate and stimulate creativity…and as they build their mock-up of the pond eco-system when we got home, I felt like we had accomplished that objective.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens with Lev and Kids (7)

Friday, August 05, 2011

It’s not about whether the rich can afford a tax hike…

It’s about what’s the best way to have money optimally distributed throughout the economy.

Lonnie started this debate on FB. Feel free to chime in on the comments below. This should be fun.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mosaics in Baltimore…

The Baltimore Museum of Art has a special place in my heart. Baltimore Museum of Art field trip with Moskowitz family (23)

It’s adjacent to the Hopkins campus and it’s where I really developed a strong appreciation for art during college.

My mother, the Art History major, insisted that I take a History of Art class.

I was initially skeptical, but quickly learned to love and appreciate it (yes, mom, again, you were right).

So, on our recent field trip, we took the kids on a field trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art and, thanks to some research of my sister-in-law, we were able to take advantage of a kid-focused program about mosaics from the ancient Near East.Baltimore Museum of Art field trip with Moskowitz family (3)

I actually learned a lot myself as the guide explained in a kid-friendly, but not overly basic way how mosaics are designed and made as well as the purpose they served.

Then, the activity was for the kids to use the mosaics on the wall as inspiration for their own drawing and subsequent painting.

If you find yourself in Charm City, take a moment…the collections there are truly world-class.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What Mark Rothko Taught Me About Marketing…

NYC - MoMA: Mark Rothko's No.5/No. 22

Image by wallyg via Flickr

In his best-selling book, “A Whole New Mind,” Dan Pink (client) explains how the next age of economic development, the conceptual age, is going to require a new set of skills.

Traditional “left-brain” skills (logical, analytical) are necessary, but not sufficient. A lot of the times, they can be automated or outsourced.

“Right brain” skills that convey design and emotion are where true value will be created.

If you’re not naturally “right brained,” Dan advocates a disciplined and focused effort to train that muscle.

And that’s where Mark Rothko comes in.

The other day, I attended a seminar at the Smithsonian called “Mark Rothko and his Philosophy of Color,” with the goal of working my right brain.

It did.

But, as usual, there are a few marketing lessons hidden within. Smile

The lecturer, Klaus Ottman, did a great job of taking what could be dismissed as “simple blocks of color” and helping us all think about the ROLE of color in our daily lives.

For Rothko, color represented “basic human emotions.”

For each color, there was/is, in his mind, a universal human reaction to that color. In other words, we all FEEL the same way when we seed the color RED.

BLUE, on the other hand, represents to us traits such as “wisdom, moral philosophy, truth, and principles.”

So, how DOES this connect to marketing?

We are all aware of how we use color in our corporate logos, for example. The Never Stop Marketing logo is red and black, in part, because I had the FEELING that those colors would convey the intensity of the emotion that goes with the name, that is wrapped up in the idea of the “shot of marketing espresso.”NeverStopMarketing[400]

But, color plays a HUGE role in many other facets of our life and they have subtle impact on our audience and our community. Sure, the clothes we wear, but also,

  • what the does room look like where your event is being held? Is it a boring hotel room or a venue that has the vibrancy you want?
  • What about the walls of your offices?
  • How about your booth at the tradeshow?

All of these are “touch points” that are part (or not) of the marketing experience we are looking to create for our audience…giving them further reasons why they would tell themselves, “this is the company I want to work with…it just FEELS right.”

What’s more, as we move into a world where we need to make everyone a marketer and follow the principles of Maya Angelou marketing (people remember how you made them feel), what if you said, “we want people to feel X, kind of like the color Y?” 

If Rothko is right and we all have a universally similar response to color, then communicating in COLOR terminology (and visuals) to your team and community may be a competitive advantage.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Panhandlers on the subway...

It’s not a big secret that I’ve got a ways to go in the compassion department. Let’s get that out of the way.

When I see a mother and her baby walking around with a sign that says “hungry, please help” (or something to that effect) on the Metro, as a dad, it’s hard not to be moved. What’s more, I’m sure it’s not what she would want to be doing.

Still, I don’t want a society where people feel comfortable getting on trains and asking others for money. That’s not the ride I want, so I don’t give money because, like with my kids, I don’t want to reward the “wrong” (shall we say, less desirable) behavior.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Going Solar...the Financial Argument

Solar panel installation at an information cen...

Image via Wikipedia

We used to have two glorious trees in our backyard. They shaded our southern exposure quite nicely and cooled the house.

Unfortunately, they were old and sick and we had to take them down.

It was sad, but it opened up a new world of possibilities...our new roof was now a candidate for solar panels.

Since watching An Inconvenient Truth and combined with my long-standing concerns around US dependence on foreign oil and my recent travels seeing both the positives and negatives of globalization, I've definitely become more of a "green" person.

Started composting, added insulation into my walls, compact fluorescents...and a few more things.

I'll admit, the economic argument wasn't always there, but I felt like, in a small way, I was doing something...and I was putting my money where my mouth was.

The Solar Investigation
So, I connected through a trusted resource, with the folks at Solar City who came over and reviewed my roof.

They gave me a proposal for leasing solar panels (I would post it, but it’s got my home address all over it) where they estimate a 25% reduction in my annual usage. They gave me a few different leasing proposals, but the question remained:

Was it going to be worth it?

I sent the proposal and the assumptions to a few friends who are better at Internal Rate of Return calculations than I am and the answers that came back were pretty much unanimous.

It's bordeline, and may not be worth it.

So, at the upfront investment of $6700, I wouldn't be coming out ahead.

Now, if you read Dan Ariely's book, Predictably Irrational (review here), you'll know that people don't always make purely rational decisions and this was to become one of those moments.

I'll admit, I'm doing a bit of financial hocus-pocus wizardry on myself, but here's how I came up with the justification to do it.

I figured I was willing to spend about $2,000 on the following elements to the deal.

  1. I'd FEEL like I was doing something for the environment. I'm convinced that our current model is unsustainable and I'm willing to pay something above and beyond to do something about it.
  2. I'm always willing to pay for the feeling and the self-perception of early adopter. It's difficult to explain, but those of us who are, know what I am talking about. In fact, talking to one friend who is one also, he said, "yes, the early adopter rush is definitely worth something."
  3. As a technophile, frankly, I am curious if/how it will work. I constantly experiment with new technologies and realize that, not always, does it work in your favor, but the education itself is worth something. I'm willing to pay for that.
  4. And the one of which I am most proud...since I work at home, I now feel comfortable promoting Never Stop Marketing as a "green business." After all, world HQ is powered by solar, right? (Bonsu if I can swing this as a tax deduction...still investigating).

So, those 4 elements are worth about $2000 to me.

Then, I take that out of the total cost and, assuming the numbers are close to accurate, the system does make economic sense.

Obviously, I'll keep blogging about this.

Should you want to get/investigate your own system, let me know, so I can refer you. We'll both benefit financially..thereby improving my (and your) ROI. Smile

BTW, feel free to talk me out of it…I’m still in the no-penalty cancellation period!