September 29, 2008

Motivating Change

Perhaps you’re like me. You begin the day with a warm beverage and sift through hundreds of pages of information. Google Reader, FriendFeed, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Facebook, and news sites. The list is endless. So is the information.

We all do our best to stay on top of information while contributing to the endless news cycle. I feel out of uniform if I’m not finding and sharing some pearl of wisdom every now and then – it seems like the price of admission.

We are all talking about the financial situation these days but what has jumped off the screen for me is the amount of pontificating there is lately on what is next. How will we share information, befriend each other, forage and gather? My answer perhaps naïve, is rather simple - nothing will change.

We will build new sites, find new interfaces to incorporate, invent new gadgets to play with, discover more efficient ways to share information, but nothing will change.

There are three reasons why we don’t do something:
1 - We don’t know how to do it.
2 - Some sort of mental or physical limitation prevents us from doing it.
3 - We don’t want to do it.

You could list “busy” as a reason but it’s not. If I told you that there was $1 Million in tax-free cash waiting for you in Cairo, you would book your ticket immediately. If your child or a dear friend needed you, you would drop what you were doing and tend to them.

You can take two people with identical professional backgrounds and you may discover vastly different motivating factors in each. No website or gadget will change that.

In order for you to have your way, you need to remember others want theirs too. What will never change is human behavior and that is worth celebrating.


September 24, 2008

Economize Your Creativity

Does money affect your creativity?

It's interesting to watch how decisions can be more cautious when the market is soft verses how ideas are more openly accepted when it’s good.

Throughout my media career I have seen it constantly. We remind clients that any marketing plan is a long-term process and cannot be ruled by slight blips here and there. However, when the media player feels a blip, often the first budget item to go - is the marketing budget.

How does the economy affect your creative decisions? It can distract you from doing the same things that got you were you are today. Bravery and money seem to make strange bedfellows. But we all enjoy hearing of someone who fought adversity toward success. Rags to riches stories are countless and inspiring.

Weather can be a factor toward our creativity as well, probably more than we'd like to admit. This also has financial implications. If there's dough in the bank and the sun is shining; you feel almost invincible. Clouds roll in while money is tight and you may not feel all too adventurous.

It's been said that money does not solve money problems, ideas do. Worrying doesn’t solve them either.

The sun is beaming into my office as I write this; so let's be creative, dream big, crush the box, and have some fun!


September 23, 2008


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines communication as; 1) A verbal or written message. 2) A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior. 3) A technique for expressing ideas effectively.

Excellent, but do we practice it?

I’ve been in the media for a long time. It’s a cliche in media to say that we are in the communications business but do a pour job communicating with each other. Frankly, this is a human thing not an industry thing. I’ve been both victim and the guilty party when it comes to miscommunication. Haven’t we all? Sift back through your memory and pick out an email that you sent where the intent was misunderstood.

Merriam-Webster defines miscommunication as; failure to communicate clearly. They define clearly as; unencumbered by debts or charges.

Are we too busy to properly communicate with each other? Do we use busy as a crutch?

These theories work wonderfully without people. The problem actually starts with ourselves.

Where we get in to trouble is when we fail to make a contract with those around us – including those we don’t know. This is the source of road rage. We are late for a meeting and that idiot that cut us off on the road and flew through the amber light ruined our plan to do the same. It’s not his fault we’re running late. He slept in too.

I received an email the other day from someone who didn't think I was returning their notes in the right tone. Oh brother. Instead of sending back a quick chirp about their attitude and misunderstanding which stemmed from miscommunication that occurred before they misread my communication from earlier, I picked up the phone. The more layers between us and our intention the closer we get to trouble.

So in theory, it’s best to be clear with any verbal or written messages with other individuals through a common system of signs, symbols and behavior unencumbered by debts or charges.

Perhaps we should start by abolishing email, traffic, money and egos. That should fix it.


September 20, 2008

PodCamp Montreal

I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to PodCamp Montreal but ended up stopping in for a few hours today.

There was an excellent presentation from Mitch Joel of Twist Image and David Usher on social media and the state of the music industry. Mitch said he and David are working on possibly bringing it on the road.

I love the unconference format. It’s not stuffy and formal but it is well prepared and organized. Everyone is involved, everyone takes responsibility, there is respect among the group, and sharing is encouraged. Excellent coffee too.

It was also great to catch up with Mark Blevis, Robin Browne and Mike Kujawski.

Day two is tomorrow and it’s free. Well done, everyone!


September 17, 2008

Who's Buyin'? Who's Sellin'?

There are several absolutes in life; taxes, death, cockroaches will survive a nuclear attack, and you will always need sales account managers if you run a for-profit organization.

I love sales people; I’ve been one my whole life. So have you.

I’m not taking about the guy in the cheap suit selling you crap you don’t need whilst barely making eye contact because he’s on to his next victim. This is about relationships.

Other than perhaps heart surgeons or alligator tamers, we all need to sell. I would add they do too – you wouldn’t want some hack who barely passed medical school operating on a loved one or a sketchy dude handling reptiles. They both need to sell their abilities to you.

Sales happen every morning in millions of homes as moms and dads sell their kids the dreams that will be fulfilled if they get their butts out of bed and off to school. You and I do it every time we meet someone and they do it to us. If you don’t buy in to them, you won’t buy from them. The suit and the PowerPoint are secondary.

We have all met "sales people" – the types who always have the deal, will sell you the blue car if you sign today, have a better price than the competitor, they are a dying breed. The cologne is a nice touch, though.


language may be offesive to some people.

Glengary Glen Ross (1992)

September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I don't usually spend blog time on obituaries but this death gave me pause.

Someone I am just getting to know is David Foster Wallace and sadly because someone mentioned him on Saturday, the day he died. I had heard of him over the years but didn’t pay much attention. Many called Wallace one of the greatest writers and essayists in American history. But he wasn’t flashy, he didn’t write books that turned into Hollywood blockbusters, and he shunned the spotlight.

When I heard of his passing I went online to search for more information about him. After reading some, I watched an interview he did with Charlie Rose in 1997. He seemed the reluctant type, shy, and borderline apologetic.

Wallace once said we often lump writers into the same box – as if to say anyone who works with words is of the same mind and theory. Good point. But writers are often complicated and many are quite fragile.

The late Red Smith once summed it up succinctly; “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Writing is difficult. Publishing your work is even tougher. The microscope is your enemy and the readers can crucify you in a blink. Everyone is in fact a critic.

David suffered from depression for over twenty years and finally took his own life on Saturday. Wallace was only 46 and just getting started.


September 15, 2008

Law Of Averages

If you talk with any marketing or promotion person, anyone in advertising or media, they will eventually use the word average. The world continues to shrink, and our ability to measure ourselves continues to evade us. Anyone who has a social networking profile has surrendered personal information into the ether. Where that information goes, who digests it, who keeps it, and who uses it, is anyone’s guess.

But we share with wild abandon while the survey and research industries continue to call us average. A man between the ages of 18 and 34 enjoys rock music, drinking beer, and watching sports. Meanwhile, a woman in her 50’s prefers television shows about pets and home improvement. There, the job is complete. There is no need to go any further.

If we are going to continue to use the law of averages, I wonder why we spend so much time gathering more information about each other only to toss it all in the blender and hit puree.

What may save us all a lot of time is to appoint one man and one woman from each age between birth and 100 and they will be our case study. Whatever our case study man of 31 years old does and likes will speak for all 31 year old men on the planet.

That saves us a lot of pontificating and guesswork.

I was watching a few minutes of the popular show Mad Men the other night and wondered how far we may have evolved since the days of smoking freely in the office while tapping a female assistant on the derriere after she gets the drinks, honey. These guys look like knuckle dragging Neanderthals, but forty years ago they were cited as cutting edge.

So we have created a more balanced world, right? Women make the same as men; egotistical well-fed blue suit wearing management types are open to new ideas; a man between the ages of 18 and 34 still enjoys watching Sunday football?

Glad we solved that.


September 12, 2008

Lead Don't Boss

I have spent my career trying to do two things at once – perhaps you can relate. I've tried to show my competence while constantly learning and attempted to avoid giving tasks to others simply because I didn't want to bother them. I can assure you that once you fill a wall with “the longest hours worked” awards and miss a few vacations, you begin to grasp the term: delegation.

Years ago, an assistant chastised me for not utilizing him better. He lamented that there was no way he was going to steal my job, if I didn’t teach him how to do it. That was hilarious and he was right.

We often forget the mentors who let us make a million mistakes while they gave us a shot. Then we get the chance to pay it forward and muck it all up with pride.

A few simple tips, in no particular order...

1 - Unless you paint landscapes for a living, memorize the definition of the word team.

2 - If you ever have to remind your direct reports that you are their boss, you have lost the room. At that point, worrying about who is in charge is rendered irrelevant.

3 - If you want someone to do something for you, explain exactly what do to and how you want it done. Leave nothing out and ask with respect.

4 - Rule by fear while you bark orders is a tack that only works never.

5 - If they do a task unsupervised to your complete satisfaction five times, they have grasped the concept and you can move to the next challenge.

6 - Yes, they do want to learn from you so allow them that opportunity.

7 - Lower the bar to reach down to the poor performers and everyone will become poor performers.

8 - Do not be afraid to point out better ways to do things. If you fail to do so, you will be doing someone's career a disservice.

9 - Laugh at work often.

10 - Raise the bar, expect excellence, understand human mistakes, coach well, keep an honest real perspective on your abilities, and celebrate victories.

Not mine, but I love this phrase: Bosses say “Go!” while Leaders say “Let’s Go!”


September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

Much will be written and said today about this anniversary. The events on September 11th, 2001 were obviously horrific. We can cover the numerous inconsistencies another time.

On September 9th, 2001, I cancelled a trip to NYC which was scheduled to land at 8:24am on the 11th. I had done a lot of road trips and needed a break. We decided to reschedule a few weeks later in Toronto. Less than 48 hours later, the world changed.

It was eerie to try and call friends in New York hours after the attacks. I just kept trying numbers madly until I got through to someone who still had her Atlanta cell phone. For some strange reason her cell worked in Manhattan. It was strange to call numbers and hear nothing – no click, no static, nothing.

I've been in the media for more than half my life and we had to snap into action. It was clearly the most surreal day of my career.

Friends invited me to a film festival event that night but after what had happened, the event was cancelled. We still felt compelled to get together. We are all numb. Most people were numb. All we did was talk. Do you remember? We all stopped the racket and talked and shared.

The phone calls started up again last week as the anniversary again grew close. Some people felt it was time for us to move on, others were in tears. No doubt, today I'll reflect on the fragility of life.

Peace my friend.


September 10, 2008

Preparing The Preparation

A friend was lamenting the other day that she had nothing to add to the social media discussion. She raises her family and posts insightful and hilarious updates on Twitter and she doesn't even realize it. What I reminded her was, she is adding to the discussion!

If all we do is talk about talking about talking with each other and share stories of how we should share – we are what my dad always calls “preparing for your preparation”. If you've ever been through a meeting where nothing is resolved, where every item is pushed to next meeting, and no one knows who does what by when, that is talking about talking.

I love Chris Brogan's blog entitled Share Share Share or as Jeff Parks says; there are no secrets, just information you don’t know yet. I think most of us had to get our heads around truly sharing because someone in our past stole an idea and took credit for it.

I wrote a media industry article last year that was published in the U.S. and Canada. A former colleague called the day it was published to give me praise. I mentioned that I had included some of the discussions he and I had had over the years and I guess I had stolen some content. He reminded me that he shared stuff he had picked up from others over the years - that's how it works.

James Cridland, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Parks, Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, Jeff Pulver, Joseph Jaffe, Leigh Himel, Jeremiah Owyang and countless others share with me every day.

I received an email yesterday from a great friend who reminded me that I need to do my part. I am always better at boasting about my partners and my colleagues all the while they are complaining that I need to share more about me. So here goes ...ahem

...more tomorrow


September 8, 2008

Feliz Lunes

As the cliché goes, it’s one-seventh of your life. But we spend so much energy worrying, fretting and obsessing about this harmless day. What is so daunting about Monday? What the hell did it ever do to you?

The reason the Sunday barbecue was ruined was because you didn’t get the work done on Thursday and told yourself you’d take it home over the weekend and be ready for Monday’s meeting. Taking work home and actually doing are two different things. Monday is not the enemy here.

Mondays are never as bad as they are feared on Sunday. There are no serpents and poison. It’s just a harmless 24 hour period that tries to do its job.

Often the difference between someone of privilege and someone who struggles happens at birth. Friday was born with a silver spoon and Monday works hard to be a good day, an honest day and deserves a little love.

You think Monday has it bad? How’s about Wednesday? No press, no songs, no complaints, it just sits there being a good little mid-week day.

Happy Monday.


September 6, 2008

Communication Breakdown

I lost count the other day of how many ways I can connect with people and of course how they can connect with me. We have land lines, cell phones, email, texts, pins, actual mail (ask your father), social media or my absolute favorite – in person.

I’m sure you’re like me and in a given day you may connect with the same person in many of these ways. It begins with a pin about lunch. You return that with another pin. Then the person calls your cell and leaves you a voice mail. You call back and get their voice mail so try their land line. While you are calling their land line, they are sending you a text.

What may have taken a few moments in “the olden days” has suddenly turned in to a confusing game of misinformation and half sentences. All this communication takes place in the interest of organizing a time to grab that sandwich.

That’s an easy example. Where it gets tricky is when you get in to that horrible cycle we’ve all been through – the email stream. I try – though often unsuccessfully – to work from the three email rule. If you send me one, I return it, and you return mine, it’s time for an actual phone call. Again, not always possible and doesn’t always work out.

As our world continues to shrink, we rely on technology more and more. The toys help streamline our day but often end up messing us up. It takes a master to write emails in the true intent they are meant – we have all written stuff that was misunderstood or taken out of context.

We’re so busy being busy that we’re too busy to get anything done.

Perhaps we should go back to calling the operator to make a call? Ask your grandfather.


September 5, 2008

Time Well Spent

Blog Day was a few days ago but I thought I’d revisit the concept today because you simply have to check out this link if you want to learn some invaluable information right now. How many times each day do you hear or read about something you wish you had thought about? How many times have you thought about getting out from under the corporate fluorescent lights and taking on the world?

It's a dream of many, but it takes much more than that.

This is from the brilliant, engaging and very funny Guy Kawasaki. He gives the best venture capitalist presentation I have probably ever seen because he's straight, and honest. If you want to make an investment, click the link it'll be 20 minutes well spent.

The Art of Raising Venture Capital | Guy Kawasaki

And grab a pen; you will want to make notes!


September 4, 2008

It Was Historic

Last night, Gov. Sarah Palin made history speaking at the RNC as the first woman to be the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s running mate for the Democrats in 1984. It’s sad that it has only happened twice.

It was interesting to watch the parade of VP wannabees shower the unknown Palin with accolades. You could hardly see Sen. McCain’s lips move and the fake smiles were barely visible. The GOP pundits and loyalists are all reading from the same teleprompter today. McCain says his VP must be ready to be President on Day One. Hmmm

It will certainly be an interesting election and everyone will undoubtedly be covered in mud by November 4th. The Canadian election will undoubtedly have much less drama.

> > >

And today is historic for many reasons. As we spend countless hours on social networking sites discussing and sharing technological advancements, ideas, and information; there are some events that had to happen before we could update our Facebook status on cell phones or send digital pictures in an instant to Tokyo.

The first occurred on September 4th, 1882. Thomas Edison unveiled the first practical electrical lighting system. He launched it at his steam powered plant and was able to turn on the lights for one square mile in New York City.

On this day six years later, George Eastman patented his first roll-film camera and named his company Kodak.

Perhaps one day a woman will finally be President of the United States and it will be viewed as common as the light bulb and the camera.

In the meantime, Obama-Biden has a good ring to it.


September 3, 2008

Keep Dreaming

The 1989 film Field Of Dreams made popular the phrase "build it and they will come". The mistake a lot of us made was that we thought that it was good enough to build something without further effort. It was a great story but reality was missing. And I am a great believer in the power of attraction.

Hollywood can poetically depict a man making a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field in the middle of nowhere where people just show up.

Reality needs more of a nudge.

We see it with the millions of bands on MySpace expecting fame simply because their latest EP is available for download on their site. I’m a music pig, I love discovering new bands, but I probably listen to 50 bands before I hear one I will tell someone about them.

Just because you invent the all-purpose flipper phone for scuba divers doesn’t mean there’s a demand for it. A three-wheeled triangle car that runs on peanut butter may sound intriguing, but there’s good chance it won’t go anywhere.

If you’re going to market your flipper phone, you need to find potential scuba divers - this is advertising and marketing 101. But any of us in the business will tell you that it’s not easy and even the best make mistakes.

The ancient adage keep it simple has never been more important than now. With eight billion websites, hundreds of cable channels, terrestrial and satellite radio, billboards, bus boards, portable devices and more; it ain’t as easy as building it and they will show up.

But without dreams, no one will come no matter how snazzy you make the campaign. So keep dreaming but know that’s the beginning of the process.


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