March 31, 2017 | Permalink
Much of my following of Standing Rock was through the updates and prompting of wolf & wilhelmine founder Heidi Hackemer. Which, of course, required all digital. Me, the follower, that is--digital, as stuff arrived in my feeds and channels. She, the doer, was there in the physical. Making change in non-violent ways with lots of other people.
And there it is: doing, versus following. Physical versus digital.
Of course things can be done from the screen. Of course they can. But can it replace what can happen with physical interaction when it really matters? In 2016 it feels like everyone thought it could. Years of Twitter and Alerts, finding Medium, living on screens no matter where we are.
But as we swing into 2017 I think we're all, in the back of our minds, questioning whether it can.
December 18, 2016 | Permalink
At five minutes Fred Rogers says that one of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child is for them to see how much they love what they do. Maybe that's work or a hobby.
Let that sit with you for a moment...
After all, that's Mr. Rogers' favorite thing about his own book--the spaces between the paragraphs.
You'll find that in this video, too.
And it's no small thought that attitudes are caught, not taught. Ponder that for a bit--for yourself and for the world today.
July 12, 2016 | Permalink
I moderated a panel at MarketMix about how marketers can be bold. I was up there with three people I greatly admire: Peter, Ryan, and Michael. Their bold work speaks for itself. The session ended up being standing room only--it was quite fun.
The idea for the panel started here: As an agency, you present a very bold idea, it gets approved, and then you leave. But the marketer is left with an entire organization of people who don't work in marketing or advertising so they have to champion the work internally and get it approved and supported. Imagine how difficult that is when your idea is extremely bold?
One of the great bits that came out of our discussion was how to recognize a bold idea. The group's answer: when it makes you uncomfortable. Their opinion was that, when the work is presented, if you don't feel uncomfortable it means you've probably seen something similar before... even if you're not sure where.
Which doesn't mean it's not good! It just means you're probably not in "bold" territory. And that's fine, of course. But if you're looking to be bold, to stand apart, to turn convention around, to surprise your competitors, to earn an unfair share of consumer attention, then you should anticipate being uncomfortable on your way there.
Bowie said the same thing.
"Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being... go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting."
But my favorite part was about why it's important to be bold... you do it on behalf of the customer.
The core reason for bold ideas isn't to make your organization "be different." It isn't to strongly position you against your competition and it isn't to grab headlines. The reason it's important to be bold is to make something notably better for the customer. As Bernbach said, a brand value isn't really a value until it costs you something.
T-Mobile, Xbox and Amazon are all bold because they put the needs of the customer at the top of their thinking. And when they do that, their ideas become bold--and the advertising has to level-up.
Hemingway said the same thing.
When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your objective to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself. That’s the true test of writing. When you can do that, the reader gets the kick and you don’t get any.
Tracy Wong offered one of my favorite descriptions of advertising: "commerce, artfully told." So it's not surprising that the process of being bold--understanding what it takes, and what it means--is similar to what the world's best artists, writers and musicians experience, too.
May 14, 2016 | Permalink
Larry Gelwix coached the Highland High School rugby team to 418 wins with only ten losses and twenty national championships over thirty-six years. His mantra: “What’s important now?”
By keeping his players fully present in the moment and fully focused on what is most important— not on next week’s match, or tomorrow’s practice, or the next play, but now— Gelwix helps make winning almost effortless. But how?
First, the players apply the question constantly throughout the game. Instead of getting caught up rehashing the last play that went wrong, or spending their mental energy worrying about whether they are going to lose the game, neither of which is helpful or constructive, Larry encourages them to focus only on the play they are in right now.
Second, the question “What’s important now?” helps them stay focused on how they are playing. Larry believes a huge part of winning is determined by whether the players are focused on their own game or on their opponent’s game. If the players start thinking about the other team they lose focus. Consciously or not, they start wanting to play the way the other team is playing. They get distracted and divided. By focusing on their game in the here and now, they can all unite around a single strategy. This level of unity makes execution of their game plan relatively frictionless.
December 08, 2015 | Permalink
I met Colleen DeCourcy at a conference in New York. She gave one of the best presentations about how to think about digital and I had to talk with her afterwards. It was 2009, I think, so everyone was really trying to figure things out. She had some great thoughts and I've always tried to keep up with her thinking as much as one can.
Here's a great Q&A that's chalked full of great advice for people working in the industry, or wanting to one day.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your industry?
Creative people really love comfort and repetition. We have this conceit that we don't, that we’re free spirits. But most truly creative people have managed to find a way to push everything else away, to make space for their own ideas. It’s a process of elimination and discipline. Creative people are really very set in their ways. It’s called “being sure.” It’s necessary.
This whole idea of perpetual change and discomfort, which Wieden has always embraced, is at it’s core a kind of creative trauma. So, the chaotic, changing world shouldn’t be taking us off our game, but it really makes things hard.
What motivates you?
Fear. A Fear that I would be invisible and that I would start and finish my life and no one would ever know. It's not ego. It's not that I have to be important. It's that I have to matter. When you combine that with a lot of curiosity and the curse of being easily distracted, it’s a bit of a shit show really. Still, it keeps me going. It makes me work hard.
What advice would you give to your daughter at the start of her career?
Get up everyday and commit yourself to something that doesn’t feel like it’s taking more than it gives.
November 11, 2015 | Permalink
It was sad to see Grantland close. There are about ten blogs and smaller sites that I bookmark to read during spare time and that was one. There was a wonderful range, and yet it still always seemed to land in sports and pop culture. The writing was excellent.
It's a bummer to see it go, but it's a nice feeling that it stopped while it was still good. Seinfeld is always admired because it never got bad. I think Jon Stewart did the same.
But my favorite example is Gary Larsen and The Far Side. He stopped doing those long before they got bad. So they'll always be good.
He has asked that fans not re-post his work on the web. So I won't. But if you've never seen the cartoon, search around. I think you'll laugh.
November 05, 2015 | Permalink
Once you hear about the five life stages of happiness, they make sense. Sometimes it's the way things are said that finally makes it connect; the choice of words and just packaging something up as one complete thought. Which is what happened nicely in this piece.
It's even better to take away the ages. Most people are in one stage and it may not line up with the ages in the video. And that's okay, isn't it?
The helpful thing is that someone has packaged it all up in a very nice, and logical, way.
October 14, 2015 | Permalink