Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-02-28

The Manager and the Therapist

I have just completed Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (recommended, by the way). In one of the chapters, the authors explore archetypes of American leadership - those archetypes that influence both personal life and work life.

I am taking liberties by diverging from the true purpose of the author's exploration, but two of the archetypes stuck in my mind as leadership styles I have personally witnessed. They are the Manager and the Therapist.

Manager

The Manager style is most obvious. These leaders are great at zeroing in on staff skills and using those skills to fulfill company goals. They have the ability to "size people up" almost immediately. They see people in an honest light and leave emotional responses out of decision making. They care about productivity.

In most situations they use logic to determine outcome. They are yang. They are the masculine aspect of leadership.

Manager descriptives: Perceptive, stable, determined, professional, assertive
Weaknesses include: A one dimensional focus on employees as labor; can be rigid

Therapist

The Therapist rallies and encourages the pursuit of employee strengths. They nurture skill development and explore potentials. They are great listeners and can mostly be found 'on the floor' with the rest of the team. They appear both wise but approachable. They focus on creating corporate culture through an individualistic approach. They care about ideas.

In most cases they explore emotion to influence problem solving. They are yin. They are the female aspect of leadership.

Therapist descriptives: Motivational, reflective, communicative, team-oriented
Weaknesses: Unable to establish boundaries between personal and professional life; lack stability; too ambiguous in leadership style

What's your management style? How has it worked for you/against you?

Now that the Oscars are over...

We don't care what you're wearing; just show up.

2005-02-27

Last Call

I am getting ready to send my chapter off to Jon for the 100 Bloggers book and wanted to ask all of you what you think the major obstacles were when you first started blogging. I'd like to make sure I'm covering the topics most relevant to beginners.

Keep in mind, the chapter is Blogging 101, which means it needs to cover the basics. Anything specific that comes to mind? Do you recall an aspect of blogging that was confusing or frustrating in the beginning?

Thanks.

2005-02-25

Friday's Random Post


Writing

often it is the only
thing
between you and
impossibility.
no drink,
no woman's love,
no wealth
can
match it.


© Charles Bukowski

Road Kill Candy .... charming.

Road kill candy angers animal rights activists
Friday, February 25, 2005 CNN

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Animal rights activists are disgusted by a new candy from Kraft Foods Inc. that's shaped like critters run over by cars -- complete with tire treads.



Perhaps they will reinvent the candy cigarette, too?

2005-02-24

Differing Groups Could Learn from Each Other

Coming from a nonprofit background and blogging also as a poet, I am often in the fascinating space between those who love business and those who abhor it.

Both sides have their reasons and often times they are well thought out, eloquent in the delivery of opinion and fair in the discussions that take place around some of the topics we are all familiar with: marketing, big business, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, capitalism, the politics of commerce, etc.

Many of the blogs I enjoy embrace a delicate balance - respecting the positive role of business while keeping an eye on the door, knowing what could lurk behind.

I respect those who challenge consumerism. Even though I work in an industry that supports and facilitates the growth of businesses, I am always interested in being prompted to reflect upon (and hopefully improve upon) practices. I welcome divisiveness even among colleagues. There is nothing worse than unbridled complacency.

I find that, as in "the real world," a lot of online discussions are taking place in distinct arenas. Lines have been set. Identities have been carved out. Pseudo-cliques have been formed based on the gamut of political and social flavors.

The need to stick together with likemindeds, so to speak, is understandable. I naturally try and connect with people who mirror my lifestyle - seeking consolation and validation in the highs and lows of running a business, being married, entering into new life expectations.

The only challenge is in our expanding the circles of communication to extend to those outside of our influence and, possibly, our understanding.

This is where true growth starts to happen - beyond your front door. Get out and get to know someone outside of your comfortable circle. Mix up your blogroll.

Epiphany I

Lauren gets it...



Thanks to Feministe for the image.

2005-02-22

Bloggers - All Talk, No Walk?

I, like many of you, have received flack from other professionals out there who suppose blogging is just another form of time wasting.

My retort is this: Do you consider reading, networking, or workshops to be a waste of time, too?

Before one can take action - those first small steps - one should be prepared for the journey ahead. Some of us learn by absorbing information through books and online forums; some through classes and tutorials; some through hands on trial and error. I'd like to believe most of us are a mix of all three.

I understand the criticism of some professionals, who feel blogging, like meetings and retreats, and (gasp) reading, can take the form of passivity. I understand the limitations of time.

But I have learned so much from the writings of other professionals who freely share their knowledge, as well as from my own challenge to write on a daily basis.

This knowledge has inspired action on my part - either through participation in similar projects, such as 100 Bloggers - or through new business projects that have directly or indirectly come from this valuable networking and wisdom sharing tool.

I'm curious, what has blogging inspired you to DO?

Women Poets?

I've been invited to be the new poetry editor for Women Writers e-journal. If anyone knows a great female poet, or better yet, if you are a great female poet (or writer), send work our way. Publication is in June - March 31st deadline.

2005-02-21

Product Placement

Pepsi wins product placement 'Oscar'
PepsiCo products were featured in one in five no. 1 U.S. box office movies last year.

LONDON (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc. may be only the world's No. 2 soft drinks maker, but in terms of product placement on the big screen it outranked every other brand on the planet in 2004.

Brandcameo, a product placement offshoot of consultants Brandchannel, awarded its top tongue-in-cheek "accolade" to the maker of Pepsi, Aquafina and Mountain Dew on Sunday after the Pepsi brand featured in no less than one in five No. 1 U.S. movie box office smashes last year.

Featuring in movies as diverse as "Alien vs. Predator" and "Dodgeball," Pepsi beat arch-rival Coca-Cola and its ubiquitous Coke brand into second place, where it tied with Motorola and Nike.
In this case, art imitates life.

Listening to the arguments for and against product placements in movies, I wonder what line is being crossed that isn't crossed in real life. To me, product placement in a film is no different than paying to put a giant billboard up on the 401. Big brands saturate our day. I walk down the street and see people with their cans of Coke, wearing Nike, Diesel, Guess, etc...People pay to advertise.

Brand power won't diminish until the perceived value of brands diminishes. Some brands are so powerful, they no longer have anything to prove. I like the businesses that still have something to prove; who have to work for their brand. They aren't cluttering up our lives with their logos.

If regulation happens in the movies, let it happen in other arenas. I would love to look down the highway and see only the landscape.

Hunter RIP

Hunter S. Thompson Dies at 67
'Fear and Loathing' Writer Apparently Committed Suicide

Yet another writer commits suicide. I don't mean to sound nonchalant, but...

What is it with creatives and suicide?!

That's not meant to be rhetorical.

2005-02-20

Someone Ripped Us Off!!!

Ironically enough, while I was perusing my stats today, I noticed that a fellow "professional" completely ripped off our web site?! The hilarious thing is that he didn't bother to even take out some of our images (the word Ricksticks shows up throughout the code, too)!!

What's really insultingly is that he is selling himself as a creative professional....okay....under the guise of other people's creativity? I don't mind people taking bits and repurposing them, but this is really inappropriate.

What should we do?
Has anyone else had their logo, web site or identity stolen?
Is this a form of flattery? :-)

I guess someone decided to start their own form of Ricksticks after all. I eat my humble pie now...

Street Talk and the Challenge to Professionals

I was perusing some street art sites and happened across the usual critique of this new art form. Graffiti art, the urban folk art, generates controversy from all sides - Questions arise regarding its legitimacy as "art," its legality (What is vandalism? Public defacement?), and its rising stars.

In the same way urban street art is has been scrutinized by everyone from scholars to politicians, we are facing the same series of accusations and scrutiny in the world of blogging and first-person journalism.

Professional publicists, journalists, and writers have been the most vocal about the negative possibilities of amateur reporting and information dissemination. The counter attack rests on displaced paranoia and job insecurity.

As I mentioned in a previous post, being in the print and web design business, you learn quickly how to hold your spot. Competition has always been ever since the advent of design software. You can sit back and complain about it, or you can be a visionary, embrace the challenge, and reinvent your offerings.

I don't believe that recognizing street art, blogging, or other amateur efforts to realize self-expression and story telling belittles professions. In fact, anyone who says otherwise is afraid of the ramifications of being challenged by "outsiders." It's time to be stellar. Mediocrity or half-attempts no longer cut it.

The world is as fierce or as benevolent as you choose.

Recognize and embrace the efforts of many, knowing you will rise to the occasion with revitalized enthusiasm.

2005-02-19

Meme Mania

Jon Strande wants to know the people behind the business. So get comfortable.

(My answers do not reflect anyone else here.)

What do you do?
I am the co-Principal of Ricksticks, a visual communications (i.e. design) firm in Toronto. My primary duty is writing - web copy, business collateral, proposals, etc. - and accounts management. I am also a poet and creative writer.

What are the challenges?
The graphic design industry is highly competitive - so I would have to say generating leads can sometimes be tricky. We have been fortunate in the word of mouth department.

How do you overcome them?
Keeping a positive attitude; going the extra mile for clients; being content with slow growth

What is a typical day like?
Coffee, calls, blog, emails, meetings with new clients, writing and production (lots of it)

How do you manage information?
Outlook, day book, Bloglines, NewsGator, Quickbooks, Access, web mail, good old paper files

What are your 3 or 5 favorite books?
Bastard Out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body - Susan Bordo
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future - Riane Eisler
Struggle for the Land : Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide, and Colonization - Ward Churchill

What are your favorite web sites/blogs?
These change constantly - I like to try and mix up the blogs that I read, although I really love How to Save the World for the amount of work and love Dave puts into it.

What tools/technology do you use?
At work? Dreamweaver, Quark, Blogger, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc...

What's your favorite quote?
"When I dare to be powerful... to use my strength in the service of my Vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." -- Andre Lorde

What is your "secret to success?"
Live your life today, not tomorrow. Be present. Show up. Care about something outside of your self. Don't be afraid of looking stupid.

What are your greatest accomplishments? Personal?
Being a compassionate person and choosing to live a life of nonviolence, despite being exposed to violence as a child.
Professional? A work in progress

What are your hobbies?
Reading, being outdoors, writing, travel, volunteering, music, meeting new people

Or, how do you break the monotony and stay energized?
I get outside any time I feel bored. Being surrounded by nature is invigorating to me and reminds me how small I am in the scheme of things.

2005-02-18

Finally, a battle I can get behind

For those of you unfamiliar with Fox's Arrested Development (and how sad is that?), there's been a lot of speculation around the impending demise of the series.

I am not a TV person - let me just put that disclaimer out there - but I am delightfully addicted to this show. Without it, I am left with the Simpsons as one of the only shows on worth watching.

Not only is the humor wickedly intelligent, Arrested Development's cast is superb. The show's both subtle and irreverent. For all you TV snobs out there, I dare you to not fall in love with this show.

When we first caught an episode, we immediately knew the program would be short lived - It's too smart. Every show that has some substance gets ripped off the air. There must be other pedantic, snooty 30-50 somethings out there who need to unwind with something other than Desperate Housewives or The Simple Life?

Join the cause. Demand smart programming. Keep Arrested Development on.

This is my public service announcement - Thank you and goodnight.

2005-02-17

Daily Inspiration

"Sometimes it's a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence." - David Byrne

Soap Box II

If you are like me and have done a lot of talking about corporate corruption, start putting your words into action (advice for myself, too). The ongoing problem with unethical corporations and disenfranchised employees rests in the fact that no one takes ownership of the problems. It is always someone's else's fault, "the way of the world."

If I am marketing a paper company that's destroying old growth forests, I can dismiss my part in it as minimal - "I have to make a living." If I work for an employer who neglects workplace safety or is inappropriate to staff, I can shrug and say, "What difference does it make, I hate this job anyway." As a CEO I might say, "If I am keeping investors happy, that's all I have to worry about, right?"

These attitudes are contributing to problems we attribute solely to "big business." But big business is you and me and the choices we make as employers, employees, and consumers.

I challenge you, in whatever you do, to start taking your work personally. Start caring. Make choices for yourself and others. Be accountable. As Mark said, "It's not business, it's personal."

2005-02-16

Yours, Mine, Ours - The Battle over Ideas

We are in the midst of numerous copyright/trademark battles. You read about it all the time. Monsanto sues farmers. MegaGames 'Jack Ass' sues 'Jack Ass' the show. McDonalds sues MacNoodles. Law firms devote their entire practice to issues of copyright and trademark protection.

I agree that out-and-out ripping off is wrong. I don't like the idea of someone stealing my writing verbatim and repackaging it as their own (though it has happened) and I am sure Rick would be a little more than miffed if his hard work and efforts to create someone's identity was lifted by a competitor.

Some situations are fairly clear cut, I'd say.

But I have a limit to the concept of what is "mine." For example, I may mention quite a few ideas that I have had in relation to, say, rebranding strategy or business development. My thinking is this, if someone gets something out of the concept and wishes to expand upon it, great. That, to me, is the point of information - to be shared, expanded upon, and reflected in the creation of my identity as a participant in community, business, and life.

In fact, I encourage idea stealing when the purpose is to facilitate more discussion. I am not married to my ideas because, chances are, someone else has had them, too. To patent my dialogue is absurd.

If I come up with a product based on a series of ideas, I may or may not choose to ensure rights. Likely not, though.

Maybe I am old fashioned - but I do believe that my ideas are better when reconstructed and discussed. The addition of voices and even conflict adds to the depth and flavor of what I am able to offer in service to others. If someone wants to write like me, well let them. Does this take away from what I offer? Perhaps. But it also forces me to be better, to rethink strategy and continue to grow. This is one solution for stopping impending monopolies - more competition.

I am reminded of a wonderful anecdote about John Winthrop, a famous Puritan and colonist...

In a hard and long winter, when wood was very scarce at Boston, a man gave him [Winthrop] private information that a needy person in the neighborhood stole wood sometimes from his pile;whereupon the governor in a seeming anger did reply, "Does he so ? I'll take a course with him; go, call that man to me; I'll warrant you I'll cure him of stealing." When the man came, the governor considering that if he had stolen, it was more out of necessity than disposition, said unto him, "Friend, it is a severe winter, and I doubt you are but meanly provided for wood; wherefore I would have you supply your self at my wood-pile till this cold season be over." And he then merrily asked his friends, " Whether he had not effectually cured this man of stealing his wood?"


Situations relating to information theft are not so dire as to warrant the theft. However, I believe that my time is better spent continuing to improve upon that which I offer and the person I am, then concentrating on whether or not someone is emulating me in some manner without permission.

The identity of a business rests with its people. We are Ricksticks. If someone else were to open up Ricksticks Marketing under the radar, I could hardly care. Good luck to them - It's a tough industry.

A.I. and the Transference of Humanity

A fascinating article on the ways in which robots are permeating Japan's cities and industries:

Japan's Army of Machine Beings
By Wieland Wagner

The future is now. At this year's World Exposition, Japan is planning to present a veritable army of humanoid robots. They may not look like the boy next door, but they may be more intelligent. And, from playing musical instruments to dancing to helping care for the elderly and disabled, they can do almost anything.
What's even more interesting (and tragically devoid in North America) is the importance placed on all inhabitants of the earth - including inanimate objects.

The affection that the Japanese lavish on their electronic creations may seem a little odd to western sensibilities. But it's not that unusual in a country whose traditions are based on ancient, nature-oriented religions that also deify inanimate objects such as stones.
An important shift in modern robotics is seen in the almost human-like characteristics and tasks robots are given. No longer designated to the sterility of factories, robots are entering elderly care and medical facilities, where robots are expected to provide comfort and physical assistance...

But the real stars of the show will be the prototypes of newest generation robots the Japanese plan to unveil. A special building will display robots designed as helpers for the elderly or the disabled, including Takeru Sakurai's robot suit and an intelligent care-giving robot.
This is a wonderful read for those of you interested in the future of work and modern society.

2005-02-15

Advice I Give But Never Take, # 1 & 2

1. Don't Just Go with the Flow. However, don't swim against the current unless there's good reason. Oh, and be prepared to back up that reason.

I'm having one of those days when everything that escapes into the public/social forum seems clumsy and unrefined.

No matter what I say, I feel like my internal censor is going off - red alert.

But does that stop me from not speaking up? Of course not.

Live and learn.

2. No matter how in love you are with your writing, your most important words should be expressed face-to-face.

The beauty and perhaps the tragedy of this form of communication is not in what it is, but what it lacks: physical presence.

I'm sure every one of us have had those difficult e-conversations that have gone poorly, not because of the parties involved or the opinions being expressed, but because the face, the physical gestures, the humanity was missing.

How can we find creative ways to fill this electronic void?

It's in the Details

I was preparing a post for today and stumbled across Tom's great post on paying attention to the details, those miniscule aspects of the services we provide which often get overlooked.

If Tom is getting annoyed by those stray hairs, what small matter are you neglecting that your client is definitely going to notice.

2005-02-14

Happy Valentine's Day!


“The more you are motivated by love, the more
fearless and free your actions will be.”
~ Katherine Mansfield

15 Minutes of Fame

Hugh's bored with blogging.

I believe blogging is just a trendy vehicle for the coming-of-age of new media. If you look at it through the eyes of a consumer, yes, it will become boring just as any other "toy."

Blogging, in and of itself, is irrelevant. What's happening in how we communicate is what's of value, not the format.

What do you think?

2005-02-12

NGO / For Profit Roundtable...

Just a reminder for anyone interested in participating in the nonprofit project, I will be conducting a short interview with Zoocheck Canada's, Rob Laidlaw next week. I think there are a few others who have charities lined up.

2005-02-11

Fiorina - Just another female who lost the game?

FIORINA: 'Wicked smart' but ultimately unsuccessful

Poised and articulate, Carly Fiorina shattered the glass ceiling in corporate America as the first female CEO of a Fortune 100 company, ascending into the pantheon of women instantly recognizable by just their first names: Oprah, Hillary, Condoleezza, Madonna, Diana.

Fiorina, 50, a super-saleswoman whom her Lucent Technologies boss and mentor Rich McGinn called "wicked smart," radically transformed Hewlett-Packard in her 5 1/2 years at its helm -- although the jury is still out on whether she saved or spoiled the Silicon Valley icon.

Since everyone else has done a fantastic job covering the fall of Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fionina, I have stayed out of the discussion. That is, until I came across the above.

Poised, articulate, wicked smart. It interests me that we must rely on "qualifying" women CEOs and entrepreneurs in this regard. We must make a special effort to discuss and reflect upon the positive qualities for fear of someone mentioning the F word. Female.

I don't believe Fiorina got the boot for being an aggressive woman. I am, however, suggesting that every time something happens in a negative way to a woman in power - vultures start circling. People are fascinated. Mythology is created.

Fiorina was wicked smart. Hillary married for political success. Martha fell from her throne.

I will be glad to see a day when we treat women who fall from glory with the same detached interest as we treat the men - because they are one of many women in power - both good and bad.

2005-02-10

Get In or Get Out!

Designers, Consultants, Creative Directors,

Are you tired of the market being overrun by every two bit nimrod that hangs up a shingle? Are you finding yourself constantly getting outbid by some 'genius' with a computer and a few Marketing/Design/Advertising for Dummies books? Do you find yourself explaining the relevance of your services when everyone is an expert?

Jason Santa Maria feels your pain. And so do we.

Automation Will Kill Us All

I recently came across another low-cost logo site called explaining. I get lots of emails advertising logos for as little as $99, but LogoYes is taking this one step further by offering users a nice little Flash application that allows them to build an 'original' logo from their vault of type and images. Do you ever wonder why designers have trouble gaining respect while helping clients understand the importance of their services? It's this mentality (from the LogoYes site):
"In just a few minutes, you can build an original logo without the costly, time-consuming process of working with a graphic designer (who must guess what you'll like)."

Yes. We are designers, we are guessers. I spent years in school learning about design history, theory, promotional ideas and creative thinking to sit back and blindly throw darts at a wall. I mean, as far as a client is concerned, they probably think we smack something together like you can on LogoYes.

There has always been a battling misconception with technological advancements; movable type would kill the hand-letterer, photography would kill the painter, desktop publishing would kill the designer, and the list goes on. Why? Common thought is that technology will place everyone on equal footing. Now that Joe CEO has a computer with Photoshop (or 'Adobe' as many people seem to call it), he has been christened a designer. He can leave the design agency he has been using behind; his computer now fills in the gaps.

Plain and simple, technology does not take the place of good ideas. You pay a specialist for a reason. I don't get under the hood of my car and ask the mechanic to use a different oil filter. I am paying him for his knowledge and experience, and I pay a premium price because I want the job done right.

Technology has given people the ability to take on new tasks and with much greater ease. This is the reality. I understand what Jason is saying about "taking his car to a mechanic," so to speak. I am more likely to rely on experts because I am in business and appreciate giving other people business, too. But the fact is, there are many who prefer to let their cousin work on the car or do it themselves. Most people will choose familiarity over expertise. Period.

Example: I used to work for a company a few years ago that happened to decide to rebrand. This sounds like a good idea, in theory, as the company was several decades old - almost 100 years old, to be exact.

But then the problem came - the CEO had an idea of how the logo should look and what colour scheme would best complement the new corporate identity.

With this 'great' idea, they went to their communications firm (not a design firm), and told them exactly what to do. They ended up with the logo and colour scheme exactly as directed.

The CEO was happy. The board was happy. But man, was the identity an eyesore. The logo had no meaning and utilized random symbols and colours. Being in a position to receive public feedback, I did not hear many good things about the new identity. Criticism aside, it just didn't seem to mean anything to anyone (except the CEO). There was no deeper meaning. No Connection.

This scenario is not uncommon. I'm sure you have dealt with similar situations in your own profession. I know some designers who choose to sink with the ship and offer low rate designs because they fear trying to compete. "If you can't beat 'em," as the saying goes.

But fear and paranoia will get you no where, and furthermore, unless your profession is licensed, nothing is going to stop Joe/Jane Doe from calling him/herself a graphic designer, a web designer, an advertising professional, a consultant. So wipe away the tears, get off the soap box, and start thinking with innovation.

Professionals who tell me how much their profession is being tarnished by poseurs, get some of these suggestions:

1) Be Relevant. If you are still trying to be a one trick pony, you are outdated. Make sure your services stay relevant.
2) Use your imagination. Nothing is sexier than your brain. If you have talent, that's great - but back it up with some ideas that aren't packaged. Keep it fresh.
3) Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. If your skills are mediocre, then you'd better re-think your desire to freelance or be in business for yourself. Being an entrepreneur is constantly having to prove yourself. You are only as useful as your clients believe you to be. Otherwise, get a job.
4) "There's no crying in the service sector." Stop complaining. Start embracing change and the bumpy ride.
5) Be aware but don't care. Know your competition. Acknowledge their advantages. Move on.
6) Leave your ego at the door. Repeat after me, "I am more than my profession. I am a complete human being with lots to offer."
7) Have fun. Just like in your romantic life, people are attracted to people who love life.
8) Serve it up, hot and fresh. Be dazzled by learning. Learn as much as possible. Keep applying what you've learned to that which you offer others.
9) Knowledge is limitless. There isn't a cap on what you can absorb. Stop hoarding.
10) Stop looking out for Number One. You'd be amazed at the continuous circle of generosity and good will you'll generate by getting out of your navel and helping someone else for a change.

Point being, the poseurs are out there like the Zombies in 28 Days Later. Either you accept it and keep the torches blazing, or your business dies.

You decide.


This and That

I am getting close to finishing my chapter for 100 Bloggers. I am anxious to see what transpires. Such a great assortment of writers and dreamers.

Jon Strande is back - better than ever. His post today is well worth the jaunt over. Join in the conversation.

Some newsy tidbits for now:

Pfizer Plans Change, Layoffs

Analysts and fund managers said this week that Pfizer could cut as many as 12,000 of its 122,000 workforce, and they believe many of the cuts will come from what some call its "bloated" global sales force.
Most of those expected to be cut loose are in sales and marketing.

Blogger booted by Google
By Frank Barnako Last Updated: 2/9/2005 12:45:47 PM

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Another Web logger has lost his job, reportedly because of something he wrote.

Postings to Mark Jen's blog, 99zeroes.blogspot.com, ended Jan. 27. On the Web log, he wrote about his work. An example: "I spend the bulk of my time thinking of new features or products that customers would want (read: stuff that I want) and then I organize people to build it. It's great!"
And it was great...

Commerce secretary defends push for logo

Selected by the public, the state settled on "Unbridled Spirit" as its new slogan late last year. It was the top vote-getter out of four finalists.

The graphic for the new logo features a horse with a flowing mane and the slogan, "Unbridled Spirit."

Host told the committee the brand should help Kentucky stand out from other states both in attracting tourists and new businesses.

I am personally offended that they didn't even consider my suggested State slogans.

2005-02-09

Quote of the Day

It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. ~ Muhammad Ali

2005-02-08

Hero Worship

Heroes
Jill Sobule, Robin Eaton

Why are all our heroes so imperfect
Why do they always bring me down
Why are all our heroes so imperfect
The statue in the park has lost his crown

William Faulkner drunk and depressed
Dorothy Parker mean, drunk and depressed
And that guy in Seven Years in Tibet turned out to be a nazi
The founding fathers all had slaves, the explorers slaughtered the braves,
The Old Testament God can be so petty

Paul McCartney jealous of John, even more so now that he's gone
Dylan was so mean to Donovan in that movie
Pablo Picasso cruel to his wives
My favorite poets took their own lives
Orson Welles peaked at 25, ballooned before our eyes
and he sold bad wine

This song makes me laugh. Of course we all need mentors and those we look up to - it's an important part of human development.

But it is the desire to believe in the perfection of modern day heroes that can lead to muddied ideas and disappointment. Emulating the strong points of our "heroes" can be synergistic. Surround yourself with greatness - isn't that what we are told? There's a lot of truth in that. Unfortunately, our definition of greatness can sometimes be shallow.

I believe in everyday greatness. I see it in some of my dearest friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I am fascinated by their individual strengths, weaknesses, preferences, stories. And I am close enough to see them in all their beautiful and assorted flaws.

Part of what makes a hero or mentor truly great is their ability to reach out to others - no matter what level of notoriety of success they achieve. Consistency, humility, compassion - these are the qualities that shine through.

I have several heroes in my life. The ones who have had the most impact are probably the ones who will never see themselves as heroic.

They Hate Us. They Really Hate Us.

Why do they hate Toronto?
LINDA DIEBEL

"All the big deals are in New York ... Toronto's irrelevant," says Edmonton lawyer Denny Thomas. "You wouldn't say it's in the same league as New York or London, maybe now Beijing, where so much power and wealth is concentrated. Toronto is just not a world-class city."
This is funny - the guy is in EDMONTON?! Not exactly the mecca of business either. Overall, an interesting look into attitudes regarding the Canadian hub.

Kung hei fat choi!

Happy Chinese New Year!

The Year of Rooster

2005-02-07

Sh$t Disturbing Your Way Into the Buzz

Adrants spotlighted GoDaddy's "censored" Super Bowl ad.

GoDaddy! CEO, Bob Parsons had something lame to say about why the NFL got Fox to buckle.

Of course, the discussion is as irrelevant as the "censorship" with the flurry of oglers.

Despite it all, I was unimpressed with the fact that 1) the ad lacks originality 2) it uses the term "wardrobe malfunction," which is one term that must die and soon and 3) the fact that anyone cared enough to give GoDaddy so much attention for their contrived stunt.

It pains me to write about it, but I am tired of all the praises being sung by peers.

Guess GoDaddy! only cares about their adolescent male customers. Maybe we need a GoMama!, and I know just the crew of sh*t disturbers to do it.

2005-02-05

Innovators Keep Reaching

In a bizarre assortment of news items I happened to skim today, I found a couple of great little pieces - one about Einstein's successes and failures, and the other, a news release about Brian Wilson's successful and long overdue album, SMiLE.

These two stories seem quite unrelated on the surface, but the more I deliberated the reasons the stories spoke to me, the more I realized how important the underlying message is in both of these men's lives: They had/have Vision in its truest sense.

Without getting into Wilson's highly publicized idiosyncrasies, the more relevant message here is that of re-invention, forgiveness, and vision.

He laughs heartily just musing about his new rock tunes, yet his eyes can turn to shadows quickly. Wilson has long received treatment for mental illness, and he says he still battles mood swings.

"SMiLE" was scrapped in 1967 as Wilson neared a mental breakdown. Drugs, pressure from the other Beach Boys -- especially his cousin Mike Love -- and Wilson's weak mental state doomed the project. Though the album was shelved, a few original "SMiLE" tracks -- "Wonderful," "Heroes and Villains" and "Surf's Up" -- found their way onto subsequent Beach Boys releases.

"People are much more ready for 'SMiLE' today," Wilson says. "It was ahead of its time. I'm glad I waited. Now it's finally time." more...
Brian Wilson is an example of someone who had great vision, yet lacked the internal strength to deal with the critics or those who simply did not "get it or him." His emotional conditions rendered him lifeless until his recent reawakening.

On the other hand, Albert Einstein achieved acclaim in a starburst. He entered the scene at a time when scientists rarely questioned world politics and steered clear of controversy. But he was neither timid nor afraid of challenging ethics in science.

Despite his success with his theory of relativity, he did not stop to hang his hat on an accomplishment that warranted early retirement. Rather he continued on in his quest to pursue that which drove him.
But there are other reasons - going beyond science - why the "old" Einstein has such wide cultural resonance. Despite the failure of his unified theory, his fame gave him influence on public affairs. When the nuclear threat first loomed over us, he was an inspiration and moral compass to other scientists. Back in 1955, just a week before he died, he co-signed, with Bertrand Russell, a manifesto that launched the Pugwash conferences, an international forum for scientific discussions on disarmament and world affairs. more...

The common denominator here is clarity of vision and purpose.

These men, in separate and unique ways, have the ability to inspire us - to ask why we are not paying close attention to our own Vision, whatever that may be.

Have you reached a level of comfort that has made you lose touch with your Vision? Or have you paid so much attention to the critics, you've let internal demons or outside pressures drown you?

The person who can reinvent his/herself and emerge fresh from the obstacles inspires me. There is nothing truer than your Vision, that visceral urge that drives you forward.

What keeps you from following the call? How do you apply the spirit of innovation to your work?


2005-02-03

NGO / For-Profit Roundtable

I had a rather lengthy discussion with the director of a wildlife charity today, a client of ours. As we were discussing upcoming projects the organization needs to complete and the financial limitations so many small charities have, I got to thinking about how many business owners passionately believe in several "causes," but have yet to figure out how to help.

From a business perspective, many of us resign to cutting a check addressed to one of the larger organizations - not necessarily because we feel strongly about the particular entity, but because we recognize their name and are unaware of other worthy charities. Businesses tend to give to specific causes they are familiar with, sometimes based on employee input, sometimes based on what competitors are doing. For many, the process is not well thought out.

From a nonprofit perspective, the feeling is that the business world just doesn't care. Or they figure why bother asking when so many large organizations will beat them to the chase.

Many smaller organizations have yet to learn how to "make the ask."

So I would like to do my part to remedy this.

In the next 2 weeks I will be encouraging other business bloggers to do the following:


1. Contact a favorite charity
2. Conduct a short interview with one of the staff members and get the following information: Description of program work; What they believe their biggest limitations are to achieving their program goals; How they believe businesses can help (make sure they give a good list of ideas), etc.
3. Post the interview with your thoughts on how businesses and nonprofits can successfully work together to achieve a better community (in whatever way that manifests itself)
4. Notify me so I can link back to your findings

If interested, you can trackback or email me at - info1 AT ricksticks DOT com - ATTN: Aleah.

My organization of choice will be Zoocheck Canada - www.zoocheck.com. I will be interviewing Rob Laidlaw, founder and director, next week. I would like to have this wrapped up by February 25th.

The goal is to help connect businesses with nonprofits in a way that creates goodwill and community, in the greatest sense of the word.

2005-02-02

More evidence of ethics enmeshed with marketing

02/02/2005
There's a Reason Why Perdue Doesn't Give Plant Tours

I used to work for the ad agency that long handled Perdue's advertising account. Let me tell you--There's a reason why they don't do tours at chicken processing plants. It's something akin, if you can imagine, to walking into an operating room and being able to view the surgery from inside the wound.
This is interesting - not the story itself - but the fact that it is coming from BusinessWeek. Times are changing.

I can also say that I'm familiar with the disturbing charges against Perdue Farms. There happens to be one in the small Indiana town where I was born.

Not only does the plant have a terrible reputation for treating its employees poorly, they are also famous for using the services of migrant (allegedly illegal) workers because, frankly, they have a hard time rounding up enough desperate men and women in small town, USA to do the dangerous, dirty work.

I cannot imagine being in charge of an ad campaign for Perdue. What the hell do you say to make them sparkle in light of charges of human and animal abuses.

Evelyn asks "Who Says Apple is the Best?"

Wicked smart post from equally smart Evelyn Rodriguez on Brandchannel's recent brand survey.

Who Says Apple Is Hottest Brand in the World?

Been noting the buzz around Apple unseating Google as the hottest brand in the world in Google News and the blogosphere. One thing that seems to be missing from discussion, besides the fact one should always be wary of bowing down to survey results, are the respondents to the survey.

The survey, which was conducted by brandchannel.com, polled 1,984 users of its service worldwide. Most of brandchannel's users are in marketing. - Axcessnews.com

According to a survey of 2,000 advertising executives, brand managers and academics, Apple is the hottest brand in the world. - - Good Morning Silicon Valley, January 31, 2005

Geez, and they say the blogosphere is self-referential. Uh, last time I checked not everyone in the world is (a) an uber-geek (survey conducted online only) or (b) brand manager or ad exec intimately tied to Madison Avenue. If marketers are your market, these results matter or at least are interesting. (If not they mean squat - get to know YOUR market).

Moral of the story - Get all the facts. Ask your own questions. Don't just look to the "experts."

Doh!

Woman guilty of selling fake Duff beer

Tara Edith Woodford, 28, pleaded guilty in the Mackay Magistrates Court in northern Queensland state to three charges of dishonestly gaining money by false pretenses.


Who bought this, I'd like to know.

2005-02-01

For the Blogger on Your Shopping List

I am lovin' this shirt. Hey, I have three blogs, after all.

Some of the other geek gear is also cool.