Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Posting Centennial

The Seamless Brand has reached a milestone.

Today marks the 100th consecutive business day there has been a posting for you to discover thought-provoking ideas about uncommonly remarkable people and seamless brands.

Hopefully, these postings have been of some value.

From where we sit, the value has been immeasurable.

This initial foray into the world of social media has provided us with insight we may not have otherwise gained with respect to the "Groundswell" and the digital forces that are changing the way we communicate and do business in the 21st Century.

For that, we are thankful to many, including:

- The "Morning Coach" JB Glossinger, who demonstrated to TSB readers why it's time to forget about selling to the many and start speaking to the one.

- Colorado school teacher Karl Fisch who showed the planet from a "Fischbowl" how Shift Happens in 4:55.

- The "Wizard of Ads" Roy H. Williams, who offered TSB readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the "inside story" behind the stunning re-branding success enjoyed by 2008 Canadian Franchise Association Award of Excellence winner,

- Tyson Matheson and Janice Webster of WestJet who have provided TSB with key insight with respect to "seamless"branding and how to create an internal culture that drives external marketing efforts.

- The "Flirt Guru" Elizabeth Clark just for being her remarkable self.

- Social Media Mavens such as Andrew MacKinnon, Jason Falls, Amber MacArthur, Derek Hatchard and others too numerous to mention.

- Dan Martell of Spheric Technologies who was instrumental in getting this blog up and running in the first place. Could not do it without you brother!

- To the friendly and knowledgable staff in our TSB research department, otherwise known as Google, Wikipedia and YouTube.

And to the many faithful TSB readers like Darren Sears, Rick Nicholson, Ian Varty, Ken LeBlanc, Walter Melanson, Cheryl Karpen, Jeremy Demont, Debbie Allen, Steve MacDowall, Mike Shanks, Dave MacKenzie, Shannon Gavin, Marc Maurice, Pierre Martell, Kim George, Laura Booker, Eric Manning, Brenda Fair, Allan Power, Leanne Taylor, Steve Rae, Dale Betts, Don Schmincke, Kevin Donovan, Lynn Casey and hundreds of others all over the world that we have yet to meet in person, but hope we have positively impacted in some way. Many thanks to those who have forwarded these postings along to readers from as far away as Australia, Uruquay, Vietnam, Sweden, Nigeria, France, Spain and many other countries around the world. It would appear, Mr. "Purple Cow" himself, Seth Godin, was bang on about this "Tribes" thing.

TSB will be taking a short hiatus through the holiday season.

Time to re-charge the creative batteries.

We will also be reviewing feedback in terms of topics you would like to see covered, how this posting is formatted and how frequently we should be sending e-mail notifications of a new post (we've heard many views on this subject - some folks love getting a heads up in their inbox every day, others find it an intrusion ... ???).

We will resume our postings on each business day, when the rubber hits the runway for what promises to a wildly unpredictable year, bright and early on Monday, January 5, 2009. We may not be feeding the world or solving global warming with this blog, but hopefully, TSB has fed your imagination and energized your spirit in a way that makes your day a little bit brighter.

Until next time,


"Music is still above all else the thing that does it for me" BOB GELDOF

But wait ... that's not all!

It would appear TSB's friends at are counting the days!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Reading

Once presents have been opened and put away, egg nog consumed and relatives on their way, many forward thinking CEO's will be taking advantage of the Christmas break to catch up on their reading.

But their literary excursions will be focused less on relaxing forms of recreation.

They will instead, be reading to reflect and re-energize.

The peace on earth over the next week or so, combined with the perfect holiday book, can offer enormous insights into key areas of business and brand-building that could tip the balance for any company heading into 2009. And perhaps, more than ever, TSB believes organizations will succeed or fail next year for one reason; the people involved.

Because that's what an organization is.

To believe that organizations we belong to are a type of monolithic force that controls what we do is plain wrong, since organizations are made up of people. It is people who decide to function as a unified team or not.

But, just because everyone wears the same uniform doesn't mean they are a team.

Just ask the members of any political party or real estate brokerage where deep down, (no matter what they say to the contrary), every individual is truly out for themselves; nurturing, protecting and defending their own self-interest. For a team to truly be called a TEAM (as opposed to a work group) it must rally around one common goal that serves the greater good of all of its members with each player willing to sacrifice (to a point) their own self-interest for the good of the squad.

Few challenges are as daunting as the task of making the whole greater than the sum of its parts as far as people is concerned. Few did it better than legendary coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, who captured 5 NFL titles over a 7-year span back in the 1960's. Lombardi maintained that people who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.

But, how you get them do to that is another question all together, and if Lombardi were alive today, we'd be willing to gamble on 4th-and-1, that he would highly recommend one of the best books ever written on this subject.

Today on TSB, we offer a sneak peek at "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" from Patrick Lencioni.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that on a team:


However, this touchy-feely bromide fails to address the all-important aspect of personal accountability, necessary to take any team to the next level. Contrary to what many believe, there is an "I in T.E.A.M." since teams are made up of individuals, each with the potential to serve as a gain or a drain to the organization they belong to.

Think about your own organization.

Are you seeing enough players who care more about the logo on the front of their sweater than the name on the back?

Is it possible that the "Five Dysfunctions" are robbing your team of its true potential?

Could this be the right time to assess where your team is heading over the next 12 months and what it's going to take to correct its course?

What if the invesment of time in one book could help your team find comfort and joy in 2009?

Would that be a present worth giving?

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work" VINCE LOMBARDI

p.s... If your team is heading into 2009 somewhat battered and beaten, perhaps the words of coach Tony D'Amato will have a rallying effect as he helps the Miami Sharks implicitly understand the first of the "Five Dysfunctions".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Revisiting Mr. Slate

Since the launch of TSB in early August, our postings each and every business day have attracted some surprising and interesting comments, that don't always get posted in the "Comments" section.

Over time, we have come to learn why this happens.

For some, it's a technology issue. Folks find it difficult to get through the g-mail gatekeeper and post their views for other TSB readers to debate and discuss.

For others, it's a matter of enjoying the postings, but preferring to stay anonymous, but if they do have thoughts to pass along, they get sent via e-mail, keeping everything under the radar.

Today, we feature the thoughts of one such reader, who we will protect as far as privacy is concerned. The story was compelling enough that we believed TSB readers would enjoy making the connections about last weeks posting that examined the image of Mr. Slate, the often vilified boss of an employee named Flintstone. (Ever notice how Slate was always at the office when Fred showed up in the morning, and how he was always there long after the horn blew at quitting time?)

Here are the unedited words of a daily TSB reader:

Just finished reading today's TSB posting, another good one with a message I am sure others would not have picked up on from the cartoon. Your timing on this subject is perfect as we are wrapping up, no pun intended, 2008 which was a challenging year only to be heading into 2009 which could be one of the toughest a lot of employees have faced in their employment history to date.

I was just having a conversation with an individual a few weeks back as he approached me on what was his perception of management within our organization. While this employee is not Fred Flintstone, he is not a clock watcher and does seem to understand the "bigger picture" I was surprised as I listened to his views on management.

Since he is one of the employees that is pegged to take on more it provided me the opportunity to have him shadow myself for the last 10 days. I had him work out of my office and take part in all conversations, meetings, phone calls, projects, you get the picture, that I was involved in. This was done not because of my position, but to allow him to see what management is responsible for within our department and company and only had him work with me because he is one of my employees and I could set it up.

It proved to be a valuable experience for him as I had him not only shadow me but work the same hours, other than what needed to get done at home. Without any prompting, as I was waiting until tomorrow to have him provide me his take on the last couple of weeks, he asked if he could close the door yesterday afternoon and proceeded to tell me that while he thought he was involved in the organization, he now saw that he was only ankle deep in what is going on. He explained that his perception was not even close to reality, other than people's perception becomes their reality, if not proven otherwise.

The real proof will come now in how he reacts to situations to see if he truly does have a better appreciation of what he now needs to focus on to make that next step in his career path. Will this exercise be the catalyst that will help propel this person's career now or will he quickly forget all that he had the opportunity to participate in, it is in his hands for him to now make happen?

Just thought I would share this with you as I saw the parallels with a few of your postings lately.

Many other TSB readers have shared similar thoughts about the connections between the Mr. Slate posting and how it connected with the "I Love My Job" videos between produced by the franchise team out of the Waterloo/Wellington area in Ontario. With an ultra-competitive 2009 approaching, it doesn't appear many organizations will have much tolerance for a "Yabba-dabba-doo" work ethic.

At least, not those who are serious about growing their business and brands while others scramble just to stay afloat.

"Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor" ULYSSES S. GRANT

p.s.... Here is "I Love My Job" - The Sequel, starring Sue Machado

Friday, December 19, 2008

Riding the Royalty Lightning

Guitar-heavy grooves have helped a few rockers pack concert halls and sell millions of albums and CD's since the genre exploded in the early 1970's. Now there's a new gig to be had that doesn't involve hiring a crew of 50-plus roadies, using nine semi-trailers to move tons of equipments to various stadiums coast-to-coast ...

Headlining videogames.

Irving Azoff, whose Front Line Management manages Aerosmith and other major artists, says videogame deals can be“much more lucrative than anything you can do in the record business.” Industry insiders say bands can receive millions of dollars up front, plus a generous royalty on sales. In fact, Aerosmith - the Bad Boys from Boston - will make more money from its game deal signed earlier in 2008 with Activision than it has from any of its dozen-plus studio albums.

No sooner was the Aerosmith video game released back in June, speculation began about what the second band-based Guitar Hero game would be. Along with California cranium crushers Van Halen, the most mentioned group was Metallica, legendary heavy-metal maniacs from the Bay Area of San Francisco.

And now, it appears that the Guitar Hero version of Fuel, Fire and that which you Desire will be released this spring.

Guitar Hero: Metallica will feature parts of lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. To meet the "ferocity" of Metallica's songs, the game will feature an "Expert Plus" mode for drummers that allows them to add a second bass drum pedal. The game will consist of 45 songs, 28 being by Metallica, and 17 others from other artists that Metallica considers as "their personal favorites and influences from over the years".

Imagine doing this type of thing in the comfort of your own basement!

This one's for you Eages ...

Make sure you and Mrs. Eages have a safe and happy holiday season.

"If there was no Black Sabbath, I could still possibly be a morning newspaper delivery boy. No fun" LARS ULRICH

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cleaning the Slate

George is nearly bald, has only two hairs on his head, and wears a pair of black glasses with circular lenses.

He is also married with three children.

He will never be confused for that "other" George named Clooney.

The "George" we're referring to is on the job well before the employees show up and stays well after they leave. He rarely socializes, saddled as he is with the responsbility of running an orgnization many customers and employees depend on. Despite that, George is frequently cast as a villain or fall guy in the eyes of millions who have watched this drama unfold.

Meanwhile, the hero in this tale is often an overweight employee named Fred, who at the precise moment when the horn blows and quitting time has arrived, drops his work like a bad habit so he can skedaddle back to his friends and family.


Could George Slate be faulted for thinking something might be wrong with this picture?

That's right.

George Slate.

Today on TSB, we invite a fresh perspective on another uncommonly remarkable individual; the hardworking, often overlooked and underappreciated, Mr. Slate; the man who lights the company fire in the morning and still burning the midnight oil while Flinstone rushes home.

How many people pause long enough to consider the quandry George finds himself in his dealings with Flinstone, Joe Rockhead and others at the quarry. When Mr. Slate hires Fred to work for a fixed wage, Flintstone has the security of knowing what he will earn, but Slate cannot easily forecast profits. Market prices may rise or fall. Fred's productivity might end up being higher or lower than expected.

If you were to look ahead to how the quarry will fare in 2009, you can begin to imagine how any number of other factors might have an impact on the Slate Rock and Gravel Company. Not much has changed since the creation of "The Flinstones" in the 1960's and the 156 episodes that at times examined employer-employee relations. Like that espiode where Fred got the bright, albeit, naive idea that Slate coasted on easy street; sitting back with total control and nothing much to do in the way of real work. That was until the Great Gazoo allowed Flinstone to become boss for the day, which didn't work out so well for Fred after being badgered by phone calls and having to skip lunch after getting only a single carrot to eat.

Today on TSB we're pondering the eternal question ... how many Flinstones can one Slate carry?

How would that work in your organization?

When 5 o'clock do you hear echoes of "Yabba-dabba-do" as people stampede for the exists?
Or do you see a bunch still digging in to finish what needs to get done?

If you have a "Mr. Slate" or two working for you, consider yourself more than blessed this holiday season.

They form the bedrock of any great organization and there are never enough of them to go around.

"The nerve of that guy, waking up a man in his hammock" FRED FLINSTONE

p.s... And isn't it interesting to see while Mr. Slate is still back at the quarry working, Fred and his pal Barney found time to endorse other people's products.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Love My Job!

Isn't this the way it's supposed to feel like when we go to work in the morning?

At some point, it became"uncool" for many to say that you loved the job you worked at each day. Perhaps that's what happens when a job is seen as nothing but a means to an end, allowing you to provide for yourself and those around you. Rent, smokes, gas and groceries.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Yet, the people who create those jobs (entrepreneurs who risk time and capital) would love nothing more than to have an entire army of employees like Sue Machado, who LOVE their jobs and aren't afraid to wear the company logo on their hearts.

Kudos to Mike Shanks, Ryan Good and Dave Waters for creating the kind of environment that allows someone like Sue to feel this strongly about what it is they do to earn their daily bread. This video from these Ontario franchisees is a shining example of how the corporate culture from Home Office is starting to play out on the ground in communities across the country. With Chief Operating Officer Dale Betts and Advanced Coach Leanne Taylor leading the way, is moving to the next level of becoming "seamless" in the way HR strategies are aligned with external marketing efforts that support an overall brand essence; touching everyone from consumers to potential employees or investors.

You can also see evidence of how this thoughtful approach plays out in the way career opportunities are being positioned. Determined to put an end to "spaghetti recruiting" tactics plaguing so many sectors, believes a brand fully aware of its true persona can develop a message designed to speak to exactly the type of person they want to hire as opposed to placing another "bum in a seat".

From where TSB sits, it's far too easy to point the finger of blame at resource-sucking employees if a company hasn't done anything to create an environment that will foster a passion that exists within all of us. Deep down, there is a universal hunger to find that one vocation that feels like a vacation. To have the kind of job where you can't wait to show up the next morning just to what happens next. is creating that kind of environment.

Who knows what will happen when more companies realize maybe the reason they have so many bums are on their hands might have something to do with how they're getting them to sit in those seats in the first place.

How many "Sue's" do you have on your team?

If not, are you speaking a language "Sue" can believe in?

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies” LARRY BOSSIDY

p.s ... Could not resist throwing in David Letterman's take on this subject.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Story Theatre

Walking into a hotel conference room, a veteran professional speaker is sitting a little too high on his own intellectual horse.

Like all that - and a bag of chips.

Ten years in the business, earning a living as a full-time speaker with thousands of rave reviews can do that to a guy. But, something from an e-mail promo is telling him there is something to be learned about his chosen profession. From someone else who does it for a living.

So the speaker jumps into his car one day and travels three hours to join about 30 of his peers, to listen to what yet another so-called expert has to say. At first glance, Doug doesn't wow many people with his physical appearance.

Skinny guy. Funny looking glasses. Hair a little on the wild side.

Brad Pitt he is not.

Brimming with confidence as Doug's seminar begins, the speaker, takes his seat and slowly slips under a tidal wave of humility. The insight from the American presenter begins to wash over the room in Poseidon-like fashion. Within an hour, the speaker turned student, feels like he is drowning; starting to question whether he really knows his craft as well as he thinks he does.

It is eight months later.

And a humbled Canadian is still grateful for the lessons he has learned and keeps learning from a dude named Doug, who many in the world of professional speaking refer to as a "genius".

Maybe not at the Einstein or Edison level.

To the best of anyone's knowledge, Doug has yet to split an atom or solve global warming but he has come up with a winning formula to help anyone turn a nag of an otherwise ho-hum presentation into a thoroughbred worthy of Triple Crown contention.

Ladies and Gentlemen ... TSB is honored to present on centre stage, the author of "Story Theatre Method", based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado ...

The incomparable, Doug Stevenson.

Thanks to the "Nine Steps of Story Structure" and application of "Story Theatre Method", Doug can show anyone how to make speaking magic with nothing more than a microphone. His approach turns the most mundane of subjects into captivating tales that persaude and inspire.

Without props, gimmicks or powerpoint.

Just a compelling story and a way to present it.

If you need to deliver presentations as part of what you do for a living, why not study from one of the very best in the business.

You - and your audience - will be grateful you did.

"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood" WILLIAM PENN

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lunar or Looney?

The boss marches in to a company meeting this week and announces an objective for 2009 so preposterous, so off the wall, you start hearing the faint opening strains of the "Twilight Zone" echoing in your head.

Doo-doo, doo-doo... Doo-doo, doo-doo ....

The idea is so "out there" because, for starters, the technology and the systems to support it haven't been invented yet. In other words, the boss is trying to sell you on a concept with slightly less credibility than a fairy tale because stuff he is blabbering about does not exist. Could you be faulted for thinking this guy is trying to play Peter Pan on your time and dime?

But, what if those events actually unfolded this week in your organization as you look ahead to a wildly unpredictable 2009?

How you feel about the boss and his "vision" may depend to a large degree on the value you place on the lessons of history. Because it is only through viewing events and people through the crystal clear picture of the past, are we able to recognize what is likely to surface from murky and muddied oceans of the future. Study the lessons of history and you detect patterns that allow you to a safe, steady course - that many others will view as wildly risky. The challenge of history is to recover what can be learned from the past, introduce it to the present and use it as a launching pad for the next chapter your brand is about to write in 2009.

What is about to happen to your organization over the next 12-24 months has happened previously with a different company, under different circumstances but rest assured, it has already happened. As a king named Solomon once mentioned, "There is nothing new under the sun".

Picture yourself in attendance at another company meeting, but one being held on September 12, 1962 at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

The idea was later proven correct.

The boss just didn't get to see it happen.

How would JFK's sagacious remarks resonate within your organization if you imagine the following?:

SPACE = New markets and opportunities afforded by the Digital Economy.
SPACECRAFTS = New technology
SOVIETS = Your #1 competitor
SAGE = Visionary leader

Visionary leaders tend to rely on history to help determine if the ship is on sailing on a course towards the Port of Opportunity or an Iceberg Called Disaster. Jack Kennedy may have been listening and taking notes when his predecessor in the White House, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as saying, “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him”. As a leader willing to run the risk of being ridiculed, Kennedy set the wheels in motion for a project that entailed the guys actually tasked with trying to put the pieces in place, would have no idea how they would be able to complete the project.

And these guys WERE rocket scientists!

JFK shared his vision at a time when the idea of reaching an unknown celestial body 240,000 miles away with a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, would have been deemed impossible. No one had yet assembled rockets with a precision better than the finest watch, able to carry the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival; send it with a man to the moon and return him safely to earth while re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, generating heat about half of the temperature of the sun.

And, oh, by the way, we need this done before the end of the decade.

Oh, and one more thing, we're lagging behind our main competitor on this one and we're already two years into this decade.

History has shown NASA was able to pull it off, when Neil radioed back to the guys in Houston, that as of July 20, 1969 his small step on a lunar surface signalled a giant leap for mankind. As it turns out, there was nothing looney about JFK's lunar vision.

In his landmark work "Good to Great", Jim Collins determined that a B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as a key element that propelled a few great companies to a level of greatness unparalleled by thousands of others. Collins points to the JFK "Moon Speech" as an example of a B.H.A.G. that galvanized an uncommon effort from otherwise common people in the pursuit of an uncommon objective. Other B.H.A.G. examples include:

GOOGLE: Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
BOEING: Bet the pot on the B-17, 707 and 747.
SONY: Change the worldwide image of Japanese products as poor quality; create a pocketable transistor radio.
DISNEY: Build Disneyland - and build it to our image, not industry standards.

At one time or another, every great company has confronted the swirling seas of uncertainty with bold initiatives that leave competitors in their wake. New markets, unforeseen threats, changing technology and tough competitors aren't about to pack up and go away anytime soon. Nothing has really changed in terms of business challenges other than the speed of change, now approaching Mach I.

Unprecedented change awaits in 2009.

Will it be forced upon you?

Or dictated by you?

Does your organization have a B.H.A.G. for 2009 and beyond?

"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream" NEIL ARMSTRONG

Friday, December 12, 2008

Man and a Microphone

You are getting ready to walk on stage.

And face hundreds of complete strangers.

Who knows, maybe, there will be over 2500 in the building that night, watching your every move.

every ... word.

Without so much as a podium to hide behind.

Or a crutch to lean on called a powerpoint presentation.

It's just you and them.

The only friend you have is ... your microphone.

One of the perks of being a professional speaker is the opportunity to cross paths with uncommonly remarkable people who exemplify the word "professional". In other words, these are the people who are so good at what they do - and make it look so easy - you start to think even you can do it.

Given what TSB readers know about the Talent Equation ("Ain't Talkin' Bout Talent" - posted Oct. 16/08), Derek falls into that category.

Derek is a pro.

Just give him a mike and watch him go.

After sharing a stage with Derek Edwards at different events in different cities from Saskatoon to Halifax over the past 18 months, I thought you might enjoy his unique perspective on subjects ranging from customer service to the role of the news media.

And the way he makes it look so easy.

Edwards, might be the second most famous person out of Timmins, Ontario to have ever graced a stage with his presence. He recently completed a 60 city, cross-Canada tour with his one-man show, "The Other Shoe Drops". Someday, when we bump into each other again, I want to be able to tell him how much I enjoyed his show at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, NB.

Next week, we will feature a segment with THE man who is THE master at teaching you how to work some of your own magic with the mike.

Until we meet again ... a la prochaine!

"It's important to give it all you have while you have the chance"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where Have You Gone Tank Man?

- Apathetic voter turnout in the recent Canadian federal elections.

- The plight of the Big Three automakers.

- Growing unrest with world financial markets.

- Energy and environmental concerns ...

... has TSB wondering.

Is it possible North Americans are getting restless.
And increasingly ready to embrace a revolutionary spirit, personified nearly 20 years ago by "Tank Man"?

A moment in history when an ordinary, otherwise unremarkable citizen decided, "Enough Already"!

The story of "Tank Man" and his iconic image suggests each of us has an obligation to stand up for what we believe is right. The fate of "Tank Man" is unknown, as is his real identity. He may have survived the events of Tienanmen Square, or he may have been arrested and executed.

Are North Americans being pushed to the point where they believe some things are worth risking it all?

What is it about the story of "Tank Man" you identify with?

And how does someone summon that level of courage?

Is it something that exists in all of us?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" MARGARET MEAD

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Digging the Doghouse?

Bill Bishop sent me a heads up on this last week.

The Vartarian One reminded me yesterday.

Just in time for the holidays, JC Penney has launched a controversial, viral video campaign helping specific gender deal with the overwhelming challenge of coming up with the perfect gift idea for their significant other.

Not surprisingly, the JC Penney campaign is generating mixed reactions.

TSB went straight to Michelle Miller's blog to find out what the author of the "Soccer Mom Myth" would have to say, and the way the WonderBranding guru sees it, the "Doghouse" is nothing more than a cheeky take on the gifts men buy that, much to their own bewilderment, backfire and explode in their face.

Others, however, are not as amused.

One married friend, who declined to be identified, observed the "Doghouse" is nothing more than a familiar recipe for an annoying commercial, complete with less than flattering gender stereotypes, mixed in with a predictable plot and way overcooked. (Timing out at just under 5 minutes). The musing concluded with a question, wondering why there is no doghouse for women?

From where JC Penney sits, executive VP Beryl Raff maintains, "women love gifts that are bright, shiny and beautiful and guys, that means diamond earrings or a pendant, not a vacuum cleaner.” To add fuel to this gender debate, JC Penney has partnered with Facebook® Connect allowing vengeful females the opportunity to put "guilty" parties in the doghouse for all to see. And if the gift-challenged guy, just needs a “tap on the nose,” he can be sent an e-mail warning, giving him one last chance to avoid the doghouse this holiday season.

The JC Penney campaign is an interesting exercise in an attempt to create a strong positive reaction through the use of a potential negative backlash. Impossible to have one without the other, otherwise the message gets buried in the white noise of "adspeak". Since most ads are designed not to offend, they rarely provide maximum return on investment, as "vanilla nice" language is left languishing in the "mushy middle" between magentic poles labelled Love and Hate.

JC Penney has ventured out to the skinny part of the branch on this one in an effort to sample retail fruit through the holidays.

Have they struck out?

Or did they hit one out of the park?

What says you?

"Women get the last word in every argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument" AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Rae of Insight

Steve and I wound up being published in the same book together before we ever had a chance to meet face-to-face.

But that's another story, or "People Stories", to be more precise as we both followed a hunch that neither had any idea where it would take us.

Since meeting Steve in person in April of 2006, it has become evident this folksinging husband to Carolyn, and father to Kelsey and Graham, has plenty to offer anyone who is serious about taking their business to another level.

Steve Rae is a veteran Wizard of Ads partner, a Troubadour for Truth in Advertising and today he makes the first of what we hope will be many more guest appearances on TSB. Steve, who also owns two radio stations in Ontario, is a gifted writer and speaker who passed along these insights we are delighted to share with you today.

(and oft’ times old ones too!)
By: Steve Rae

When you came in to work today, did you just about die when you had to make a decision on your advertising? If you didn’t recoil into a fetal position and your brain’s neurons actually fired up, on what did you base your decision? Gut feel?

Here are the most common advertising mistakes made by new businesses everywhere. I hope you don’t find yourself making these when you are launching your business and I especially hope you’re not making them if you’re one of the old dogs. I don’t mean to belittle your decision-making, but I see it every day and it causes me pain every time.

1. Expecting to open the door and have everybody beat a path to it

When you start a new business you are totally consumed with it. You can think of nothing else, and that feeling of total absorption rules how you think about your business and how you think others feel about it too. It is natural for you to think that everyone interested in what you offer will flock to your store like sheep being herded by a border collie. Sorry to break it to you, but that won’t happen. The sooner you understand this, the better off you will be. I deal with many well-known, well-established companies who still are amazed by the number of people in their trading area who don’t even know they exist let alone have ever shopped there. Hard to believe, but true.

2. Not making any room in your budget for advertising.

“I’ll advertise when I get more established and get some money coming in.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that. What usually happens is the money NEVER comes in and the business is always behind, so they never get to any promotion until they advertise their closing-out sale. One prime form of advertising is your location. Sometimes, an outstanding geographic location of your shop doesn’t even need much more advertising than eye-popping signage. However the less appealing your business’s location, the more you need to spend on alternate forms of advertising. Budget for it.

3. Not fully utilizing your available signage.

Your easiest and cheapest form of advertising will almost always be your signage. Nothing stimulates the purchasing power of the shopping public more than windows covered with a big sign saying “Opening Soon.” Capitalize on your location and the traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) with a sign or signs that stand out from the rest of the business signs around you. Don’t allow a graphic designer to create just another sign that fits in with all the rest; be bold, creative, different - but above all, make sure you do it right. The number of new businesses that skimp on signage is almost endless. A cheap, ill-conceived sign tells the world you really aren’t ready to play on the same turf as your competitors. Who intuitively knows that? Your potential customers. And guess who won’t shop your store because of it? Those same potential customers. They write you off without even giving you a chance.

4. Expecting instant results.

Think of advertising your new business much like a farmer thinks of a seed. You plant it in the minds of your potential customers and like a farmer, nurture it and allow it to grow. Farmers do not expect seeds to germinate and grow to a mature crop instantly, why do you with your advertising? The deeper the commitment to allow the advertising seed to grow, the better you will fare in the long run. Advertising takes a long time to grow, give yourself time to reap the harvest.

5. Not having a strategy for advertising.

You should know exactly why you are advertising, what the core value of your business is and how to communicate it. If you allow an advertising rep to convince you that some goofy, wacky, far-out ad is the way to attract the attention of the consumer, then your ad campaign will never truly reflect your business unless you are goofy, wacky and far-out. Plan your ad strategy with the attention to detail that you used when you planned your business.

6. Using Hype instead of Truth.

Today’s consumer is so sick of hype that they immediately discount it and often ignore it. Think of your own case, when you see SALE - UP TO 75% OFF, what is your immediate reaction? Are you like most of us who say, “Oh sure, they’ll have a few items at 75% off, but not many”? You have discounted the hype in your mind. Instead, truth will set you free, but it must be delivered in a manner that peels back the layers of truth like layers of skin on an onion, exposed for all to see.

7. Not fully utilizing your website.

Many new businesses think of a website as an add-on to come later, but for many, a website creates an initial link to the customer who wants to do some research before visiting your store or service. The business owner who says, “If I can just talk to a prospect, then I can convince them to buy my product” misses the fact that there are a variety of personality types among prospects. Many would rather die than subject themselves to a sales pitch. They want to do their homework before they open your door - and open their wallets! Give these methodical types the option of learning about your business from your well-constructed website and watch your sales climb.

Create a website for those who like to be prepared before they make a decision, tell one story, and make it uniquely yours.

8. Trying to be all things to all people.

It depends on what your business is, but more often than not, a new business tries to be all things to all people and ends up not being anything to anyone. Make the choice of what your business stands for and put all of your weight behind it. Think of your business as the horn of a rhinoceros; with the full weight of the beast behind it, it can crash through walls. Plan your ads accordingly; tell the one story that is uniquely yours and tell it over and over again.

9. Settling for advertising that looks and sounds like others.

How can people be interested and excited about your advertising if it sounds and/or looks the same as most others - read: boring? The saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is absolute hogwash when it comes to advertising. Your goal is to be fresh, new and exciting. Lead the way with something non-conformist and gauge the reaction. Even when reaction is strong, you must remember there will most likely be negative as well as positive reactions...and that’s a good thing. Roy H. Williams says in his book The Wizard of Ads, “ The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” There can be no strong positive reaction unless there is a strong negative reaction. Be prepared for it and rejoice when it happens.

10. Not using a business mentor.

You’ve just opened your new business or are just about to. Get ready to make a blunder of some sort. You are going to make some bone-headed decisions in the next little while that you will look back on in the years to come and say, “What was I thinking?” We all do it, it’s inevitable, get over it. A wise person once said, “Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly at first until you get it right.”

But…one way to navigate through this numbskull period is to find a wise person who has already made those mistakes. A smart person (you) then learns from these mentors how to avoid making those mistakes altogether.

If you are embarking on a new enterprise, congratulations! You are joining a business sector that generates a significant portion of the Gross Domestic Product of this country – the small business. I encourage you to be one of the entrepreneurs that does it right. Get the answers before you begin, not after you’ve launched and wasted your precious time and money.


Steve Rae

Thanks for today's insight Steve!

Is there anything in the TEN COMMON MISTAKES that apply to some of the challenges you face with your brand? 2009 promises to be a business year like no other in terms of its mix of unpredictability, uncertainty and potential opportunity.

What kind of ride do you plan on taking?

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming..."F*ck, what a trip!" (AUTHOR UNKNOWN)

p.s ... This contribution from the Leo Burnett Agency was too good to pass up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Branded Networker

What ranks as the undisputed, most under-appreciated and under-utilized business and career-building skill?

Could it be the approach that allowed Mary to help her son Bill and his flaky friends transform their fledgling company from a small player in the Pacific Northwest into a global mega-corporation that changed our world?

Mary was the kind of woman who thought nothing of jumping in to help lead a worthwhile cause. In the mid-seventies, she became the first woman to serve as president of the King County's United Way. Later, she was appointed to the national board and in 1983 became the first woman to lead the United Way of America. While she served on that executive committee, Mary formed a friendship with a powerful CEO, who happened to mention that his company was shopping for an operating system to power its first personal computer.

And that’s how the introduction was arranged for Mary’s 24-year old boy Bill, to meet the powers-that-be at IBM. A few weeks later, I.B.M. took a chance by hiring Bill’s company to supply MS-DOS, a boost that eventually made Microsoft the world's largest software company for personal computers.

Business historians agree that the IBM deal is what launched Microsoft into the corporate stratosphere, which resulted to a large degree, from the networking skills displayed by Mary Gates.

Typically, a referral generates 80% more results than a cold call while about 75% of people get their jobs through networking. However, this subject hardly warrants a mention in most books about business leadership or sales development. MBA courses barely touch this topic with a 39-and-a-half foot pole. Today, many companies and careers sputter and stall by failing to plug into the connectors and rainmakers who build and maintain relationships, vital to business and professional success.

Is it because networking gets a bad rap? Could it be some folks confuse networking with:

a) Schmoozing?
b) Pitching products or services?
c) Canned "infomercials"?
d) Hunting down leads?
e) All of the above?

Although Mary has since passed on, she exemplified this clarifying definition of networking which is: “Discovering what you can do for someone else to build extensive, long-term business and social connections”

Has the practice of networking changed since Mary’s heyday?

Yes and no.

It may come as no surprise that people still like to do business with people they like, know and trust, however, the methods used to build and nurture key relationships has changed dramatically. Now, more than ever, networking requires an element of “branding” for anyone serious about capitalizing on Word-of-Mouth … and Word-of-Mouse. Think of it as two business disciplines – networking and branding – converging as one through a concept we refer to as “The Branded Networker”.

There at least 12 Elements that allow a "Branded Networker" to flourish:

1. Be UnCommonly Remarkable

Meet Scott Ginsberg. He wears a nametag constantly (24/7/365), in an effort to make people friendlier. Scott has become known as "The Nametag Guy" ever since he put one on in 2004 and never took it off as. Scott understands the essence of a brand - personal or business - and how it can take on a life of its own.

2. Be a Farmer

Networking is about FARMING as opposed to hunting. It's about planting seeds that one day may bear fruit in the form of a long-term business or social relationship. Networking etiquette demands that you are not there to SELL anything, other than yourself and ways you can help others. It's about beginning a relationship, not closing a deal. And while it's not cool to use networking to sell, you will find it tough to sell without networking.

The other ten elements will be shared tomorrow when "The Branded Networker" is presented through the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce

One of the best "Branded Networkers", TSB has ever encountered is Elizabeth Clark from Manchester England. As the self-styled, well-branded "Flirt Guru", Elizabeth also offers a unique female perspective on another potentially awkward aspect of networking.

Ready to be schooled in "Breast Etiquette"?

We come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing. Our worth measured only by what we were able to give along the way. Can you think of the last time you saw a U-Haul following a hearse on the way to the cemetery

"Branded Networkers" like Mary, Scott and Elizabeth vividly demonstrate a belief that the Life of Business and the Business of Life is focused less on sole purpose but, more so on our soul purpose.

Is there a larger purpose you could discover through networking?

What impact would it have on your brand?

"A brand is a story embedded in the mind of the market" KAREN POST

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Hottest Brand in the Land ...

October 29, 1976.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special airs on ABC Television.

Watching on a newly-installed cable TV set, a Maritime teenager, two days shy of his 15th birthday; is awestruck by this sight and sound explosion.

This marked the first time KISS appeared on national TV and helped fuel their ultimate rocket ride to the top of the rock and roll music heap.

Lately, TSB has picked up considerable rumour mill buzz about an upcoming KISS concert appearance in nearby Halifax which begs an interesting question:

If KISS is the undisputed #1 rock brand in the land with more than 3,000 merchandising licenses, what other acts round out the Top 5?

Following an informal straw poll over a recent lunch involving no fewer than four other rock aficionados, here are the other top contenders:

#2. Rolling Stones

#3. AC/DC

#4. Madonna

#5. Aerosmith

It will be interesting to see how this debate heats up on TSB, especially when one considers their selections with the added perspective of KISS branding mastermind Gene Simmons, interviewed here by AdWeek.

But wait ... there's more from this lizard-tongued devil.

Simmons, who never hesitates to offer an opinion, advises all entrepreneurs to be voracious readers and also believes it's wise to be nice to rich people, failing to remember the last time a poor person gave anyone a job.

Earlier this summer, KISS lead singer Paul Stanley appeared on one of the few TV programs devoted to brand, CNBC's The Big Idea, hosted by Donny Deutsch.

His list of the Top Five factors for individual success are:

1) Do a brutal assessment of yourself
2) Stick to your guns
3) Aim higher
4) Nothing wrong with being a little naive
5) Nothing is impossible

That being said, what techniques could you apply to achieve an explosive level of brand success?

What is it that you respect about the KISS approach to branding?

"I asked my daughter when she was 16, What's the buzz on the street with the kids? She's going, to be honest, Dad, most of my friends aren't into Kiss. But they've all been told that it's the greatest show on Earth" ACE FREHLEY

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reality Guy

You can always count on Guy Kawasaki to get you thinking first thing in the morning.

As a disruptive marketing maven and evangelist, this Guy is in a class by himself.

And now the Hawaiian hockey hotshot and Buffalo Sabres fan is back with a new book entitled "Reality Check".

Guy was one of the original Apple employees and was a key player in the marketing of the MacIntosh in 1984. He is currently a Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm which specializes in high-technology start-up firms located in Silicon Valley.

He is also the author of eight books including Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and at

Kawasaki has an intense belief that marketing should accurately reflect the products and services and that they bring real value to users. As Guy sees it, interactions with customers should be positive experiences for both parties.

Is this Guy challenging any realities in your world?

"Leverage your brand. You shouldn't let two guys in a garage eat your shorts" GUY KAWASAKI

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blahg, Blahg, Blahg

Everyone over the age of 40 should be so fortunate as to sit down and spend time with a guy like Andrew.

There is much to be learned from a self-described social media junkie who can look you in the eye and swear he has NEVER, EVER, had a job.

People like Andrew only gravitate towards projects they can become totally immersed in. (Is there any other kind of immersing? You are either immersed or you are not ... aren't you?)

Leveraging his mastery of all things web, this on-line strategist finds delight in solving complex issues in a way that even old fogeys can understand (again, are there any other kind of fogeys but old ones?).

Andrew gives me considerable hope that before too long TSB will adopt Twitter, Digg and a number of other web platforms designed to improve its reach and connect with even more great webcats. Who knows, maybe social media heavyweights like Michael Ian Black, Jason Falls, Kevin Rose, Leo Laporte and DrewMack's personal fave, the ubiquitous Amber Mac will be sufficiently intrigued by what gets shared in this space each and every business day.

Spend less than half-an-hour with Andrew and over-40 types discover things like the impending demise of POWNCE, as well as a never-ending list of fascinating people to follow like author Christian Lander and his Broca-busting musings titled "Stuff White People Like".

Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions is joined on the DrewMack "Intended Reading List" by Michael Ian Black's offering, My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face.

Spend a little time with Andrew and it begins to dawn on you that most companies don't want to invest serious time and energy into forging connections with their customers via social media. Many want to simply start up a blog or Facebook page, maybe give some free stuff to bloggers, and hope for an avalanche of sales. Guys like DrewMack help anyone keenly interested in this subject understand that social media are just tools to help you engage with your community in a way that will generate positive R.O.I. (Return On Influence). But, whatever you do, and no matter what platforms are used, you've gotta keep it real.

Like Andrew MacKinnon who is 25 years old and wise beyond his years.

TSB hopes he approves this message.

"The problem is, these companies don't want to work. They'd much rather give an agency $100,000 to run ads in the New York Post, commercials, pizza boxes, direct mail, and Stern radio ads, and they're done, right? They're clowns, don't feel bad for them. Let them die!"

p.s... Tried, but could not resist throwing this social media gem into today's "mix".
Let's see how "Meatball Sundae" man Seth Godin himself rises to the "Will It Blend?" challenge.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making Da Vinci Stick

Whoever coined the phrase "curiosity killed the cat" never met Mark Fox, the Heath brothers or Leonardo Da Vinci.

Mark, Chip, Danny and Lenny tend to view the world from a horizontal, broad-based perspective as opposed to vertical, linear fashion. All four are fascinated by patterns revealing the connectedness of things. Their scope ranges far and wide before plunging narrow and deep.

Would you like a glimpse of the world they see?

But before you do, here are their credentials:

Leonardo Da Vinci: (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519)
Thanks to Wikipedia, we learn that Leonardo was a polymath: architect, anatomist, sculptor, engineer, inventor, geometer, musician, futurist and painter. In fact, he is considered to be one of the greatest painters who ever lived, famous for his realistic paintings, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, as well as for influential drawings such as the Vitruvian Man. Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, notably conceptually inventing the helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, the calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and other ideas too numerous to mention in this short paragraph. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime, as modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy. But Da Vinci greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, astronomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water (hydrodynamics).

Chip Heath:
Chip is a Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He is co-author of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, which has been a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller. Chip's research examines why certain ideas—ranging from urban legends to folk medical cures, from Chicken Soup for the Soul stories to business strategy myths—survive and prosper in the social marketplace of ideas. These “naturally sticky” ideas spread without external help in the form of marketing dollars, PR assistance, or the attention of leaders.

Dan Heath:
Dan is a Consultant to the Policy Programs for the Aspen Institute. He is the co-author of Made to Stick and is also a columnist for Fast Company magazine. He has spoken and consulted on the topic of "making ideas stick" with organizations such as Microsoft, Nestle, the American Heart Association, Nissan, and Macy's.

Mark Fox:
Mark was the youngest person ever promoted to Chief Engineer on the Space Shuttle program at the age of 31. He is a leading authority on teaching practical creative thinking techniques for business with an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering to go with his MBA. Some of Mark’s unique accomplishments include increasing e-business sales 600 percent in one year, receiving NASA’s highest recognition of “Launch Honoree” at the age of 23, and in his spare time he has built a 10,000-pound rocket and constructed his own airplane.

Fox is also an author, breaking new ground with Da Vinci and the 40 Answers.

As he explains, "This is not a “_______ for Dummies” book".

Da Vinci and the 40 Answers will require you to think as opposed to lose yourself in a John Grisham mystery or Danielle Steele novel. With a focus on creativity, innovation, marketing, and advertising, Mark's book is intended to help you see your business and life through the eyes of several great thinkers: Leonardo Da Vinci, Genrich Altshuller, Buckminster Fuller, and Walt Disney. He sharpens the focus of their collective creativity through the lens of The 40 Universal Answers, founded on the principles of TRIZ – the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.

In his study of hundreds of thousands of patents, Altshuller (father of TRIZ) determined there are only about 1,500 basic problems – and each of these can be solved by applying one or more of the 40 universal answers. One of the goals of Mark's book is to explain the 40 Answers, or principles, as ways to view and conquer problems or opportunities from a unique perspective.

TSB has a hunch that Fox has been paying attention to what the Heath brothers were saying in Made to Stick..

Mark Fox is a rocket scientest who is on a mission to help everyday people solve problems without having to achieve that level of academic excellence. Kudos to Mark for embracing the principles of Made to Stick, which has been ensconced in the TSB library for some time, but Da Vinci and the 40 Answers is about to make its appearance any day now.

It has been said many times that readers are leaders and that any success you enjoy will be primarily influenced by the 5 people you spend the most time with and the books that you read. Books are also a great way to get to know people like Mark, Chip, Danny and Lenny a little bit better.

What is on your reading list these days?

And where has curiosity taken you?

"What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Brian's Song

Brian used to be able to give blood.

Didn’t know who he was helping but knew it always felt rewarding to know that somehow, someway he had helped somebody in need.

Then, one day, back in the early nineties, Brian’s doctor advised him maybe it wasn’t such a good idea anymore. Medical concerns dictated it was time to change some of his lifestyle habits, including his regular visits to blood donor clinics.

What do I do? Guess there’s not much choice given what he said so it looks like I gotta follow doctor’s orders”.

It was about this time that Brian receives a telephone call from a Moncton hockey personality known around the rinks as “Jai Beau” (I’m Beautiful), This hyperactive, self-proclaimed hockey social butterfly was asking about the possibility of Brian’s organization sponsoring a an all-star team to play a high school team in Riverview, trying to raise money to go to Europe. And, with that first game, (played at the drafty and frigid Byron Dobson Arena) largely inspired by conversations involving Brian, Jai Beau and a New Brunswick hockey legend named Oscar was how the Tim Hortons All-Stars were conceived. Following that game, an ad-hoc version of that team took to the ice and played one-off events in small towns such as Buctouche and Richibucto before deciding to take the show on the road, so to speak and develop an annual Maritime tour.

As anyone who has been involved in an organization knows, one guy may come up with an idea, but it takes another type of person to make sure all the great ideas get put in place.

Brian has been “that guy” for the Tim Hortons All-Stars.

But, what do you do when “The Boss” who assembled the team, recruited a support crew, organized the logistical, equipment and transportation aspects and did most of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting while raising more than $1.5 million dollars for charity decides its time to call it a day? As far as the players on the Tim Hortons All-Stars are concerned, you could look up the word "irreplaceable" in the Webster's dictionary and every single one of those fun-loving, prank-minded pucksters would swear they see a picture of their general manager Brian Foster smiling back at them.

Over the past 14 seasons, the Tim Hortons All-Stars, loaded with ex-NHL’ers and other Maritime pros have played over 100 games (mostly against local law enforcement agencies), raising more than $1,500,000 for local charities. Thanks to Brian’s vision and in keeping with the values of the Tim Hortons brand, it was decided to make these games a fun-filled, family-oriented evening of entertainment; the Maritimes answer to the Flying Fathers and the Harlem Globetrotters.

As Brian explains, none of this would have been possible without the selfless commitment of a most interesting cast of characters. Brian looks at his experience with the Tim Hortons All-Stars this way: “It’s kind of like the way you look at your kids and the pride you feel that you helped bring this wacky group together for a common cause. We’ve had all types, readers and chatters; business guys and wise guys; clowns and comics. Hopey tells the same baseball stories, Jai Beau never shuts up, Eddie is the foil for every joke and when Oscar talks – everybody listens. I guess it’s kind of like hockey’s version of the Dirty Dozen”.

One night in particular is forever etched in Foster’s mind, as an unusual story developed while the All-Stars visited the Aitken Centre in Fredericton.

"Just before the game somebody told me that Everett Sanipass and his father had shot a moose on the Salmon River Road and that someone else from Big Cove was coming over to pick it up and bring it back with us to Moncton. I turned and asked Ronnie LeBlanc, they’re going to put a moose under the bus? Is that legal? Well, Ronnie is a Moncton lawyer and he is telling me as long as there is a native on the bus, you can transport wild game. But I’m not sold on this idea of bring a moose back to Moncton on our bus and now I’m sweating, I start to imagine my boss finding out and now I’m worried about losing my job. So, I walk over and tell Everett there’s no way can we have wild game going back with us and we better be more concerned with just playing tonight’s hockey game. Everett tells me not to worry, assuring me he will make other arrangements.

During the third period, the bus driver’s wife comes over and tells me that a pick-up truck has backed up and they’re putting something on our bus. She tells me only that it’s huge and doesn’t know what it is. She just thought I should know.

Now I’m steaming.

I march right over, grab Everett and start telling him in no uncertain terms to get that go&%@*am thing off of our go&%@*am bus!!!

He looks me straight in the eye, apologizes and says he is sorry to have upset me in any way and he will make sure his uncle finds another way to transport the moose back to Moncton. He seemed really sincere so I walk away thinking, I’m not even going to look, I’ll trust them and we’ll all get home in one piece. The moose won’t be loose … at least not with us".

Following the post-game reception, the Tim Hortons All-Stars bus is packed and ready to go and at about 10:30 that night, is heading across the St. Margaret’s Bridge when two Fredericton City police cruisers start following.

After about a minute, the flashing lights are turned on.

The bus slows down and pulls over.

"Right away, the fun, frivolity and the jokes die down as guys start saying ‘Put the booze away, shut up and everyone just act normal’. The driver pulls over and an officer comes on board and asks Jim to see his driver’s license. Then, much to my horror, I can see from my window how the second officer is opening up the bottom part of the bus and now he is walking around to get on board.

The second officer walks up the steps and announces they have had reports about the illegal transport of wildlife and he needs to know who is in charge of this operation. He no sooner says that when all the players are pointing fingers at me and in that moment I say something they have NEVER let me forget,

“Not My Bus”.

The officer though is not buying and he invites me to step off the bus, saying he wants me to explain what is it we are transporting and by now I am dying inside thinking my whole career is about to come to an and of course, the players are watching this and they’re busting their guts, biting the backs of their seat cushions to keep themselves from laughing out loud.

As soon as I step off the bus, the officers let me in on the joke and to this day, I shake my head and smile every time I think about that night in Fredericton when the Tim Hortons All-Stars set me up and nailed me to the cross with that line.

“Not My Bus”.

There are far too many stories to mention, but rest assured Brian treasures the many storytellers who have played and traveled with the Tim Hortons All-Stars over the past dozen years or so.

This roster reads like a who’s who of Maritime hockey stars.

At any given time, the Tim Hortons All-Stars have featured NHL’ers such as Ray Bourque, Charlie Bourgeois, Rollie Melanson, Colin White, J.P. Bordeleau, Mac Davis, Cam Russell and Mike Eagles and other former pros, including Oscar and Deny Gaudet, Marc Hussey, Denis Gingras, Robbie Forbes, Kent Paynter, Doug McGrath, Brian Ford and Sheldon Currie.

After hearing news about the farewell tour, Currie’s brother, Tony, a former 50-goal man in the American Hockey League as well as a solid pro with the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers felt it was important to acknowledge Foster’s contribution. Tony took it upon himself to compose a recent e-mail that best expressed the sentiments shared by his Tim Hortons All-Stars teammates.

“Though it has been a few years, I can't express enough, my gratitude for your efforts in making the Tim Hortons All-Stars the success it has been. From early days until the present you helped a group of guys, all who love the game, give something back to those in need. You were tireless and always patient in times of frustration. Not that a bunch of jocks still living the dream would frustrate anybody. I think back to all those bus rides, sing alongs and the odd hangover (St. John's NFLD anyone???) and can only smile. These memories will stay with us all, and no doubt there will be occasion to resurrect the squad for the right cause. I am sure everyone will jump at the chance. All the best in retirement (have a hard time seeing you sit still unless behind a set of drums) and I'll look forward to telling the stories we all helped create over the years.”

Brian Foster will be savoring every moment of every game and every road trip on this final tour for the 2008/09 Tim Hortons All-Stars. He even admits to looking forward to hearing whatever verbal tidbit Paul-Emile (Jai Beau) LeBlanc has to offer to and from each tilt as the end of an era approaches for a Maritime band of brothers linked by a common goal of helping others they may not even know.

Brian has more than earned the right to look forward to a more relaxed pace as he and Sandra begin planning for their eventual retirement. Hard to imagine this guy ever sitting still, but when he does decide to retire for good, you can be sure that when he is sitting around thinking about it, he won’t have any regrets or be trying to recapture what was. Everyone privileged enough to work with this "Boss" knows Brian showed up. Delivered the goods each and every night.

He leaves behind a legacy filled with a spirit of fun, fellowship, community giving and anything but, boring stories of glory days.

“Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away, we got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take. We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other, we said until we died we'd always be blood brothers”

Brian and his "brothers" begin their farewell tour this coming Thursday night, December 4th at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton. The fun begins at 7:00 p.m.

Other dates on the 2008/09 Tim Hortons All-Stars Tour are as follows:

Thursday, December 18th - Moncton, NB
Thursday, January 15th - Saint John, NB
Thursday, January 22nd - Wolfville, NS
Wednesday, February 4th - New Glasgow, NS
Thursday, February 19th - Halifax, NS
Thursday, February 26th - Charlottetown, PEI