Friday, February 27, 2009

Rush to the Moon

There usually isn't anything "original" about covering the work of others, but 22-year old Jacob has ensured this treatment is anything but usual.

Jacob Moon is a singer-songwriter from Hamilton, Ontario who is on the verge of becoming an Internet star. His intriguing visual and musical interpretation of the Rush classic "Subdivisions" is quickly being forwarded through cyberspace.

It's easy to see why Jacob is climbing into the limelight.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but Jacob Moon has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to flex his creative muscles beyond the capacity to merely imitate. And his rendition of "Subdivisions" also reveals the depth that existed in the original version, composed by the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.

Rush were pioneers in the mid-seventies, combining hard rock with science fiction and philosophy (Ayn Rand) as well as literature (George Orwell) on their breakthrough album 2112. Some people credit the Canadian power trio with single-handedly birthing progressive metal, and while bands like Yes and ELP were having trouble staying on the airwaves, the Rush brand has remained relevant.

They also think Jacob Moon has done the music justice.
Here is what Geddy Lee had to say at :

"The guys have all seen this and think it's terrific.
Kudos to Jacob and best of luck to him.
Great voice!!

TSB would like to thank Mike Shanks of Cambridge, Ontario for giving us the heads up to go outside the gilded cage and become each others audience.

If all the worlds a stage and we are merely players, performers and portrayers; there is always room for people like Jason and others to live the universal dream.

What have you been dreaming about lately?

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity" NEIL PEART

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banking on Canada

It is ridiculously easy to poke fun at banks and the bankers who work there.

"A bank is place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather, and then ask for it back when it begins to rain"

"It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk"

Q: "What is the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?
A: A pigeon can still make a deposit on a BMW"

It isn't often one feels compelled to give Canada's chartered banks a pat on the back.

But, that day has arrived at TSB after a recent Newsweek article, praising the Canadian banking system as the global standard. What is especially remarkable is that the piece was written by an American writer for an American audience in a U.S. publication.

Did you know?:

- Canada is the only country in the industrialized world that has not faced a single bank failure during the current financial crisis.

- The World Economic Forum recently ranked Canada’s banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th. Britain’s 44th.

- Over the past 15 years, as the U.S. and Europe loosened regulations on financial industries, Canada refused to follow suit, seeing the old rules as useful shock absorbers.

- Canadian banks are typically leveraged at 18 to 1 compared with U.S. banks at 26 to 1 and European banks at a frightening 61 to 1.

If there is a silver lining in the gloomy economic clouds, it may be found with how Canadian banks are positioned to weather this storm. Canadian banks are well capitalized and poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize. The Toronto Dominion Bank, for example, was the 15th-largest bank in North America one year ago. Now it is the fifth-largest. It hasn’t grown in size; the others have all shrunk.

Where is the banking industry headed?

Who can say for certain, but there are indications it promises to be anything but dull.

In light of the current crisis, isn't it interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson stated more than two centuries ago? Back in 1802, America's third president was quoted as saying, "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered". Jefferson's predecessor at the White House echoed those sentiments as John Adams opined, "All of the perplexities, confusion, and distress in America arises, not from the defects of the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation".

Is there something America needs to learn about banking from its neighbours to the north before the economy heads further south?

"The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hearing Footsteps

NFL receivers who drop passes and NHL skaters who fail to hold on to the puck are often said to be "hearing footsteps".

"Hearing footsteps" happens when you feel a defender closing in and instant panic sets in; causing you to fumble the pigskin or cough up the biscuit.

That being said, is Air Canada "hearing footsteps" in the aviation arena?

Last week, TSB could not help but notice this headline in the Globe and Mail:


The story went on to indicate Air Canada's chief operating officer Bill Bredt will be delivering cross-country pep talks urging staff to improve customer service amid competitive threats and the recession. The nations largest airline has noticed Calgary-based WestJet held 36 per cent of domestic market share last fall - compared with Air Canada's 57 per cent - and has been making steady gains in recent years. Under the leadership of Sean Durfy, WestJet is striving to capture 45 to 50 per cent of Canadian seat capacity within five years.

Air Canada CEO Montie Brewer has responded by sending out a three-page memo to employees, stating,"The most important factor in determining our future success is customer service. This will be the battleground this year and in the years ahead. We have a superior product and fuller network and now we need to ensure that we give each customer caring, friendly service consistently — in all areas — in call centres, at the airport, in flight and dealing with any follow-up issues — to ensure that Air Canada customers remain Air Canada customers".

Montie's memo could not have come at a better time considering what TSB discovered this morning from a blogger at

I actually witnessed a scene at the Moncton airport within 20 minutes of each other with friends (2 couples who I had driven to the aiport) who had mistakenly booked flights on Westjet and Air Canada (early morning flights to Toronto). It wasn't a weather issue however, but rather a confusion one due to overbooking! To make a long story short, the Westjet couple made it to their destination, while the AC couple were 3 days behind! Can you believe it? Going on an 8 day vacation and 3 days were spent messing around with inconsiderate and rude AC people! Believe me, these people like myself, have vowed to avoid AC as much as we can! We are so hopeful Westjet adds more and more routes until it finally becomes the #1 airline as they definitely know the true meaning of service!

Regretfully for Montie Brewer, Air Canada’s lack of genuine customer service has become one of the easiest jokes in the world, providing ample cannon fodder for comedians, cartoonists and others in the public eye.

It might be easier for Obama to turn the entire global economy than conquering the challenge faced by Bill Bredt on his cross-country pep talks. Let's suppose for a moment that you were Bill. What would you say to those Air Canada employees? How would you eradicate the all-too-frequent stares of indifference and downright sneers directed towards the only people that can keep any company in business - the customer?

Some analysts warn money-losing Air Canada could be forced to file for bankruptcy protection again, although it has averted a cash crunch for now with more than $640-million in new borrowing arrangements. The airline lost $1-billion dollars last year while WestJet continued to rack up record profits. However, it appears that the man at the top, Montie Brewer believes there was little Air Canada could do about that. Brewer went on to say in the Globe article that,"It is small comfort that our loss was the result of factors outside of our control — soaring oil prices, foreign exchange losses due to a drop in the Canadian dollar, and the slowing economy”.

Is Air Canada "hearing the footsteps" with enough time still on the clock? Or will WestJet keep scoring customer service touchdowns and hit their market share goals ahead of schedule?

Does the airline score any points for attempting to address customer service issues or has the executive level at Air Canada been blindsided for far too long as to the reality of how this game called "business" is really played?

Does Montie Brewer really have a staff motivation issue or do you think the problem runs deeper than that?

"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else" SAM WALTON

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Do You Sell Your Soap?

The "Branded Networker" seminar always begins with three questions.

Who are you? What do you do? And, other than your own, what is your favorite brand?

Last week, participants from the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce shared their answers with people they were meeting for the first time. As is custom, some of the perennial favorites popped up one-by-one; Apple, Starbucks, Harley-Davidson, etc.

But, when it was Francine's turn and she suggested Dove, it didn't stop there.

Francine regaled the attendees with her knowledge of how Dove soap has become the champion for real beauty and how the principle behind the campaign is to celebrate natural physical differences embodied by all women and inspire them to have confidence to be comfortable in their own skin.

It was obvious to anyone listening, that the branding experts behind the Dove campaign had hit one out of the park as Francine willingly (and freely) extolled the virtues of a "story" that has dramatically accelerated market share growth for the manufacturers of a bar of soap.

The Dove campaign is a great example of how you can heighten the perceived value of any commodity, and increase its demand simply by crafting and sharing a more compelling "story" than your competitors.

Dove focused its strategy on a universal truth. Research revealed only 2% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful. There was almost universal dissatisfaction around body weight and shape. And more than two-thirds of women questioned agreed media and advertising had set unrealistic standards of beauty, with models weighing, on average, 23 percent less than the average woman.

The Dove message cut through the clutter and b.s. of the beauty industry, by confronting a dirty little secret: You can't sell a beauty product without somehow playing on women's insecurities. If women thought they looked perfect—just the way they are—why would they buy anything?

By taking an entirely different approach, the Dove campaign got noticed in a hurry when it was launched in 2004 as the debate went mainstream with Oprah and Ellen before 30 million daytime TV viewers.

"Because there is a natural storytelling urge and ability in all human beings, even just a little nurturing of this impulse can bring about astonishing and delightful results" NANCY MELLON, The Art of Storytelling

Dove has kept the campaign going, launching the Dove Self-Esteem Fund in 2006 as customers continue to buy this "story" in almost every key market across the globe. Worldwide sales of the Dove brand have increased by around 13%, an astronomical figure in the highly competitive packaged goods industry.

In the end, both beauty and truth may be in the eye of the beholder. But consider this as you reflect right now on your product or service and the customer you serve.

Have you been focused on just "selling the soap" or do you have a compelling "story" that goes with it?

In other words, does your branding message tend to focus more on the actual "soap" - the product or service you sell - or have you figured out a "story" that would actually matter to a customer that cares?Is there a universal truth about your product or service that is not being told to a customer who would pay to fall in love with your story - and spread the good word?

If beauty is only spin deep, how does the timeless principle of "storytelling" apply to your business and your brand?

"Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories"
ALAN KAY, VP at Walt Disney Co.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Do You Still Believe in Miracles?

Anyone who took a few minutes to watch Ron MacLean and CBC's coverage of Hockey Day in Canada this weekend could not have helped but notice how a game and a network can unite a nation.

Broadcasting from the "headwaters of hockey" on the Restigouche River in Campbellton, New Brunswick, the personable MacLean flawlessly captured the essence of hockey in the Canadian soul. Coinciding with the World Pond Hockey championship in nearby Plaster Rock, this was New Brunswick's weekend on the hockey map as Campbellton pulled out all the stops to make the weekend of February 20-21 something that will be frozen forever in a treasure chest of memories.

On a very basic level, hockey allows Canadians to gather at a local arena and just be Canadian. On a more profound level, in a geographically enormous, but thinly populated country, hockey has been one of the few common threads in the tapestry of a nation. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in British Columbia or Newfoundland, hockey has touched us in some way.

And for decades, MacLean and those who have come before him at the CBC have played a significant role in seamlessly knitting Canadians together.

Have you ever noticed you can just mention a year to most Canadians and it becomes synonymous with a great moment in hockey.


Last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, ousting Montreal in six games.


Team Canada comes back to knock off the Soviet Union as Paul Henderson scores with 34 seconds left in Moscow.

And ironically enough, this is the day after the night before in 1980, when a team of amateur and collegiate players pulled off what may have been THE monumental sports upset of all time.

Sports Illustrated voted it the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century.

February 22, 1980.

Lake Placid, New York.

The United States Olympic team derails a juggernaut known as Soviet Red Army.

"You've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

There is hardly a Canadian around at the time who didn't share in the pride of the U.S. accomplishment as coach Herb Brooks led his team to Olympic glory. The Soviets entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won every ice hockey gold medal since 1964, and all but one gold medal since 1956. Though classed as amateurs, the USSR skaters were paid professionals and featured international stars such as Boris Mikhailov, Valeri Kharlamov,Viacheslav Fetisov and the best goaltender in the world at the time, the incomparable Vladislav Tretiak.

However, it was Brooks who demanded his team of amateur unknowns forge steely resolve on the anvil of discipline, developing a code of accountability and a "team before self" spirit that ultimately made the difference.

On a personal and professional level, how many lessons can be drawn from this game played by kids of all ages?

And if a game and a network can bring nations and continents together, are there commonalities from these resources that can seamlessly link other teams and families - both at work and at home?

How will you make miracles happen on your team?

"We are the coldest country on earth. And everyone except the children want to deny it.Thousands of us froze our hands, our feet and our ears every day just walking to school. And where we went after school was to a cold rink to put on frozen skates to play hockey on ice. The children know what the game means. There is a time in every child’s life when he or she wants us to regain the game, to be recognized by everyone as the greatest hockey nation in the world" DAVID ADAMS RICHARDS

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Love Hurts" Mr. Nice Guy

It happened on this day in 1997.

An all-American legend found himself thrown to the wolves by members of his own team.

Dropped from the network for having the audacity to go "outside the box" and poke a little fun at himself.

No matter how much equity he had accumulated through a career that included selling 45 million records, starring in a dozen Hollywood movies and being a Gospel Hall-of-Famer; this singer with the leading man looks and old-fashioned values was thrown under the bus faster than a Kirk Hammett guitar solo when he dared to record a big band rendition of heavy metal covers. To make matters worse, he accepted an invitation from the heathenous Dick Clark to appear on the American Music Awards, dressed in black leather, sporting tattoos and a dog collar.

Faith No More!

Twelve years ago today, Trinity Broadcasting Network pulled the plug on Pat Boone’s Gospel America show, feeling that the popular Christian activist, writer and preacher had gone too far, releasing "In a Metal Mood - No More Mr. Nice Guy".

With a single stroke, Boone managed to make people who never cared for him - heavy metal fans - gag big time as well as alienate some of his most faithful, gospel-loving fans.

Even though it was Pat's first record on the Billboard charts in 35 years, as a re-branding effort, "In a Metal Mood" was a total flop:

The track list also included "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, "Panama" by Van Halen, Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and others as Boone ignited a storm of controversy within the ranks of conservative Christians. But he insisted it was all done at the suggestion of a conductor who challenged Pat to explore the one genre of music he had never recorded previously.

"As I got more acquainted with some of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I thought, There are some melodies and some meaningful lyrics here. It's not all just all rant and rage. In fact there's a lot of Bible references in heavy metal music—mostly dark, foreboding stuff. So we went to work with Metallica's "Enter Sandman," and we found it was about a guy putting his child to bed and saying his prayers with him!", explained Boone.

About a year later, the hullaballoo died down and many fans accepted Boone's explanation of being a "parody of himself." Trinity Broadcasting then reinstated him, Gospel America was brought back and Pat and his followers were once again climbing the "Stairway to Heaven".

Faith Restored.

It takes 50,000 watts of courage to put your personal image and professional career on the line for what was essentially a gag - and not a serious re-brand by any stretch. But the experience also gave Pat Boone some insight that he may not have otherwise picked up on."I had been harshly critical of the metal scene, but when I began to identify with some of the performers and some of the music, I got smeared with the same quick brush of disdain and dismissal I had used. I got judged the way I had judged! We are too quick to judge other people solely on the basis of appearance before we know them or what they're about. It was a tremendous lesson for me. I hope other Christians learn some of the same lessons too".

Sounds like "In a Metal Mood" might have also helped Pat Boone discover who his true friends really were.

The kind of friends who think you are a still a good egg even if you are half-cracked once in a while.

"Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that's a tough call. That's rebellion" ALICE COOPER

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obamamania Hits Ottawa!

Beatlemania was followed by Trudeaumania, which gave way to Abbamania and today Canada's capital is being overrun by Obamamania! (Are there any other significant manias?)

The 44th President's version of a "Magical Mystery Tour" sees him on a working visit with Stephen Harper and an opportunity to fulfill the hopes millions are placing in him to turn the United States and the global economy around.

But, what is IT about Barack, that triggers that Mamma Mia! feeling?

Over a politician?

When a high profile Obamaphile named Oprah endorsed him, she proclaimed, "I believe he is The One." But she isn't the only celebrity enjoying a slobbering love affair with his Barackness; far from it:

"He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere" GEORGE CLOONEY

"I'll do whatever he says to do. I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear" HALLE BERRY

The Cult of Obama is by no means restricted to the jet-setters of the world. The Mainstream Media seems to be oozing a collective "man crush" while spreading the "bro-mance" to the common folk who are as equally enthralled:

Obama's popularity is clear evidence of a brand strategy that has succeeded beyond any strategists wildest dream and further proof that once you build a compelling saga and unleash it to the world, there is no telling how far and wide it will go. From a branding perspective, Obama may have become too hot too fast and now one of his biggest challenges might be dealing with the inevitable backlash created by the frenzied admiration from the millions of kool-aid drinking Barackolytes:

As Obamamania! sweeps Ottawa today and the rest of the Great White North, leave it to the words and music of a Canadian 80's rock band to capture the essence of Barack-and-Roll.

There is no denying the kid is hot tonite, but where will he be tomorrow?

"We just heard of a brand new wave and we hope its here to stay. We'll have to wait and see if its half of what they say. We heard he opened up a brand new door, well you know thats what Im lookin for. We'll have to wait and see if it makes you shout for more. How do you like him so far? How do you like his show? How do you like the way he rocks and the way he rolls? How do you like his image? How do you like his style? How do you like the way he looks and the way he smiles?" LOVERBOY

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "Get Up and Go Go"

Watching Kara accept her business excellence award from the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce last fall, made an immediate and lasting impression.

There was no mistaking her passion for the business idea that got her to that stage as well as the gratitude she felt for those who had helped her along the way. Her story literally tumbled its way into the hearts of the more than 500 people in attendance that night at the Sheraton Centre.

Starting out as an MBA class project, Kara's company became the talk of the town after winning prestigious awards such as New Brunswick Innovation Foundation 1st place student entrepreneurship prize. Recently selected to participate in the Wallace McCain Institute Cohort Program, the energetic CEO of Go Go Gymnastics is considered one of New Brunswick's brightest young entrepreneurs.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with a rising star who is doing business with Fun, Fitness and Flare ... from Go Go Gymnastics, in Fredericton, NB ... Kara Hachey.

You can learn more about Kara and her cohorts at

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves" WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gladwellian Thoughts

Malcolm Gladwell has done it again.

The author of "The Tipping Point" and Blink" has taken the study of successful people to a new level with his latest book, "Outliers". In it, Gladwell opines how people like Bill Gates get to be Bill Gates, and why NHL players are overwhelmingly born in the first part of the year.

Gladwell’s wildly popular and provocative theories about modern life have turned his name into an adjective — Gladwellian - used to describe catchphrases such as "thinslicing", "connectors" and "mavens" that originated with his earlier work.

Today, in true Gladwellian fashion, he shares his thoughts on "Outliers" with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Several months ago, while addressing a business audience in London, Gladwell expanded on what he discovered through the writing of "Outliers", by dispelling some "rumours" about the success path followed by a classic rock icon.

Does Gladwell's research on success make sense with respect to the 10,000 hour investment?

This topic has surfaced before on TSB, (Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Talent - October 16, 2008), however, Gladwell has taken it in a new direction with "Outliers".

And perhaps will prompt closer attention to what is required to become truly remarkable in whatever endeavour you pursue.

"When you're rich and famous you are the dominant force in a relationship, even if you try hard not to be. I've talked of sacrificing everything for Fleetwood Mac, but I realize now that it is simply the only thing I've ever wanted to do"STEVIE NICKS

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seamless Branding in a P.R. World

A seminar attendee asked a question the other day for which I did not have a ready-made answer.

"How do you define Public Relations?"

Good question.

So good in fact, that I was stumped for a moment and then admitted that although I had a sense for what P.R. was, a clear definition escaped me. And, whenever I don't have an answer that can be supported with unshakeable certainty, that prompts an immediate, one-word research project.


Several hours later and just as I suspected, hundreds of experts were offering just as many definitions, but few were serving the kind of clarity business professionals need in order to make informed decisions about building their brands.

After digesting this research, I threw it up against the wall of spending the better part of two decades in radio and television broadcasting and here is what stuck:

"Public Relations is the flow of information from a person or organization, designed to inspire and gain public trust"

Consider P.R. to be like free advertising - only with more credibility as any stories that are spread about your brand are more widely accepted and believed. However, any P.R. campaign (or ad campaign/ promotional campaign/ web strategy) will be greatly accelerated and enjoy more favorable results if supported by a "seamless" brand message; built on a rock solid foundation of making and keep a promise that matters.

One of the better examples in Canada, is Calgary-based WestJet where brand essence oozes at every turn; from the call centre to the check-in, to the cabin and the commercials we see on television. And isn't it interesting to see how the spirit "seamlessly" replicates itself when the TV cameras show up and start filming anyone of the more than 7,000 employees.

By building a "seamless" brand that inspires and gains public trust, WestJet has little to worry about when it comes to playing the typical PR game and the shenanigans of spin that entails.

They are who they say they are.

Regretfully, many companies that lack brand integrity discover the otherwise noble pursuit of public relations hijacked by hypocrites who find it impossible to perceive their own deceptions, and wind up lying with sincerity. And as such fall under the watchful eye of people like John Stauber of PR Watch.

Living in this Google world has made it increasingly difficult to get away with PR spin designed to mislead and misinform. Which is why there was little point to try and B.S. an answer to the question that opened this post.

Does your brand possess transparent qualities that can withstand public scrutiny?

How effective can any PR or advertising mask be when all it takes is a few mouse clicks to unveil things you may wish no one knew about?

"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be" SOCRATES

Friday, February 13, 2009

Be My Valentine?

Have you ever noticed how tomorrow's "holiday" usually prompts a dualistic response?

Duality is pretty much a universal concept; right or wrong, black or white, heaven or hell, inhaling or exhaling, giving or receiving, ying/yang, supply and demand, action or reaction, fight or flight, pain or pleasure, love and hate, good versus evil, left-brain/right-brain, hero or villain, bacon or eggs, PC or Mac, Leafs or Canadiens ... You get the picture.

Valentine's Day seems to produce that type of reaction.

It's either for or against, nothing in between and zero fence-sitting when you ask people for an opinion on how they feel about Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day appears to force people into one of two camps. Those who can't wait for the holiday to arrive and the surprises it may bring ...and those who shudder at the very thought of being single on a day when you are not "supposed" to be.

Today, TSB explores these dual perspectives to see where it leads.

However, for true romantics, Valentine's Day symbolizes so much more.

Pablo Picasso pictured Love as the greatest refreshment in life. Robert Frost waxed poetic, calling Love an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired while Zsa Zsa Gabor called Love a game that two can play and both can win.

How much a heart can hold cannot be measured or defined by either the poet or the scientist but that matters little to those who feel Valentine's is the best time to cozy up with "someone special", enjoy a "chick flick" and even better if the film serves up a hit song that lifts the movie to legendary status.

Is this not what memories are made of?

Today on TSB, we countdown the Top 5 Valentine's Day Music @ the Movies of all time. Think of this list as those magical moments in film history when words, pictures and a song came
together - seamlessly ...

#5. THE BODYGUARD: "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston

#4. JERRY MAGUIRE: "Secret Garden" - Bruce Springsteen

#3. TITANIC: "My Heart Will Go On" - Celine Dion

#2. NOTTING HILL: "When You Say Nothing at All" - Ronan Keating

#1. GHOST: "UnChained Melody" - The Righteous Brothers

This posting will likely cause some to sneer and others to swoon, but either way that's okay.

Hope tomorrow finds you happy - in your way - on Valentine's Day.

"Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tribal Knowledge

When Seth Godin writes, people listen.

Perhaps the most influential marketing expert in the 21st century, his blog is the Number One business blog in the world. With nine bestsellers to his credit, Seth has changed the way many of us think about branding, marketing, change and how we work. He is also the creator of many phrases now employed in everyday business vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers.

Seth's new catchphrase for 2009 and beyond?


As Godin explains, "A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they're enabling countless new tribes to be born - groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming".

Upon reviewing the book and digesting its content, TSB believes business owners and branding practitioners should consider the wisdom in trying to sell to a crowd or market to a tribe. Godin points to several examples where the latter makes more sense in the digital age, including wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk, the builder of a devoted following while growing his family wine business exponentially.

Seth believes, Tribal Knowledge begins with the desire to change things, the ability to connect people with each other and the willingness to lead. There is plenty more to be discovered about "Tribes" as Seth explains in this recent interview:

Ignore what "Tribes" is saying and you risk becoming a "sheepwalker" - fighting to protect the status quo at all costs, never wondering or asking what that's for you or your organization these days.

Only you know how much status quo exists within your brand.

And how much Tribal Knowledge is needed to stir things up.

"It's not for you to somehow beam your message to strangers and convert them, because you can't convert strangers anymore. Not one major new consumer brand built in the last five years was built on the back of advertising. Google and Facebook, etc. are built because one person brought another one by the hand, not because someone bought ads on the Super Bowl" SETH GODIN

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking": Eric's New Trip

Eric clearly remembers the day he found himself at a career crossroads.

His dream of playing hockey at the professional level was at a dead end.

But, that didn't mean he couldn't start dreaming something new.

A former captain with the St. Thomas Tommies, Eric Bissonette has skated many miles to get to where he is today. After experiencing some early success in delivering high performance youth sports programs in the Fredericton, NB area, Bissonette has developed a unique series of hockey, football and basketball camps. Borrowing from what he has learned on the ice is what Eric credits the opportunities now coming his way through his new adventure as he joins us on this weeks edition of "Motorvationally Speaking".

For more info on the Eric Bissonette Boot Camps dial 506-260-9898 or e-mail

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans” JOHN LENNON

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The '64 Hangover

Imagine being a teenager on this day in 1964.

You are still feeling somewhat intoxicated from something you saw the night before in your own living room. A rite of passage like no other.

It happened innocently enough.

You were kicked back and relaxing in front of a black and white TV set that suddenly came alive with a sight and sound you would never forget.

Mom and Dad likely turned up their noses while you jumped to turn up the volume.

45 years ago, you would have experienced the morning after the night before.

Everywhere you went that day, the kids at school couldn't stop talking with drunken enthusiasm about what they had seen last night on the "Ed Sullivan Show".

"Beatlemania" erupted the morning after.

Every girl wanted to be with a Beatle.

Every guy wanted to be either John, Paul, George or Ringo.

It's been said that almost everyone watching the night before grabbed an instrument and started a band. Since that fateful TV appearance, the Beatles have inspired and influenced musicians from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, including Everclear, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Jerry Garcia, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, Neil Diamond, Rush, Jimi Hendrix, KISS, Skid Row, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Jeff Lynne and ELO, Nirvana, Los Lobos, Guns 'n Roses, Oasis and Run DMC.

"I tell you, if it wasn't for me seeing them (The Beatles) that night on 'The Ed Sullivan Show', I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now. I might not even be alive. I credit them with creating a lot of my life" BILLY JOEL

"I was playing guitar before I heard The Beatles, but as I got older and listened to their tunes I realised they were amazing. They inspire me more now than they did when I was a kid and are still the greatest" NOEL GALLAGHER

"If not for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now, It just completely flipped me out. I found this interesting
looking cover, put the album on, and fell madly in love…still today, that
album is like the smell of play-doh to me, it’s so familiar. When I was
little, there was some click, like from joy to some very serious passion,
that happened to me listening to Sgt. Pepper”

45 years ago, the morning after the Sullivan Show was the beginning of a tidal wave of change that forever pushed the boundaries of pop culture.

“The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that The Beatles’ legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerised world we live in. Let the games commence" RINGO STARR

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Twestival for Tweeple

As they walk into the coffee shop, Adam and Jon can barely conceal their excitement.

Even before their first java that morning, these guys are bubbling over with enthusiasm.

"You won't believe what we're pulling off now. It's called a "Twestival". We're taking grassroots networking to a whole new level".

A "Twestival"?

"That's right, it's a global charity event being organized through Twitter. And Moncton is just one of more than 100 cities around the world hosting these Twestivals. All proceeds are going to Charity: Water, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring clean, safe drinking water to more than 1 billion people in developing nations who need it".

Adam MacDonald and Jon Reid of Spheric Technologies are twipical of Twitterites all over the world, inspired by what will unfold this Thursday, February 12, 2009. Sparked by a single conversation on Twitter, "Twestival" will bring together local Twitter communities to socialize face-to-face while raising money for a charitable cause. All Twestival events are organized by volunteers and 100% of the proceeds will be used for building wells and other water delivery projects, which can cost from $4000 to $12,000.

More info on Charity: Water can be found at

“This event, will demonstrate that social media can be a catalyst for social action,” explains Jon Reid, director at Spheric Technologies Inc. “Twitter has had an amazing effect on my personal and business network. I would love everyone in my local community to experience the same.”

It may not surprise you to learn that Jon and Adam's company, based in Moncton NB, has engaged in other compassionate capitalist efforts including creating a pro bono website for the Boys & Girls Club of Moncton and investing $5,000 on to support small businesses in developing countries. Last year, Spheric received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from BDC in recognition of the company’s charitable endeavors. More information on Spheric can be found at

So if you're in the Greater Moncton area this Thursday and want to experience a "Twestival" for yourself, here are the deets:

WHAT: Twestival, Moncton
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 12
WHERE: The City Grill, 130 Westmorland St., Moncton
Info: or

Who knows, you might run into some other fascinating tweeple like Adam and Jon.

"I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man"

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hitting the Jackpot

Nick is a real estate speculator, stock market investor and published author.

He is also a 26-year old motivational speaker, who frequently travels the world spreading an inspirational message that only he can deliver.


Because on the morning he was born - December 4th, 1982 in Melbourne, Australia - all his anguished mother could say was, “Please, take him away!”

There were no warnings or time to prepare his parents for a at-birth condition that shocked doctors and defies medical reason to this day.

But Nick Vujicic is the ultimate “glass is half full” kind of guy, often telling audiences that “I stand before you today as a miracle of God.”

What makes Nick and his story even more remarkable is the way he credits and thanks God for the many blessings he has received.

Isn't that intriguing considering it would be easy to view God as being highly unfair in the way He dealt the cards for Nick at birth. What if He had dealt you a similar type of hand - with no option to fold - for life?

Does this story add perspective to any of the cards - good or bad - you are holding right now?

You can learn more about Nick and his story at

"And we know that in all things God works for the best for those who love Him"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Would You Like Fries With Your Frappuccino?

Is Starbucks getting ready to pander to penny-pinchers and bargain hunters?

Recent reports indicate that as the recession drains profits, Starbucks Corp. is hoping to stop the bleeding with its own version of a "value meal".

In its fiscal first quarter report last week, Starbucks same-store sales — a key performance indicator — dropped 10 percent. And the battle for market share is heating up with both McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts jumping into the specialty coffee area with various offerings catering to those who want to enjoy their morning brew without busting their budget. Afterall, for the price of one regular priced Starbucks coffee you could get an entire breakfast meal at the Golden Arches'.

This dilemma - maintaining brand integrity versus profitability - poses an interesting challenge for a Starbucks brand battling to survive the economic pressures being placed on customers like Glen:

Starbucks Chief Executive, Howard Schultz has told investors that "several breakfast pairings" will be unveiled at "attractive" prices in the very near future.

But does the concept of a Starbuckian "Value Meal" seems like a disastrous step toward devaluation of brand equity?

Is it better to stay focused on high end coffee connoisseurs or be stuck in the middle of mass market players like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts?

What would you do if you were Howard?

"We built the Starbucks brand first with our peoplle, not with consumers - the opposite approach from that of the crackers and cereal companies" HOWARD SCHULTZ

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - There's No Life Like It

How many people do you know that would sign up for this?:

- Frequent deployments and re-locations.
- Lengthy family separations.
- Many emotional roller coasters
- Constant worry and anxiety.

It's not easy being a military family these days, which is what makes programs such as the Military Family Resource Centre such an integral part of what is required to support our troops at home and abroad.

For example, a returning Family Member, especially coming back from a combat zone, can experience significant change after being under constant threat of loss of life or injury. The family member may have witnessed injuries, deaths and destruction and may become preoccupied with their experience - either unable to talk about it or talk about it excessively. Meanwhile, the adult left at home may expect extra attention and credit regarding their performance while their partner was away. They also might expect the returning family member to automatically accept the family as it now exists and perform a role which they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with.

These are the types of issues that Beth Corey is more than familiar with as we profile the Executive Director of the Gagetown Military Family Resource Centre on this edition of "Motorvationally Speaking".

"As I watch Barack take that oath, I'll be thinking especially about those members of our American family who stand guard across the world and the loved ones who await their safe return. Because even as we mark this moment in American history, there still will be empty seats at the dinner table; there still will be spouses struggling to juggle roles and responsibilities; there still will be children who mark the passing of a birthday without Mommy and toddlers who know their father only by a grainy video stream from a far-flung corner of the globe. All of us can learn a fundamental lesson from our military families: You don't need to wear a uniform to serve your country. We all have something to contribute to the life of this nation"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And the Winner Is ...

Can a TV commercial, shot by a pair of unemployed brothers at a small town YMCA, be good enough to slay the offerings from big budget ad agencies shown during Super Bowl 43?

Evidently, the answer is yes.

Pittsburgh Steelers may have won the game, but Joe and Dave Herbert of Batesville, Indiana, are $1 million dollars richer after their ad, dubbed "Free Doritos", captured the coveted #1 spot on the USA TODAY 21st annual Super Bowl Ad Meter rankings.

The Herbert brothers, "Free Doritos!" spot was selected from nearly 2,000 user-generated entries. Joe and Dave are hoping the win will help them break into film making full-time.

Meanwhile, honorable mention for a Super Bowl 43 commercial has to be directed Troy Polamalu's way.

His Steelers not only came back to beat the Arizona Cardinals, but the Pro Bowl safety also drew rave reviews for a commercial that played off an iconic spot that "Mean" Joe Greene and Coca-Cola pulled off back in the Steel Curtain glory days of the 70's.

Here is what "Mean" Troy and the folks at Coke Zero came up with:

NOTE: The USA TODAY Super Bowl Ad Meter tracks the second-by-second responses of a panel of viewers to ads during the national broadcast of the Super Bowl and ranks them favorite to least favorite. Created in 1989, USA TODAY's Ad Meter has been regarded as the most influential Super Bowl ad rating in the advertising industry.

While the Ad Meter has been linked to a number of hirings and firings in the advertising world, there is no discernible link between having the winning spot and increased sales.

"The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague" BILL COSBY

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Super" Man of Steel

He was hired at the age of 34.

Only the third head coach to be hired by the organization since 1969.

He was asked to live up to legends.

Last night, he helped create one of his own.

Today, Mike Tomlin and Steeler Nation is celebrating their showstopping victory at Super Bowl 43 after Pittsburgh rallied to beat Arizona Cardinals 27-23 last night in Tampa, Florida. In doing so, the 36-year old Tomlin becomes the youngest coach ever to guide his team to a Super Bowl victory. This video foreshadows the coach ready to ascend to the top of the NFL mountain.

There has never been a Super Bowl team that blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead before coming back to win.

But Tomlin's Steelers did it.

There has never been a U.S. President publicly predicting a Pittsburgh Super Bowl victory.

But Tomlin's Steelers proved Obama right.

There has never been an NFL team with six Lombardi trophies in the team trophy case.

Until Tomlin's Steelers rallied and found a way to win with 35 seconds to go.

Mike Tomlin's Steelers have taken on the personality of the city it so proudly represents.

Very blue-collar.

Very hard working.

Very nasty.

Very classy.

Very Super.

"We have a team that doesn't blink in the face of adversity. It's never going to be pretty or perfect" MIKE TOMLIN