Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Most "Seamless" Band?

Could the world of rock and roll provide some insight with respect to the concept of "seamless" branding - the ability to make and keep a promise that matters?

Just like any small or medium-sized business, a rock band is a mixture of personalites, talents and ego that somehow fuse together to form a distinctive sound and brand identity. The best perform at a high level over the long haul while also avoiding the high cost of turnover. Rarely, does any company or band achieve long-term success with a revolving door ushering members in and out.

Today on TSB, we countdown the Top 5 Seamless Bands of all-time.

The criteria for selection is as follows:

1. Longevity
2. Audience Appeal
3. Distinctive Identity
4. Internal Stability

Consequently, acts like Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Deep Purple fail to make the grade because of frequent personnel changes over the years. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Guns N' Roses and The Police fall short as far as longevity is concerned. Considering that mega-stars like Metallica, KISS and AC/DC just missed on cracking our Top 5 might raise some eyebrows, but hey, given our criteria, that's what makes this list interesting to debate.

So here they are, the Top 5 Seamless Bands of all-time ...

5. RUSH:

The Canadian power trio has had the same lineup since 1973 when Neil Peart took over behind the drum kit and locked himself in for the long haul with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Canadian Music Hall-of-Famers, Rush ranks fourth behind The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band.

The Bad Boys from Boston fell off the rails in the early eighties but earn points for putting everything back together with their original line-up still intact. Since forming in 1971 and re-forming again in 1984, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer have helped Aerosmith become the best-selling American hard rock band of all time,having sold 150 million albums worldwide. The band plans to begin a new U.S. tour in April of 2009, in support of their as-yet-untitled 15th studio album.


Despite several changes over the years, the Stones have maintained three original members through no fewer than 5 decades in the music business. Since 1962, drummer Charlie Watts has been keeping the beat for Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones who have racked up 24 studio albums, nine concert albums while selling more than 200 million units worldwide.

2. U2:

The Irish rock superstars have never had a line-up change since their first album was released back in 1980. Along the way, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.have sold more than 140 million albums worldwide and have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band. Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have consistently campaigned for human rights and social justice causes, including Amnesty International.

And the top-ranked Seamless Band of all time is ...none other than that "little ole band from Texas" ...

1. ZZ TOP:

Formed in 1969 in Houston, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard hold the distinction of being among the few rock bands still composed of its original members for nearly 40 years. Even original manager/producer, Bill Ham lasted until 1996 as ZZ Top developed a brand image uniquely their own. Gibbons and Hill are almost always pictured wearing sunglasses (a nod to 1979's "Cheap Sunglasses"), matching duds and trademark chest-length beards. Ironically, the drummer, Beard, is the only guy in the group without one, preferring a mustache. In 1984, the Gillette Company reportedly offered Gibbons and Hill $1 million each to shave their beards for a television commercial but they declined, stating "We're too ugly without 'em".

In July 2008, the band announced they have signed with producer Rick Rubin and are recording a new album as ZZ Top aims to move back to their pre-80's "La Grange" sound. And while we're at it, here are the three "sharped dressed men" themselves captured "Live from Texas".

"We've been coming out with you for a long time, ... And it's the same three guys playing the same three chords right here" BILLY GIBBONS


Monday, March 30, 2009

A Man, Some Jam ... and a Brand

Bruce makes and sells jam.

But, not just any kind of jam.

Legend has it that after an unsuccessful business venture, Bruce was left with 200lbs of frozen strawberries, along with some life lessons. Without any specific plan, but needing to do something with the strawberries, Bruce used a friend’s restaurant kitchen to make a batch of preserves, enhanced somewhat when the same friend came by offering a glass of Grand Marnier. Not being a drinking man, Bruce tossed the liqueur into the strawberries and voila! The first flavour of Prince Edward Island Preserves - Strawberry and Grand Marnier was created.

Today, the business produces over 100,000 jars annually, as The Prince Edward Island Preserve Company attracts a growing flock of jammers each year at its location in a restored 1913 butter factory in New Glasgow, PEI.

Few people are aware how Bruce was able to establish brand traction in his start-up phase, without spending any advertising dollars. Since construction costs to renovate the butter factory devoured what little there was in the way of a marketing budget, Bruce had to rely on nothing more creativity, courage and ... a kilt.

PEI Preserves has grown from a staff of two to a seasonal staff that peaks at about 80 in the summer months. Throughout the years, Bruce MacNaughton has been honoured with many awards including Atlantic Canadian Retailer of the Year by The Canadian Gift & Tableware Association and Tourism Operator of the Year by the Tourism Association of Prince Edward Island. As a professional speaker, Bruce shares his first-hand experiences of what it takes to overcome incredible odds in life and business with more than 25,000 people each year.

Bruce MacNaughton has proven many times over that a lack of capital is never a valid excuse for failing to create a successful brand and business. No matter what cards you are dealt in business, guts and imagination trumps cash every time.

And Bruce would be the first to tell you that, deep down, each one of us are holding the wild cards of creativity, courage and our own version of a kilt.

Will you lay those cards face down in your next "Grand Marnier" moment?

"Strategy should evolve out of the mud of the marketplace, not in the antiseptic environment of an ivory tower” AL RIES

p.s... In case you were wondering, Bruce was interviewed by Corey Poirier http://www.coreypoirier.com/ . TSB would like to thank Darin Foulkes of Foulkes Productions for giving us the heads up.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Bobby Says He Is Sorry

Anyone can slip up.

Drop the ball.

Make a mistake.

For some, these errors in judgment become crosses of iron.

Burdens of regret, lugged around for a lifetime.

Bobby has been carrying his cross since the early 90's, and now feels he has to apologize for a record that peaked at #1 on the Billboard charts, selling eleven million copies. For a time, Bobby was on top of the world. His face adorned the covers of major magazines. He was in several Hollywood films and also enjoyed an 8-month relationship with Madonna. Describing his live shows, Bobby described them as, "High energy, stage diving, pyrotechnics, girls showing their breasts. It's crazy party atmosphere."

But, none of those accomplishments soothe the pain for Robert Van Winkle.

As fast as his fortunes climbed out of this world, his star came crashing back to earth even faster.

And now Bobby finds himself dealing with the regret of being defined by who you are and what you are all about, in such a way that becomes forged in public memory forever.

Does Bobby mean what he says?

Or is he putting one over on us?

Does the phrase "To err is human, to forgive is divine", capture this story of sorry in rhyme?

"They told me, we want you to wear these baggy pants because the young kids like it and it's all glittery and polished and everything, and I said, 'Fuck no, I'm not wearin' this gay-ass shit,' and they said, 'Well here's a million dollars, man, will you do it?' And I said, 'Fuck yes.' And anybody would have done the same thing if they were given the same chance" VANILLA ICE

p.s... More than 2 million YouTube viewers think Jim Carrey nailed Ice to a T.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Words That Move

It is March.

In the Year of our Lord 2000.

Three months after surviving the scare of Y2K, there is a five-hour bus ride headed to the other end of planet earth.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Ten minutes into the journey, a friend hands over a copy of a strange looking book with an intriguing title.

"Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads".

Digestion of Chapter One begins.

And the idea chewing continues to this day, thanks to a timeless principle shared in that first chapter, entitled "The Energy of Words".

Here is an excerpt:

You study pivotal people and events in history, searching for a common denominator. You hope to identify the recurrent elements of greatness; The keys to fantastic success. You search for the secret of miracles. After several hundred hours of reading, you reach an utterly inescapable conclusion:

Words are the most powerful force there has ever been.

Monumental events explode with energetic words, and great leaders are remembered for the things they say. While a grand idea may carry the seeds of change, it takes powerful words to launch the idea skyward; Words strong enough to carry the full weight of vision. Likewise, great ad campaigns begin with grand ideas and come alive with vivid words.

Words are electric, and should be chosen for the emotional voltage they carry. Weak and predictable words cause grand ideas to appear so dull that they fade into the darkness of oblivion. But powerful words in unusual combinations brightly illuminate the mind.

Yes, words are electric. If a sentence does not shock a little, it carries no emotional voltage. When the hearer is not jolted, you can be sure he is not moved. Remember the words of Napoleon; "Small plans do not inflame the hearts of men." Use words in your ads which are majestic; Words which have the power to inflame men’s hearts and illuminate their minds.

Words start wars and end them, create love and choke it, bring us to laughter and joy and tears. Words cause men and women to willingly risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Our world, as we know it, revolves on the power of words"

It is March yet again.

In the Year of our Lord, 2009.

Another opportunity to reflect on the degree in which emotional energy is unleashed in each and every form of communication. The method in which "words" are employed in conversations with friends and family; their impact on relationships and how the careful selection of "words" either opens or closes doors on a professional level.

See for yourself if the deliberate choice and arrangement of "words" creates some movement of energy within you.

(This video was submitted in a contest by 20-year old Jonathan Reed of Georgia State University as part of a contest called "U @ 50".)

More words that move.

Actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.

Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'"

Urban legend has it that the student received an A+ for his choice of powerful words to convey his grandiose idea.

As you ponder this post over your morning cup of productivity, take a moment and think about the words you will use today. Consider how a person or a project could be elevated or deflated by your choice of words and what the consequences will be.

Words ensure your best-laid plans come to fruition.

Which mountains in your world require majestic words to move them?

Here is hoping you choose them wisely.

"This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder" HONORE de BALZAC, 1799 - 1850


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - His Father's Son

For a small Canadian province, New Brunswick has a long list of baseball heroes.

Fredericton's Matt Stairs, Miramichi's Jason Dickson and Cap Pele's Rheal Cormier are just some who went on to achieve stardom at the major league level while countless other legends were formed in a provincial senior league that ranks second to none in the country. Billy "the Buzzard" Saunders, Harry "the Hat" Stephenson and the "Spaceman", Bill Lee were among the more colorful personalities on New Brunswick ball diamonds but few were more effective in nurturing the players who play the game than St. Stephen's Rod Wilson Sr. Thousands of young men and women have been touched by the coaching and teaching from this New Brunswick Sports Hall-of-Famer; in particular sons Rod Jr. and Derek Wilson who continue to live the values dad shared on the sandlot.

Today, TSB features a New Brunswick baseball legend in his own right, now carving a new path in the corporate word with NuBody's ... Fredericton's Derek Wilson.

To view other "huggable" episodes of CHCD-TV, visit http://www.chcdtv.ca/

"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time" JIM BOUTON

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

R.O.I. for The Branded Networker

American journalist, essayist and satirist, H.L. Mencken once coined an oft-repeated phrase; "Those than can do. Those that can't ... teach".

Mencken believed every community produces only a few people who are “distinguished by their will and personal achievement.” In other words, there are only a few legitimate "experts" out there who have earned their reputations, through their deeds and accomplishments.

As such, an "expert" in personal branding never has to “teach.”

Like Shannon, they simply “do.”

Shannon is one of those people with that rare ability to shift from "consummate business professional" to becoming your "B.F.F." in less time than it takes to compose a text message. Married to Mark, and the mother of two more than active boys, Shannon balances life and career as easily as those gentle summer breezes, returning soon to a backyard deck near you.

Despite being blocked out of every real estate publication in Metro Halifax, Shannon has built her business on a foundation of professional, yet genuine personal networking. Very much involved in her community, Shannon is now using social media to leverage her personal brand in a way that others are beginning to notice. More than 75% of her Halifax-based business with PropertyGuys.com, has come through referrals as Shannon continues to expand and enjoy her Return On Influence.

What is Shannon Gavin's secret to being a successful, Branded Networker?

"Network 'actively' not 'passively'. 'Passive' networking is going to the business to business wine and cheese gorges – which are useless until you are effectively established. Meaning, you have credibility and people will be asking for your card instead of simply trying to do the "biz card exchange shuffle". 'Active' networking is giving back! It is establishing your credibility and trust in your community. You are your brand! Dress well and do a bit of homework. Be prepared to be asked lots of questions about your industry but don't be the one to bring it up. Let that happen organically. The crossover of this relationship will happen on its own with this approach and alleviate the risk of looking or sounding like a Joe Schmo.'Active' networking is getting involved! If you have a good Chamber then it will have committees – join one! Show up (usually once a month) and be engaging around the table. Chose a committee that you like. Volunteer – chose something that means something to you! Volunteering is the best form of networking and will help to establish your R.O.I. (Return on Influence) in your community /territory. It may be for a charity of a planning committee for your municipality, school board etc. Schedule it like you would work and be committed to at least 2-6 hours per month. After all, it is business development".

Lately, Shannon's focus has been on Twitter, where she dialogues with hundreds including Ashton Kutcher, Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Gary Vaynerchuk. About six weeks ago, she engaged in a Twitter conversation with a gentleman who was asking about CMHC stats she had posted about specific neighbourhoods in the Halifax area. A dialogue ensued. With hundreds of others following the on-line exchange, Shannon was able to display her industry expertise, professionalism as well as showcase her PropertyGuys.com brand. The discussion continued to the point where the gentlemen indicated he had a blog about an environmentally responsible home which Shannon researched and commented on. And as of this past weekend, Shannon is now ready to list a property he intends to put up for sale through PropertyGuys.com.

Shannon Gavin is an ideal example of a business professional who has grasped the concept of personal branding and is now taking it to the next level through social media; which has handed anyone (including you) the keys, the car and the gasoline to your future success. At no time in human history have you been more empowered to let your voice and thoughts be heard, as long as you are prepared to invest the time.

Effective personal brands are a mix of reputation, recognition and execution.

You might want to build a brand around:

Being helpful = Shannon Gavin / Chris Brogan.
Being adventurous = Richard Branson / Elizabeth Clark
Being stylish = Martha Stewart
Being luxurious = Donald Trump
Being over the top = David Lee Roth / Pete Luckett
Being innovative = Guy Kawasaki / Tim Ferriss
Being huggable = Jim Gilbert
Being candid = Gary Vaynerchuk
Being approachable = Scott “the Nametag Guy” Ginsberg
Being corny = Janet & Greta Podleski
Being sincere = Bruce MacNaughton / Ron MacLean

Or, being whatever it is that matters most to you.

Naturally, you will have to determine whether you are capable of sustaining that story. And just so we are clear, personal branding isn’t playing a role. It becomes quickly apparent if you’re trying to someone you’re not. Be the only person you can be. Yourself. Don Cherry is the same guy, camera on or off.

Mitch Joel, president of Montreal's Twist Image, is of the opinion "Electronic entities are becoming more important than ever before.Marketing is moving away from the 'how many' to the 'who you are' model." Contributing to a blog is a great way to get noticed, especially if you want to send a message to a blogger's audience and sign it with your name, organization and web address.

Today, the Branded Networker knows that networking is much more than passing out business cards. It involves building and nurturing relationships over time, expecting nothing in return, contributing to conversations in a way that will bring value to others.

How well are you using your talents to help others achieve their goals?

Are you branded as a "go-getter" so people will have faith and trust in you to get the job done, or do others see you as a "go-homer", counting the seconds until quitting time, doing as less as possible in the shortest amount of time?

Have your networking efforts been directed towards building social or monetary equity?

Which of those efforts would most impact your R.O.I. - Return on Influence?

"The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person's needs ahead of their own" BOB BURG

p.s... "The Branded Networker" seminar returns to Charlottetown, PEI, this Thursday, March 26, 2009. Here is what Maureen had to say, the last time we made the trip across Confederation Bridge.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Who is a Social Media "Expert"?

Forbes magazine has called social media a fundamental shift that is here to stay.

The good news for entrepreneurs, especially small-to-medium sized businesses is that social media applications can be accessed with a minimal amount of dollars. You will be charged zero dollars to post a YouTube video that has a potential viewing audience of millions. You could get e-mail from as far away as Antarctica from someone telling you how much they love your brand and what it stands for.(This actually happened last week).

The bad news is the flip side of the classic time/money equation. You will have to invest time in the new social media landscape to get a grasp of how it can fundamentally enhance the power of your brand. You will have to apply good old fashioned elbow grease to make these new wheels turn in your favour because there are no "one-size-fits-all" approaches that can be applied to your brand.

In other words, you will have to become your own expert, because no matter what anyone tells you, there aren't any out there to be found.

The word "expert" signifies a total understanding of a discipline or practice, impossible in a media landscape rapidly shifting beneath our laptops. First of all, social media "expert" status would apply to only a handful of people - like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg - who have developed multi-million dollar enterprises in the social media space. Secondly, if you accept the idea that it takes a master pianist (or painter, physicist or plumber) 10,000 hours to master their craft, social media has not been around long enough for anyone to invest that amount of time into the practice.

Social Media is still relatively new and some will be quick to call themselves an "expert", however it is more than likely these are folks who just have a good head start on you in terms of some of the technology. Considering that social media is a rapidly growing hodge-podge of content being spread through multiple channels, using multiple media (words, sounds, photos, videos) while engaging an audience in meaningful ways across multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), it could be that "social media" is nothing more than just the new, basic form of communication.

No different than the telephone, radio or television were in the past, at least according to Red Hat founder, Bob Young.

Big ad budgets ruled the day in the good old media-industrial complex days of Radio/Television/Newspaper. You could buy your way to the top of millions of minds with millions of dollars. Now your brand only arrives through the quality of the idea itself how it is shared shared on the web, however, being adept at using the tools themselves is a low-level skill. That’s not where branding magic exists.

The one fundamental that the new technology has not changed is that like any good advertising campaign, social media starts with a solid brand strategy. In other words, what is your brand all about, what principles does it stand for and who does it really speak to? Your brand has a character in much the same way any person has one, but that character has a chance to become magnified a million times over, hopefully in a seamless fashion where values translate into action. One company leading the way in aligning social media with the brand is Comcast and a program called "Comcast Cares" that allows front-line people like Frank make a difference with the customers they serve.

"Comcast Cares" has become a great example of how a brand can become an influential part of the on-line conversation. Celebrities like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are also using social media to enhance their brands, fighting back against the tabloids that threaten to destroy their careers. Demi and Ashton are Twitterities who say, in effect, "this is our life. We're just normal people like you". Ashton can be followed at www.twitter.com/aplusk while you can track Demi at www.twitter.com/mrskutcher

Don't wait for the "experts". Now is the time to jump in and learn.

Others to watch and learn from in the social media playground include:

Gary Vaynerchuk
Amber MacArthur
Matthew Ingram
Brian Solis

Jeremiah Owyang
Shel Israel
Robert Scoble
Chris Brogan
Mack Collier
Mitch Joel
Seth Godin

... and the final word today on TSB goes to the co-author of "Groundswell", captured on location at the recent SXSW 2009,Charlene Li

"When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either" LEO BURNETT


Friday, March 20, 2009

Diamond Has It Rough

Does the ability to remember lyrics really matter when considering who ranks as the greatest front men in rock and roll history?

Since leading Van Halen to the top of the hard rock heap in the late seventies and eighties, David Lee Roth was known more for on-stage bravado than his ability to vocalize. Since returning to join forces with Van Halen on the 2007-08 reunion tour, nothing has changed in terms of Diamond Dave's nonchalant approach to lyrical integrity.

Watch carefully at about the 3:30 mark of this performance of their monster hit "Panama" as Roth slips into "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" patter before being coached by 17-year old bassist Wolfgang Van Halen.

In your estimation, how effectively does Roth turn an on-stage lemon into rock and roll lemonade?

Can one "drop the ball" as it were ... and still be considered "seamless" in the way a service or performance is delivered?

Meanwhile, you will have a chance to mimic Van Halen for yourself with the impending release of the Guitar Hero game. Eurogamer is giving the game an August 2009 release date.

Van Halen would be the third with a specifically branded Guitar Hero title, following Aerosmith and Metallica, whose version is set for release on March 29th. The new game also offers drama in the form of some intriguing questions.

Will Wolfgang Van Halen appear instead of original bassist Michael Anthony?

Will the game feature all three VH lead singers - David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone? If not, does Diamond Dave tackle "Right Now", "Poundcake" and "Dreams", among other hits from the Hagar-era? Will the Roth character remember the lyrics?

Stay tuned.

"I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seamless Branding in the Digital Age

Once upon a time, in a not so far away land, a brand was a product, service or name Marketeers would build grand.

Marketeers Mighty would buff, polish and make that brand shine. And with a knowing nod, assure nervous brass, everything would be fine.

"Your cash registers will undoubtedly ring", the Marketeers Mighty confident would sing.

"There are customers eager, who will buy what they're told, parked on one-way media streets paved with pure gold".

Spirited brass would return nod with a wink, shake hands with the Mighty and share in the drink.

The crafting of brand was well on its way; square ads pegged into three square holes each day.

But one day, uneasy brass noticed streets brimmed no longer with gold; and near empty tills spoke volumes about what was not sold.

"What happened to those three square holes?", brass were heard to cry. "Why do our ads, make no longer customers buy?“

Awkward silence filled the room.
Air hung heavy with gloom, dread and doom.

And marketeers, mighty no more, could only shake their heads, sigh and stare at the floor.

A Nike executive was recently quoted as saying, "We're not in the business of keeping media companies alive. We're in the business of connecting with consumers". Hardly surprising to see major advertisers like Nike routinely slashing budgets previously allocated to television networks and other traditional media companies.

The traditional advertising model (30-second TV and radio spots, full-page print ads and 15% agency commissions) is dead. Digital killed the media star. And, results-driven organizations are reallocating billions of dollars to digital, word-of-mouth marketing initiatives.

But if you're a regular TSB reader, you already knew the square hole dynamics of traditional mass marketing - radio, TV, newspaper - don’t squeeze every easily anymore into round hole consumer and company exchanges happening on-line every nano-second. You are also much less inclined to be swayed by what organizations say about themselves and far more likely to trust your own experiences. And you have had it up to here with financial scandals, faulty software and services that don’t live up to the hype. From Enron to the electrician down the street, you have seen more than your fair share of companies saying one thing and doing another.

However, there are times when the marketing shoe is on the other foot. Think of much harder it has become to sell your product, service or expertise to potential customers who feel much the same way about marketing as you do.

Welcome to Seamless Branding in the Digital Age.

Since branding is no longer the exclusive domain for Fortune 500 companies and Madison Avenue agencies with bloated budgets and traditional techniques, you aspire to discover a way to navigate brand waters with clarity and confidence.

"The digital world has not changed the principles of branding, but rather has magnified everything we know to be true about building a great brand"

Traditional advertising was a master at reducing the complexity of products, culture and human interaction to a single slogan or word. However, the winners in this new, digital race will recognize the marketing street is an 8-lane super highway, with as much to do with attracting and keeping talent, good friends and great customers. Here is one agency explains it:

Yes, the technology has changed.

But, the fundamentals have not.

And fundamentally, a brand is still best defined as; "a story embedded in the mind of the market". In other words, the message far outranks the medium. He with the best "story", told digitally and seamlessly, will win like never before.

Humans are the only species on the planet that sometimes will choose a story over food. And a story is never stronger than when it is shared by those who have lived it. Great storytelling isn't about technique. It's about being human.

No company has ever been an island or operated in a vacuum, and those that have done business that way are now paying a heavy price. "Seamless branding" is best defined as making and keeping promises that matter, so that inside and outside perceptions about your "story" match up; respecting the fact employees are bloggers and customers watch YouTube.

Do you have a "story" worthy of being shared?

A story like the one being told about Landlord Lou?

Lou is a real person. With a real mustache.

Performing real heroic deeds on behalf of Killam Properties, helping apartmenteers in distress.

"Storytelling can change a room. It can change lives. It can change the world"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking": Village Voice

Andy has been in retail since he was a six-year old.

No stranger to hard work, Andy's forefathers immigrated to Canada from Holland following World War II, setting up shop in Minto, N.B. Once there, they rolled up their sleeves, connected with another Dutch family and threw themselves into the mining and dairy industries before entering the world of farming and retailing.

Over the years, Andy's family operated successful cabbage, corn and lettuce farms that expanded into a total of seven farming operations. Eventually, a retail garden center became the focal point of the family business, taking root in the form of Green Village, which opened its doors for business in Fredericton in the spring of 1988.

Andy learned the business from the ground up, going on to university, before taking over ownership of Green Village Garden Center in 1998. After surviving a near-disastrous fire on New Year's Day 2000, the business has continued to grow, with a 48,000 square foot second location now open in nearby Moncton.

Andy is also a graduate of an MIT program called "Birthing Of Giants", a three-year course on entrepreneurship sponsored in conjunction with Inc. Magazine and the MIT Enterprise Forum. He is also a published author, releasing "The Retailer's ROADMAP to Success", endorsed by business gurus such as Michael Gerber of "E-Myth Revisited" fame.

A champion of successful retailing, Andy has been named BDC Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New Brunswick, was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has been awarded the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award in the Entrepreneurial Achievement category.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with the "Village Voice" for self-starting entrepreneurs everywhere, the owner of Green Village ... Andy Buyting!

"The Retailer's ROADMAP to Success" is available at http://www.greenvillage.ca/shop/ and Andy has taken Internet marketing to the next level by giving away half his book - 16 complete secrets - at http://www.retailersroadmap.com/.

p.s... The City of Fredericton and the Province of New Brunswick has a Green Initiative, where businesses are evaluated on recycling efforts and other environmental initatives. Jim Gilbert's Wheels & Deals has just received the highest marks for this program as Canada’s Huggable Car Dealer continues to grow and evolve.

"I'd rather be green and growing than ripe and rotting"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Feeling Lucky

If there is ever a day on the calendar to feel "lucky" this is the one.

St. Patrick's Day offers "luck of the Irish" worldwide and today just might be the day your luck will turn as a result.

Today on TSB, we focus on ATI (All Things Irish). Here is just a smattering of what makes Ireland and the Irish worth talking about.

- More storytellers per capita than anywhere on planet earth. Inspired by a procession of literary giants including, Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and countless others.
- Guinness Beer
- Irish Pubs
- Irish Whiskey
- Irish Stew
- Irish Coffee
- Green Beer
- The Boston Celtics
- Famous Irish actors include, Maureen O'Hara, Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Richard Harris, Greer Garson, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Farrell.
- Irish musicians of note include, The Clancy Brothers, The Corrs, Van Morrison, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Thin Lizzy, Sir Bob Geldof, The Chieftains and biggest of them all - the lads from Dublin, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., otherwise known as U2.
- Robert Boyle (1627-1691) Formulated law of physics that bears his name "Boyle's Law", stating that under conditions of constant temperature the pressure and volume of a gas are inversely proportional.
- Ken Shamrock
- Tipperary
- The Blarney Stone in County Cork

And let's not forget ...

- Leprechauns and their cereal of choice ..."They're always after me Lucky Charms".

If you need help in feeling the luck of the Irish ...

Later today, you might striking up a chat in a pub somewhere, so for conversational fodder it might help to know St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. At 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he toiled as a slave. After more than six years in captivity, Patrick escaped back to Britain, but experienced a revelation. An angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

But wait ...there is more!

Familiar with Irish language and culture, Patrick incorporates traditional rituals into his lessons of Christianity rather than try and extinguish native Irish beliefs. He superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. In other words, he sold them on how special they were.

March 17, is believed to be his death date and has been celebrated since the early part of the 17th century. The St. Patrick's Day parade was first held in Boston in 1761, while the longest continually running parade in North America has been taking place since 1824, in Montreal, Quebec.

Wild Rovers the world over ... this is for you, courtesy of the DropKick Murphys'.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A Wish for a Friend
Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Marketing to Soccer Moms

Here is the "Soccer Mom" marketing strategy in three easy steps.

Don't do it.

Not unless you want to alienate a significant portion of the population that makes 81% of the buying decisions on all products and services sold in North America.

Today on TSB, we focus on "The Soccer Mom Myth".

WARNING: Not your typical dry business book. Includes politically incorrect views, Unladylike language, and some tequila stories.

"Soccer Mom Myth" authors Michele Miller and Holly Buchanan have succeeded in pulling back the curtains for a realistic look at what women really want when it comes to the way they are sold. Michele is also the author of "The Natural Advantages of Women" (Wizard Academy Press), the audiobook that has been hailed for its scientific information on how the female brain is "hardwired" for personal greatness.

MRI's have proven women have four times as many neurons connecting the left and right side of the brain. As Michele recently explained at her Wonderbranding blog, while men concentrate on the spatial aspects of an object (right-brain dominant), women possess more ability to look at an object and link it to language (using both hemispheres of the brain at once).

It means she is linking the visual aspects of your retail store or office with actual words. In essence, she’s literally talking herself into – or out of – doing business with you. Have you checked your store or office on the “beauty meter” lately? What are her eyes – and her brain – telling her about you? Are you the Mona Lisa or Elvis-On-Velvet?

Michele and Holly have composed a marketing masterpiece of their own - and don't mind telling you more about "The Soccer Mom Myth".

- Approximately 80 cents of every consumer dollar is either directly spent or influenced by a woman.

- Women are responsible for more than 50% of all do-it-yourself purchases, 51% of consumer electronics, 89% of bank accounts, and 80% of health care.

- The rate of women-owned business startups is growing at three times the rate of other startups in the U.S.

Women are much more complex than the generic term "soccer mom," and by focusing on that stereotype in your marketing campaigns you could be losing a lot of business. Watching this video from Everclear also leads one to wonder if the band might have taken a chapter from Michele and Holly's book as they answer the timeless question; Where do all the porn stars go when the lights go down?

"There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women"


Friday, March 13, 2009

Freight Train of Change

Understanding market forces and business drivers allows you to shape and crystallize a vision for your personal or professional brand.

In other words, you need to know what's coming around the corner well before you get steamrolled by a locomotive of change. As a guy nicknamed Ike once put it:

"Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him" DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Currently, economic headlines are dominated by corporate institutions and entire industries being flattened by a runaway train loaded by millions of GenY'ers stoked with attitude and technology. TSB saw the light at the end of this tunnel coming, as far back as December 15, 2003 when a wizard foretold with blistering accuracy what was about to happen.

Don't take our word for it.

Study the memo for yourself.

It would appear that few "big shots" in the automotive, newspaper, broadcasting, real estate and other industries got the memo, or if they did, failed to pay close enough attention. Only a tiny handful grasped the implications of the speeding bullet that was headed their way by 2009.

Now that damage has been done and financial bloodbaths are everywhere, here are three revealing things happening right now that might impact your brand:

#1 - E-mail is sliding. Social networking is climbing.

Old, saddled with spam and incapable of immediately informing the world every time a friend so much as consumes a cheeseburger, the once-mighty e-mail has finally lost the popularity contest with social networking.

Blogging and social-network sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now the fourth-most popular online activities, eclipsing e-mail and growing twice as fast as any other category in the top three, according to a research report released yesterday by Nielsen Online. The biggest increase to "member community" sites - an extra 11.3 million people - came from the 35-to-49-year-old demographic.
Globe and Mail 3/10/09

Today, Facebook boasts about 175 million users. Serious implications for companies and brands that need to get on the social media rails. The genie escaped the bottle long ago and this GenY creation is here to stay.

#2. SXSW is ready to rock Austin, Texas - and the rest of the world.

"In its 22 years, SXSW has grown from a tiny music festival in the Texas capital into a massive, unavoidable media beast that reflects, discusses and showcases trends in culture and media but also often creates them." National Post, 3/13/08

Beginning with 700 registrants in 1987, SXSW (South by South West) will attract more than 12,000 registrants people this month . Some of the brightest web heads mix with propeller heads and visionary entrepreneurs to enjoy music, film and the odd soda at this breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies.

One of the hottest, social media apps, Twitter launched at SXSW Interactive in 2007. For more on the story, meet Lifecaster Sarah Austin on Pop17, a two-to-three minute video update that profiles the new cultural phenomenon of online micro-celebrity.

#3. Andrew MacKinnon is worth reading.

His work as a blogger speaks for itself.

Requiring zero hype or superfluous superlatives, people like Andrew can help you make sense of it all. His recent analysis of the crisis facing newspaper publishing was most insightful :

The 2009 freight train of change waits for no one.

Are you and your brand on it?

If not, you might want to begin by absorbing the memo.

"I hear the train a comin'; it's rollin' 'round the bend, And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when" JOHNNY CASH

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cluster Bucks

You are a member of a sitting government in any state or province.

You want to be "the guy" in caucus who actually spurs your party to action, in a way that makes you feel good again about the reason you entered political life in the first place. Like most attracted to the lure of public life, you sincerely and truly wanted to make a difference.

However, two or three years in to your term you realize meaningful change is like pushing frozen molasses uphill blindfolded with both arms tied behind your back. You are growing wearing of being shackled by a bureaucracy that is oh so sticky about making sure things get done their way. Because that's the way it has always been.

But there is something in your gut telling you that everyone around you is missing out on the bigger picture as the economic storm wreaks havoc with the provincial or state treasury.

Consider these options.

You could pretend to feel good and justify in some "political" way any measure to heave billions in bailout dollars towards bloated and busted Industrial Age corporations. You and your colleagues will cross your fingers and deliver optimistic speeches in the hope that subsidization will see these mismanaged monolithic monstrosities through the current crisis.

Or ...

You could start whispering to some of your colleagues that it may be time to take a more entrepreneurial approach.

The coffee talk begins with thinking about ways to divert a minuscule portion of the bailout budget towards funding your own Silicon Valley; creating an organic chain reaction that results in an explosion of economic power. You explain it to your caucus buddy this way:

"Do we rescue sinking ships at sea or add fuel to new business rockets, already on the launch pad"?

Thanks to Google, these new rockets are relatively easy to find. Some may even be tempted to relocate to your jurisdiction if they knew your government was also thinking in a futuristic sense.
A good example would be Silicon Valley-based Tesla Motors.

Incorporated in July, 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, Tesla Motors builds sleek battery-powered vehicles (pictured above) that can go 0-to-60 in less than 4 seconds. It has a range of 428 miles on a single charge that costs less than a cup of coffee. And as consumer demand increases, price points would plummet faster than the NASDAQ.

Or how about exploring possibilities with a self-funded, start-up venture that has INNOVATION written in capital letters all over it. You decide if John Kanzius, is a modern-day Edison in his quest to solve the energy crisis?

Government leaders all over North America look at economic clusters like Silicon Valley and wonder "Geez wouldn;t it be nice if we had could have our own Silicon Valley? Imagine all those nice high-paying jobs with all those cool people living in our state or province? We'd have cluster bucks for everyone.

At cabinet tables where decisions on the public purse are made, it will be interesting to see which state or province stops to think about the real options and opportunities in front them. In other words, which one will be the first to step up to the plate, and refuse to view Silicon Valley with envy and wishful thinking.

What if debate shifted away from investing into football stadiums, hockey arenas and failing corproations arenas and into planting seeds to create new, Digital Age enterprise greenhouses? At some point real leaders will start asking better questions like "why not?" and "how much it would it really cost us"?

Any ideas on who those leaders might be?

"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything"NIKOLA TESLA

Special thanks to Andrew Mackinnon and his forwarding http://www.paulgraham.com/maybe.html for inspiring this post.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking": Capital Networker

This charismatic native of Fredericton, NB is quickly emerging as one of Canada's top networkers.

Now based in Ottawa, Laura juggles family life with her role as Managing Director of the blossoming eWomenNetwork, which helps local business women turn interactions into transactions. She organizes and runs over 20 member events annually, obtaining sponsorship, attracting new members and more than anything - promoting the philosophy of ‘giving first’.

She is also a professional ski and snowboard instructor with an avalanche of passion for both the alpine and business slopes.

Today on TSB, we showcase international trade specialist and one of Canada's most energetic and adventurous networkers; the always plugged-in and very well-connected, Laura Booker:

To learn more, visit http://www.ewomennetwork.com/index.html

"The real rule of 'give and take' is that before you can take, you gotta give" JEFFREY GITOMER

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eugene and Nothing in Between

Eugene routinely offends people.

His views on sex, marriage and money don't always conform to the "norm".

He has claimed to have slept with thousands of women all over the world, but maintains he has never been drunk, high on drugs or smoked cigarettes.

Eugene is also co-founder of one of the world's most enduring brands. He has launched numerous other successful business ventures to the point where many consider Eugene a marketing gene-i-us.

The group he co-founded with Paul Stanley in 1971 has smashed concert attendance records all over the world, racked up 24 gold and platinum albums and has generated millions of dollars in merchandising sales from more than 2500 licensed products.

Came across a note from Gene Simmons of KISS recently at http://www.simmonsrecords.com/ and in part here is what the Demon of Rock had to say about life, business and branding:

"No one taught me what I know. I had to go out there, dig and scratch and scrounge up the bits and pieces of "the puzzle". And, it's never easy. Whenever I see new talent, or an ambitious young person, I always try to take time to sit, listen and then comment, critique, advise, offer some access when applicable. Because to become an entrepreneur, you must create your own business model, do your own research, fund it yourself and ultimately do it yourself.

And, this is not something you can learn in school. What I do isn't taught. I had to create myself. From top to bottom.

I gave myself the name Gene Simmons. I decided I didn't have to keep my given name. It didn't work. Yes. A name can help or hinder. It's your brand. And brands need to have something people respond to. Archibald Leech isn't as good as Cary Grant. Bernard Schwartz isn't as good as Tony Curtis. And Chaim Witz isn't as good as Gene Simmons.

I wanted to be in a rock band. But I also knew the world was filled with failed rock bands. So, the first thing was, to find band mates that shared a vision. Not an easy task. Then, find your position in the marketplace (who are you...what kind of band, who is your potential audience). It's almost impossible. But it IS possible. And only you have to decide all of the above and especially if you have the guts to devote the time, effort and the blood, sweat and tears (lots of em, don't worry) it takes to make it.

35 years later and KISS is about to embark on a Stadium Tour of South America, then swing up to Canada for some shows, then the US, then Europe, then Asia....But it's not the only thing I've done .I have managed other acts including LIZA MINNELLI, JENNI MULDAUR, DEAD OR ALIVE for a short time, and too many others to mention here. I discovered VAN HALEN. I started acting in movies .and on TV. SIMMONS RECORDS has been reborn at Universal Music Canada. SIMMONS COMICS GROUP publishes three comic books, SIMMONS BOOKS recently published my 3rd Best Seller and with SIMMONS ABRAMSON MARKETING, we market and brand the IndyCar Series, including the Indy 500. We also represent FIND.COM. GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS (seen in 34 countries around the world).I created other TV Shows including MY DAD THE ROCK STAR, and then there is my clothing line with Canada's Dussault Custom Inc. as well as many keynote speaking engagements.

The above may come off as self serving. And, you're damn right it is. Some of you might think, "Who the hell does he think he is."

Precisely the point. Who DO you think you are? Are you special?

Do you have the goods to stand in front of strangers and convince them you're what they need in their lives? That's always been my mantra. You buy the Vacuum Cleaner SALESMAN. Not the Vacuum Cleaner. It’s the Messenger. NOT necessarily the message.

And the most important point -- the world doesn't need what you have to offer. You're not a farmer, policeman or teacher. They're important. You and I are not. What we do, the world could very easily live without. And yet, if you succeed, you can make more money, have more power and get better seats in restaurants than heads of state.

IF you've got the goods and you're willing to work at it 24/7.....'til you drop dead.

Vacation is for wimps.

I've said my piece.

Your turn.

Gene Simmons has never experienced a shortage of self-confidence or a lack of critics. There would be as many people digesting this rant who admire Simmons and what he stands for as those who despise him. You won't find many who are indifferent with their opinion of the God of Thunder – either as a person or a brand. And that's part of the secret ingredient mixed into many of the great brand-building recipes.

Nothing in-between.

It's either black or white.

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Attract customers and employees who fall head over heels in love with what your business stands for?

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Rock to the sound of your own Gibson guitar powered music? March to the beat of your own Pearl drums?

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Avoid the great divide; a swampy, Valley of Indifference that lies between diametrically opposed emotional mountains called Love and Hate?

The perceived safety of the "mushy middle”, the “zone of mediocrity” has landed some of the world’s biggest and most recognized brands on the scrap heap. K-Mart, John McCain, the Big Three Automakers and many others are learning the hard way in 2009 how the Valley of Indifference is quicksand for a brand.

Evidently, Eugene figured this shit out a long time ago as KISS became the biggest-selling concert and merchandising act in the world, with over 2,500 licensed products.

The degree to which someone pushes the brand envelope is usually in direct proportion to the level in which they feel secure in their own skin. Deep insecurities often manifest themselves in many businesses occupying an already jammed, crammed and overcrowded slot marked BORING. That's when marketing efforts, energy and dollars sink in the Valley of Indifference; as customers are served with bland "corporate-speak" mission statements or vanilla-flavored "white noise" of "ad-speak" peppered with hackneyed, hollow-sounding promises, offering "quality, selection and service from our fast, friendly and knowledgeable staff".

When it comes to branding in a way that makes a difference, how willing are you to risk hate to find love?

Brands who know this and do it well include:


Branding with nothing in-between can make your company immune to price-cutting, allowing you to charge premium prices. Branding in a way that inspires love and admiration (as well as triggering some hate) ensures a rich supply of customers who evangelize your business for you so you spend less time and money on advertising or cold-calling.

Are you ready to pick a focus, stand for something and not just try to appeal to everybody?

What could you do or start saying that would make your brand worthy of being desired, loved and yes, even hated?

"The first thing I did when I met Shannon Tweed, or Cher, was say: Here, there are no skeletons in Gene Simmons`s closet.` I refuse to lead a Dr Jekyll-and-Mr Hyde life. There are DJs who get caught with prostitutes, MPs with stockings on their head. It`s a waste of time. Just say, `This is who I am. Take it or leave it. Then you sleep well" GENE SIMMONS


Monday, March 9, 2009

Right in the Nutz

Is there a customer for absolutely anything, everything you could ever dream up up?

Someone who would part with their hard-earned cash and hand it over in exchange for a product or serve that is beyond ridiculous?

All because of an idea that has you exclaim, "Why didn't I think of that"?

It has happened before.

In 1975, a California ad guy named Gary had one of those brilliant, but wacky ideas that he thought might make millions.

Gary the Ad Guy imported inanimate objects from Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico, swaddling them in packing material before nestling the critters in a small cardboard box. He also threw in a training manual, with instructions on how to properly raise and care for the product.

"Sit" and "stay" were effortless to accomplish. "Roll over" required extra help.

The price point was established at $3.95.

The non-functional product was introduced at an August trade show in San Francisco. A month later, Newsweek magazine ran a half-page story and the Gary the Ad Guy

By October, Gary the Ad Guy was shipping ten thousand of these puppies every month.

The fad lasted about six months.

It made Gary Dahl a millionaire.

And has served as a pot-of-gold pipe dream for would-be entrepreneurs ever since.

The Pet Rock was followed by the Mood Ring.

And now a new contender has stepped up to the plate, making footsteps in the "piece of junk that serves no purpose" business category.

Chillaxing last week at Starbucks, a legacy friend sits down and starts riffing on a marketing story, I can't quite believe.

"My niece has a friend, who has a husband, down in Sackville, who owns a Chevy truck that now owns its own pair of testicles".

Like the Champ, I said "pardon"?

And went straight to Google.

Here is the "down-lo".

Capitalizing upon the association of trucks with machismo, Truck Nutz
are installed at the rear of the vehicle, suspended in full view of motorists, pedestrians, and others willing to take a second look. As for the people of purchase these "accessories", many share a lot in common with the guy down in Sackville, who I am told, enjoys a healthy diet of Brooks & Dunn to go with his shit-kicking boots and shiny belt buckles.

Apparently different colors indicate different, subtle meanings.

Red = Driver is on fire.
Blue = Driver hasn't had any for a while.
Black = Driver ethnicity.
Brass = Driver has got 'em.

Since learning of this story, I also learned many women (surprise, surprise) are far from amused. It is highly unlikely to see the emergence of a female demographic for this product.

It would appear that we do live in a world where any guy who can dream up something this ridiculous, stands to make millions simply because of the demand. There is a crazy enough customer for any whacked-out business idea.

That is the music many people want to hear about the idea of quick and easy dollar. The lottery mentality that dictates one flash of brilliance will have you on easy street. The Pet Rock Myth still lives for those who are more hopeful than hardworking.

Ultimately, these fads are one-hit flukes, and every once in a long while, one of them does hit the jackpot with a business model based on pushing half-assed product out the door with the highest possible profit margin.

Ultimately, these business models based on dirty deeds done dirt cheap, prove not to be sustainable.

Ultimately, the most successful businesses are brands are built more like a long-term marriage, not a one-night stand.

But, that doesn't keep millions of folks from fantasizing.

And only a handful laughing all the way to the bank.

"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves" ALBERT EINSTEIN

p.s... The late Bon Scott gets the final word on this one.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Blues on the Boulevard

What do you get when you combine a classically-trained youth orchestra with a 300-plus pound, hard core blues rocker?

Could Bach co-exist with B.B. King? Mozart with Muddy Waters? Hooked on Classics with John Lee Hooker?

Maritime music fans find out how these scales balance later this month (March 28th) when Matt Andersen rumbles onto the stage, backed by the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra for what promises to be an unforgettable experience.

Andersen is a heavyweight in more ways than one. Matt has shared the stage and toured with America, Randy Bachman, the late Bo Diddley, Little Feat and a host of others. His hectic touring schedule includes over 200 live dates a year that encompass North America and the rest of the world. Andersen developed a fervent grass roots following with a streak of unstoppable, ovation-filled live shows. Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra is composed of 90 musicians who range in age from 12 to 22 and have collected a treasure chest of accolades including the 2008 East Coast Music Award (ECMA) for Classical Recording of the Year.

And now for a totally, shameless, seamless plug!

For many years, TSB has admired what Ken MacLeod accomplishes through his genuine, "let's have a coffee" approach to networking and the projects he takes on. In fact, any project touched by Classy Ken soon turns to 24-carat gold, as evidenced by NBYO and their track record of playing before packed theatres in China, Italy and Carnegie Hall. Already, MacLeod and his well connected network have moved about a third of the 1,800 available tickets before any serious advertising has started.

Here is the rest of the info you need:

WHEN: Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre, 945 St. George Blvd.
TICKETS: Moncton Coliseum box office (506) 857-4100
TOLL-FREE: 1-888-720-5600
ONLINE: https://tickets.moncton.ca/.
HOW MUCH?: $25 for adults. $18.50 for seniors and students.

"The one thing the blues don't get is the backing and pushing of TV and radio like a lot of this garbage you hears. They choke stuff down people's throat so they got no choice but to listen to it"


Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Oracle Speaks

OR·A·CLE - person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. WIKIPEDIA

In certain respects, Warren seems like a pretty ordinary guy.

He lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500.

He does not carry a cell phone, nor is there a computer sitting at his desk.

His annual salary is pegged at $100,000 and his hobby of choice is playing cards. Warren invests about a dozen hours a week working on his bridge game. A self-made man from Nebraska, he calls those born with proverbial spoons of silver, growing up in wealthy circumstances, "members of the lucky sperm club".

But Warren is extraordinarily different in many other respects.

There have been at least 47 books published with his name in the title. Each year, he presides over a shareholder meeting that attracts over 20,000 visitors, earning his hometown event the nickname, "Woodstock of Capitalism".

Named the richest American by Forbes magazine in October 2008, he transformed a failing textile maker into a $120 billion company with businesses ranging from ice cream to power plants. He is arguably the most successful investor ever, with a record of achieving an above 20% compounding annual return for the last 40 years

His net worth is in the 50-60 billion dollar range.

When he speaks, people in the financial markets hang on his every syllable.

Meet the "Oracle of Omaha".

Earlier this week, Warren Buffet looked up from his crystal ball long enough to pronounce the economy will be “in shambles” this year. Perhaps longer. However, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway maintains stocks will rebound and better days are ahead for the U.S. economy. In his annual letter to shareholders Feb. 28, Buffet said, “Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time. It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so.”

Back in January, Warren offered a preview of what he told his shareholders, when he had a chance to sit down and share ideas with Tom Brokaw on Dateline NBC.

By his own admission, 2008 was Warren Buffet's worst-year ever.

"The tennis crowd would call my mistakes 'unforced errors,'" Buffet wrote in his annual letter to shareholders, released this past weekend. According to Buffet, “the credit crisis, coupled with tumbling home and stock prices, produced a paralyzing fear that engulfed the country. Fear led to business contraction, and that in turn led to even greater fear.” In retrospect, Warren thought the government needed prevent the collapse of financial firms including Bear Stearns, calling the rescue effort essential to avoid a total breakdown of the financial system. “Had that occurred, the consequences for every area of our economy would have been cataclysmic. Like it or not, the inhabitants of Wall Street, Main Street and the various Side Streets of America were all in the same boat.”

Looking ahead, Buffet predicts government bailouts will cause “unwelcome aftereffects” including inflation. “Major industries have become dependent on federal assistance, and they will be followed by cities and states bearing mind-boggling requests,” he said. “Weaning these entities from the public teat will be a political challenge. They won’t leave willingly.”

"In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "Covey for the K-to-5 Crowd"

Chris is no ordinary educator.

The principal of the Park Street School in Fredericton, NB never stops searching for innovative ways to make learning both fun and practical. And you are about to discover why Chris has been chosen as one of Canada's Outstanding Principals for 2009.

Canada's Outstanding Principals program was developed by The Learning Partnership and the Canadian Association of Principals, in collaboration with the University of Toronto's Joseph L. Rotman School of Management.

Chris has had lots of practice as a principal.

He began working as one 24 years ago at a high school in Grand Manan. He's also served as principal in Hartland and Keswick. For the last dozen or so years, Chris has been at Park Street School, where he has developed innovative community partnerships, introduced a training centre for Smartboard technology and implements less than traditional resources to help better prepare his students for life in the real world.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with Principal Chris Treadwell and the work he is doing to familiarize K-to-5 students with the work of Stephen Covey.

FranklinCovey, a global consulting and training group from Utah, markets "The Leader in Me" program and provides training and resources to educators to implement in all subject areas.David Hatch, a global director with FranklinCovey, has been working with schools in Alberta, South Africa, Singapore, Japan, Australia and Guatemala - to name a few. He said teachers using the program report fewer discipline problems, improvements in students' academic achievements and increased parental support of schools. Hatch adds,"I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, but one school in Florida saw their discipline referrals drop from 275 per year to only 79".

"There are three constants in life... change, choice and principles"


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paul Signs Off

Paul signed on to this world just as the First World War was coming to an end.

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was a child of three when his father, a police officer, was gunned down in 1921 by four would-be robbers.

All four were eventually tried, convicted, received life terms. It is likely they were haunted by the sound of Paul's voice for some time.

A high school teacher took note of that distinctive voice and launched him on a career that began at KVOO in Tulsa where his first job was to help clean the place up. Eventually, Paul was allowed to fill in on the air, reading commercials and the odd newscast.

With radio in his blood, Paul left Tulsa to hit the airwaves in Salina, Kansas, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis, where he bumped into Washington University graduate student Lynne Cooper. Ever the gentleman, Paul invited Lynne to dinner, proposed to her after a few minutes of conversation and from then on called her "Angel," even on his radio show.

A year later , Lynne said yes.

The couple moved to Chicago in 1945.

Three years later, their only child arrived, a son named, Paul Jr.

With "Angel" in his corner, Paul quickly became the most popular newscaster in Chicago. By the early 1950's the ABC Radio Network began featuring Paul's commentary nationwide and he eventually became a familiar voice to millions through more than five decades of programs that encompassed his unique blend of news, commentary and analysis. Through it all, "Angel" was by his side; an astute business partner and producer, she was to Paul what Colonel Parker was to Elvis Presley. And as for Paul Jr., he would eventually create, produce and serve as the only writer for his father's longest running series.

The format never varied.

Paul would hook his listeners with a fascinating account of someone’s struggle up the ladder, then, after a dramatic pause, stun them with the identity of that hero. His idiosyncratic delivery featured staccato pacing, quirky intonations and homespun folksiness.

“And now,” Paul would conclude, caressing each syllable as though it were a precious gem, “you know the rest of the story.”

Paul Harvey passed away this past weekend at the age of 90, surrounded by family at a hospital in Phoenix, where he had a winter home.

His death coming less than a year after that of Lynne, as Paul reunites with his "Angel".

"My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news," Paul Harvey Jr. said in a statement. "So in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents and today millions have lost a friend."

At the peak of his career, Paul Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.

Perhaps Harvey's most famous broadcast came in 1970, when he abandoned his pro-Vietnam stance, announcing his opposition to President Nixon's expansion of the war. Paul wanted America out completely. "Mr. President, I love you ... but you're wrong," Harvey said, shocking faithful listeners and drawing a barrage of letters and phone calls, including one from the White House.

And now that he has finally arrived at the pearly gates, leave it to Paul to have already gathered, written and composed one of his best stories ever.

And now you know the end of the story.

"I've never seen a monument erected to a pessimist"
PAUL HARVEY (1918-2009)