Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes She Did!

She has been described as articulate, charismatic, and captivating.

Lately, she has been mesmerizing audiences all over North America, sharing specific details and experiences from a campaign like no other.

Against odds too numerous to count, she and her fellow volunteers used social media elements, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others to create a "perfect storm" of viral marketing that transformed an otherwise obscure politician to a worldwide brand known as "Obama".

What makes the story of Rahaf Harfoush even more remarkable is that she was a Canadian volunteer, unable to cast a vote in the last U.S. Presidential elections.

Celebrating her life long love affair with the written word, Harfoush has published "Yes We Did", a book about the grassroots groundswell inspired by the Obama campaign. She is also the Research Coordinator to the critically acclaimed Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything and will bring her social media message to a live audience at the first-ever Intelligent Communities Summit, being held next week in Moncton, NB.

A number of world-renowned panellists will be at the summit, demonstrating how businesses can leverage technology to carve their niche in the global economy; the role of universities can play as catalysts for innovation; and the way new technologies will assist private sector companies and communities to be more successful in a global economy. But, Rahaf's story serves as the proverbial proof in the pudding that the world has changed in a dramatic fashion and yours will too.

Are there lessons from the Obama campaign that could dramatically impact your business, career and brand?

Does it sound like the luncheon Rahaf is speaking at next Wednesday, just might be a cool place to be?

“Social media offers new opportunities to activate Brand Enthusiasm”
STACY DeBROFF, Founder and CEO of Mom Central

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Standing on Manifesto Mountain

One of the toughest questions any business owner ever has to answer is this one:

"What exactly does your company stand for?"

No fewer than 9 out of 10 owners will be stopped dead in their tracks before struggling and stammering to come up with responses that sound like:

a) "We're committed to achieving new standards of excellence by providing superior human capital management services and maximizing the potential of all stakeholders - clients, candidates and employees - through the delivery of the most reliable, responsive, flexible, and cost-effective services possible."
b) "We aim to satisfy the needs and expectations of our customers with quality products and services by building an empowered organization to unleash our creativity and focus our energies in a cooperative effort."
c) "We provide total solutions geared towards the shared values of our customers, employees and shareholders, while serving our community and protecting the environment."
d) Parts of or all of the above.

The vast majority of companies only know how to talk in the humdrum, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Products of soul-killing, factory model schools and universities, most highly educated corporate leaders are like sheep in suits; often at a loss to provide answers to questions no academic ever taught them to memorize.

"What exactly does your company stand for?"

But, every once in a while you come across a roll-up-the-sleeves business owner like Harvey who has an unusually clear grasp on what his company and its people stand for.

Harvey's company, Trout River Industries, manufactures "live bottom trailers" - heavy equipment designed to unload cargo in a safer, more efficient manner than traditional dump trucks. Back in the spring of 2001 when Harvey was on the road trying to sell the product to prospects in Ontario, he made a fateful telephone call back to the home office in Coleman, PEI.

To his shock and disbelief Harvey's call went to voicemail.

On a voicemail machine installed without his knowledge.

Hanging up, Harvey swore that would be the last time anyone's call to Trout River went to voicemail in the middle of a business day. Once he got back to the Island, Harvey illustrated his values in a way that would never be misunderstood or misinterpreted by empty business jargon.

Gathering the Trout River team of a half-dozen people at the time, Harvey took everyone outside where he proceeded to crush the offending voice mail machine with a 15-ton loader!

As Harvey remembers it, " My partner at the time thought we should have answering machines, but I said, if we do that I'll go home first - that will be the beginning of the end, because as soon as you do you have lost touch with the customer. I know people will say we're too busy to always answer the phone but hey the person that is calling doesn't have a lot of time either. They're busy too. The way I see it is if you don't answer the phone it means you don't care".

To this day, anyone dialing Trout River Industries during regular business hours - (902)859-1200 - will discover a real person on the other end of the line, ready and willing to help direct your call or solve your problem. At Trout River, "Answer the Phone - Always" is a manifesto ingrained in the company's culture that represents much more than the simple act of picking up a receiver. It vividly communicates how deeply Harvey's company cares about its customers, respecting their time and concerns. And it doesn't confuse any of the 40-plus employees like so many muddied mission statements.

Once upon a time a British author named Jeremy Bullmore sat down and counted the words most frequently used in no fewer than 301 mission statements. Here's his tally:

1. Service (230 times)
2. Customers (211 times)
3. Quality (194 times)
4. Value (183 times)
5. Employees (157 times)
6. Growth (118 times)
7. Environment (117 times)
8. Profit (114 times)
9. Leader (104 times)
10. Best (102 times)

Is it any wonder most companies stuff mission statements in gold frames and hang them in their lobbies where self-serving managers ignore them? Take Enron, for example, with a mission statement noting the company prided itself on four key values - respect, integrity, communication and excellence.

Erect a pompous mission statement and your people will outwardly smile and nod, but inwardly yawn and move on to other things.

Create a manifesto - with something of substance you alone stand for - and you will amaze yourself when you attract top people willing to die for the flag you plant on top of that mountain.

One such manifesto, originating from a singular event in time, helped Harvey Stewart capture the 2008 Ernst and Young Atlantic Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It is also a key reason why Trout River Industries has grown from humble beginnings to become a significant player in the road-construction industry with customers across Canada and throughout South America and Eastern Europe. Sales have grown by 1,847% over the last five years and an affiliate operation is now up and running in Australia.

It's been said that if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.

But the "something" you stand for will often be discovered in an otherwise insignificant event buried in your past; a moment in time where your actions defined what you and your brand are all about.

There is zero doubt about Trout River Industries and what it stands for:

"Answer the Phone - Always".

A manifesto is not a mission statement.

It is a declaration of independence and no one else can write it but you.

So ... "What exactly does your company stand for?"

p.s. ... You can test Trout River Industries yourself at(902)859-1200 and discover an entire company of what Nick Lowe sang about on 1979's "Labour of Lust".

“A Mission Statement is a dense slab of words that a large organization produces when it needs to establish that its workers are not just sitting around downloading Internet porn”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Converging in October

Want a peek at what your world looks like today and how it will change by the time you read this post?

Look no further than a video format inspired by a Colorado high school teacher. In the fall of 2006, Karl Fisch felt the need to explain the shift to faculty and students and wound up posting his research on his personal blog where it was subsequently updated by other on-line contributors.

Here is "Did You Know?" 4.0.

The City of Moncton, NB is wasting no time jumping on the "Did You Know?" bandwagon.

Named as one of the 2009 Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world, the City of Moncton is now presenting the first-ever Intelligent Communities Summit at the Delta Beausejour October 5-7.

High profile speakers and panelists from around the world have confirmed their participation, including a key member of the Barack Obama social media team who helped turn the battle cry of "Yes We Can" to "Yes We Did". Ms. Rahaf Harfoush will be the Keynote Speaker at the Wednesday luncheon on Wednesday, October 7th sharing insights from the Obama social media strategy and how online communities elected the first "digital" president.

Rahaf has a compelling story to share.

And so do some other highly acclaimed folks at the Intelligent Communities Summit, converging in early October.

“Social Networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals. Doing it reliably and repeatably so that over time people have an interest in helping you achieve your goals”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Do You Believe in Dalton?

Dalton is a speech-making pro.

Short on experience, but long on passion, Dalton is already drawing comparisons as an orator to Barack Obama and Tony Robbins. He is becoming a regular performer at churches and events all over Dallas and has even opened for the famed poet Maya Angelou.

Dalton Sherman is also 10-years old.

And most recently wowed an audience of more than 17,000 at American Airlines Arena.

Dalton wants to be a news anchor someday, but also confesses that becoming the next Obama has also crossed his mind.

Do you believe in Dalton?

"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Well Said Fred

When Fred was a brash 22-year old Marine, he thought it would be cool to puff himself up by wearing a mustache and smoking big cigars.

Then he bumped into Sergeant Jackson.

Before too long, Fred asked the more experienced Sergeant Jackson what he could do to improve his performance.

The response caught him off guard.

"Well, the first thing, shave off that ridiculous mustache, and quite smoking the cigars -- because you look absurd -- and be yourself."

Fred readily admits he never forgot the lesson and instantly gave up being a smooth-faced kid trying to be something he wasn't.

That lesson in personal grounding would come in handy the day Fred experienced a vision of how he might change the world from what he learned in the military. And Fred has been more than happy since then to share some of what he has learned with others who hope to change their world.

In retrospect, Fred realized his military experience allowed him to view risk with a different perspective since the currency of exchange in business is just money - not people's arms and legs, or lives. He may have been more willing to take chances because losing money wasn't the worst thing in the world that could happen.

And he believes his military background taught him other valuable lessons that have come in handy at FedEx:

"When I was in the Marine Corps as a lieutenant, I had come up from a good background, went to a fine university at Yale. I wasn't exactly exposed to folks that were in the blue collar professions and occupations. And then here I was in the Marine Corps, and became a platoon leader, and I was surrounded by kids like that. I maybe was three years older than they were. I was 21, they were 18. But these were youngsters from very different backgrounds than I was. You know, blue collar backgrounds, steelworkers, and truck drivers, and gas station folks. And there we were, out in the countryside in Vietnam, living together, eating together and obviously going through all sorts of things. I think I came up with a very, very different perspective than most people that end up in senior management positions about what people who wear blue collars think about things and how they react to things, and what you should do to try to be fair to those folks. So in that regard it was an invaluable experience. And a great deal of what FedEx has been able to accomplish was built on those lessons I learned in the Marine Corps. The fundamental principle behind fast cycle or express transportation is that you are substituting your services for other processes. If an electronics manufacturer is going to operate without inventory, or field service engineers are not going to have the parts and pieces to fix things rat-holed in the trunk of their car, then when they need the part or piece, or they need the item delivered to the customer, you've got to perform. You've got to be able to let them know where this item is all the time.It's not like we're carrying sand and gravel. You know, we're carrying chemotherapy drugs, and important manuscripts, and electronic parts, and pieces for airplanes that are grounded. So when we pick it up and say, "We're going to have it there early the next morning," I mean we have to deliver. There's nothing else to it".

"The most important piece of advice that I could give is to take advantage of the tremendous reservoir of knowledge that's out there today. Spend some time learning how the world has evolved. There are a lot of good lessons in history, and other peoples' experiences in the past, that could be exactly the solution to the problem you're looking for".

Without the pursuit of money as a prime motivator and a military-influenced work ethic and leadership style, Fred Smith could be accused of being overly zealous in his focus on an idea far beyond what any ordinary person should be.

Maybe that's why people like Fred are referred to as "extraordinary".

Today, Fred's vision has created jobs for 290,000 employees and $16 billion in revenues. While Fred may shrug it off and say he had the good fortune to be on the rising tide of history and being in the right place at the right time, Fred was still the one rolling the dice and willing to step up to the plate and be accountable for his vision.

Rarely, if ever, will the pursuit of a vision that matters go in a straight line. The zigging and zagging, the winning and losing will only be paid by the strength of a double-sided coin marked with "conviction" and "persistence". In other words, absolute faith in your vision coupled with the perseverance to bring it to fruition.

Is there something you dream of accomplishing that borders on the extraordinary?

Would any of Fred's experiences and insights come in handy the day you decide to roll the dice and place vision ahead of money?

"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and those who have met them in battle. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - Solving a Business Pickle

What do you do when you're in a business pickle?

If you're like Jim Gilbert, you call Susan.

A Riverview NB native, who calls Toronto home, Susan travels the country helping business owners solve some of their most complex data entry and computer network issues.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with one of the enthusiastic experts from Profit Building Solutions ... Susan Pickle!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motivate.

"When we can identify a problem and face the problem with confidence and enthusiasm, the solution is on the way"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writing on the Cluetrain Wall

"Most corporations only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies"

Are you and your brand taking part in the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in?

Yesterday, TSB offered a taste of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and what four smart guys predicted a decade ago.

The quizzical quartet peered into their collective crystal balls in 1999 and revealed how the Internet would allow customers and employees to become more hyperlinked than the companies that either serve or employ them. Their 95 Theses detailed how sterile, corporate happytalk would ultimately prove to be less than formidable as a firewall to prevent smart employees and customers from sharing stories and shifting balances of power.

Ten years later, many organizations are now feeling intense pain from the shift to this new kind of conversation. And much of the discomfort results from being unaware of key elements of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and the way a 20th century focus on selling commodities and services has been replaced by a new focus on conversations.

If you haven’t read "The Cluetrain Manifesto" – take a look. Or re-read it in 2009 with a new lens. With thanks to Cluetrain authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, here is a sampling of the 95 Theses that marked the end of business as we know it:

#6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

#7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

#12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

#15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

#16. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

#23. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

#24. Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

#34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

#49. Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high.

#53. There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market.

#62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.

#75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

#89. We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

#93. We're both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they're really just an annoyance. We know they're coming down. We're going to work from both sides to take them down.

#95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

And if that's not enough, here is a quick video summary of what "The Cluetrain Manifesto" is trying to tell you.

Just as GM mistook Hondas, Toyotas and Volkswagens for passing fads, most big corporations and even small businesses have misread what the 21st Century Digital Economy is offering.

But, the "clues" are everywhere.

The Internet clock is ticking faster than ever.

Small business has speed on its side.

Do you see a problem here?

Or an opportunity?

"The main thing for me was the net was not well understood. One of the major messages was that “we” weren’t seats or eyeballs. "We" were ordinary folks, people who loved and used the net, not necessarily customers who would support IPO valuations. The stock market crashed helped correct some of this mystique. And now we’re dealing with a new “us” – a world where the net is everywhere, on phones, accessible all over the world"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Riding the Cluetrain

The "Cluetrain" has been stopping several times a day for about ten years now.

But, have you taken delivery?

The "Cluetrain Manifesto" is a set of 95 theses that examines the impact of the Internet on both consumers and organizations. What makes the manifesto remarkable is the blistering accuracy it contained when it foretold the future upon its release in 1999. Written by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger, the "Cluetrain Manifesto" is noteworthy for the way many of its concepts have endured over the past decade, despite massive changes in technology and social norms.

Today on TSB, we take a closer look at what it's like to ride on the "Cluetrain" with one of the authors, Doc Searls as he weighs in on the future of advertising.

And Searls continues with the impact social media has had on the concept of authority.

Doc Searls is regarded as one of the deep thinkers in the blog movement while "World is Flat" author Thomas Friedman calls Searls "one of the most respected technology writers in America". But just take a moment and imagine how the prophecies of Searls and his Cluetrain comrades would have been received by some of the so-called "smart" people back in 1999.

Sadly, there are still some people that think the Cluetrainers are missing a few pieces of their luggage.

But you can explore for yourself and see how much of our world has unfolded exactly the way the manifesto predicted. For example, until the surge from blogs, Facebook and Twitter, daily one-on-one interactions with consumers was nearly impossible. You know traditional marketers no longer control what was essentially one-way conversations in much the same way a parent addresses a child or the way a teacher talks down to a student.

Do you see the value in taking a closer look at how the manifesto still impacts your business and brand today?

You can download the entire text for free by clicking here.

"Neither a brave man or a wise man lies down on the railway tracks of history and let the train of the future run over him"

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Greatest Stadium Ever Built?

Q: Why does Texas Stadium have a hole in the roof?
A: So God can look down and watch His favorite team play.

The Almighty himself will still be able to take a peek as the Dallas Cowboys kick off their regular-season schedule in a new crib this Sunday when "America's Team" plays host to the New York Giants.

The largest domed stadium in the world, Cowboys Stadium - with its retractable roof -has replaced open-air Texas Stadium as the Cowboys' new home. Capable of seating up to 100,000 people, fans in "Big D" have nicknamed it "Jerry World", "JonesTown", the "Jerrydome", "Jones-Mahal" and the "Boss Hog Bowl", among others.

People can say what they want, but Cowboys Stadium serves as a shining example of the visionary power of team owner Jerry Jones and his $1.15 billion dollar commitment to one of the top brands in all of professional sports.

Some quick facts about Cowboys Stadium:

- Cowboys Stadium overall site encompasses 140 total acres.
- The 180-foot-wide by 120-foot-high operable glass doors, located at each end of the stadium, are the largest operable glass doors in the world and take 18 minutes to open or close.
- At 660,800 square feet, the stadium’s roof is one of the largest domed sports structures in the world.

The Cowboys studied the emblems of some of the world's most recognized and significant buildings before creating a logo that would serve as a suitable visual signature for the stadium. Executive VP of Brand Management Charlotte Jones Anderson says, "Because the logo is clean, reflects the modern architecture of the stadium, and we believe it is timeless. Like the blue star, we think this logo will soon be instantly recognizable and appreciated as the mark of a significant and important venue for sports, meetings and all kinds of entertainment events."

Even in the off-season, Cowboys Stadium is expected to be a draw. The team plans a football Hall of Fame that will be open 350 days a year and feature a pair of Norman Rockwell works as well as an extensive collection of football memorabilia.

Jerry Jones can be faulted by Cowboys fans for many things, but vision is not one of them. His efforts extend beyond the building of a new concrete and steel stadium. Instead, this facility in Arlington, Texas, is destined to become a monument, seamlessly woven into the very fabric of a brand that - like them or not - is one of the world's great sports franchises.

And the game itself on Sunday night, promises to be an interesting affair with two NFC East rivals, already possessing a healthy dislike for each other, ready to hand their opponent their first loss of the season. Tony Romo and the Cowboys beat Tampa Bay on the road last week while Eli Manning and the Giants sent the Redskins packing.

Since arriving in Dallas yesterday, TSB has learned the roof at Cowboys Stadium will be open for Sunday's tilt.

Just in case a certain Someone wants to watch.

"This stadium is a part of the franchise, the legacy of the Dallas Cowboys"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Never Mind the Bollocks ... Here is the Blog Pistol!

It was called "the punk shot heard 'round the world".

The Ramones may have fired it first.

The Sex Pistols may have fired it loudest.

The Clash may have fired it best.

Arriving at a time in history (1976) when the rock music industry was at its most bloated and uninteresting, the punks delivered a swift kick in the ass and a much needed infusion of energy and excitement back to the genre.

They also showed you could do it too.

Is Social Media the new Punk Rock?

In many ways, the movement sparked by the likes of Joey Ramone, Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer can be compared to the way social media artists Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk and Amber MacArthur are communicating with their fans. As a result, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are eating the lunch once reserved for the lumbering dinosaurs of "traditional marketing", Radio, Television and Newspaper.

An Australian-based firm, EngageORM, may be on to something, drawing parallels that brings back memories of the mid-to-late 1970s.

This is how Johnny Rotten and his Sex Pistol mates grabbed attention the very first time they appeared on television ...

and this is Johnny Rotten, more than 30 years later, still doing things his way.

"Punk has always been about doing things your own way. What it represents for me is ultimate freedom and a sense of individuality"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The "Braduate" of Business

"Work should be fun. If its not you're doing the wrong type of work!"

Brad got the entrepreneurial spark at the age of ten.

Because he was the kind of kid who wanted to have what he wanted when he wanted it, Brad realized it took money to do that. His first job is at a restaurant near his parents summer cottage in Caissie Cape, NB. Patrons had no idea that a ten-year old was back in the sweatshop of a kitchen cooking up fries and chicken wings; baking pizza and nachos.

The summer of '99 is when Brad experienced his first revelation in business:

"I realized then and there that I would be working far too hard, making somebody else rich. And that's when I decided a life of minimum wage with stress was not the path I was ever going to follow".

Knowing he much preferred music and entertaining people, Brad opened his first business at the age of 11. With a single karaoke machine and a dozen CD's for inventory Brad was in business with a paid gig at the Riverview Kinsmen Club for 20 dollars.

More than 600 clients, three attempted businesses and two car accidents later, this Moncton-based mogul currently owns three companies; an entertainment and promotions business, a weekend flea market and a consulting group.

The 20-year old son of a federal bureaucrat and a bank teller, his type of "Bradittude" has been on the radar of mainstream media for the past couple of years as he works toward his goal of becoming a millionaire before the age of 30.

Wearing a power suit right out of "The Apprentice", Brad sips on a latte while explaining his entrepreneurial success at such an early age. For example, he recalls learning a lot more outside the classroom than in it at the Bachelor of Commerce program at St. Mary's University. In the midst of completing his thesis for the SMU Diploma in Management Program, (the youngest to do so in university history) he has found the "real world" school of entrepreneurship has been of much more value to this business "Braduate":

"You've got to pay attention to what you're pretending not to notice".

OK Brad, what do you mean by that?

"As humans we like to deflect the stuff we don't want to do. We pretend not to notice the things that create stress or unpleasant or things we would rather not do or face. If we can learn to pay attention to those things, take them on and get them done, there is nothing we can't do. There is no limit to what we can accomplish".

Excited by new possibilities open to him through "", Brad is also focusing his attention on launching the first-ever Greater Moncton Entrepreneurship Expo, taking place at the Delta Beausejour Hotel on October 19th. Since conceptualizing the event, Brad has secured Enterprise Greater Moncton, The City of Moncton, and the Business Development Bank of Canada as partners. DC. We are also partnered with a number of great organizations to make this happen.

Brad explains the Entrepreneurship Expo this way:

"This conference is all about motivating and inspiring our local entrepreneurs to chase after everything they want in life and achieving a unbelievable level of happiness and freedom".

But why are you moving heaven and earth to do this?:

“The reason I work so hard — apart from the typical money and big dreams — is to earn the opportunity to have power and responsibility, to effectively lead and motivate other people to realize their true potential and capacity”.

A media conference is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday, September 17th) at 9 a.m. at Moncton City Hall to unveil full details of the Expo which will include interactive workshops, a networking lunch and trade show designed to appeal to entrepreneurs of all ages and sizes.

If you want to know more about what goes on inside the mind of a business "Braduate", you can follow Brad at

"I like thinking big. If you're going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maxwell's YouTube Hammer

"Brand is the 'f' word of marketing. People swear by it, no one quite understands its significance and everybody would like to think they do it more often than they do"
MARK Di SOMA, Audacity Group

Dave Carroll has done it again.

Dave and his band Sons of Maxwell became international media sensations two months ago with their music video, "United Breaks Guitars", explaining how United Airlines personnel damaged his Taylor guitar and then refused to take responsibility or ante up for the loss.

Within ten days, the video had 3 million hits on YouTube.

The incident has been a public relations nightmare for United Airlines. The company's share price plunged by 10 per cent four days after the songs release. That translated into a $180 million hit for United's silver-seeking shareholders.

On Tuesday August 5, Dave and his band reconvened near the Station 41 fire department in Waverley NS, to swing a second hammer on United's head.

Soon after the video firestorm, United contacted Carroll and mentioned they may change their customer service policy as a result of the incident and the Mickey Mouse way in which it was dealt with. United also claimed they wanted to use the video as a "training aid".

United Airlines has discovered the hard way that brand strength is equal to the level of performance at each and every customer interaction.

On-line and off.

And brand equity becomes the sum total of what lies in the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.

Brands have become the express checkout for people living life at warp speed. Failure to perform and treat each touchpoint with the utmost care and your brand is left wide open for equally rapid backlash, with social media serving as a slingshot that plays to David's advantage whenever Goliath rears its ugly corporate, bureaucratic head.

Slowly, companies are waking up to the fact their brand is more than products on a shelf or Point-A to Point-B service. More than any factor, brand strength is determined by behavior.

What is it about this story that strikes a chord with you?

Are there lessons from the way United crashed and burned that you can adapt for your brand?

"A brand is a living entity - and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures"

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Branding of Socialnomics

First there was Reaganomics.

Then Freakonomics.

Followed by Wikinomics

Is your brand ready for Socialnomics?

But wait ... there's more!

TSB is but one of about 133 million blogs as indexed by Technocrati. The same report into the Blogosphere also revealed that on average, 900,000 blog posts are created every 24 hours. Meanwhile, Universal McCann reports 77% of all active internet users regularly read blogs.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the numbers, so rather drown in data, here is what you need to pay attention to:

1. The transparency of social media mandates that you and your brand needs to live/ conduct businesses as though your mother/boss/best customer is watching, because what happens in Vegas stays on YouTube.

2. Be careful about what you post, because in a Facebook world it will be pulled up again later. One study by indicates 45% of employers have used social networks to research job candidates and 35% rejected a candidate based on what they found.

3. Social media doesn’t have the same impact on every business or career. But, you will need to determine the impact it has on yours.

4. Social media is increasingly becoming the only way customers/suppliers/prospects interact with your brand. In fact, an entire generation of customers will never want to engage any other way.

We now live in a world where one-size-fits-all, one-way marketing no longer works. Businesses cannot continually broadcast their brand messages to consumers and ignore their preferences and feedback.

If you fail to listen, engage and respond ... your competitors and customers will.

As you will discover tomorrow.

"Today’s winners are not the result of Madison Avenue, Blueblood Political Parties, or Monopolistic Distributors. As a result of the ease and speed with which information can be distributed amongst the social graph, the winners today are great products and services—which ultimately means that people win. Companies can elect to do business as usual at their own peril. We are at the start of a newer and brighter world for consumers and businesses; this is the world of Socialnomics"

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking": Rockin' Robin

Robin works in a different world in more ways than one.

A Montreal native, who calls New Brunswick home, Robin spends eight months of the year in Europe as a strength and conditioning coach for a men's professional hockey team.

As you can imagine, it's not the typical 9-to-5 gig. And it's not always easy to stickhandle through the maze of judgement and behind-the-back whispers, but, fitness is her passion; it's what she is all about and Robin's a top notch pro. Her work speaks for itself, compiling an impeccable track record in keeping athletes healthy and helping them perform at peak levels.

In other words, Robin is a gal who rocks at what she does.

Today on TSB, he get up close and personal with the Strength Coach of the Vienna Capitals ... Robin Niderost!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motivate.

"Find out who you are and do it on purpose"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brand of Steel

Throughout history, this brand has matched the hard-nosed work ethic of a city and its people. It's most loyal supporters describe the brand as “strong,” “tough” and “hard-working,”.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers open defence of their 6th Super Bowl title, kicking off the NFL regular season looking to kick some Tennessee ass.

The visiting Titans are not facing a mere football team tonight in the Steel City. They're taking on a powerful brand, otherwise known as "Steeler Nation".

The Steelers franchise traditionally ranks as one of the strongest team brands in its local market compared with scores of other professional sports teams in consumer surveys. According to the 2007 Turnkey Team Brand Index, the Steelers ranked first among 122 team brands in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL with data supplied by more than 12,000 fans in 47 markets. In the 2008 survey, Steelers ranked third.

Values such as “family-oriented”, “blue collar,” and "stability" have created a brand whereby the team actually defines the city. "Pittsburgh" and the "Steelers" have always gone together ... much like "Bud" and "Wiser".

Probably the single biggest reason is the long-term vision instilled by the ownership of the Rooney family which dates back to the early 1930's. Current head coach Mike Tomlin is only the third person to occupy that job over the last 38 years as he follows a trail of glory blazed by predecessors, Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.

Like the Yankees in baseball, the Celtics in basketball, and the Canadiens in hockey, the Steelers embrace a rich championship and Hall-of-Fame history to create an internal brand in their locker room before it charges out on to the gridiron at Heinz Field before 70,000 "Terrible Towel" waving fans.

The "Terrible Towel" is considered to be the first "rally towel"; making appearances in such places as Mount Everest and on Saturday Night Live. Myron Cope has since passed on but the power of his "Terrible Towel" lives on in Steeler fans such as 90-year old Agnes Falls

And there are no shortage of companies lining up to jump on the Steelers "brandwagon":

Since the NFL began the season on Thursday with the Kickoff Game, the home team has won six of seven times and the Steelers have not lost a season-opener since 2002.

Tonight, a long and lonely seven months of hardship comes to an end in Pittsburgh PA as the beloved Steelers prepare to send Tennessee's Titans on their way.

"We're going to guard against feelings of entitlement. We're simply going to be blue collar humble and start a process of building our football team"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eyes on the "YPG" Prize

"GREAT job yesterday. The most fun I've had at an announcement ever"

Is entrepreneurship in your genes?

That's the question being posed with the launch of as the search begins for "primary carriers" between the ages of 18-and-34. The national social media campaign sees and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) joining forces to increase awareness of youth entrepreneurship through a contest where the eventual winner will be awarded their own franchise and everything they need to launch their own business.

The news of this contest and the scientific "discovery" that supports started breaking on YouTube over the last 48 hours ...

Entrepreneurs aged 18 to 34 are invited to visit, and submit a video of themselves explaining why they should be the winner. The big prize, estimated to be worth about $100,000, is a franchise, a Moncton-based company that brings private home sellers and buyers together.

As part of the final selection process, stars of CBC Television's "Dragons' Den" will help select the winner of the franchise and supplementary prize package worth close to $100,000 at an event held in the CBC Broadcast Centre, this coming November in Toronto. President Ken LeBlanc and CYBF chairman John Risley were joined by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, Moncton MP Brian Murphy and Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc with a crowd of close to 400 on hand at the Capitol Theatre for Tuesday's media conference and launch. As far as the enigmatic and reclusive Dr. Emmett Y. Browne is concerned, he made a brief appearance at the Capitol before being whisked away by security and back to his private jet enroute to another engagement in Copenhagen, Denmark.

For more on the story, intrepid reporter Alan Cochrane of the Moncton Times-Transcript offered one of the better descriptions of what went down with the launch of

"We're really looking for the go-getters and the people who bounce out of bed in the morning who have a lot of passion for owning their own business"
KEN LeBLANC, President & CEO

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

YPG Discovery Revealed Today!

Premier to Attend Landmark Announcement

A significant event unfolds today in Moncton, NB, unveiling complete details of a nationwide initiative and the implications it holds for young entrepreneurs in Canada. Business, science and community leaders are coming together with a grassroots program to inject new life into youth entrepreneurship thanks to a momentous biogenetic discovery that could dramatically alter Canada’s business climate.

A media conference, open to the public, is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. this afternoon at Moncton's Capitol Theatre to release complete details of this innovative program and research that supports it. Chairman John Risley of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) and CEO Ken LeBlanc will be joined by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, several provincial cabinet ministers, Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc and many other special guests and dignitaries for this major unveiling.

The man behind the research is the reclusive, yet enigmatic Dr. Emmett Y. Browne (pictured above) of Cedar Crest, New Mexico. A Harvard grad from 1982, his meteoric medical career inspired the hit ABC network television program “Doogie Howser”, which aired over four seasons in the early 90’s.

Among Dr. Browne’s discoveries are the development of technology to build the world’s first solar-powered DNA microscope. Dr. Browne was also instrumental in supervising the work of future Nobel Prize winners Dr Andrew Fire of MIT and Dr Craig Mello of Stanford, credited for discovering a phenomenon called RNA interference, which regulates the expression of genes.

Currently, Dr. Browne has been immersed in “YPG” research, dedicated to isolating genetic properties found in successful, young entrepreneurs. His work has garnered international acclaim and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Nobel Prize nomination. In keeping with Nobel protocols, the names of the nominees are never publicly announced, and neither are they told that they have been considered for the Prize, which is why Dr. Browne is unable to comment on the nature of his discovery in any public forum.

Until today.

at 2:00.

“There is no better place on the planet than Canada to launch such an important initiative at a time like this”
DR. EMMETT Y. BROWNE, Melanson Laboratories

p.s.. It's not unusual to see Premier Graham drop what he is doing to support young entrepreneurs, as evidenced by this encounter captured over the weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to Fool

It's the L.F.W.

The Last Free Weekend.

For many, the Labour Day weekend is the final kick at the fun cat. As the beginning of another school year approaches, you may be interested in knowing more about some unspoken and previously unreported annual rituals familiar at many colleges and universities.

Some of the images in this video and the Morgan Freeman narration will evoke comparisons to another yearly journey that unfolds each autumn in Antarctica; when emperor penguins of breeding age leave their normal habitat and march inland to ancestral mating grounds.

Since its launch in 1999, has evolved into "can you believe they did that?" site for 6 million visitors each month, a comedy tour, a T-shirt business, books and MTV's The CollegeHumor Show. Founded by Ricky Van Veen and Josh Abramson, beer, babes and buffoonery dominate the website, which oddly enough attracts a loyal audience of men between the ages of 18 to 22.

Ricky and Josh have built a platform featuring short-form videos with a quality rivaling anything on Saturday Night Live. In other words, their brand of humour found an audience and grew it in a way that has made the website not only popular, but profitable. has attracted interest from mainstream marketers and media mogul Barry Diller, who acquired a majority stake in 2006 for a reported $20 million. Though they won't discuss revenue, Abramson points out, "We are profitable and have continued to grow nicely".

It may not be your brand of humour, but, has clearly established itself as a a brand with something to say.

"You can lead a boy to college, but you can''t make him think"


p.s... TSB understands a significant event unfolds Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, NB, to unveil complete details of a nationwide initiative and the implications it holds for young entrepreneurs in Canada. Anyone can attend and get up to speed on ground-breaking research that has pinpointed specific genetic properties linked to the success of young entrepreneurs. We will keep you posted as this story develops.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Marketing to Soccer Moms

Is there a way to market to the typical middle-class woman who lives in the suburbs with her two school age children? We're talking about that overburdened kind of gal who drives a minivan as she ferries her kids and their friends around town, often putting the interests of her family ahead of her own.

Could there be an easy way to target these "soccer moms", considering they represent a hefty chunk of consumer buying power and are often key swing voters who decide elections?

If only you could sign up for the program that tells you "How to Market to Women" in three easy steps.

Regretfully, that program does not exist.

Not unless you want to alienate a significant portion of the population making 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.

NEWS FLASH: 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.

If you follow the link to this video from Everclear, it might make you wonder if the band lifted a chapter from Michele and Holly's book as they answer a timeless question:

Where do all the porn stars go when the lights go down?

Is it true they become Volvo driving soccer moms?

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

Originally posted March 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking": Doing Things the Hatheway

Bob is the kind of guy you want on your volunteer committee.


Because he is one of the few who will lead by example, take on a task and actually get things done.

As a professional, Bob began practicing orthodontics with his father in 1996 after receiving degrees at Dalhousie University and University of Toronto. When he is not creating winning smiles for his patients, he is dedicated to advancing his profession in many ways:

- Active member of New Brunswick Dental Association.
- Active member of Canadian and American Association of Orthodontics.
- Active member of American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association.
- Active member of World Board of Orthodontics.

Bob has also served as the 2007 President of the Canadian Association of Orthodontics.

But wait, there is more ...

Bob also found time to sit on the executive with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, is co-chair and a financial supporter of the Transforming Care Campaign at York Manor, has served on the board of Fredericton Sports Investment Inc. and is active in education, supporting projects with the University of New Brunswick and School District 18.

Did we mention he has founded his own private airline?

"Dr. Bob" is a busy guy who gets things done.

The Hatheway.

A native of Fredericton, NB, he is a familiar face at many hockey rinks, soccer fields, golf courses or school functions with Sherri and their three children, Rachel, Tori and Robbie. And today on TSB, he managed to squeeze in some time for us as we welcome orthodontist, businessman, community leader, pilot, political candidate, husband, father and friend ... Dr. Bob Hatheway.

To people who know how committed he is to getting things done, it's no surprise to see Bob toss his hat in the ring as he attempts to become the Tory candidate for the riding of Fredericton-Nashwaaksis. In true Hatheway fashion, he has adopted some of the latest technology, communicating with constituents via Twitter and Facebook as he makes his way through the riding each day. You can learn more about his campaign by clicking here.

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motivate.

"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Branding in a Recession

Do you know the difference between a recession and a depression?

Here is the easiest way to distinguish the two:

"In a recession, your neighbour loses his job; in a depression, you lose yours!”

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) confirmed on December 1, 2008, the U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007. Many economists believe the current downturn will be the worst since the recession of 1981-82.

But, you already know tough times don't last; tough people do and today on TSB you get to contemplate how life will change in the business ocean you currently splash around in. This ocean (your market) that has sustained you and your competitors, has been shrinking to the size of a pond, spelling T-R-O-U-B-L-E for those who can't foresee the implications of this contraction. Natural law dictates that some competitors (smaller, slower fish) will be squeezed out of the pond, gasping, choking and wheezing their way to a spot on the beach.

The obvious, knee-jerk reaction to this "shrinking pond" dynamic is to cut back on your branding activities, such as advertising, P.R., and the new darling, social media; however, studies have shown taking your foot off the marketing pedal might be the most dangerous thing you can do in tough economic times.

In a study of U.S. recessions, McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 companies from 1980-1985. The results showed that companies that maintained or increased advertising budgets during the 1981-82 recession averaged Significantly Higher Sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985, sales of companies that were Aggressive Recession Advertisers had climbed 256% over those that didn't keep up their advertising.

But wait ... there's more!

Another series of six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that Advertising Aggressively during Recessions not only boosted sales, but also increased profits and overall market share. This fact has held true for all post-World War II recessions studied by The American Business Press starting in 1949.

When the pond is shrinking, there are fewer competitors with the grit in their gills to splash around and make some noise. Consequently, your message has a better chance of being heard and when the tidal wave of prosperity comes rushing back in (which it always has in the 35 recessions since 1867) your brand has a window of opportunity to leapfrog over everybody else; to the ONE brand customers in your category think of first.

Consider this:

- Everyone still needs to put gas in the car.
- Families still need to buy groceries.
- Kids still need clothes and school supplies.
- Handymen still need power tools and other gadgets.
- Women still need makeup and lipstick.
- NFL fans still need Zesty Cheese Doritos for the upcoming season.
- And great brands still need to flourish and grow.

Here is why:

When times are good, your branding activities - such as marketing, advertising and P.R. - set you apart from the other fish. When times are tough, your branding activities allow you to gain an unbeatable advantage once the inevitable rush of fresh water from the turnaround arrives.

Market share is still up for sale in 2009 and beyond.

Will you wade in the shallow end or head to deeper water?

"I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours"

Originally posted January 13, 2009