Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A World Outside Your Window

Isn't it funny how life can change in an instant?

And change your world and the one outside your window?

Take Bob, for example.

Sitting at home one night, on a comfy couch watching the telly, Bob is suddenly glued by a news report from a foreign country.

Watching in disbelief, Bob becomes emotional.

Before long he is unglued by what he is watching on his window to the world.

And decides in an instant to do something.

He starts with a phone call to a pal named Midge. Soon, other calls are placed to people like Phil, Paul, George and Gordon.

A studio steps up and donates 24 hours of recording time.

The rest is history.

It is the #1 Christmas Rock Song ever recorded.

"Do They Know Its Christmas?" was released on November 29, 1984, and shot straight to No. 1 on the UK singles chart, outselling all other records in the chart put together. It became the fastest- selling single of all time in the UK, and helped direct millions of relief dollars to people in desperate need of help.

If you have ever wondered what moved an Irish rock star named Bob Geldof in the first place, here is the original Michael Buerk story that aired on the BBC that night in 1984.

Many years later, Buerk would confess, "The only Europeans who were there were aid workers, and you weren't. You were just a journalist, and at that particular moment I couldn't think of a more useless occupation".

Twenty-five years later, Bob Geldof says in spite of ongoing food shortages in some regions of Ethiopia, a new story is emerging. In an article posted December 9, 2009 on The Daily Telegraph website, it was noted that the "Economist", magazine, has predicted Ethiopia to be the 5th fastest growing economy in the world in 2010. During a recent visit, Geldof saw how education enrolment has been doubled, malaria death rates halved and HIV/AIDS is on the decline. He adds while too many people still rely on aid, food shortages will be avoided this year as it has been for the last 18 years, as distribution and early warning systems have improved.

Bob Geldof noticed something that disturbed him.

And then did something about it.

Is there something happening - even in your own home town - that would disturb you enough to actually do something?

When was the last time you took a good look outside your window?

"It's really very simple, Governor. When people are hungry they die. So spare me your politics and tell me what you need and how you're going to get it to these people"

p.s. ... This will be the last TSB post for 2009. Yes, we are going to take some holiday leave and tend to other things over the next week or so. Our practice of posting every business day will resume on January 4th, 2010. Until then, have a happy and safe Christmas season and hope you get to ring in the New Year with style.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Classic Rockers

In the midst of the hustle, bustle and family tussle that is Christmas, few will take time to ponder one of the more significant questions of the holiday season.

What is the greatest Christmas rock song ever?

Call us crazy, but the people at TSB think these deeper, more meaningful, soul-searching questions require some serious pondering before valuable thought time is chewed up by more mundane activities such as shopping, wrapping and planning family dinners.

Before we reveal our latest "Top 5 List", honorable mentions go to AC/DC for "Mistress for Christmas", Twisted Sister for "Silver Bells", and Green Day for "Christmas Day". Others that just missed our Top 5 include Bob Seger with "Little Drummer Boy", U2 and their version of "It's Christmas, Baby Please Come Home" as well as Joey Ramone with "Merry Christmas (I don't wanna fight tonight)".

So here we go, in descending order, the TSB, "Top 5 Christmas Classic Rockers":

#5. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

Originally recorded in 1934 by Harry Reser and Tom Stacks; Springsteen's 1985 version charted in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Other notable rock covers are by Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys

#4. CHUCK BERRY - "Run, Run, Rudolph"

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bon Jovi and even Lemmy from Motorhead have taken their cracks at this one, but Chuck Berry's original still rules. As Michael Kenyon of Baltimore puts it, hard to beat a lyric like ..."And then away went Rudolph - Whizzin' like a saber jet".

#3 - JOHN MELLENCAMP - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"

The Jackson 5 and Amy Winehouse have covered this classic, but can't quite rock this number the way a small town boy like Johnny Cougar can.

#2 - JON BON JOVI - "Please Come Home for Christmas"

The Eagles version may be better known and have charted higher, but doesn't pack the punch and stir the soul like JBJ.

And as for the #1 Christmas Rock Song?

Well ...

That's something all the good and faithful TSB readers like R.Gould, Mr. Kennedy, KP & the "Angels" will have to wait and learn about tomorrow ...

"Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you"

p.s... R. Gould's twisted, final suggestion didn't make the final cut, but it was still noteworthy for its razor sharp approach.

Monday, December 21, 2009

For Those About to Write ...

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think"


"Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for"

"One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one's own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one's pen"

Pretend, for a moment, that you - yes, you- are a writer.

As a writer, you will never create things made of steel, wood and plastic.

Nor will your stuff make all of the Silicon Valley suits spill their lattes and jump with iPod joy over a high-tech widget, designed to make stock markets soar.

What you create is much more elusive, valued and ultimately cherished.



The occasional contradictory viewpoint.

Refreshing perspective on the complexities and challenges of the human condition.

Great writers help us rediscover eternal truths while showing us new roads to travel. They make us laugh, weep, frown and marvel over the inner strength we all possess and actually display once in a while.

And sometimes they rock the entire planet with the sheer force of their words.

Here is how one such writer, accomplished exactly that.

Charlie was, without question, the most famous novelist of his day. His books were released three chapters at a time in pamphlets that could later be bound together as complete books. As the chapter triplets were published, crowds would gather to buy the next installments, no different than line ups we see today for major sporting events, rock concerts and a "Harry Potter" release. More creative bookstore owners would hire barkers with loud voices to read the new chapters outside their doors, generating buzz, creating an audience. In America, when the new chapters arrived by boat, crowds would literally riot at the dock to get their hands on the novels.

But, in the fall of 1843, Charlie needed cash.

And he needed it quick.

While his prodigious talents produced a hefty income, Charlie had a large social appetite and six mouths to feed. Maintaining that status was as hard then as it is today. Facing a pending lull in his publishing income, Charlie took one of the taller stories he told his kids around the fireplace and turned it into a short story that would bring a speedy infusion of quid. Since it was fall, he focused on a tale for the upcoming Christmas season.

It may seem shocking to us now, but in 1843, Christmas was a small, insignificant holiday in jolly old England and working on Christmas Day was part of the routine.

But Charlie had different ideas. He believed Christmas should be a big holiday – a time of charity, of giving, of family and of celebration. He thought this was how Christmas “should be done”. And, sitting down with pen to paper, Charlie finished his latest project and changed the world, in six short weeks.

Charlie didn’t rip this idea off from someone else. He invented it with words tumbling from his imagination, capturing his thoughts and ideas in a slim little book called, “A Christmas Carol”, published in 1843.

The book was an instant smash, selling out one edition after another and Charlie was a smash on the speaking circuit as people requested he come to their town to read the story aloud. It wasn’t long before the book found its way across the Atlantic and became a sensation in America as well.

People, who were enthralled with this story, fell in love with this new vision of Christmas and started modeling their holidays after the one at the end of “A Christmas Carol”. And they embraced the values that Charlie put forward – that Christmas should be a time of charity, of giving and of celebrating family.

And that's how Christmas as we know it, came to be.

An entire planet forever changed and inspired by one man – a writer – who singlehandedly created the magic of Christmas.

Not a corporation, doctor, scientist or politician.

Not a rock star, athlete or actor.

It took a writer to pull this one off.

Like other great writers past and present, Charles Dickens possessed the power to create beauty, humor and new realities. The best writers have the ability to lift the morale of entire communities and companies or the spirit of a single person. Words that flow from a pen or splash onto a keyboard can create much more change than many of the people in our society who are actually paid to do so.

Before he sat down to write, Charles Dickens knew what he stood for.

Now let's talk about where you and your brand fit in.

OK, so maybe you are not a writer, but if your business has a story worth telling, how much thought, time and energy are you giving to the crafting of the actual words you will use? Is your writer capable of weaving a phrase that pays? Or do your ads, websites and marketing brochures spew the same cliches as everyone else, promising quality, service, selection and those unbeatable low prices with friendly and knowledgeable staff?

If this subject holds even the slightest interest for you and your brand in the year and decade ahead, few gifts will ever yield a return like an opportunity to hang out and learn from some of the best business writers on the planet.

Since it 'tis the season, one might say, three wise men are waiting patiently for you to discover them.

"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them" NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

p.s.... Want to know more about how Charles Dickens invented Christmas? This pretty well captures it in about ten minutes.

p.p.s... Ted Geisel was a pretty nifty writer in his day. Ted liked to play a lot of make-believe with his audience of millions and in his own way became a Doctor of Wordology. He actually dubbed himself the title of "Dr.", added the word "Seuss" and once performed an interesting piece of surgery on the Scrooge character from "A Chrismas Carol".

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it"

"Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own"

"No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas @ the Office

The morning after the night before.

After the office Christmas Party.

Often, a day of reckoning.

Office Christmas parties can be a rich source of interesting and cringe-worthy stories. Typically, these festive get togethers with co-workers often serves as a venue for a number of plots and subplots, featuring a most interesting cast of characters.

And since we're on the subject, few office Christmas parties compare to the one thrown by R.I.M. in December of 2007. Imagine if you were working for the people who manufacture the Blackberry and getting invited to join more than 15,000 of your closest co-workers and friends for a holiday bash at the Air Canada Centre.

This is what they did for the encore.

Other "RIM Rocks" Christmas parties have featured Aerosmith and the Barenaked Ladies, creating a culture that helps keep the company among the Top 100 Places to Work in Canada.

As you might expect, "RIM Rocks" created a lot of buzz for the brand. says:
November 16, 2007 at 1:25 PM
"Big thanks to the RIM employee that was kind enough to invite me to this amazing concert. I used to call on RIM when they were only 35 employees. Looking all around me and up high at the sold out show of 15,000 plus, I realized this is the fruition of two people that dared to dream".

"RIM Rocks" is only the tip of another iceberg when it comes to explaining why a company would want to make that kind of effort to thank its employees.

How much of a company's culture is reflected by the way the office Christmas party goes down.

Just a thought.

"You come to the planet with nothing and you leave with nothing, so you'd better do some good while you are here"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two Wrights and a Wrong


It is a dysfunction that makes it hard to see things or events that are close up.

The tendency for companies to have a myopic view of its products and services is a most common and natural thing. However, it is only when leaders explore and experiment with new ideas, do possibilities emerge. This is how you, as a leader, can keep your head out of the sand (or other dark places within your anatomy) in the midst of turbulent, technology-driven times.

But, was it really any different 106 years ago today?

When the wrighting was on the wall for the rail industry?

Striken with "myopia", they never saw the freight train coming through their tunnel vision.

On this day in 1903, two maverick brothers from Dayton, Ohio forever changed the rules for railways, blindsiding one of the most profitable industries of the day.

In his widely quoted article, "Marketing Myopia", first published in 1960, Theodore Levitt of Harvard argued that "the history of every dead and dying 'growth' industry shows a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay." Professor Levitt pointed to the railroads as a prime example:

"Those behind the railroads are in trouble not because the need for passenger transportation has declined or even because cars, airplanes, and other modes of transport have filled that need. Rather, the industry is failing because those behind it assumed they were in the railroad business rather than the transportation business. They were railroad oriented instead of transportation oriented, product oriented instead of customer oriented".

Imagine how different things would have been had some smart rail executive traveled to Dayton and looked up the brothers who defied the law of gravity and conquered the wind on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Who knows, Orville and Wilbur may have been willing to sell their technology (for the right price) and aviation would have looked very different today. You can be sure that if the rail barons could have seen themselves in the "transportation" business, 7-year old Emma would have been sharing a much different story with us.

When the Wright brothers finally realized their vision of powered human flight, they made the world a forever smaller place. It took another six years before they made their first dollar from the enterprise after a contract was signed with the U.S. Army who could "see" potential in the new technology.

But, what if the rail industry had seen that same "potential"?

And do you think for a minute things are different now with the way companies, their leaders and their people react to new technology?

History is one of your best guides to know how to navigate in changing times. Think of it as a laboratory where you test the consequences of thought. Those who never learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Sadly, "Marketing Myopia" still exists today as traditional industries such as newspapers, the Yellow Pages, record companies and Realtors continue to define themselves by the products and services they sell as opposed to the customers they serve. Nearly 50 years ago, Ted Levitt maintained an organisation must learn to think of itself not as producing goods or services, but as doing things that will make people want to do business with it.

It's a good question to ask.

Can you say with Orville and Wilbur precision, exactly, why are people doing business with you? Are you dead certain Ted Levitt and your customer would agree with you? If not, you might have a dying buisness on your hands and could be the last one to find out.

If rail was in the transportation business all along and didn't know it, when was the last time you seriosuly asked, "What business are we REALLY in"?

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cereal Killer

This is a story about a Hunter with perspective.

Who took aim at the conventional marketing game.

And succeeded with deadly accuracy.

For 67 years, the product in question was being manufactured, packaged and sold exactly the same way, until Hunter showed up as an intern at a Toronto ad agency. The native of London, Ontario needed the gig after failing to knock 'em dead on the stand-up comedy circuit.

But, he figured he could write better ads than what he was seeing in the advertising jungle.

And one day in September of 2006, just three months into his low-level job, Hunter pulled the creative trigger on what would become an ad campaign that hit the bullseye; sparking debate at checkout counters, selling a truckload of product and reviving a sleepy brand.

You are about to see what took place behind the scenes of the world's first advertising campaign to actually create the product being sold. Even the focus groups were ambushed by a new perspective from a part-timer named Hunter Somerville.

Hunter Somerville now has a full-time gig, a host of awards and the notoriety that goes with having a blinding flash of the obvious.

And why not?

Sales jumped by 18% over the year as the limited-edition line of "Diamond Shreddies" sold out in two months. A fan even put "the last square Shreddie" for sale on eBay. Somewhere, up in marketing heaven, the founder of Ogilvy Mather is still smiling over Hunter's brilliance. A legend among ad men, David Ogilvy was fond of saying, "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative".

If nothing else, "Diamond Shreddies" proved it is no longer hip to be square.

The "Diamond Shreddies" campaign for Kraft Canada by Ogilvy and Mather won top honours at the 38th annual Canadian Marketing Association awards beating 640 entries. The campaign included TV, print, billboards and a website where people can vote on their favorite shape.

What does Hunter's story suggest about the value of perspective when it comes to your brand?

And where exactly do focus groups fit in to the mix?

Is there something so astonishingly simple waiting to be discovered that could take your business and brand to the next level.

"It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top Jimmy

"Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become"

Jimmy was an Idaho farm boy who grew up during the heights of the Great Depression.

Before he was through, Jimmy had:

- Addressed over 6,000 audiences and 4 million people worldwide.
- Authored 17 different books, audio and video programs.
- Established himself as a Hall-of-Famer within his profession.

"Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming".

Jimmy was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

He was also instrumental in launching or furthering the careers of many others in the personal development industry, including Anthony Robbins, Mark Victor Hansen, Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield.

But, to millions he never got to meet in person, he felt like a mentor or best friend.

"If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn't need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around".

In his mid-twenties, Jimmy found himself broke and going nowhere fast.

Then he pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

And started hitting the books.

"Don't just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it".

Jimmy fought his way to the top, but his most recent battle which lasted 18 months was one he couldn't win. By the time he passed away on December 5, 2009 of pulmonary fibrosis, his legacy had been cemented as "America's Business Philosopher".

Jimmy was fond of saying,"Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better". Thanks to a farm boy from Idaho, millions still have a chance to just that.

In the world of professional speaking, "Top Jimmy" will always be King.

"You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour"
JIM ROHN (1930-2009)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The "A-Word"


It's a term often bandied about these days and just as often met with universal agreement in principle.

At least in terms of the value in "being authentic".

For the record, here is the definition:

au·then·tic· - not false or copied; genuine; real:

But, if you were to ask 100 people to score themselves on the "Authenticity Scale", where do you think most would rate on a scale of 1-10? And to really have some fun with this, where would you rank? How much of your true self is on display for all the world to see each day? Do you effortlessly whip off the social mask of ego with ease? Or do you struggle to maintain false fronts that keep the peace while the person inside falls to pieces?

Honestly, I wouldn't have a clue myself how to answer right now, but not knowing the answer should never be an excuse for not asking the question. Afterall, isn't that how really learning takes place? Ask a good question enough times and eventually you can learn a lot by patiently listening and waiting for answers to appear.

You can also accelerate that learning curve through research or by asking someone you respect.

Scientifically, Brian Swimme, Ph.D. has the cred to weigh in on this subject. Brian is a mathematical cosmologist at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has been featured in television programs along with scientists such as Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki.

According to Dr. Swimme, pursuing our passions as we respond to the deep currents of energy in the universe may be the ultimate creative act. Only through authenticity, are others served in a positive way. However, academic jargon or New Age mumbo-jumbo doesn't always cut through the information clutter for some people so here is where a friend comes in handy.

This particular friend would be pegged by many as being an "8" or a "9" on the Authenticity Scale, and as such, had no difficulty at all responding to the question. You might say this is the kind of person who eats the "A-Word" for breakfast.

Here is the unedited answer - warts and all.

"Authentic" - my version...No games. No lies. No masks. No ego. No bullshit. Letting the world see who you really are without any pretense.
Not getting caught up in superficiality. Being Real.
Being able to admit when you fuck up and accept the responsibility that comes with this.
Willing to be vulnerable with those you love.
Willing to change if you're hurting another person.
Willing to fight for what you believe in and not ever give up.
Being different in a world that demands the conformity.
And most importantly...doing what you feel is right even though most will tell you its wrong".

Thanks for the clarity my friend!

Nothing false or copied there.

It has been said that realizing one's destiny is the only real obligation we have on this planet. But, your journey to destiny will only be reached by following a path marked "Authenticity".

If you're asking questions such as:

• Have I really fulfilled my potential?
• What shall I do with my life?
• Now that challenge is over, what’s next?
• Is this all there is?
• Am I really living my own life?

Then, chances are there is a gap between the "real" you and the one you place on social/relationship/career/family display. The good news is with the advent of YouTube, you don;t have to look far to find real, chilling examples of "living on the ledge".

I've never met Paul in person, but something tells me he is off the charts on the 1-10 Authenticity Scale, at least as far as his choice of career is concerned. He is doing exactly what he is meant to do.

But today's post is less about Paul Nicklen, Brian Swimme and anyone else who will never have to worry about what waits at the end of the human existence checkout line. How tragic would it be to discover as they're ringing you in for your last living moment that you never did live your own life, but the life someone else wanted you to live?

It's been said that the world's great lie is that at a certain point, we lose control of what's happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.

Don't believe it.

Not for a fucking minute.

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Female Brains: Marked for Greatness?

OK, I'll be up front with you and admit it.

As the author of the TSB blog, I am a man, about to make a valiant attempt today to write about and explain ... the unique characteristics and economic advantages of the female brain.

"Have you gone mad man"!

"Do you realize the massive hole your are about to dig for yourself with each subsequent keystroke?"

Crazy as this attempt may sound, or as uniquely unqualified as I may be, recent events dictate this biologically-based uphill battle needs to be fought somewhere.

And today's post is as good a place as any to start.

But, rather than oversimplify this issue in Mars-Venus fashion, we'll explore recent scientific research indicating women are more likely to succeed in a knowledge-based world based on the power of ideas instead of an industrial-based economy focused on production. In other words, whether we like it or not (guys are you listening?), women appear to be a biologically favored in understanding and applying the new language of commerce rapidly emerging in our 21st century Digital Economy. A language focused on the power of collaboration and community rather than one of conflict and confrontation.

We begin with Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen.

Simon is the director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. He writes, "The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy; the male brain is geared for building systems and things. Men lean towards structure and order; women favor making and maintaining connections". In other words, men are at biological level more left-brained analytical, logical and linear while women are able to transfer data between the right and left hemisphere much faster and enjoy greater access to both sides.

In fact, a team researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine, headed by Dr. Joseph T. Lurito, has proven through the use of MRI's, women have four times as many connections between the two sides of the brain. It creates a “Naturally Ambidextrous Brain,” capable of enhanced perceptual speed, fine motor skills, and a higher degree of verbal fluency. Some doctors feel that this may explain why women often recover from strokes more quickly than men, with less damage to speech ability. It may also account for a woman's ability to multi-task at an extremely high level.

At times this ability has been referred to as the “Executive Brain".

In her book, "The Female Brain", Louann Brizendine M.D., reveals neurological explanations why:

- A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000
- A woman remembers fights that a man insists never happened
- A teen girl is so obsessed with her looks and talking on the phone
- Sex thoughts enter a woman's brain once every couple of days but enter a man's brain about once every minute
- A woman knows what people are feeling, while a man can't spot an emotion unless somebody cries or threatens bodily harm

Dr. Brizendine explains this process actually begins at birth. She states, "Girls are born interested in emotional expression. They understand cues and constantly look for approval. Typical boys enjoy wrestling, mock fighting, and rough play with cars, trucks, swords, guns, tend to tend to threaten others, get into more conflict and are less likely to share toys and take turns. Meanwhile, studies show girls take turns twenty times more often than boys, and their pretend play is usually about interactions in nurturing or caregiving relationships".

So what is science telling us?

Especially us guys?

It would appear the evidence is indicating, where men have the gift of being able to focus on one thing at a time and see where it fits into a linear set of clues, women process the same clues as though they were a big puzzle – how does this piece fit in, and where, so that it reveals a “big picture”.

But, as a self-admitted man, my linear path today is leading me directly to my fellow man Mark for the final word on this subject.

Mark Gungor is one of the most sought-after speakers on marriage and family in North America. His take on relationship issues is refreshingly free of both churchy and psychological lingo. His book, "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage®" is about helping couples get it right, get along, have fun, and enjoy a successful relationship. He is also married to Debbie, his high school sweetheart for over 36 years and between the two Gungors and their very different brains, they have two grown children and four grandsons.

"Every brain begins as a female brain. It only becomes male eight weeks after conception, when excess testosterone shrinks the communication center, reduces the hearing cortex, and makes the part of the brain that processes sex twice as large"

P.S. Once upon a time there was a female brain cell, which by mistake happened to end up in a man’s head. She looked around nervously but it was all empty and quiet.

“Hello?” she cried, but got no answer.

“Is there anyone here?” she cried a little louder–still no answer.

Now the female brain cell started to feel alone and scared and yelled at the top of her voice, “HELLO, IS THERE ANYONE HERE?!”

Then she heard a very faint voice from far, far away ...

Very far away ...

“We’re down here.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "Love in a Bag"

"It often happens that a man is more humanely related to a cat or dog than to any human being"

Lee is a man who believes in his company and his product.

So much so, that when called to the stage to accept an award at a business gala with a black tie audience of 500 plus, Lee marches up carrying a bag of dog food.

But, not just any dog food ...

Lee calls it "love in a bag"!

This former marine biologist, also believes in people. About 50% of a full time staff of 40, has been with the company for a decade or more 9 years or more.

Today on TSB, we get inside scoops from Atlantic Canada's only pet food manufacturer, Fredericton's Lee Corey of Corey Feed Mills.

"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 motorvate.

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Branded Networking

"There are two types of people - those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am,' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are”

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

Could it be the skill that allowed Mary to help her son and his flaky friends transform a fledgling company from a small player in the Pacific Northwest into a global mega-corporation that touches us each day?

Mary was the kind of woman who thought nothing of jumping in to help worthwhile causes. She took on volunteer roles with the Children's Hospital Foundation, the Seattle Symphony, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and many other nonprofit organizations. In the mid-seventies, she became the first woman to serve as president of the United Way of King County, working her way up to the national board before becoming the first woman to lead the United Way of America. While she served on that executive committee, Mary struck up a friendship with a powerful CEO, who happened to mention one day his company was shopping for a vendor’ specifically one that could provide an operating system to power its first personal computer.

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

Business historians agree, the IBM deal is what launched Microsoft into the corporate stratosphere, which transpired to a large degree, from the genuine, focused-on-others networking skills displayed by Bill's mom, Mary Gates. It wasn't a blockbuster ad campaign or a fancy schmancy brochure that helped Bill get his foot in the IBM door.

Or should we say Window?

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

Is it because networking gets a bad rap?

Could it be some folks confuse networking with:

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

Although Mary has since passed on, she exemplified this clarifying definition of networking which is:

“Discovering what you can do for someone else to build meaningful, long-term business and social connections”

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

Yes and no.

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

Ladies and gentlemen, meet “The Branded Networker”.

And few personify this concept better these days than Jeffrey.

Long ago, Jeffrey built an award-winning, hall-of-fame career based on what Mary Gates demonstrated decades ago. In other words, he discovered what he could do for someone else to build meaningful, long-term business and social connections.

And Jeffrey Gitomer is still doing it today.

But, differently.

Jeffrey Gitomer has written one of the better reads about business networking, entitled "The Little Black Book of Connections".

Here are some of the highlights.

1. Are you the Tortoise or the Hare?
The science and sport of networking is not for the fast-buck, impatient entrepreneur or salesperson. If that’s you don’t even bother discovering Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections.

2. The Rule of the MORE!
The more people are attracted to you, the more solid connections you will make. But why would anyone be attracted to you? What have you done for your most powerful connections lately? Or are these the people you call on just to suck their blood every once in a while?

3. Be Genuine
Take a sincere interest in another person first. Learn about them. Don’t just qualify them. In other words, ditch your own agenda. Focus on connecting not extracting.

4. Who and What is on This Year’s List?
The only difference between where you are right now and where you will be next year at the same time are the people you meet and the books you are going to read. So who do you absolutely have to make a connection with over the next 12 months and which books jump to the top of your must-read list?

5. Confidence is a Self-Inflicted Quality
Biggest barrier in your fear of making connections with someone new is your mental state. Fear will manifest itself in the form of procrastination. But the more we expand our comfort zones the more we increase the size of our opportunity zone.

6. Networking is NOT Optional.
You do business between 9 and 5. You build your business before and after regular business hours.

6.5 Joining Organizations is also NOT Optional
It’s an imperative if you seek to make powerful connections. Don’t just join but instead find ways to sink your teeth into a cause or a project and actively participate.

Mary Gates and Jeffrey Gitomer operate from different ends of the networking spectrum, but do share a common approach when it comes to this vital business and social skill. Both found it within themselves to begin with putting other people first, focusing their efforts on what they could do to help others along the way. Mary and Jeffrey were not only joiners - they were doers.

Even though she passed on in 1994, many still reap the benefits of what Mary brought to the networking table.

To honor his late mother, a grateful son ponied up $10 million to get the endowment program started at the University of Washington, and help hundreds of others pursue their dreams.

Cynics and skeptics can say what they want.

But, I have a hunch Bill just wanted to do something meaningful.

“Your mother taught you everything you need to know about connecting before you were 10 years old: make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework”

P.S. ... "The Branded Networker" returns to the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce with a sold-out seminar scheduled for tomorrow afternoon prior to the monthly "Business After Five" mixer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Buying Truth and Lies

Ever wonder how a slice of lime became an intrinsic part of the Corona experience?

Or how branding can impact your customers - both internal and external - on a neuroscientific level?

Perhaps, you have heard that half of any advertising budget is wasted, but you never know which half. Well, now you can, thanks to a Danish brand consultant, who took a brave and expensive leap to figure out why we buy — or don't.

TIME Magazine has named author/speaker Martin Lindstrom as one of the world's 100 most influential people, due to his work on science and marketing.

You are about to see why.

Martin founded his own advertising agency at the age of 12 and his rapid career rise has made him one of today's most respected branding gurus in the world. After twenty years of hands-on experience, Lindstrom has conceived a revolutionary set of principles that transform marketing strategies into positive business results. He rejects fuddy-duddy marketing rules that viewed branding as an art form composed of vague commercials and awareness messages. Instead, Martin's unique vision is scientific and process-based, making branding the driver of sales and profits, and consequently the centerpiece of any business.

What would be the impact of those principles on your brand?

"Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand"DAVID OGILVY

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zoned Out on Comfort

It is 4:48 a.m.

Upon waking, a question reappears out of the brain fog.

"So, what gets YOU out of bed in the morning"

Good question.

Been asking it a lot lately. And am still OK with the answer.

But, rather than explain it in a self-indulgent, pontificating fashion, I would prefer to demonstrate through real-life situations and let you figure it out.

So, here goes.

If you're in the habit of listening to what people actually say, you will start to notice the more a phrase is casually tossed around, the less effective it becomes, reducing the potential impact it has. One of the best examples is the well-worn platitude to "think outside the box", which has been squawked and parroted so often, it now serves as verbal evidence of a boxed-in thinker.

Today on TSB we tackle "comfort zones".

For the sake of clarity, Wikipedia defines a "comfort zone" this way:

"The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk"

But, wait!

There's more!!!

A person's personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. Highly successful persons may routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish. A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it.

But what good is theory unless you take action to support it?

Last week, about ten people were invited to take center stage at an upcoming national conference with an invitation to speak before the entire delegation - an audience of about 150 people. In each conversation, the person being invited responded in knee jerk fashion with phrases that sounded like:

"I'm going to have to say no to that one. I'm just not that comfortable with the idea of public speaking, especially before such a large group. I know it's a good idea to step out of my comfort zone, but I think I'll pass this time".

Whether speaking to a class or engaging in one-on-one conversation, asking if it's a good idea to step out of comfort zones will routinely generate unanimous agreement to the affirmative. It's a slam-dunk, just like it makes sense to think beyond the borders of a certain, four-sided geometric shape. In other words, escaping comfort zones makes good sense theoretically, but just don't ask me to do it.

That's why it's always refreshing to wake up and find an e-mail from one of the few people you run across who will say yes.

And actually turning "knowing" into "doing":

Hi Gair,

Well I have been thinking about it and I am scared to death at the thought but will give it a shot!

I really don't know where to even start with this process though? I am generally not great at memorizing lines or scripts and I am a bit of a slow reader. Always have been. I like to speak off the cuff and roll with the punches bu I don't think that will work for this task.

Where do we get started and how do we proceed?



By taking the first major step out of his comfort zone Rod is making a decision to raise his anxiety level, engendering a stress response, the result of which is an enhanced level of concentration and focus. Or put another way, Rod is scared shitless, but will look the bastard called F.E.A.R.* in the eye and do it anyway as he takes his game up a notch.

This is a well-worn path dreamers and achievers have followed for centuries, and each time it begins with a daring first step while embracing the wisdom of uncertainty.

What do you think will happen to Rod as a result of his decision? How would you react if you were in that audience, knowing that he is anything but comfortable and as he approaches the stage, will be feeling more nervous than a chicken running into Colonel Sanders? Will Rod die falling from the nest or soar even higher? Will he fall flat or stand even taller?

But, enough about Rod.

What about you?

What's on your mind as you wake up these days?

Is there a challenge before you that demands a decision this week or this month? It could be anything ranging from career choices to personal relationships, diet, exercise, finances, travel, etc. Will it be enough of a challenge to make your body quiver, as it forces you to stretch your wings and leave the cozy comfort of the "zone"? Deep down, in a place that you know well, how can you expect to become what you want to be by staying where you are?

If you’re afraid to venture out, take comfort in knowing all winners were once filled with doubt.

Which way will you turn?

"Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition"

p.s. ... *F.E.A.R. = False Expectation About Risk.

p.s.s ...Just remember, it's supposed to be hard.

p.s.s.s. ... Does "The Answer" actually have one on this issue?

Friday, December 4, 2009

100 Years of Glory

"To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high"

The words have been lifted from John McRae's poem entitled "In Flanders Field".

Since 1952, those words have lifted:

A team.
A province.
A nation of hockey worshippers.

Living up to those words has been an honor, privilege and a responsibility for thousands of players since they were hung on a dressing room wall in 1952, first at a shrine called the Forum, and now at a facility titled the Bell Centre.

In Montreal, those words, matched with the faces and ghosts of legends, have inspired the Canadiens to become one of the most successful sports franchises on the planet. The "Habs" rank right up there with other iconic teams such as the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester United and Green Bay Packers.

Given what the players have to live up to, their fans expect nothing less than success.

It was on this day in 1909, when the hockey world witnessed the birth of the Montreal Canadiens at Montreal’s Windsor Hotel thanks to businessman J. Ambrose O’Brien. On January 5, 1910, almost a month after the team was founded, the Canadiens took to the ice for the first time and wasted no time endearing themselves to the hometown crowd. Three thousand fans watched as the Canadiens posted a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Cobalt Silver Kings at Jubilee Arena.

A century later, millions will be watching as the Montreal Canadiens 100th anniversary celebration culminates with the team’s Centennial Game against the Boston Bruins tonight at the Bell Centre. The Centennial celebrations have included:

- Commemorative dollar coins from the Royal Canadian Mint.
- Commemorative stamps issued by Canada Post.
- Canadiens Monopoly.
- Centennial jersey nights when the Habs wear historic sweaters of the past.
- "Centennial Plaza" outside of the Bell Centre.
- Concert by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra
- Canadiens movie, "Pour toujours, les Canadiens"!

But, no matter how much the Habs try and live up their towering history, the storied franchise is still struggling to recapture its past Stanley Cup glory. As they face off against the Bruins tonight at the Bell Centre, many still long for titles seemingly left behind with the closing of the Forum.

The ubiquitous relics, rituals and symbols linked to this 100-year old hockey team have created a brand that borders on religion. Canadiens worshippers have long told stories of the ghosts of players past that reside in the Forum - and Bell Centre - rafters, and the many miracles performed by Morenz, the "Rocket", Beliveau, Plante, Savard, Lafleur, Dryden, Shutt, Gainey, Roy and others.

In most North American cities, hockey is played and watched for fun.

In Montreal, the Canadiens exert a near spiritual influence.

Echoed in words and deeds from the past.

"My parents gave me a pair of skates when I was three, maybe four years old – everyone had a sheet of ice in their yard back then – so my friends and I started skating, then we started listening [to the radio], then we started dreaming, and eventually we started maybe seeing ourselves in that Canadiens jersey”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Don of Leadership

You might be forgiven for thinking "another day, another leadership book".

Understandable, in this day and age of information overload.

But, Don has taken this study to new heights with "High Altitude Leadership".

Imagine how different the study of leadership looks when viewed through the lens of "death zones" that exist on top of the world's tallest mountains. Bone-chilling and heart-stopping places where even the slightest mistakes are usually fatal.

Don could never have imagined it either.

After beginning his career as a scientist and engineer, he accepted an offer he couldn't refuse and became a management consultant after realizing most leadership and management theories fail to work. Drawing on alternative tactics such as anthropology and evolutionary genetics, Don's controversial approach to leadership flies in the face of what most of us have been taught.

Be prepared, however, for anything but easy, cut and paste, microwave solutions when you begin to absorb the depth of what Don Schmincke shares and the implications his theories hold for your business and brand.

Every day, companies struggle to vercome behavioural issues such as selfishness, arrogance, lone heroism, cowardice and comfort. Would it surprise you to know similar issues surface at the peaks of our planet's most dangerous mountains?

High Altitude Leadership is an unconventional, sometimes white-knuckle read that might have you start to lead in a different direction. It matters not whether you’re heading a Fortune 500 company, military forces, a small business, crime syndicate, government department, volunteer group, street gang or trying to raise your kids.


Because, the principles Don Schmincke shares from the study of more than 6,000 years of human behaviour won't change.

Are you prepared to invest the time to deconstruct the challenge of what it takes to be a top notch leader? Ready to embrace an approach that will have you re-examine your core beliefs about leaders and the teams they lead?

The choice is simple.

Graze in the crowded pastures of conventional leadership wisdom and the ordinary results that brings ...

Or dare to make an exhausting, exhilarating climb towards extraordinary, less traveled higher altitudes.

"I`d gotten to know quite a few mafiosi, and all of them told me they loved the picture because I had played the Godfather with dignity. Even today I can`t pay a check in Little Italy"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "Energizing Thoughts"

In physics, energy (from the Greek - energos) is a physical quantity describing the amount of work that can be performed by a force, an attribute of objects and systems subject to a conservation law.

In New Brunswick, Leah helps uphold that law.

She could tell you for example, the many different forms of energy; kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, light, elastic, and electromagnetic can be transformed into another form, but the total energy always remains the same.

Leah is helping all New Brunswickers appreciate a principle about the conservation of energy, first postulated in the early 19th century. According to Noether's theorem, conservation of energy is a consequence of the fact that the laws of physics do not change over time. And Leah is someone who actually puts that principle into practice on most Saturday mornings when you find her shopping for produce at her local farmers market.

Today on TSB, we share some energizing thoughts and convenient truths with Leah Anstis of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

"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 motorvate.

"There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law; it is exact, so far we know. The law is called conservation of energy; it states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity, which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number, and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same"
Feynman Lectures on Physics, 1961

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

North Star Recipes

August 10, 2009.

8:57 a.m.

The telephone does what it does.


Our friend from Monday's TSB post is on the line.

After quitting a job the previous month as a call centre professional, "D" is focused on finding a North Star career, determined to discover a company or cause to believe in. But, impatience has set in over an assignment a mentor has handed out.

"D" is demanding answers.

Without knowing the questions to ask:

"Look I don't know what this is all about, because if this is just going to be a waste of time, I'd rather know now and be done with it. I’m pretty good at seeing things for how they really are. Like calling a “spade a spade” so to speak. All I know is that I was in a job that was going nowhere for me. Did you notice that I said job and not career? I never viewed what I did as anything more than job that would probably lead onto another job. Inside of me I longing for something more. I often say to myself that there’s got to be something more out there for me".

"Where is this path going to lead me? I’m not an overly spiritual person. I don’t have much faith in anything to be honest with you and that includes me. I have let myself down too many times over the years. Today is different though. Today I want to stand up and be counted. I want today to be the day where I did something to be proud of. I just don't want to be jerked around".

After downloading those thoughts, "D" is caught off guard by the next question.

"Do you honestly expect to solve in mere minutes what has taken you the better part of two decades to create?"

In many respects, "D's" story is no different from Warren's.

About a decade ago, Warren experienced the same emotions before walking away from a safe, secure job as a federal litigator. It all started when the Ivy League grad started to dial in and listen to a voice that had been whispering all along.

Warren discovered his North Star the same way everyone else does.

It was sitting there.

Inside him.

All along.

After those first awkward, shaky, tentative, first steps, Warren became known as the best cake baker in his Washington D.C. neighbourhood. Then he became famous throughout the city. He was later featured in several publications, had his own show on the Food Network and eventually appeared on "Oprah".

Stemming from within, this passion has manifested in the form of stores called "CakeLove" with five locations, three in Maryland and two in Virginia. Warren also has a cookbook titled “CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch,” and will add to his collection with “United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State,” set to be published in May 2010.

Your story might be no different from the one now being experienced by "D" or being lived and celebrated by Warren Brown.

But, no matter what stage you are at, the bigger question centres on what you are committed to doing about seeking and finding your North Star at work. And if loving your work sounds like a luxury you can ill afford, think again. As a biological organism, feeling great about what you do is vital for both well-being and effectiveness. When you hate what you do, you lug around the chemical reality of negativity, as it festers and chews at your insides. Slowly eroding your ability and willingness to be a great teammate. Silently stifling your desire to create, initiate and imaginate.

Have you determined beyond the shadow of your own self-doubt what gets you out of bed in the morning? If you really stop to think about it, you have already displayed some skills or talent, shown some kind of aptitude. Or you may have flashed your brilliance back in elementary school. Have you always been a capable writer, speaker, artist, athlete, organizer, marble player or friend? Have you been good at analysing situations or numbers, connecting with people, gardening, singing, baking or building stuff?

What do you read about? Spend hours following online? What magazines or blogs do you look forward to reading? What bookstore sections do you browse?

Are you willing to experiment? Step up and volunteer? Attempt those awkward first steps your inner voice is telling you? Even if it's in the privacy of your own home? Can you put fear and anxiety in park and drive through the barrier of self-doubt by asking the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Will you invest the time to find a career you can bite into or waste it on jobs that rot you to the core? Turn your passion into a business and make a living doing it? Like Warren, it could take years, but if you’re having fun along the way, isn't that what’s most important?

"D" was told straight up this North Star stuff wasn't going to be easy. The process (and it is a process - not an event) requires an unusual amount of quiet reflection and soul-searching. Then it's on to mustering courage, the willingness to experiment (usually disguised as failures and setbacks) and the patience to stay committed while out there on a limb, heading to the skinniest part of the branch.

Because, that's where the apple is.

Before hanging up that day, "D" knew what course needed following.

Knew what had to be done.


Do you?

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”