Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Seamless in Vegas: Wizardly Wednesday

This week, TSB is blogging from the majestic MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as we go behind-the-scenes at the 2010 National Conference.

It doesn't happen often, but every once in a while you will run into a person who can literally change your life ... in less than an hour.

Cameron Herold is one of those people.

And for a group of 11 entrepreneurs, that is exactly what went down here on the Vegas strip in a closed-door session with the founder of BackPocket COO.

The headliner on Day Two of the 2010 National Conference ripped the cover off the presentation ball in more ways than one before a packed room at the MGM Grand Hotel. Cameron's presentation "Three Steps to Free P.R." allowed more than 100 franchisees to see how they were going to be able to generate a ton of favorable publicity - without spending a nickel on advertising. And Cameron should know, given that he was the Chief Operating Officer and PR driving force of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, generating more than 5,200 pieces of free media coverage including a spot on "Oprah".

Since the sessions here in Vegas are private we can't show you the footage (besides, you know what happens here in Vegas ...), but we can share a hint of some of the stuff Cameron shared with select members of the group in an exclusive workshop designed to harness entrepreneurial manic-depression.

Later today, attendees at this 2010 National Conference will experience the words and wisdom of another business wizard. Best-selling author Roy H. Williams will headline today's agenda and give franchisees a sense of what he shares at a 30-acre campus known as Wizard Academy, based in Austin, TX.

Williams has a history of being involved with Canada's real estate renegades and more than a year ago we had a chance to explore some of the dynamics behind one of the more remarkable rebranding efforts in Canadian franchising history.

"A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seamless in Vegas: Tumbling Dice Tuesday

This week, TSB is blogging from the majestic MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as we go behind-the-scenes at the 2010 National Conference.

In today's segment, we hear from the guy in charge of keeping a well-oiled franchise machine running. Author of "The Wealthy HomeSeller", he is the Chief Operating Officer of one of Canada's most-admired franchise systems ... Dale Betts.

The National Conference at the MGM Grand represents a milestone for these renegades of Canadian real estate. The Moncton, NB-based company can now lay claim to sharing a venue that has featured more than its share of world-class performers, including an English act that has rolled through several times with one of the best Vegas-themed songs ever performed.

"Honey, got no money, I'm all sixes and sevens and nines. Say now, baby, I'm the rank outsider, you can be my partner in crime. But baby, I can't stay, you got to roll me and call me the tumblin' dice"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seamless in Vegas: Monday Morning

Beginning today, TSB is blogging from the majestic MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as we go behind-the-scenes at the 2010 National Conference.

In today's segment, we hear from the guy who started it all, back in the late 90's with nothing more than a big idea and less than a hundred bucks. Today, he is the President of what is now one of Canada's fastest-growing franchise systems ... Ken LeBlanc.

I'm gonna give it ev'rything I've got
Lady luck please let the dice stay hot
Let me shout a seven with ev'ry shot
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas,


Friday, January 22, 2010

Sounds Like Vegas

It will be a first visit to the City of Second Chances.

Beginning on Monday, TSB will be blogging from the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the 2010 National Conference. The upstart Canadian private sale company will host over 100 franchisees for a three-day conference focused on taking the brand to the next level in terms of sales and market share growth.

There aren't many organizations like this one, rising from humble beginnings in the late 90's to become a Canadian Franchise of the Year and present conferences of this magnitude. Back when they were business students at Atlantic Baptist University, co-founders en LeBlanc and Jeremy Demont could never have imagined the company they started with less than $100 would be making such a splash on the North American stage. - often described as the "rock stars of franchising" will join an elite list at the world-renowned MGM Grand; a venue frequented in the past by a stars such as the Stones, Elton John, Sting, Bette Midler, the Backstreet Boys and countless others. In that sense, it is only appropriate to select Las Vegas as a conference site, a city legendary not only for the dreams it inspires, but for the way musicians are inspired to capture its spirit in song.

In anticipation of the glitz, glamour and a great week ahead, TSB is counting down the Top Five Songs that honor this neon jewel in the Nevada desert. We're talking sounds that define the bright lights a flashin', one-armed bandits a crashin' spin around the musical wheel of life.

Consideration went to Sheryl Crow and her hit "Leaving Las Vegas", as well as Jimmy Ray's "Goin' to Vegas" and the Stones, "Tumblin' Dice". Honorable mentions are accorded to Hootie and the Blowfish for 'Las Vegas Nights', U2 for the way Vegas was portrayed in the video for "Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For" and Faith Hill's "Hey Baby Let's Go To Vegas".

But once the smoke clears and the dust settles, only five "Vegas" type tunes emerge from the pile of pretenders and contenders to rank as champions in this hotly-debated category.

Here they are, in descending order.

5. INXS - "Pretty Vegas"

This was the first single INXS released with their new singer JD Fortune, who wrote the song during the INXS Rockstar show when he competed to become the band's frontman. The Nova Scotia native used to work in Vegas as an Elvis impersonator and his song illuminates the grungy side of Vegas tourists are too starry-eyed and drunk to notice.

4. Frank Sinatra - "Luck be a Lady"

Frankie loved poker and all things gambling. "Luck be a Lady" was his tribute to Vegas where his run ins with Casino bosses were legendary. It was a simpler day in a smaller town with the Sinatra sound; gambling, womanizing, drinking till dawn - and all of it with style.

3. AC/DC - "Sin City"

Taken from the vastly underrated "Powerage" album featuring the late, great Bon Scott. The lyrical appeal alone is something to behold "Diamonds and dust, Poor man last, rich man first, Lamborghinis, caviar, Dry martinis, Shangri-la"

2. Elvis Presley - "Viva Las Vegas"

So good that it has also been covered by the likes of the Dead Kennedys, Johnny Ramone and ZZ Top. The song, of course, has taken on a whole new meaning lately, inspiring the soundtrack for a certain male enhancement pill.

And the Number One, "Sounds Like Vegas" song is ...

1. Bobby Darin - "Mack the Knife"

Forget, Dean Martin, Wayne Newton, Sammy David Jr., Sinatra and all the other Vegas boozers, cruisers and crooners. This is THE one that has the spirit of Vegas slicing and dicing through your musical membranes.

TSB looks forward to sharing what the music and magic of Vegas inspires when we return on Monday.

"I was born lonely down by the riverside/Learned to spin the fortune wheel and throw dice"
BOB SEGER, "Ramblin, Gamblin' Man"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ten Trends for 2010

“An organization can only ‘walk the talk' when its managers deliberately shape its internal reality to align with its brand promise…(the brand's) values must be internalized by the organization, shaping its instinctive attitudes, behaviours, priorities, etc.”
ALAN MITCHELL, “Out of the Shadows”,
Journal of Marketing Management, January 1999

Experts have been warning us for some time that this day was coming.

In December of 2003, a wizard advised a new generation would soon be taking over - using technology to blaze their way to power.

In 2005, Thomas Friedman wrote about the world going flat.

In 2009, Seth Godin explained how "tribes" would need someone like you to lead.

If you were paying attention to the voices of those and other thought leaders, what you are about to discover today may not surprise you.

But, if you are not up to speed on the implications of a "Flat World", society's 40-year "Pendulum Shift" and the changing dynamics of "Tribes" in a wired world, what you absorb today may shock you.

If you're a business owner or a career-minded professional serious about taking your game to the next level, here is a snapshot of what Branding in 2010 will look like. In other words, Ten Trends for 2010 that will have a direct impact on the success - or failure – of your branding and marketing efforts.

1. Value is King

Consumer spending, even when what you have is "On Sale", will continue to be replaced by "Why Should I Buy at All?" This spells trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high-end or low. The more your customer learns to search and compare products online the less room for multiple copies or loyalty to the locally produced one.

2. "Because We Said So" is History

Your brand can't just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to be "real" in order for it to be believed. In the wake of the financial bloodbaths of the past two years, people are more aware then ever of the hollowness of bank ads that claim "we're all in this together" when those same banks cut their credit and foreclosed on their homes. Same holds true for inauthentic celebrity shilling such as Seinfeld & Microsoft or Tiger Woods & Buick.

3. Hope Has Currency

That's how one of the best brands ever crafted came alive. A few weeks before he won the presidential elections, Obama beat Nike, Apple, Coors and Zappos to win the Association of National Advertisers' top annual award – Marketer of the Year. Riding on a wave of much needed optimism, Barack sold a promise of Hope and led America back to feeling good about the future. In doing so, Obama became the first US president since JFK to become a ­superbrand. Now corporate brands are rushing in with Pepsi's "Choose Change" and Southwest Airlines' offer of "Yes You Can" tickets.In what way will your brand weave a message of hope into the story its telling?

4. Video Lights it Up

We’ve only seen the beginning of Internet TV. Video is the most powerful personal branding medium because it closes the gap because between knowing of someone and actually meeting them. In business, this is called building trust and a connection with your audience. Thanks to greater bandwidth, cheaper storage, and a proliferation of products and services that make shooting, storing, viewing, and sharing video easy (Flip video, iPhone 3GS, YouTube, vimeo,, vodpod, etc.), video will rule in 2010.

5. The "Mobile Economy"

"Smart" phones will steadily replace the "dumb" ones. If you don't the difference between the two, that should send shivers up your branding spine right now. 607.5 million mobile users will be using social networks by 2013, which means that businesses will have to start making their websites mobile friendly. Here is a glimpse of what the "mobile economy" will look like.

6. "Buzz" Ain't Enough

Personal recommendations will be higher valued than ever. Conversation and community is all; eBay thrives based on consumer feedback. If consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. Not just word of mouth, but the right word of mouth within the community. A brand with the right street cred can go viral in days, but the opposite is also true. After all, everybody knows GM, but nobody's buying their cars. According to a survey by the Opinion Research Corporation, 84% of Americans say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions

7. Relate to Women

Don't "target" them.

Start speaking to them. In their language.

No further explanation is required.

8. Simple is Sexy

According to USA Today, the magic marketing word for 2010 is "simple". If 2009 was all about "cheap", consumers are now looking for simplicity in health and beauty items and most definitely in things they eat. Last year there were ingredient decreases in 19 food product categories including pet food. And between 2005 and 2008there was a 65% increase in products using the word "simple" or "simply" in their brand name.

9. Differentiation = Brand Value

Brand awareness and generic features and benefits are out. Having something different to sell and say is all that bleeping matters. No one has been giving a rat's ass about your "quality products and services, with friendly and knowledgeable staff" for about a decade now. How are you truly going to be different from the 19 other competitors who sell pretty much the same shit you do?

10. Transparency Rocks!

And transparency will rock your world. The truth about you and your company is going to come out, whether you like it or not. Otherwise, how else does one explain how a minor traffic mishap outside a pro golfers home wind up toppling one of the most lucrative personal brands the world has ever known? In less than a week? Ask United Airlines if they wouldn't like to be known for something other than the company that breaks guitars. When consumers start trashing a brand (such as yours), what price will your business pay if those messages make the first page of the Google search results?

As you may have already noticed, we have been slowly moving away from bought space to earned space.

How much space does your brand plan to earn in 2010?

And how will you earn that space?

“The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity”
AL RIES & LAURA RIES, "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Lessons from John and Joe"

For over a dozen years, Joe Girard was the #1 retail sales­per­son in the world.

He still holds the Guinness World Record today.

On aver­age, Joe used to sell 6 cars per day, the #1 man on a team of 42 on the showroom floor where the average guy was selling 5 cars a month.

So how did he do it?

Well, one thing he did was to stay in touch with every lead, prospect, and customer he had ever acquired. Joe sent out over thirteen thousand cards every month, each of them personally signed.

In Fredericton, NB, there is someone who would make Joe Girard proud, applying lessons from some of the masters in his quest to raise the level of professionalism in the used car business.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with the "Joe Girard of Fredericton" ... John Eliakis!

"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.

"The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the stairs... one step at a time"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Business of Hope

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea"

Accountants, lawyers, bookkeepers, stock brokers and business analysts who read today's post will struggle to understand this blanket statement.

"You won't find Hope entered on the balance sheet of any business, but without Hope no business will have anything to enter".

Left-brained, numbers driven business people find it difficult to see the obvious connection between an intangible such as Hope and the profit and loss statements they adore at month end. But, any small business owner who has successfully survived the agonizing two-year start-up period will nod in agreement that Hope has often been her only ally through some of the darkest days imaginable.

As this week unfolds, making a deliberate choice to attract and inspire Hope might be one of the wisest decisions you can make for your business, career and personal relationships. And you won't have to look far to find evidence that would support that sound business decision.

Each day, readers in upwards of 70 countries are plugged into the TSB blog. No matter where you are reading this if you stop long enough to look around and really observe how a business operates, you will see something never identified on any profit-and-loss statement.

In any business, most of the truly important things were only accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Hope is the foundational rock upon which great businesses are built.

But isn't that true of a lot of other things?

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decisions, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life in the Hope Lane

Cruising along the highway of life, you reach over and press the button marked "SCAN".

Your brain registers signals competing for your attention.

Self-Doubt 88.9 ... Frustration 91.9... Blah 92... SERENITY 93...Judgement 94.5 ...GRATITUDE 96... Worry 97...Self-Pity 98.9... P-O'ed 99... Jealousy 100... Anxiety 100.5... JOY 101... Regret 103.1 ...Grudge 104 ...Despair 106.5 ... HOPE 107...

Your human brain often operates like a distracted motorist, scrambling for a favorite radio station. Capable of processing 45 thoughts per minute (one every 1.3 seconds), your mind sifts through about 46,000 thoughts for the 17 hours you are awake each day.

Can you figure out which thought stations you tune in most?

Have you ever given serious thought how many are worth listening to?

And is it safe to say about 97% of those thought stations are the same ones you heard yesterday?

Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and a number of other human potential experts maintain about 80% of our daily thoughts tend to be negative, self-critical and self-defeating. Life in the negative thought lane can surely make you lose your mind, sabotaging your best intentions. One of the most important psychologists of the last fifty years, Martin Seligman has discovered there is a way to reverse what he calls "learned helplessness" with, oddly enough, "learned optimism". In his research at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Seligman discovered resilient people were optimists who think of adversity as temporary, specific, and external. Pessimists, on the other hand see adversity in permanent, pervasive and personal ways. For example, a pessimistic salesman might think: ‘I hate cold calling. I just annoy people and I'm not cut out for selling'. An optimistic salesman might think: ‘I gave it my best shot, but she was obviously in a bad mood'. A pessimist will likely give up and feel depressed, whereas the optimist will take it easy, keep going and remain determined.

Essentially, Marty and other researchers are concluding there is a scientific case to be made for dialing in Hope.

The good life is never problem-free.

Whether at work or home, the process of overcoming adversity often produces some of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble is easy to do, but in the long run, how far can anyone expect to travel dialing in stations promoting self-doubt, worry and regret?

Typically, despair and hopelessness set in whenever "impossible" situations present themselves. Just as often, those not so peaceful easy feelings are transmitted from one human being to another in such a way that they become self-fulfilling prophecies. And until a new song starts to be sung or hummed along to that includes Hope, the "impossible" situation you face will remain that way.

The Eagles were the biggest band in the world when they broke up in 1980, blown apart by clashing egos, boiling tempers, hefty substance abuse, tireless womanizing and meddling lawyers. Internal bickering came to a head on stage in Long Beach, California, July 31, 1980, with band members muttering dark threats to each other between choruses, leading to a backstage brawl. The ensuing split was so acrimonious that drummer Don Henley frequently asserted the only way the Eagles would reunite was when "when hell freezes over".

It took a while.

But, Hades finally chilled 14 years later, as Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt resumed touring and singing songs of Hope in 1994.

At some point, even the Eagles learned yesterday is already gone. Nothing that happened yesterday even matters.

At one time or another you will be faced with a "hell freezes over" situation, but tuning into Hope might give you an opportunity to turn it around.

Hope gives you a second chance every morning.

What you do with that chance is what really counts.

"Let hope inspire you, but let not idealism blind you. Don't look back, you can never look back"

Friday, January 15, 2010

The First Super Bowl

44 years ago today, this brand was born.

Forced by a merger between two opposing forces.

January 15, 1967.

Los Angeles, California.

It was on this day, the first ever championship game was played between the "upstart" American Football League and the "established" National Football League.

Coming into this first ever "Super Bowl", there was considerable animosity between the two rival leagues. Since the AFL started in 1960, the NFL regarded the circuit as an enemy that needed to be crushed. Bitter feuding erupted as the two leagues raided each others rosters for talent and engaged in costly bidding wars for college talent. Only after enough red ink had been spilled, did the two leagues enter talks that would eventually produce a merger and a single, unified champion.

Many sports writers and so-called "experts" believed the game would be a mismatch with the two-time NFL champions, Green Bay Packers taking on the Kansas City Chiefs.

The first Super Bowl attracted the largest viewership to ever see a sporting event up to that time. From the start there were special features to the Super Bowl including its designation with a Roman numeral by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to give the contest a sense of class.

Incredibly, Super Bowl I was the only Super Bowl in history that was not a sellout. Despite a TV blackout in the Los Angeles area, just over 63,000 fans turned out to cavernous Memorial Coliseum, willing to fork over the 12-dollars a ticket that local newspaper editorial described as "exorbitant".

Even more incredibly, all known broadcast tapes which CBS and NBC used to record the game in its entirety, were subsequently destroyed. A familiar practice back then was to recycle and reuse videotape by taping over previous content, losing the original footage in the process. NFL Films did have a camera crew present, and retains a substantial amount of film footage in its archives, some of which you were able to see here today.

The day on which the Super Bowl is played is now considered as an unofficial American national holiday with Super Bowl Sunday ranking as the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, after Thanksgiving.

Because of its high viewership, commercial airtime for the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year. Advertisers coughed up as much as $3 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLIII in 2009

This weekend, the race to Super Bowl XIV resumes with the New Orleans Saints taking on the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys visiting in the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC while AFC match ups see the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets trying to upset the San Diego Chargers.

When all is said and done, which two teams will add to another chapter to the Super Bowl history pages when the big game kicks off Sunday, February 7 in South Florida?

"The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Fast Are You Failing?

From the steam engine to the search engine - everyone loves an innovator.

More than a century ago, you had the likes of Bell, Edison and Ford.

In the fifties, sixties and seventies, it was Disney, Kroc and Walton,

Today, you have Branson, Jobs and those Google guys, named Sergey and Larry.

Changing the world has never been a job for the conventional or easily discouraged. But the problems of our time demand an especially crafty and determined breed of innovator as evidenced by a fascinating research project entitled "The Innovator's DNA." It's a six-year study, involving an in-depth analysis of 25 innovators and a further survey of 3,500 others who were connected to innovation in some way.

So what separates great innovators from the rest of us, you ask?

Five key skills - Associating, Questioning, Observing, Experimenting and Networking.

Two skills in particular stand out - Associating ("the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields") and Questioning ("frequently challenging common wisdom").

Now you might be asking ... "How does this apply to me"?

Your ability to innovate and imagine possibilities for your business or career will only ever equal your ability to ask lots of questions ("why is it always done this way?") and see relationships in seemingly unrelated things.

Most innovators don't hesitate to R & D (Rob & Duplicate) once they see common patters that make uncommon sense from something that has nothing to do with their particular discipline. Borrowing and combining with the best of them, Henry Ford walked into a slaughterhouse one day, saw cattle being moved on a conveyor belt and envisioned the assembly line. Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, took ideas from telecommunications and banking industries and applied them to transportation. Jean Nidetch did not invent the diet she used for Weight Watchers; she ripped off the mutual-support techniques of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ruth Handler based "Barbie" on a German sex doll named Lilli.

Picasso himself used to say, "Good artists borrow; great artists steal."

Innovators also experiment.

They call it "failing fast".

Innovators who fail fast learn faster.

Innovators who learn faster, become master to a market. .

Innovation is not for the twitchy and nervous.

It takes repeated attempts, setbacks and something called 'courageous patience', a rare commodity in our microwave, text message, "I want it now" society.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, "Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth". That's why small businesses are vital contributors to our economy, typically unencumbered by bureaucratic layers. More often than not, small business become the economic engine that creates jobs and expands opportunities.

Sadly, there are far too many in business who don't exercise their imagination muscles, stretching their mind only to deliver the next wisecrack.

The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

Failing, learning, failing again and innovation go hand in hand.

What are you willing to fail at this month?

How fast will you do it?

Or will you sit back, play it safe and watch your competitors fail faster?

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Capital Expresser"

His name and voice is synonymous with sports in his city.

An award-winning broadcaster, he is part of the unique fabric known as "Fredericton" ever since his days behind the microphone calling play-by-play on 55o CFNB.

When the American Hockey League came to town with the Fredericton Express in the early 1980's, few were as instrumental at putting the franchise on the hockey map and in the hearts of Capital City hockey fans.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with the "Foster Hewitt of Fredericton" ... now with UNB Athletics ... Dave Morrell!

"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.

"It turned out to be more than just a hockey series. A lot of pride came into play - pride in yourself, pride in your team, pride in your country"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Brand that Walked Around the World

What would it take for you to watch a six-minute commercial?

By choice?

Would it help to know that it tells the story - in one take - of how a humble Scottish farmer became an international brand?

This piece rides the wave of the hottest trend in brand marketing right now. Brands -big and small - are bypassing traditional media, creating their own platforms.

The smart brands have it figured out.

THEY are becoming the media.

Instead of being gouged by marketers or media outlets for glossy magazine ads or 30-second TV spots, smart brands go direct, sharing their story mainstream - for free. In effect, brands are competing with the traditional outlets they used to pay for their advertising needs.

So you might want to sit back and reflect how this trend applies to your business as actor Robert Carlyle regales us with a fascinating story of one of the world's most iconic beverages - in one impressive single take.

The video is a wee bit on the long side, but well worth drinking it in.

Each day, more people are sidestepping newspapers, radio and television, accessing news and information from multiple sources - Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube etc.

Can you picture how this is a perfect environment for any brand serious about stepping in and becoming a trusted source? Is there a way you could leverage these conditions and become a leader in educating customers on your history/cause/expertise instead of pitching products or services?

Here's the final whisky shot: When a company or brand becomes the media - and has a compelling saga to share - it speaks directly to customers in a way that leads to increased awareness and sales.

What is your brand doing in 2010 to become its own media?

“The take that you have seen is the very last take we did at 8pm on the last day of the shoot. Take #40. The tension as we watched Robert do this take was unbelievable. It was such a good take at every stage and so the longer it went on without any fluffs the greater the pressure grew for nothing to go wrong. When he got to the end and I got to call cut there was this huge roar and applause from the crew and agency and I knew we had it.”
JAMIE RAFN, Director

Monday, January 11, 2010

Four Letter Thief

You pull up into your driveway, open the front door, hang up your coat and notice right away something doesn't feel right.

You hear unfamiliar sounds.

Footsteps. Rustling about.

There is an intruder.

Shocked, you scream, grab a blunt instrument and chase your unwanted guest out the back way.

Still shaking, you pick up the phone and call the cops.

Then you start looking around to see what's missing.

If that event were to really happen, you would be deeply disturbed to the point of taking dramatic action such as investing in a new home security system or talking to your neighbours about watching each others property. But, few will raise a finger or make an effort to confront the most sinister daily thief of them all.

A culprit routinely pick pocketing future dreams, hopes and aspirations.

A petty criminal that will steal your potential and rob you of your present.

If you let him.

This four letter thief will rip you off and never give two shits about leaving you to pick up the pieces.

He is your only true opponent in the game you play at work and home each day.

A clever, treacherous adversary, that knows no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy.

He will lunge for your weakest spot and find it with unerring ease. He roots around in your mind - always. You've seen it happen. One moment you are feeling calm, in control, happy. Then, disguised in the garb of doubt and anxiety, he begins to creep in, rummaging through your deepest thoughts.

Once the bastard called F.E.A.R. has broken in, your allies called Faith, Hope and Trust have bolted from the scene of this crime.


And now, you're done.


Sabotaged your dream by defeating yourself.

But, here is the strangest thing.

F.E.A.R. ain't even real. Only exists in the future. Usually based on some nonsense from the past. That's why a 4-year old who heard the message, "Don't talk to strangers" becomes paralyzed as a 34-year old meeting new people at a business networking event or knocking on doors to promote a service. It also explains how a teenaged boy once rejected by a pretty girl will stammer and fumble his way along while approaching a beautiful woman when he in his forties.

F.E.A.R. is designed to immobilize and keep you stuck to where you are right now, however, you will only ever rise to the level of your greatest fear. Knowing this, you should take comfort in the scientific fact you were only born with two fears - the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. From the time we were infants, every other F.E.A.R. has been a learned and conditioned response, that fall into six major categories:

1. F.E.A.R. of Failure / Making a Mistake
2. F.E.A.R. of Success / Competition
3. F.E.A.R. of Rejection / Loss of Love
4. F.E.A.R. of Death / Poor Health
5. F.E.A.R. of Poverty / Doing Without
6. F.E.A.R. of What Others Might Think*

But, even the F.E.A.R. of death (or public speaking) is nothing compared to the F.E.A.R. of not having lived authentically and fully. Is it possible the root of all F.E.A.R. is when we feel forced to deny and supress who we really are?

The great neutralizer in this self-told story is Courage.

Courage is the price life demands for granting peace. The soul that knows it, knows release.

Marianne and Steven know a thing or two about Courage.

In 1989, Marianne founded Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. Today, Project Angel Food serves over 1,000 people daily. By December 2006, a NEWSWEEK magazine poll named Marianne as one of the fifty most influential baby boomers. She has since been a popular guest on TV programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live and Good Morning America and has published nine books, including four New York Times #1 bestsellers.

In 1969, Steven wrote a song but had no idea who he would record it with. A year later, the former high school dropout bumped into Joe and Tom at a rock show in New Hampshire and within another year, they were sharing a crammed one-bedroom apartment in Boston with Brad and Joey. It wasn't until 1973 that the song Steven wrote was finally recorded and hit the airwaves.

At different points in their respective journey's Marianne and Steven had to come face to face with F.E.A.R. and see it for what it really is:


Never forget, F.E.A.R. does NOT exist in the present.

Anxiety, panic or worry only breaks in when we start dwelling on what might or could happen. Staying in the present eliminates F.E.A.R. and allows you to feel liberated to the point where you can dream until your dreams come true.

In her first book, Marianne Williamson composed a poem often misattributed to Nelson Mandela; a poem that works even better when you read it with Steven Tyler's song.

Click the video, scroll down and at the same time, read the poem.

Out loud, if you dare.

And make this the week to protect what you dream about most.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

*The F.E.A.R. of "What Others Might Think" makes for a lot of boring ads and keeps people petrified at the thought of public speaking.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Celebrating "The King"

His daddy was once thrown in jail for writing a rubber check.

His momma lost the house while daddy was locked up, so she and her only son moved in with kin.

An average student, somewhat shy and a bit of a "loner", he received a "C" in music in eighth grade. Gradually, he grew confident enough to begin bringing his gee-tar to school, but was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played "hillbilly" music. And for good measure, was bullied by classmates who viewed him as a "momma's boy"

Scheduled to make his singing debut on a local radio show, the boy froze.

Couldn't go through with it.

Later, he would audition for several bands only to be rejected by groups like "The Songfellows". Had to explain to his daddy, "They told me I couldn't sing".

75 years ago today, this "momma's boy" was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, moving to Memphis, Tennessee at the age of thirteen.

And it was in Memphis that a skinny white boy wandered into a studio at a place called Sun Records to sing black music.

And changed the world forever.

He would become one of the most important figures of 20th century pop culture, the best-selling solo artist in music history, with sales of approximately 1 billion units worldwide. Before his career and life ended prematurely at the age of 42, he had been nominated for 14 Grammys, inducted into four music halls of fame and established a legacy at Graceland.

Not bad for a former truck driver for the Crown Electric Company who refused to let his music dream die.

The original "Jukebox Hero" would have been 75 today.

In honor of "The King", TSB is counting down the Top 5 Elvis Songs of all time.

#5. "That's All Right"

#4 - "Heartbreak Hotel"

#3. - "Don't Be Cruel"

#2. - "Can't Help Falling in Love With You"

... and the greatest Elvis Presley song of all time ...

#1 - "Suspicious Minds"

"When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Are They Going to Top That?

Whoever creates beauty by playing an instrument and generating musical harmony begins to understand from within what essential harmony is... human harmony.

What could ordinary Canadians learn from the barrios of poverty-stricken Venezuela about social change ... and breathtaking music?

You are about to find out through the course of an extraordinary, at times crazy journey, taken by an otherwise ordinary Canuck named Ken.

When the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra first appeared at Carnegie Hall in January of 2003, there was no shortage of friends, family and acquaintances who would approach Ken with one question.

"How are you going to top that"?

Then it was off to Parna, Italy in October of 2005 and a performance and recording from the Auditorium Paganini, and once again, Ken kept hearing the same question.

"How are you going to top that"?

July of 2007 and the NBYO is on stage at the Concert Hall inside the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China and upon returning to Canada, Ken realized a pattern had developed.

Same question.

There have been ECMA awards, nationally-televised documentaries and live shows , a riveting in concert DVD with blues colossus Matt Andersen and the question always remain the same:

"How are you going to top that"?

Truth be known, Ken and his cohorts didn't start out to top anything when first getting involved with NBYO other than taking advantage of every opportunity to inspire, nurture talent and create venues to showcase New Brunswick's best young musicians.

And now as 2010 gets underway, NBYO has taken yet another bold leap forward with the launch of a Canadian first - Sistema NB.

This initiative is based on a program that has already changed hundreds of thousands of lives in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of South America through the transformational magic of music. It may be the biggest task NBYO has ever taken on and frankly, Ken feels the pressure of this daunting task.

But, with the strong support of the NBYO board, members, sponsors and families and the growing extended family of New Brunswickers who believe in this orchestra, Ken MacLeod is confident others will see the enormous value in his vision.

The first Sistema New Brunswick centre opened in October 2009 at the Beaverbrook School location in Moncton, NB and Ken reports they are already seeing some fantastic results from kids who would otherwise, have never picked up an instrument. The plan is for Sistema New Brunswick to open, by 2015, four to six such centres around the province, operating in both official languages.

Who could have imagined that one of the best countries in the world to live in - Canada - could adopt a program from Venezuela; one so extraordinary it is being hailed as transformational for individuals and the society?

What started with a handful of kids in a garage, has grown to over 350,000 children learning the instrument of their choice and getting free instruction every weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.

Would it surprise you to know that El Sistema is not only producing transformational social change, it is also breeding some of the best musicians in the world?

One of those El Sistema kids is Antonio Delgado from Caracas, Venezuela and this international-calibre guest conductor will be on stage with the NBYO on Saturday, January 16, at the Moncton Wesleyan Centre. The evening program will feature a stunning array of Latin, Broadway and Classical tunes, conducted by one of the best young maestros in the world.

Go to the show.

Really listen.

"Hear the Future".

And you might find yourself asking the same question:

"How are they going to top that?"

Just don't be surprised when they do.

"An orchestra is a community where the essential and exclusive feature is that it is the only community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing with itself. Therefore the person who plays in an orchestra begins to live the experience of agreement. And what does the experience of agreement mean? Team practice - the practice of the group that recognizes itself as interdependent, where everyone is responsible for others and the others are responsible for oneself. Agree on what? To create beauty"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Crushing Old Media

"Booming economies, like the one that recently ended, keep all kinds of businesses afloat that should have sunk long ago"


Unless you are deadly SERIOUS about the business you're in, this post will mean nothing to you.




Unless you WANT to stare the future in the face, stop reading right now and invest the next 7:18 of your life in something you feel will be a better investment of your time.

And forget you ever heard the name Gary Vaynerchuk and his new book, "CRUSH IT"

Gary Vaynerchuk, host of WineLibraryTV, is a 32-year-old, in-your-face, New Yorker. He lives and dies with the NFL Jets, often making mention of that fact in the hundreds of daily wine-tasting television shows he has appeared in online.

Few pursuits are as full of intellectual and cultural snobs as the wine industry. It’s a haven for tight-ass aficionados who get off displaying their intimate knowledge about the finer things in life, giving them the cheap thrill of looking down their long snooty noses at cultural riff raff who wouldn’t know the difference between a Chablis and a Chardonnay.

The perfect arena for a controversial connoisseur to CRUSH IT.

Gary's show, with an audience of 80,000 a day, has vaulted Vaynerchuk into the international spotlight. Gary Vee has discovered there's more to using online video to sell wine - although it has helped a small family-owned store become a $60m-a-year enterprise. Calling himself "the social media sommelier", he says "I'd rather have a million friends right now than a million dollars. Your social equity is far greater than your financial equity."

And that's why he is NOT the least bit shy about sounding the death knell for lumbering media dinosaurs such as newspapers and magazines.

Unless, you think you might get a little misty-eyed and need to reach for a tissue while contemplating the demise of traditional media, the next 5:19 of Gary Vee will be a complete waste of your time.

The Web is fertile ground for those who can seamlessly transcend its reach from computer screens into the homes, minds, and hearts of the masses. Not only is he “Internet Famous,” Gary’s activities have flipped the pompous, stuffy wine industry on its head, opening the door to bring wine to the hearts, and palates, of everyday people. Gary not only broadcasts riveting, outrageous wine reviews daily, he adheres to the must-have elements for effective use of Social Media. Killer content and street cred earned through:







Some of Gary Vaynerchuk's OPINION'S about branding in the social media world may bother you.

But it’s HIGHLY doubtful he gives a rat’s ass.

Unless you can start CRUSHING IT.

“If you are a 32-year old guy that sleeps in the basement of your mom’s house, in order to boycott reality TV, you are a few videos away from being the king of those people and becoming a cult star! Embrace who YOU are and WORK hard at it!”

YOU ARE THE BRAND!!! You don’t need endorsements from people in your industry. Differentiate yourself! Don’t buy lists, make lists!

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


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Alchemic Happyness

According to Wikipedia, Alchemy is both "a philosophy and a practice with an aim of achieving ultimate wisdom as well as immortality". Before being displaced by modern chemistry, the practice of alchemy spanned 2500 years or more with alchemists aiming to turn lead into gold, create the elixir of life and discover a universal solvent.

It can be argued "Transformation" forms the foundation of "Alchemy".

Yesterday, TSB offered a hint of a real-life, no bullshit, transformation in a post titled "2010 Alchemy".

Few transformations compare to the one about a guy named Chris who returned home from jail to an empty apartment. His girlfriend and his son gone. Also gone are all of his possessions, including suits, shoes and business apparel. With no experience, no college education, virtually no connections, and with the same casual clothes he had been wearing on the day he was taken into custody for unpaid parking tickets, Chris earns a spot in a stock brokerage training program.

Despite being broke and homeless, nothing would get in the way of this single dad and his Pursuit of Happyness.

In his international best-seller. "The Alchemist", Paulo Coelho reveals there are four obstacles to achieving any personal form of alchemy like a Chris Gardner. It goes back to when we were kids and told from childhood that everything is impossible. Secondly, we are afraid to hurt those we love for sake of pursuing a dream. Thirdly, the fear of defeats we are certain to encounter along the way and finally the guilt from feeling we’re not deserving of the dream.

Four obstacles that ultimately serve as a test of one's character.

Long before his story was immortalized by Hollywood, Chris Gardner figured out that character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints.

Character is something we take responsibility for forming.

Transforming ourselves and those around us.

A more personal form of alchemy.

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both"

p.s... In case you missed it yesterday, this helps put the "alchemy" angle in context.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Alchemy

Mahatma Gandhi was approached one day by a woman and her young son.

The woman asked, “Mahatma, can you please tell my son to stop eating sugar. It’s not good for him, and he won’t listen to me. He respects you, and I know he will listen to you.”

The Mahatma said, “Fine. Come back in a week.”

A week later, the woman and her son came back. The Mahatma said, “I’m not quite ready. Please come back in another week.”

Another week went by, and the woman came back with her son. The Mahatma was ready, and he said, “Son, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for you.”

The woman was pleased, but also a bit confused. She said, “Why did it take you so long to say such a simple thing.”

The Mahatma replied, “When you first came to me, I had not stopped eating sugar myself.”

As 2010 gets underway, the first TSB post of the year aims to reflect the moral of the Ghandi story:

- Don’t tell anyone to do anything you haven’t done yourself.
- Don't write about that which is untried and untested.
- Don't share ideas without sharing belief in those ideas.

For those reasons and a few others, today is focused on sharing a discovery.

Late October, 2009.

A friend casually mentions the name of a good book and its author.

Draws a blank.

Never heard of the guy.

Or his book.

Turns out, the guy is famous.

Big time.

So much so, he earned the 2009 Guinness World Record for being the Most Translated Living Author for the same book.

Translated in more than 68 languages with over 100 million copies sold in more than 150 countries, what makes this literary feat even more remarkable is when you consider:

- His book was published originally in Portuguese by an unknown author from Brazil, a country without a track record of literature translated into other languages.
- There were no high-priced literary agents or big marketing budgets involved.
- The media ignored it. Never recommended by Oprah.
- There was no film adaptation to fuel hype and boost sales.

But, more than 20 years later, this masterpiece is still selling, relying on word of mouth as its main marketing tool. Passionate fans recommend "The Alchemist" not as a good or entertaining read, but as a MUST read. Quietly, it has become a bestseller in every single country where it has been published, making Paulo Coelho the most read living author of all time.

"The Alchemist" may help set your sails and adjust your course for an unforgettable 2010; the kind of year you will look back on with pride. You will identify with the many characters encountered by the young shepherd, Santiago and see your own struggles along his page-turning journey of self-discovery.

Perhaps you will also discover "treasure lies where your heart belongs", as you come face-to-face with Luck, Coincidence and Faith.

Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 to a middle-class family near Rio de Janeiro, brought up in a Jesuit school where he fell in love with writing. His parents had other ideas though and when Paulo resisted becoming an engineer like his father, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital. But his love for literature refused to die.

Later, Paulo tried several kinds of creative activities such as theatre, journalism and song-writing before he joined the hippie movement in the 60s; a series of actions which resulted in his arrest and torture by the military regime of Brazil. In 1986, following the advice of a mentor, he completed a pilgrimage on the road to Santiago and in 1988, published "The Alchemist", a book destined to change his life forever.

Which brings us to November 9, 2009.

That was the day TSB first offered a hint of "The Alchemist" in a post that drew unprecedented reaction from our growing, global readership. The inbox filled up that day thanks to the forces of Luck, Coincidence and Faith as a number of individuals identified with the Will displayed from another Paulo Coelho fan.

"The Alchemist", bursts with adventure and tragedy; fear and optimism; setbacks and hope. But, as the alchemist himself says, when he appears to Santiago in the form of an old king "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true". It's interesting to see how Will Smith himself reflected that philosophy in a scene from one of his more acclaimed roles.

What would be the most significant thing you could do to protect your dream and alter the course of your personal Pursuit of Happyness?

Is 2010 the year you discover "The Alchemist"?

Will you stretch yourself and make 2010 a year to go skydiving, open that business, heal a wounded relationship, volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit that foreign country, begin public speaking, fall in love or make a fresh start?

You could decide to play it safe and resolve to do what everyone else does when a new year rolls around, like get out of debt, get fit, de-clutter or quit smoking/drinking/gambling.

Or you could confront the destiny that is yours.

And bet on Luck, Coincidence and Faith.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream"