Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Small Business Branding

It's NOT just for Nike, BMW or Tide.

NOT the exclusive domain of Coke, Apple or Starbucks.

In other words, it doesn't mean squat if you are NOT a Fortune 500 player.

"Branding" is a strategy ANY individual or small business can embrace.

But first, YOU have to wrap your head around "branding".

And what it REALLY is.

Recently, TSB was jazzed hearing from a small business owner, positively GUSHING about the way a well-intentioned, professionally crafted branding strategy helped a home basement operation, go from $300,000 in revenues to $1.2 million in about a year. But, as the conversation continued, it became clear this tangible financial growth began with two intangibles: VISION and a DECISION. In other words, the business owner was clear about certain aspects of what branding entails and how this approach differs from the vast majority in any category do.

Products and services are either manufactured, delivered or sold.

A brand is something BOUGHT by the customer.

Any product or service can be copied.

A brand is UNIQUE.

Any product or service can be quickly outdated and rendered obsolete by technology.

A successful brand is TIMELESS.

"Branding" is a DISCIPLINE. Not a spending strategy.

What can you ENVISION for your brand?

Will you DECIDE to do something about it?

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens"

Originally posted October 29, 2009

Monday, June 28, 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 a 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"

Originally posted January 4, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seamless in the Summer of 2010

"No more pencils.... no more books...No more teacher's dirty looks! Out for summer! Out till fall, we might not come back at all"

Since its inception in August of 2008, The Seamless Brand has set out to publish fresh material each and every business day.

With the exception of two days in January 2009 (handicapped by technical issues in Mexico) and another two day hiccup in January 2010 (while on location in Las Vegas) TSB has succeeded on no fewer than 464 occasions.

And now, just like you, we're ready to kick back with our flip flops, enjoy a few cold ones and slow down for the summer.

Beginning on Monday, June 28th TSB launches its summer format for July/August, 2010. Regular visitors will notice a Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule as we dig into the TSB vault and re-post material that you might want a second look at.

But, it is summer.

When the right kind of day is welcome relief for winter-weary spirits.

Summer not only changes the way we approach our work, it also has a way of making the music we enjoy more vivid.

Summer songs are unlike any other.

Once "Schools Out", reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic give way to racing, romance, and rocking good tunes. It is only fitting that today on TSB, we unveil our 2010 list for the Top Five "Songs of Summer".

Our choices are based on three general criteria:

- The song needs to be a Top Ten single on Billboard.
- Reflects summertime values of fun in the sun.
- Comes with a kickass video.

Close, but no cigar honors go to several artists including:

- "Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochrane
- "In the Summertime" - Mungo Jerry
- "Cruel Summer" - Bananarama
- "Surfin' USA" - The Beach Boys
- "Hot Summer Nights" - John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
- "Walking on Sunshine" - Katrina and the Waves
- "Summer in the City" - The Lovin' Spoonful
- "Heat Wave" - Martha and the Vandellas
- "Summer of 69" - Bryan Adams
- "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett

So here it goes ... TSB's Top Five "Songs of Summer":

#5. "Something Like Summertime" - BON JOVI

#4. "California Girls" - DAVID LEE ROTH

#3. "Summertime Girls" - Y & T

#2. "Soak Up the Sun" - SHERYL CROW

#1. "All Summer Long" - KID ROCK

Hope you enjoy many perfect days through July/August when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, lawn mower is broken and the music is rocking!

All summer long.

"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it" DAVID LEE ROTH

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Power Friending

You and I need to know more about "Power Friending".

It's a concept being promoted by one of the truly authentic social media gurus in North America, Prince Edward Island native Amber MacArthur. Released earlier this month, AmberMac's "Power Friending" has been billed as the ultimate guide for people like you and I looking to understand (and maybe profit) from our highly connected future.

Some heavy hitters have stepped up the plate to endorse the book, including YouTube co-founder, Steve Chen, who opines, “Amber provides a sweeping yet detailed look at the correlation between marketing and social media in the online world". Guy Kawasaki adds, “It pays to have friends in high places, and Amber is in a very high place in social media. She might not be your friend, but her book is as good as it gets". But, perhaps the most powerful endorsement comes from one of AmberMac's friends from the Twitterverse who sees "Power Friending" as a key to unleashing the social media giant within.

As a leading speaker, entrepreneur, and coach, Tony Robbins still finds time to manage many of his own social media efforts. An active Twitter user, he shares a lot about what's going on in his life at It wasn't that long ago when Twitter was a tiny start-up with a 140-character blank box. However, this platform is now home to more than two billion tweets per month with 135,000 new registrations every single day.

Something tells me the lessons being shared from Amber Mac and "Power Friending" will serve you and I well. Whether we are experiencing a huge wave of social media activity right now in our business or career is irrelevant.

The real question is where are we going to be six months down the road?

And will you and I be prepared?

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Childish Thinking

Adora has been called a “tiny literary giant” by Diane Sawyer.

Her daily video conferences with students from around the world have earned her Berrien RESA’s “Best Author and Expert” award for distance learning two years in a row.

To inspire the teachers of tomorrow, Adora speaks at schools like DePaul and Bowling Green State University, advocating innovation in 21st-century education around the world. A published author, her books include; "Flying Fingers", an engaging how-to hand book on writing for parents and kids from a student’s point of view.

Now at the ripe old age of 12, Adora Svitak has been been a prolific short story writer, essayist, poet and blogger since she was 7. She burst on to the scene at the age of a 6, when she was portrayed on the local news in Seattle for her writing abilities. Appearances on shows like "Good Morning America" followed which set the stage for many stops o the speaking and lecture circuit throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

"With what we know,
We’ve made crops grow,
Traveled around the world,
Ancient mysteries unfurled;
But with what we dream,
We’ve found that things aren’t always what they seem,
We’re free of boundaries,
Allowed to create realities"


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guest Post: "Fox On The Run"

"There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns"

Mark would love to hand you the keys to innovation.

All 40 of them.

Mark has spent the majority of his career as a Chief Engineer for the Space Shuttle Program and now trains down to earth people and companies. His book, "Da Vinci and the 40 Answers" leverages the theory of TRIZ, an inventive problem-solving methodology Mark acquired from a now-deceased Russian scientist.

In his study of hundreds of thousands of patents, Genrich Altschuller determined there are only about 1,500 basic problems. And each of these can be solved by applying one or more of the 40 universal answers. Originally created to solve engineering and design problems, Mark Fox simplified these 40 Answers, discovered commonalities they share with innovators like Da Vinci and Disney and now successfully applies them to solve social issues and business dilemmas.

In this guest video post, Mark explains a concept he calls, "Other Way Around".

Mark has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering with an MBA. Some of his unique accomplishments include increasing e-business sales 600% in one year. He builds his own airplanes and hot air balloons. "Da Vinci and the 40 Answers" is based on his original, always sold out, workshop hosted at Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas and if there is a seat left for the June 30-July 1st session, and you have time on your hands, you can be sure your creative thinking will reach lunar levels just by taking this class.

If you think your organization can run with the Fox brand of creativity, here are some links to learn more.

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nuts And Bolts Alchemy

Since the release of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", one question has been coming my way more than most.

"So ... what does it take to actually write a book and get it published?"

That's not the easiest question to answer in a simple one or two line sentence.

The simple way would be to respond, "Start writing and don't stop until you're finished". In some respects, that is true, but upon much reflection, this is a question I want to address in a much more honest and complete fashion.

In a nutshell, (pardon the pun), the start to finish journey of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", bears a striking resemblance to a fable of wisdom shared by Paulo Coelho in his multi-million best seller, "The Alchemist".

The story of the "The Alchemist" is not unlike your own journey. Whether its writing a book, finding that dream job, discovering true love, or whatever you define as success, "The Alchemist" contends that everyone has a special destiny, but few will resolve to achieve it because of the price it exacts. Are you prepared to pay the freight with back-breakingly hard work and a willingness to leave behind comfortable, familiar surroundings? Discovering your "personal legend" also demands persistence, the ability to change be open to responding to omens that point the way.

Coelho's masterpiece follows a young shepherd into the desert on his quest for a dream. "The Alchemist" has hit the top spot on best seller lists in 74 countries and praised by public figures like Will Smith, Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts. An unlikely hit, "The Alchemist" was not supported by bloated marketing budgets or endorsements from Oprah. It was not written in English, French or Spanish. It did not enjoy a film tie-in or gain media attention, but it is still selling in large volumes and changing the world one reader at a time, relying on old fashioned word of mouth and 21st century social media platforms such as this one.

Perhaps the telling of this story may reveal certain omens for you.

PART ONE: Dreaming in the Abandoned Church

The hero in the story, the young shepherd Santiago, finds an old abandoned church, where he and his flock can spend the night. Waking up in the middle of a dream he sees the stars through a half-destroyed roof and starts to wonder about a journey to the Pyramids and the possibility of finding treasure that waits for him there.

In 1999, the thought of writing a book and launching a professional speaking career would have been a distant dream at best. Realizing my days were numbered after 20 years as a paid employees in the broadcasting business, a friend invited me to see a speaker one night. I'll never forget thinking, "I have no clue what I would speak about, but I could do that job". That's when I got the notion it was time to leave the sheep and get going, but hadn't the foggiest idea of where to go or how to get there.

PART TWO: The Gypsy and the Old Man

Santiago visits a gypsy who helps interpret his dream of traveling to the Egyptian pyramids to find his treasure. Later, he encounters an old man who explains the world's greatest lie: That at a certain point in our lives we lost control of what's happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.

My "gypsy" appeared in the form of a now-defunct training company that allowed me the opportunity to learn, grow and stretch in a completely different field. The "old man" turned out to be a wizard, whose book about "Secret Formulas" was discovered on a hockey road trip to Cape Breton in the spring of 2000.

PART THREE: Working for the Crystal Merchant

Santiago is forced to put his dream on hold as he begins working for the crystal merchant. This is where he learns his craft with respect to selling, merchandising and what makes people do the things they do.

The first half-dozen years in the corporate training industry prove to be a valuable apprenticeship in terms of what is about to follow. This is where the desire to write a book first enters my mind, but I still lack clear direction in terms of to write about in a way that brings value to readers.

PART FOUR: The Decision to Leave

Santiago decides its time to pay attention to the omens and join a desert caravan heading east towards the pyramids. He has been told that when you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.

My omen came in the form of a challenge issued by a MondayMorningMemo in January of 2006. The result of that experience was a visit to Wizard Academy in Austin, TX and a once-in-a-lifetime writers conference that offered a first glimpse of clarity on what was possible.

PART FIVE: The Oasis

The Englishman tells Santiago that the goal of alchemists is to purify metal by heating it for many years until all its individual properties are burned away. The substance left over is called the Soul of the World. When Santiago hears this, he asks why they do not simply observe men and omens and learn about the universal language that way. This comment irritates the Englishman, who declares Santiago oversimplifies everything.

Wizard Academy becomes the oasis where the complexities of business, branding and the communication arts are made stunningly simple. A half-dozen trips later, Wizard Academy Press accepts the manuscript of NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS. But, only after a humbled and grateful student accepts a simple, yet profound teaching.

PART SIX: Reaching the Pyramids

Santiago expresses fear and doubt, telling the alchemist he has already found his treasure, referring to Fatima's love. The alchemist says this is a natural reaction for a heart to have, as it becomes afraid of suffering and losing what it has won.

Those are the feelings that accompany the days leading up to the actual book launch as NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS was released to the world - least - on May 1, 2010. Just as you find yourself getting closer to the top of the world, real doubt, anxiety and even guilt sets in as you wonder why this is happening to you and not someone more deserving.

PART SEVEN: The Real Treasure

Santiago returns to the abandoned church and discovers what he has been looking for all along.

The circle is now complete.

You discover the real treasure was in you all along, but you needed to go through a torturous journey through the desert and reach the Pyramids before you could find it.

Paulo Coelho says there are four obstacles that prevent people from following a path to their Personal Legend. The first is that since childhood, you have heard that everything in terms of how you wish to live is impossible. You grow up with this idea long enough and as you age, so does the accumulating layers of prejudices, fears, guilt.

The second obstacle is love. You might know your Personal Legend , but think you might be betraying or harming those around you, if you give everything up to follow your dream. But, only those who truly love you are longing for your happiness, and are ready to support you on this adventure.

The third obstacle is the fear of the defeats you will encounter along the way. If you fights for your dream, you will suffer far more when something doesn’t go well, because you can't employ the fall back excuse: “Oh, well, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted anyway...”

The fourth obstacle is the fear of realizing the dream you have fought for your entire life. The simple possibility of achieving that which we desire causes the soul of the common man to be filled with guilt. You look around, and see many others who have not succeeded, and so you begin to think you don't deserve any of it. Coelho calls this the most dangerous of obstacles saying, “It has a certain aura of sanctity about it: to renounce to joy and the conquest. But if the man is worthy of that which he has fought so hard for, he then becomes an instrument of God, aids the Soul of the World, and understands why he is there”.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what it takes to sit down, write a book and the journey to get it published.

Or follow any Personal Legend you have.

"Lives, like money, are spent. What are you buying with yours?"

P.S.... The crackerjack team at Botsford Productions produced some videos that captured thoughts from readers of NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS as well as highlights from the official launch at Moncton City Hall

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Gift for Dad

"When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry"

He is the first man I looked up to.

Nearly half a century later, his opinion still matters to me.

A lot.

Dad is now in his seventies and sometime this summer he will shoot his age, playing the game he learned as a boy, growing up next to a golf course on the North Sea coast of Scotland. Dad and I don't talk much and could both be described as emotionally guarded, but there is no denying the bond that exists between father and his eternally grateful son.

From where I sit, my father is probably no different from yours in the sense that he did the best he could with the what he had to work with. If nothing else, Dad taught me less with words and more through actions. 461 TSB posts and a published book later, I would like to think a little bit of his relentless work ethic as a golf professional rubbed off in some way.

His passion for golf also taught his only son in more ways than he will ever know about the value of proper fundamentals; the ability to maintain composure when things don't go well; and the level of integrity and personal accountability required to master any craft or discipline. He may not have been aware, but his eldest of three was always watching and hoping to emulate the character traits that produced more than 100 tournament victories and twice capturing the New Brunswick Senior Men's golf title. Because as Phil Mickelson once explained, "The object of golf is not just to win. It is to play like a gentleman, and win".

If it was up to Dad, there probably wouldn't be a Father's Day. I'm not sure he is all that fussy about that kind of attention, which originated from a Washington state woman who came up with the idea while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Having been raised by her father, after her mother died, Sonora Smart Dodd wanted her Dad to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora's Dad was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington, June 19, 1910. It would be 1972 before President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day on the third Sunday in June; an idea born in memory and gratitude by a married daughter who thought that all good fathers should be honored with a special day all their own.

And so it is in that spirit, with Sunday being Father's Day and all ...

Dad, there is something you should know,
And it's hearing how much you inspired your son to work, learn and grow,
Perhaps we'll never truly understand each other and always agree,
But you gave the greatest gift a Father could ever give,
You believed in me.

"A kid grows up a lot faster on the golf course. Golf teaches you how to behave"

P.S.... The language may be a little blue for Dad's taste, but there is no denying Robin Williams came up with the best explanation of how golf came to be in my father's native land.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cleaner, Taller Trees

Yesterday's post on "Mufftastic Branding" triggered a flurry of reaction that focused on the obvious.

"How come you didn't talk about what companies are doing to help guys look after what's down there?"

Good question.

One we can answer today, beginning with Gillette which has long advertised its products to be the "best a man could get".

The 100-year old firm has taken its decades-old brand in a new direction on social media platforms with a series of instructional videos on these products can take care of "strategic" areas on a man's body.

Not to be outdone, other brands are competing to fly their flag on this pole.

And once the trimming operations have been completed, another brand is there with aftercare.

Advertising may try to convince consumers to buy a product, but brands find a way to relate the story in terms of what the consumer experiences.

Is there a story your brand needs to start telling?

"Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mufftastic Branding

It’s time to get personal ladies.

Very personal.

Today's subject originated from a Toronto friend who called one day to exclaim, "You won't believe what my sister got as a wedding present". Once the hysterical laughter died down was she able to share the news about the name of a new product line:

"I Love My Muff".

"Did she just say what I thought she said?"

"I Love My Muff".

"OK, I did hear it right the first time".

I will confess, the brand name had me hooked.


Here is the down-lo.

Vancouver entrepreneur Ritz Clinging (is that her real name?) has created a line of feminine care products that promise an all-natural, non-toxic, vegan experience for care down there. Apparently, there isn’t a single chemical or petroleum based preservative to be found.

Through her efforts to find high quality products to address her own feminine care needs, Ritz realized that there was little available that was not drugstore bore or clinically cold. And that's where she saw the branding opportunity that existed; providing a product mix with bright and bold packaging, that represent a statement of confidence for the modern woman.

What do you think?

Has "I Love My Muff" pushed the envelope too far?

Or is this a mufftastic form of branding that speaks to what customers really want?

And part of a bigger trend that other brands have figured out?

"Advertisers in general bear a large part of the responsibility for the deep feelings of inadequacy that drive women to psychiatrists, pills, or the bottle"
MARYA MANNES, "But Will It Sell?", 1964

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Talking Trout. Seamlessly.

Every once in a while, I get asked the question, "So what is a seamless brand anyways"?

The philosophical answer is: "A seamless brand is one that actually makes and keeps a promise that matters", but since that sounds a little vague, I often follow up with a story about WestJet.

"You know how when you hit the check-in counter for a WestJet flight and you are greeted a certain way and then that spirit carries over to the cabin with the flight crew. And then you encounter the same spirit whether you are dialing into the call centre or watching one of their commercials on television. Whether its the internal culture and operations or the external marketing message, everything about the WestJet spirit seems to permeate every facet of their operation. Seamlessly".

The person I am talking with usually responds with an "OK, I get it now" and then asks the next obvious question. "So are there many other seamless brands out there? Where they actually deliver on what they say they're going to do in their marketing messages?"

There aren't many, which is why it creates such a strategic advantage for any brand determined to follow a path towards seamlessness. And since you don't see these brands on every street corner, it becomes something special whenever you discover one that actually "gets it".

Today, you are about to discover such a brand.

With one phone call.

Over the past few years, I have been involved with some staff training projects for Trout River Industries out of the tiny village of Coleman PEI. Driving by, you would have no way of knowing how seamless this brand is with philosophies, practices and performance second to none. Trout River Industries manufactures what is referred to as "live bottom trailers", designed in such a way to discharge a payload without the danger of tipping.

Founded by Harvey Stewart, it is also a company that truly believes in taking care of its customers and the well being of its employees.

And you can find out with a single phone call.

I am serious.

Way back when, Stewart decreed that a real person would ALWAYS answer the phone. In no way, would a customer or anyone else ever be sentenced to voice mail jail during regular business hours. To illustrate his point, Harvey gathered the staff in the parking lot one day and used a pay loader to crush an answering machine. Harvey's reasoning for this was quite simple: "Our customers are busy too".

Over the past several years, I have probably made a dozen or more calls to (902) 859-1200 and discovered a real person on the other end of the line EVERY time. If the receptionist is busy or away from the desk, someone else always picks up. You can try it for yourself in the middle of any business day and discover how such a little thing like answering the phone can help build a company from scratch to employ over 50 people and develop a brand worthy of being called "seamless".

Trout River Industries does more than manufacture world class products.

Harvey, Darrin Mitchell and the rest of the team have discovered a way to do it seamlessly.

With a brand built from the inside out.

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

P.S.... Here is the video where Harvey Stewart demonstrates how dangerous a conventional trailer can be.

P.S.S... To see how a "live bottom trailer" discharges its payload, incident free, watch this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pinball Wizardry

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind"

Your central nervous system is filled with a mix of negative, neutral or sometimes positive energy. Think of it like the internal circuitry of a pinball machine.

That circuitry will process slightly more than 45,000 thoughts that bump, flash and spin through your brain for the roughly 17 hours you are awake each day.

Those thoughts are often influenced by the words of other people.

Words from from celebrities you see on TV/the web or hear on radio. Words from columnists or authors you read. Words shared by friends, family members or complete strangers you bump into.

Those words can have an explosive effect - positive or negative - on how those 45,000-plus thoughts play out in your personal dialogue each day. When was the last time you stopped to consider how the words of others can either send your spirits soaring to record highs or cause your entire soul to scream TILT?

Words have the ability to tap into deep emotions, lifting you to the highest of heights, or send you plummeting to the depths of despair. Words are more than letters stuck together, lending meaning to sounds we make. They also deliver an energy force that can shoot like the deadliest of arrows into our psyches; causing more pain than any stick or stone could ever inflict on our physical beings.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

It depends on whether you want to keep living like a pinball.

Or make a decision to live like the pinball machine itself.

While the pinball can be easily bounced in any direction and never controls where its going, the pinball machine is rock solid. It stands on four sturdy legs. It influences where the pinball is going.

Language works best when used to influence and inspire others to find the best in themselves.

But, that level of pinball wizardry represents a choice.

Doesn't it?

"When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
JAMES 3:3-6

P.S. ... Songwriter Pete Townshend had a way with words when he and penned this classic from "The Who".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "The Potential Awakener"

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential"

A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential.

A great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.

That's one of the many qualities that makes Martin a top notch leader and one of New Brunswick's most energizing leadership exports.

A self-made inspirational speaker, Martin transitioned from being a university calibre hockey player to becoming an internationally-acclaimed keynoter. He has wowed audiences all over Canada, the U.S., France, Belgium and Africa and has touched the hearts of tens of thousands in his adopted province with his work on "Ten Needles", the story of 10-year old cancer patient Sean Collins and his legacy of courage and wisdom.

Today on TSB, we focus on a former Team Canada captain who became a four-time, best-selling author, now sharing his insights on awakening the potential that sleeps inside all of us ... "The Potential Awakener", Martin Latulippe!

You can learn more about Martin's amazing story and what he does to alchemize human potential by visiting

"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 do what we can to inspire, educate and motorvate.

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"

Previously posted June 17, 2009

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Attention Age

Has the Information Age given way to the Attention Age?

The Information Age offered the promise that the worldwide web would give us anything we wanted to know with the single click of a mouse.

But, it seems that time has passed.

You no longer need to search for information. It comes to you, like a runaway freight train based on your previous Google searches, iTunes buying history, Facebook profile and recently watched videos. We blog, tweet, upload and download up-to-the minute on iPhones and Blackberrys. Some estimate that by 2013 the quantity of information on the Internet will double roughly every 72 hours.

Welcome to the Attention Age, a period in human history in which information has become so abundant and readily available that the grabbing and keeping attention has become the most valuable commodity.

Fellow blogger, Mark Schaeffer, recently offered this short history lesson to help frame where we are at. It's easy to remember if you think of how we communicate in terms of: Evolution, Revolution, Contribution.

- Men on fast horses
- Town squares
- Printing press
- Mail
- Telephone
- Radio
- Television
- Internet
- Email
- Mobile
- Social web

There are two things to consider when it comes to social media:

1) This is two-way communication. Everything else on the list above is one-way. The message isn't being controlled by an author or a news anchor or an advertising executive. People are talking back. That's intense.

2) For the first time in human history, we have access to free, global, real-time communication. There is no other word to characterize the implication of this development but "profound."

The distinguishing characteristic of the social web that most resonates with people is "contribution." People are the publishers. If the content is coming from common people it's the social web. What are people publishing?

- Ideas
- Videos
- Opinions
- Criticisms
- Commentary
- Entertainment

Everybody publishes ... including folks vitally important to you like employees, customers, competitors, partners, suppliers, people who love you, and people who hate you. So don't you think you should be out there listening to these people? Learning from them? Serving them? And in the case of your competitor, pummeling them?

Does this post make you sit up and take notice?

Do you grasp the implications for your brand?

Hope it was worth the price of your attention.

“Why are we trying to measure social media like a traditional channel anyway? Social media touches every facet of business and is more an extension of good business ethics”
ERIK QUALMAN, author of “Socialnomics”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Little Big Thing

"Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to
mankind, which are delivered down from generation to
generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn"


Can you recall the first business book you fell in love with?

So much so that you felt it touching your very soul?

Business reading is to the mind what exercise is for your physique and as celebrated American author and management guru Tom Peters explains in his new book "Little Big Things", there is an old saying that still holds true.

Now, more than ever.

Tom Peters has been contributing to the growth of excellence in businesses worldwide for over thirty years. "In Search of EXCELLENCE", which he co-authored with Robert Waterman is considered one of the greatest business books of all time and his latest offering, "The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE is getting rave reviews for the dozens of game-changing ideas that could truly take your business and your career to a completely new level.

Failure to read good books can have a crippling effect on any business professional as it shuts down the dimmer switch on vision and strengthens the tendency to believe that here and now is all there is. When we read a great business book, our companies live within it. The covers of the book are like the roof and the four walls where everything that happens within that book takes place in there. And this happens because the story's voice makes everything feel like this is what's happening to you.

It's been said that readers are leaders.

The more you learn, the more you earn.

In the spring of 2000, my start-up business was forever changed on a 5-hour hockey road trip to Cape Breton, sitting in the back of the bus absorbing "Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads", by Roy H. Williams. Hundreds of business books and ten years later, my business brain was rocked again, but in a totally unexpected way.

In October of 2009, a journey to the rarely traveled, non-fiction section of the bookstore led to the discovery of a masterpiece known as, "The Alchemist".

Nothing has been the same since.

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure"


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Driving Animation

What drives you - or any of us - to perform at optimum levels?

Is it cold hard cash?


Rewards and recognition?

Or is it something else altogether?

Once you begin to absorb what Daniel Pink is advocating in “Drive”, the answers might surprise you.

"Motivation alone is not enough.if you have an idiot and you motivate him,now you have a motivated idiot"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Coach Heads Home

“Coach Wooden never talked about winning and losing, but rather about the effort to win. He rarely talked about basketball, but generally about life. He never talked about strategy, statistics or plays, but rather about people and character. Coach Wooden never tired of telling us that once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player”

The world needs more coaches like John.

A coach who understood the meaning of his own words.

That he too, needed to be a good person first.

John passed away last week, but his contributions will extend far beyond his chosen sport for many decades to come. More than anything, John Wooden's brand of wisdom was something he exemplified for the past 99 years, modelling the words he shared in a fashion that can only be described as remarkable.

But, to truly understand what made John Wooden successful as a coach, one has to know what made him successful as a man. No matter how much the world and its values changed around him, John kept his eyes on a prize that really mattered, with an unparalleled love story for his high school sweetheart that transcended the 53 years of marriage they enjoyed until Nell's passing on March 21, 1985.

Wooden would never kiss another girl, and in fact honored Nell on the 21st of every month, writing her a love letter, adding it to the stack on the pillow where she once slept. John maintained that monthly ritual for 26 years before finally rejoining his beloved last Friday.

It is a love story like few others.

Because great men like John are few and far between.

"Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters"

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Patriotic Protest

It may be the most misunderstood song in music history.

But it's the tune that launched "Bossmania" and forever branded a Jersey boy named Bruce as the star he is.

26 years ago today, Bruce Springsteen released "Born in the USA", which became the best-selling album of 1985 in the United States. His seventh studio release, it became Springsteen's most successful album ever and produced a record-tying string of seven Top 10 singles (tied with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Janet Jackson's Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814".

The title track has been used countless times by American politicians who try to use it as a flag-waving battle cry, unaware of the lyrical assault it makes on behalf of a bitter Vietnam Vet whose country forgot him. After reading Ron Kovic's "Born on the 4th of July" and the death of his own drummer in Vietnam, Springsteen became passionate about the plight of veterans. In 1981, he played six benefit concerts for the then-struggling Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and began working on "Born In The USA" in early 1982 during a demo session that eventually turned into the brooding, acoustic-laden album "Nebraska".

But, when the E-Street Band showed up, Springsteen picked up his Fender Telecaster, ordered the boys to crank up the synthesizer and with the Mighty Max Weinberg hammering the beat, an anthem was born.

Those who thought Springsteen was a patriot missed the fact this was a protest record. Bruce himself once compared "Born In The USA" to Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", a song written in response to Irving Berlin's patriotic, "God Bless America" and has itself been misinterpreted. According to Springsteen, Guthrie's song was "what America could have been about" rather than what it actually turned out to be.

Appearing on Spanish television, Springsteen demonstrated how differently things might have turned out had "Born in the USA" been released in its original, unplugged version.

The Boss was once quoted as saying, "I always wanted my music to influence the life you were living emotionally - with your family, your lover, your wife, and, at a certain point, with your children". It can be argued that without the Springsteen brand of emotional, heartland rock, there may not have been a Vietnam veterans movement. There may not have been a helping hand for those who needed it.

With "Born in the USA", a musician once considered a freak back in high school, taught America to stop vilifying its men and women in uniform.

And honor them instead.

"Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One Hug at a Time

You can see it on their faces.

Something that can't be faked or fudged.

Bought or sold.

Jim and Dawna founded their company back in 1979 with a single goal in mind:

To give people real value when helping them find the car of their dreams.

Jim Gilbert's Wheels & Deals is the little dealership that could, growing from 2 people to more than 32. It has been singled out for the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce Small Business Excellence Award and the legend continues to grow with the evolution of a state-of-the-art customer service centre that is reaching out to hug its customers on a daily basis.

Date: June 1, 2010 4:40:06 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Wheels and Deals Service Center

Hi Jim,

I've always been a fan on how you do your customer service, we bought our Saturn from you last year so I was fully aware on how you do business. few weeks ago I've stop in the service center and talked to Mark about servicing my civic with you guys even thought I didn't buy it from you ....Mark simply looked at me with a friendly smiled and said...well of course...we've chatted a few minutes and I came back home. I showed up this morning and Mark remembered my name...I know it's a minor detail, but it means a lot from a customer point of view!.....Every business should have a Mark! But I'm sure you're fully aware of that:)
You can be sure of one thing my next vehicle will be bought from you.Even went last week and spoke with john (another great employee) for a few minutes,Test drove a jeep compass..but I don't think my timing is right to change car right now...I'd be loosing to much money on my civic.
Ones more thing, I'm really impress with the young guy who was doing the shuttle service today, he was cool!
Thanks, and looking forward to do business in the future!

The way Jim and Dawna Gilbert see it, doing business is an honor and a privilege. Not a right. Maybe, that's why doing business with Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals feels like you're doing business with family. It also explains why they have such little staff turnover, since happy sales and service professionals like Mark Embleton (the one in the back of the photo) equals happy customers, which is why so many car shoppers are discovering a seamless experience at Wheels and Deals.

"Seamless" in the sense that the internal culture and operations are aligned to what is being promised in the external marketing.

Crafting a seamless brand is one of the key reasons why Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals has been voted as the #1 used car dealer in the kingdom by readers of Fredericton's Daily Gleaner. It's also why the business has experienced dramatic sales growth over the past 5 years and a magical surge in brand awareness that makes it second to none in its category.

Perhaps, this explains what you see in their faces at Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals.

Where they aim to do business one hug at a time.

"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Love Lab

You might say John is a professional "people watcher".

He makes his living studying couples and can predict with astonishing accuracy which ones are about to split up. In fact, John can predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will thrive or fail after watching and listening to them for just five minutes.

His methods, which rely on analyzing human emotion and microexpressions, were featured in Malcom Gladwell's book "Blink". Taking a detailed, scientific approach to studying relationships, John's work has been published in over 190 papers, and he is the author or co-author of 40 books.

John Gottman may be a Ph.D., but increasingly he and his wife Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman are becoming known throughout the relationship counselling world as the remarkable brainiacs behind the "Love Lab", otherwise known as the Relationship Research Institute near the University of Washington in Seattle.

John points out, "We are as social as bees and Von Frisch discovered the language of bees by going right to the hive and watching them dance. So we will discover the human dance". And it by observing couples in the "Love Lab", John and his research team came to discover the threat posed by what he calls "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". These are the four major emotional reactions destructive to any relationship:

- Criticism
Global negative statements about your partner’s character or personality.

- Contempt
Sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery and hostile humor can be poisonous because they convey disgust.

- Defensiveness
This is a way of blaming your partner and can escalate the conflict.

- Stonewalling
A partner may disengage from the relationship, signaled by looking away without saying anything and acting as though he/she doesn’t care about what the other is saying.

And part of overcoming any conflict and the damage done by "The Four Horsemen" will rely to a large degree on what John refers to as the "Magic Relationship Ratio".

Judging by the numbers, there is a sizable enough market for these insights. According to Gottman, divorce statistics in North America remain high.

- 67% of first marriages end in divorce over a 40-year period.
- 50% of these divorces occur within the first 7 years.
- The divorce rate for second marriages is approximately 10% higher than for first time marriages.

John Gottman's goal is to use empirical, scientific evidence to reserve those trends and "be like the guy who invented Velcro. Nobody remembers his name, but everybody uses Velcro".

How many of John's ideas have stuck with you today?

“Every relationship experiences conflict and periods of alienation, but the difference between the masters and disasters is their ability to repair”

P.S. ... Want to know more about what actually goes on in the "Love Lab"?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Credibility and the Carlin Calculator

Tom is a guy who loves figuring out what works and what doesn't in the world of advertising.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing, but also learned a lot of stuff the hard way, spending eight years growing a successful retail-clothing store.

Tom is the author of “Currencies That Buy Credibility” (Wizard Academy Press), a book that teaches you how to drive more traffic, sales and word-of-mouth. He is also an adjunct faculty member of Wizard Academy® in Austin, Texas, where he teaches the workshop, “Marketing Beyond Advertising”.

Spend any time with Tom or read his stuff and you will learn how vehemently opposed he is to the further propogation of "Ad-Speak". As far as Tom Wanek is concerned, "Ad-Speak" is a quiet killer. Your ads sound like everyone else's, promising "fast, friendly, reliable service from our friendly and knowledgeable staff", but no one will ever notice or give a shit. He has gone so far as to build what he calls the Carlin Calculator into his website, in honor of the man who figured out why so many ads put us to sleep.

So if your ads are boasting about quality selection and service, being locally-owned and operated or other hollow, coma-inducing comments or chest-thumping claims, you need to learn more from Tom Wanek about the Law of Polarity and how it applies to your brand.

The 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer reports only 17 percent of the 25-34 crowd say product and corporate advertising is a credible source of information. Paying attention to what a guy like Tom Wanek has to say could go a long way towards furthering the credibility your brand has with past, present and future customers.

No longer can you pummel your customer with ad-speak.

Credibility is the new currency.

And as Tom explains, it's there for the taking.

"Properly practiced creativity can lift your claims out of the swamp of sameness and make them accepted, believed, persuasive, urgent"