Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day at Dave’s House

It’s Christmas Day and Dave Cox is entertaining his family is a fine style. He invited me to get a peek into the holiday at his home in Webster Groves and followed up text message. “Stop by for breakfast. We’re making omelets. Gene and Carol will be here.”
Not wanting to show up empty-handed, I quickly assembled a holiday bundle starting with the return/regift of a Sandbox backpack Dave gave me a few years ago. I added a few books from my marketing library: Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan, Acker’s book on Branding, Change by Design by IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown along with some random golf instruction CDs, Tarentino’s Reservoir Dogs, a water bottle from triple-A and a Book of Insults. The return of the backpack got a laugh from Dave. Unpacking for the benefit of Dave’s parents got some laughs too. Finishing big with the Giant Book of Insults. “Are you always this stupid or are you making a special effort today… Brains aren't everything. In fact in your case they're nothing…Don't let you mind wander - it's far too small to be let out on its own…” Dave’s dad is an especially good audience for such silliness.

Joyce is welcoming. Danny (Danniele) and Nicole are preoccupied with technology. A new Mini iPad tablet is a big hit. The house is decorated. The front room has a magnificent tree from the Holy Redeemer Tree Lot and the sunroom has an artificial tree that is pretty convincing as a staging area for presents. Stockings by the mantel have already been emptied and Sammy’s trip to Paris is assured. The gift is represented in French with a certificate (designed by Sandbox Creative, no doubt). The certificate will be cashed in this coming Summer (2013) – lucky girl!   

A complete set of parents (Dave’s and Joyce’s) are poised to partake in chef Dave’s omelet station with capable assist from Sammy (Samantha). Mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, bacon and more options are on view like a TV cooking show demonstration. Dave is running the show, “Next!” Maybe Uncle Gene and Carol are ready for the custom service.

Dave’s brother Steve Cox make a cameo long enough to show off his designer cowboy boots and his brother Michael is settled-in the dining room. “You are Dave’s youngest brother. The youngest is always the best.” He responds “You bet,” as I take my leave. (Lynn and I have tickets to see the first showing of the movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables. I’m sure she’ll want to be at the Des Peres Theater early and get a good seat.)     

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bond. James Bond.

Author Ian Fleming and Publisher Jonathon Cape released James Bond Books and inspire a fifty year franchise of movies from 1962-2012:

Casino Royale (1953) James Bond is sent to play against and bankrupt Le Chiffre, the paymaster for a SMERSH-controlled trade union, in a high-stakes baccarat game in France.

Live and Let Die (1954) Bond is sent to the United States to investigate "Mr. Big", an agent of SMERSH and an underworld voodoo leader who is suspected of selling 17th century gold coins to finance Soviet spy operations in America.

Moonraker (1955) Bond joins M at Blades to stop a member, Sir Hugo Drax cheating at bridge. Bond is subsequently seconded onto Drax's staff on the "Moonraker", Britain's first nuclear missile project.

Diamonds are Forever (1956) Bond follows a diamond smuggling ring to America and establishes it is run by an American gang.

From Russia with Love (1957) Bond is targeted by SMERSH to be killed in a compromising situation on the Orient Express. He is lured to Istanbul by an attractive young cipher clerk, Corporal Tatiana Romanova, who claims to be defecting and bringing a Spektor, a Russian decoding device much coveted by MI6.

Dr. No (1958) Commander John Strangways, the head of MI6 Station J in Kingston, Jamaica, and his secretary both disappear and Bond is sent to investigate the matter.

Goldfinger (1959) Bond investigates the activities of Auric Goldfinger, a gold smuggler who M suspects of being connected to SMERSH and financing their western networks with his gold.

For Your Eyes Only (1960) Bond avenges the murder of M's closest friends.

Thunderball (1961) An international, non-aligned terrorist organisation, SPECTRE, have hijacked a NATO plane and seized its two nuclear bombs, which it uses to blackmail the western world.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) A young woman is alone, working at a motel when two thugs, hired by the owner, turn up to burn it down for the insurance.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) Bond continues to search for Ernst Stavro Blofeld after the Thunderball incident. Through contact with the College of Arms in London Bond finds Blofeld based in Switzerland with a co-conspiritor, Irma Bunt.

You Only Live Twice (1964) After the murder of his wife, Bond begins to let his life slide. M gives him a last chance of redemption, to persuade the Japanese to share radio transmissions captured from the Soviet Union.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1965) Bond returns to London having been brainwashed by the Russians and assigned to kill M: the attempt ends in failure.

Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966) Octopussy - Bond tracks down a World War II hero who had murdered his friend to steal a cache of Nazi gold. The Living Daylights - Bond is assigned sniper duty, but when he sees the sniper is a beautiful woman, he shoots the butt of her rifle instead of killing her.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Get with the Program

American Marketing Association Programming
Connect. Inform. Advance.


The American Marketing Association of St. Louis delivers great programming and seeks to promote marketing by connecting, informing, and advancing. What that really means is that we want to be better marketers, learn, network and grow as professionals. We set a goal to attract over 1,000 members and guests to our programs for the year. We expect to exceeded that mark comfortably with a full calendar. Join us. 

July 1, 2012 - Golf Outing at CCGC - Our fiscal year began as we kicked off the year with our annual golf outing at Creve Coeur Golf Course. Golfers braved temperatures over 100 degrees and others joined us for lunch-only that day.  

August 16, 2012 - The Voice of the Customer - Lon Zimmerman's presentation highlights how corporations and other organizations are finding value in Hearing the voice of the customer. Included will be examples of ways Hearing the voice of the customer has helped improve operations, sharpen marketing activities, and increase customer satisfaction and retention. Also discussed will be various methodologies being employed.

September 12, 2012 - Speed Networking  at Llyweln's Pub in Webster Groves beginning at 5:30pm. Join us for this after-hours event and meet members, guests and others interested in connecting and advancing in your profession and your career. Bring your best elevator speech and plenty of business cards.    

September 20, 2012 – Kraftig Launch Story Executives of the William K. Busch Brewing Company want you to know two things: They have no association with Anheuser-Busch InBev, even though their company's namesake and chairman is a great-grandson of A-B founder Adolphus Busch. And they are not setting out to make craft beers. William K. "Billy" Busch and Michael J. Brooks, Executive Advisor and partner to the company will be on hand to give you an inside look at the brewery's success since November 2011 product launches of Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light  (pronounced CREF-tig, it is German for "powerful").

October 18, 2012 - Lessons from the Unconscious for Healthcare Phil Smith, Executive Creative Director of Prairie Dog/TCG with discuss how a growing body of evidence points to the unconscious as a dominant influencer of consumer behavior. Yet most marketing, particularly in healthcare, relies on traditional (conscious) qualitative research. Based on insights from recent leaders in this marketing movement, How Customers Think, Buyology, and The Culture Code, we expose gaps in current practices and illustrate opportunities with work from national brands. Join us as we expose the comical flaws in conventional focus group research and reconsider the truths in modern marketing.

November 15, 2012 - Sports Business Jim Woodcock of Fleishman-Hillard Jim leads the FH sports business practice which combines its global network with a seasoned point of view forged by dozens of professionals and decades of sports industry expertise. Senior Vice President Jim Woodcock leads Sports-related client work which includes planning and counsel to league and team executives, representation of ownership, crisis communications, branding, social media strategy, public affairs, media training, and global marketing and expansion.

November 29, 2012 - SKYFALL 007 - A special joint social event presented by the St. Louis chapters of American Marketing Association and the Business Marketing Association at the Werhenberg Five Star Lounge and Theater in Des Peres,, MO

January 17, 2013 - Stephen Reynolds, Director of Marketing and Player Development – Ameristar Casino. You can feel the excitement from miles away. Beyond the kinetic, high-speed flashing lights, the 74,000 square-foot porte cochère at Ameristar Casino Resort Spa the action inside. The stunning stained-glass skylights, 130,000-square foot casino and the Victorian design you can get insight into the latest, most popular slot and video poker machines, a wide variety of table games and one of the last live poker rooms in the market. Stephen will provide insight into marketing the  games, as well as the special player events offered at Ameristar.

February 22, 2013 – Remarkable Leadership - the 52nd Annual Conference theme at Missouri History Museum at Forest Park (Event is from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 and includes agency tours following). This year’s conference is hosted by Master of Ceremonies Bill Ellis (Branding for Results). The program will include Presentations from Andrew Grinch, Associate AD, University of Missouri Athletic Department (rebranding the Mizzou Tigers); Nancy Schnoebelen, Director of Advancement Communications and Barb Meyer, Vice President Marketing and Communications (crisis communications after St. John’s Mercy in Joplin was destroyed in a tornado in May 2011); Eliot Robia, Market Strategist from Pixel Farm of Minneapolis (the emerging trends in Mobile Marketing); and Keynote speaker Kevin Eikenberry, author of Remarkable Leadership. 

March 21, 2013 - Elizabeth Frantz, Social Media Editor at Better Homes and Gardens will be our speaker. Better Homes and Gardens, the magazine, is still read by more 7.5 million people. Our March speaker will share with us how the brand that began in 1922 is responding to the digital age in a big way. If you are interested in cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, entertaining or just want to hear about a remarkable brand and where it is headed, don’t miss this special event.

April 19, 2013 – Pew State of the Media report and panel discussion at UMSL/WMU facility on Grand (next to channel 9 ad around the corner from the Fabulous Fox Theater). In addition to this exciting venue the format will be an afternoon function from 4:30-6:30 p.m. This is a special joint presentation of the St. Louis Chapters of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

May 16, 2013 – Jim Holbrook. Executive Vice President of Marketing, Post Holdings Post is a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded ready-to-eat cereals. Post has leveraged the strength of its brands, category expertise, and over a century of institutional knowledge to create a diverse portfolio of cereals that enhance the lives of consumers, bringing quality foods to the breakfast table since the company's founding in 1897. Post's portfolio of brands includes diverse offerings such as Honey Bunches of Oats®, Pebbles®, Post Selects®, Great Grains®, Spoon Size® Shredded Wheat, Post® Raisin Bran, Grape-Nuts®, and Honeycomb®.

Save the dates and register on line at Programs are the third Thurday of each month. April event with PRSA starts at 4:30 at UMSL venue on Grand Avene (adjacent to channel 9). 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Revisit with HBE

Meeting with FSK (Fred Strange Kummer) on Saturday 1/22/2005

In 1998 I walked into HBE with no preconceptions. It was only later that I heard the stories of this successful privately-held firm and its founder Fred S. Kummer. As things turned out – I was offered a job in support of the Design-Build marketing to the Healthcare and Financial markets.  I managed to prosper as head of marketing eventually adding the hotels as part of my marketing responsibilities. (Adam’s Mark Hotels and Resorts was a chain of 24 in its system.) By Spring of 2001 I was dismissed by Fred Kummer personally. “We’re gonna do things differently around here.”  Still, considering the mitigating circumstances of the company during that time – a pretty fair run.

Hospital Design and Consutruction sales were lagging and the Hotels found themselves in the spotlight over charges of a pattern racial discrimination – charges by the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno. Only Financial Facilities seemed to be growing steadily.

In 2001, just about 60 days after leaving HBE, I joined Clayco. Another tour of about three years and I was dismissed from my position as Director of Corporate Communcations by Clayco CEO Bob Clark. Much of the job at Clayco was remarkably similar to the position I held at HBE (without the hotels). The programs and position I developed at Clayco were running smoothly enough by 2004, that Bob Clark felt he could relieve me of my duties in favor of a promotion for a loyal employee of ten years. (This came as a bit of a surprise, as my replacement had no marketing, advertising or public relations training. In fact no college degree – but Bob decided to give her a shot – and me the boot.)

Interestingly enough, my old position at HBE became open. I put off contacting HBE for a while until I concluded that I was being too prideful but staying away from my past employer. When the job was officially advertised, I threw my hat in the ring. I completed the on-line application. I contacted the head of personnel (Jim O’Daniel) and had conversations with several people I still knew inside the organization. I also called the head of Healthcare Facilities (Steve Dailey) and even he ewncouraged me to apply. I know my application reached Fred Kummer. I know he asked to see my “file” from my previous tour of duty.

On a chilly St. Louis Saturday Morning (1/22/05) I decided to drop in on Fred. He’s always in on Saturdays. Sure enough, 9:30am when I arrived at his office on the 6th Floor, Fred was hunched over a set of architectural plans.

W: Good Morning Fred. (I said loud enough to cause him to turn around.)
FSK: Hello
W: (Steping into his office) I saw your car outside and thought I’d drop in and see you.
FSK: What can I do for you? As if I don’t already know.

Fred was in good spirits and was happy to be caught at a quiet moment in his office on the weekend. He invited me to sit down.

W: Fred, I want you to know that I had nothing to do with the recent defections from your Financial Facilities group. (Last Saturday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch had an article about six employees joining Clayco from HBE. I had heard rumors that this might be in the works. In fact, several months ago Fred and Bob Clark spent two days together in Fred's office with Bob Clark broaching the topic of mearging “our two companies”)
FSK: Well, you know Paul (Barrath) should have made decisions that were good for the company instead of making decisions that he perceived to be good for Paul. Lombardo’s best days are behind him. (Tom Lombardo) and Clarence Steele wanted to work out of Arizona. The woman (Mary Smolar – Fred did not name her by name) was pretty good I understand and we tried to keep her. The young man…(Scott Florini). At this point Fred did not finish his sentence. (A common part of Fred’s speech patterns is to leave a thought unfinished as he switches gears.)
FSK: You, as I recall are a lazy person. There are people who feel the closer they get to the top the less they have to work. I’d put you in that group.
W: (How do you respond to such an insult? Especially as he delivers the message with such a matter of fact tone. I simply nodded to confirm that I was listening.)
FSK: Where are you now?
W: I was with Clayco for the past three years Fred. But I’m no longer with them.
FSK: I wasn’t aware of that. (This clearly peaked his interest and set off some discussion of his meetings with Bob Clark). You know Clark came in here and we spent a couple of days together. He said that he’d like to set up his office right here and shadow me. That got me thinking.

Having had the benefit of working here before, I was able to understand 90% of what Fred was talking about when he rattled off some names of those he’s brought closer to him in proximity of offices. He mentioned Matt Nail (“…got himself into trouble and was afraid to ask for help” and “…I tried to get him back into construction”), Gene Kemp (“He and Paul were similar in doing things….I fired Gene and brought in….who is doing a fine job.)

FSK: People think I’m mean.
W: I’ve heard that Fred.
FSK: (with a wry smile) I’m just misunderstood. (pause) You know, we’re looking for someon like Nancy Kornwell (I recall hearing Fred mention this name before – She’s a marketing person that well pre-dates me but one that left a lasting impression with Fred I guess). Someone strong. A real pro. I’m not sure you…(He doesn’t finish the sentence – but I take it to mean he’s not convinced I’m the guy to put in that spot again.)
W: Fred I brought some samples of things I did a Clayco. You can have them.
FSK: (Fred thumbed through some of the pages of profiles, press coverage and other elements I had bound into a GBC binder along with a Clayco overview/capabilities piece I developed – I refer to as the “square book. He asked a few questions about projects shown in the book.) Very Nice.
FSK: Who did you work for?
W: Bob Clark primarily.
FSK: Is he a hard worker?
W: I wouln’t say so Fred. Not like you anyway. Bob does a lot of local networking. He’s not in the office all the time. He goes out to lunch. In many ways you and Bob Clark are very similar but this is not one of them. (Fred probed a bit about there similarities and differences. He revealed that Sal Ruffino was going to join HBE as an Operations VP. I assured him that Sal was a good guy and tried to explain why Bob made changes to the Concrete Group in spite of the fact that he had bragged about the money that group made for Clayco.)

Nearly an hour passed. I got up and said goodbye. Friendly meeting. Fred insisted he was going to review 500 resumes for the Marketing job. I indicated that I understood if he felt that I wasn’t the right guy.

Finally, I stopped into Jim O’Daniel’s office to let him know that I had met with Fred. Jim was grateful that I informed him. Poor Jim is nearly always in on Saturday because that is the time Fred is most likely to interview potential employees.

As it happens, FSK offered me the job. It didn’t last. 18 months later I was Global Communications Director at Thermadyne. Of course I have to thank HBE for the experience as I was able to do work (projects mostly) for Crossland Construction, ARCO and Frontenac Engineering between 2010-2012. That HBE position has opened up twice since 2010 - I know because someone always brings it to my attention.      

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sellin' the Result.

Tom Ruwich is founder of MarketVolt, a powerful email marketing software firm offering guidance to help you turn prospects into customers and customers into clients with maximum lifetime value. MarketVolt's web-based software is designed to make it as easy as possible for you to put the right information in front of the right people at the right time. Tom is a writer and former journalist with a degree in History from Yale. He is an entrepreneur. He’s a smart dude and a smart businessman too.

I have seen Tom make presentations to audiences on several occasions. Typically he focuses on the importance of CONTENT. His persuasive argument favors a disciplined approach to understanding your target and managing a message strategy. He advocates building a matrix FAQs or frequently asked questions,“should be asked” questions, objections, competitive alternatives etc. and filling it out with compelling arguments for your brand. I agree fully with such a sound methodology. I am a marketing communications specialist. Of course I concur.

I sell the same thing, on the surface at least. You see Tom wants you to sign up for MarketVolt. His website says: “MarketVolt - Because we help you market more productively and comfortably. Better software empowers you to work an get the job done with ease — with maximum efficiency and minimum hassle. Extraordinary support gives you confidence. We have your back and we will help you succeed,” and goes on to say “Flexible plans gives you freedom and options. You can do it all yourself or engage us to help. Your choice. Fair and flexible pricing. Pricing plans start under $1 per day….

Now that is decidedly different sell at the end, isn’t it? Once you’ve nodded your head yes to every step of the way, the close is about signing up for an annuity payment each month. It’s exactly like the argument for a health club membership. You sell the fitness, health and improved quality of life. You don’t see the sweat and agony of daily workouts. You are willing to pay for an easy, comfortable success. You have a vision of a healthier company or a fitter you. And just like that state-of-the-art gym/health club facility, MarketVolt does you no good if you don’t use it.

So what I realize is this. I’m selling the same thing (the result) but I can’t make you do the work. Unlike MarketVolt I don’t get paid for your lack of performance. I have no software, gym or unused tools to point to if you just don’t want to do at least some of the work. Does that seem unfair to you?

P.S. Plans starting at $1 a day ($365 annually). If you are not completely satisfied - blame yourself, renew, upgrade, wish harder or do some work on the CONTENT.    

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cut to the Chase

Thermadyne, (now known as Victor Technologies) launched the Thermal Dynamics True Series plasma cutting system line with a significant marketing program that helped the company reverse a declining share trend. As the global communications director for the company at the time, I feel compelled to say the company owes a debt of thanks to Geile Leon Marketing Communications, Sandbox Creative and Brighton Communications' PR Group. Here's the story as reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Thermadyne's new tool takes cutting to a deeper level Christopher Boyce
Friday, Nov. 16, 2007

When Thermadyne Holdings Corp. opened its booth Sunday in Chicago at the largest welding trade show in North America, officials hoped to start a buzz with the company's new metal-cutting system. While a buzz-worthy product at a welding trade show may not sound exciting to many, the Chesterfield-based company is plenty excited about the torch-like Cutmaster True Series plasma cutter from its Thermal Dynamics division — a new product expected to bring $5 million to $6 million in sales to the company in 2008. The tool, used to cut metals in construction and other industries, offers advances in portability and ease of use not previously available. Yet even with its new features, perhaps the most creative aspect about the tool may be Thermadyne's marketing. The company is going against the industry practice of emphasizing the tool's maximum work capacity, by instead touting its recommended capacity. "You can buy a machine that's able to cut a certain thickness, but you wouldn't recommend doing that all day," said Wes Morgan, director of global communications for Thermadyne. "I don't want to suggest the industry is dishonest, but there's a lot of different users out there."Users who regularly test the limits of a cutter's stated capacity are sometimes disappointed," Morgan said. The Cutmaster will have a series of models, each designed to cut metals of different thicknesses. The truth-in-advertising slant is the inspiration for the tool's "True Series" moniker. Essentially, a model designed to cut through a three-quarter-inch thick piece of steel will do that regularly, and advertising will concentrate on that figure. However, the model will have the ability to cut up to 1 1/2 inches on a less-frequent basis.

The cutters are often used in various construction applications, for instance, to put bolt holes in steel beams and bevel pipes. They also are used in auto body shops and by hobbyists. Last year, an earlier model of Thermadyne's plasma cutters was used by emergency services personnel to cut open a soda vending machine when a 12-year-old got his hand stuck in it. Cutting products comprise about 15 percent of Thermadyne's $451 million in total sales for 2006. That percentage should grow if the product achieves its expected popularity, said Kent Swart, market manager for Thermal Dynamics, which has its engineering and manufacturing locations in West Lebanon, N.H.. The new plasma cutter — which looks something like an industrial strength pressure washer — is equipped with an LED panel to notify users of the proper conditions for use, such as having necessary air supply or having the proper connections for the torch, Swart said. Users will be able to self-diagnose and, in some cases, fix problems that might otherwise interrupt their work. The manufacturer also has shed the weight of five models of the tool, with most dropping to around 50 pounds from more than 80 pounds for some models. Swart said that weight reduction allows for portability that could make the cutter a hit for Thermadyne.

"I don't know if it's an iPhone, but it's at least a (Motorola) Razr," said Swart, a former mechanical engineer, making a comparison to the well-known cellular products. "The technology isn't changed. … But when I was purchasing equipment, it was always about ease of use and keeping it running." | 314-340-8345

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It just isn't fair

A college professor teaching Business Ethics began his lecture one night by writing on the board  - LIFE ISN’T FAIR. He got our attention. “Poverty, illness, natural disasters are not fair, yet these things happen. Your girlfriend or boyfriend dumps you without any reason. Your prospective employer hires his son-in-law instead of you. These things happen. It’s not fair. Class, always remember, that LIFE ISN’T FAIR.” That professor made a strong point. I will never forget that class. I will never forget that lecture in particular.

A Little League baseball game is being officiated and coached on a Spring afternoon. The home fans are screaming at officials at a close call. The coach tries to be fair by giving everyone on the team some playing time. If you have been to a kids’ Little League baseball game recently, you know the crowd of parents and friends can be pretty tough coaches. They want their kids to achieve and have a chance to succeed. They demand fairness!        

Baltusrol Golf Club in northern New Jersey is synonymous with championship golf. It has a rich heritage that dates back to 1895. It is considered one of the country's premier private golf clubs. Preeminent golf course architect Robert Trent Jones was invited to make some changes to the course in the early 1950’s. Considering #4 at Baltrusal, Jones lengthened it by nearly 70 yards, gave it a longer carry (over a pond), re-shaped of the bunkers and added the distinctive rock wall. The result is a stunning par-3 that stands out as one of the top ranked holes in the world of golf. When the hole was opened for play, Jones was criticized by members for making the hole too difficult.  "Let's go play the hole and see if there is anything that needs to be done," Jones suggested as he led the principal critic along with head pro Johnny Farrell and C.P. Burgess, General Chairman of the 1954 Open Championship, to the fourth tee.  They all struck shots. Jones struck his and sank it for a hole-in-one!  "Gentlemen, I think the hole is eminently fair," the architect is reported to have said.

Life isn’t fair! Yet, you should try to enjoy life and all the good things in it. Take the bad with the good. Maybe it won’t seem fair all of the time. Do your best to have a positive outlook. Look for the beauty in things. Good luck and good fortune happen too.  It’s a joy to watch a little league game regardless of who scores the most runs. It’s a marvel to see or get a hole in one!  Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Maybe today will be your lucky day. I hope so.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Talkin' 'bout my Generation

Anna Liotta, author of Unlocking GENERATIONAL CODES, explains the dramatic differences we see in how we approach our professional lives. Managers would do well to study the fundamental differences in orientation workers bring to the workplace. Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Gen Xer or Millenial; a key to effective leadership in the workplace is understanding one another’s views to obtain a mutual understanding. Anna says, “for most of history, generations have been separated in the workplace due to the hierarchical system inherited from the military leadership training and experiences of the G.I./Veteran generation,” and as a result work peers entering the workforce were predominantly close in age and generational perspectives.” In a recent blog she points out some differences present in the workplace today:

Traditionalists believed in the promises of big institutions and organizations. The golden horizon was that one day you would have the seniority, and then it would be your turn to be the boss, call the shots, lead the troops. You gave your best, and waited with the expectation that eventually, the best would be returned to you.

Baby Boomers flooded the workforce with high hopes for the world and even higher expectations of changing the way work was done. Their secure childhood during the rise of productivity and growth in the high social mood behind them led young Boomers to enter the workforce ready to challenge authority.  

Gen Xers with the boom of the 1970s ending with the bust of the ’80s recession watched their parents scrape and scrap to climb the corporate ladder while hating their bosses, leaders, and jobs, basing their self-worth on the awards and recognition delivered by those same people and institutions. .

Millennials respect authority, but they do not fear it. They have formative years filled with fans, friends, coaches, cheerleaders, and BFFs (Best Friend Forever). Millennials have a very casual relationship with elders and authority figures.

So get ready for the next Generation entering the world of work. Generation Z or Generation I or Internet Generation or the Pluralist Generation, Generation AO (always on), Generation Text -  Digital Natives born after 1989, they bring another completely different frame of reference to the workforce.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Managing the Team

Marketing and communications are often undervalued. The activity can boost sales, enhance value and dramatically improve an organizations performance. Yet, so often, much activity falls on a small cadre of soldiers motivated more by the art than the commerce of their daily tasks. Perhaps, this is as it should be. Consider the business of making a movie. Wouldn’t it be boring if actors and directors thought of nothing else but box-office sales? You need actors and directors who are passionate about telling a story and telling it well. Managing marketing is like that.  It takes finesse. It also requires discipline and guidance to contain and focus energy on priorities.

At the start of each day there needs to be a sense of purpose. At the end of each day a feeling of accomplishment (and being a part of a larger mission). Look at any winning team. They pay attention to the details. In baseball it might be base hits. In football it might be first downs. The players on the field don’t have the luxury of thinking about the bigger picture because the bigger picture is comprised of execution.

Movies, sports or business – it’s about a lot of individuals playing important roles in the ultimate success of the enterprise. Ultimately, it’s those people in the skilled positions that make the difference. Ironically, it can often be extraordinary efforts by those who might otherwise seem to be only average that so often surprise us with outstanding performances.

The difference might be leadership. It might be chemistry. It might be devine intervention. Whatever it is, it looks like teamwork.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ben + Allison

Separated by a single floor in the Standford Rosborough tower freshman year, it was improbable that our paths wouldn’t have crossed sooner. We had tons of mutual friends and common interests, but didn’t meet until junior year at the University of Miami. The warm weather, palm trees, tropical gardens and beaches of Coral Gables provided the perfect setting for this love story.

Our first meeting was at an epic college party, affectionately referred to as the “Boom Boom Hizzy: Pinecrest Edition."  For most, the party was an opportunity to take shots, funnel beers, flip cups, tap kegs, jump from the balcony into the pool, or make any other bad decisions you thought “sounded good at the time.”  For us, it was just the opposite.
Danny and Casey (both of whom you will find on the wedding party page) introduced us within minutes of arrival at the Boom Boom Hizzy. As they say, the rest was history. Whether it was Ben’s witty humor or Allison’s earthy perspective on world issues, we completely tuned out the action and noise of one of the biggest parties of the year to focus on each other. Laughing and talking for hours, it was clear we weren’t interested in anything or anyone else (plus, it took too long to get a beer!). Although Ben seemed to “forget” to ask for Allison’s phone number at the end of the night (leading her to think he was completely uninterested), he recovered with a smooth Facebook message in the morning. 

From our quasi-first date to see Across the Universe, hitchhikig to football games from the 17th Street house tailgate parties, deciding it was a great idea to buy a Doberman puppy to battling long-distance love and moving into our first place together in St. Louis – there was no denying we both found “the one”.
Just a few days before moving to New York to accept a new job, Ben and Allison took a vacation to Cancun, Mexico. On Cinco de Mayo, Ben woke up feeling “sick” and said to Allison “You know what would make me feel better?…If you would be my wife.”  
As the fairytale love story continues, we now live in the Big Apple and are loving life together – taking every opportunity to explore green spaces, try new restaurants and get lost on streets we’ve never walked before. We’re so excited to continue this incredible journey and can’t wait to celebrate with family and friends when we tie the knot in Miami this fall! 

This love story from is worth sharing. I haven't changed a word. They were married on October 27, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lean Manufacturing and a Cheese Sandwich

This week I was invited to participate in a two day conference on lean manufacturing. The conference included three (3) plant tours and a healthy dose of classroom and presentation time. The Fabricators & Manufacturing Association (FMA) organized the event in St. Louis. More than 30 people attended from as far away as Tennessee and upstate New York. The tours and the discussions (formal and informal) reminded me of a cheese sandwich. Not just any cheese sandwich, but the very specific one my wife used to order. The sandwich that confounded restaurants all over the country. 

Here is the request: “May I please have a grilled Swiss cheese and tomato on rye, toasted well with Russian dressing on the side.” Sounds simple enough right? But, like lean manufacturing there are many ways to get it wrong and hundreds of ways to do it better. Ways to get it wrong for the customer (my wife): 1. Wrong cheese (not Swiss) 2. Not grilled well 3. Mushy tomato  4. Wrong bread (not rye) 5. Russian dressing on sandwich (instead of on the side) or not in on-time (later than other orders).  The list goes on and on.

The hapless waitress in any one of these unfortunate scenarios is only the end of a production line. Prep includes careful staging, assembly and presentation. Materials must be selected and prepared. In a busy restaurant the ingredients must be sorted. The work-space must be straight and shiny-clean. The process to be efficient must be somewhat standardized. Customers have a right to expect a sustainable level of service on repeat visits. Of course, food safety is critical too.

This cheese sandwich is a custom order so the lean manufacturing challenges include elimination of waste to assure a profitable transaction. Here are some kinds of waste the restaurant owner needs to avoid. Overproduction. (Don’t assume another customer is going to ask for the same thing - although that could happen.)  Waiting time. (The sandwich needs to be prepared in a timely fashion and delivered with the other meals at the table.) Transportation. (Food needs to be on hand to deliver this product. If you have no tomatoes ready for slicing you aren’t going to make it.) Processing. (Build the sandwich with confidence.) Inventory. (Make sure you have rye bread, tomato, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.) Motion. (Stage the elements so there isn’t a lot of inefficient running around.) Product Defects. (It’s food. It needs to be fresh and handled properly.)

The manufacturing facilities we visited for tours made products  as diverse as retail display racks, industrial heaters, structural trusses for a football stadiums - each on an order of magnitude significantly more difficult than building a cheese sandwich. (So clearly there is a lot to think about.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thank You Julia Tuttle

In 1891, a Cleveland woman named Julia Tuttle purchased 640 acres on the north bank in the Miami River, in present-day downtown Miami. Her husband, Frederick Tuttle died in 1886, leaving her with financial difficulties. She decided to move to South Florida to make a new start in her life. Julia tried to persuade railroad magnate Henry Flagler to expand his rail line south to the area. He was not interested. A few years later, however, after citrus crops were wiped out by a freeze, Tuttle managed to remind Flagler of the promise of South Florida. A favorable report and a box of orange blossoms to show that the area had escaped the frost helped change his mind. Flagler followed up with a visit and soon concluded that the area was ripe for expansion. He made the decision to extend his railroad to Miami and build a resort hotel.

On July 28, 1896, City of Miami was incorporated. Even though the earliest settlement in the Miami region came 10,000 years ago and it has a long, rich and colorful history, I always enjoy hearing the story of Julia Tuttle’s determination and persuasiveness. (And I love Miami! Thanks Julia.) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lessons from Miami

Chapter Seventeen
Lessons from Miami

The Miami Ad School
While at Crispin Porter + Bogusky I became acquainted with The Miami Ad School. The Miami Ad School is a unique phenomenon in advertising. It is one of a handful of places students can take time to build a portfolio of creative samples that they can leverage in interviews with the nation’s top agencies, and get a start in this competitive business.

Miami is an unlikely hub for advertising. Unless you want a base of operations for international marketing communications. The tropical climate and the constant influx of tourists from around the world make it a vibrant and cosmopolitan place though. While working in Miami I was fortunate enough to become acquainted with Ron Siechrist, the founder of the Miami Ad School. Ron was instrumental in building the Portfolio Center on the same premise in Atlanta. (Legend has it that Ron had to turn over the keys to that successful business to his wife as part of a divorce settlement.) Ron Siechrist managed to start all over in Miami’s trendy South Beach with the Miami Ad School. The work produced by his students has captured the attention of Advertising Award Judges and Advertising Annuals and has resulted in some pretty impressive placements so far.

Hispanic Marketing: Like it or Not

I took High School Spanish. I took Spanish to meet the language requirement in college too. I know about enough Spanish to order coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Miami and that’s about it. I’m committed to lifelong learning but I’m afraid it would take me several lifetimes to learn to speak Spanish well. Some people have a gift for foreign languages. I’m not one of those people. Miami’s Dade County is more than 50% Hispanic. South Florida like Texas and California has areas with high Hispanic populations. Like it or not, you cannot expect to make a living in the communications business, especially in these parts of the country without learning the language they speak. Without a doubt, there are huge opportunities for advertising and marketing specialists who can speak Spanish and become experts in Hispanic Marketing. I know because I was there trying to drum up business for a hot shop. Even with a limited Spanish speaking staff, I was able to help Crispin Porter + Bogusky create advertising for The South Florida Mercedes Benz Dealer Group. (We produced advertising in English and Spanish).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trick or Treat

A record number of people are expected to celebrate Halloween this year, and a record amount of money will be spent to mark the holiday. The 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey from the National Retail Federation predicts that 170 million people will spend a total of $8 billion. Both are highs in the ten year history of the survey, and the 2011 total spending was $6.86 billion.

“By the time Halloween rolls around each year it’s safe to say Americans have already spent two months preparing for one of the fastest-growing and most widely-loved holidays of the year,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. The average person is predicted to spend $79.82 on costumes, candy and decorations. Spending on costumes was $28.65, up two dollars from the previous year.

Trick-or-treating is a customary practice for children on Halloween in many countries. Children in costumes visit houses in the neighborhood on a quest for treats (most likely with the chant/question "Trick or treat?" The "trick" is an idle threat (usually) to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In North America, trick or treat has been a customary Halloween tradition since at least the late 1950s. Homeowners wishing to participate in it usually decorate their private entrance with artificial spider webs, plastic skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Some rather reluctant homeowners would simply leave the candy in bowls on the porch, others might be more participative and would even ask an effort from the children in order to provide them with candy.

Wishing every family in the towns and neighborhoods surrounding the St. Louis Region and around the country a happy and safe Halloween. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Agency Evaluation

The client-agency relationship is a delicate thing. By definition, your advertising agency should act on your behalf in matters concerning your advertising communication. At the same time, you want them to be responsive to your direction. You want a partnership. After all, you will be judged on the quality of marketing communications developed within the scope of your marketing budget.

Like any relationship, it takes work. As the client, you need your agency to understand your expectations. If the agency is not in sync with your needs it could be time for a friendly divorce. You don't want your agency-client relationship to become disruptive. If you can strengthen the relationship with constructive criticism that could save you the expense and the grief of shopping for a new agency.

Here is a five-point agency evaluation system.  Maybe it will be helpful in evaluating your agency-client relationship.

Creative Excellence: Above all, your agency should be creative and not just in art direction and copy. They should be able to look at your marketing problems creatively. They should consider creative ways to allocate media spending. They should be creative when it comes to spending money and managing limited resources. They should be creative in presenting fresh ideas.

Smart Marketing Thinking: Your agency doesn't have to know as much about your business as you do (Although that can be beneficial). They should think like business people. They should recommend ways that will build your business. They should suggest ideas that are reasonable and strategic.

Problem Solvers: The best agencies will be able to read between the lines a little. If the budget is limited, your agency should be able to deal with that. If selling ideas into the organization or the distribution channels is an issue it might be appropriate for them to help with this process. They should be able to work with you to take anxiety out of your life and not add to it.

Capabilities: The agency relationships you establish should match well with your needs. Evaluate the agency on what it does well. Suggest improvement when you can. Some agencies offer an uneven range of services. If they can't or won't accommodate you, you may need to unbundle some services. Weight this notion against the added time and energy it may take to build an additional agency-client relationship.

Flawless Execution: Careless errors can cripple the effectiveness of any advertising. Nobody's perfect. But the greatest idea in the world will suffer if not produced well. This is a tough place for an agency to fall short but it's all too common. 


Crossland Construction is a family-owned enterprise that has seen tremendous growth. They recognized a need to improve its ability to communicate effectively to five regional offices and a larger workforce. Informal channels were no longer appropriate. The following is an overview of plan that was implemented as the head of that taskforce on improving internal/employee communications.  

Our overriding goal is for employees to be the best ambassadors for the company. We believe this will be a natural outcome of a total and balanced communications program.

Message strategies - The message strategies we need to launch will have to be based on a shared vision (including goals). Ideally, we will have a routine program that delivers timely news and celebrate successes.

Set goals and progress reports - Part of the shared vision is about setting goals that can reasonably be obtained on our way to continued success. "What gets measured gets done."

Celebrate Success - Success comes from hard work. As we celebrate wins we want to make sure we can enjoy it together and look forward to additional victories.

Timely delivery of news - We have seen rapid growth and we all know how critical it can be to have information. Part of the overall message strategy is to deliver news quickly so there is as much transparency as is is reasonable.

Shared Vision - A shared vision is essential for the company to succeed. Sometimes referred to as "getting on the same page" and having the kind of focus that allows us to help each other toward greater achievements as an organization.

Overview of mission/vision - Reminders of mission - printed on the back of all business cards.

Model excellence - select ENR ranked contractors we admire identify areas where we would like to model behavior or practices. Consider leading companies and why they are admired and propose modeling of them as well.

Quickly communicate to all - Continue to leverage the intranet as the "Source." Augment with e-mail bulletins and news. Experiment with e-mail blasts and determine efficacy.

Report on Progress – Communicate milestone achievements (i.e. dollar volume of schools construction, jobs awarded, awards).

Crisis Communications – (Media Training) Schedule session with Denver based experts from INA. Develop a plan for crisis communication. (Leanna Clark, Meme)

Generate press releases and pitch media - Engage Common Ground to develop a media target list and develop routine releases. Understand editorial calendars and target editors for ongoing relationships and coverage.

Internal Communications - Post job wins in all offices or use the video monitors to make wins public.

Seek Award Recognition - Identify awards and potential projects that may be considered for recognition. (i.e. AGC, metal buildings, concrete).

Segments - Education (K-12), Higher Education, Healthcare, Retail, Sports/Recreation, Distribution Centers, Hospitality, Commercial Office, Municipal Projects, Manufacturing, Civil Projects. Identify key trade show events and plan participation.

Awareness and Positive Perception - Deliver good news in multiple channels evenly to all audiences (as appropriate).

Share Metrics - Segments (i.e. Education, Healthcare, Retail) - wins vs. plan. Project Delivery - Construction Management and Design-Build. Sales.

We will need to have a full understanding of the communications needs of our internal audiences (including subs and suppliers) as well as customers and prospects.

Superintendents Field Personnel - Superintendents and field personnel are on the front line. We need to listen carefully and be responsive to them. At the same time we need to find meaningful ways to communicate with them.

Audit signage in place now with eye toward best practices. Don't mandate, simply encourage and support. Safety, Legal requirements, brand visability and awareness.

Bart Arnett job in Oklahoma City is test of new sign (Vital Signs is to build).

Bulletins - Publish and post bulletins for superintendents to share with subs and workforce.

e-mail - Work with e-blast software (i.e. Constant Contact) to make sure field and key partners are in the loop on news.

Alicia Endicott is gatekeeper of this weekly event.

Corporate Headquarters - The corporate culture we want to embrace is about being supportive. We do not want to dictate policies and procedures but we do want to help implement best practices that allow us all to be the best - World Class!

Cross functional presentations - Lunch n Learn (small groups) may participate in opportunity to learn more about aspects of the business (i.e. topics may include estimating, construction management, education/training, safety).

Task forces working together to make recommendations for improvements. 

Divisions - Divisions and offices are a part of our expansion and growth. Learning from the achievements of the most successful among their ranks will make it possible for the Crossland Way to be scalable.

Share Best Practices - Showcase processes and practices that work particularly well in each division. Videotape or otherwise document the process so that others might apply to their business unit.

Recognition of excellence - Quarterly recognition of effort. Awards for tenure (service awards).

Corporate support -Culture of support vs. dictates. (i.e. How can we better serve and support your goals?)

Subs, suppliers and partners
- The subcontractor and supplier community are a critical piece of the underground communication that goes on in the construction industry. We must find effective ways to communicate with them and also listen to them carefully.

Milestone Events - Groundbreaking, Topping out, demonstration or opportunities to teach the "Crossland Way."

e-mail blasts - Include key subs in routine news of success.

Customers and Prospects - Customers are a great resource. We must not fear open and honest assessments of our work. At the same time we must demonstrate the character and values of our organization to make things right. In the process we will gain friends, referrals and repeat business.

Response opportunity on facing card in Red Iron mailing. Formal research re: customer satisfaction and brand perception.

Red Iron response card offers Subways gift card 1/2011 Winter issue.

Participate in trade events - Schedule a list of industry events (i.e. trade shows/conventions) and plan participation that makes an impact.Kansas - USA Kansas, KASB

Honest and Quality Feedback
To achieve this goal - we need to build an environment of open and honest communication.

Benchmark Owner Research - Continuous improvement can only be demonstrated with benchmarks that allow us to measure progress. We want satisfied customers who will recommend us and we want to be a brand that is perceived as top notch. 

Implement annual benchmark study designed by a professional researcher to assure meaningful indicators of progress or backsliding.

Report results and ongoing tracking -Topline results of annual benchmark study can be shared with participants, prospects and employees.

Employee Feedback - Employees must have channels for candid dialogue with management. Management needs to understand perceptions and attitudes in the workplace if we are to be the kind of place of which people are proud to work.

Report on usefulness. Consider alternatives as well (i.e. hot line, anonymous blog) Crossland Insider Newsletter to promote feedback channels.

Breakouts - Task forces charged to find reasonable solutions. If taken seriously, relatively small problems can be addressed quickly and solutions can be adopted.

Two way communication - Part of any effective communication is the ability to have give and take. One way communication can send a message that the organization is inflexible. 

Lottery Lunch - cross-section of employees can share a dialogue about the company and about their observations on work environment, concerns or ideas.

Town Hall Meeting - State of the Union. Employees invited for attendance. Broad access (training room or offsite venue) set up so many can be there live and others can dial in for a short company meeting. How are we doing? What can we do better?

Feedback from sub, suppliers, partners - Feedback from subs and suppliers who may have a uniquely qualified set of observations are valuable. We should seek that input.

Reception for Qualified Subs - Off site event that allows subs access to Crossland and opportunity to be considered for future work and maybe share insights about their experiences with Crossland.


PR Strategy

Advertising vs. PR
Advertising and Public Relations are completely different animals. Advertising is media that is scheduled and contracted. A print ad, for example, is controlled and is consumed as such. Readers of that advertising know it is a paid commercial message. Public relations, on the other hand, is not paid media. Public Relations puts its attention on the editorial side of media. Editors are busy people. They are often short staff. They need help. They want to create an editorial environment that will attract readers. They work for publishers who want to attract advertisers as well. 

Public Relations Results
You can generate real value if you leverage your ability to work with select media (editors) in providing content - content that is not blatantly promotional or commercial. The shared goal is to produce copy that is of interest to readers as well as distribution and end-user prospects. If you can interest editors in case study examples, expertise or news about your brands, your stories will will rise to the top. They will be featured in a favorable light. There is no real fair comparison of advertising versus PR placements but if you use a relative measurement process it may help you evaluate how you are doing each quarter, each year and as time passes. It won't be perfect but at least you will have a measure of relative success. To accomplish this system you will need to score placements based on your goals. You may decide to use qualitative scores, circulation and a relative assessment of value.  

Greatest Hits
The weighted system accounts for the fact that all PR is not created equal. You can continue to pursue the low hanging fruit (placements of personnel releases and product launch copy) but focus efforts on bigger successes.(Like placements that tell your brand and/or company story.) I call this a “greatest hits” approach. By weighting the value or score assigned to better quality placements your team will celebrate a more important communication and messaging effort as they appear in your targeted media.       

Focus going forward
Public relations focused on the brands, success stories and expertise can be packaged and offered to editors and publishers of industry publications. They can and will challenge you and they should as journalists. But you can help by reviewing editorial calendars and by strengthening relationships with editors. Remember it is critical to provide value: It could be in the form of end-user success stories; expertise in sales, brand, engineering: or in unbiased scientific comparisons. Above all you need qualified review of all copy prior to submission to assure accuracy. Your credibility is at stake with each and every submission.