Friday, June 22, 2012

I love your work Mother.

My Uncle David and I enjoyed a laugh together after serendipity found us together with Mother Teresa on an elevator in the Pan Am building in midtown Manhattan. David recalled blurting out, “I love your work Mother.” How funny and great is that?
Uncle David was a strong supporter and friend when I entered the workforce in the early 1980s in New York. He always had so much wisdom and yet he was never overbearing. I cherish every moment I spent with him during that time. He is the star in a long list of memories. When you have people in your life who can make you smile so many years later – you know you have been in the presence of someone very special.
Uncle David is a business development executive. He is one of those guys you want on your team to attract new business and at the same time let your current customers know that you appreciated their patronage. He has a wonderful sense of humor and style that exudes confidence. CBS Television, Seventeen Magazine, Catalina Swimwear, American Film Institute (AFI), Celebrity Tennis Events, Morgan Studio, his own Greatest of the Great project, the NFL Draft, a handful of favorite charities and maybe a hundred other efforts were just a little bit better because David added his brand of energy and fun.David once convinced me to print a short run of Greatest of the Great T-shirts for limited distribution at an NFL alumni golf event in Florida. I was still in college (at the University of Miami). I can’t even recall the golf course now, but it was at that function that I saw Otto Graham lining up a putt. Wow - I saw the legendary Cleveland Brown Quarterback that day. In retrospect, it’s a reminder of how fleeting fame is and how short and precious our lives really are.

David introduced me to some landmark taverns in NYC including P.J. Clarke’s. David had a chemistry and charm that was immediately engaging. It was always fun being around him. He made friends everywhere. He taught me that even in big bad New York City, people are people and if you make an effort they can be interesting, engaging and offer a better understanding of this place we call the planet Earth.

Growing up in Lakewood, Ohio we would get periodic visits from our Uncle David. When he was in town we all knew we were in for a good time. He always arrived at 15106 Edgewater Drive with a flourish - a cigar, a big fur coat, that automatic smile… He had a flair for making the most routine things seem grand.
David was better than anyone at staying connected. We all love him and we all admire him. He was outspoken and defended us as only an adult can over a Whiskey Sour on the screened in porch in Key Biscayne, Florida. He was a bridge from generation to generation. I love that about him. We all have personal memories we’ve shared over the years. They are part of the legend and the folklore of David. Just one example: We heard about when he bought Greg a new suit and treated him to Catch a Rising Star comedy club in NYC.   

David knew more than anyone about the lives of individual offspring of his brothers John, Andrew and Jim (17 at my last count). He had real and genuine insights about each. (What good fortune to have an uncle like that.) And when Mallory and DW were added to the generation there was no doubt – Morgans can do anything! David reminds us that we belong to a pretty exclusive club.  

Uncle David is the only relative that saw my older brother play college football in San Francisco (The one year he attended the University of San Francisco). Another one of many examples of David making the effort and with such pleasure in doing so.

I was a just a teenager when my uncle David married Mary Louise at Spring Lake, NJ. I remember that being a glorious event at a country club. David waited until his early 40s to give up the bachelor life. He was all smiles that day. It was clear he’d found a partner in life. (Some things are worth waiting for I guess.) And when Mallory and D.W. made David a Dad. He was as proud as a Dad can be.

I enjoyed LaSalle Basketball during two separate years at the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) not because I love basketball. It was more because I loved spending time with David Morgan. He was the best fan for which any team could ask. “Did you know the great Tom Gola played for LaSalle? Gola was one of the most talented collegiate athletes in Philadelphia sports history. He came to national attention while playing for the hometown LaSalle University Explorers men's basketball team in 1954 as an All American forward."

David is ageless and timeless. There will never be another one like him. Mother Teresa, please look after my dear uncle. Amen.

Happy Birthday Uncle David – You are truly one of the Greatest of the Great!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Price Sensitive

Brand A, is a mature brand and has a strong following. Brand A customers have a strong preference of that product and are willing to pay for it. The premium they pay for Brand A is part of the value of that brand. If enough loyal customers routinely buy that product, Brand A will be able to continue to invest in those things that create a preference in the first place. Profit is in that equation as long as Brand A can sell well enough to maintain a healthy market share. Consumers are always challenged to consider alternatives. So Brand B enters the market. Brand B is a parity product that aggressively uses price to obtain market share. The gamble here is that enough of the Brand A consumers will consider the lower cost alternative but Brand B cannot maintain the lower price strategy. (Eventually Brand A and Brand B will cost the same.)

Brand C enters the mix. Brand C is cheaper. It is less expensive to produce and It doesn’t pretend to deserve a premium price. Now consumers will have a lower cost alternative. The good folks who bring you Brands A and Brand B have to evaluate their relative positions. Brand A and Brand B want to continue to battle for the premium price position and Brand C believes a reasonable share of the target customers will accept the compromise. Brand C believes if it can capture 40% of the market they will make an acceptable profit. Brand A and Brand B both believe 50% share is needed to survive and grow. If those assumptions are true someone will have to lose.

Brand A To respond to competition and avoid lowering its price, Brand A decides to increase its advertising to reinforce messages of quality ingredients and superior performance.
Brand B To obtain market share Brand B reduces price during promotional windows and limits advertising to price promotions only - Buy One/Get One, 50% off coupons etc.
Brand C No advertising but aggressive in-store merchandising - end aisle displays and signage.

 Given the price strategies above, who do you think will prevail among these three brands? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Damn the Torpedoes

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut was the first senior officer of the U.S. Navy at the time of the American Civil War. He was aboard Hartford entering Mobile Bay (Alabama) on August 5th in 1864, leading a fleet of ships when the lead monitor, Tecumseh, was demolished by a mine. Disaster seemed imminent. Farragut gave the orders embodied by the famous words, “Damn the torpedoes.” Full speed ahead! The Battle of Mobile Bay is one of the iconic confrontations of the Civil War at sea. The charge into Mobile Bay may have been the most dramatic moment of the naval portion of the war. The courage and conviction it takes to assume leadership with decisiveness in the face of uncertainty and adversity is remarkable. The battle cry is an inspiration for us all. We need to keep moving ahead. We need to be positive. We need to have faith. We need to believe that we will prevail. 

Keep in mind, no one can have enough information to predict the outcomes of choices we make, no matter how well informed we are. In leadership roles we are adding weight to our decisions, because they can have an impact on those who have placed their confidence in our abilities. We must prepare well and recognize the risk. There will always be times when you must take calculated risks and charge forward. Most of us are fortunate that we do not have to make judgments in the heat of battle. Still, let’s face it; we all deal with upsets, loss and obstacles as we live our lives. Be brave. Be smart. Be confident. In spite of your best efforts you may still find yourself up against considerable odds. 

Damn the torpedoes!