Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Think about the best teachers you’ve had in your lifetime. Teachers inspire you to go beyond what is required. They teach you life lessons. They are people who give you a love of learning.

Mr. Wilson had a law degree when he was my 7th Grade teacher at St. Luke’s in Lakewood, Ohio. He was teaching a religion class but the most valuable lesson he offered was a study method he called SQ3R (Study, Question, Read, Write and Review). By following Mr. Wilson’s system you couldn’t help but learn. (That’s an eye opener in seventh grade! Well, it was for me.)

Dom Battalglia was my High School instructor in commercial art. He demonstrated the importance of delivering on time and being able to articulate how your solution matched the assignment. Practical work stuff.

Coach Cousineau believed in me in High School. He recognized me as a team leader. I wasn’t the biggest, toughest or most talented. Coach Cousineau’s son (Tom) played high school football for St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio and was one of the most highly-recruited football players in the country in his senior year. Unlike his son, I didn’t go on to play college and professional football but I learned a lot in the course of our 8-2 season. Lesson: even ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. Go Rangers!

Gene Massin taught drawing classes at the University of Miami. Something he repeated often inspired the artist in us all. “Maybe you came here to learn to draw. I am not going to teach you to draw. I’m going to teach you something more important. I am going to teach you to SEE.” An so he did.

Lester Goran taught creative writing and literature classes at the University of Miami. His lessons on story-telling and how to engage readers were reinforced with examples from classic literature. It was Professor Goran who encouraged me to pursue the position of associate editor of my college yearbook. That vote of confidence meant a lot coming from him.  

Teachers, coaches and mentors with the greatest impact go above and beyond the scope of the coursework. Consider those personal heroes in your life: The teachers, role models and the lessons you take with you.  Be inspired and inspire.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Building and your Brand

If you are fortunate enough to have a building initiative as part of your growth plans, I hope you won’t forget to leverage every step of the way to reinforce your brand and your message. Outlined here are just some of the best ways to make sure your stakeholders and fans know that for which your brand stands. Done thoughtfully the milestones along the way will signal to everyone from employee to stockholder that you mean business.  Don’t cut corners on some of these incremental activities that are in fact great opportunities.

Renderings  - You have worked through every detail of your design, architecture and engineering of your project. That project rendering is an awesome tool. When you are ready to let the world know of your plans, a beautiful rendering increases the likelihood of getting news coverage of your building. That visual will also increase the chances of readership. It is worthwhile to make sure your brand and appropriate marks are prominent on the visuals that will accompany the news of your project. (Work with your architect and building team to get the images you want to represent the project.)

Site Signage -  Another great place to showcase your project rendering, brand and mission. Your job site is enhanced greatly when you let your business neighbors know you are looking forward to occupying a beautiful space in the community. Take advantage of the signage to effectively generate word of mouth and anticipation. 
Traffic and Safety - Construction can often be disruptive but giving thought to the details of alternative traffic flow, parking and safety says a lot about how you do business. All of those individuals working on the job, working around the construction and supporting the building. should note the care by which look to those details.

Groundbreaking - Another place to feature your rendering, brand and key messages is in the ceremonial tradition of breaking ground. This can be a modest affair with only principals or a catered gala with music and dignitaries depending on the scope of the impact you want to make.
Topping off ceremony - Depending on your project, it might make sense to celebrate the final beam or finishing piece. You might prefer to celebrate a finishing touch like a sculptural adornment or foyer statue. Look for opportunities to generate news and excitement.

Donor wall, bricks, glass or plaques - If your business is member driven, a not for profit or one that wants to recognize the historical contributions of donations, efforts and support of individuals. Recognize with design and architectural significance. Dedicate it with media attention and celebrate with representatives of this group.
Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening - When you want the world to know you are open for business, a ceremonial ribbon cutting followed by grand opening activities can go a long way. This could be focused on a single day or extended over a period of time.

Of course every project is different but most have causes for celebration. Don’t miss the opportunity think like a marketer when those building milestones are in sight.     

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nothing Gold Can Stay

St. Louis is a parochial place. People who live here like to know where you went to High School. They are emphatic fans of their Cardinals Major League Baseball team proud of their big small town. So when one if its flagship corporate headquarters has news, people listen. Such was the case when InBev launched its takeover of the King of Beers.

Visit St. Louis and you can count among your stops a complimentary tour of the oldest and largest Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Since its founding in 1852 in St. Louis, Missouri the company has been a symbol of the American entrepreneurial spirit. We love Horatio Alger stories of rising from humble backgrounds to lives of security and comfort through determination, courage, and hard work. A great story, yet the company recently moved into a new chapter as a global firm.   
How did InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, take over one of America's most beloved brands? In Dethroning the King, author Julie MacIntosh details how the drama that unfolded at Anheuser-Busch in 2008 went largely unreported as the world tumbled into a global economic crisis second only to the Great Depression. The book published in November of 2011 helps shed light on how the King of Beers was so easily captured by a foreign corporation.

I’ve lived in St. Louis for more than 15 years but I know that I’m still technically an outsider. I can see, however, that our little Shangri La cannot remain unchanged. Nor can we as business people expect to protect the status quo. Read this account of the takeover of the King of Beers and you will get a peak at the forces at play. The global economy, management and corporate governance are variables. Timing and opportunity are factors.
Nevertheless, as I read this incredible business story, I couldn’t help chuckling as I have had something less than six degrees of separation from those quoted heavily in this account. My friend Bill Finnie (a 27 year veteran of Anheuser-Busch), Charlie Claggett (the former advertising agency creative chief and managing director) and Dave Peacock (a top executive at AB even after the merger before his departure this past year) are all close encounters with my own career path for a variety of reasons. I am reminded of the Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay. A cautionary tale perhaps, but one worth considering.      

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. 
Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Kinmundy Pride

1906 Kinmundy High School graduating class

Back row: James O. Lowe, Harry F. Craig, J. Ben Morgan, Clemmie Whittenburg

Front row: M. Thrasher - Superintendent, Evangeline Parrill - Asst. Supt.


April 19, 1906:

Four Complete Course and Receive Diplomas. It is with pleasure that we chronicle the commencement exercises rendered on the evenings of April 10 and 11, closing a seven months term of the Kinmundy High School which completed the course for the following graduates: Messrs. James O. LOWE, Harry F. CRAIG, J. Ben MORGAN, and Miss Clemmie WHITTENBURG. On Tuesday evening, April 10, at 8:30, the curtain lifted, revealing the eager gaze of hundreds, the graduates and orchestra seated on the stage in a semi-circle, whose radiant faces were beaming with smiles while their olfactories and optics were regales with the rich odors and superb tints of fragrant flowers. (*) (A class picture accompanied this article)


June 2, 1910:

Kinmundy Boys Honored: J. Ben MORGAN and Harry CRAIG, both of this city, who have been in St. Louis the past four years studying medicine, have successfully passed the examinations and are graduating; Ben from the St. Louis University of Medicine on Tuesday May 31, and Harry from the Washington University June 9. A few days ago, the St. Louis City Hospital gave a very rigid examination to the graduates of the different schools in the city, and these two boys were among the number to pass and gain places in the hospital, which Harry expects to accept. These examinations given by the City Hospital are so thorough that only a small percent of the applicants pass it, and our boys are above the average in their studies to gain these honors. Ben has been offered a position in St. John’s Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, as House Physician, which he expects to accept about July 1st. There are 68 members in his class of which he has the honor of being Secretary. These two young men have both worked faithfully for the honors they are receiving and both are to be complimented upon their success.

Note: Kinmundy was a family driving vacation when we were young enough to travel (4 boys, mom and dad, I cannot recall if Lynn was with us too. Older brother Sundance was not living at home at that time.) A city brochure we picked up included a poem, part of which I will paraphrase. Mom read it aloud in a playfully mocking way to tease Dad who really had an attachment to the place. It said, "Take Kinmundy, our city fair. No fog. No smog. Just clean fresh air."