Home Alone


On most days Charlie and I go for a long walk with Toby, my neighbor’s poodle, return for a quick breakfast and head off to my office – 15 feet away. What began as an experiment has become my preferred way of life. My days start just before nine and end around six. I support two ad agencies and a few direct clients with a few tools that help me eliminate the distance between myself and those I support. He’s my tool-box for success:

  1. A Jabra™ GN2100 headset + USB link that optimizes skype or G-talk fidelity. About $200.00
  2. A Panasonic™ KXTCA400 headset (about $40.00) that plugs into my four cordless handsets ( about (about 180.00)
  3. A Large format PC laptop + a desktop monitor as well as a Mac with all the popular programs.
  4. Black and White as well as Colour printers.
  5. A three-way redundant file backup: Hard-drive, thumb-drives and cloud.

I have more productivity tools per square meter in my current (home) office than I would if I worked for the companies I support. And since I spend more time at my desk (and less time walking around) I also invested in top of the line ergonomics including:

  • A state-of-the art chair by Ergohuman™
  • A 1960’s era Steelcase™ (height and tray-depth adjustable) computer table with new surfaces.
  • Gel pads for my Logitech™ K120 keyboard, and Microsoft™ mouse.

I’ve worked with these tools about two years now and they enable me to attend production meetings, direct and manage account and creative teams, direct radio recording sessions, manage multi-location clients meetings. Importantly, I do it all with the confidence that comes from knowing that my 1st class thinking is being supported with 1st class communication tools and accessories that help my clients experience my presentations and my recommendations as if I were there.

When my father, a Cabinet Maker by training, taught me to invest in and care for my tools, he was referring to the tools I used to repair my apartment and then later my house. I’ve applied the same lesson to the tools I use in my vocation.

Home alone, there for you, and loving it.


I’ve lost that loving feeling

aw logo

A long time ago we were in Kenora and my son asked to go to the local A&W. That day we started a unique ritual. We’d order their Root-Beer Milkshakes with French Fries. Then we’d grab a booth and watch the world go by while we dipped each fry into the thick root-beer flavoured milkshakes.

That ritual created a bond between Ian and me, A&W and Kenora.

The experience contributed to the intangible brand essence that makes it more durable & desirable.

When traveling alone or with my wife I’d be drawn to A&W – looking for that root-beer milkshake – looking to stoke the flames of my memories and my ritual with Ian.

Last Saturday Ian, Michelle and I dropped in to the A&W in Kenora looking for Root-Beer Milkshakes with French Fries. A cheery little CSR advised us that they didn’t have any milk-shakes. “The machines been broken for a few years now”.

In that moment I lost that loving feeling and A&W lost my loyalty and a bunch of future business.

But I’m just one customer. Right?


Brands build market share one relationship at a time.

Brands lose share one relationship at a time.


School: a change of season + reason

I was conditioned to “going back to school” for 17 years. Friends of mine who are certified professionals like doctors and lawyers were conditioned for another ten.

Towards the end of my summers (in Toronto) the Canadian National Exhibition (a.k.a. CNE) would flare up for 10 days and then shut down again.To Torontonians the opening signals the end of summer”.

For all ages and brands “back to school” signals a change of season and a change of reason for positioning your products or services. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • If you’re selling summer camps for kids, your season is over. But it’s the perfect time to sell empty nesters like me on a quiet yoga retreat in the now silent (and mosquito free) woods.
  • If you’re selling schools supplies of any kind, this is your time. But remember who’s often paying the tab, and who wants to keep up with the younger generation. Speak to students and give the parents some cool tools to play with as well.
  • Many businesses return to “regular hours”, and withdraw the sense of freedom that comes with “summer hours”. So help your customers with their transition into Fall with a few fun filled “Lunch ‘n Learn Sessions”.

The challenge for your business is to identify genuine intellectual, emotional or seasonal reasons to reach out to your customer base and ask them for their business.

  • REASON: a “Back to School Event” makes sense for stores that sell schools supplies, computer equipment, clothing and dorm furniture.
  • SEASON: an “End of Summer Inventory Clear out” makes sense for stores that sell their inventory by season.
  • INTELLECT: Can you appeal to your customers’ ego with a “sneak preview” of the fall line of fashionable clothing, cars, or new performance enhancing services? Remember – while this is not a “Fall” event, it does lead into Fall.

 As you all know, I’m not a fan of sales per se because in an inelastic market they simple drive down the value of your product or service, give you tomorrow’s customer’s today (at a higher marketing cost and lower profit margin), and do nothing to increase market demand for your products or services.

I much prefer these techniques:

  • Giving loyal customers, not strangers, the 1st chance to buy end of season products or services at a reduced rate justified by their loyalty.
  • Giving loyal customers, not strangers, the 1st chance to see, examine, buy, order the new fall products or services.
  • Giving additional time with the purchase of your service.
  • Giving additional value with purchase of your products.


Price is what you talk about when you have nothing else to say. Strong brands have lots of success stories to tell and lots of people that love them and refer them.

Among strong brands “price” is NEVER in the top 5-7 reasons to buy or decline the brand.

Except in Winnipeg.


Brand Love Management

These GMC motorhomes were produced by the GMC Truck & Coach Division of General Motors for the 1973 through 1978 model years in Pontiac, Michigan. It was the only complete motorhome built by a major manufacturer producing what GMC hoped would be their halo vehicle. Part of the reason this vehicle is so different from other motor homes of the era is that it was not conceived as just a "camper," but as a vehicle for comfortable travel as well. The design was radical for the day with front-wheel drive and a low profile, fully integrated body. We met this group of four motorhomes in the Upper Peninsula en-route from Vancouver to Texas via Newfoundland; a three month tour.

I’ve called this blog entry “Brand Love Management” because of the fellow laying under the 1st coach. He’s far more than a mechanic. His knowledge and enthusiasm enables all the others in this group to travel across North America with confidence despite the fact that these four vehicles are between 34 and 39 years old (in 2012). With-out him the initial “love affairs” would have soured shortly after the vehicle’s short warranty period ended.



Leaders should drive less + dream more

I'm 57 now and have been driving since I was 16. While I still love to drive I miss a lot when I do.

Take these two monsters marching towards Toronto with a giant storm in tow. I don't get to see this kind of stuff when I'm driving. As a creative director it's important that I do and the open road is the best place to open your eyes, mind and soul to let the universe in and all the stale old bull-shit out.

As a Manager you're into control and manipulation because you need to make your numbers.

As a Director you need to help your organization and the stakeholders see the big picture. 

Let go of the wheel hand it over to someone else and look down the road - or up into the sky.

Be still.   Listen.   Learn.