Nestor Falls, Ontario

Nestor Falls is one of the many places I look forward to seeing when we drive to Winnipeg on business, to see family and friends. This old Beech is owned and operated by They’re a commercial air charter that has been in operation since the 60’s and offer a variety of short and longer terms fly-in camping and fishing trips from June to September. 1-800-461-2126





Here's why this picture of my friends' daughter doing paddle-board-yoga should matter to you and the brands you care for.

What products are designed for and used for are two very different things.

Utility can differ dramatically by all sorts of variables you've never dreamed of.

Product attitudes can change incredibly fast - like those towards paddle boards (and yoga).

This picture is worth 1,000 words on the subject of monitoring those who love your brand.


Enid Reiley - my very best friend


Enid was born in Nottingham, England to Lois & Jack Reiley on May 4th, 1937 and died in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand on April 22nd 2012. In between she lived in a variety of places including England, Canada, the South Pacific and New Zealand, raised two families, cared for three husbands, at least as many dogs and devoted most of her career to medical office administration. I met Enid in July 1988 when I was between the pool and the lounge and Enid was between husbands. It was the start of a very unique, close and enduring friendship unaffected by time, gender and distance. Enid is the most considerate and least judgmental person I have met.

Early on she taught me the difference between self-worth and other worth, and spent the last 24 years encouraging me to focus on the former and ignore the latter.

When my wife and I moved to Winnipeg to care for Michelle’s father, Enid was the 1st to call (from New Zealand), find out how the trip went, and to lend her moral support. Two years later when Michelle and I moved back to Toronto to restart our lives and careers there, Enid was the 1st to call, find out how the trip went, and to lend her moral support.

Enid and I typically talked for about an hour each week. Over the years the range of our conversations became epic. There is no personal nook or cranny that has not been explored with genuine innocence, curiosity, care and respect. All that was found was honored and seen as fundamental to the unique person I am and the friendship we treasured and shared. I am a better man for having shared so much of myself with my best friend.

Many years ago, when I was going through a tough time Enid shared this poem, by Rod McKuen (1967), with me. It has become our anthem.


Clouds are not the cheeks of angels, you know
they’re only clouds.
Friendly sometimes,
but you can never be sure.
If I had longer arms
I’d push the clouds away
or make them hang above the water somewhere else
but I’m just a man
who needs and wants,
mostly things he’ll never have.
Looking for that thing that’s hardest to find -

I’ve been going a long time now
and along the way I’ve learned some things.
You have to make the good times yourself,
take the little times and make them into big times
and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren’t so good.

I’ve never been able
to push the clouds away by myself.
Help me.


Coincidentally, or not, when I pulled this off of Rod McKuen’s web site this morning, the scroll on his home page featured this quote:

“It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love” – Rod McKuen

Favorite lesson from her mother (Lois) on relationships: “If you play too hard to get, you might not get got.”

Favorite lesson from her father (Jack) on holidays: “Make the most of the high-holidays and vacation days because there are so many normal days in between.”

“Who loves you baby?  I do.”


March to the beat of your own drum!

I’ve developed many different campaigns for a wide variety of clients in many different business categories. In the process I’ve come across a handful of practices that seem to separate the category winners from their competitors.

If you think you’ve got the best product or service and want to go global, here are six mission critical marketing strategies and tactics that need to become integral to your operations.

#1: Leading Brands March to their Own Drum

If you’re marching to the beat of your own drum, you’re a leader. If you’re not, you’re a follower. It’s that simple. Leaders think differently and seize the opportunities found on the path they choose. The products and services they offer are a tangible response to a problem or opportunity they have discovered. While leaders are aware of what their competitors are doing, the competitive activity (or lack of it) helps define their pace and timing helping them decide when and where to strike out in a new directions.

Product Managers are followers who “compete” for established trade routes with “bigger”, “better”, “faster” or “cheaper” solutions.

Leaders don’t talk price unless they’re in the discount business, because “price is what you should talk about when you have nothing else left to say”. Talking money trains customers and prospects to think about getting the best price, not the best value let alone the best product.

Leaders hunt relentlessly for meaningful ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. Leaders defend their territory with multiple brand advantages that, in the consumer’s mind, represent a mental, physical or spiritual advantage. Price is not an advantage. For most brands it is their Achilles heel.

Leaders reinvent themselves and the brands they serve time and time again because change is their constant.

#2: Leaders Understand, Respect and then Redefine the Economic Terrain

Many leaders come across as adversarial because they’re not “team players”. Guess what? They’re not. They’re team-leaders. There’s a difference. Leaders get clear vision by doing a lot of homework (called research) to help them and the brand they serve understand the economic terrain. When they have enough data, the terrain looks like a geological map that defines – in three dimensions – any area’s business strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Leaders surround themselves with insightful stakeholders that help them define a business model that maximizes opportunity and minimizes stakeholder investment risk. Solid values ensure that all customer-facing team members handle opportunity and adversity in the same predictable and prescribed manner – buying management time to decide if an alternate course of action is warranted or ill-advised.

#3: Leaders Create or Manage Brands that Serve Tomorrow, not Yesterday

Leaders reinvent themselves and the brands they serve time and time again because change is their constant. Their experience is made up of successes and failures that help define the frequency and odds of success and failure for everything from OBT to USP.

Past wins fund tomorrow’s research.
Past losses are write-offs, little more.

#4: Leaders Understand that Audience Segmentation is Mission Critical

Leaders analyze their sales using metrics that are congruent with their brand’s mission, vision and values and define their ideal target group as those customers who enable them to achieve their stated brand goals.

1. They build segmented databases featuring primary and secondary clients, prospects and suspects.
2. They take care of key accounts themselves – because having skin in the game matters.
3. They assign dedicated account managers to their high volume \ high value clients.
4. E-marketing allows them to stay in touch with (secondary) clients, prospects and suspects in transition.
5. Their supports build and refine suspect databases that turn suspects into prospects.
6. They re-market to increase product and service conversion rates.
7. They use both online and offline advertising to move new suspects through the marketing funnel.

#5: Leaders Partner People, Products and Services

Leaders segment their products and services along one line, their audience along another line and media alternatives along a third line to ensure the right product is presented to the right audience using the right medium. They take pride in their ability to create opportunities for their brands, customers and prospects to meet.

#6: Leaders Stay Out of the Trenches (most of the time)

While leaders do not underestimate the importance of re-winning their customer’s loyalty with every transaction, they do understand that the game is lost if they lose perspective. Leaders enter trenches to reacquaint themselves with day-to-day issues and keep in touch with key accounts, but leaders keep on moving because they need to keep one eye on and remain one step ahead of the competition.

In today’s fast paced world, leaders and their key supports use business, personal and social sites to market their product and services, monitor the competition, communicate and survey their audiences… all in real time.

Their online media sites are like familiar beacons that serve them well 24/7.

Because they march to their own drum, they have far more genuine news and views to share and have more interesting stories to tell (than the 5,000,000,000th follower). Leaders tell the world who they are, what they’re up to and what sets them apart from others.

They network with like-minded brands and people.
And in time more and more followers follow.


10 rules for success in this economy

Rule #1:         Expect Volatility

We are seeing an exponential increase in the velocity, complexity, and unpredictability of change. This increase creates a hypercompetitive business environment – locally and internationally. Thinking and doing things the way you did a few years ago is simply not an option. We are part of a Global economy.

 Rule #2:         Invent New Rules

Because turmoil churns up new opportunities seize the moment and invent your own new rules of engagement and make others follow you! Competitive advantages and profits will belong to innovators who transcend the existing parameters of competition. Don’t think desk-top or laptop, think smart-phone.

 Rule #3:         Innovate or Die

Develop conscious strategies and mechanisms to promote consistent innovation. Resting on your laurels is simply not an option: winners are innovating and surpassing themselves constantly. Don’t just track planned product use. Explore product adaptations.

 Rule #4:         Break Barriers

You must dismantle the internal barriers that used to define people, departments and disciplines. The boundaries between firms and their outside suppliers, customers and sometimes even competitors are also under severe pressure. While we all want to win, competitive is “out” and “collaborative” is in.

 Rule #5:         Be Fast

Under-promising and over-delivering is everything and in that context fast is better than good. These days it’s far better to be 80 percent right and on time than 100 percent right and miss the boat. Think Blackberry Playbook.

 Rule #6:         Think Like an Entrepreneur

The days of depending on corporate size and reputation to drop opportunities in your lap are over. Entrepreneurs go out and make things happen and allow themselves to fail and improve because of it.

Manitoba has ~78,400 businesses. Only 800 have more than 100 employees. 

 Rule #7:           Global and Local are the same

The fastest growing markets in the world today are outside North America.  Companies and individuals in Winnipeg shop here, in Grand Forks and in China all on the same day. What can you offer your customers that the rest of the world can’t?

 Rule #8:                     Never Stop Learning

At the end of the day, the only truly sustainable competitive advantage will be your ability to learn faster and better than your competitors, and to turn that learning into new products, services and technologies before your competitors can imitate your last innovation. Consider this: information that is now FREE to download from thousands of websites used to cost thousands of dollars. It’s all there. All you need to find is time.

 Rule #9:                     Measure Performance Differently

Concentrate on key strategic and profitability drivers, ones that reveal the underlying dynamics of your business, focus your energy on what really drives the future success of your business. Do you have a business plan?

 Rule #10:                  Be Nice        

In a world where (digital) change is the constant, some forget that in the end it’s still about you and me. If I don’t trust you – you’re toast. I’m moving on. Share of heart is still a prerequisite to share of mind and wallet.