When I listen or watch President Obama (or The First Lady) speak, I am reminded of the most valuable debate lesson I've learned: listen, pause, then speak.

Listen carefully. Listen to what your opponent is saying and why. Instead of being eager to state your case or defend your position, ask questions that reveal more about the fundamentals and related issues.

Pause while you gather your thoughts. Pause as often as you need to. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed (into a trap).

Proceed with your argument only when you have divined an unassailable path forward.

Speak clearly and slowly to ensure you’re speaking slower than you’re thinking and making clear logical progress towards your objective. 

If you can learn to listen, pause and then take action in words or deeds, you’ll do better.




When I was a kid garbage cans were made here in Canada out of galvanized metal that was impervious to most stuff that nature threw at it – especially squirrels and raccoons because they don’t care to chew through metal.

Then along came plastic. Prettier, cheaper, dent and waterproof. Some cans even lasted a long time.

So what’s not to like?

Soon galvanized garbage cans were history and in most cities a specific plastic garbage can design is law.

Goodbye galvanized pail industry.

But in the U.S. one American garbage can company decided not to fold its tent, but rather to reposition itself for the next millennium by promoting the galvanized pails they produce as feed pails that are proudly made in America – and 100% critter proof.

So far we’ve bought three.

The message here is as important as it is simple. Change is the constant. Don’t take it personal and don’t get mad. Enable your brand to change with the times and enjoy the brand evolution and the new business that comes your way.



My Ford Flex has a “Check Engine” light that lights up for any number of reasons. It also has self parking capability, GPS and some very sophisticated displays for the climate control and entertainment center. There’s even a special inlet that allows you to plug in a digital diagnostic tool that reads the engine “trouble codes”.

My Ford Flex is so smart it’ll even show me where the nearest Ford (or Mazda) dealer is, the phone number, hours of operation and how to get there.

For a few pennies more the price of this vehicle they could easily have included a diagnostic screen that tells me what’s wrong with the engine – and what needs to be done about it - if anything.    

Instead I get a little red “Check Engine” light offering me no more information than the little red and green idiot lights that I had in my ’72 VW Bug.

The red lights then and now have the same effect on us: they cause us to worry and hurry off to the nearest auto-dealer. 

So why change a good thing?

In psychology this called Operant Conditioning and is a form of learning. With O.C. an individual changes behavior because the behavior has a positive or negative consequences.

Operant Conditioning is the behavioral insight that has driven and continues to drive great advertising around the world since it’s conception in early Roman times (when prostitutes wore blond wigs).





Suppose for a moment that the (Donald) Trump brand had been worth $100 before he entered politics. Knowing what you know now, what do you think this brand is worth today?



Suppose for a moment that the (Donald) Trump brand had been worth $100 before he entered politics. Knowing what you know now, what do you think this brand would sell for today?



Suppose for a moment that the (Donald) Trump brand had been worth $100 before he entered politics. Knowing what you know now, how much would you lend this brand today? 

You can send your answers to me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Win more emotional and logical arguments

I got an interesting message from my friend Eric the other night. He recalls that I once told him that "you can't beat emotion with logic." At the time, when he didn't understand what I meant, I explained that “if your girlfriend is crying and says you don't love her, you can't rhyme off a list off facts that prove you love her to “win” that argument”.

This is not a new problem for any communications professional, regardless of media channel, it’s a perennial training issue. How do you cross the casm between emotion and logic successfully.

Here’s the bottom line on creating more compelling arguments, advertising or selling propositions. (Remember, you read it here first!)

Create a logical argument that can be emotionally delivered by a voice admired and respected by the audience. “I have a dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King is a classic example of how compelling a selling proposition constructed using this formula can be. It was, and remains, so provocative that it galvanizes and polarizes people to the point that some literally want to “shoot the messenger”. But the power and the spirit of the message, as well as the change in thinking and behavior that the message invited lives on and on and on.

As a general rule, if the audience is in an emotional state, start there. Establish an emotional beachhead and build a logical framework that enables you to lead them to your new promised brand-land. If the audience is in a logical state, then begin there. Use emotional arguments to give their hearts permission to believe that you know the way to a more fulfilling brand-land.

I’ll leave it at that for now.

If you need copy, design or strategic help with a project you’re working on – you know where I am.