Steve Jobs – stay hungry + foolish


After a good meal Charlie and I feel content and both want to have a little nap. And when we snooze, we loose. Opportunities continue to flow by in the river of life but we’re too comfortable to notice them and seek them out.

The greatest gains in life are made during times of social or industrial turmoil. When I felt that my situation wasn’t good enough – or as good as it could be, especially after a layoff, I took more and greater risks because I had less to loose. And so it is with brands and brand stewardship as well.

New brands that are staking out their first territory have no following to alienate, nothing to lose and everything to gain. Think Uber.

In a few years I predict Uber will scream “bloody murder” because someone has disrupted it’s profitable but flimsy business model.

The business models of the most progressive organizations that I have worked with always made alternative thinkers welcome, but not too comfortable or secure. The strategy enables most of the organization to focus on the core business while not loosing sight of the need to seek out and seize new opportunities before the competition does.   


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso


Mr. Walter Disney


Do a bit of reading about Mr. Walter Disney. The man who saw a Magic Kingdom where others saw swampland.

Born     Walter Elias Disney December 5, 1901. Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Died     December 15, 1966 (aged 65), Burbank, California, U.S.

Occupation       Entrepreneur, animator, voice actor, film producer

22 Academy Awards

3 Golden Globes

1 Emmy




A matter of opinion and trust


I’m currently sorting out a brake issue on one of our vehicles. One mechanic says one thing, the other another. Initially I got pretty frustrated because I was taught that a vehicle part can only be in one of three conditions:

  1. Present and in good working condition (with lots of life left)
  2. Present and nearing the end of its intended service life
  3. Missing and therefore needs replacement

My two mechanics differ on the interpretation of #1 and #2.

It reminds me of an old saw:

  • Both a doctor and an artist can compliment you, telling you that you’re in great shape, but when you’re not feeling well, chances are you’ll want to talk to the doctor, not the artist about your condition because you consider the doctor an expert on health related issues.

In my case, the same rule applies:

  • The mechanic that’s telling me the car’s “fine” sold it to me. He’s in the business of selling cars.
  • The other mechanic that’s telling me the car needs work is in the business of maintaining cars.

The same rule of thumb applies to marketing as well:

  • Some agencies sell you advertising services.
  • Some help you build long term brand relationships with your customers.

Let the communication service buyer beware.



Will you take the first or last customer?

You’ve all seen the bell curve: early adopters on the skinny left, the majority in the fat middle and the gatekeepers on the skinny right.

We’re surrounded by brands that focus on the left for positioning and profit, and when the market becomes too crowded and profits too marginal in the middle, their R+D teams are sent back to the left in an effort to discover or reinvent an opportunity that they can capitalize on for a while. Think Apple.

Another path of thinking is to work the middle – positioning yourself as the category savior, expert, discount solution, used alternative and so forth. Every mall in the world is filled with these brands.

On the far right are the companies that serve the fringe brand loyalists, making vintage car parts, tube for analogue amplifiers, restoration companies, art galleries and museums.

As our economies and communications become globally intertwined, I’m seeing more and more opportunity for innovative thinkers to fill an interesting niche along the full marketing continuum – including crowdsourcing for concepts and local craftsmanship communities. 

Like a city going through urban renewal, it’s amazing to see what is be accomplished around us that ten years ago no one could have predicted. Like the American maker movement driving Detroit’s renaissance. 





Placing a car into a fish-tank full of gold-fish is a nice idea.

Doing so digitally is how it’s usually done these days.

Putting a brand new car into an aquarium full of gold-fish in a busy mall takes a bit more money and far more audacity.

Audacity doesn’t win you a brand war or skirmish, but if done right, it can get you on the short list of brands that people take notice of.

Audacity is best followed by brand integrity and an opportunity to experience some of the stuff that can help assure them that your brand really is different because your culture really is different in ways that are aligned with and support thier professional or personal paths.