Monthly Archives: February 2007

Six Pixels

This is a small world, getting smaller all the time. The old phrase of “six degrees of separation” has been replaced with 6 pixels, and I actually think it’s even smaller than that.

For example, today I was working on a project, and I sent an email to someone, assuring them we were getting to their needs as soon as possible. I got an email back that this person was interested in meeting me, and was friends with another set of podcasters I know well.  Before you knew it, I had a connection to one of my long time heroes for a possible interview on my podcast. Wow. A connection I was hoping for, at some time in the future, through tenuous real world connections, was accomplished within a few hours online.  (The interview is scheduled for early March!)

These A to B to C connections between people happen much faster online than they used to through traditional means. Strength of connections may be more tenuous, but they come with perhaps more degrees of trust as well. People can know you through your blog, podcast, videocast, or other online methods, and have a much greater sense of you before you ever meet or talk in person.

I know this, because I have felt this way about some of the podcasters I know, and now I find the same scenario  playing out with me for others. It’s a heady feeling to get the sense that what you do makes a difference, that other people are interested, and perhaps more mind-blowing, want to meet YOU.

When I went to Podcamp Boston in September, I was intimidated by all the Podcast superstars that were there.  People that were much cooler than I thought I could ever aspire to be.  I had listened to CC Chapman, for example, for at least a year- and there he was!  And he was as nice, and personable in person as he had been through email and online.  And he made you feel like you mattered.

Chris Brogan spoke about each person in the room having super powers and being a hero in their own right.  At the time, I felt so “new” and uninitiated into the podcasting world, I kinda scoffed.  what powers did I have?  I couldn’t see any.  But like the kids in  the “Sky High” movie, I had to wait until my powers fully developed.  And even if my powers seemed lame in some corners, they have had their own, important uses.  Now I have enough intestinal fortitude or cohones to present at PodCamp Toronto this weekend with two wonderful people, Mark Blevis and Chris Brogan, the Mayor of Podcasting Himself.

I could not have pictured myself where I am today a year ago when I registered my first domain name, or  nine months ago when I recorded my first podcast.  I still feel I have so much to learn, and not enough hours in the day to cram all the knowledge in properly.  But every day is an adventure, that tests my willingness to take risks, step out of the box, and trust my gut sense of what’s right.

So far, the gut and instinct have served me well.  I have moments where the scardy-cat in the back of my brain says “Are you sure this is a good idea?  Is this the right time?  What happens if they say yes?  How will you feel if they say no?”   I try to put the scardy cat aside, briefly check in with the rational analyst who says “nothing ventured, nothing gained” , and then grab onto the trapeeze, swing and yell “Wheeee!”  So far, no broken bones, and a really good time.

I guess the scardy cat is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.  People talk about making your own opportunities, engaging and changing the world through their actions, but it often sounds like platitudes.  Things really great people like Dale Carnegie can do, but not us mere mortals.

In the end, Chris Brogan was right, back at the first Pod Camp in Boston.  We are all super heroes in our own right- we just have to figure out what our powers are and then let them nurture and develop over time.  This requires regular feeding and exploration of your limits.  You can’t expect the powers to appear first thing one random morning in the future.  You have to make the time to figure out your strengths and find ways to use them to your advantage every day.

My next post has been marinating around in my brain for a while, but fits in with this one- it’s about the care and nurturing of new ideas.  If we don’t feed our creativity, those naiscent super powers won’t flourish.  respect your native talents, and they will serve you well.

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Setting Standards

Life seems to be becoming more and more about “Setting standards.” Kids are supposed to meet a set of standards in school, set by the State and Federal Government. There are supposed to be standards for behavior; there are quality control standards in business, and now, they’re even trying to develop them for medicine- there are even internet protocol standards.

So what is all this really about?

Certain things, like internet protocol standards, allow us all to communicate effectively, and in the same language. God bless http, https, php, sql, xml and other standards- they’re instrumental in our ability to function online.

Standards keep assembly lines going, ansd quality control is all about maintaining a base level of sameness and predictability throughout a process. Every can of coca-cola should taste the same, whether it’s sold in New York or LA. Consistancy and standards can be very good in business and in mass markets.

Let’s take a quick look at quality analysis, quality control, and standards in medicine by contrast. I’m married to a doctor, and all the way along his training, issues regarding appropriate care come up. What should you do in this circumstance? What is the proper standard of care, and who decides what the proper standard is? Being a lawyer, this is the basis for most law suits, and something that is litigated all the time- Did the person, who allegedly caused another harm, deviate from the “Ordinary Standard of Care” in their actions? Did their actions amount to gross negiligence, by ignoring the generally accepted standard of care? How does anyone know, in the moment, whether they are meeting the standard, and even if they are, is it good enough?

Real life is messy. New circumstances, new twists on old problems come at you all the time. In order to solve these problems, we try to rely on the standards we have embraced. You may know, for example, how to deliver a baby or do a C-section, but how does this case change if the mother weighs in excess of 400 pounds? This doesn’t happen enough to get really good at it, or for there to be a well-established standardard operating procedure, so to speak. Or the time when a resident asked “What do you usually do when you find illegal drugs stored inside a patient?” This is not a question where the term “usually” is operable. It is UNusual. Life requires you to improvise and riff on what you already know, and everyone hopes, regardless of your profession, that you will do the best you can, “under the circumstances”.

Let’s take a quick look at education. Under No Child Left Behind, the States are testing students to make sure they are “being taught” and acquiring basic skills like reading, writing and math, commensurate with grade level. The purpose is to set standards for teaching- bullet points and lists of things that will be on the test and probed, so we can make sure every kid knows the pythagorean theorem, and can answer relatively innane questions after reading a short passage about the secret lives of tarantulas in the Amazon.

Everyone agrees kids should be able to read and write and do math. But we are raising people, not manufacturing widgets in a factory. There is some natural variation in the rate kids develop. There’s a vast difference in what they’re interested in, and even more variation in their native talents and skills. Yet everytime we sit these kids down to another standardized test, we are trying to see if they meet our widget production standard. And because we are looking for uniform standards, we’re asking teachers to “teach” more and more from scripted material, as if they were making phone calls to raise money. Can’t deviate from the script.

Even more frighteningly, schools seem most concerned about making sure every kid meets this widget standard. If every kid does, then the school is rewarded, and the teachers are doing a “great job”. But what about the kids who are really talented, and need to be challenged to be more than a widget? What about the kids who are slower to meet the widget standard? If we’re asking every kid to learn a certain piece of material in a certain period of time, are we getting to a point where we should just replace all teachers with videotapes (sorry- DVD’s) of people talking, so we achieve actual uniformity? It’s looking like Jonathan Swift and the Immodest Proposal is not far down the line.

And doesn’t commoditizing education take all the fun out of teaching and learning?

We’re looking for uniformity in a world where entropy rules- life does not abide by standards and benchmarks. There is always an exception to every rule. Life is messy and complex, whether we want to admit it or not.

Am I trying to say throw out all the standards? No. I am saying we have to look at what a standard is, why we need it, and what its implications are. For example, why should the standard for reading and math competency vary from State to State? Shouldn’t this be more uniform rather than less- when we are adopting “standards”? Why should the IQ level to be considered mentally retarded vary by as much as twenty points across state boundaries? Does someone get smarter or ‘stupider’ because they live in a different part of the Country? If standards aren’t really uniform, then aren’t they somewhat hypocritical?

We’re comfortable with sameness. Franchises work on the general premise that a Big Mac in Oregon will taste the same in Miami and Paris. Your double latte in Boston will be the same in Milwaukee. But the same also deprives us of variation and customization. And I see this as the biggest challenge we are facing these days- the tension between sameness and specialization.

There’s a great book called The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, that talks about the online world making an infinite number of choices available. You are no longer limited by what merchandise is stocked in your local store- you can buy an antique Flintstones Lunchbox online if you want- just go to Ebay. Customization to your own specific niche tastes and wants is at your fingertips. And this can be a tremendously good thing. And it can be overwhelming, when we are used to a world with more limited choices.

You once had to settle for good enough or close enough. What was available. Now, availability and demand are changing, and only what you’re willing to pay and shipping time/costs provide the limits to meeting your needs. But this also has an obligation attached. You now have to sort through so many more choices, so many more options, it can easily become overwhelming. And we are reverting back to asking trusted filters to help us choose among this infinite selection.

It comes down to the following question: Are you following standards set by others, or are you following your own? Are these standards providing a consistant baseline level of performance, or are they causing a migration to the mean where exceptional and success are replaced by safe and reliable? And is this a good or bad thing? And how confortable are you with this whole process?

It’s an evolution and exploration for me, and I really can’t wait to hear what you think.

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The Revenge of the Nice Guys

I’ve been reading Made to Stick, a book about how to get your ideas to be memorable. One of the anecdotes from this book that stuck with me was about Leo Durocher, a famously cantankerous baseball manager. Apparently his statement to the effect of “The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place ” got morphed, over the years, into “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

 

This, along with recent posts about Social Currency on blogs by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have got me thinking. Is this great American mantra of Nice Guys Finishing Last, one of the most frequently quoted lines around, really true?

 

In the old days, when Durocher was in major league baseball, we assume it was a kinder and gentler time. Through the haze of memory and media, we tend to believe the “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” versions of the 1950’s and 1960’s. While reality probably differs from this flawless portrait of Americana, what is true is that many more small towns existed.

 

Rather than being part of a larger metropolis, smaller towns and villages all had their own infrastructure, including bankers, merchants, grocers, and the like. People could sign for purchases at local stores, with unsecured credit. Bills would go out at the end of the month, and they would get paid. No problems. There was a trust that developed, because your reputation was important. People adhered to codes of behavior that seemed restrictive and unnecessary later on, because almost all of business was done on a handshake. If you screwed up, threats like “You’ll never do business in this town again” were real and powerful. These things seem like a punch line in a lot of circles today.

 

The daily news came through trusted filters, every night, once a day. Opinion mattered, as well as fact. Reputations were the most important currency you could have, and it’s what allowed business and personal relationships to flourish.

 

Okay, you are saying to yourself- clearly I am dripping with nostalgia, and why does any of this matter? Here’s the point.

 

In the New Media and Web 2.0 world, or whatever we’re calling it these days, is in some ways, a throw back to this earlier time. Business gets done by trust and reputation. This trust and reputation builds over time, and it isn’t just yours because you want it, or because you had some cache in the bricks and mortar world. You have to be as reliable, or perhaps even more so, online than you are in corpus.

 

This is why Chris’s role at Pulver Media is important. Chris has been called the Mayor of Podcasting. (I personally would have him run for even higher office, but that is another post altogether). Why? Chris Brogan is a sweet guy. He knows who he is, and he is always Chris. He’s not trying to be anyone else. You meet him, and he has a genuine, inherent curiosity about who you are and what you do. This is a man who people genuinely love and care for, because he is an original.

 

Julien Smith is another original. He has a mind like a razor. It’s sharp, concise, and even when he struggles to express an idea, you know the wheels are turning with amazing speed and precision. He can seem a bit intimidating, because he has this “steely eyed missile man” personality wrapped up in a package that makes him look like a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is what I would call aggressively smart and intuitive. He should be on anyone’s first round draft pick for insightful people on the ‘net.

 

What makes Chris and Julien different from others?

 

We are living in a world where everything has seemingly become about hype. There are “slick” ad campaigns everywhere, and it’s gotten to a point where we don’t trust any of them. Experience has told us that advertising is manipulative, and not to be trusted. We believe that when someone contacts you, they want something. They are only in it for them, and don’t really care about you or your value. We become suspicious and tentative. Jaded. We’ve heard THAT before, we say.

 

(For example, every time I hear the President mention Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence, for whatever reason, I just tune him out and say ‘There he goes again, trying to peddle that crap!!!’ Whatever the content of the statement is then totally gone from my mind. He has no social currency left, and by poll numbers, much of the Country feels similarly.)

 

If you get to meet either of these superstars in person, the first thing you’ll be struck by is their interest. They look you in the eye. They listen when you talk. They are not spending their time, vaguely listening while looking for other people to talk to in the room. They are engaged. They respond with thought and intent. They connect. With everyone. And it’s not about having adapted master manipulation tactics. And it’s not about working hard to impress you or to make sure to mention your name so many times in a conversation even YOU get tired of hearing it. They are the WYSIWYG guys, there is no manipulative packaging. Yeah- there’s a hell of a lot going on between their ears every single moment, but they are about moving the whole game forward, and helping you move yours forward as well, whether or not there’s something in it for them.

 

In an online world where articulating your viewpoint can be difficult, where misplaced words or punctuation can cloud meaning, or give a passage whole different message that would have been conveyed in person, we are gradually learning to build trust and relationships in the old fashioned way. Over time. Through personal contacts and handshakes.

 

And it means that getting out of your house and your safety zone, and attending events like PodCamp, or local meetups, or even the grocery store, can benefit you, if you will talk about what your care about. You need to share and be willing to help others as much as possible. This is what builds relationships. Just ask the guy at the local hardware store who used to let us all sign for the stuff my mom needed or the one grocery store near here that still has old fashioned signing accounts for some of the long time customers, now in their 70’s and 80’s. Your word should always be your bond. And this is true now more than ever, regardless of what Madison Avenue is telling you.

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What’s Wrong With The Automobile Industry

I went to the Philadelphia Auto Show this past weekend with my family. We are starting to look for a car to replace our aging minivan. We’re having the debate I’m sure many families are having- Are the kids old enough to justiofy something other than a minivan? Do we really need the third row seating? Which options are MUST haves versus luxuries that we might add if the cost is reasonable?

In the past, different car makers had very different vehicles. You could tell a chrysler from a cadillac without looking for the manufacturer’s symbol on the grill. This is ebbing away. There’s surprisingly little to distiguish between most car models, especially in the “family vehicle” market- SUV’s, cross-overs and minivans. The Honda versions look like the VW versions; the Volvos are the same, just a bit boxier; Toyota, Saturn, GM, Chevy, Ford…even Mercedes has something that looks similar and serves the same functional difference. The sameness means there’s less difference, so the decision making points come down to much more mundane matters that auto companies can’t control. Your finances, your individual preference for where the cup holders should be, and how you feel about fuel economy.

The companies seem to be churning out a “sure thing” rather than making something that really stands out in the field. There is so much same old, same old. It was hard to get excited about anything. My husband even joked you could shop for cars as effectively in the parking garage next to the auto show, seeing who is driving what, and asking them what they thought- a “field” version of consumer reports, right there. Plus, anyone who has been to a mall, school, or shopping venter knows that every car is looking more and more the same, and it often looks like there are secret SUV and minivan breeding experiements going on in the lot while you are shopping. Your Golden Tan minivan was parked next to a blue one, and now a vaguely green one is sitting beside it, like they had offspring in the short time you were away.

So let’s just take a look at the similarities up close and personal.

All the information on fuel economy and price is based on notes I took off the actual window stickers on the vehicles presented at the Philadelphia Auto Show, February 4, 2007. Different models have different options included- we just wrote down approx. cost and fuel economy off the stickers so we could cross compare later on. It’s not strictly Apples to Apples, but it certainly gives you the ball park, and an insight into the decision making we all have to do in the real world about these things. I’d love to hear your opinion on these things, and how you make decisions for your family.

The huge SUV’s like the Ford Explorer or the Expedition have really awful fuel economy. They’re simply huge. So for a family of 4, we rule this class of vehicles out immediately. Too big, too costly to operate. Too Costly, almost any way you slice it. Even when you compare the Volvo SUV to the Tahoe, you get similarities- both get 15 miles city, 20 highway and cost +/- $50,000. Even the VW Toureg has 17/22 for fuel economy and starts at a base price of $56,000, and the decked out version at the show was over $70,000! I left that display saying “I just can’t imagine paying that kind of money for a VW.”

When you get to the minivans, the fuel economy gets a bit better- 19/26 for the Honda Odyssey and 19/26 for the Toyota Siennna (what we currently have). The prices start around $35,ooo and go higher, up to $43,000 for the decked out Sienna with leather interior, etc.

The cross-over SUV types like the Toyota RAV4 and 4 Runner, BMW X5 and x3, Nissan Armada and Muano, Saturn FWD, And Acura MDX/RDX series get roughly the same mileage as the minivans. 17/22 on average. The RAV 4 does a bit better with 24/30 on the 4 x 2 and 21/28 on the 4×4. Some have 3rd row seating, some have bench seats in the 3rd row, and others have split seats (which I think is just more practical day to day- why would a manufacturer go for the all or nothing option back there? I don’t get it.) Prices on these cars with a nice selection of amenities, as shown at the Auto show, are in the $37, 000 to $46,000 range. The Nissan is a bit cheaper at $31,000, the 4Runner is $33K, and the RAV4 4×4 is $30,ooo.

We then went and looked at the upscale cars. Just to see the difference, we thought. And you find that Mercedes has an M and R class vehicle in this general range, starting around $42,000. Even the posh GL starts at $51,000. And you can get the Lexus SUV-type hybrid with 31 city, 27 highway mileage for $51,000. And the mileage factors for these upscale vehicles are essentially the SAME as every other SUV out there (17/21), except the hybrids, for obvious reasons.

So how do you differentiate all these vehicles that look VERY similar, serve similar purposes, cost about the same, and get similar gas mileage? This is ultimately going to be about brand and service, because there’s very little else to differentiate them on. Some do have more or less interior room, the feel is different, but largely they are all pretty much equivalent.

My husband and I are not flashy car people. We are entering middle age, so we want something comfortable- we’re not quite as ready for a stiff car like a Jeep. Something family friendly. Our kids are almost through the spills in the car phase, but not quite. We still take plenty of road trips in the car, and haul a fair amount of stuff around. We go to Home Depot and Lowe’s. We need to drive more than one kid to karate, play dates, events, etc. Since we met as undergrads, we have had a succession of vehicles over the past 20 years, new and used. We have owned:

  • VW’s (my first car was an ancient VW Rabbit);
  • Mazdas (I loved my little 626),
  • Saturns (my first car out of law school and the one we had when our first child was born),
  • Suburus (love the Outback but HATED the service department ),
  • Hondas (Loved my husband’s Accord- he had it for years),
  • Toyotas (an old hatch back thing Matt drove for a while, and now our Sienna)
  • And my husband’s current car, a MINI Coooper S.

So when choosing a new car, do I want to go with a company with whom I have some experience and familiarity with local dealers and service people, or do we want to try something new?

My husband and I are modest people. We’re doing fine financially, but we are not interested in buying vehicles or things just to show off to the neighbors. Matt bought the MINI Cooper because it’s a fun car, yes, but it’s great on gas and a perfect commuter vehicle for him. We can still fit everyone in for a day trip into (name the city of your choice) and get parking anywhere. (Ok, so we are lucky the children are still not full sized humans.) And it was frankly, very reasonable. The service experience at the MINI dealer, part of BMW, has been exceptionally good overall. They understand customer service and making owners feel like family unlike any other car company I have ever come across. We are enthusiastic owners, even if we don’t participate in the weekend MINI owner get togethers they sponsor. (yes, seriously, MINI does this. They send you cool stuff from time to time in the mail. I love them.)

We think and laugh about the line from the Nicholas Cage-Sean Connery movie where Nicholas Cage says “I drive a Volvo. A beige one.” to demonstrate his run-of-the-mill middle-classness. It seems to fit us. You become parents and the racy vehicles of your youth (or that you dream of in your youth) are reluctantly given up for more practical, dowdy, utilitarian vehicles, but we still hope for something more exciting. So trading in the minivan forsomething a little more adult, like a cross-over, appeals.

There are vehicles I see on the road and think they are impractical, at least for me. A Porsche SUV. Seems kinda silly. The Porsche of my dreams is a convertable or a race-car, not an SUV. I don’t want to put us into permanent debt to buy a car, that we will use and wear out like every other vehicle on the road we could buy. I don’t want to have to take out a home equity loan to get the thing repaired when things do go wrong. I am fundamentally a bit cheap at heart, mostly because I have kids I want to put through college.

All this said, for the money, cars that I never thought we would even consider are coming onto our list. The BMW. The Mercedes. When a decked out minivan and a Mercedes crossover are in the same general price range, it makes you stop and pause. I don’t know what we’ll end up with at this point- we have some time before we need to dump ‘ol reliable for something new. But I can tell you, the lack of any different choice, along with seeing that every manufacturer has something in the same price range, takes a decision that changes a decision that was based almost solely on economics and practicality into a debate about personality, brand, comfort, image.

The emotion based decisions are much trickier than the old decisions based on finances. When it’s only about money, decisions are easy. Can you afford it, or can’t you? Is this gonna kill you in maintenance, or is it worth it? Is it a car safe enough for you and your kids? If the money and practical facotrs are no longer at the top of the list, then the only way to make the decision is based on emotion. Are you an X brand person? You have to decide based on your sense of self, your “personal” brand- the emotions of how you see your family and how you want others to see you- this is much more difficult.

I kinda liked it when making decisions was easier and less involved. Less emotional. But as the world changes, and all these vehicles converge, it’s all becoming about emotion. And I’m afraid to say it, the same is becoming true across many other industries as well. We may have bred a generation of consumers, but since the choice is becoming infinite, the differentiation between options becomes harder and more time consuming, just at the point when I am already overwhelmed.

What do you think?

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Consumer Power!

I am reading a great book by Seth Godin, “Small is the New Big“. This is a great book that is basically a collection of his blog posts. Seth has a great way of making complex ideas simple and accessible. He is not afraid to say what the rest of us are thinking, but often fail to say. This is what makes his blog and books so compelling- great big ideas, in small packages- what my friend Chris Brogan calls “Ideas with handles”.

I guess I have the heart of an urban sociologist. I love books about why we do stuff- Freakonomics, Paco Underhill‘s great books The Call of the Mall and Why We Buy, Marcus Buckingham books on what makes a great manager, and Tom Rath’s books about Filling Your Bucket. All of these books look at big things we do as people, as a culture, and dig deep into the root cause of this stuff.

Seth’s book talks about how marketing is done, and his rants on the race to the bottom and the race to the top of the economic food chain are intriguing. I’ve been reading alot about motivation, and another recent book talked about the heirarchy of motivations. Some people always want to appeal to our baser instincts of greed, lust gluttony- the seven deadly sins. Yet, there are companies and products that appeal to our higher order of motivations, such as beauty, design, luxury, etc. And remarkably, it’s the things with the great design, the beauty and the simplicity that end up being the most valued, the most expensive, when compared to the basic, stripped down or “blingged up” versions of the product.

For example, Rolex is just a watch. Why do you need to spend thousands of dollars on a Rolex when a Timex will do the same job for less than $20 at Walmart? Comparatively speaking, the Rolex is all about design, durability, and the cache that comes with it. People will assume if you are wearing a real, non-knock-off Rolex, that you are a wealthy and serious person, who has cash to burn on such a fine timepiece. They will not make such assumptions from your cheap Timex, and may even infer that you are not the type of person who values everything that becomes associated with a Rolex.

When you buy an expensive, crafted product, you also buy the brand. A Rolex watch may tell time the same as aTimex, but you can’t trade on Timex’s influence in the same way you can with a Rolex. And this is, of course, what marketers and companies want. They want you to totally identify yourself with the product and brand, and then personify it, assuming that others who use this brand have the same attributes.

It’s interesting- I went to a prep school, and have a bit of the inner preppy still ingrained in me. Polo shirts, tretorn sneakers, etc. Two companies still do prep the way it was in the 80’s- what we might call the “classic look”- Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. I shop at both stores, and my brand association is always one of classic, well made clothes. My mom keeps telling me that where she lives, Hilfiger is a brand she associates with African Americans, because apparently, a lot of people there have adopted this style. She can’t understand why I would persist in buying Hilfiger products, because she associates them with something I am not, yet I associate them with quality and a blast from my past, something she helped create by sending me to that school. Hmmmmm.

I think this goes to something that marketers and companies cannot control. You can put products out on the market, design your ads to appeal to a certain breed of consumer, but the people that will ultimately adopt your brand as their own story may vary from your target market. I can’t even begin to guess why Hiilfiger is becoming an african american brand to some people, yet Ralph Lauren stays as country club as ever, since much of their merchandise has had a similar prep overtone. Yes, Hilfiger has become much hipper and funkier, and Lauren stays classic and suburban. But both have quality merchandise, that is worth the price paid. And I am happy to buy based on quality rather than on perceived ethnicity of brand.

Consumers now are telling their own stories and having their own voice. We tell businesses what is good and what is bad. The only problem is that it is no longer controllable the way it used to be, with more limited media outlets. Now with the internet, the brand story is told and retold, credited and discredited much faster than ever before. You can’t control as well who will see your ads and who will adopt you, as a product and brand. So the trick is, in the end, to be yourself and stop pandering to others- the people who like you will find you just fine on their own. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. And let’s face facts. People want authenticity now more than ever. They can smell fake a million miles away. But originality, purpose and heart-this will always be successful, because it is easy- it is like breathing- and we connect to real so much easier than to glitz, especially in the long run.

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