Category Archives: Tips

PURPOSE | According to Roy Spence


*Photo via

Last week, I attended a luncheon where the keynote was given by Roy Spence, founder of the advertising firm GSD&M Idea City. All of us who live and work in creative fields – be it advertising, marketing, or design – have experienced those moments in which we find ourselves in need of inspiration to continue along the path we have chosen.

Mr. Spence’s talk provided such inspiration. It wasn’t simply his focus on the big picture…”the why” of what we do, but he reminded those of us in attendance to remember to focus on the basics. For marketers, Mr. Spence pointed out, we simply need to drill down to four questions:

Where are we? Where do we want to be? How do we get there? And, are we getting there?

Simple enough, to be sure. But, so very easy to forget in the flurry of life in business.

The video below was recorded in 2010, but is very similar to Mr. Spence’s talk this past week. There’s a bit of swearing, playful sarcasm, and a gem or two of wisdom.  Enjoy!



GOOD DESIGN | What Is It? Dieter Rams made a list…

World-renowned German industrial designer Dieter Rams defined the latter half of the 20th century with a parade of landmark products. Head of design for Braun A.G. until his retirement in 1998, Rams’ many designs — coffee makers, AV equipment, consumer appliances, calculators, radios, record players, office products – found a permanent home at many of museums, including MoMA. His Universal Shelving System for Vitsoe is still considered as contemporary and functional as it was the day it was introduced. Rams once described his design philosophy as “Less is Better.” In the early 1980s, he pondered the question: What is good design? The result is the 10 principles stated above.

We all have principles that drive us to do what we do in the way that we do it. These are the guiding principles of “good design,” as defined by industrial designer Dieter Rams.

I’m especially fond of #10.


TRENDS | Why kind, human brands will thrive…

Trend: Random Acts of Kindness


Just to be absolutely clear: R.A.K. are not about rewarding customers for tweeting / liking your product, and not about giving away lots of free samples (that would be FREE LOVE), but about selected, random acts of kindness (hence the name).

Now is the ideal moment to engage in some R.A.K:

HUMAN TOUCH | Consumers increasingly wanting to see the human side of brands (or if indeed a brand has a human side at all, making R.A.K. more welcome than ever.

PUTTING IT OUT THERE | Audiences publicly disclosing more and more personal information on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, about their lives, moods and whereabouts, both current and intended, enabling R.A.K. to be more relevant.

PASS IT ON | More consumers than ever are now sharing their experiences with their friends and wider audiences on social networks, meaning R.A.K. can spread far beyond the original recipients.

As always, Trendwatching’s March/April update on consumer trends is an interesting read.  I look forward to these every time.  Click the link above to read the entire article.


READING | 3 social media challenges…to overcome by 2015

The importance of serendipity

Connections among people, the report states, are more important than measurable outcomes. That’s “counterintuitive in a world where we’re so interested in metrics and outcomes,” says Patel, but it’s true. When an organization builds a network, people and relationships must be at the center.

Your social media platform may have only a few hundred visitors, but if those people are connecting, that’s far better than having tens of thousands of visitors who don’t interact at all.

“Investing in networks and designing for serendipity is really an investment in a community’s infrastructure,” Patel says. There will be outcomes to measure, he says, but they shouldn’t be the No. 1 goal.

I found this to be an interesting post that attempts to put into words how social media – and our interactions with one another – will change between now and 2015.

Suffice it to say that the idea of predicting the nature of our social interactions four years from now is challenging, at best. However, the article does seem to say that the same things that make for good “offline” relationships are similarly powerful in the online arena.

Though the tools are different, it is still essential to enable individuals to connect, not only with one another, but also with a larger community and sense of purpose.


TRENDS | CITYSUMERS: The Future Consumption Arena is Urban

Trendwatching - Citysumers

Trendwatching’s February 2011 report focuses on the the all-but-certain trend toward urbanization in the next decade, across the globe. In response, those in the business of purveying goods and services or shaping brands would do well to tailor their work in ways that appeal to this large demographic.

From the report:

Here are just three drivers behind the CITYSUMERS trend:

1. The huge increase in the number of urban dwellers all around the world (URBAN BOOM).
2. The ever-increasing wealth and power of cities and those who live in them (URBAN MIGHT).
3. The spread of urban culture and values (URBANE).

Serving these CITYSUMERS obviously requires brands to tailor products and campaigns to savvy urban audiences: for anything from practical reasons (offering appropriate shapes, sizes and features of urban goods and services) to showing the brand ‘gets’ it (addressing busy and diverse lifestyles) to contributing to the quest for social and environmental sustainability.

BRANDING | Rise above the noise

Rise above the noise

In the list below, David Brier (DBD International) outlines several guiding principles he has developed through the last 30 years of his career in brand development.

11 Points to Rise Above the Noise

  1. The same old rules will get the same old results.
  2. Those who did change the world didn’t think they couldn’t.
  3. Life is like software. Upgrades are available.
  4. Rules enable one to follow. Knowledge enables one to lead.
  5. There is little worse a company can do to reduce its influence than to have something that is different with a pitch that sounds the same as everyone else’s.
  6. If your brand is using clichés, you’re promoting your category, not your brand.
  7. Want to know what to expect of people? “Listen” to their actions, not to their words.
  8. Clichés can ruin a business faster than a roomful of politicians.
  9. Is your brand a national treasure or a historical monument to days gone by?
  10. A mind is a wonderful thing: You’re either watching reruns or you’re previewing the coming attractions. Whichever one you’re watching is what others will be viewing tomorrow–with you as the star.
  11. Social media isn’t a brand strategy. Social media is a channel, not a brand strategy.
(Original article at )


The key takeaways from Mr. Brier’s insights are: First, the importance of being innovative and, secondly, the importance of being unafraid to take the risk of being different from the rest of the pack.

Of course, these things are often easier said than done. But, exceptional brands are the result of a bit of fearless optimism.  As Mr. Brier succinctly points out: “Those who did change the world didn’t think they couldn’t.”


*Image via

Leadership and Confidence

George Washington leading across the Delaware

It seems a no-brainer that the most successful leaders are those who are also full of self-confidence (not to be confused with conceit).  However, what is it that makes someone appear “confident”?  What is that certain something that ensures Leaders have Followers?

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith attempts to answer these questions in a post for the Harvard Business blog – excerpted here:

  1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING PERFECT. There are never right or wrong answers to complex business decisions. The best that you can do as a leader is to gather all of the information that you can (in a timely manner), do a cost-benefit analysis of potential options, use your best judgment — and then go for it.
  2. LEARN TO LIVE WITH FAILURE. Great salespeople are the ones who get rejected the most often. They just ask for the order more than the other salespeople. You are going to make mistakes. You are human. Learn from these mistakes and move on.
  3. AFTER YOU MAKE THE FINAL DECISION — commit! Don’t continually second-guess yourself. Great leaders communicate with a sense of belief in what they are doing and with positive expectations toward the achievement of their vision.
  4. SHOW COURAGE ON THE OUTSIDE — even if you don’t always feel it on the inside. Everyone is afraid sometimes. If you are a leader, your direct reports will read your every expression. If you show a lack of courage, you will begin to damage your direct reports’ self-confidence.
  5. FIND HAPPINESS AND CONTENTMENT IN YOUR WORK. Life is short. My extensive research indicates that we are all going to die anyway. Do your best. Follow your heart. When you win, celebrate. When you lose, just start over the next day.

*Read the full article at Harvard Business*

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