maximum potential

these are the thought starters, insights, and inspiration to get you, and the brands you manage, to reach your maximum potential

that’s great, but are you moving forward

today we will do a million things.  we will talk to a million people, sit in a million meetings, and move a million things through some ‘system.’  we will present one million ideas to clients, bosses, and employees.  we will send out a million resumes or use a million words to convince an employer of how great we are and why we are the right person for the job.

but what are you doing to move your brand forward?  is what you’re doing taking your brand to the next level?  a brilliant new campaign is not brilliant if it doesn’t progress the brand forward.  a brilliant interview response is not brilliant if it does not move the perception of who you are forward.  it doesn’t matter how smart you sound or how great your thoughts are, if they are not moving your brand to a better place they are worthless.  all action is not good action.  next time you do something, make sure your moving forward.

Filed under: lifemark, , , , ,

don’t forget the coach

as i watch my agency continue to hire some of the best talent in the advertising game i am reminded of, and am witnessing the, importance of surrounding yourself with excellence.  having the best people on your team can definitely take you to the next level and make your life just a little bit easier.  but i am also reminded today that it is not just making sure you have the right team (colleagues, partners, spouses, etc), you have to have the right coaches (re: mentors).

a good coach comes in handy on many levels.  based on their experience and knowledge of the game they can help you avoid pitfalls and identify the best opportunities.  coaches  can get you into places you never imagined and in front of people you didn’t know existed.  a good coach can craft the right strategy for the game, play for the situation, or just help you strengthen your shot in practice.  a good coach…scratch that…an excellent coach is a necessity.

based on where i am in my life right now, recognize that i need to make sure that i am reaching back and coaching others, but i am also on the lookout for a excellent coach.  in order to do the latter i’ll have to reach back into my network.  simultaneously, i’m going to try to this new social networking site,, that i learned about last week.  they are  “the ultimate career mentoring platform for students and professionals” and have all the credibility you want in a site like this (harvard and stanford mbas, experience building similar businesses in the offline realm, and a track record of landing jobs for people at some of the best companies).  if you are in the job market, or are just looking for a mentor, i would love for you to try them out as well and let me know if it was valuable for you.  i’m signing up today and will keep you all posted.

Filed under: personal branding, , , , , ,

sometimes it’s just the little things

today i checked into the holiday inn express in millington, tn (i know, get excited).  given that we now have the navy contract i decided that i should make sure that i was a part of whatever loyalty program the hotel had in place.  after some quick searching, we discovered that i was fortunate enough to already be a member of their ‘priority club.’

 all of a sudden, the universe shifted and the  incredibly nice check-in lady reached down beneath her and pulled out a brown paper sack (reminiscent of the the one that replaced your g.i. joe lunch box ).  in the matter of seconds, i went from a random guest (who was given wonderful customer service) to a ‘priority club’ member with a brown paper bag.  inside of the bag was the following contents: a bottle of water, several tootsie roll candies, and a cookie.  

although the bag did not cost hundreds, or even tens, of dollars, i sincerely impressed. i’m not sure if it was that i liked the idea that they found a way to treat different customers differently.  or the fact that  while other companies are charging $6 for a bottle of water the holiday inn express in tennessee (who only has 13 guests tonight) was giving it away for free to valued customers.  or perhaps it was because i really like chocolate chip cookies.  at the end of the day, it probably has something to do with all of the above but it all comes down to one thing, i just appreciated the effort they made to let me know that my relationship with them mattered.  

the reality of it is, sometimes it’s just the little things that let a customer know that you think they are special, or that you value the hardwork and effort of your employee, or that you are proud of your baby girl pushing her limits and trying new things, or that you sincerely appreciate the love and support your partner has managed to show you daily despite your mess.  although often overlooked, sometimes, it’s just the little things that are able to move the needle.  

from here on out, with i come to tennessee, you can assume i’ll be staying at the holiday inn express.

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, , , ,

when “me too” doesn’t work

ever!  “me too” never works, that is if you’re trying to win. these days there are way too many “me too” brands.  the majority of the messages i see on tv are all the same; most brands are competing on the same select variables.   they end up in the same place and instead of serving their purpose (reducing choice for the customer) they create clutter, noise, and confusion.  

the same is true for individuals.  friends look at friends who appear to have things going for them and try to copy their dreams, lifestyle, or choices.  we even do this with strangers.  we see people on tv or in the news and try to imitate their walk and their talk with the hopes that it will enable us to enjoy their success.  but it doesn’t work, not if you want to win.   

the reality is, copying will put you at parity…if you’re lucky.  a passion brand or lovemark, whether personal or product-related, will never be  at parity.  it will always carve out a unique space for itself.  it will identify it’s unique vision/purpose and then leverage this unique perspective on life to create value for and give the people in its circle something by which to navigate life.  

‘me too’ happens when you look outside for answers; the best answers come from within.  what’s core to your brand?  your best you is never “me too,” it’s always your unique you.

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, personal branding, , , , ,

marketing and advertising that works

this post is one of a series as i write my book to help marketers and advertisers (re)Think how we approach communicating with our audiences. in order to sharpen my thoughts and ensure that i am building rather than adding to the clutter, i decided to write the book (at least the headlines of it) through weekly wednesday posts on my blog so that we could discuss together. you can check out the entire series here. for those who read for more of the (re)Think life slant, don’t worry, i will include life applications as much as possible.

over the last few weeks we have discussed some of the perceptions that we hold as marketers and advertisers (and people) that just may be incorrect.  namely, we assume that people should listen to us because (1) we believe we are the only person in the room and have their full attention (2) we think that if we shout the loudest people will pay attention.  the reality is that we are in the attention game to communicate and bring value to people’s lives.  over the next few weeks we will walk through this truth and the few approaches that i believe really work when it comes to marketing and advertising.  Here’s a sneak peak:

  1. approach people as people, not consumers
  2. take the chance to do marketing w/ meaning (i am using the name developed by bob gilbreath/bridge worldwide because it is much cooler than my benefit or utilitarian marketing nomenclature)
  3. be different…i mean really different
  4. leverage the power of word of mouth

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, my book, , , , ,

one way to make sure people listen to everything you say

decide right now that if you don’t have anything original to say, you won’t say it.  your audience will respect and appreciate you for choosing to add value to their lives rather than to add to the enormous quantity of worthless information that already bombards them.  in addition, when what you have to say is valuable, people will come to believe that they are missing out if they are not listening when you speak.  and every one hates to miss out.

this week, newsweek’s editor tells us that they are changing their model based on this belief: “if we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. the drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”

perhaps you can learn now what it took newsweek decades to recognize.  next time you’re in a meeting, writing a paper, sitting in class, or having conversation with your customers (in-person, tv, online, etc) decide that you will only add original thoughts/ideas to the conversation and see if makes a difference.

Filed under: business branding, personal branding, , , , ,

three promises to my readers

as i am working out the brand promise for this blog (and the entire reThink brand) i ask that you will be patient with me.  the web supports my inclination to do, learn, and revise and it is my hope that you will support me  as i continue to try to add value through this blog.  here are a few of the promises i decided to make and the impact on the blog going forward:

  • i will be transparent.  hence this post.  anyone who knows me knows this word is a staple in my vocabulary.  i prefer not to get involved in politics or guessing games.  i will always say what i mean and mean what i say.  
  • i will choose quality over quantity.  i have been making an effort to post every weekday.  the key driver in this was to grow the blog and maintain a consistent level of page views throughout the week.  in other words, my motivations were misfocused.  you are my audience and my priority.  rather than aim for a certain number of posts per week i will aim to give you the best quality i can.  if that’s means 3x a day or 3x a week so be it.  i will no longer be driven by fictitious milestones.
  • i will be more focused and consistent.  today that means shifting the purpose of monday spot(light).  as of now, it doesn’t fit with the brand promise.  it is an outlier.  this blog is not about great creative; it is about reThinking marketing and life.  consequently, i will begin to highlight great/poor examples of advertising that support the ideas in my book and/or pushes people to reThink (think differently or think again) the brand, the category, the customer, etc.

thank you for continuing to read.  i appreciate all of the kind messages and comments i receive via facebook and linkedin.  now if i can only get that conversation taking place here so that everyone can get involved.  but until then, keep them coming…

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, , ,

why reThink is such a powerful word

in the dictionary reThink means: to change one’s mind, to reconsider/think again about a choice previously made, and to think again about a problem.  but for me, it also has much deeper connoatations around it.  reThink is a simple word that…

  • encourages me to push boundaries (my own, my family/friends, my readers, my brands, and my clients) on what we accept as status quo
  • challenges me to add value to this world as opposed to just clutter to the system
  • liberates me by not enabling me to not get caught up in the day to day and blindly accepting the decisions of yesterday but instead pushing me to reevaluate my space and how i can impact it daily
  • inspires me to be different…to help others be different
  • pushes me to realize that my world is changing (the economy, barack obama, social media, etc) and, because of that, all of us, whether we know it or not, need to reThink

what does reThink mean to you?  leave a comment, email me (, or-like so many of you do-leave a message on facebook.

Filed under: lifemark, , , , ,

who is your primary audience?

who is your primary audience?   who is watching you?  who are you trying to please?  how many of them are there?  if you are living for yourself alone, you probably have a long road in front of you;  ego, selfishness, and false pride are all keys to self-destruction.  in addition, there are probably a lot of people who depend on you that are missing out on the value you bring to the table (when not self-absorbed).  

as a marketer, if you live to serve yourself or your company and fail to realize that your consumers are your priority you will fail.  if you begin to ignore your primary audience because of the lure of an attractrive new market you may wake up one day and find that the primary audience has abandoned you (only because you abandoned them first).  

similarly, in our personal lives, if you live to serve yourself rather than your spouse, children, loved ones, friends, and/or coworkers, the people close to you will quickly grow annoyed with you.  when people get annoyed, they leave (ask sprint).  

how big is your audience?  are they prioritized or do you treat them all the same?  are they happy with you?  proud of you?

related post: obama’s circle just got larger

Filed under: lifemark, personal branding, , , , ,

obama: build or destroy

“your people will judge you on what you build, not what you destroy”  

— Barack Obama, President, ’09 Presidential Inauguration

we are so used to destruction.  the reality of it is, destroying is easier.  it’s easier to tear down your employee or coworker rather than lift him up, or to criticize google rather than build your own, or to tell someone they can’t instead of telling them that they can.  as a marketer, it’s easier to develop ideas that destroy value by adding clutter to the system rather than developing breakthrough creative and ideas that add value to our consumers’ lives.  my biggest criticism of business school and the case study method was that so often we learned how to rip apart a company and critique what they were doing wrong; much less often did we learn how to really do it right.  too often we go the easy route.  

we should determine that every day we will build customer value into the system rather than destroy it, and that we will build upon the hopes and dreams of one another, and that we will build and leave a legacy in both our business and professional lives that we can be proud of.  building takes work; but the reward is much greater.  after all, according to barack, that’s how you’ll be judged.

Filed under: inspiration, lifemark, personal branding, quotes, , , , , , , , , , ,



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