Friday, September 30, 2011

1, 2, 3 now 4th album from Feist - with a lesson for writers

Canadian singer-songwriter Feist has a new album Metals due for release on Tuesday.  

A New York Times reviewer says it "simply ignores all the glossy, computerized, impersonal pop of the 21st century; it’s made for intimacy, not for mass-market broadcast."

And what Feist says about her songwriting also has relevance to all of us who write branded communications.

“I always think about how I’m in my room alone writing it, and eventually most people listen to music alone,” Feist said. “So there’s actually a quiet little direct line between writing and listening. It’s a strange bubble of solitude, because you’re linked, but you don’t know each other, yet you’re communicating.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

$450 billion worth of unpaid family care – and 5 questions prompted by the AARP study

The conclusion of a recent AARP study is that families provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care.

That’s how much it might cost for the care that roughly 1 in every 4 adults provide – helping loved ones get dressed, take medications, and myriad other tasks.

With the wide diversity of family settings and career experiences among us at GSW Worldwide, this is certainly a trend that affects us personally and professionally.  So today, instead of just one person’s view, I offer some questions.

Read my blog at

I hope you’ll join the “liberating conversation” and share your comments.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 questions for the author of "Tell to Win"

Persuasive talkers tend to do well in business, and yet we don't typically think of storytelling as a professional discipline. Hollywood producer Peter Guber is on a crusade to remedy that. In his new book, Tell to Win, the CEO of Mandalay Entertainment takes a look at the way people use stories to do business. 

He spoke with's Mike Hofman.

Your book looks at the power of purposeful stories. So, what exactly is a purposeful story?
A story you tell with a specific purpose in mind. So when you tell a joke, you want to make someone laugh, or if you tell a story about someone who had a heart attack, it may be because you want the listener to exercise. Stories are tools to create social cohesion and to get humans to strategize together.

You believe the best stories are interactive. How so?
You have to try to engage an audience. You cannot just talk at them; you have to talk with them and modify your story as you tell it, based on their feedback. If you do this successfully, your listeners are more likely to metabolize the information you wish to convey, to change behavior, and to repeat your story to others.

OK, so how can someone in sales or marketing turn a garden-variety pitch into a purposeful story?
It's so simple, it's embarrassing, and yet a lot of people overlook the basics. First, when you walk into a room to sell a product or pitch an investor or whatever, you absolutely have to know what your intention is. What do you want from your listeners? You have to understand your objective and be transparent about it in order to establish trust. Second, you have to figure out a way to capture your listeners' attention. It can be a physical movement or asking someone about the pictures on his desk in a way that builds mutuality. Finally, the goal of your story must be to show what is in it for the listeners. The audience must win.

You teach at UCLA. Do your students have well-honed storytelling skills?
No. Most young people haven't used their storytelling skills since they were 8 or 9 or 10 and wanted to persuade Mom and Dad to take them to the ball game.

Was there a moment in your business career when you suddenly realized the power of storytelling?
There was a series of moments that I could look back on—I could follow the bread crumbs—and all of them involved my failures. So I started to wonder why I had failed in some instances when I had succeeded in others. And I realized that I failed when I neglected to tell a purposeful story to the audience or to my employees or to my shareholders. I looked inside myself and saw what had worked for me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

8 personal books on my nightstand

I have been enjoying the personal accounts in the Oregon Trail Stories.  Taken from actual diaries, letters, memoirs and reminisces, these are true to life experiences from the pioneers themselves.

The Hero's Journey gives personal insights into the life of Joseph Campbell.
And Empowered Evangelicals is a part of my personal spiritual thoughts these days.

The others are books I reach for every now and then for diversion.

What's on your bookshelf these days?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

HEALTH MEGA-TREND #2: Health conscious consumers increasingly acting on product safety concerns

Even in 2004, 91% of US respondents told Datamonitor that "improving their physical health" was either 'very important' (40%) or 'important' (51%) to them. The most recent research conducted by Datamonitor shows that US consumers are continuing to adopt a more proactive approach towards managing their health

TREND #2: Health conscious consumers are increasingly prone to, and acting upon, product safety concerns

There are intensifying product safety anxieties that affect many global citizens.  The implication is that escalating health attentiveness has been matched by growing concern about the safety of products. Consumer sensitivity is a growing phenomena as reflected by allergen and intolerance influenced consumption – which if addressed could create opportunities to target specific segments.

Related is that “fear-driven avoidance” means some consumers are outright rejecting products that are perceived as containing harmful ingredients or where safety is compromised.  So, consumers will be less forgiving when products compromise their safety.

Consumers also are opting for more local products, especially food products, because of a perception they are safer. Safety concerns will be one of a number of drivers ensuring that “local” products will continue to gain favorability, especially in food and beverages.

Finally, global shoppers, especially those in developed consumer societies, increasingly value reassurances and transparency about how products are produced.  Therefore, reassuring consumers will become a necessity to overcome trust voids and build stronger brands.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Tablet-optimized" redesign of Amazon online store is rolling out a major redesign of its familiar website as it prepares to offer a new $250 tablet device to rival Apple Inc’s iPad, as reported by Reuters.

The changes in Amazon's online store “practically scream ‘tablet-optimized’,” TechCrunch blogger Sarah Perez wrote over the weekend after her site reported seeing a prototype of the company's new device.
The new web pages show a bigger search bar and less clutter to better highlight music, e-books, digital games and applications from the Amazon Appstore using Google’s Android operating system, the blog said.

Amazon started rolling out the new design in the last days of August, spokeswoman Sally Fouts said in an email on Sunday.  “We are continuing to roll out the new design to additional customers, but I can't speculate on when the new design will be live for everyone,” Fouts wrote.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is introducing the new site and tablet device as the company goes beyond its roots selling through personal computers to reaching customers via the kind of mobile connections they increasingly use.

Getting more mobile devices into the hands of Amazon customers is important, too, because it may enable more impulse buying and increased regular purchases.

The device Amazon is developing sports a back-lit, 7-inch (17.8-cm) screen -- smaller than the iPad’s and about the same as Research in Motion’s PlayBook, TechCrunch reported earlier. The Amazon tablet is geared toward playing music and movies off the Internet.

TechCrunch, which said it had played with a testing prototype, reported that the plan was for Amazon to offer Amazon Prime -- its $79-a-year Internet streaming service -- for free along with the gadget. The Internet retailer's first entry in the tablet computing arena -- its Kindle functions more like an electronic-book reader -- has been touted as a strong contender to Apple, whose iPad2 starts at $499, according to the company’s website.  Amazon’s tablet will be Wi-Fi only and come with a color touchscreen but a limited 6 gigabytes of memory, the tech blog said.

Motorola and Samsung have only chipped away at Apple’s three-quarters share of the market, while Hewlett Packard threw in the towel by announcing it would kill off its TouchPad after a final production run.  This past week, Sony Corp leapt into the field with its own poorly reviewed device. Analysts have been upbeat on Amazon’s gadget, particularly if it beats the iPad on price. It may sell as many as 5 million tablets in the fourth quarter, becoming the top rival to Apple, Forrester Research estimates.  Apple sells between 7 million and 9 million tablets a quarter.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

24 hours in Frankfurt

I had a great, but whirlwind visit to Frankfurt this weekend.  Thanks to my good friends, Hans and Doris, for hosting me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

8 big trends features in new GSW insights report: UP:ROOT

Last week, we at GSW Worldwide launched our very first insights and trends report. It’s called UP:ROOT and it’s packed with articles from smart people around our organization.

This first issue features eight big trends and ideas:

• The Rise of the Nurse Influencer

• Healthcare to Self-Care

• The New Era of Client-Agency Relationships

• 5 Ways “Feminization” of Medicine Is Changing and What It Means to Marketers

• Composite Decision Making

• Complementary Alternative Medicine

• Could Gaming Change Healthcare?

• Five Digital Metrics That Matter Now

Enjoy it at

Sunday, September 11, 2011

867-5309: great to meet songwriter, Alex Call

Saturday in Columbus, I met Alex Call and heard him share creative insight to his writing "867-5309/Jenny."

Alex was lead singer in a San Francisco country-rock band Clover, along with Huey Lewis and John McFee. Clover was the band on Elvis Costello's first hit album, "My Aim is True."

His songs are featured in movies and TV shows, and have served as branding for numerous national ad campaigns.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

77 Belmont Bus tour -- from Kimball to LSD

Save the double-decker bus
for the tourists.
The 77 lets you see
the real Chicago.

when I took Melanie there
to buy jeans as a teenager,
I thought it was a million miles
from civilization.
Then, we moved here
and passed it every day.

Honey Bak
-- the best part of the ham

One of neighborhood cops,
we used to see at the dog park
early in the morning.
Tragic story of how he died.

Western Ave @ Belmont
-- I used to be the Mayor
of this corner
on FourSquare

If love heels
-- and you wear a size 14 --
this is where you shop

the only kind of tattoo
you wanna get
-- the goodkind

the first "office"
home of SBI

If you don't know it,
I can't explain it.

always make me think of
our friends and exchange students,
Jorgelina and Julian,
who loved this place.

Clark and Belmont
Dunkin' Donuts
-- the center of the universe
on any Saturday night.