Archive for October, 2004

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October 29, 2004

Halloween brings out the beast in me.

I get really frustrated when people get all wound up over simple things like a Halloween party, trick-or-treating, or kids wearing costumes. There must be better things to get wound up over in this day and age (say, for example, the election next week).

I know that Halloween has become nothing more than a “marketing” holiday. But, as a marketing guy I like and appreciate that. I think that sometimes just having fun, and making sure the engine of capitalism continues to turn, is a fine thing. If marketers can make kids smile (until their little teeth rot because parents let them have too many sweets) that is ok by me.

Let loose and make a marketing manager smile when you buy some more candy (especially those with the new “glow in the dark” wrappers.

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October 25, 2004

Mark Knopfler — Shangri La

Sometimes I make recommendations because a book or album just “blows me away”. Other times because I think it has particular merit or relevance in the moment. Often, however, I just recommend albums and books because I like them. In the case of Shangri La by Mark Knopfler, I just want to share my enthusiasm for this great artist. If you don’t know Mark as a solo artist, you may recall him as the frontman for Dire Straits. His gravely voice and distinctive guitar work helped distinguish that group (along with videos that seemed to run nonstop).

Today, after multiple albums on his own, Knopfler is like a good scotch before bed. He is mature, takes time and effort to appreciate, shows character, and can put things right with the world. Shangri La is not quite as good as Sailing To Philadelphia, his 2000 masterpiece, but has some very real and persuasive musical moments. The tone is very consistent throughout — not quite rock, not quite pop, not quite folk. The sound of the songs is warm and Knopfler’s voice and guitar work is on the laid back side. Yet, his music is always hauntingly familiar and comfortable.

Special kudos to Knopfler for including a song about Sonny Liston based on the biography by Nick Tosches, one of my favorite authors.

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October 25, 2004

Yahoo! News – Britons Want Homer Simpson as U.S. President

Once again the UK is better able to understand the US than the US itself.

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October 22, 2004

The maestro of service / As manager of the French Laundry and Per Se, Laura Cunningham achieves the magic in the dining rooms that Thomas Keller conjures in the kitchens

The beauty of great service. The lessons apply across all industries and all audiences.

Thanks to Vinography for the link.

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October 20, 2004

Yahoo! News – Coke Vs. Pepsi Test Shows Logos ‘Brand’ the Brain

Branding changes the brain. Tell me something I didn’t know.

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October 19, 2004

Very short entry late at night after some wine and a long day.

I am doing a leadership training course right now. I feel fortunate that the company will invest this amount of time and money in me. I also worry that this is just not enough to ensure we have the next generation of leaders our company really needs.

Nonetheless, I have participated fully and presented my genuine self today. I am thrilled to have the chance to meet with and bond with some of my peers. Ultimately success is all about people, and this exercise is all about people.

G’night.

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October 18, 2004

Welcome to the fashion label, that likes it rough and dirty…

I point you to this site because it is the brainchild of a friend of mine. She is a very creative artist, very funny and sweet, and has a wicked pen. She was the person that created the wedding gift I gave to my wife, forever granting her a special place in my world.

Take a look, buy some stuff, tell Nicole I said “hello”. I am placing my order now!

We now return to the regularly PG-rated site.

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October 18, 2004

JotSpot

I have been using the beta verson of this Wiki application tool for a couple of weeks now.

First, the tool is absolutely awesome. Makes using Wiki very easy and provides some nice templates and applications. I am impressed.

But, whereas the tool is a shining star, the customer focus and attention is a super nova! (pardon the hyperbole).

The founders of JotSpot are the same guys that created Excite (you remember Excite, don’t you?) and they know exactly how to connect with customers and ensure that the experience is above and beyond.

After signing up for my beta account, I got an email from the CEO. I assumed it was an auto-email and thought that was nice. I replied and told them I appreciated the auto-response. Turns out it was not an auto-response but an actual email from the CEO.

He has since asked me for additional input on another topic important to the success of this service.

I am almost stunned at how we often forget how something as simple as connecting with and listening to customers can elevate simple technology to a real memorable experience. I think we have all become too jaded by auto-responses and canned customer service friendliness.

I wish the team at JotSpot all the good fortune in the world. They have exactly the attitude needed to make a successful company. Add to the fact that Wiki is one of the hottest online technologies for the next year, and this is a surefire success.

Check out JotSpot.

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October 15, 2004

Starbucks’ Chocolate Culture

As best as I can determine from reading this, Starbucks will now serve chocolate milk. However, it will be called “Chantico” and likely cost $4.

God, I love marketing! Lackey, bring me a venti Chantico now!

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October 14, 2004

The toughest thing about my wife being out of town…

This week has been a bit hectic. I am involved in our major customer event of the year and my wife went to Chicago for a business trip. That left me to juggle my event activites with taking care of my 18 month old daughter. Normally I drop our little girl off at daycare in the morning and my wife picks her up. Then we are both there to take care of her in the evening (sometimes one of us goes out, sometimes the other). I have traveled a lot in the past, but she has never been away since our child was born. This is her first time away from her daughter.

It’s hard on me. It’s hard on my wife. At some level I know it is hard on our daughter.

Nothing more profound for me to say.