Saturday, March 30, 2013

Business Easter Eggs

Winston Churchill is known for saying “Never, never, never give up,” but it is another one of his quotes that may be more meaningful during difficult and somewhat depressing economic times: “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”

Easter is the time of green grass and bright blooming flowers, and it might be the same for your business. Spring always promises the rebirth of budding green leaves and blooming colorful flowers; thus it’s important not to give up on a renewal of sales growth as well.

For me, winter and the lack of color is depressing. I’ll take green grass over white snow any day, thank you. No matter how down and dejected you may have felt about the slow-down of your business growth, it’s important to focus your thinking on the potential business you have an opportunity to generate going forward and simply not give up.

Maybe what you need are some brightly colored Easter Eggs for your business!

Stop focusing on the negative and begin picturing the positive daily. This actually works. It’s what athletes call “mental rehearsal;” seeing things as you want them to be and picturing them vividly in your mind. If you start this exercise every morning before calling on customers and every night before going to sleep and maintain the process for just one month, you will see positive results begin to manifest.

Control what you can, dismiss what you can’t. Whether it’s trying to change an individual who can’t seem to see things your way or a policy that you heartily disagree with, give it up. Focus instead on the many other things that you can control. Your time will be much better spent and your attitude will greatly improve.


Smile more. Become extremely conscious of the amount of time you smile. Without even realizing it, people all too often walk around looking way too serious and glum and at the same time expect people to respond positively to them. Wake up and take a reality check. No one likes to do business with someone who appears to lack confidence and seems down on life. Remember the old adage that when you smile, the whole world smiles with you. There’s more truth than not to that.

Avoid hanging out with negative people. Sure, it’s realistic that during difficult times like this there will be discussions involving the problems that may be encountered. But don’t get bogged down in negative, woe-is-me conversations. Spend the majority of your time with people who are positive, looking for alternative ways to hurdle the problems and being innovative in their thinking.


Finally, take time to treat yourself; be good to yourself. Maybe that’s going to a movie; abandoning adults and hanging out with the kids; pampering yourself with a suit or buying that new pair of shoes. Get yourself a new iPad, Smartphone or laptop. Most of all, take time to take care of you so you are in the right place to take care of those who depend on you—your loyal customers.

Easter and springtime always brings forth new life in fresh and magnificent ways. Leverage the advent of spring and let it be a time of renewed confidence in your business!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The TV Guide is Missing!

New York World's Fair

In clips below while he was still at NeXT, Steve Jobs captures a lot about life:

Jobs: When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

Me: I was born in 1960. The “Space Race” shaped my world. Technology was to be the savior of mankind - and the savior of the USA in the "cold war" against communism. Who remembers “Tang” for breakfast? If you were living in America during the sixties, you know what I’m talking about. That nasty-tasting, gritty-grainy pseudo-orange powdered breakfast beverage that was a commercial flop until it swept the country after endorsement by NASA. It rocketed to success with the Gemini flights in 1965, followed by many years of ”spacey” advertising tie-ins. Star Trek was also born in the 60’s with the concept of interstellar space travel, robots and computers in the home. I remember the NYC World’s Fair like it was yesterday. Everything was going to be just simply amazing, I could not wait to grow up and claim my flying car.

Jobs: That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Me: Having a “remote control” anything was a big deal. We were one of the first families in our town to have a radio operated remote controlled garage door opener. It was so cool that I charged neighborhood kids $0.25 to push the button and make the garage door go up and down.

Jobs: And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

Me: In the ‘60’s our TV only had a few channels, and color TV was a big deal. The big channels were 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13.  I never really counted channel 13 as that was PBS, and there was never anything cool on PBS.

Jobs: I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Me: The most important thing in our house growing up was the TV Guide. Since remote control TV was so expensive, you needed the TV Guide. You had to plan out your TV shows in advance, otherwise you would have to get off the couch and change the channels: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 - then back to 2. CBS, NBC, ABC, WOR and WPIX  here in the New York tri-state area, that was all we had. The TV Guide magazine was the most popular magazine in the US, by far. And if the TV Guide ever went missing - oh, the horror. 


New York World's Fair Ride

When I was growing up, not everyone went to college. In fact, I remember people calling young men names like “college boy”. If you went to college, you might be able to avoid the Vietnam war. I was too young to realize it at the time, but there were people going to college simply to avoid going off to Vietnam. College was not for everyone - most people had “real jobs” and worked for a living. And none of my friend's mothers had careers, just like the mothers on TV. You could live very comfortably on one paycheck when I was growing up. Today, not so much.

My oldest son just graduated from with a degree in Computer Information Systems. His world has been shaped by the “space race” of his day: the Internet. Just as I watched the magic of technology shape my world (and took things for granted) so will my son. Taking things for granted is inevitable.  The magic of remote control TV and radio-controlled garage doors did not last very long for me. Even sending men to the moon started to become passe.  Everyone with a television tuned in to watch Apollo 11 as man first walked on the moon. It took a near disaster with Apollo 13 to even get people to turn on their TV. Going to the moon had become commonplace, just like we take the Internet for granted. How fast we become bored with even the most amazing things!

Technology changes the way that we live, work, and play, and it has done so since the beginning of time. Just look around you, and you will see the next “TV Guide” and not even realize it. Buggy whips, TV Guides, and now iPads? BlackBerry “owned” the Smartphone space just a few years ago. Anyone remember Palm? What’s the next super cool thing in which we shall quickly lose interest?

Everything has its day in the sun, and then it needs to make room for something else. I love blogging on Sunday mornings, pushing a button and sending a message like this to everyone on the planet who would cares to read it.

I just wish I had some Tang.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Me Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms is a brand of cereal produced by the General Mills food company. It first appeared in stores in 1964. The cereal consists of two main components: toasted oat-based pieces and multi-colored marshmallow bits (marbits) in various shapes. 

An advertising company suggested marketing the new cereal around the idea of charm bracelets. Thus, the charms of Lucky Charms were born. Lucky Charms is the first cereal to include marshmallows in its recipe. The mascot of Lucky Charms is Lucky the Leprechaun. 

In 2012, Lucky Charms posted its best year ever. 

The company attributes this recent success to a change in marketing. The cereal moves from appealing to just children, towards one that is succeeding with adults as well. Consumers are also able to reminisce with a jingle that hadn't been used in more than a decade: "hearts, stars and clovers" - Lucky's Litany, in this recent national campaign. The company suggests that the jingle contributed to a rise in sales. 

An estimate of 45% of Lucky Charm consumers are adults. In reaction to the campaign to target "nostalgia," new commercials have been created to accompany it. 

A commercial created called "Transportasty" shows a woman rediscovering Lucky Charms at her office. She is then transported to presumably Lucky's magical forest, where Lucky then says, "You're always after me Lucky Charms." She responds to his famous line by saying, "I forgot how good these taste." And good for you, too, right?

 Along with the new commercials, a new Facebook page was also created to have loyal (adult) consumers discuss and reminisce on the changes with Lucky Charms over the years. However, the company is not moving away from kids. A new commercial of kids sneaking into Lucky's magical vault of charms was also created.

Lucky Charms contains:
Oats (Whole grain), Oats (flour), marshmallows (sugar, modified starch/modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellow 5 & yellow 6, blue 1, red 40), artificial flavor, sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, salt, calcium carbonate, food coloring/artificial color, trisodium phosphate, zinc, iron, vitamin C (sodium ascorbic), niacinamide (a B vitamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin monontrate), vitamin A (palmitate), folic acide, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols).

According to the manufacturer, Lucky Charms is 37% sugar by weight. This puts Lucky Charms at the highest end of "high sugar breakfast cereals."

OK all of you Social Media Marketing Gurus out there, let's review:
  • They're Magically Delicious! This tag line is the most famous slogan created for a cereal. 
  • A cereal first launched in 1964 just had its best year ever.
  • They're Always After Me Lucky Charms!
  • The cereal is 37% sugar by weight.
  • You'll Never Get Me Luck!
  • The marketing campaigns were based on magic, cartoons, and kids.
  • 45% of Lucky Charms consumers are adults.
  • There is a rumor that in 2013 they will test market a free blood glucose level testing kit as the "toy surprise" inside.
On this Feast of Saint Patrick, don't forget to start your day with a big heaping bowl of Lucky Charms!  They go great with lots and lots of green beer. And, if you drink a little bit too much today, just think how "colorful" your evening will be!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kentucky Windage

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn.

The modern idea of daylight saving was first proposed in 1895 and it was first implemented during the First World War. Many countries have used it at various times since then. Although most of the United States used DST throughout the 1950s and 1960s, DST use expanded and has generally remained in use in North America and Europe since that time.

But WHY?

Adding daylight to evenings benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours. An early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting (formerly the primary use of electricity) in factories and office buildings. So the big boss said we should spend less money to light and heat the factory or the office. Use as much “free” heat and lighting as possible. That was the motivation of DST.

DST presents challenges. They complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. 


Kentucky Windage is an adjustment made by a shooter to correct for wind (or motion of the target) by aiming at a point horizontal to the target's position in the sight rather than by adjusting the sight to compensate. So, it is a method of correcting for windage, gravity, etc., by aiming a weapon to one side of the target instead of by adjusting the sights.

If you know that the gun shoots a little to the left, then just aim a little to the right. No need to spend time and money adjusting the sights on the guns. Just adjust your aim!

When I was growing up, remembering to “set the clocks” was a big deal. We had to run around the house to reset all the clocks on the stove, updating all of the alarm clocks and the watches. We always forgot one or two, and it always took a few days to “recover” from the missing (or the newly found) hour. “Sorry I’m late (or damn, we are early). We forgot to set the clocks!” was the common cry across the country.

Today, not so much.

These days, every clock in or around our house (TV, Kitchen, Computers, Smartphones) are now smart enough to adjust themselves. And, if more than 90% of the clocks and watches automatically adjust, then it is pretty hard to not know the correct time. If you say to someone “Sorry we are late, we forgot to set the clocks” you would sound like a Luddite.

DST was the “Kentucky Windage” of its day. “Just make ‘em come in an hour early!” said the big boss. “We’ll save a bundle on the light bill! And, if we can’t get 'em all to come in early on their own, then we’ll just change all the clocks!"

With current technology, we no longer need the “Kentucky Windage” concept of DST to save money on our power bills. Technology and the Internet has taken care of that for us with smart thermostats and low energy use lighting. But, if you look for it, you still have plenty of “Kentucky Windage” in your daily work and personal life. The better we all use technology, the less the need for Kentucky Windage.

Instead of “fixing” the problem once and for all, how many times do you allow the problem to continue to exist, and simply choose to “aim to the left?” Got a problem at work or at home that needs fixing? I'll bet there is an app for that.