Sunday, May 27, 2018

Is your image sharp?

Sharper Image Catalog, Holiday 1983

Back in 1977 Star Wars hit the big screen. Also in 1977 the original Sharper Image catalog dropped. Do you remember getting the catalog in the mail?

Almost nothing in the catalog was a necessity. But the "cool" factor, the "wow" factor of the products featured in the catalog was impossible to ignore. There was a special feeling about ordering something from Sharper Image. "Where the heck did you find THAT thing?" would be the most popular response to showing off your newly delivered next-gen gadgets to friends and family.

In the 80's I was deep into my gadget years. I admit to spending thousands of dollars on things that I did not need but things that I simply wanted. I remember when the first Sharper Image stores opened. A trip to the local shopping mall always included a tour of the Sharper Image.

Unlike Star Wars that grew and thrived over the past four decades, Sharper Image fell on hard times. The stores closed. The catalog stopped shipping.

And then it happened. I received a new Sharper Image catalog in the mail. It was sent to an old mailing address. It was a mailing address that has not been used in many years. But our friends at the Post Office figured it out, and they forwarded it along.

I was intrigued. After so many years, it was like a younger, impulsive and fiscally foolish version of my personality was coming home for a visit. I wanted to learn more about the how and "the why" Sharper Image was brought back to life.

I connected with the parent company. I just wanted to ask the question: Why? What did they see? What was the big idea of bringing Sharper Image catalog back from the dead?

Here is what anyone with access to Google can learn on their own:

Camelot Venture Group is a private investment group that invests primarily in direct to consumer companies including online, disruptive businesses, catalog, retail, technology and financial services, and sports management. 

Here is what most people will never learn: 

The leadership of Camelot is amazing. If you take a peek at their portfolio of their holdings, you will see many brands that will make you smile. 

I emailed them and told my story - about how I would spend thousands of dollars with Sharper Image in my 20's. And now in my 50's deep feelings of nostalgia made me reach out via email.

I did not expect a phone call from the managing partner, nor did I expect to spend over an hour on the phone. Just this month, I was invited to meet with them during an upcoming visit to New York. They are intrigued by our business model. Stay tuned! 

Now, the big lesson that I learned from all of this was as follows: the REAL money, the REAL value from the Sharper Image legacy was the data. The mailing list. The purchasing history of people like me. The master Sharper Image file of people who would spend money on things that they did not need, but things that they simply wanted. Bragging rights.

The Sharper Image was doing the Amazon business model, long before Amazon ever existed. 

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Camelot, I received a free "Master Class" in best practices in direct to consumer marketing including online, disruptive businesses, catalog, retail, technology and financial services, and sports management.

Many people from the past received a Sharper Image catalog in their mailbox, after many years of silence. Since they said "hello" after all of these years, I thought it was only proper to say hello via email in return. After all, I am not even sure I was using email in the 80's.

In business, image is important. Your brand (personal or otherwise) is important. What was cool and hot and admirable in the past, might not be cool and hot and admirable in the future. Make sure that you always do your best keep your own image (your brand) as sharp as possible.

If your current brand "died" (ala Sharper Image) would very smart people pay good money to bring it back to life? 

What did you spend money on in the 80's?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Are you a people person?

Who remembers the Barbra Streisand song "People" from the 60's? People. People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world. So far, the month of May has been "A month of meeting People" for me. Lots and lots of........People.

30,000+ people attended the Collision Conference in New Orleans. 20,000+ people attended the TechDay event in New York City. 10,000+ people attended Propelify in Hoboken. 1,500+ people attended the Zendesk user conference in New York City. 

And, around 200+ people attended the 2018 Marketing Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

For the past 40 years, Lee Clow has told stories through advertising for some of the most well-known brands in the world. His creative career began with Chiat\Day and its humble beginnings at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Today, Lee is the Director of Media Arts for TBWA\Worldwide and the Founder and Chairman of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2016. He believes advertising is an art, a media art, that evokes emotion in consumers to make them laugh, cry, surprise or inform and his work does exactly that. Lee’s portfolio includes memorable campaigns for brands like Gatorade, Pepsi, Adidas, and Energizer. But Lee’s impact on the industry can best be summarized by his partnership with Steve Jobs for more than 30 years producing work for Apple. 1984 Macintosh, “Think Different” that evolved into the introduction of the iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Today, Media Arts Lab works exclusively on Apple, breaking barriers and challenging the industry with what he calls the “New Storytelling.”
Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He’s also the founder of the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar, online workshops that have transformed the work of thousands of people. Seth writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes and The Dip. Permission Marketing changed direct marketing forever, and Purple Cow is considered one of the most influential marketing books of its time. Seth has given thousands of speeches to millions of people around the world, and his five TED talks continue to spread. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “Seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. Seth’s latest book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn is now in its fifth printing. [ Photo credit, Jill Greenberg ]
Esther Lee is MetLife’s Global Chief Marketing Officer and is a member of the company’s executive team. She joined MetLife in 2015 and is responsible for managing all aspects of global marketing, the global brand, and the customer journey. Esther and her team lead a strategic, customer-focused marketing practice across the globe that drives business growth. Prior to joining MetLife, Esther was Senior Vice President for Brand, Marketing, Advertising and Sponsorships at AT&T. In that role, she oversaw global brand marketing, advertising, media, and sponsorship, as well as the integration of brand leadership into the company’s business strategies. Through the ongoing rollout of the company’s “Rethink Possible” brand platform, Esther led the strategy to create awareness of AT&T’s commitment to innovation to allow people to do more, explore more, and live more expansively. Before joining AT&T, Esther served as Chief Executive Officer of North America and President of Global Brands for Euro RSCG Worldwide, where her work focused on transforming the company’s creativity and vision for long-term growth. Prior to that, she served for five years as Global Chief Creative Officer for The Coca-Cola Company, where she drove creative strategy, the development of integrated campaigns for the company’s global brands, and the operating models to support these efforts. Most notably, she drove the creation, development, and launch of the “Coke Side of Life” global campaign—the foundation for today’s “Open Happiness” campaign.
They called it the "Hall of Fame" but what is should really be called, is the "Hall of Mastery" for these people have truly mastered their craft. 
Here are the best lessons that I learned from "People" so far this month:
"The people who can find the simple, honest human connections in their business are the ones who will be the most successful." ~ Lee Clow
"Marketing continues to be not about you, or your product, it's about them. You need to focus on ideas that resonate with humanity." ~ Seth Godin
"Companies are facing disruptions in emerging technologies, societal and economic change. The fundamental role of marketing has remained constant. It is evergreen." ~ Esther Lee

Simple. Honest. Human. Respect. 

Lee, Seth and Esther have influenced millions (Billions?) of people during the course of their careers. They are recognized as the best in their fields. And the only thing that seems to be greater than their skill, talent and expertise is their amazing unbridled generosity. They truly care about people. It is obvious. They freely teach everything that they have learned. They teach everything they know. 

I was invited to attend the Marketing Hall of Fame induction ceremony by someone that I have known all of 30 days. We met at an event, the same kind of event that I always try to attend. We were strangers. And then, we were two people in deep conversation about similar interests. "You should attend our event in NYC. You will meet some amazing people. I'll send you an invitation." I only learned a few days before the event that my friend Seth was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 
People. People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Invention, meet your Mother

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need.

This month 25,000+ amazing people attended Collision in New Orleans. Next year, "North America's Fastest Growing Tech Conference" will be in Toronto. Check out their video above.

Last week, TechDay New York had 20,000+ people attend. Tech Day is the LARGEST "Start Up" event in the USA. Above is a well done video from one of our sponsors.

This Thursday May 17th is Propelify, with 10,000+ expected to attend. Above is the video from last year's very successful event on the Hoboken waterfront. Check out the AMAZING view of New York City!

Members of the receive free passes to such live events, thanks to the generosity of our amazing sponsors. And, members who attend go home with thousands of dollars worth of "swag" and goodies to help them to run and grow their business. Again, we have very generous sponsors. But, these amazing sponsors want to "meet" these amazing people. 

Just from this month alone, we have 55,000+ people to thank for their support. 55,000+ people that our vendors and sponsors would like to engage. 55,000+ people who are in business, and who would like to GROW their business. 

I got it!  We can send them an email!


We can send these 55,000+ people a multimedia presentation. We can tell them......a story. 

"Necessity is the mother of invention"

Shorthand ( is an amazing multimedia storytelling platform, that works seamlessly on any device. We know that most people access the Internet these days via mobile. So, it is "necessary" to reach people via ANY device, especially mobile. 

Since you are reading this blog, there is a 97% chance that you already know who Seth Godin is. If you just put "Seth" in Google, his website comes up as the first thing you see. Not too shabby. 

Seth, in Judaism, Christianity, Mandaeism, and Islam, was the third son of Adam and Eve and brother of Cain and Abel. But the Seth that I am talking about is the "amazing Seth" and the Seth that invented permission marketing (among other things).  

Because we have "permission" to send 55,000+ people an email thanking them for their attendance, we shall do so.

But - if we want something good to happen, if we want to engage with 55,000+ people, if we want 55,000+ to give us their attention, if we want 55,000+ people to get to know us, to trust us, to become our friends........ 

...then there is a necessity to tell them a story.....

The End


PS.....there is even MORE cool stuff is happening this Thursday in The Big Apple.....

Allow me to use the word "amazing" just one more time (I know, I was counting too). My friend Seth is being inducted in the Marketing Hall of Fame in New York City. I'm going. If you can make it, you should join me in supporting Seth. His daily (free) blogs have been a gift to the world for many years. ^^^ You can get tickets from their website. Use the code SOCIAL and you will save 25%. 

Come to the event to support and meet "the amazing Seth". I'm sure there will be some great stories that you can tell your friends.