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Black Friday

Black Friday seems to be a term that both delights and incites people. It has been true even before the term was associated with the shopping craze we all think of now. The term was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1960’s. They used it to describe the chaos that ensued the day after Thanksgiving due to shoppers taking advantage of the first holiday sales. That weekend all officers were to be on duty and they hoped the term would deter shoppers. The term has also been associated with the fact that so many workers used to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving, prompting many businesses to make it a company holiday. By the 1980’s it was used to describe the start of when retailers go from being in the red to into the black.

Still today it has both positive and negative connotations, especially in recent years when retailers are choosing to open on Thanksgiving to get a jump on those sales. Social media is jammed with petitions and posts pleading with shoppers to boycott such activities. Despite the cry about the social injustice of it all, the trend continues. Retailers have been successful in overcoming the backlash that has been ever present across every form of media. Shoppers are still flocking to the stores earlier and earlier in search of promised deals.

Whether you agree or not with the tactics or trends, Black Friday or now Thursday isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not with so much at stake for retailers. Some retailers can make twenty percent of their profits for the year during Black Friday.

So the question is even with so much negativity how are retailers still thriving in this environment. It’s simple … they’re giving the consumer what they want. And in the end, for any business, that’s the key. Give your customers what they want. Of course that’s easier said than done, but if you want to be successful, that’s the price that must be paid. It’s the only thing that will ensure your bottom line is always black instead of red.

And just so you know, on Black Friday, you will find me at home slumbering peacefully with perhaps visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Why I am Thankful for Apples

1. Pie – I love all kinds of pie (a lot), but there is nothing like a warm slice of sweet apple crumb pie made with tart Granny Smith apples and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream for dessert.

2. Sauce, butter, bread, juice, cider – you name it, you can make it with an apple.

3. Pie – did I already mention this?

4. An apple a day…

5. Variety – big, little, sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow or green. Did you know there are over 7,000 types of apples?

Ideas are like apples. There are a million varieties, and you can make anything you can imagine with them. But just like apples, if you sit them on a shelf for too long, they will rot, and some ideas will grow old and die. Fortunately, unlike apples, most ideas can be brought back to life if given the opportunity.

Apples are meant to be eaten. Ideas are meant to be shared. What will you share with the world this coming year?

How Do You Handle Adversity?

I love BYU.  I had an incredible experience there, got an excellent education, and am a fan for life.  I also love college athletics, so my Cougars were giving me all I could wish for when the football team started the season 4-0 with a serious Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback in Taysom Hill.

Then game 5 came along.  We were getting beat decisively at home early in the game, but with our quarterback a comeback was not only a hope but real possibility.  After all, it was only the 2nd quarter.  That’s when the unthinkable happened.  Hill was tackled at an awkward angle, and just like that, a season-ending injury knocked him out of the game.  Four games later, the Cougars are 4-4, all Playoff, New Years Day Bowl Game, and Heisman Trophy hopes dashed.  Perhaps the saddest part is the fact that the offense has continued to produce (if not as prolifically), averaging almost 30 points per game since Hill’s injury.  There are problems, but the way the defense has fallen apart has been the most glaring weakness of the past 4 games.

The last few weeks have given me plenty of reasons to give up on the Cougars, to call it a season and move on, but I haven’t and I won’t.  I am a fan!  Sure I wish they were winning, I wish our starting quarterback was playing, and I wish there was more to cheer about, but I’m in for the long haul.  The team hasn’t given up, so neither will I.  BYU as an institution took care of me and earned my loyalty, and they are still giving me reasons to be loyal.

Do your customers feel the same way about you and your institution?  Have you put the time and effort into building loyalty so that when adversity comes they will stick around?

Perhaps the single best way to handle adversity is to take care of your customers before it comes.  Seamless customer experience is all the rage now, and with social media and the interconnected nature of just about everything and everyone, a single problem can become a mountain of issues if the customer isn’t getting the experience he or she expects, both off- and online.

A recent blog post by eMarketer referenced a study by the CMO Council noting “a lack of alignment within [...] organizations derails projects to enhance the customer experience—an objective that requires finance, marketing, sales and customer service teams to be on the same page.”

BYU’s season got derailed by injuries, but their alignment within organizations ensured that even though I’m disappointed at the moment I’ll stick around.  Do the same for your customers and whether or not you “make the playoffs”, you’ll have fans for life.

Go Cougars!


An Artist Cannot Fail

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” ―Albert Einstein

This is my new favorite quote. And it must be true if Einstein said it. As I recall, he was a pretty smart guy. But more importantly, I know from personal experience that it’s true. I also believe we are all artists, but the key is finding what type of artist you are. How does your art take form? Once you figure that out, you’ve unlocked the key to success.

When my husband and I were first married, and just starting out in the world, my uncle told us to find careers where we loved what we were doing. He said if we did that, we would be successful. And you know what? He was right.

Sometimes, it can take a long time to figure out what our art is. For some of us, it doesn’t come naturally, per se. For some of us our art isn’t obvious like singing, or dancing or even designing software. It may take years to discover our hidden talent or art, but it is worth the wait. Just make sure to make the most of it once it emerges.

And remember that success and monetary rewards don’t always go hand in hand. You can find success in your art without ever making a dime. And who can really put a price on happiness?

And remember…”An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

The Time Will Pass Anyway

How many of us have a five year plan? How many of us even think it’s necessary? How many of us have strayed off our five year plan or even revisited the five year plan since we wrote it ten years ago? So maybe it’s time to dust it off and take another serious look at it. It may be a fruitless exercise, but did you know that you’re 33% more likely to achieve your goals if they are written down. And honestly, when you think about it, five years isn’t really that long. At least it isn’t the older you get.

                One of my new favorite quotes is by Earl Nightingale – “Don’t give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” It is simple, but profound. Easier said than done. But look back at your last five years. Did you accomplish what you set out to? If you didn’t, what held you back? Is your dream worth it? Do you even have a dream? If the answer is no, I challenge you to get one, and quick. The great things about dreams are they are yours whether they are outlandish or realistic, but they make life worth living.

                To begin (after you figure out what your dream is), take a look at your life as a whole. Is it leading you toward that dream or is it propelling you in another direction? What changes can you make to shift your life toward your dream or goal?

Or maybe ask yourself if it is still a worthy dream or goal, maybe there’s a reason you’re being propelled in another direction. I’m not saying to give up on dreams, but sometimes I think it’s good, healthy even, to change dreams or adjust them based on what we’ve learned since setting them.

                I know in my personal and professional life, I’ve been surprised by the twists and turns and what dreams were turned into. Many of the times it has been completely different than I imagined, but nonetheless satisfying. But in the end, if you know it’s a worthy dream or goal, keep going for it. Remember, “The time will pass anyway. “

It was Persistence

In 1939, nobody was taking color photographs of nature.  Black and white was king; it was art, and color was kitsch, a novelty, nothing to be taken seriously.

Eliot Porter felt differently.  Over a 50 year career as a scientist, environmentalist, and nature photographer, he helped elevate color photography to its own art form and the standard in the industry.

I was fortunate to take a class in college from an excellent photographer who knew Eliot Porter.  During a difficult time early in his career he received a letter from Eliot Porter with this bit of wisdom on being successful: “It was persistence.”

That is how Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, how the Wright brothers learned to fly, and  how DeepTarget has published The Microphone monthly for 5 years (not quite on the same level, I’ll grant you, but the principle is the same).

Persistence is how Eliot Porter changed photography for the world, and it is how you can find success at home or at the office, in your town or around the world.

Hitting the Books: 6 Resources To Keep Your Marketing Skills Fresh

The season may not be over quite yet (it’s still sweltering  where I live), but for all intents and purposes, Summer is over, and it’s time to hit the books again.  All over the country kids and college students are headed back to school. Even my wife has signed up for a couple of courses.  I can’t help but be a little jealous.  I really enjoyed school – the wide range of topics, the chance to learn something new, the variety of instructors and classmates. The day-to-day grind just doesn’t provide that same kind opportunity for learning and growth.

That said, part of a marketer’s job has to include learning and growth.  The tools and trends in marketing continue to change and evolve at a dizzying pace.  How do you keep up with it all?  I have some favorite resources I turn to regularly for information, education, and marketing inspiration.

  1. Seth Godin – this marketing guru has written more than a few books on marketing and writes a marketing blog on which he has posted every day for at least the past 7 YEARS. Definitely worth a follow.
  2. eMarketer.com – research, insight, and intelligence. Lots of useful and interesting information for marketers.
  3. MediaPost – a wealth of articles and opinion on online, email, mobile, social, search, and TV media and marketing.
  4. CMO.com – Adobe’s site dedicated to providing info and expertise to senior marketing leaders.
  5. MarketingProfs – includes articles, reports, tutorials, tools, and more for marketers.
  6. Advertising Age – creativity, opinion, data and more on the latest in fields of marketing and advertising.

So where do you turn when you need to hit the marketing books?


Go Big or Go Home

If you look back through history, there are plenty of momentous occasions of greatness that were achieved in the month of August.  Just to name a few: in 1908 the first massed produced car (the Ford Model T) went on sale, in 1919 daily flights between London and Paris began commencing the first international air service, and in 1960 the first communications satellite (Echo 1) was launched from Cape Canaveral.  Of course there have been greater achievements than these throughout history and even recently, but nevertheless these are pretty big deals. And I’m sure there were many at the times these achievements occurred that never believed such things were possible.  I mean, humans had gone thousands of years of just using the ground and water as their means of transportation and without any hint of motors or the complex machinery that now gets us from point A to point B. And what about communication? In 1960 could people even imagine the means and ease of communication we have just in the palm of our hands?

My point to all of this is, it’s ok to dream big and, even more importantly, to act on those dreams.

Go big or go home, right?

Sure, there may be, and there probably will be, naysayers along the way, but don’t let that stop you, even if, so far, you’ve been the naysayer.

Thomas A Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Could you imagine how different our lives would be if people like Edison and Ford or the Wright brothers would have given up? We all know their inventions failed more times than they succeeded, but unlike so many of us, they didn’t give up.

Sure, not many of us will ever achieve the kind of publicly lauded greatness of those mentioned above, but we can all achieve greatness. We can all try one more time and when that doesn’t work, we can try again and again.

So what are some of your dreams that you are willing to try one more time to accomplish?

Let’s Talk About Baseball

With baseball season in full swing, I thought it would be fitting to reiterate some advice from one of the legends of the sport; and there was no one better, in my opinion, for the task than the “Great Bambino” or maybe you like the “Sultan of Swat”. Either way, Babe Ruth was a pretty smart guy or, at the very least, inspirational.

Let’s start with, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Hopefully the person you are competing with most frequently, or always, is yourself. And hopefully you aren’t beating yourself up, but just trying to be a little better every day. But not giving up is the first step. One of the greatest attributes of the most successful was not the lack of obstacles, but their tenacity to overcome them.

Next in the lineup is, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” This, of course, just goes right along with the first quote. If you want to hit a home run, you’ve got to keep on showing up to the plate. It’s important to realize that even the greatest players strike out and maybe they even strike out more because they listened to the first quote of never giving up or maybe the third one.

Which brings us to my favorite, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Fear is a vital response. It can keep us safe from real threats, but most of the time it keeps us from what we perceive to be threats or possible unpleasant situations. But let’s be honest with ourselves, fear can also keep us from a lot of terrific things. Sure, we may have to strike out a few, or several, times before we even make it on base or cross home plate, but it’s better than just sitting in the dugout and watching everyone else play the game. Again, it’s not that successful people aren’t afraid. They, like everyone else, shake in their boots once in a while, but they know the best way to get past fear is to confront it.

So step up to the plate.

And, by the way, go Rockies!

3 Ways to Enjoy Summer (Work)Days

Growing up there was almost nothing more exciting than the last day of school and the anticipation of endless summer days.  Summer meant freedom. I can remember riding bikes with my brother and cousins all over the small town we lived in. On particularly windy days the 2-mile ride back to our house on the outskirts of town was slow and painful, but the freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted was worth it.  And it was needed. Summer vacation provided a necessary break from the daily school routine as well as time and space to get motivated for the next school year.

When you are all grown up summer days are a lot more like every other day.  But with kids of my own, I still see their excitement and enjoyment at the freedom they have to do what they want when they want, and it rubs off on me.  I find myself with more desire to be outdoors, to play, to let loose a little more.

And I think that is a good thing.  As a professional creative, I need to stay inspired and motivated, and sitting at a desk all day is not the most conducive environment for that.  So here are 3 ways to get more inspiration – and enjoyment – out of your summer (work)days.

  1. Ride a bike! Live close enough to the office?  Try riding to work. If you are not close enough, bring your bike and take a ride at lunch.  Or take a day off and hit the trails.  It’s good exercise and a great way to see the world from a different perspective.
  2. Take a walk! Maybe biking is not your cup of tea, but getting outdoors in any fashion is a wonderful way to break up the day.  Fast or slow, close or far, just get out and move around.  Get away from that computer screen and see what’s around you.
  3. Look to others!  Sometimes you simply cannot get out, and that is not the only way to get inspired.  There are countless individuals out there doing amazing things and sharing them online.  In the creative world in particular, here are a few of my current favorites:
  • Colossal: A site devoted to art, design, photography, video, music, even science gets in there sometimes. If you have never been to this site, then stop reading this and go now.
  • DANGERDUST: this anonymous duo takes inspirational quotes and turns them into exquisite designs using chalk and a chalkboard.
  • The Art of Non-Conformity: Chris Guillebeau visited every country in the world (literally). Careful – he might inspire you to quit your job.

What are your favorite summer memories, and where do you get inspiration?

BONUS:  Music! Music is a huge inspiration when I am working, so here is a summer-themed playlist for your listening pleasure.