Monthly Archives: September 2008

How do you know when you’ve found it? A CEO and author’s response

I had the opportunity today to speak with a pretty smart guy. He’s an author and a CEO of a growing company doing some exciting stuff.

So I asked him, “What drives you? And how did you know when you found it?”

He responded by saying that you don’t know. You just start doing stuff and testing things out. It’s like being in a pinball machine and trying to guide things in a certain direction, hitting the flippers when you can, but a lot of it just kind of happens.

Personally, I felt relieved to hear that. Glad to know there’s no secret sauce–just a willingness to pedal.

Then he told me to read Johnny Bunko, a book written for people asking that question. So, I think I’ll do that. If you’re asking that question, you might consider it as well.



Filed under Life

Never gets old

Eric Welch has started a pretty interesting company. You go to his house, you cook up your own recipe for wine using grapes from around the world, allow it to ferment and then go pick it up.

In addition, he also hosts informative wine making sessions as well as special events allowing you to get a crew together to come over and make your own batch right there on the spot.

He also puts out a newsletter and has got himself some genuine permission marketing going on.

I know all this because I happened upon his business while touring his neighborhood for another event. He put out a sign in his front yard offering free wine samples and shared his company (and his Pinot Grigio) with all of us willing to take a minor detour.

The practical business ideas here are fairly obvious, but what I think I’m really trying to point out is that talking with people who are passionate about what they do never gets old.

If you’re in the Des Moines area and this sounds like something you’re into, check out Eric’s company at

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Different with meaning, the cello metal edition

Apocalyptica is remarkable.

They’re a Finnish band comprised of four cellists and a drummer–and they cover Metallica.

I tagged along with a few buddies to see them perform in a small venue this weekend, having no idea of what I was getting into.

I was blown away, and clearly their fans were as well.

And for me, perhaps the most satisfying part was seeing that it wasn’t a gimmick. They are true rock star musicians who believe in their music–you can just feel it.

They weren’t different just to be different. Rather, they did it with meaning.

If you’re curious, give them a look:

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Hyundai reminds us that boring doesn’t sell and that safe is still very risky

Ad Age is reporting that Hyundai is parting ways with its agency.

A major reason? The disappointing launch of their high-end Genesis, backed by an $80 million campaign which included two Superbowl spots.

Hoping to move about 2,000 models a month, the automaker has sold a total of a little more than 1,800 since the launch.

I could end this post with an I told you so

But the lesson deserves another mention. Simply, $80 million isn’t nearly enough to convince us to think of a Hyundai when spending $35k on a car–especially this car. It’s a product that from the beginning was boring with a boring mission (cheaper than BMW and Benz) and no wonderful copy or fancy commercials can save a story that is fundamentally boring.

The Genesis looks similar to its perceived competitors. It’s not remarkably cheap. They didn’t dump a gigantic motor in it or a hire a team of engineers to make it handle remarkably better than any other car.

Instead, they went for a car that blended in, and in that sense they’ve succeeded marvelously.

The problem for Hyundai is that there’s no room for Genesis-like products in our hyper-saturated markets. So rather than talking about Hyundai’s boring sedan, the auto industry is buzzing about Chevy’s hybrid (which is two years away!).

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Filed under Copywriting, Marketing

Being selectively different

Seth shares an important lesson today–a lesson I was circling when I talked about how Domino’s made a brilliant marketing move by creating a remarkable delivery process rather than trying to make a remarkable pizza.

Here’s what Seth says:

Marketing storytelling is not about doing everything differently. You do many things the same, intentionally, because those ‘same things’ aren’t part of your story. It’s the different stuff where you will be noticed, and the different stuff where you tell your story.

In a nutshell, it doesn’t make sense to do everything differently, unless your story is absolutely “everything differently.”

But when your story does lead you to doing something unique, do it remarkably.

Because hell, even in their heyday Krispy Kreme’s donuts still had holes in the middle.

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Filed under Branding, Marketing

Two branding slideshows

If you haven’t had the chance yet, check out these two slideshows on branding.

First, The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier of Neutron LLC (thanks to Jill for pointing me to this one):

Second, Brand U.O by David Armano:

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Ten reasons today is a good day

I’m compelled to share this and I’m not sure why.

It’s a video of Stephen Petranek’s TED Talks speech on the 10 ways the world could end.

It’s scary.

But at the same time, I don’t think I can ever be reminded too much of the grand scheme of things. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I want to know this stuff. And in a strange way, I felt relieved having seen it–it’s hard to get too stressed or upset about the daily things when you remember Earth missed massive destruction by a mere six hours in 1989.

If you watch it, it’s one of those videos I promise you’ll tell your friends about.

Click here if you can’t see the video.

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