Friday, December 30, 2005

Internal disruption

Internal disruption. Not talking gas here. Talking about a great post from Hugh MacLeod (gapingvoid) on the impressive - for a specific reason - results within the company walls of his client, Stormhoek wine, and the larger wine industry/blogosphere/marketplace.

Stormhoek sales doubled in the 12 months MacLeod spent blogging on the wine, sending bottles to bloggers and creating a label-design contest online.

Read his post. Though wine is a hot topic and bloggers go nuts over the subject, this could happen in ANY industry with ANY company. MacLeod was simply brave, smart and calculated enough to do it with his client. He caused an internal disruption and it caught the eye of his key audiences. Moreover, it created a story Stormhoek didn't have 12 months ago.

Kudos to Hugh. Kudos also to Stormhoek for following a smart man's lead.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

All hail the holiday lull

I'm quite busy enjoying the perks of working at an office that closes from Christmas through New Years. For some, it's the holiday lull. For me, it's a chance to devote 8+ hours a day to my personal passions and vices.

Today is a good example of what a perfect day might look like in my world. I woke up early, painted, then my parents came over to help with preparations for my first gallery show (more later, but mark your calendar for the January 6th First Friday opening in the Crossroads, at Grand Gallery). I sat on my back porch and played the guitar, took a nice 5.3-mile run, then lifted some weights (these biceps don't grow themselves, folks).

I've spent the evening drinking Fat Bastard, writing and playing with the Monk dog. Pretty nice little Thursday.

Things that have kept me inspired during this holiday season:

Indecision, by Benjamin Kunkel. Holy crap, read this book.

Coldplay on Austin City Limits - though Chris Martin fails to actually sing during the concert (I think the electrical tape on his fingers is too tight), his "mates" sound great and Michael Stipe comes in to swat Martin around with some real talent, including a wonderful rendition of Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun." Good concert with multiple re-runs on your local public television station.

Z, by My Morning Jacket - I know I already blogged on this album, but it's incredible.

Gorillaz self-titled album. The KC weather has been beautiful and I've taken many a drive with the windows down and this album blaring.

The Office. I've downloaded most of this season's episodes to my video iPod, making numerous family car trips more enjoyable.

Happy New Year to all.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Christmas Story

Christmas is a conflicting time for me. I definitely enjoy giving and getting gifts, yet I yearn to shake off the superficial and celebrate the holiday's true meaning to my faith. At this time, I remember one of the most wonderful experiences of my young life: a trip to Israel and visit to the Church of the Nativity.

The visit to Israel changed my life and solidified my faith. My experience at the Church of the Nativity provided me with a powerful picture I call upon each Christmas Eve as candlelight services ring with hymns.

I wrote about this experience in my weekly column for the local paper, The Baldwin City Signal. I penned the following story during my junior year of college.

Merry Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas
By Andy Woolard, Signal Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2000

I am 18, a senior in high school, and ready to step onto the tarmac in Tel Aviv Israel. I am armed with only film and a Bible and begin to think the jokes about a flak jacket weren't jokes at all. Soon I will walk where Jesus walked. I am over packed and thirsty and homesick and in dire need of a cheeseburger. I will soon get used to kosher McDonald's.

My waist itches because of the money belt that has ridden low enough to cause embarrassment. Inside it are my valuables, my passport and money. Gift money. Authentic Holy Land crafts for the whole family, come Christmas.

For the next 10 days I walk through holy sights, sights of great suffering and great discovery. My group files in and out of a tour bus driven by a plump Palestinian man and guided by an Arab named Arram. Outside the bus merchants wait for the next line of tourists. Jagged rows of tanned peasants follow us to each destination hawking holy water at the Jordan River and crucifixes at the Garden of Gesthemane. We shove our Bibles into our armpits and dig into our money belts, then cross a few names off of our gift list.

We rush through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Annunciation and take pictures of the other tomb and the place where Gabriel told Mary that she'd soon be a mother. Then we walk back to the bus, pause for a second look at the olive wood nativity scene that's in such demand back home. Once someone buys it, we all do. We don't want to be the only person without an olive wood nativity scene.

I save a roll of film for the Church of the Nativity, where Mary and Joseph stopped for the night, where the Wise Men came, where Jesus was born. Arram told us that a real picture of the church would go well with the hand carved manger we just purchased. We snap a few exterior shots, then bend down low to enter through a four-foot high door; the church's main entrance. Once inside we turn around and take a picture of our friends bending over and we laugh at them, cameras swinging like pendulums from their necks. We dance through the church, intoxicated with the thought that we'd know where Jesus was really born, everyone else would just sing "Away in a Manger."

At the front of the church, steep stone steps lead to an underground room. Four or five at a time, single file, no pictures. This is a place of worship; this is the manger. I turn my camera off, suddenly feeling the importance of the place that I am in and I descend the stairs. In the room, a gold star, representing the star that guided the wise men to Jesus is inlayed on the floor. It marks the front of a dark hole in the wall. "There it is."

My camera burns in my hand and I think, with the flash off, what an amazing gift the picture would make. Framed in olive wood and hung next to the Christmas tree. "Our son went to Israel, he saw the real manger. He wasn't supposed to take a picture but, you know." Then an old woman comes down the stairs. She crawls — back end first — like a child. The exertion makes her body shake and her weathered face scrunch. I watch as she reaches the last stair and crawls, bent with desire, until her face is directly above the gold star. She stays there for a while; long enough for me to realize the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Running to the beat of my own iPod

As part of my current marathon training, I have 6-8 mile mid-week runs. They are hard to fit into my schedule. Many days, running 8 miles after a long day at work is the last thing I want to do. However, my new iPod is making these runs much easier. Last night I set out for a quick 4 miler before meeting friends for drinks. A stressful day and mixture of mind-clutter caused me to pull a Forest Gump and I just kept “going and going” with the help of the below mixes.

6 Mile Mix

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
The Seed – The Roots
Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
Rocket Man – Elton John
Soul Meets Body – Death Cab for Cutie
Two Step (live) – Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
Speed of Sound – Coldplay
Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope
Burning In the Sun – Blue Merle
Wasted and Ready – Ben Kweller
So What’cha Want – Beastie Boys
The Old Apartment – Barenaked Ladies
Down - 311

8 Mile Mix

Caring is Creepy – The Shins (This could qualify as the best song intro of all time – the scene in Garden State when Zack Braff removes the cover from his grandfather’s motorcycle. Works equally as well in starting a run/day/pot of coffee.)
Break You Off – The Roots
Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins
They – Jem
Seven Nation Army – White Stripes
Frontier – Yoshida Kyodai
One Headlight – The Wallflowers
Worn Me Down – Rachael Yamagata
Come Back Home – Pete Yorn
Float On – Modest Mouse
King Without a Crown – Matisyahu
Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
Gold Digger – Kanye West
Run – Snow Patrol

Speaking of my iPod, I just purchased these overlays. After spending approximately a 10 hours attempting to apply them, my iPod now is protected from the dreaded scratches. If you have patience, time to kill and a steady hand, buy these. If not, just deal with the scratches because it’s not worth the ass-pain these overlays cause.

The Onion on WOM

Great satire on branding/WOM from The Onion, via Brand Autopsy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Talk is cheap, WOM is valuable talk

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association posted a great link/analysis of WOM's value. This is a useful read for those of us in the ad/pr/client service world. The data, which ranked the credibility of various consumer touchpoints (ad/pr/journalism/WOM), was compiled by the corporate reputation gurus at Harris Interactive. Check out HI's 2005 Most Visible Companies while you're at it. Great info on reputation management.

WOMMA's post reminded me of the simple-yet-important task of Google-ing and Technorati-ing client brands/products daily.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Another cool way to use Gmail...and MP3 recs

Adding to my earlier post...Scott Andrew points out the ease of using Gmail as a MP3 demo club.

Speaking of MP3s...some music I'm stuck on today:

The Roots: The Roots Come Alive
Beth Orton: Pass In Time
Yoshida Kyodai: Frontier

Thursday, December 08, 2005

MyPod, finally

I figured that if I held out long enough, I'd somehow acquire an iPod without paying for it (or participating in illegal activity). A big thanks to my company for the holiday cheer. I'm just excited that I can stop carrying my laptop around with me when I want to listen to Podcasts.

In honor of my new best friend, here's the first playlist created for the new iPod, to reflect a snowy, dismal day in Kansas City, and an evening of Scotch and painting.

Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey
Johnny Cash: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Uncle Tupelo: Screen Door
R.E.M.: Country Feedback
Damien Rice: Lonelilly
My Morning Jacket: Magheeta
Gary Jules: Bar Stool
Josh Ritter: Roll On
Blue Merle: Places
James Taylor: Carolina in My Mind
Simon and Garfunkle: The Only Living Boy in New York
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Soul to Squeeze
The Be Good Tanyas: In Spite of All the Damage
The Album Leaf: Thule

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How brave are you?

Looking for some inspiration? Check out Olivier Blanchard's Brand Builder Blog and his post on the power of crazy folk and his link to Kathy Sierra's blog on bravery. Damn good inspiration, and Olivier's commentary is a great reminder of what kind of people truly instigate change.

(from Kathy Sierra)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Do you belong in the blogosphere?

Great article, via Fast Company's blog, on whether or not your company belongs in the blogosphere. Concise, filled with relevant links and beneficial for both the current business blogger and interested exec.