Monday, February 27, 2006

Photographic proof

Just received some marathon photos from the parentals. What a weekend. As I've said over and over again, I was blessed to spend three great days with my wonderful parents. That was the best part - the marathon was icing.

At the Expo.
Last-minute shopping at RunTex. I think I've spotted a new Woolard tagline. Dad's actually cold, he doesn't just look like that.

Pre race - the Woolard men wussed out and wore trash bags to keep warm. We're pretty sure mom is part crazy and just doesn't register 20 degree weather.

The finish - notice the ICE on the fountain.

This is one of the best pictures I've seen of me and my mother.

Nothing says "father-son bonding" like matching hats.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

In the movies

I can't shake the idea that i want to be a filmmaker. How strange is that? I have no background or qualifications for such an endeavor but over and over again, the idea makes perfect sense to me. For the past couple months I've been absolutely fixated on music videos. I've been creating iTunes playlists consisting entirely of songs that I have put a visual storyline to. I'm having fun with it, just need to figure out what to do with it.

File this under "things I should have majored in, other than English."

Brand sharing

I took the yellow tornado for a walk today and got to thinking about successful brands that share their brand equity with outside brands/people/initiatives to further 1) the brand and 2) a larger purpose. I'm going to call this brand sharing. This term is different from the way we say, "brand market share" or "brand share of voice." It's not related (directly) to measurement. The brand sharing I'm talking about is more about the sharing. With others.

Some examples would include cause marketing partnerships, philanthropic endeavors and collaborations with other brands and people. All resulting in something bigger than the brand itself.

Well, I got all excited about this idea when I got home and read WOMMA's blog and saw another great example of BMW's brand share. We all remember the BMW short films (and their subsequent accolades, popularity, imitation). BMW has paired with Random House to produce BMW Audiobooks - short stories by some contemporary writers featuring a BMW car in the plot. Not only is this a great way to tell the brand story, but it's a cue that BMW is aware - and acting upon - its changing customer: drivers interested in podcasting, expecting mp3 player hook ups in their dashboards, commute-savvy.

Love the idea and appreciate the way the BMW brand is interacting with its brand loyalists - as well as establishing an innovative literary presence.

Another example of brand sharing is from one of my favorite bands (and now brands) Death Cab for Cutie. The emo-pop band launched
Directions: 11 short films cued to its "Plans" album tracks. One film per week can be accessed on DCFC's Web site. The directors are amazing, as are the songs, but the truly great part of this "direction" is Death Cab's willingness to share its brand to benefit the larger artistic value of their and others' talents. It solidifies the band's own artistic talent and positions the band among a tight circle of artists - an aspirational brand. Sidenote: check out the two-minute trailer and band explanation. This week's film is paired with one of the sweetest love songs ever: I Will Follow You into the Dark. The film is amazingly simple, with a powerful three-part storyline.
I'll keep my eyes open for additional examples of brand sharing. Check back with Death Cab's Directions series - the films leading up to this week's have all been great.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I'm impatient. It's one of my most profound characteristics. I get bored quickly. I did a lot of thinking - was forced to, actually - during the marathon. At about mile one, a runner realizes that he or she has to re-enact that mile 25 more times. For multiple hours on end.

This realization freaked me out. Messed with my head. Running has taught me a patience I haven't previously known. It's taught me a focus that I have been able to apply to other things. More than anything, I've learned to wait, and enjoy the "meantime."

I just read a great post on Johnnie Moore's blog, on waiting. Read the full reference at Chris Corrigan's blog. At the core of the conversation is the ability to wait productively and use that meantime as an opportunity to focus on the unknown, on the moment, on the chance that anything could happen. Chris outlines two kinds of waiting:
1) learning to productively wait - in a grocery line, for instance -
and how that can prepare one for the second type
2) the waiting when we are fully engaged in the present - "It is waiting for something to emerge, something life changing, possibly life threatening, and yet with no way to know how it will all unfold. Radical trust into the moment, radical readiness to accept what will come." (Corrigan)

Corrigan continues: "We can practice for these kinds of moments by embracing the first kind of waiting, which gives us the capacity to appreciate the second kind on those rare occasions in our life when we are gifted that experience."

Heady stuff, but profound in its opportunity to focus and engage in the present. I love it.

Off topic (who would have guessed). Top five songs about waiting in my iTunes music library:

5) In the Waiting Line - Zero 7
4) Waiting Around to Die - The Be Good Tanyas
3) Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
2) Waiting on the Sun - The Jayhawks
1) Waiting in Vain - Bob Marley

So much music, so little time

Dang it. Two bands. One night. What's a guy to do?

Sigur Ros at the Uptown in KC.
Julia Peterson at the Bottleneck in Lawrence.

If you're mobile this evening, and in the area check one of them out. Proof again that on a given Wednesday, there is something to do in our fair area.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I finished the Austin Marathon. I was the 2439th finisher, with a time of 4:18:23. And it was the most challenging, exciting and emotional four hours of my life. I could not have wished for a more powerful experience, and being able to share the weekend - and the finish line - with my parents was even more powerful.

The weather was cold - 30 degrees - and the first few miles were slick with ice. The first 8 miles went very well, with dad and I keeping a roughly nine-minute pace. Then, I got a surprise cramp throughout my left leg, which curbed me - literally - a few times to stretch and hammer out my quad. After a salt packet, I decided to run through it...well, I ended up running through it for about five miles, which was no fun. The pain dissapated and we picked up our pace again.

The hardest miles were 23-25, both because my body was completely drained and the closeness of the finish messed with my head. At mile 23, the cramping came back, which didn't make things better. At 25, I decided to kick it in, hoping to make up some time. A beer vendor was on the side and dad and I grabbed a couple glasses, toasted our efforts and finished it off with a nice Powerade chaser.

Coming around the last turn toward the finish line was a feeling I'll never forget. Months of training and injury, numerous evenings lost to getting in mid-week runs, and about three years of wanting to complete a marathon with my dad all set the stage for an emotional finish. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It hurt (and hurts today). But I would do it all over again tomorrow.

After experiencing a marathon firsthand, I have so much respect for people who have and train to run marathons. I'm now part of less than one percent of the world's population who runs 26.2 miles, and I'm proud of that accomplishment. Of additional note, my mom beat her last 1/2 marathon time significantly on Sunday, coming in at 3:14. She's amazing.

Pictures are being developed - I'll post when available.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

One day

It's Saturday, one day away from the Austin Marathon and I'm icing my left knee, popping Advil and reading updates from the race directors on whether forecasted ice and rain will hinder our 7 a.m. start.

First of all, I love Austin. Last night I ran a quick three miles down the Town Lake gravel path and into Austin's incredible Warehouse District and up to the Capitol - the second largest in America, second only to the U.S. Capitol. At about mile two, my eyes were wandering in and out of some great little bars and restaurants and my knee started throbbing. I slowed, stretched and tried to think positively. Luckily, I was in a new city - a great city - that offered sights to keep my mind busy.

We at at Sullivan's Steakhouse, in the Ringside Bar and listened to great music from The Brew (accompanied by skilled - old - dancing couples). The downtown area is in walking distance from our hotel, which made it all the easier to soak in a new city.

I've been hydrating, stretching and icing all day. We met some extended family for lunch, then headed to a great running store, RunTex, to pick up some BodyGlide and try to score a free massage. Left with the miracle salve, a foam roller for the knee (worked wonders), new shades and a great Pearl Izumi shirt.

Speaking of Pearl Izumi, they have a great cause effort on their Web site. Front and center, easy to access and understand - even a cool line of products that when purchased send 20 percent to selected organizations. PI has a huge presence at this marathon and I predict will soon accelerate to an even more popular tech wear company and Citizen Brand.

Pasta dinner tonight and an early bedtime, both which I'm hoping will yield a fresh and energized start when the alarm goes off at 4.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My marathon

This time next week, I'll be back at work, sore and tired from running my first marathon. I'm heading to Austin this weekend with my mom and dad to run the Freescale Austin Marathon. My mom is running the half, and my dad and I will do the full. I was driving to work this morning and realized that "marathon" is a perfect word to describe the emotional and physical preparation for the actual marathon.

I've been a runner for a long time now, running 5 and 10 Ks, half marathons and keeping a consistent weekly training schedule. But on October 18th, I officially turned my focus toward Austin. As someone with a very short attention span and frequent boredom, committing to running at least 5 days a week for about 18 weeks - in the middle of winter! - has been a huge success in itself. In addition to the difficulty of training, my body has thrown in a couple major hurdles. I've spent many mornings before work at the physical therapist's office and many afternoons getting second and third opinions from numerous doctors. I'm not shy to say I'm damn proud of my effort and the distance I've come.

I'm ready to run this. Physically, I'm in the best shape of my life. Emotionally, I want this worse than anything. My mind's eye replays my finish, which holds a great deal of emotional stock. My dad's been running marathons for a few years - he's an amazing runner. I've always wanted to run with him. Finishing a marathon next to dad will be an awesome experience.

Going to Austin with my parents is fitting, as they've truly been my support system in this. My dad adds advice and joins me on long runs. My mom has given up countless weekend hours to meet us for water and food stops along the training route. As we all meet after mom finishes the half, and dad and I have finished the full, I expect the best family bonding moment of my 26(.2) years.

Expect a full report next week. Till then, I have some carb-loading to do.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I've added coComment to my blog. It's a bit jacked up on the sidebar - more than likely this is due to Jeff Risley installed this on his blog and it looks much better. Design aside, I love the concept. Check it out. Talk about full disclosure - now I can not only share my thoughts via Woolard Speak, but readers can see what I'm saying on others' blogs. Very cool.

Kudos to coComment - now someone e-mail me and tell me how to fix my sidebar.

A Good Search

File this under "Why not do it every time?"

GoodSearch, powered by Yahoo's search engines, contributes to your charity of choice each time you search. Cool. You get the same results you'd get in a Yahoo or Google search, but you can choose a new or stick with the same charity to benefit from each round of searches.

According to the site, GoodSearch was founded by a brother and sister who had lost their mom to cancer. Realizing that last year alone, search provided advertisers with more than 6 million bucks, GoodSearch is trying to direct that money to good causes.

You can enter a new cause or choose from a cause already registered with the site. Spread the Good word.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A higher calling, a Higher M-Pact

File under amazing: Higher M-Pact. Tyrone Flowers, founder of Higher M-Pact attended and spoke at our firm's staff meeting today. Tyrone has developed a relationship with our president, Mike, over the past year, which led to our firm working with Higher M-Pact on a pro-bono basis. I can't be more excited and honored to be at least a portion of a part of what Tyrone is doing.

Higher M-Pact works with high-risk youth in Kansas City. We're talking kids with no options. We're talking murder, beatings, theft, drug dealing, gangs. The organization aims to show these kids that they have options. And Tyrone couldn't be a more fitting leader. Go to the Web site. You can find videos, points of view and a much better explanation for this amazing organization. You'll surely be inspired by the passion and insight Tyrone exudes and you should be thankful that he's claimed his position on the front lines of a battle most of us find hard to even comprehend.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google Earth

So, I was reading Jenne's blog yesterday and found my new vice: Google Earth. Holy crap this is cool. I love to be amazed, and the technology behind bringing me to the rooftops of my favorite places in THE WORLD is pretty dang amazing.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, as I've been exploring this, it hit me how small the world has become and how fast ideas can move. As communicators, we have such opportunity at our fingertips. Opportunity to tell stories to new people in seconds. Opportunities to find relevance in all corners of the world. It's exciting - and daunting.

Here are a few places I found today.

Niigata, Japan - spent a lot of time in this great city while studying in a nearby town during college. I used to walk from the train station to the school where I taught English classes...I knew it was a hike back then, but looking at it on this image is sort of freakish.

Sogo Park, Hiratsuka, Japan. Hiratsuka is Lawrence, KS' sister city. I've spent numerous summers staying in the Sogo Park dormitory. The park is a beautifully manicured, green-to-the-gills part of a bustling city. A professional baseball and soccer team call the park home, and they've just added an outdoor sumo pavillion (not seen on this image).

Green Mountain Falls, CO. My family spent about a month here last summer. Wonderful little town, just outside of Colorado Springs. You can see the small pond in the middle of the town. This was the finish line of my dad and my morning runs. The cluster of buildings includes The Pantry, where we at breakfast each morning.

Santa Fe, NM. I've marked the Inn on the Alameda. My family took an old-fashioned family trip a few years back and it remains one of the best vacations ever.

Something new

I'm very stoked to head to the New Communications Forum next month. Here's a snippet from the Web site:
This year, we take the conversation to the next level, examining how blogs, wikis, podcasts and other emerging tools, technologies and modes of communication are affecting organizations and how communications professionals from across the spectrum are harnessing these tools to engage in market conversations, deepen and strengthen relationships with key audiences, gain new insights into their audiences' perceptions and behavior and achieve bottom line results.

I'm stoked. I'll be heading to sunny California with my Blog Mentor, Jeff Risley. Follow both of our blogs in the upcoming weeks as we'll surely share our thoughts, learnings and geek-isms in relation to the forum.

Speaking of Risley, he's started a cool feature on his blog. He's posting pictures of random things he observes during his day. Along those same lines, I changed my desktop image yesterday. I take my desktop image very seriously, so this was a big deal.

I took the new picture at a bar/coffee shop/DJ room in Ginza (Tokyo). One of the coolest spaces I've been in. Japan is one of those places one might look for me if I up and disappear one day. In the meantime, a good desktop image allows me some mental escape.

Monday, February 06, 2006

In the Sun

About a month ago, I saw Coldplay on Austin City Limits. Chris Martin delivered a sub-par performance, however, Michael Stipe came in and saved the show with a haunting rendition of Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun." So, I went online, on iTunes, and everywhere else to find the song. Of course, iTunes didn't allow the song to be purchased as a single, forcing me to buy the only album iTunes had with the song included, The 'L' Word. Or, I could go to Amazon and purchase Arthur's Come to Where I'm From album, which includes the song. At this point, I was mad at iTunes, at Joseph Arthur and at Coldplay (simply because Chris Martin is a default scapegoat).

OK. So, in my anger, I download the guitar tablature and learn how to play the song myself. If I can't listen to it, I'll sing it. Then, Coldplay's performance (generous) on ACL showed up in video format on iTunes. Rock on - maybe Stipe's incredible performance is included. Nope. ANGER!
I'd given up hope and resigned to buying Come to Where I'm From, then heard the song on Grey's Anatomy last night. Amazing. Leave it to GA's song choreographers to light the fire under Stipe's cover. I knew song soon would be public - iTunes (and Stipe - a seasoned cross-promoter) couldn't let this go.

Not only did they not let this opportunity go, they were in front of it.

I purchased Stipe's 4-song EP on iTunes this morning. It's amazing. Includes duets with Martin (the version on GA), Arthur and a remix from Justin Timberlake and (don't laugh - it's good). Now, I was still sneering at the orchestrated commercialism of this process, until I found that this was in fact a very impressive launch for Michael Stipe's In the Sun Foundation - a foundation dedicated to the Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. Very cool. I enjoy when my cynicism is unwarranted.

So now, I eat crow. What I deemed simple inconvenience to my ears was in fact a brilliant preparation for launching a profound project. The path to a launch doesn't get much bigger than this:

Hurricane Katrina>Austin City Limits appearance with Coldplay>final soundtrack slot on post-Super Bowl Grey's Anatomy>featured iTunes EP.

Brilliant. Since downloading the EP in my pajamas this morning, I've had the EP on repeat. It was worth the wait, not because I can now play the song while strumming away, but because the wait encompassed purpose. And the four dollars I spent prior to knowing where those dollars would go, now are helping a worthy cause.

The world needs more Michael Stipes. And I need a little more confidence in the world.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A blog to watch

My boss, Mike Swenson, has started a blog. It's about time. Mike's a deep, diverse thinker and a gifted writer. Expect great conversations on public relations as well as Mike's music and movie insights.

Buzz v. Loyalty

I've been thinking a lot about buzz. Buzz is held with high regard. Everyone wants buzz. Everyone celebrates buzz. But buzz is not the pinacle of a brand's success. Loyalty is where it's at. Focus on loyalty, and buzz will come. Focus on buzz and you risk losing sight of where success truly resides.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dang it, I can't restrain myself

Just found this video. Nice visual aide to the Bush Brand post earlier. This is why I don't normally post on political issues.

The Bush Brand

Interesting read from Nick Wreden's FusionBrand Blog. Wreden makes a case for G-Dub's brand building and current equity. Caution: read this for what it says, not for what it states. Make sense? I'm not posting this to start a political debate or support/dispute Bush's success as a leader/president. Anyone who knows me knows I believe electing W was one of the best things that could ever have happened to the people of the U.S., simply because it proved that yes, anyone can be president. See? I couldn't hold back.

To piggy-back on Wreden's thoughts, here are my top-five ways Bush has created and maintained his brand. In my humble, democratic opinion, in no order.

1) "W" bumper stickers during the election. Brilliant. Capitalize on a nickname created by the people. The stickers elevated his recognition to a level that left those corny, traditional presidential bumper stickers at the stoplight. Made a "we don't need campaign swag to compete" statement.
2) Speak honestly. The public picks up on tone change in speeches, conversation and quotes - more than we PR-folks give the public credit for. Consistency counts - not only in content but in tone. Bush's handlers don't try to make him sound like someone he's not. Depressing that I have a better command of the language than my president? Yes. However, when Bush is constantly picked apart for telling the truth, keeping his tone true is the best defense.
3) Belts. Many presidents try to wear casual belts and they fail. Bush's vacation belts look good. This illustrates a broader point: When Bush is at "home" on the "ranch" he looks like I might look if I grew up on a ranch. It's not forced, he looks relaxed in his own skin. Clinton never looked good out of a suit. Reagan looked good in street clothes. It means something.
4) Did not marry Hillary. Could there be a better way to preserve your brand? Here's to Laura Bush.
5) Keeps friends. Bush may not be good at making friends, but he's a master at keeping friends - and keeping them around. Loyalty is an important image, and whether you agree or disagree with his cabinet, it's filled with people who would wreck their mountain bike for Bush.

And yes, Virginia, I did just say five nice things about President Bush.

Now go to, type in "failure" and hit the "feeling lucky" button.

What I've enjoyed this week

Stuff I've been enjoying this week:

Nada Surf, "Let Go." Holy "why have I not been listening to this, Batman." Nada's coming to Lawrence on the 15th (with Rogue Wave!), and I realized all I knew of Nada was "high/low" and "The Weight is a Gift." Let go is freakin' amazing. Buy it. Now. Stop reading. But come back and read. Check out "Blizzard of 77," "Inside of Love," "Blonde on Blonde," "Killian's Red."

Kendall Payne. If this girl wasn't married, I'd probably propose. Check out "Grown."

Interpol, "Antics." I was late in getting this abum...but it is as good or better as Interpol's previous album, "Turn on the Bright Lights."

Radio in my bathroom.
Yesterday, as I was setting my main living room stereo to deafening decibles (as I do most mornings) to hear NPR's broadcast while in the bathroom, I remembered purchasing a small, battery-operated weather radio years ago and decided to hunt for it. I now can listen to the news and be updated on inclement weather, while shaving. Awesome.

Dilbert, from today's strip.