Wednesday, January 30, 2008


i've opined on this blog on the love i have for travel and more specifically, the feeling you get when you GO. the change in lighting as you cross from the terminal to the jetway. the welcomed thud when the airplane's landing gear first hits the destination tarmac. the first step out of a hotel in a new city. a stamp on the passport. it's a feeling that is in every way freeing, overwhelming, invigorating and empowering. you're moving. escaping. going.

i needed an afternoon break from a couple projects and grabbed some stale joe and jumped onto the Influx Insights blog, finding a great post on escape, just when i needed a mental vacation. not only does the post feature one of my favorite authors and stories, Thoreau's Walden, VW's nightdriving spot is embedded.

in short, a British theater company is performing Walden in a parking garage. more here at the BLDblog. a juxtaposition of Thoreau's focus on solitude and nature and the man-made concrete incubator that is a parking garage. it got me thinking of how i define escape. the important act of clearing one's head and experiencing a freshness one can't get just by cycling through life. not literally cycling, though, as it's quite a great escape. how do brands allow for escape? how do our hobbies, likes and activities provide a window into what our soul fights to make constant?

Walden in a garage, awesome. the veedub spot, equally insightful. both underline what I think was one of Walden's main points: awareness.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived...

Walden was certainly a precursor to modern stories of solitude. just re-reading the excerpts in the BLDBlog made me think of the way I felt while reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and now as I read Desert Solitude by Edward Abbey. so where are you trying to go? where do your customers want to be transported? and most importantly, for your wallet, how do you get there (and get them there) without booking a cross-Pacific trip?

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Big finish in the Arctic Challenge

what was billed as an "Arctic Challenge" was unseasonably mild, which only dulled the pain of a very tough trail running and mountain biking course. first, big kudos to Patrick and Joel of KC Multisport on a very challenging and well-organized event. it's the first of what i hope is an annual occurrence. really nice job, guys.

the race consisted of two run stages, which were mostly off-road, and one mountain bike stage, which was filled with slick, icy, slushy, muddy trail conditions and many dismounts to hike to checkpoints along the way, or carry/walk the bike through un-ridable conditions.

i teamed up with my buddy kevin, who had stellar orienteering skills and pushed me past a pulled thigh injury i incurred the night before. thanks to some great anti-inflammatory drugs and a good Ace-bandage tape job, i was good to go.

the race was peppered with 17 checkpoint areas, which were marked by an orange kite (small) normally off the trail and into the woods. we relied on a map, instincts, compass and orienteering skills to get from checkpoint to checkpoint.

the first run section was tough, mainly because we hadn't really warmed up and were immediately headed into a hilly route. we came in right behind the leaders at the transition area, feeling pretty good about our positioning going into the bike section. at each transition area, a team-builder was presented. from building a perfect square out of imperfect shapes to a word find to our worst task: balancing and walking as a team on two boards.

hitting the bike section gave my thigh a chance to recover, which felt nice until we got onto the snowy-slushy trail. i've never seen that much mud and crap. it was one of the toughest bike rides i've had.

we moved into the final run knowing we'd broken from a pack of teams and only passed by a couple teams finishing the other way, giving us the momentum we needed and the fantasy of standing on some sort of podium receiving flowers and kisses from pretty girls in cycling jerseys (did not happen, but we got some great chili at the end). we did however have a couple pretty girls cheering for us the whole way, which really helped. it was fun to participate with two other friends, Caroline and Joel, who were part of a very strong coed team (even with Caroline riding on slicks!).

we ended up coming in third in the men's division, which was a pretty sweet finish considering the strength of the competition. many of these folks are in my KC Power Hour spin class and almost all were experienced multi sport athletes. with a number of cuts and caked-on mud covering my legs and pretty well physically spent, we all headed to Barley's to refuel.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008


this is one of those posts i don't know how to correctly write. i am posting for my own benefit, largely, and for the memory of a dear friend who passed away this morning. but i think i'm mostly posting to raise awareness of a disease that is so brutally inclusive.

Andree Rice died this morning outside of seattle. her family was with her. her wonderful husband Bob, her spirited daughter Madison, her mother and sisters and others. her breast cancer had ebbed and flowed substantially since her 1999 diagnosis. the entire time i've known her, since working with her in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, she's battled challenges related to breast cancer. the entire time i've known her, however, not a week has gone by without an e-mail - largely to a group of her "angels" as she called us - updating us on her procedures, treatments, health and most importantly, imparting a joy and wisdom upon us that seemed unfairly backwards. it was she, suffering, gutting it out, who carried us, who didn't understand the things she knew well, and weren't living the life she was reveling in.

it was Andree, who was the true angel in the equation.

the above photo was taken during the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day. that's Andree, in the yellow poncho being interviewed live for one of the station's morning shows. it's a picture that cracks me up each time I see it and think of it because of the back story. Andree, a jubilant, infectiously beautiful breast cancer fighter volunteered to be a media spokesperson for the Breast Cancer 3-Day while I was working PR for the event. we had a few calls, did the requisite media training (which she didn't need) and spoke on the phone a number of times prior to the event. it was as if i was her best and only friend (a sentiment many have attested to since), which ended up being one of her best traits. when we finally met on the event, we embraced like it'd been forever since we'd last spoken, although i'd been pestering her (and her husband) about interviews for weeks.

i think she even brought me chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from her home state of Hawaii that morning.

well, one of the TV stations wanted to include a walker in a live feed the first morning of the event and i wouldn't think of having anyone else go live but Andree. she attracted and engaged everyone who spoke with her. problem was, she got caught up in friends, emotions, hugs and the crowd and was exceedingly late to our meeting place. i later realized that asking Andree to simply walk to a meeting place is lunacy, as she'll find a hundred people and things to discover along the way. when we finally met up, we were minutes, literally a couple minutes to air time. the station's producer was screaming at me on the phone, the reporter was e-mailing, the rain was coming down and we were nowhere near their designated satelitte feed.

the producer gave me an out, saying we could do the interview over the noon show or some other time, but i wasn't - nor was Andree - going to have that. we pulled maneuvers reminiscent of stunt films, laughing the whole way, getting drenched in the process and clipped her mic on her with mere seconds to air, at which time she - fully composed and without a hint of the past few minutes' craziness - nailed an interview and melted the cameraman's (and anchors') hearts.

it is a memory that i will always chuckle at and hold dear, as it encompassed the wellspring of life Andree exuded at all times.

i'm sad that wellspring seems dry tonight. i hurt for Bob and Madison especially. but at the same time, i know it to be true that in just the three years i knew Andree, she has changed lives. she has raised awareness of the importance of breast health and prevention. she has encouraged living and promoted love. and all things considered, it's a joy to have been part of that party.

god bless you, Andree. thank you for all you've made me understand.

you can learn more about the fight against breast cancer, breast health information and prevention at now's also a great time to think about honoring your loved ones who have fought or are fighting breast cancer - or celebrate your survivorship - by participating in the Race for the Cure or the Breast Cancer 3-Day.


A healthy exchange rate

i read an interesting piece in Ad Age last night about Google and Publicis exchanging execs to further each entity's ideation, product development and marketing. brilliant, in my opinion, but with these two behemoths joining forces, came a few cynical thoughts on how calculated the touted ideation and product development will be. i moved on, had some dinner and then read this today.

my friends over at Brains on Fire are starting a Marketer-In-Residence program. i've always admired this shop's innovation and dig Robbin and Spike on a personal level, so this development was not as much a shock as it was a no-brainer (ha!) for this company. kudos guys.

the first M-I-R is John Moore! good luck to both parties, i hope they continue (both) blogging on this experience.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

spot sounds

i was fishing around for the singer behind the MacBook Air spot (Yael Naim) and found her full video of the featured song, New Soul. here it is.

the song is perfect - even in light of the entire video - for the message behind Air. this little hunt got me thinking about a debate i had with a fellow VW and Wilco fan on Sunday, over Wilco's music in the new veedub spots.

Wilco's "Either Way" spot, which blends the song with spot strategy seamlessly:

and Wilco's "Walken," which despite a solid strategy and great execution (especially for the Gen X market) just doesn't seem to work as well. might be better with a lullaby-like song? i know of a number of songs on Sky Blue Sky that fit (Please Be Patient With Me, You Are My Face, On and On and On, for starters).

and speaking of car commercials, this Kia spot has a great strategy, and is executed nicely with the help of a very fitting song by one of my favorites, Joe Purdy.

what's your favorite song and spot matchup?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

design inspiration

i've been a lot this week, after finding some great inspiration throughout the interweb, both for Interwoven Threads and for my ad job.
here's what's inspiring me.

Nike Considered, by Jeff Staple. Nike's beautiful eco-friendly new a new air jordan!

Information Aesthetics. Data visualization

Scrapture. Japanese style/fashion site with great (non-Harajuku, thankfully) images of street style.

Five to Nine Magazine. not only does this mag feature a lot of us who get our creative on between the hours of 5 to 9 (brilliant name), but is available for free PDF download. a growing trend, which I love.

The Sky Is Falling, by the Ecospot Grand Prize winner, animation artist Dave Schlafman.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

saturday tunes

i've had a super-productive saturday morning. as most mornings go, it began with the Monk-dog burying his head under the covers, then jolting it upwards to jar me awake. may have been that i just felt under the weather this week (or that it's now saturday), but I bounded out of bed and took him into the backyard to drink some coffee (me) and partake in some squirrel intimidation (him).

filled some interwoven threads orders (preparing shipping packages gives me an insane amount of joy) while listening to the new Radiohead album (for the love of God, this is a great effort). i especially love the model Radiohead experimented with, in offering the album for any price the consumer wanted to pay. not only did that reap great pr and sales, it only encouraged folks to buy the album in box-form when it became available in the real world. it's currently numero uno on the Billboard chart. victory! here's the band's special NYE video, Scotch Mist. amazing....

just downloaded the new album from Coconut Records - actor Jason Schwartzman's one-man (with help) band. it's stellar. great weekend music. it's amazingly ADD in its sound, moving from mellow and melancholy folk (think Ben Kweller) to funky dork (think Weezer). i'm loving it. it's a nice surprise to find an actor making quality music. i got impatient and bought the album from iTunes, however, if you buy it from Coconut Records, Schwartzman throws in a Polaroid Pic for your extra consumer effort. check the below video for one of my instant favorites from the album:

here's what i'm not going to do this weekend. too cold to jump on the trails. i think part of the cold i battled last week was from inhaling too much mud last saturday.

instead, i'm headed to ibex to climb with a friend (her first time bouldering!). should be fun.

have an invigorating weekend.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

agencies, brands doing good

friday afternoons call for some inspiration to put you into the weekend.

via the inspirational planning for good, a quick video on why agencies and brands should be focused on doing good in the world. we hear a lot about brands good work through corporate social responsibility, cause and philanthropy, but not a whole lot about the powerful work agencies can do to support such causes on their own. as our clients are increasingly looking to do good work in their industries and for their consumers, they'll rightly look at their agencies to ensure like minds are present.

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are you scaring anyone?

been a while since i've posted a link to the brandbuilder blog. it's surely overdue, and here it is.

via Olivier, via Kathy Sierra, a wonderful reminder. are your ideas scaring anyone? are your ideas big or just status quo? are you actually creating change or simply creating sameness?

"If your new Big Idea doesn't scare the hell out of you, it's probably not a new Big Idea. If it doesn't scare other people, it might be because you allowed the consensus (or what you imagined as the consensus) to smooth the pointy bits, buffing and polishing the idea into a nice safe state that displeases nobody and delights nobody."

here's to a little ruffling of the feathers.

happy friday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

it may be the cold medicine....

...or the Sigur Ros booming through the stereo speakers, but i was just blown away by the new project We Are Multicolored. check it. what a concept for a time such as now.

Green technology? Oxymoron?

just posted a little ditty on the Do Better Blog regarding the electronics industry and green technology. check it.

while you're at it, don't forget to add the Do Better Blog to your RSS or blog reader.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Please stop talking, Bill

i'm a big fan of Bill Clinton. always have been. i have many good things to say about his work both in office and out of office. but i'm getting pretty sick of him talking out loud lately. we all have inside voices and i don't fault his, however, he's coming off as bitter, arrogant and rather unsavory lately, when he should be the calm that covers the storm that is his wife's presidential campaign. as Hillary summons tears and locates something known as emotion, President Clinton has been making me cringe in his own video clips and interviews.

writers' strike be damned! bring the drama!

i thought this one was bad...

then today i saw this clip of President Clinton in New Hampshire.

we'll see how the New Hampshire primaries go tonight. another Obama victory will be a powerful signal that America might rather go with a "fairy tale" as President Clinton references, than another dynasty.

so, what is your thinking? was Hillary the puppeteer of a well-timed emotional cloud break, or did we see a side of her she might have been mistakenly covering all this time? was this her Howard Dean moment?

speaking of Dean, whom i do respect and had an enjoyable conversation with on an airplane once, i think i've finally realized the cause of his unfortunate audible (ha ha...get it?). i'm spending the day home sick, finally bowing to a cough and cold that i've been wrastling with since Christmas, and i realize, in my weakened vocal state, that if someone gave me a microphone and a little dose of energy, that's the exact sound I'd make.

so, "ryaaaahhhh" New Hampshire. "ryaeeeeaaahhhhhrrr" democracy. we'll see what happens this evening.

my friend sara sent me this New York Times opinion column by Gloria Steinem. it's pretty thought-provoking. regardless of what tonight's and this election's outcomes are, we are moving forward as a country, a step long overdue but profound in its impact.

i'm off to the doctor.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Enjoying solitude, safely

i've been heartbroken over the death of Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson. tonight's CNN story on the discovery of her body, aided by her accused assailant got me thinking about how we find a balance between the solitude and peace being outdoors provides and the dangers we all face - not just women - when we set out alone.

i have a number of female friends who run, hike and bike alone often. when i hear their recounting of running through dark trails or setting off on a day hike without their cell phone, I cringe a bit. but, it's them. it's what they do and love. as with myself and many of my male friends, it's part of our DNA. but it doesn't overshadow the fact that going out alone is inherently dangerous. from a slip and fall to getting lost or being caught unprepared at the change of weather, there are a number of risks one assumes in the outdoors. i get this, and can respect that danger. it's part of the adventure. what i don't understand and can't rationalize is that we live in a time when instead of greeting fellow hikers or outdoors people with interest and graciousness, we must - especially females - be overly cautious of their intentions. it's just sad.

it's a reminder to think twice. pack the things you need. take your dog along. grab a good knife or pepper spray. stuff that extra tire tube in your saddle bag. take plenty of water. and as tempting as it is to leave your cell phone in the car when going off, take it.

i did a quick run through Google and found some sites that provide good tips on hiking safety.

Tread Lightly
Sierra Trading Post

be safe. my thoughts and prayers are with Meredith's family and the family of John and Irene Bryant, who also were found dead while on a hike...i'd heard about their deaths before, but just now realized the two cases may be linked. i hope both are solved quickly.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Interwoven Threads on the tele and Exactitudes in my head

i put my PR experience to good use yesterday morning and media trained myself (it's much easier being the trainer than the trainee) before jumping on the Fox 4 morning show to talk about Interwoven Threads. check out a clip of the interview and more details here.

i about spit out my soup as i perused Exactitudes, which might be the most inspiring and insightful photography project i've ever seen. thanks to josh for the heads up.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How to run a business: New Belgium Brewery

i spent a few days during the winter advertising agency break in denver visiting friends and being reminded why i should live in colorado. alas, i'm back in the flatlands missing the mountains terribly. while there, we went to Fort Collins to imbibe in the fruits of two of my favorite breweries, Odell and New Belgium. while my time at Odell was delish, this post is about New Belgium and why it is setting a standard for companies, employees and employers everywhere. as the owner of a green(er) and socially-conscious company and an employee in the marketing world, many examples, best practices and innovations were taken from the tour, all of which, if heeded and followed, will make my own corner of the world better. first, some beer shots.

(@ Odell)

(@new belgium)

i've been a New Belgium loyalist and Fat Tire advocate for a long time. in fact, the first draft beer i ordered (legally) in college was New Belgium's hearty 1554. there is simply so much good to say about New Belgium that this post would begin to be a rambling love fest if i don't organize somehow, so here's what we're going to do. a review of the brewery and its relevance to corporate culture in two parts:
1) The company
2) The employee

so here's the environmental-and marketing-framed review. grab a brew and enjoy.

1) The Company

Let's start by getting the obvious out of the way: you'd be damn lucky to work here. and here's the fun detail in that statement: being around beer is not even the best part of the job. no, after touring New Belgium, I realized that this company's best asset is that it sees itself as something much, much bigger than a brewery and in turn, its employees and customers share that unique vision. if you have a short attention span, getting to this point has pretty well summed up the rest of the post, which will attempt to legitimate that claim.

so how does a company gain that kind of "something bigger" brand personality? by being attentive to its every working part. it's clear, when you tour New Belgium, that they've considered all aspects of production, customer interaction, employment and brand relationships to ensure they are doing better each step of the way. from taking a burden off of Fort Collins (and bettering New Belgium's efficiency) by treating its own wastewater to instituting an employee-owned culture that actually engages employees in major decisions (not the superficial "employee stock option" plans so many companies tout, but do little to make relevant). the employees vote on everything from the purchase of new technology (like the new brew kettles below) to new positions created within the staff.

as far as perks, the company gives each employee a custom-made cruiser bike upon their one-year anniversary (the building is teeming with bikes and the culture promotes pedal-commuting as equal parts fitness and environmentalism...and yes, i had a nerdgasm over this perk). employees get up to a case of beer per week to take home (most are not only environmental and cycling zealots, they know their beer backwards, sideways and suds).

but back to the main takeaway, the company has focused on every single moving part to find a way to make it better, meaningful and consistent with the brand. waste is turned into livestock feed. or, wind-powered production.

while most companies (production and service) work hard to cut corners, New Belgium is reaping brand and profit benefits from leaving no stone unturned. a great example of this brand attentiveness is New Belgium's sourcing of furniture, sculpture and merchandise from recycled-bike-parts-artists Resource Revival. here's a pic of the tasting-room barstool, constructed out of recycled bike rims.

New Belgium is well recognized among the green and sustainable circles as one of the best examples of a "green company." and like most successful companies, it gained this recognition (could be "innovative" or "socially responsible" or "design-centric") by implementing a mindset in each step of it's growth in an honest way. New Belgium didn't adopt sustainable production and management because it's trendy. it adopted the sustainable mindset because it was good citizenship, good business, and moreover, an inextricable part of its founders' and employees' personality. what a novel idea: believe in what your company stands for.

click here before going farther to get a great, short, view of the way the New Belgium has utilized its focus on sustainability and social consciousness to be profitable AND fun. an example in vision and strategy all companies should follow.

2) The Employee

the most commonly asked question and topic of conversation during our tour was "how do I get a job here." people hounded our wonderful tour guide. it spoke volumes about the company that he was such an educated zealot and perfect brand ambassador after just four months of employment. you'd think he was a founding partner. and that (bosses, managers, owners reading) is exactly what you want your employees to convey. he had buy in, both literally in his ownership plan and in his loyalty. he had excitement for the brand that was as sincere as you can get (not the dog and pony company tour or recruitment b.s.).

i enjoyed hearing him describe his employer. he loved his founders and reveled in the sacrifices they made to build the company. it was certainly a tone you don't hear often and his excitement for the brand and knowledge of its history was remarkable. he splits his time from bartender in the tasting room to tour guide (a hybrid position many employees have) and let us know that everyone from the founders to the marketing folks to the receptionists give group tours (how well does your receptionist live your brand?).

sure, he digs the perks. as a cycling nut, he is anxiously awaiting his one-year gift (what did you get at one year? a pen? nothing? was anyone keeping track?) and is thankful that his employers recognize and reward his contribution. he digs taking home new brews at night and sharing them with friends (all of whom are jealous of his job). he likes the fact that his employer is one of the most green companies around (click here for its sustainability overview). he likes that the cruiser bike he'll get in a few more months is representative of the company's growth strategy: slow and enjoyable, like a spin on a fat-tire cruiser and not just some corporate gift.

New Belgium employees benefit from open-ended growth opportunities, proven profitable ownership and from my short time there, a healthy HR program. this is something that has come to be a pet peeve of mine. HR is such an essential feature of a company. the employee benefits are huge, but moreover, if the HR dept. is in sync with the company's brand strategy, the way that brand is lived and absorbed internally positions the company to spread a level of brand awareness essential to success.

it's my experience that companies can be divided in two ways, both of which involve the way an employee is viewed: employee as a means-to-an-end (also referred to as a cog, replaceable, etc.) and employee as an irreplaceable linchpin able to propel the company forward or take it down. we've all worked for the first type of company and most of us spend much of our professional careers trying to find a place in the second type. New Belgium is one of the best examples of this second type i've ever seen. it's clear - from the genuinely enthusiastic bartender to the nerded-out brewer to the guy who cut me a 15 percent off deal on merchandise for being involved with Team Wonderbike - that empowerment is a cultural norm.

in short, New Belgium is a company that tries harder and does better. in return, its employees are more valuable and its customers go the extra mile to advocate for and be loyal to the brand.

whew! i'm thirsty.

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