Friday, June 29, 2012


Let's wrap up this work week, shall we?

- I am shocked that TomKat is no more.  Shocked, I say...

- C'mon, admit it--you've missed the funny "Pizza! Pizza!" ads once used by Little Caesar's pizza.  Like all good ad campaigns when an advertiser needs a boost, this one is making a comeback.  Little Caesar's will launch its first national campaign in 15 years and is returning to its "Pizza! Pizza!" tagline and Little Caesar character.  Little Caesar's has $1.48B of the pizza market behind leaders Pizza Hut ($5.4B), Domino's ($3.4B) and Papa John's ($2.2B.)

- In the latest figures released by Advertising Age, Procter & Gamble tops the list of 100 Leading National Advertisers with a total 2011 U.S. spend of $4,971.5B.  General Motors is next but far behind at $3,055.7B.  The remaining advertisers in the top ten are Verizon ($2,523.0B), Comcast ($2,465.4B), AT&T ($2,359.0B), JPMorgan Chase & Co. ($2,351.8B), Ford Motor Co. ($2,141.3B), American Express ($2,125.3B), L'Oreal ($2,124.6B) and Walt Disney Co. ($2,112.2B.)  Sprint Nextel Corp. was 22nd at $1,400.0B.

- After a 10-year hiatus, Matchbox 20 is back with a new album, North, due out on September 4.

- What were the top Twitter trends for this week?  Nora Ephron topped the list followed by RIP Michael Jackson, Lugo, Now Playing, Spice Girls, Alan Turing, Happy World Music Day, San Juan, and Happy Birthday Ariana.  Writer and filmmaker Ephron died this week and this week was also the third anniversary of Jackson's death.  As for the Spice Girls, the five Brits announced this week that they are working together on a new musical, Viva Forever, which will feature many of the Spice gals' hits.

- In the "no surprise" category, Savannah Guthrie was named today to succeed Ann Curry as co-anchor of Today (NBC.)  There was no word in the crisply worded NBC statement as to whether Matt Lauer personally approved Guthrie's appointment or not.

- Shepard Fairey was asked by the Rolling Stones to update their iconic tongue logo in honor of the band's fiftieth anniversary.  That logo was unveiled this week and combines the numerals "5" and "0" into "The Rolling Stones," with the large lips and tongue artwork staying as the central design of the band's brand identity.  The original logo was designed in 1971 by John Pasche, a student at the Royal College of Art in London.

- And finally, here in the ol' cowtown, folks are licking their lips in anticipation of the July 5 opening of the Leawood outpost of Oklahoma Joe's barbecue.  The 'cue establishment is going into the space formerly occupied by TGIFriday's at 119th and Roe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hot air balloons, goggles and God Bless the USA

- Sign of the apocalypse:  A principal in a New York school banned kindergarten students from singing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" at their graduation on the grounds that "we don't want to offend other cultures."

- Did you hear about the Indiana man whose marriage proposal went awry?  The hopeful young man hired a hot air balloon to propose to his girlfriend only to have the balloon collide with power lines, delivering a shock that knocked out the pilot who then fell on the young woman.  Both the pilot and bride-to-be were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.  Thankfully for the young man, the future bride said "yes" before the accident occurred.

- Did you like the ending of The Killing?  The AMC drama thankfully unveiled the killer of Rosie Larson.  Now, what will happen to the show next year...?

- Game of Thrones' popularity among teens and young adults generated an average of 3.9 million pirated downloads per episode during this recently concluded season.  That number is more than the 3.8 million who legally watched the show on HBO.

- The "Leading Actress in a Musical" Tony Award winner was Audra McDonald for her role in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.  Those who watch Private Practice (ABC) know McDonald as Dr. Naomi Bennett.  It was the fourth Tony Award win for McDonald.

- Here's your DIY tip of the day--use goggles when you cut an onion to prevent the normal tearing-up.  (Hey, c'mon, face it--you get all kinds of fun insight into an eclectic bunch of topics on this blog.)

- Actor Jared Harris did five hours of media interviews the Monday after his character, Lane Pryce, committed suicide on Mad Men (AMC.)  Not only were viewers caught off guard by the shocking development but so too were Harris' agents.  Unlike actors on other dramas (Sean Bean, Game of Thrones; Jon Bernthal, The Walking Dead) who signed on to do other projects, thus signaling their fate on their respective shows, Harris gamely ignored other opportunities in order to keep the fate of Pryce a secret until the show aired.  Brad Schenck, one of Harris' agents, knew that things were going the wrong direction when Harris' Pryce forged a check on the show.  "I told my wife, 'This isn't good'," said Schenck.

- And, finally, if you've chosen to avoid the new Dallas on TNT, you're missing the chance to see several aged original characters reprise their roles.  The most shocking comparison is Charlene Tilton who, since 1979, has aged rather dramatically.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A lesson in leadership

You've likely been there, either on one side of the desk or the other.  The interviewer is firing away questions at the interviewee when, inevitably, that point in the interview session arrives where the questioning gets reversed.  Good interviewers ask "do you have any questions for me?"  Good interviewees seize control, if that question isn't asked, and say "do you mind if I ask you some questions?"

When I've experienced that situation as an interviewer, it seems that the first question asked was always "what's your management style" to which I would respond "hire good people and get out of their way."

I realize, in retrospect, that many of us say that but few truly mean it.  Or, if we do, we get lazy at how much effort we put forth into hiring truly "good people."

What often happens in business is that the those who are hired and who are good are taken advantage of by their bosses.  "Go to" people become "go to all the time" people.  While a good team member may enjoy being seen as a "go to" associate, he or she still faces the likelihood of job burn-out because of the consistency of the requests coming in from the boss.  Whether the boss likes it or not, resentment kicks in as the "go to" person feels punished for being a good employee.

How do you fix this problem?  One, make sure that you are giving absolute best effort when making a hire.  And, two, once the hire is made, ensure that you are doing your job as a manager by coaching the new hire--and every member of your team--to get better.

Providing open and honest feedback, to every team member, is essential.  Candid feedback and coaching can help the good get better, keeps everyone engaged with ownership of their career, and allows you to "de-hire" the low performers.

Yes, I said "de-hire."  Ignoring performance issues impacts not only the associate who is under-performing but the team chemistry of the whole group.  Associates take their lead from their boss--when they see a performance issue go un-addressed it is only natural that doubt and resentment can kick in, negatively impacting the performance of the whole team.

Remember, "people quit people before they quit companies."  (Monday Morning Leadership, David Cottrell.)  Don't let your team members quit on you--address the problems which need to be addressed, continue to hire the very best, and coach each and every member of your group.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Breaking down Father's Day

I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to my Pops--a special, special man and one who has had tremendous influence on my life and family.

So, let's take this occasion to have some fun and break down the numbers of Father's Day:

- A woman in Spokane, WA can be credited with "inventing" Father's Day.  She thought that Dads deserved their special day, just like Moms, and so celebrated the day on June 19, 1910--her father's birthday.

- President Calvin Coolidge publicly supported a national Father's Day but it wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed it a national holiday.  President Richard Nixon followed up in 1972 by signing a permanent U.S. Father's Day into law, observed on the third Sunday in June.  (And, yes, 1972 was a busy year for Nixon given that we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in this week--a crime which took place in the same year as putting Father's Day into law.)

- How many fathers are there in America?  An estimated 70.1 million men can claim that title.

- There are 1.7 million single fathers in the U.S.  Of those, 170,000 are raising three or more children.

- 176,000 men are stay-at-home fathers.

- Hallmark estimates that 94 million Father's Day cards are exchanged each year, making it the fourth-biggest card "event" of the year.

- How much will we spend on Father's Day?  According to the National Retail Federation, the average person will spent $117.14 on their Pops or other fathers they know.

- The Guinness World Record for the oldest man to father a child is held by Les Colley of Australia, who sired his son, Oswald, at age 92.

- Did you know that Presidents Washington, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan and Harding had no children?

- "Papa Don't Preach," by Madonna, reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100.  And, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," by the Temptations, won three Grammys in 1972.

- And, finally, sticking with the music category, the Rolling Stones have been together 50 years with Mick Jagger as the lead singer.  Jagger has been prolific in the fatherhood department--he has seven children.

So, for all the fathers out there--enjoy this your special day and say a word of "thanks" to the woman in Spokane who decided that we needed our own Father's Day.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly

Good:  This isn't exactly a "good" thing but the final episode of this season of Mad Men is Sunday at 9:00 p.m. CT (AMC.)  The past two episodes have been the best of the season and perhaps two of the best ever meaning that Sunday's finale promises to not disappoint.

Bad:  Male bashing continues, this time at the hands of  A recent article by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan opines that young males have "technology enchantment," meaning that they crave instant gratification at the console of a gaming device or trolling for online porn.  The result?  These young males find school, jobs and long-term relationships to be "painfully boring."

Ugly:  One in five Americans admits having urinated in a public swimming pool.  (Source:  CNN Water Quality and Health Council)

Good:  The History Channel's Hatfields & McCoys, set viewership records for the cable network as close to 14 million viewers tuned in to the first episode.

Bad:  A man dressed as Darth Vader recently robbed a Toledo bank.  Sources say that the Sith lord, er, robber, used a semiautomatic pistol instead of the more traditional light saber.

Ugly:  John Davis of Ohio recently tried to hand two one-dollar bills to a panhandler, who was confined to a wheelchair.  One of the bills dropped to the ground and, minutes later, police ticketed Davis for littering.  The fine?  $500!

Good:  The Hollywood Reporter had this to say about nominations for the Emmy Awards and the Best Drama category:  "Justified (FX)--This.  Must.  Happen.  Now, three seasons in, a nomination is overdue..."  The entertainment industry magazine expects nominations to go to Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and The Good Wife, but is campaigning for not only shows like Justified but Homeland (Showtime.)  I echo their sentiments on both of those shows.

Bad:  Speaking of television ratings, ABC's The Bachelorette is down 18% year-over-year in the 18-49 year old demographic.

Ugly:  Gregg Allman takes his seventh turn down the wedding aisle this month, claiming "This time, I am really in love."  Didn't the blues rocker say the same thing on weddings two, three, four, five and six?

And, finally, in our "double ugly" bonus round comes this--the typical CEO of an American company made $9.6 million last year.  If you take the national median salary of $39,312, a worker would have to work for 244 years to make the equivalent of that one year of CEO pay!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The next chapter

I recently left corporate life at a publicly traded company and decided to try my hand at "doing my own thing," a k a starting my own business.  My focus is on consulting--to large brands, small brands, large companies, and small companies, with the flexibility to take on special projects and continue the guest lecturing which I love to do at the collegiate and post-graduate level.

The shift from Fortune 100 company to party of one has been dramatic, to say the least.  How so, you ask?  Well...

- The instinctive curling of my arm to check e-mails on the iPhone in my mitt has gradually ceased.  I am coming to terms that no one is constantly looking for me or desiring to connect with me.  My e-mail volume is down by, oh, 90% or so.  Don't get me wrong as I'm not complaining--the sharp reduction in electronic importance is a bit of a blow to the old ego, however.

- I formerly lived in a world where my calls were answered and, if not, the recipient would typically return my call within the hour.  These days, a typical response time for my calls is within the week...maybe.

- Office interaction?  You bet--I have hallway conversations with our two cats at home and my wife will check in with me to say "I'm headed to the store--do you need anything?"  Yep, those hallway meetings are really quite productive.

- Speaking of offices, I have a satellite office now too.  One of the benefits of empty nesting is the ability to take over what formerly was a child's bedroom.  So, the downstairs office is for show and the upstairs (satellite) office is where the work really gets done.

- I'm buying my own office supplies now.

In all seriousness, the change from corporate life to proprietor life, while dramatic, has also been liberating.  The constant connectivity is still there, if needed, but the volume decline has been a welcome respite from the nightly e-mail check-in sessions which were necessary to manage work flow.

I very much miss my colleagues but also enjoy the ability to roll out of bed, shower, and be in my office a few paces from the bedroom.

The journey to potentially making this a full-time, start my own business chapter is still very much in the formative stages.  Yet, I kind of like the freedom and thought of charting a path which is one that I created.  Stay tuned as I check in with you all from time-to-time to update you on how this post-corporate life gig is going.