Loving Your Sheep

Sheep

I guess people love all sorts of things. 

This one lady had a bumper sticker on her truck that said, “I [Heart] Love Sheep.”

First, I thought the messaging was about loving “The Shepard”–either her husband, a paramour, or a reference to the Messiah. 

Then I took a second take, and realized, NO not the shepard, but the actual sheep–she loves. 

Well, people love their dogs, cats, horses, and so why not their sheep?

I don’t know, but as a “city boy,” loving your sheep never would really occur to me, then again I was sheltered in Yeshiva. 

Anyway, after I took a quick photo of the professed love sticker, this lady starts yelling after me about why am I looking at her car.  

I responded, “No, not the car–the sticker (about the sheep).”

She’s like, “Oh, that’s okay then!”–like of course, it’s about my love of sheep. 

So here, this post is dedicated to everyone that loves their sheep or shepard or whatever rocks their particular boats. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Snapchat, Eat Your Heart Out

Disappearing Ink
As so many of you app users know, Snapchat allows you to send texts, drawings, photos, and videos, but with privacy, knowing they will disappear in a few seconds.



Disappearing messages is certainly not a new idea–in spycraft or for kids. 



Remember the disappearing ink (or maybe you’ve forgotten because it disappeared)?



Well, this is a photo of disappearing-disappearing ink!



Someone apparently stole the disappearing ink right out of the packaging in the store–it has truly disappeared. 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Surveillance Society {Funny}

Surveillance Society {Funny}

This was funny photo my wife and I took in a medical practitioner’s office.

Above the floodlights, was a picture of these staring eyes.

And it was simply thumbtacked onto the wallpaper.

One of the receptionists asked why we were taking the photo.

We sort of giggled–uh, this was not exactly the typical surveillance scenario in the 21st century of CCTVs, drones, hidden mics, tracking devices, and big data–not even close!

But maybe it’s just a reminder that someone is ALWAYS looking. 😉

March Of The Dangerous Penguins

March Of The Dangerous Penguins

This was a funny picture on the streets of Washington D.C.

Someone drew these “armed” and dangerous penguins on the back of a chair.

The chair is translucent, but with the snow coming down and covering it, you can see this crazy drawing.

Perhaps this is a message from the local NRA advocating for gun rights, who knows?

Anyway, these penguins are cute little fellows even carrying scoped rifles and staring down the everyday passerbys. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Starbucks Playbook

The Starbucks Playbook

I’m in Starbucks and this young lady is drawing one of Starbucks promo signs.

This one was for the new Starbucks Caramel Flan which is a latte (coffee with a shot of expresso and frothy steamed milk) with whipped cream and generous topping of caramel.

In making the sign, the girl was nervous that she wouldn’t do a good job because of her drawing skills, but she was actually doing pretty well.

I learned some interesting things from her that the big picture of the cup of coffee on the sign is actually a magnet–so that just snapped in place and was a big help.

Then as you can see on the left, she is a holding a playbook from Starbucks Corporate that has a miniature version of the sign that she is supposed to draw with instructions.

So this is her guide and the same used by all the other Starbucks putting up this promo this week.

From a marketing and branding perspective, this helps keep it tight in terms of the messaging, timing, and look and feel.

Starbucks leaves nothing to chance with their coffee sales and this methodology of having each store draw the promo by hand but from a playbook makes it both authentic and professional.

Nice job with the Caramel Flan sign! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Communicating 360

Communicating 360

My daughter, Michelle, is taking a university class in public relations and as part of the class she was asked to interview 3 people about their perceptions of this field.

So she posed some questions to me and here is how the interview went:

1. In your own opinion, what is public relations? Why do you think of public relations this way?

Public relations is simple, it’s about relations with the public–communicating and connecting with people about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, for whom you do it, when you do it, and where you do it. It is includes marketing and sales, customer relations, investor relations, government relations, relations with partners, as well as crisis communications, and maybe even recruiting talent to the organization.

2. What do you think of when you think of public relations? Why do you think of this/these?

When I think of public relations, I tend to think of many of the big, well-known brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Allstate, and so on–they do a lot of advertising and communicating with the public. They invest in this and it has a pay-off in terms of organization, product, and brand recognition.

3. What do you think the skills are that are needed to work in public relations?

Creativity, visual thinking, messaging, branding, marketing, sales, and psychology.

4. Would you distinguish public relations from marketing? If so, how?

Public relations, to me, is broader than marketing. Marketing has to do with getting product awareness out there and selling, but public relations involves not only connecting with customers, but also investors, suppliers, partners, even the government, and international players.

5. Can you give examples of what you think public relations is today?

Public relations is how an organization interfaces and communicates with all its stakeholders. It is mainly external or outward facing and differs from internal communications which is inward facing, like talking with employees. Public relations uses advertising, media, commercials, messaging, branding, logos, newsletters, mailings, to get the word out from the organization’s perspective–good news and also countering bad news.

So how did this “IT guy” do with answering questions about public relations?

Not my field, but maybe the MBA and private-sector experience helped, a little. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Playing For The Meal

Playing For The Meal

I love this guitarist on the corner with the sign that says, “To eat for today one must play for the meal. You Pay. Thank you.”

Five communication lessons I had reinforced from this:

– Be direct–he is right to the point…he plays, you pay–that’s the deal.

– Be clear–the writing is large, the letters are distinct, and easy to read…you get it!

– Be concise–the message fits on a small cardboard…no rambling placards, just the message next to the guitar case for collecting the money.

– Be purposeful–he states the reason for his being there right up front…he’s hungry and is willing to work for it!

– Be courteous–he ends with a nice thank you that is set off to the side in script.

If his playing is half as good as his message…he’s earned his meal. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better A Rock Than A Pebble

Pebble is coming out with a Smartwatch that connects via wireless Bluetooth to either iPhone or Android devices.

It can be used for getting messages, including from Twitter and Facebook, as well as for caller id, music controls, GPS, and more.

And you can download more apps from the watch app store.

Pebble uses a high resolution ePaper display technology, has a vibrating motor, microprocessor, accelerometer, and the battery can run for up to 7 days.

It has been crowdfunded through Kickstarter website and has since April sold, pre-order, approximately 85,000 watches at a $115 pop.

While I like the idea of being able to get information in more convenient form factors whether as a watch, glasses (like Google is working on) or other device configuration, I think the Pebble has a way to go in terms of it’s particular design.

Honestly. the Pebble looks cheap and chincy to me. The device looks too plasticy. The colors seem more geared towards kids.

Additionally, the screen looks way too small to be very useful except for the most basic alerts, but maybe this is all to make lighter and more mobile.

I plan to wait for something a little more substantial and with a larger screen.

A ruggedized version would be especially appealing including water, shock, and dust resistant and so on.

Perhaps the crowdfunding model has worked for this smartwatch for people looking to get the latest technology or even make a fast buck, but I think a little more crowdsourcing, in terms of customer requirements and feedback, would make an even better product for all.

Communication, What Comes From The Heart

Communicating_from_the_heart

Leaders always seem to be trying to get their message “right”.

They ponder what will it take to win the hearts and minds.

They may hire consultants to tell them what they should say.

They engage fancy speechwriters to say “it” just so.

Then, they monitor the polls to get feedback and see how their message was received.

However a new article in Harvard Business Review (April 2012) throws a curve ball at this whole notion–stating: “It seems almost absurd that how we communicate could be so much more important to success than what we communicate.”

From my perspective, there are many factors that contribute to the success of our communications:

Firstly, let’s face it–personality, likability, charisma, and charm go a long way to influencing others–and yes, it seems like this is the case, almost at times, regardless of the message itself.

Then there is everything else from emotional intelligence and political savvy for “working” the audience to doing your homework in terms of getting your facts right, making your presentation engaging, using back channels to build support, and giving people the opportunity to ask questions, contribute, and buy in.

According to the HBR article, successful communication directly impacts team performance, this occurs through:

– Energy–“the number and nature of exchanges among team members”–with more interactionbeing better.

– Engagement–the distribution of communications among team members–with more equal distributionbeing better (i.e. communication isn’t being dominated by one person or a select few).

– Exploration–this is the communication between a team and other external connections–with more outreachbeing better for creativity and innovation.

For all of us, communicating is as much about the way and how much we interact with others, as with what we actually have to say.

That’s not to say, that what we have to communicate is not important, but rather that the mere act of communicating with others is itself a positive step in the right direction.

We have to genuinely interact and connectwith others–it’s a critical part of the influencing and teaming process.

Only then, does honing the message itself really make the difference we want it to.

People communicate with other people and this happens in  a very direct, personal, and emotional way.

There is a Jewish saying that my wife often tells me that her grandfather used to say, “what comes from the heart goes to the heart.”

I think that is the correct notion–sincerity is at the core of it takes to really communicate effectively with others.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to VisaAgency)

Are You Thing 1 or 2?

Tees

The old Dr Seuss story of The Cat In The Hat had the crazy part when “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” jump out from under The Cat’s hat and proceed to make a messy house disaster even worse.

Recently, I saw some people wearing the matching type shirts–you know the ones that that generate attention–bright red, with one shirt saying “Thing 1” and the other person’s shirt saying “Thing 2.”
It was cute the way the family members were connected through the shirts, and I smiled to myself thinking, like in the children’s story, which one is the bigger “trouble-maker” in this family–Thing 1 or 2?
Today, I saw this picture online of these twins, again with these matching type t-shirts, but this time, one said “Ctrl + C” and the other one had written on it “Ctrl + V” — these are the well-known Microsoft commands for copy and paste.
I guess with twins, the copy-paste imagery makes a lot of sense–copy kid 1, paste, and there you have it, kid 2.
Generally, t-shirts have messages about peace, rock and roll bands, corporate branding, or satire of some sort–I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a fashion statement, but more of an identity thing–how we choose to brand ourselves in a world of 7 billion people. It’s not necessarily about who we are, but more like how we choose to identify ourselves–a meaningful one for example, is for breast cancer awareness.
I remember as a kid, my sister, who was a budding biomedical scientist, bought me t-shirts from a scientific catalogue–so that I was wearing the Periodic Table and Einstein on my chest from very early on in life.  While I always did like science too, it was not what I ended up pursuing, but I would still wear these shirts today, because in some ways, I still identify with science and psychology and learning and so on.
These days, if I had to choose some t-shirt themes, I am pretty sure technology and futurism would be in the mix. Then again, my current t-shirts include a hefty mix of Rocky and Everlast–you see identity is a complex subject. Also, a whole bunch came 4 for 10–who can say no to a sale? 😉
A simple t-shirt, and the messaging can take you from Dr. Seuss to Microsoft, the Periodic Table and to the future (or even to the bargain bin).
What are you wearing–who are you?
(Source Photo: here)