Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why Millennials Won't Grow Out of It

On my holiday lunch circuit with clients, I kept hearing a similar refrain from people. They are struggling to manage Millennials right out of college. They appreciate that they're tech-savvy, creative and enthusiastic. But harnessing those qualities in the work place is elusive. As people, they seem so different, I kept hearing.

It's no hype: folks between 18 and 29 are very different from the rest of us. Their aspirations, political leanings, attitudes and beliefs set them apart from generations preceding them.

Infographic and full article at The Huffington Post

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Photo by peripathetic
I come from a long line of women who believe that food is love. I have the love handles to prove it.

It’s Christmas Day. A veritable cooking bonanza!

Today, I will fill my house with family and will cook to my heart’s content. Beginning at dawn, I’ll be cutting and sautéing. I’m talking complicated recipes that take all day. You see, no other day allows me the luxury of making fish stock from scratch.

My family will lounge and nibble in their pajamas until noon.

Come evening, we will set a table near the fireplace and tuck into our supper. The love will be plentiful and piping hot. And before diving in we will hold hands and pray for peace.

I love Christmas.

I hope your day is filled with love however you express it. For best results it should be plentiful and served piping hot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How Will You Recharge?

Photo by Wondermonkey2k
Outside my office window, the crush of shoppers and twinkling lights on Michigan Avenue beckon me to knock off early and get into the holiday groove.

Why not unplug?

The year ahead shows every sign of being busy. With marketing programs to be created and strategies to be hatched, why can’t I just relax? Maybe the economy has made high-anxiety the new normal. Could be I’m suffering from decision fatigue.

I look and see that I’m booked solid for business networking events that I plan to leverage using this. But I’ve reserved far less time for pure fun and family time.

Read the full article and find holiday relaxation tips at MENG Blend

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seeding Your Ideas in the Digital Culture Using Google Currents

Creating content that’ll be published electronically raises a touchy questions: will people actually want to read it? Truthfully, digital publishing lacks the "curl-up-and-read" coziness of standard print. More so than print, electronic formats are still emerging just as attention spans are narrowing. 

It’s proving difficult to design content that is truly engaging for smaller digital formats. Sometimes it feels like a race to the bottom intellectually as nuances and complexities are shaved off, leaving Neanderthal nubs for people to nibble on.

This year, we published our first true e-book designed by these guys to be read on hand-held devices. We learned a lot as we pushed the content across platforms.

Big Lesson: Digital publishing lacks the "flip through" factor
The main lesson we learned is that people are more willing to flip through a print pub than scroll through digital content. Why? Not sure, but my hunch is that it has something to do with ease of sampling. We’ve all done that - picked up a book or magazine and flipped through it quickly to snatch a tidbit or make a decision to commit more time to it later.

Promising Solutions
Recently, I’ve been noodling around with Flipboard and like how it brings together content from Twitter and Facebook into a magazine format. I have yet to break the spine of the Kindle Fire that enhances the reading experience for e-books. It’s on my list.

Last week, Google offered Google Currents, an app for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android that lets you curate content you're curious about and pulls it into a magazine format. Nice!

Technology’s Hidden Barrier to Adoption
The trick is not managing the technical challenge of loading and testing these apps. It’s finding the time to hike the learning curve.

I confess with a red face that I’m way behind on mastering Google+. I just skipped over it and went on to the apps I was really curious about because they help me run my business.

Since we advise clients on how to seed their ideas into communities to speed adoption, Google Currents is highly relevant to me.

As the digital culture evolves, we keep expecting apps to be ubiquitous. Believe me, Google, Microsoft and Apple are banking on a universal use case for every new program or app they create. But that’s not what seems to be happening.

I’d like to argue that the long tail has entered the realm of e-content and that includes apps, epubs and devices. The limiting factor is not personal preference or use case or even access. The big barrier is time.

I have a kitchen timer in the shape of a little pink piggy. It just went off. It’s my new time manager. It’s telling me that I need to end this blog now.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Visualizing LeWeb Makes Me Wish I Had Been There

I’ve been following the outtakes from LeWeb 2011 and fell in love with this slide show of hand-drawn images generated by graphic facilitators during the event. We work with Brandy Agerbeck, who continually reminds me of the importance of helping people “process” ideas at their own pace.

Visuals ALWAYS speed absorption of your content.

Check out this handy deck and see…and learn…what we missed at LeWeb this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are Americans Still Eager to Learn?

At a recent leadership conference, academic leaders voiced concerns about the future of education in America. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, their remarks were punctuated by angry protesters who openly confronted the panel of college presidents about the high cost of a college education.

What struck me is how much "Occupy" behaviors are creeping into daily life. People are no longer willing to politely sit and listen when they hold a collective grievance. This open defiance frays the warp and woof of authority and raises the question: who's in charge?

Last week, I was in Denver giving a talk to non-profit leaders. They shared their anxieties about the road ahead. After years of uncertainty, there seems to be confusion about what it means to be a leader. In the past, authority and leadership went hand-in-hand.

Unless you live in a cave, you're already feeling the impact of the societal shifts underway. These tremors are being amplified by a rising generation no longer willing to knuckle under to authority. Why should they? The status quo has failed them. In large part, it has made the core value proposition of getting an education all about failure and hardship, rather than striving and achievement.
Read the full article at The Huffington Post

Friday, December 9, 2011

Coca-Cola's Polar Bear Debacle

Photo by The Rocketeer
Coca-Cola executives meant well. But their customers had a different idea about the beverage giant’s partnership with World Wildlife Fund. By putting a polar bear on Coke cans, “to raise awareness and funds to help create a safe haven for the polar bear – an Arctic refuge,” it inadvertently led consumers to confuse diet with regular Coke. Not good if you’re weight conscious or diabetic.

Now Coke is having to backpedal. The cans are being recalled. Thanks to Raz Godelnik over at Triple Pundit there’s this back story on the promotion.

With all due respect, I beg to differ that this is, “another story of good intentions gone wrong.” I really like this cause-marketing promotion despite its implications. And it’s beautifully rendered for the holiday season. Consider the conversation it started, not to mention the passions it ignited.

What brand wouldn’t kill to evoke these emotions?

Yes, yes, it’s a scary thought that a diabetic could mistakenly consume a sugared Coke product. That aside, I think the polar bear debacle was an early Christmas gift for two legacy brands—WWF and Coca-Cola.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creating Order Out of Chaos

One delight about hitting the mid-century mark in life is that you get really clear on where your talents don’t lie. I admit it. I am lousy at space planning. This simple truth has led to all manner of confused rooms and unproductive spaces in my home and office.

A recent move set me adrift. Because of a goofy moving schedule brought about by a “hurry-up-and–wait” loan process, I ended up harried at the last minute. To make matters worse, I used recycled boxes from other moves. They are marked: bedroom, kitchen, bath in various colors of Sharpie. So which is it? I never know until I open the box intended for the kitchen and then have to drag it to another room entirely.

This led me to seek help. Next week, my friend Francesca is coming over to help me sort myself out. Thank, goodness. One of Francesca’s secrets to success in her restaurants is how the space is plotted out. Cozy, close and elegant.

Before she drops by, I’m busy unpacking. With each box I get a little more clear on what matters. What’s really worth keeping, and what needs recycling.

I guess I should be grateful for the chaos it’s causing. It’s forcing me to take my time and bring order to my life. It's a slow process. 

And it’s teaching me what I’ve come to believe is my New Year’s resolution: I must learn patience. It’s a valuable lesson and one I’ve never, ever mastered.

I’m looking for help on the patience front. Got any tips for me?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Contentment - To a Point

Photo by whatatravisty
As I head to Denver to give a talk, I’m mulling over the bankruptcy of American Airlines. Actually, AA is one of my favorite airlines. Not because it’s consistent, on time, or even friendly. It’s that I got to know some of the personnel on well-worn routes, and it felt more personal to travel.

Familiarity is becoming a big driver in consumer behavior. It’s true that the high cognitive load of daily life is making familiarity a default mode. What’s not so obvious is the emotional succor we get out of the deal. Familiarity means we’ll put up with all manner of weak service and incompetence. The question is...for how long?

That’s what American Airlines is about to discover.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Generate Buzz - A No-Fail Recipe

Exhausted after a road trip to Detroit, I forced myself to clean out my car. Amidst the pile of newspapers I dug out of the back seat, I scavenged a recipe for root vegetable soup from the WSJ via The Spotted Pig. Curious to know more about the NYC gastropub and its owner chef, April Bloomfield, I wandered over to its website.

The simple, clever design with its Technicolor pig does something very smart that I wish more websites would do. It directly invites blogging. How? It simply asks for the order: “Blog about us.”

People ask me how to generate buzz in a digital culture. There many answers to that question. But the shortest route is a straight line—ask people to do what you want them to do.

Time and again, internet behavior is more led than inspired. I know…it’d be more romantic to believe that people are “inspired” to take action online. It’s simply not true. People do as they are told, pretty much.

So…here I am blogging about the Spotted Pig. Why? Because Chef April asked me to. And tonight, I will use leftovers from Sunday supper with family and friends to whip up Bloomfield’s Golden Root Vegetable soup to welcome in a wintery week.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.