Friday, August 31, 2012

Ring of Fire

I am often overwhelmed by the natural awe that surrounds me.  Like this sky.  It's sort of like a blended beauty of simplicity and complexity. Living in the Midwest has its downfalls -- no beach, which my brother in FL always rubs in.  Likewise, my sisters living in UT would chime in with "and no mountains." But, one of the positives is the amazing sunrise and sunset. If you're not paying attention you could easily miss it. While taking the dogs out this morning I noticed what looked like a ring of fire in the sky. It was still there on my way to work an hour later.  The longer I stared at it the funnier it was to me.  Why?  It was like someone grabbed a cloud, wound it up in a softball pitch and threw it at the sun.  The result?  A really cool sky blended from orange to dark blue.  The rays were just beaming all over the place and I couldn't help but smile.

It's moments like that when I realize just how small I am in the grand scheme of things.  It's a humbling feeling to say the least.  It makes me happy to be exactly where I am right now and it also reminds me that no matter how busy life gets, sometimes you just need to  

look up, 
breathe it all in, 
and feel your feet on the ground.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do Something

"Do something for someone else."  

I was raised by an amazing mom who always encouraged spontaneous good deeds.  Small ways of helping others by thinking beyond yourself.  She planted this good deed seed with all of us at a very young age.  Throughout my life, I've heard the whisper of those words countless times: do something for someone else.  It's how the idea of Paint it Forward came to me three years ago.

I'm also a huge fan of Simon Sinek.  Over the past year, I've taken on several projects based on a question he posed during his 99% Conference Speech -- watch the whole 30 minute video (below), but for this portion Que up minute 18:49. Sinek asks, "What are you doing to help the person next to you?" 

Simon, my mom and I share a common belief that personal growth is even more profound and fulfilling when you build communities and relationships based on good will, expecting nothing in return

I'm a firm believer that big ideas or big moves start with crazy dreams.  I think this is why I love working with startups and small business owners so much.  That's where the magic is.  Most entrepreneurs start with an idea to fulfill a need that isn't being met the way they want it to be.

They dream of doing something.
Bigger. Better. More meaningful. Innovative.

Enter Jaime Lyon.  Jaime is my sister's best friend and I've known her since I was a kid.  If you've had the pleasure of talking to Jaime, you know how amazing her energy is.  It's infectious.  Jaime is someone who supported and encouraged my nerdy-artistic side when I was an awkward, tomboyish kid.  She made me feel normal.  Better than normal...accepted.  She knew I was different and took interest.  My earliest memories of her include small acts of kindness, encouragement and wickedly awesome support.  When you're young, you don't realize just how lucky you are to have someone like Jaime in your life.

Recently, Jaime made a career change.  After more than 12 years in the advertising business she  decided to refocus and do something she's always wanted to do.  In her words, "I want to motivate our youth to be confident, kind, positive and strong communicators. If you feel good you do good!"

How great is that?  Jaime is an artist and motivational speaker.  She paints colorful, imaginative,  original artwork for kids rooms, and she has amazing inspirational workshops in store for teens.  You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or visit her shop at

I'm always honored to spend time with Jaime.  We learn from each other and our conversations seem to get better and better. Collaborating together, we were able to translate her vision into branding material.  In retrospect, to #paintitforward in this way is the very least I can do for someone who truly helped shape my inner artist from such an early age.  I can't wait to see what's next for Jaime.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What the Dave Matthews Band Can Teach Businesses About Customer Loyalty

DMB message to fans who contributed to Mercy video
Lessons in Customer Loyalty Courtesy of the Dave Matthews Band

A customer relationship is typically one sided: go to a business for a product or service, receive that service. Depending on your experience, you may or may not go back.  The same is true for the music you love.  Find a song or a band you love, buy the song or album.  Depending on whether you like it, you may or may not buy something else.  Future correspondence generally consists of "the push."  Businesses pushing one-sided information to tell you more about what they do, what they offer, and how they are different.  More often than not, the push is followed by a discount to give you a reason to come back.

As a marketer, I know "the push" all too well.  So I love it when a business FLIPS THE SWITCH.

They flip the switch by reaching out and asking brand advocates to put their creativity to work.  They ask to use their voice.  What better way to build your brand than to request fan participation in something really cool, right?  Businesses that think outside the box and get their fans to truly participate in something (not just "like" them) are those that get what the new marketing age is all about.

These businesses get that their brand is whatever their customers say it is.

DMB (Dave Mathews Band) is the latest example with the world premier of the "Mercy" video just released today.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE DMB fan.  See bucket list for further evidence.  About a month ago, DMB reached out to their fan base and asked for help creating the Mercy video.  "Send us a photo/video entry and it may be included in our fan-based video."  Pretty simple, right?  What follows is the coolest music video I've seen in a long time (not to mention a really great message in the lyrics).  And soon to be, probably the most shared music video of all time.

DMB gets it.  They practice what they preach and their brand of band delivers every time.  As a fan, I continue to share and spread the word about my favorite music group...without being asked.  In the end, that's what true customer loyalty is.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We Be Jammin'

I came home on Friday and the lovely blonde was jammin' - literally.  The boombox was blaring and she was dancing in the kitchen with our kiddos.  Few things make me happier than seeing things like that.

If you haven't changed the channel recently, I highly recommend it.  Here's a few oldies but goodies pumping from our playlist:

Otis Redding - anything, really...but I've Been Loving You Too Long is a personal fav
Nina Simone - Do I Move You
Penny & the Quarters - You & Me
Solomon Burke - Cry to Me (also equally great is If You Need Me)
Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers - Little Bitty Pretty One
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - You've Really Got A Hold On Me
Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain
The Dells - Stay in My Corner
The Impressions - It's All Right
Anne Peebles - I Can't Stand the Rain
Wilson Pickett - In the Midnight Hour
Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops
Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
Al Green - Let's Stay Together

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ideas 2 Share

One of my favorite things to do at the beginning of every week is watch/listen/read a few inspirational talks:

TED99%commencement speeches

There are so many great messages out there -- so many people that have something to teach and pass on.

I recently stumbled upon a newer site (to me) - Creative Mornings: a global, monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types.  If you only have an hour to spare today, check out this talk from designer Aaron James Draplin of Draplin Design Co.  He gives an insightful view into his personal journey, hands out hilarious life lessons, and tells it like it is.

One thing that stuck out is right around 32:50 in the video where Draplin talks about Knowing What Really Matters in the End.  For him, it meant finding the time to help out a friend.  He touches on this more than once in his lecture and reminds us to leave room for the free stuff -- not just the things you're going to get paid for.  Passion projects aren't always money makers...but often times, they become the projects that you're most proud of.

Portland/CreativeMornings - Aaron James Draplin from CreativeMornings/Portland on Vimeo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shark Week

Shark Week has now become the longest running cable event in history.  25 years of jaw gripping, bone chilling, crazy-number-ranking viewership.  

I read a story last week that said the phenomenon began, like so many others, as an idea that was scribbled on a cocktail napkin (full story here).  Just a couple of colleagues, a couple of beers, kicking around ideas about cool programming. 

The best ideas always come about that way, right?  

Here's to collaboration...and next year's weeklong event, of course.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Zombie Chase

I hoard biz mag rags like they are family heirlooms.  I catalogue stories on entrepreneurs, startups, and other creatives for inspiration.  While reading Entrepreneur magazine this month, editor Amy Cosper (@entMagazineAmy) shared an extremely personal experience regarding losing everything in a recent fire.  Everything.  There's always an editor's note.  But this one was special...perhaps because it was so raw, open and honest.  It made me reflect on what holds me back from doing certain things, and how I would feel if I lost everything tomorrow.

Blame it on reading in bed at midnight, or that the new Resident Evil commercial was playing on TV in the background...but this was my thought: If you were running from a zombie, what would make your list of would've, should've, could've?  More than that...if you survived and had the opportunity to "reintegrate," how would you build your newly invigorated life?  I realize this is an extreme example to jump start the thought, but extreme is often necessary to provoke change.

Like many, there are things that I want to do but haven't found the time.  Why?  I'm stuck in my routine.

Today, I changed the routine.
I woke up an hour earlier.
I spent more time with my family before work.
I meditated about weaving all the things I want out of my dreams and into my reality.
I drove a different route.

I'm building my "would've, should've, could've" answer slowly...but I think I'm finally asking myself the right questions. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

My 32nd...

My 32nd birthday was this week and the lovely blonde spoiled me rotten.  Flowers at work, homemade dinner (scallops cooked to perfection), thoughtful presents, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie cake (my family fights over her cookies) in the shape of a heart.  While cooking me dinner, I was instructed to stay out of the kitchen so I relaxed on the couch with Son & Rosie listening to Ray LaMontagne, Nina Simone and Van Morrison on the record player.  Does it get any better than that?  Everything was amazing.  But honestly, my favorite part of the entire evening was the card she gave me...and just seeing how much she loves my birthday.  She also hooked me up with a new do (hairdo) for 32 by sending me to her stylist (thanks to Tim at the Skyline Salon!). 

I have this really cool book I picked up during one of our book store adventures called "Now is the Time: 170 Ways to Seize the Moment..."  It's full of great little nuggets to seize the day.  I stumbled upon this passage on my apropos.  Here's to 32 and loving life!

Now is the treasure your memories.
We each have a unique album of personal memories: 
mental snapshots of the key moments in our lives.
Every so often, look through your album.
Relive them.
Learn from them.
Hand them down to your kids.
Then go and add to them.

"Every man's memory is his private literature."
-Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On this birthday...

On this birthday, I am thankful for the twists & turns that brought me to this place at this time. I wouldn't change a thing. by chrislewman

I am thankful for the twists & turns that brought me to this place at this time. I wouldn't change a thing. Here's to 32!