Monday, June 30

Gay Pride 2014 - Victory?

Another amazing Pride Weekend is past us here in New York.  This one had a different feeling than prior years, which I think is a good thing.

I voiced my perceptions on Huffington Post if you'd like to give it a read.  Click here.  My favorite "theme" was "love conquers hate."  Indeed.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Sunday, June 29

Your Social Personal Brand

I'm getting close to the end of my Entrepreneur series called "Living Your Personal Brand."

This installment examines social media ... basic tips for how to portray your personal brand every day.

Give a click here if you'd like to read it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, June 26

World Cup 2014 Social Media

I watched with great delight (and stress) the US vs Germany soccer game for the 2014 World Cup.  As I've mentioned before, I've become fascinated by the sport for the first time ever, for a variety of reasons.

First of all the math is really interesting.  What it takes for one team to advance, and how that relates to other teams also advancing is just so different than any other sport.  It's a complex matrix that creates an entirely different level of the game.  Completely adds to the sport because it forces you to not only watch your game, but to also track how the others are doing as well, since it will impact everyone's results.  Fascinating.  Plus you can still win, even if you lose.  Who doesn't LOVE that!

Then when you factor in the economic impact of the sport for so many of these countries, it's mind boggling. Literally countries are changed when the team wins.  It's amazing.

And then there's the social media.  By all reports, this World Cup is the biggest social media event ever.  Sure, no one game beats out the Super Bowl for sure, but the collective dialogue across all the games is groundbreaking.  And a ton of fun! No surprise given that Brazil has been noted as the biggest social media market in the world as well.  Seems appropriate right now anyway!

The fans are into it, the teams are into it, celebrities are weighing in ... and even the brands are having fun commenting in real time.  You can "watch" the game without even having it on!

Case in point is the infamous "bite felt 'round the world" and all the commentary that was unleashed.

Major League Baseball tweeted "there's no biting in baseball."

McDonald's suggested that the player bite into a Big Mac instead.

Even Evander Holyfield, ahem, had something to say about it.

The "bite" aside, it's all so exciting.  There were 8 million tweets sent out during the US vs. Portugal game.  8 million!

I hope it finally sticks here in the US, finally, as so many have predicted year after year.  I know I'm into it and I will really try not to be a fair weather friend.  It does feel different this time around, likely because the younger generations who grew up on soccer are watching, and tweeting, with a much more global sense than with prior occasions.

It all feels so new and fresh, with social media keeping it all so engaging as well.  What's your experience?  JIM.

PS - There are some fine heads of hair on the US team ... where is a hair care sponsor when you need one?!?

Monday, June 23

Beauty is Earned

Sometimes wisdom can come from the most unlikely of places ... so much so that I just have to write about it.  On Huffington Post.  It's all about earning your beauty as you age.

Give it a click here, if you are interested.

What's your experience?  JIM.

The World Cup, From My View

My friends will surely find this odd ... but I finally got into The World Cup this weekend, when the US played Portugal.  I literally have NEVER watched a soccer game on tv in my life, until this game ... a nail biter to the bitter end.  I'm hooked.  Admittedly, I will be a fair weather friend as soon as the fury is over, but it is fun while it lasts.

Here's what I love:

The drama of all the injuries.  I've never seen so many injuries in a game.  It's crazy how much these guys get hurt.  As my son says, "Dad, this is a contact sport."  Not that we want to see anyone get hurt, but it certainly makes for a lot of drama.  And from what I now understand it's also a part of the game's strategy.

The digital advertising board.  Ok, so I paid as much if not more attention to all the branding than to the game itself, but it was oh so much fun to see all the brands get continuously displayed along the perimeter of the field.  Wonderful to see an international display of brands on what looked like state-of-the-art digital advertising.

The drone capturing game footage.  I recently wrote about the future of drones, if you want to read it here, so of course I was captivated by the drone flying up and down the field capturing footage.  It got really close to the action!  Wow!

The cleats.  The players' cleats were simply amazing.  The colors, the stripes, the textures ... we're going to seeing colorful footwear coming out of this pop culture event for years to come!

The trailers.  The trailers that FIFA plays, and has been playing, to promote the event and soccer are so inspiring, so Brazil.  It has to be doing wonders for the sport and for the host country.

And of course, all the fans.  The fans are nothing short of amazing.  Their spirit is infectious, as is their colorful outfits, accessories, and temporary (hopefully) tattoos.  I loved seeing their enthusiasm for the sport and for their country.

The million dollar question is always, "Will soccer finally catch on in the US?"  I believe it has ... or it certainly has come a long way.  The game was a blast to watch and the energy level was unparalleled in any other sport I have seen.  It was wonderful.  I certainly do hope it continues to grow and grow here in the US, even beyond just the World Cup.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, June 20

Interviewing Your Personal Brand

There is no place where your personal brand is put to the test more than in a job interview.

In my Entrepreneur series "Living Your Personal Brand," I talk about how to make the most of it.

Give it a click here if you'd like to read it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Hello Flo

They say that content marketing should entertain.  I say content marketing should add value, and if that's through entertainment then all the better.  And when it can open up a topic that's hard to talk about, then that's a major victory.

Enter this film from Hello Flo that tackles the age-old problem of being the last to go first ... the drama of a first time period that is.  Hello Flo calls it the "first moon," and shows what it's like to be the last to get it among your friends.

As a Dad I can honestly tell you that it really is one of the most traumatic things to go through - the anticipation, the anxiety, the fear of rejection, the worry of what'll come next ... all before it ever even happens, all when the other friends have already gone through it.  Trust me I was there with heating pad in hand for the entire event.

Well clearly this brand gets it and spins a yarn that tackles every emotion from all parties involved, even the horror of your grandfather finding out. Horror!  If only we'd all had this when we were that age.

But this content marketing isn't really just about entertainment, and it really isn't just content ... it offers up a real solution to something all women face.  In this case, facing the first moon.  Along with a peek at what just might be today's parenting.

You just gotta give this video a look - it is emotional, insightful storytelling at it's finest.  Rooted in deep emotional insights about what it's like to go through this with ultimately a real solution to make it all just a little bit easier.  Bravo!

The brand Hello Flo comes out of no where for me ... must be brand new.  It appears to be promoting the brands Always and Tampax, two brands from Procter & Gamble so perhaps it's one of their properties.   The brand brilliantly offers a subscription service (why didn't anyone think of that before!), as well as "packages" for first moon, going away to camp, and first baby.

Here's a video about the packages for camp:


I just love how they are tackling these somewhat "let's not talk about it" topics with actual solutions.

Other brands have done the same in this category, but not necessarily with an actual new approach to handle it all.

I say "bring us more!"  What's your experience?  Jim.

Thursday, June 19

BS - Bachelor of Starbucks

Starbucks created great fanfare around an interesting announcement this week regarding a new benefit to it's employees.

A free college education via The Starbucks Achievement Plan.

Now certainly Starbucks isn't the first to offer tuition reimbursement by any means.  Nor is it the first to use an internal policy to get external press.  But I do believe they are the first (in recent memory anyway) to put a new spin on it and really promote it.  The CEO did a press tour and even appeared on The Daily Show.

Here's what I love:  the company supports its employees, consistently.  Employee relations is a core brand value and the CEO drives the agenda and the execution.  We've seen it before on other societal issues like marriage equality, gun control, and even tax reform.  The CEO sticks his neck out on issues that affect the world of his people.  Now he's tackling the ability to access and pay for a college education.

Here's what's unique:  an exclusive partnership with an online college, Arizona State University.  Never seen that before.

Now the critics are poking holes in the choice of online college, the exclusivity, the fact that you have to work 20 hours a week to be eligible, the requirement to be in your third year of college, etc, etc.

There are always going to be critics, but I believe this is a bold move that is going to set a trend.  The data is on their side:  the company has a legion of employees who have started college and haven't finished.  And that's the issue:  many many students start college and then run out of steam and money.  This move is giving them easy access and funding to finish, driving loyalty to their employer in the process.

I think it's brilliant internal partnership marketing that will help with employee retention and recruiting as well as elevating the stature of the brand.  Isn't that what a good employee relations program is supposed to do?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Bad Customer Service: I'm Over It

There is nothing worse - especially when you are traveling - than going to a restaurant/bar and all you see and hear are the wait staff complaining.  Even worse when the wait staff is more concerned about cleaning up, clearing out, and going home - rather than doing their job and serving food and drink.

There is nothing more damaging to the brand experience than that.

I've had now three repeated experiences like this in a row, all from the same hotel brand ... and I'm over it.  Never going there again ... and it doesn't matter that they have the best rewards points system in the industry.  Points don't make up for awful service.

You know what it's like:  you've flown into a new city, and it's 11:00pm ... you're hungry because there's no food on the plane anymore.  So when the bar/restaurant at the hotel is publicly stated to be open until 1:00am, then you shouldn't get attitude at 11:30pm!  And the wait staff shouldn't be so busy complaining that they leave you sitting at the bar, feeling alone.

I'm over it.  And if you are over it, then get a new job because I'm buying into a new brand.

I understand that you had a long day, that you had to take your kids to the doctor and that you've had customers breathing down your neck all night ... I heard you tell all of your colleagues.  I had a day like that too, and I could have commiserated with you had you acknowledged me.

Note to self - pick the brands that get it ... pick the brands that structure their operations and train their staff to serve the needs of their consumers.

I try to learn from every experience ... this is a wake up call to the bad effects of bad service to the brand's reputation.  Every business should take a hard look at its customer service and make sure it aligns with the brand's values and offerings.  If it doesn't, look to a strategic fix before you start to lose customers.

We've all been there.  What's your experience?  JIM.

Tuesday, June 17

Father's Day, As Marketed

I just had my first Father's Day as an empty-nester, and it was wonderful.

The joys of seeing your now adult children move on to pursue their paths is just incredible.  Nothing better.

I also had a lot of fun watching brands salute Dad ... more this year than ever.

But it got me thinking ... so I wrote an article about it for Huffington Post.

Give it a click here if you'd like to read it.  Appreciate it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

PS - The gift to my Dad this year was a slant of the traditional Father's Day tie ... a pillow for his office chair made entirely out of ties!  I thought it was very cool!

Monday, June 16

Eat and Drink Your Brand

I'm running another series on personal branding over at Entrepreneur ... this one is about the practical day to day of your brand.  Here I explore the role of food and drink, and how it can drive perceptions of your personal brand.

Never thought about it that way?  Exactly.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, June 13


FINALLY ... a brand that is erasing the typical, old-school stereotypes of dear 'ole Dad.  Well, not the only brand but one of a few and one that absolutely nails it.

"Isn't it time we celebrate Dads?"  Indeed!

The folks at Dove Men+Care do just that ... without a lick of a product mention ... by showing real moments of real Dads in real caring situations.  Along with a study that quotes, "75% of Dads say they are responsible for the emotional well-being of their children."

It's more than just being around, and it's more than just playtime ... it's about emotional well-being.  Bravo!

It's an online campaign timed for Father's Day with lots of social media engagement at #RealDadMoments.  Certainly coming from a brand that seems to get real life, given all the work they've done in "real beauty."

Give it a look, and Happy Father's Day.

Just love all the "Daddy!!!"  It is time we celebrate Dads too!  What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, June 12

Stop "Dad Pants" by Dockers

I love when a brand recognizes its weaknesses and confronts them head on.  In my book, it makes that brand more human, approachable, and well, likable.  These are attributes that make people gravitate towards a brand.

Case in point:  Dockers.

Long been criticized for being less than fashionable, perhaps even less than flattering on men.  TBH, the brand never worked for me.

Well evidently the brand was paying attention to social commentary, and seized a moment with a pop culture figure that not only turned the criticism upside down, but put the brand in control of the messaging.

Brilliant.  Makes me consider the brand, actually .. which is exactly the point.

Now this flies in the face of my quest to not trash Dads anymore, but I do see the humor and realness in all of this, which is also the point.

You have to see it to feel it, so please watch this video about how Dockers is tackling "Dad Pants."

Just in time for Father's Day! (btw, a great use of a celebrity spokesperson, IMHO .. the way it should be done)

Marketing is a spectator sport, so let's learn from this brilliant move!

Will this help turn around this brand?  What's your experience?  JIM.

PS - In yet another similar way, here's "Dad Dancing" from Jimmy Fallon ... in honor of this year's Father's Day.  Hysterical!


So many people have sent me this video, so I just had to blog about it.  It brings tears to my eyes, no matter how many times I see it.

"You have to be brave to stand in front of the world and say 'this is who I am.'"

June is Gay Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate how far we've come then by showing one of the hardest barriers to overcome for gay people of all shapes, sizes, and flavors ... sports.

"Sports has the power to unite."

#ProudToPlay.  Take a look at a video that shows just that ... bravery that comes from just being who you are, no matter who you are, matter what you want to do.

"Who you love isn't important, scoring goals is important."

Pride Month as it should be.  These people are truly breaking barriers so that others can play sports with pride.

"Because of you, there's a little boy playing basketball right now who knows he can be who he is and play the sport he loves."

"Support a world where every athlete can be proud to play."  Indeed.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Tuesday, June 10

Brands Take on Texting and Driving

We all know the dangers of texting while driving ... it's honestly just as bad as drinking and driving.

Many "brands" have been responsible for our education on the matter, from Oprah to AT&T to countless others.  For that we should all say thanks.

I wanted to highlight two more recent campaigns, that I think are particularly breakthrough because they feature the story from a different angle ... hopefully breaking through to people as a result.

The first is a continuation of AT&T's brilliant "It Can Wait" campaign that the brand has been running for quite some time now.    There's a flip to their messaging this time out though:

And another from Volkswagon, just released a few days ago, who took the topic head on with a stunt and some "prank-vertising."  Truly breakthrough IMHO.

I think it's wonderful, and wonderfully responsible, when a brand serves its people:  in these two cases stepping out of their own products and working to protect their consumers through education and behavioral change, in an attempt to keep them safe.

Bravo!  What's your experience?  JIM.

Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks

There are only a few things in life that I look forward to getting in the mailbox, the snail-mailbox that is.

Back in the day, it was People Magazine.  Couldn't wait to get it, couldn't put it down until I leafed through all the pages.

My how my tastes have changed, because it's no longer a magazine that captures my undivided attention but a catalog.

The Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks to be exact.  It some ways it's the modern-day J. C. Penney catalog, on steroids.

This year's "collection" is 13 books in total, each with its own reason for being whether to feature furniture, accessories, lighting, bedding, etc.  They are fabulous.  So much more impactful then browsing online and honestly even better than the retail experience because of the vast inventory featured.

But I have to say ... the books are big and they are heavy!  And they're printed on paper.  And they're snail-mailed.  Which is making a lot of people crazy.  For me, I want them and use them so it makes sense.  Not so much for others who are more casual shoppers of the brand.

At first blush, I actually grimaced a little bit myself at the thought of printing and mailing all of that heavy paper.  Having worked in the sustainability space for awhile now, it feels a little counter culture.  Maybe more than a little.  Social media took it on with a storm of protests and photographs, and I can see why.

Then I received an email from Restoration Hardware explaining why they mailed them in bulk all at once (carbon neutral shipping), and how they used responsibly-sourced paper.  This helps, but is it enough.

I think they get it.  And they anticipated my reaction and jumped ahead of what they knew people would say.  Smart move.  And because I'm a regular customer, they knew I'd buy something, which I eventually will!  For others, this may not have been enough.

The truth is that I could look at all of these items online, and in fact I often do when I see an item that I am truly interested in.  But when it comes to home decor, there simply isn't anything better than a catalog with big printed photography to help you dream through your own home environment.  The digital space just has not eclipsed that paper experience, not in home decor anyway.  At least not for me.

So is there a place for printed catalogs?  I believe so, when it's done right and when it's only sent to people like me who really want them and use them.  These particular Sourcebooks will be in my home where I will use them repeatedly as reference books until the new ones come out again next year.  They may not belong in every home, and those folks shouldn't receive them.

The key is not to print and send them to people who won't put them to use.

Back to the catalog ....

What's your experience?  JIM.

Sunday, June 8

Your Personal Environment

Here's the next in my series "Living Your Personal Brand" over at Entrepreneur.

This post explores how your home, office, and even your car can impact how people interact with you.  So put some thought into your environment!

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, June 5

Outdated "Gay" Terms

June is Gay Pride Month.  As members of the LGBT community unite to celebrate our diversity and equality, it's important to also reflect on how far we've come.

I wrote this article for Huffington Post ... on terms that once had great meaning that may no longer be relevant.  Or at least that's the aspiration.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Tuesday, June 3


BrandZ just released its annual report of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.  It's always a fascinating read because it's more than just a list, it's actually an insightful account of what brands are doing around the world.

This year I was a contributor in the Personal Grooming front, specifically as it relates to men ... and their role in the household as well.  Great fun.  My part of the write up is as follows:

Male grooming trend reflects changing gender assumptions
Male grooming has come a long way in the past few years, fueled by Millennial attitudes and the changing gender roles in the household. There is a more united approach to the household with responsibilities divided less along gender lines and more along shared interests and time management. The man isn’t always the breadwinner in the family. At the same time, there’s been resurgence of the idea that it’s OK for a guy to be manly or for a woman to be feminine. So the household broadening of gender roles has been accompanied by permission to be distinctively male or female.

Of course there's a lot more to the report than just this one section.  Give it a click here if you'd like to read the whole report.

Spoiler alert:  Google tops the list this year!

What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, June 2

Personal Tone of Voice

Here's the next "chapter" of "Living Your Personal Brand," my ongoing series at Entrepreneur on personal branding to coincide with my new book, The Personal Experience Effect.

This post is not about your "voice," but your personal "tone of voice."  If you're interested, give a  click here.

What's your experience?  JIM.