Archive for January, 2010

TED TALKS: Life Lessons From An Ad Man

January 26, 2010 2 comments

I watched a funny, fast-paced presentation from Ogilvy Planner Rory Sutherland today. From the TED site:

Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value — and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

The best part is if you jump to about 12:30 of the video, where he talks about the “repositioning” of Diamond Shreddies.

He ends his talk with a nice quote, “Poetry is when you make new things familiar and familiar things new,” which is a nice way of summing of what we do in the Ad industry.

On a side note, I just finished reading the marketing classic “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (How To Be Seen And Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace),” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It’s somewhat outdated at this point (it was written about 20 years ago), but I think it has some good points on things like Line Extensions and Brand Naming. Personally, I would recommend one of their other books, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” instead.

Categories: MARKETING

Armchair Activism

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Some food for thought courtesy of various quotes I’ve found on the web this week, which all pretty much have the same idea:

Now, in 2010, we have more resources at our disposal than at any other time in history to create positive changes culturally, economically, politically, etc. The internet has become a sounding board for people to voice their opinions. Occasionally, it has been used as a tool to gather individuals for local, all the way up to global causes, but we’re still at the early stages of harnessing the collective strength of online communities.

Here’s a MLK quote I found on Tumblr via The Consumerologist

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

A quote from the blog Stuff White People Like in a post about the recent Conan O’Brien hoopla:

But no, white people will solve this problem the way that they solved the election crisis in Iran – through Facebook and Twitter status updates. In 2009, millions of white people took 35 seconds to turn their twitter profiles green, and consequently sent a very powerful message to the leaders of Iran. Their message was that they wanted their friends to know that they would stop at nothing to ensure freedom and democracy for the Iranian people. Thanks in large part to that effort Iran is now completely democratic. With that issue settled, white people are launching a similar campaign for Conan that is sure to have similar results…

For you see, while white people will fiercely support Conan O’Brien in any public forum, they always fail to support him in the only way that actually helps – by watching his show.”

That above quote, of course, is meant to be funny (it is), but it’s also very true. My point isn’t to say that people changing their avatars, status updates and retweeting are useless (these activities generate a great deal of awareness). My point is that we need to do more.

3rd quote, from Umair Haque (emphasis mine):

By design. 20th Century organizations were built to have strategic intent. The point of a strategic intent is merely to best rivals. That’s the opposite of an ambition: it’s just combat. Yesterday’s organizations were missing the burning desire to improve on yesterday in their very DNA. That’s what reduced them to passionless machines — and it’s what ultimately made our lives smaller, our economies less vibrant, and our societies poorer.”

Last quote, from superamit on Tumblr:

Do something compelling. There’s a trillion people writing blogs that need something to write about. There are magazines hungry for content. There are hundreds of thousands of people bored on the internet wanting something to look at or do. For the most part, people have exceedingly low standards on the internet. But, I think people are hungry for better. Make something better. People will notice.

Frank Chimero
Categories: LINKS

How David Blaine Held His Breath Underwater for 17 Minutes

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I just discovered an excellent  new TEDTalk featuring illusionist David Blaine. There’s an important lesson here as Blaine explains:

1) The process of trial and error

2) How much research went into these stunts

When I was at MAS Chris Owens (The Richards Group) said that “the Planner has to be the most confident person in the room.”

Confidence comes from preparation, and preparation comes from making mistakes and doing your research — often going above and beyond what other people are willing to do.

He ends his presentation with this:

“As a magician I try to show things to people that seem impossible, and I think magic, whether I’m holding my breath or holding a deck of cards, is pretty simple: It’s practicing, it’s training and experimenting while pushing through the pain to be the best I can be…and that’s what magic is to me.”

Categories: INSPIRATION Tags: ,

Quote of the Day

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

From Jonah Lehrer’s post about young Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen:

“When we practice properly – and this means engaging in deliberate practice – we aren’t just accumulating factual knowledge. Instead, we’re embedding our experience into our unconscious, so that even insanely complicated calculations – and Carlsen can regularly plan twenty chess moves in advance – become mostly automatic.”

As a newbie trying to teach myself Japanese, this reaffirms the adage “Perfect practice makes perfect” — not “Practice makes perfect,” which is incorrect.

Bonus quote:

“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” – Neils Bohr


The Frontal Cortex – Chess Intuition

Categories: PSYCHOLOGY Tags:

Goals for Q1, 2010

January 18, 2010 1 comment

Image via koka_sexton

I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in years. It just doesn’t make sense to me: despite our best intentions they usually fail to materialize because they’re too ambiguous, too general and lack deadlines.

With that said, I’m focusing on a few specific, achievable goals in the next 3 months:

1. Make the leap from freelance to full-time

Freelance work has been a great experience, and it’s time to move on. Feel free to contact me through any of the links I’ve provided on this blog if you know of any openings in Planning, Strategy, Consumer Insights or New Media. Commenting on this post would probably be the fastest and easiest way to get a hold of me.

Goal: Find a position in the U.S. before April 2010.

Strategy: I’ve been doing all the right things (networking online and off, informational interviews, etc). I just think it’s a matter of doing these kinds of things consistently so I can be in the right place at the right time.

2. Start learning Japanese

I’ve wanted to learn Japanese for a while now, so I’m taking the plunge. I’m dying to visit Japan, too, so I’m setting a tentative deadline for the end of 2011.

Goal: Japanese has four alphabets. My goal is to learn Hiragana and Katakana inside out (which will help me learn Romaji in the process). Once I have those under my belt, I’ll shift my focus to Kanji.

Strategy: I’m primarily going to be using‘s guide, along with the following links. They’ve done a great job of laying down all the steps and explaining everything thoroughly. I’ve already been doing daily one hour study sessions for the past two weeks.

More links:

3. Become an early riser

I’ve always had a hard time getting up early, and I know that it’s mainly because I’m a night owl.

Goal: Start getting up daily at 7am.

Strategy: Follow Definitive Guide to Becoming an Early Riser from

4. Blog more consistently

I think there’s a direct correlation between information absorbed and information processed, so I’m going to try to cut down on my blog reading so I can shift my focus to blog writing.

Goal: Write at least one new post a week.

Strategy: Allocate 2-3 time blocks per week to focus on generating new posts.

5. Drop below 10% bodyfat

2009 was a good year for me fitness-wise. Among other things, I:

  • increased my max squat by about 100 lbs (max 215lbs for 5 reps)
  • increased my max bench press by about 50 lbs (max 210lbs for 5 reps)
  • went from zero chinups and pullups to weighted reps

I was able to do all this in less than 5 months.

Goal: My current goal is to get my bodyfat down to 8% (I’m around 10-10.5% right now). I figure it’ll take me about 4-8 weeks (cut .5% minimum each week), depending on my consistency. Once I achieve this, my next goal will probably be to get my max squat, deadlift and bench press over 250lbs for 5 reps.

Strategy: Full-body dumbbell/bodyweight circuit workout twice a week. Cardio 3-6x a week for 25-45 minutes.

6. Read at least one book every two weeks

I go through phases where I read a lot and then I don’t read at all. Last year I read about a dozen books total.

Goal: Read at least one book bi-weekly — that comes out to 26 books a year — more than double what I read in 2009.

Strategy: Set aside one hour a day for reading.


How To Easily Achieve Your Goals In 2010 via

Categories: GOALS

Support Disaster Relief in Haiti

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Google has set up a disaster relief site that lists various ways you can donate or help the earthquake victims.

You can visit for more information.

One of the simplest and most immediate ways you can help is to SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts.

Categories: PHILANTHROPY Tags:

Back in Business!

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Image via angusf

After a brief break, I’m back. This blog is almost a year and a half old now, and I’m excited about 2010.

Stay tuned.

Categories: Uncategorized
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