Marketing mortality

01/22/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I saw a billboard the other day that read, “Non-invasive brain surgery means dad can still give her away.”

In terms of being remarkable (the literal definition of the word, meaning worthy of notice), they nailed it. In terms of making the people who read the billboard feel good about what they’re doing, I’m left with mixed feelings (see: horror and bemusement).

Western culture fears mortality and suggests softer euphemisms to reference the dead and dying. People don’t die here, they “pass away” or perhaps “go on to be with the Lord” depending on your family’s world view and orientation to the Mason–Dixon line.

In many other cultures, both human and (non-human) animal death is cast in a completely different light. Death is not universally feared, it is in fact regularly celebrated and embraced. But that’s not the case here, and I can’t help but feel like the billboard missed the mark.

I could be wrong, but since I don’t have comments enabled on my posts… :)


01/21/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Every time I accept a friend request on Facebook from someone that I don’t know (particularly people with whom I don’t share friends), it introduces a slew of new strangers into my suggested friends list.

It’s fascinating to see how dramatically different the suggestions are when I add, say, a life coach from the Pam Slim tribe vs. someone’s Aunt who saw my episode of House Hunters International.

This is a really visible reminder of how the people (and influences) we allow in our life matter.

Adding a random stranger sends a signal to Facebook about the kinds of strangers they should send your way. What signals are you sending the Universe about what people to send into your life?

You don’t need Tony

01/20/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I had some important deadlines coming up recently and needed to iterate on a few big ideas rapidly.

Writing in notebooks felt restricting and waiting two whole days for a whiteboard to be delivered by Amazon was obviously out of the question, so I started writing on the walls of my room in pencil like a crazy person.

It was great.

The progress made on a few of the ideas and projects was enough to obviate my graffiti experiment, so I decided that it was time to paint over the madness. I’m well acquainted with my own brand of crazy, no need to be reminded of it every time I look at my wall.

So this afternoon, I went down to the office in my building to obtain some paint. In the office, I was told that someone named Tony (who was referenced in a tone that suggested bureaucracy and territorial gate-keeping) would need to be petitioned for my 16 ounce request.

As soon as “work order” was mentioned, I pretty much knew how the story would end without evasive action being taken so I started harassing the maintenance workers who were walking into and around the office.

The first referenced the dreaded tyrant (Tony) so he was of no use to me.

The next guy (the newest hire, so far as I can tell) was pushing a cart towards the elevator, so I put on my best non-threatening face and approached him with my container.

Hi. I need some paint.

Without missing a beat, he confirmed that I needed paint for the wall and dutifully headed towards the heavily guarded compound in which the elusive paint was being held captive.

He muttered something about the paint being in an adjacent building, so I decided to wait for him in the lobby. It’s real out here in these streets.

A few moments later, he returned with what I needed.

That’s the end of the story.

I’m not saying that you need to be crazy (nor am I not not saying that), but I am saying that sometimes you don’t need to wait on Tony.

An honor

01/19/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I had the privilege of organizing a reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It’s an important letter, and one whose words carry just as much weight today as they did in 1963.

[More here].

Many thanks to everyone involved, all on short notice:

  1. Winnie Kao
  2. Mike “Ambassador” Bruny
  3. Doc Waller
  4. Darius Gant
  5. Garfield Hylton
  6. Jermaine Maree
  7. Shaun King
  8. Pamela Slim
  9. DeRay McKesson
  10. Dr. Ivor Horn
  11. Charlie Gilkey
  12. Neal Ludevig
  13. Charles Davis
  14. Soledad O’Brien
  15. Greg Hartle
  16. Kimberly Nadia Scott
  17. Lisa Nicole Bell
  18. Paul Drayton
  19. Codie Elaine
  20. André Blackman
  21. John Montgomery II
  22. Daniel Jarvis
  23. James Lopez
  24. Donna Queza
  25. Marc Aarons
  26. Stella Santana
  27. Alex Chavez
  28. Spencer Pitman
  29. Ankit Shah
  30. Cliff Worley
  31. Keylor Leigh
  32. Stephanie Hasham
  33. Willie Jackson (my dad!)
  34. Don Pottinger
  35. Rachel Rodgers
  36. Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin
  37. Akilah Hughes
  38. Diana Alvear
  39. Danielle Jenene Powell
  40. Emmanuel Azih

This project is dedicated to my father (whose name I share, and whose voice you hear at 37:24), who was born into segregation 71 years ago and taught me everything I know about how to be a man.

A tale of two Ubers

01/13/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Amusing stories from one day of Uber rides in the South:

  1. My first driver asked me if I was on my way to church. (I wasn’t.)
  2. My second driver apologized for the smell, sharing that her previous rider was smoking weed before she asked him to put it out.

No hidden cameras were discovered before exiting the vehicles.

You already have that

01/12/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I was chatting with an advisor this month about shipping projects. He shared how leading up to project launches he kicks around ideas aggressively, but once a project is initiated, he refuses to permit distractions and thus always ships on time.

I lit up when hearing this and shared that this was a skill I wanted to cultivate.

…but I was immediately reminded that this was not a skill to develop, but rather a decision. A commitment.

Oh yeah.


01/05/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

John Legend and Common kicked off the new year on a high note with a performance of their Selma theme song “Glory” during “Good Morning America’s” Winter Concert Series. Donning black suits, the well-dressed gentlemen delivered the gospel-soul number live from the “GMA” Times Square studio. With Legend on keys, Common preached to the people with his wise words.

“Glory” was nominated for Best Original Song at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, while the civil rights drama is a frontrunner for the Oscars.


Now is (y)our time

01/02/2015 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I posted this on Facebook the other day:

There is such an incredible opportunity for leadership and reform in virtually all aspects of Western society right now.

If you fancy yourself a culture-shaper and influencer or maybe, I don’t know, just a decent human being…we might never see another time like this in our lives.

The problems we face are huge and complex and won’t be solved by the powers that be. They’ll be solved by people like you.

Now is (y)our time.

A lovely woman named Karen

12/03/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

My friend J just launched launched Terminus Threads which sells beautiful pocket squares, coasters, and napkins made from quality upcycled fabrics.

On the about page, J explains the story behind the company and the stand they take in the market. He mentions the name of woman who sews everything they sell. I think that’s wonderful.

J is too classy to brag on himself, so I’ll do it for him. Check out the important things to which he gives leadership in the Atlanta area and beyond:

More on J here.

How to fail your target audience

12/02/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

My former classmates and I recently received an email advertising a technology-focused online Masters degree program.

We’re technology graduates, so we know our way around the Internet. What’s bizarre in light of this fact is that the college in question saw fit to compose and send an email composed of a single image.

I wouldn’t be ranting right now if the image rendered crisply in Gmail, if it didn’t look like something mocked up in the early 2000s, or if it spent more than one half of one sentence discussing the benefits to the student, but, well…you know where this is going.

The graphic links to a landing page featuring the same graphical header (this one with even more pixelation) whose URL reveals the online survey software powering the email blast.

By not putting more care and effort into this email, they lost credibility in the minds of those they need to impress most.

I don’t think I’ll be submitting my application.