I Walked Out.

June 26, 2012

After ten minutes in the wood-panelled reception area of a top global consulting firm, I knew they weren’t my people. I saw one harried administrative assistant who looked like she could use a stress test or her own assistant, or both, dash by. She returned and quickly told me that my consultant was running late.

I watched an equally unhealthy looking man respond to the introduction of the receptionist-in-training not with “Hi I’m Steve welcome to the company” but with “Hi, I’m a pain in the …”  He didn’t speak to her. He spoke to the corner as he rounded it. Then, at the altar of the  billable hour, I was kept waiting.

I had seen enough. I wasn’t going to give this workplace culture a cent. People watch everything you do, then they talk, tweet or blog. You get the picture. We are under constant surveillance.

Be Distinct or Extinct.

June 13, 2012

Tonya Constant, The President of the Ant FirmShe’s a she in the penultimate Boy’s Club, gaming. I met the beautiful and articulate Tonya Constant today. Here’s what I learned that can help you.

Constant’s Ant Firm is the only company in the world where women are leading testing on games. Most testers are men but 47% of game users are women. ICM in the UK reports 2 out of 3 Facebook  gamers are women (Feb 2012). This is a lucrative industry. PricewaterhouseCoopers says that US video game companies posted almost $25 billion in revenue in 2011. The gaming sector had seven times more growth than other sectors (2005 to 2009) and continues growing at 5% per year.

If you were a gaming company would you want only men doing your testing? “It’s like men testing birth control” says Constant laughing as she explains. ” It doesn’t make sense.”  Or cents.

Here is what I want you to remember. Every brand, at some point, has a choice to blend in or break out. My friends at Plunkett Fowles decided to craft a wine for game meat.  Wildly successful the “Ladies who Shoot their Lunch” Shiraz was brave enough to be unique. The team at the Ant Firm, might be momentarily uncomfortable playing their gender card but they have to. Their market place “point of difference”  helps them stand out and their clients prosper.

Stay brave. Embrace being one of a kind. Forget being one of many.


Are You A Real Expert?

June 8, 2012

The difference between an expert and and everyone else is one decides, the other diagnoses.

Case in point. My knee was bugging me.  Not unusual for skaters so I went to see a physio while in Oz. She was young, delightful and wrong. She examined the knee, only, and told me I needed x-rays. I didn’t follow through.

I came home and saw my physio, Lorie Forwell, M.Sc at The Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic. She looked at me, made me walk and checked my body. Diagnosis: my hips were out of alignment. The knee was a symptom of a problem not its source. Maureen Avery, a senior principle consultant with Oracle says the same thing. The problem presented is rarely the real problem. It’s the one behind it that matters.

Experts diagnosis then deliver. They solve the right problem. How about you?



Brandfluence (c)

June 1, 2012

Can brown sugar water teach you a critical branding lesson? You betcha! Coca-Cola is a 35.1 billion dollar per year money making machine. They spend more on advertising than Apple and Microsoft combined ($2.9 billion). After 127 years, their know-how can help you.

David Elsworth, The Senior Vice President of Creative Strategy, Content, Marketing and New Business at Coca-Cola Japan explains, David Elsworth, VP of Coca Cola Japan and Louise KarchYou need to know the business you are in. At Coca-Cola we are not in the global refreshment business. We believe we are in the evoking happiness business… That’s a higher order place for our brand to exist and that’s what drives all of our creativity. Yes we make soft drinks but that is not what is going to make us the world’s most loved brand.”

When Elsworth poured through (pun intended) the Atlanta archives he discovered a century of Coke “rubbing against the very real and raw issues of the time.”  In 1910 it was an antidote for depression and fatigue for housewives. During the Vietnam War it was teaching ‘the world to sing in perfect harmony.’ In ’79, a time of race riots, a white boy shared his Coke with black NFL football star Joe Green.

Coke’s current brief is ‘Open happiness in a bottle.’ They created the ‘Friends Day’ Vending Machines (scaffold yourselves together to reach the high coin slot and get two for one). Soon they’ll be releasing handheld  video docudramas. A grief stricken yet proudly resilient Japanese Coca-Cola driver tells the story of delivering water right after the earthquake. This is optimism in the face of hardship, participation not isolation. Heady stuff. Heart stuff. Captivating.


Good is no longer good enough. The goal is perfection and the path that takes us there leads to excellence.
Louise B. Karch