The Why Equation

I was having breakfast with a friend of mine this morning and, as usual, we talked about a lot of things – life, business and most things in between.

I’ll call him ‘L.’

‘L’ works in financial planning. He’s self-made and one of the most successful people I know. Though he works with a large, global firm, he and his brother own a smaller company within a company, of which ‘L’ is the principle owner, executive and strategist for a team of five. His business, like his life, is in a period of evolution and he’s beginning to ask some questions. How is his team going to make the next evolution? What does he need to do to improve his leadership? All the kinds of questions a considered guy like ‘L’ should be asking.

I’ve spent my career asking questions. First as a journalist and now as a strategist. Continue reading

Post No Bills: Aren’t We Selling Soap?

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. Mostly books about marketing and presentation of information, about content marketing and social media. And some have really struck a chord (see the bottom of this post for a list and links to my new favorites), especially those that deal with story telling as a marketing principle – well, not just a principle, but a marketing bedrock.

There are a lot of reasons why these resonate with me, not least of which is that I am both a) completely convinced that story telling is the foundation of all human interaction and b) an instinctive story teller.

And, to be sure, these and a lot of other books, podcasts and conferences do a wonderful job of covering the need for story telling and some of the basic (and some advanced) principles of story telling. Continue reading

Useful Idea: Turn Business Travel Into an Adventure

Business travel

I’ve been traveling a lot for work over the last 18 months – enough that I now select my preferred seats on nearly every aircraft in the Delta Airlines fleet when I book my flights; enough that I can speak the secret language of gate agents; enough that I have a standard format for my packing list; enough that when I go more than a couple of weeks without going somewhere, I feel a little lost.

And, at first, it was all very exciting. Coming from a background of covering local news for newspapers and magazines – where a ‘big’ trip would still have me home for dinner – the idea of getting paid to get on a plane and go someplace else was thrilling. Continue reading

How to Survive (and get the most out of) a Conference

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If you had told me ten years ago, when I was working for a local newspaper covering local news and never really going anywhere, that one day I would be traveling all over the country (and the world) to attend and speak at conferences, I would not have believed you. Or, if I had, I would have dreaded my future.

They seem so boring. A bunch of people getting together at an event center or hotel convention center, droning from room to room, standing at booths and wearing name tags. I mean, no thanks, right? Continue reading

Is Being Happy Useful?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the time of year – when smiles linger a little longer, movies get more touching and people seem to be more generous – or maybe it is just the sentimental side of me that wants to believe in the idea that the things you put into the world are reflections of how you’d like the world to be, but I’m kind of fascinated by happiness right now. Like, really fascinated by it.

I’ve also just fulfilled a long-held dream of buying my first house, the release of which was like a double shot of adrenal mirth between my toes. I’ve been very focused on reaching that goal for a very long time. Everything I did was somehow related to it and, now that we are (nearly) all moved in and the kids are settled down, I realize that, for the first time in a long time, I can make choices related to something else. Continue reading

Useful Question: Are All Books Self-Help Books?


I was in New York last week for work and, as I tend to do every time I am in the City, I had breakfast with an editor of mine – Adam Korn, of WilliamMorrow/HarperCollins. On the surface, Adam and I could not be more different. I am a six-foot-four corn-fed Catholic child of the Midwest who would rather spend a week in the woods than a weekend on the Upper East Side. He’s a five-foot-six Jewish kid who has never lived anywhere but New York. And, yet, our friendship is one the most treasured relationships in my life. Every time we get together, we talk about books and ideas. We finish each other’s sentences like old school chums. We talk with rampant enthusiasm and our hands, so much so that we often draw stares. Continue reading