Monday, October 31, 2016

If Your Event isn't Eventful, It's Just Another Meeting

The investor of today does not profit from yesterday's growth.
Warren Buffett

Bundled tips. Distilled solutions. Condensed books. Expert panels. Industry roundups.

Sound like your conference?

You're preparing attendees for the last war. But they need to wage tomorrow's.

"Traditional conferences focus on finding solutions to yesterday’s problems," says conference designer Jeff Hurt.

Smart attendees (that's redundant; stupid people skip conferences) don't need more packaged information; they need results (remember, the word event comes from the Latin for result.)

"People no longer come to your meetings to get information," says planner Holly Duckworth. "They come to make sense of the deluge of information they already have."

If you're not transporting attendees to a future world, helping them adapt to new realities, and equipping them to thrive, you're not offering results.

To put it another way, if your event isn't eventful, it's just another meeting.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My 5 All-Time Favorite Books on Marketing

You witness it every day: the fundamentals elude many a marketer's grasp.

But imbibing the fundamentals is fun. And easy.

Just make a pact with yourself to (re)read these five mind-blowing game-changers in the next few months.

You'll thank yourself.

Your boss will thank you, too.

Confessions of an Advertising Man. David Ogilvy's 1963 romp is a blueprint for sound marketing. In keeping with its title, the book begins, "As a child I lived in Lewis Carroll’s house in Guildford. My father, whom I adored, was a Gaelic-speaking highlander, a classical scholar, and a bigoted agnostic. One day he discovered that I had started going to church secretly."

Positioning. Revolutionaries in 1981, Al Ries and Jack Trout were the first marketers to recognize content glut was our biggest challenge. The book opens with the statement, "Today, communication itself is the problem. We have become the world's first overcommunicated society."

Influence. In Orwell's year, 1984, Robert Cialdini mashed business and psychology to create every marketer's playbook. Cialdini has just augmented his classic with a new book, Pre-Suasion. You might read this book, too.

Maximarketing. Stan Rapp and Tom Collins ushered in the age of personalization in 1986. The technology has changed, but the principles they cite haven't. When Maximarketing was published, David Ogilvy said, “Everyone in advertising must read this book.”

New Rules of Marketing and PR. David Meerman Scott blundered onto a path for marketing his employer's products and turned his journey into a 2007 book. Marketing hasn't been the same since. Scott didn't invent content marketing, but he was the first marketer to recognize its primacy. "Put out great content, and you’re great," he said. "Put out crappy, and you’re crappy."

NOTE: I have encountered a sixth ground-breaker that belongs on the list, Experiential Marketing

Saturday, October 29, 2016

At the Zoo

Are mammoth trade shows dropping like flies?

That's what AmEx predicts in its new 84-page report, 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast.

Companies' event marketing spend won't change next year, but where that money's spent will, according to the report.

Event marketers' spend will increase by 1% in 2017, while their participation in big North American trade shows will decrease by 20% (the average event marketer will participate in 8 of those shows next year, down from 10).

Event marketers will spend the money they would have spent on those big events on small, content-rich ones, instead.

Presaging next year's downturn, four flagship shows recently shuttered: ASAE's Springtime, CTIA's Super Mobility Week, FMI's Connect, and NCTA's INTX.

Which big fossils will be next to sing a swan song?

Event-industry journalist Michael Hart recently observed that, right now, tortoise-like associations are exceedingly vulnerable to their hare-like counterparts, the for-profit organizers, as more money chases fewer events.

While associations dither, "Nimble players can swoop in and launch a competing 'pop-up,' worrying little about legacy issues and more about profits," Hart wrote.

It's time for associations to give up the ostrich-act and take the bull by the horns. There's simply no time to monkey around.

Learn to ape your for-profit competitors!

Friday, October 28, 2016

E-mail: The Marketer's Trump Card

While e-mail marketers wish everyone had OCECD (Obsessive-Compulsive Email Checking Disorder), consumers indeed check their emails avidly, according to a new study by Mapp Digital.

Nearly all consumers (98%) check emails 3 times a day, the study shows; and over one-fourth (28%) check them 4 to 10 times.

That activity makes e-mail the marketer's trump card—particularly with Millennials—says Mapp Digital's CEO.

"The survey results suggest that this group of consumers are engaging with fewer brands on a more intimate level," says Mike Biwer.

"Millennials and Gen Y are strong audiences for email marketers, but now more than ever, the email marketing experience needs to cater to what they want and how they want it."

The study also shows smartphones are a driving force.

Eight of 10 Millennials (83%) check their emails on smartphones; and 7 of 10 consumers in every age group do so.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Foxy Photo Sharing

Cybersecurity pros are clever. It's not easy to outfox them.

But Brian Reed has the animal instinct.

Reed is CMO of the early-stage social media security company ZeroFOX. His firm protects innocents from becoming prey to hackers, spammers and scammers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and dozens of other social media platforms.

Reed has tamed social to romance the cybersecurity pros attending mega events like Black Hat, SecTor and RSA Conference, and transform them into advocates for his scrappy new brand.

"Our participation in security-industry events like Black Hat and RSA represents a substantial business investment," Reed says. "So we have to do interesting things wrapped around those events to achieve the maximum results."

Reed believes social media today is all about pictures.

So before a recent event, he bought a Snapchat Geofilter, branded it, and hired a troupe of actors to pose with attendees for snapshots. Thousands of snapshots.

"Social media engagement is now largely photo-driven," Reed says. "That's why we make sure to arrange our participation at all large events around photogenic spots, bring backdrops and props, hire and costume an actor as our mascot, and have photographers at the ready."

Reed customized the Snapchat Geofilter with his company's graphics and tagline for the event, "They've weaponized social media." He also embedded hashtags in the filter, and in all his other social media outreach, to drive sharing.

"We leverage social media at all events where the audience is heavily Millennial," Reed says. "Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all allow geotagging and audience engagement."

At past events, he has also deployed video walls on site, to billboard the thousands of posts generated. And when the organizer has its own video walls for social media, Reed's team leverages them heavily, to drive on-screen promotion of his brand.

Reed's antics aren't contained to the convention center. At a Skyfall-themed after-party at Black Hat, he set up photo booths replete with a cast of James Bond characters, who hammed it up while attendees posed with them for shots (photos, not Tequila). The photo booths automatically added hashtags to every photo and printed funny signs that displayed the hashtags. Attendees could pose holding the signs, and further drive sharing and engagement.

"I like using social around events for a number of reasons," Reed says.

"First, it's purely user-generated content, so your investment in creative amounts to buying a filter. The rest comes from team engagement and creativity.

"Second, social extends the value and shelf-life of the events you participate in. A conventioneer actually will engage with your brand and help you grow it.

"Third, while you're aiming to reach non-attendees, attendees feel good about your brand, because you help them make new connections on the floor. 'I saw you with James Bond last night," a total stranger will walk up and say to someone. "That was awesome!"'

Reed has advice for convention center and hotel operators, based on his recent successes.

ZeroFOX's obsession with photo-sharing means the marketers at the company now choose booth locations, popup meetings and activities, and party rooms based on how photogenic the backgrounds are.

"There's no reason a venue's signage, lobby art or building features couldn't be part of that background, even if it's just part of a portable photo backdrop," Reed says.

"When I do site walkthroughs, I'm always looking at the visuals for social photo engagement. I encourage all event professionals to consider this a whole new way to market your space. Venues should become more open to thinking about the cross-promotional opportunities we can bring them."

NOTE: You can find Brian Reed (aka ReedOnTheRun) on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.


When you're through changing, you're through.
Bruce Barton
Resistance to change.

A psychologist would say fear of loss is behind it.

A Neoplatonist would say the devil is.

An inner voice advises you: Beware. Go slow. Back off. Give in. You're swamped. Next week. Next month. Next quarter. Next year.

Whator whodo you blame?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


%%^So87** 9ih07s>lcs 8;l#jdfdci

That may be the next headline I write for a client (it's a damn good one, too).

Tomorrow's advertisers will target not consumers, but consumers' “personal algorithmic assistants,” according to futurist J. Walker Smith.

In only a few years, we'll be surrounded by smart devices loaded with sensors, “so we can passively maintain our lives while the sensors and technology actively handle the details," Smith says.

Sensors in our phones will choose the music we play based on our moods. Sensors in our necklaces will monitor our caloric intake. Sensors in our shoes will connect to Google Maps and lead us to the store. Sensors in our toothbrushes will track how many times we brush our teeth each week and report our habit to the dentist.

Advertisers will therefore sell to sensors, rather than consumers, Smith predicts.

Ad copy will seek to change the "preference profiles" directing the sensors' algorithms.

Ad man David Ogilvy once admonished his agency's copywriters to respect their audiences.

"The consumer isn't a moron. She's your wife."

I look forward to the day I can say, "The consumer isn't a moron. She's your toothbrush."

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Devil You Know

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't'.

Irish Proverb

How often are you flummoxed by a prospect who decides to do nothing, or stick with an incumbent supplier it hates?

Princeton psychology professor Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in Economics for explaining why clients do this.

Kahneman’s research challenged conventional economic theory, proving people make irrational decisions all the time.

A key basis for those decisions is "risk aversion."

People are more motivated to avoid a loss than to acquire a gain. In fact, the perceived loss has twice the influence on the decision the equivalent gain has.

How do you counteract risk aversion?

In the way you explain the potential loss.

You need to do careful research to pinpoint the loss (generic claims never work, and cheesy fear-mongering backfires); and then show the prospect it will avoid that loss by choosing you.

Here are three things you should do:
  • Provide your prospect insight. A financial advisor had trouble selling doctors deferred compensation plans. It used a white paper, Healthcare Post-Obamacare, to get meetings with physician groups. The white paper was chock full of gloomy news and predictions of losses, many of which had little to do with deferred compensation plans; but the data motivated doctors to meet with the advisor and discuss the firm's products.

  • Prove over and over you produce results. The top Realtor in my home town mails homeowners postcards every week. Each one boasts of the rapid speed and ginormous sale price at which she just sold a home. If I fear getting a below-market price for my home, I might remain in it. Or I might just give her a call.

  • Make your case. Case studies that emphasize how you helped clients dodge disasters demonstrate you can do the same for them. Software provider Minitab proved this in a case study about Ford Motor Company's use of its product. Ford's launch of Fiesta was jeopardized when the automaker found ugly brush marks on every vehicle's carpet. Minitab helped Ford avert showroom nightmares by enabling it to evaluate the results of 34 test fixes in 12 days, and choose the right one.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Here's to the bootstrappers, those entrepreneurs who make do on a shoestring. They sustain the American Dream.

Here's to the bootleggers, the copycats who ride the backs of first-movers and make them look good.

And here's to the bootlickers, without whose undying service there'd be no room for bootstrapping or bootlegging.

It doesn't much matter which pair you wear, but only that others will ask, "Who'll fill her boots when she's gone?"

Saturday, October 22, 2016

All Together Now

In his new book, Pre-Suasion, “Godfather of influence" Robert Cialdini has added a 7th principle of persuasion to the 6 he described 40 years ago in Influence.

He calls it unity.

Unity is less a principle of persuasion and more one of "pre-suasion."

Pre-suasion refers to the means to get agreement with a message before it's ever sent.

Unity means shared identity.

Belonging to a family, a race, a neighborhood, a club, a party, a polity, or some other group automatically predisposes you to agreeing with messages sent by other members.

Cialdini illustrates unity's persuasive power by citing Warren Buffet’s 2014 shareholder letter—considered "the best annual letter ever."

Content and copywriters, take heed!

Buffet guarantees his market predictions are accepted by readers by including this simple opening paragraph:

Now let’s take a look at the road ahead. Bear in mind that if I had attempted 50 years ago to gauge what was coming, certain of my predictions would have been far off the mark. With that warning, I will tell you what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Grace under Pressure

This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go.

— Oscar Wilde, last words on his deathbed

Child therapists call the ability to avoid meltdowns when under pressure the executive function.

Ironically, some executives don't function under pressure—not well, at least.

You'll recall the Korean Air Lines executive who forced her plane back to the gate and kicked off the head steward after she was served macadamias in a bag, rather than on a plate.

Business isn’t always about growth, victories and celebrations over champagne.

Stuff happens.

Leaders unable to show grace under pressure exhibit the traits of the executive-type Tron Jordheim calls the "Spoiled Brat."

The Spoiled Brat thrives on barking orders and berating workers, caring only about productivity as she defines it. She mistakes herself for another executive-type, the "General," who thrives on defining missions, outwitting competitors, and "taking the next hill." But apply a little pressure and all hell breaks loose.

"The General will remain composed and keep the battle plan in mind even under pressure," Jorhheim says. "When under pressure, the Spoiled Brat overreacts and lashes out until someone offers a pacifier. The advantage the Spoiled Brat has is that people do react quickly and try to make this type of executive happy to avoid those tantrums."

Spoiled Brats are so narcissistic they forget they have an audience—workers and peers who expect them to display grace under pressure—calm, grit, insight, honesty, resilience, self-control and dignity. (Oscar Wilde's example of grace under pressure may be the ultimate one.)

If your management team includes executives who think eating nuts from a bag is roughing it—and who crack under the pressure—it's time to reorganize.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When There's Only Make

Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
– Mae West
It took J.D. Salinger 10 years to write The Catcher in the Rye.

It took John Roebling 10 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge.

It took Leonard Cohen 10 years to compose "Anthem."

It took Julia Child 10 years to compile Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

It took James Cameron 10 years to film Avatar.

How long is your patience, your endurance, your long term?

Can you sustain your passion long enough to make something that may take years to complete?

Or are you satisfied ceaselessly prototyping?

"Your long term is not the sum of your short terms," Seth Godin says.

The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming

I was feelin' sad and kinda' blue,
I didn't know what I was a gonna do.
The Communists was comin' around,
They was in the air,
They was on the ground,
They wouldn't gimme no peace.
                                                                                        — Bob Dylan

Russian trolls have invaded our homeland, according to The Atlantic.

Posing on social media as angry Americans, they're riling our political factions.

"The ultimate intent is not so much victory for a certain side, but a loss for everybody: sapping the credibility of US institutions and tearing open as many wounds as possible," The Atlantic reports.

"After Election Day, we should not be surprised to find a vocal group of internet users with mysterious IP addresses decrying the result as a fraud and driving talk of conspiracy—and even of resistance or secession.

"In time, we may see a multiplying number of homegrown violent extremists (along the lines of the infamous Oregon militiamen), encouraged by the subtle manipulation of a certain rival government."

They have us by the brains.

Our only defense: a little critical thinking.

According to The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking, " Much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought."

To improve your critical thinking, the Guide says, you need to:
  • Raise and formulate important questions clearly and precisely;
  • Gather relevant data and use abstract ideas to interpret that data;
  • Come to reasoned conclusions you can test against others' standards;
  • Stay open minded and explore alternative systems of thought; and
  • Communicate effectively.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Laundry Lists Kill

Want to kill audience interest quickly? Use a laundry list.

"We think dumping the entire contents of the benefits-basket onto a reader, viewer, or listener will outpull selective choice," copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis once said. "Not so, because emphasis becomes diluted. When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing."

But wait, it gets worse.

Laundry lists not only kill interest. They can kill a deal.

Good salespeople know this intuitively: If you want to kill a deal, introduce an extraneous element. Laundry lists introduce baskets of them.

Laundry lists bar interest and block deals. So avoid them.

To create a responsive ad, letter or email, choose one benefit your audience values, and subordinate the rest.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Content Marketers: Don't Take It Anymore

Content marketers: Don't be a one-hit wonder.

By repurposing your most popular piece, you can enjoy a string of hits, says Emily King on

Copywriters at King's B2B agency transformed "The Seven Types of B2B Copywriter," an article in the firm's newsletter, into 10 additional pieces over two years.

"We realized that this message had legs, after seeing good click-through rates," King says.

"We decided that it would be a shame to limit that message’s audience to the select (read tiny) bunch of discerning B2B marketing professionals who subscribed to our newsletter. We had to take the message wider."

By "atomizing" the article, King's agency stretched the shelf-life of the original piece, and reached audiences who prefer their content delivered through platforms other than an e- newsletter.

As a result, her agency's revenue increased 28%.

From the article, King's copywriters created:
  • A blog post (a simple cut-and-paste job)
  • A podcast (featuring an outside journalist)
  • A board game (Funnel! The Content Marketing Strategy Game)
  • A conference presentation (The 7 Types of B2B Copywriter)
  • A second podcast (featuring highlights of the presentation and a slide deck)
  • A second blog post (recounting the development of the board game)
  • A third podcast (featuring interviews with the game creators)
  • A quiz (allowing B2B copywriters to identify their types)
  • An infographic (depicting the 7 types of copywriter)
  • A third blog post (namely, the King wrote for
Chunking the original article worked, King says. "Each new effort not only garnered new interest in our idea and our business, but also brought a new audience to our related content pieces."

Try it yourself.

You don't have to be a one-hit wonder anymore.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Give Hooptedoodle the Heave-Ho

There’s a great power in words,
if you don’t hitch too many of them together.
— Josh Billings

"Delete" is the key to sharper storytelling—and maybe the cure for Content Shock.

Or, as novelist Elmore Leonard put it, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."

The web's awash with crap content, writing that confuses and bores and bogs down readers with too much "too much."

Prolix writing exhausts us; and writers who produce it, Leonard says, are "perpetrating hooptedoodle," a word coined by another novelist, John Steinbeck.

Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday (a sequel to Cannery Row) included a prologue that featured two characters speaking, Mack and Whitey No. 1.

One night Mack lay back on his bed in the Palace Flop house and he said, “I ain’t never been satisfied with that book Cannery Row. I would of went about it different.”

And after a while he rolled over and raised his head on his hand and he said, “I guess I’m just a critic. But if I ever come across the guy that wrote that book I could tell him a few things.”

“Like what?” said Whitey No. 1.

“Well,” said Mack, “like this here. Suppose there’s chapter one, chapter two, chapter three. That’s all right, as far as it goes, but I’d like to have a couple of words at the top so it tells me what the chapter’s going to be about. Sometimes maybe I want to go back, and chapter five don’t mean nothing to me. If there was just a couple of words I’d know that was the chapter I wanted to go back to.”

“Go on,” said Whitey No. 1.

“Well, I like a lot of talk in a book, and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. And another thing—I kind of like to figure out what the guy’s thinking by what he says. I like some description too,” he went on. “I like to know what color a thing is, how it smells and maybe how it looks, and maybe how a guy feels about it—but not too much of that.”

“You sure are a critic,” said Whitey No. 2. “Mack, I never give you credit before. Is that all?”

“No,” said Mack. “Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. The guy’s writing it, give him a chance to do a little hooptedoodle. Spin up some pretty words maybe, or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up in the story. So if the guy that’s writing it wants hooptedoodle, he ought to put it right at first. Then I can skip it if I want to, or maybe go back to it after I know how the story come out.”

Indeed, Sweet Thursday readers could encounter two fancy chapters inside, "Hooptedoodle 1" and "Hooptedoodle 2." They could skip them, if they wished.

Storytelling won't advance your goals if you don't recognize the power of well-chosen words. Don't burden readers with hooptedoodle; leave long-form flights of fancy to the poets.

There's power in your "Delete" key.

Use it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Exorcise Adverbs

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
Stephen King

Click-baiters adore adverbs:
  • Powerfully Effective Content Marketing
  • The Writing Resolution You Can Actually Keep
  • The Amazingly Simple Anatomy of a Meaningful Marketing Story
  • 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content
  • How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer
  • What to Do When You Absolutely, Positively Must Know If Your Content Will Rock
But adverbs overpromise and add little; in fact, they weaken the words they modify.

Dressing up a word with an adverb is like "putting a hat on a horse," claims The Elements of Style.

Don't do it.

Don't overdress your words.

Understatement's the best way to put forth an idea, as the late copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis insisted.

Good writers get this.

Adverbs rarely appear on pages crafted by Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard or Stephen King.

But look at a passage by an over-writer like William Peter Blatty (taken from his novel The Exorcist):

The Jesuit moved slowly forward, oblivious of Chris, who was gaping in wonder; of Karl, stepping lithe and incredulous from the study; of Karras, emerging bewildered from the kitchen while the nightmarish poundings and croakings continued. He went calmly up the staircase, slender hand like alabaster sliding upward on the banister.

Karras came up beside Chris, and together they watched from below as Merrin entered Regan's bedroom and closed the door behind him. For a time there was silence. Then abruptly the demon laughed hideously and Merrin came out. He closed the door and started down the hall. Behind him, the bedroom door opened again and Sharon poked her head out, staring after him, an odd expression on her face.

Here the same passage again, with the adverbs exorcised:

The Jesuit moved forward, oblivious of Chris, who was gaping in wonder; of Karl, stepping lithe and incredulous from the study; of Karras, emerging bewildered from the kitchen while the nightmarish poundings and croakings continued. He went up the staircase, slender hand like alabaster sliding upward on the banister.

Karras came up beside Chris, and together they watched from below as Merrin entered Regan's bedroom and closed the door behind him. For a time there was silence. Then the demon laughed and Merrin came out. He closed the door and started down the hall. Behind him, the bedroom door opened again and Sharon poked her head out, staring after him, an odd expression on her face.

More chilling, no?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Event Producers: Don't be Junk

Content's the insurance event producers need to avoid attendees' email trash folders, says dmg events' head of marketing John Whitaker.

While flogging registrations is the endgame, delivering content is the play, he says.

Whitaker resists the knee-jerk urge to blast attendees with event invitations, focusing instead on sending attendees offers of well-crafted content.

"We want to be less like junk in their inbox," Whitaker says.

Content not only attracts attendees to an event, but involves them with the producer's brand after the event is history.

"It seems a shame to spend a huge amount of marketing to get them to turn up for two, three or four days, and then not really engage with them until the next event," Whitaker says.

"If we can keep the conversation going and see the event as more of a 365 activity, then that helps us to have better traction, stops suppressions within out database, and creates a better appetite for conversion if we draw them in through content marketing."


Dylan is a reminder of how America used to talk to itself.
— Lili Loofbourow

"A great poet in the English-speaking tradition," Bob Dylan became a Nobel Laureate yesterday.

Killjoys will kvetch. "Someone who performed in Las Vegas the same day he became a Nobel Laureate doesn't belong to the club of Lewis, O'Neill, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Bellow and Morrison."

I refuse to accept this.

In his Banquet Speech, Faulkner said:

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Business Girl's Guide to Halloween Parties

Thanks to Jazz Age content marketing, business girls never had to sweat over throwing a nifty Halloween blow. The Bogie Book showed 'em how.

Each October from 1912 and 1926, paper party-goods maker The Dennison Paper Company published The Bogie Book to inspire busy women. (The company skipped a 1918 edition. Halloween was cancelled that year, because the nation was gripped by the Spanish Flu.)

In the 1925 edition, the two-page article, "The Business Girl's Halloween Party," offered all the instructions to plan your blow: 
  • Buy a Dennison Halloween "lunch set," complete with a crepe paper tablecloth, paper plates and paper napkins. 
  • Buy Dennison crepe paper sashes for the guys, headbands for the dolls.
  • Make place cards and a table centerpiece from cardboard and Dennison crepe paper; a chandelier from wire and Dennison crepe paper; and window curtains and valances from Dennison crepe paper.
  • Decorate the rest of the room with black cat cardboard cutouts from Dennison. 
  • For appetizers, serve pumpkin doughnuts wrapped in Dennison crepe paper; fruit cocktail in a Dennison paper cup wrapped in Dennison crepe paper; candy wrapped in Dennison crepe paper; and apples topped with Dennison crepe paper goblins' hats.
  • Keep the main course simple: chicken patties and potato chips. Serve ice cream, cake and coffee for desert. 
  • Prepare everything a day in advance, so you can assemble it quickly when you get home from work.
As Dennison was a family-friendly firm, no instructions were included for hiding the hooch (illegal due to the Prohibition).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

3 Must-Haves for Every Meeting Planner

"Meeting people in real life remains the most effective way to build a successful business," says Inc. columnist Helene Olen.

But how do you build a successful meeting?

Olen thinks these three tools are essential:

Influencers. Attendees need to know they'll encounter up-and-comers at your event. Before they'll register, they'll ask, "Is this a network I can reach out to in the future?"

Underprogramming. Elbow-rubbing with influencers won't happen if you overprogram your meeting. Be sure to carve out generous breaks.

Starter packages. If you attract influencers, it's guaranteed: you'll be suitcased by entrepreneurs who believe they can't afford your event—nor afford to skip it. So offer price options for the tight-fisted.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Don't Blame the Media

It isn't the medium that lacks depth, it's the artist.
Andrew Wyeth

Dead artist's and writers' homes intrigue us the way their unfinished works do: both are like ancient ruins asking for completion.

I just had the pleasure of touring one artist's home, Andrew Wyeth's, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Wyeth worked in his studio there for 68 years, completing (and abandoning) thousands of drawings and paintings.

Although he used other media, Wyeth mastered tempera, the favorite of Renaissance artists like Botticelli and Raphael. It's made by mixing dry pigment and egg yoke.

Wyeth preferred tempera because it's durable.

"There is something incredibly lasting about the material, like an Egyptian mummy, a marvelous beehive or hornet's nest," he once told a critic"The medium itself is a very lasting one, too, because the pure method of the dry pigments and egg yolk is terrifically sticky. Try to rub egg off of a plate when it is dry. It's tough. It takes tempera about six months or more to dry and then you can actually take a scrubbing brush to it and you won't be able to rub off that final hardness."

But Wyeth was careful to distinguish the medium's force from the artist's.

"My temperas are very broadly painted in the beginning. Then I tighten down on them. If you get the design and the shape of the thing you want to paint, you can go on and on. The only limitation is yourself. I have always argued this is true with any medium. I have had people say to me, 'Why do you waste your time with watercolor, it's such a light medium, a fragile medium. It lacks depth.'Well, it isn't the medium that lacks depth, it's the artist. You can never blame the medium."

As in politics, when up against our limits, it's easy in creative pursuits to blame the media. 

I hear blame every week in the drawing class I attend. Charcoal sucks. Conté sucks. Graphite sucks. Ink sucks. This paper sucks.

But the limits are in ourselves.

You don't control your chosen medium.

You surrender to it.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

But You Must Act

Fantasy football will cost employers $16.8 billion in lost wages this season, according to

Workers waste a ton of time not only during football season, but year round.

According to a study by GetVoIP, 80% of workers waste some time every day; and 20% waste one-third or more of each day.

Self-employment makes any sort of time-wasting unpalatable to me (I don't want to wind up living under a bridge).

But far worse-tasting is unconscious procrastination.

Procrastination comes in two varieties: conscious (you play fantasy football, instead of phoning customers) and unconscious (you answer yesterday's emails, instead of writing a strategic plan).

The former is foolish; the latter, fatal.

If you're addicted to unconscious procrastination, ask yourself: Am I too self assured?

That was Civil War General George McClellan's problem.

As you'll recall from your history lessons, Abe Lincoln put McClellan in charge of the Union army in July 1861 after the disaster at Bull Run. McClellan then took nine months to build up his army, swelling it to an immense size—121,500 men (at the time, the largest army ever assembled by a nation).

The power went to McClellan's head. He mistook the office he'd been handed for an elected one, and began to behave as if he had a public mandate. He started seeing himself as God's instrument, chosen by Divine Providence to save his country, and even flirted with idea of dictatorship—an idea that flourished, because he surrounded himself with "Yes Men." And he held Lincoln in open contempt, calling him a "baboon" and "the original Gorilla."

But McClellan failed to use his immense army to win a victory of any size over the Confederates and end the war.

Instead, he focused on parades, supplies, campgrounds and paperwork.

He procrastinated.

An impatient Lincoln soon would fire him; but before he did, Lincoln sent McClellan a
now-famous telegram that read:

Once more, let me tell you, it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I beg to assure you that I have never written you, or spoken to you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment, I consistently can. But you must act. 

Are you too self-assured?
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