Each time I’ve written about traveling light someone has asked me to show exactly how I’ve refined my travel wardrobe. This time I photographed everything before I packed it away. Here’s everything I’m taking for a two-week combination business/TV appearance/and getaway vacation.
Traveling Light: clockwise from the upper left-hand corner:
Besides these things in my bag (22” Tumi duffel), I’ll also wear cotton khakis, Adidas Gazelle sneakers with another pair of running socks, washable underwear, and a navy polo shirt and carry my iPad.
Why no jeans? They’re heavy, take up a lot of space in luggage, dry very slowly, and aren’t that comfortable on planes.
Why the choice of ties and pocket squares? They instantly change a look even if you’re wearing the same basic colors underneath.
Why the puffer jacket in the summer? Mountain nights can be chilly and airports and planes can be freezing cold. A collapsible jacket like this one is a great comfort and can double as an in-flight pillow.
Why the bucket hat and running cap? Water resistant headwear is great when it rains and is also a terrific way to block the sun when you’re outdoors. And they’re a lot easier to carry than an umbrella.
Legendary head coach Joe Paterno led the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011. In 2007 Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 2011 Paterno won his 409th game, becoming the winningest coach in Division I college football history. To people who lived in University Park or attended Penn State, Paterno was an icon of almost religious status.
On November 4, 2011 a grand jury report accused Paterno’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, of sexually abusing eight young boys. One month later the number of victims was increased to 10. On June 22, 2012, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of 48 criminal counts and on October 9, 2012, Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Just a few years later a poll of over 1,000 adults was conducted by the survey research firm Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion. Surprisingly, only 55% of Americans questioned knew that Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was not accused of molesting children – 45% of those polled believed that Paterno was the attacker.
By this point, Paterno had already been removed from his post at Penn State and had died of complications from lung cancer. But the truth didn’t even matter posthumously. Perception is reality and Paterno’s legacy was forever tarnished.
Did you know that Al Gore never said, “I invented the Internet”?
During an interview on CNN’s “Late Edition” with Wolf Blitzer, Gore’s exact words were, “During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”
You are free to interpret that statement as Gore claiming responsibility or you may choose to see his statement the way the myth-busting site Snopes.com does. Their interpretation is that Gore “…was not claiming that he ‘invented’ the Internet in the sense of having designed or implemented it, but rather that he was responsible, in an economic and legislative sense, for fostering the development the technology that we now know as the Internet.”
Regardless of what Gore actually said (or meant), and regardless of how you look at it, the damage was done – the common belief is that Gore said, “I invented the Internet.” Because perception is reality.
Did you know that Sarah Palin never said, “I can see Russia from my house”? The quip was actually made famous by Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live” when Fey parodied the then-vice presidential candidate. But regardless of who actually said the words, they followed Palin throughout her short-lived national political career.
It’s a common belief in the marketing world that “Perception is Reality.” That is, what people perceive is what establishes their reality. In a more practical sense, if we believe Starbucks coffee is better than the unlabeled stuff then it is better – we will go out of our way to find Starbucks and pay more money for it even though we really have little way of knowing if it actually is superior, or even different, from cheaper coffee.
If we believe a Volvo is a safer automobile than the others we could drive, then it is – at least in the showroom. We will pay a higher price for the car because of its perceived value of enhanced protection. Of course the true determination of whether the car is actually safer is established by investigators after an accident but that occurs long after the product has been selected and purchased.
In 1897 Mark Twain published one of my favorite books, a travel guide titled “Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World”. In it Twain writes, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
Truth might be stranger than fiction but often times fiction is more interesting, more exciting, more replicable, and ultimately more powerful and compelling than the truth. And those who don’t embrace this reality of branding and perception do so at their own peril because perception is reality.
Just ask Sarah Palin. Or Al Gore. Or Joe Paterno.
There was once a store in your neighborhood with the name Strictly Tennis. Everyone knew what Strictly Tennis did and what they sold. But then enough kids started playing soccer that the owners decided to also carry cleats and jerseys and changed their name to Strictly Tennis and Soccer, which worked just fine until jogging became all the rage. That’s when the store changed its name again – this time to Strictly Tennis, Soccer, and Running.
In the late sixties, Al Kooper, Bobby Colomby and a bunch of jazz cats got together and created one of the era’s five seminal rock and roll horn bands – Blood, Sweat & Tears. The band was so successful that its self-titled second album not only topped the Billboard charts and gave the world three major hits, including “You Made me so Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die”, but also beat out the Beatles’ Abbey Road for Grammy Album of the Year.
One has to wonder, though, if Colomby’s virtuoso drumming and the late great Lew Soloff’s soaring trumpet solos would have been enough if the band had used the name Assorted Bodily Fluids instead.
Marilyn Monroe was born with the name Norma Jeane Mortenson.
Tony Curtis was originally Bernard Schwartz.
Rock Hudson was Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.
Martin Sheen’s name was Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez.
Natalie Portman birth name was Hershlag.
How about Ralph Lauren? Did you know that the scion of American fashion, the designer who combined American preppy with English aristocracy to create a seven billion dollar fortune was born Ralph Lifshitz? What’s the chance that international heads of industry would attend Davos or the World Economic Forum dressed in a navy blue Lifshitz? What Oscar-winning actress would sashay across the red carpet in a haute couture Lifshitz?
His name reminds me of the old joke, “Hey Ralph, if your Lifshitz, does your ass speak?”
Sometimes a successful name is instructive and tells the potential customer exactly what a product or company does – think Evernote, Discovery Channel, International Business Machines or the Museum of Modern Art. But other times, function can get in the way, with a name like Strictly Tennis, for example, or Burger King.
Sometimes a successful name honors its founders – Hewlett Packard or Porsche or Ferrari. But this only works if the founders’ names stay free of scandal. Luckily Ebers, Madoff, and Lay didn’t lend their names to the companies they drove into the ground. And of course the jury’s still out on what Donald Trump’s outbursts will do to his eponymous empire.
Sometimes a name can start off fine but then suffers when happenstance serves to change its meaning. Examples of this unfortunate occurrence include Ayds Diet Candies and the band Anthrax. And little girls named Isis might be feeling the same thing too.
Sometimes successful names are fanciful – Google, Starbucks, Twitter, Cisco, Citrix, and so on. The problem here, of course, is how long – and how much money – it takes for the consuming public to actually recognize, understand, and accept a name that they’ve never heard before.
Still, it’s a good thing their name isn’t Assorted Bodily Fluids.
Drop weight and get in shape? For most people that means you need to eat less and move more. Of course some people have significant health obstacles that don’t let them get things done but for most of us the path to better health is pretty clear.
Want to write a book? It’s simple – a page a day produces a book a year. All you have to do to get things done is plop your butt in your chair, put your fingers on your keyboard, and get to work.
Need to put away more money for retirement? The best way is to start putting away more money for retirement. Again, some people have real problems that frustrate their efforts to get things done but for most of us a few fewer dinners out, fewer trips to Starbucks, and a little more discipline with our charge cards would help a lot.
Want to learn to play the guitar or to speak Spanish? You do it the same way you get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice.
Here’s the thing though: Did I just reveal any super secret strategies you’d never thought of to get things done? Of course not – you already know how to do all those things we’re talking about. The reason they’re not getting done is because you’re not invested in doing them.
In a meeting with a potential client a few years ago my prospect talked enthusiastically about a great new business book she was reading. I dutifully wrote down the title and author’s name and had every intention of purchasing and reading the book the first chance I got.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy doing other things,” and he was right – that’s exactly what happened to me. There was so much going on and it wasn’t like I didn’t already have a big stack of books piled up on my nightstand and in my Kindle. I’m embarrassed to tell you that I never bought – or read – the recommended book. Hey, I was reading as fast as I could.
But finally realizing that people probably don’t get around to purchasing or reading the books that I was recommending either, I came up with a new strategy. I started buying the books I suggested other people read and would send them along as unsolicited gifts. I’d simply buy them locally at Books & Books and drop them into FedEx. If I was in a real hurry I’d hop right onto Amazon from my smartphone and order my gift books before I even left the prospect’s parking lot.
The only problem was that when I’d ask people how they liked the books I was sending, they’d hem and haw and then sheepishly admit that they hadn’t even turned to page one. Sure they were excited to receive the free books and they really did mean to read them, and they appreciated it and all but they just hadn’t gotten around to actually reading them yet.
What I discovered was that people don’t read the books they don’t buy because they’ve got nothing invested in the task. And so learning how to get things done not only changed my gift giving habits but altered my pricing strategies as well.
When do people buy home security systems? AFTER their houses get broken into.
When do people start exercising? AFTER they have their first heart attack.
When do people listen to their attorney? AFTER they either get sued or AFTER they pay big legal bills.
Quite simply, people’s attention follows their investment. THAT’S how to get things done.
And that explains why people don’t read books until AFTER they’ve paid for them.
I was recently asked a question that really got me thinking about how we describe ourselves and ultimately create our own personal brand.
I was getting ready to make a presentation at a Fortune 100 company’s annual innovation summit, and the person responsible for the conference program asked me the following question about my personal brand:
I didn’t have to ponder this at all so my quick answer was: “Creative.” After all, I was always the kid in art class, writing classes, band and orchestra, and rock bands. I have art and design degrees, for Pete’s sake. “Creative” was the perfect single word to describe the personal brand I think I have.
But before I emailed her my answer, I remembered an experience that opened my eyes to a whole different personal brand descriptor that might be more accurate.
A few years ago my office was thinking about about adding nameplates to everyone’s office doors so that when we toured potential clients around our agency they’d get a chance to be introduced to everyone. Then someone wisely pointed out that no one would remember a bunch of names (Pam, Carolina, Allison, Marlisa, Tom, Tracy, Jose, etc.). Instead, they suggested we put one-word descriptors for each person on their office doors.
That could be fun and might even start some interesting conversations.
In our Friday agency breakfast meeting we told everyone about the plan and because we knew that people would agonize over their personal brand words and because we wanted to get the words up right away, we asked everyone to please submit their words on the following Monday or else, “A word would be picked for them.”
Much smarter people than I have warned us to be careful what we wish for.
I was out of town the next week and never got around to submitting my own personal brand. When I returned to the office the word art was already up on everyone’s doors. Our CFO’s word was “Thorough.” One art director’s word was “Colorful.” Our bookkeeper’s word was “Busy.” Our tough-as-nails production manager’s words were “The Hammer.”
There was a word on my office door, too. But oddly enough it wasn’t “Creative.”
The new book I’m writing is about how today’s companies need to incorporate a CC 2 CC mindset as they build their brands. In other words, forward-thinking organizations just like yours need to shift away from a company-centric branding strategy to messaging that’s consumer-centric. Because in today’s interactive environment—where anyone can speak to everyone—you no longer decide what your personal brand is: Your customers make and promote that decision.
Oh yeah, what was the word I found on my door? “Intense.” Intense? Who me? Go figure.
Frank Kiick was one of the best-dressed men I ever met. His shirts and suits were always immaculate and precisely tailored to fit his lanky frame. His beard was perfectly trimmed and he always got his accessories – tie, cufflinks, watch, shoes – just right.
So imagine my surprise when I walked into the headquarters of Surrey’s Menswear and found Frank sitting at a workable in his shirtsleeves behind three stacks of the ugliest ties I had ever seen. Frank greeted me without looking up, his hands moving quickly between the different piles.
Frank started with the long corrugated box of ties laid out directly in front of him. He’d pull one tie off the top of the pile, examine it closely for a quick moment and then either toss it onto the stack on his right or drop it into the much smaller group on his left. Then he’d yank out another tie and repeat the process.
I tried to figure out what Frank was trying to do. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“What’s up Frank?” I asked. “I don’t understand what that’s about.”
“I’m choosing ties for the stores,” he answered without pausing. “This box,” Frank motioned with his chin, “has the tie samples the mill sent for our consideration.” These ties,” he gestured left, “are the ones we’re going to sell. These,” he gestured right, “are going back to the factory.”
I looked at the three piles but still couldn’t see any difference.
“But Frank,” I finally asked in desperation. “All of these ties are ugly. You wouldn’t wear any of them. How are you picking between them?”
What Frank told me next was a life changer:
“I’m not our customer, Bruce. If I only ordered ties that I like we’d go out of business.” He paused to drop another reject on his right. “None of these ties are wearing ties. They’re selling ties.” The most important thing is to know the difference.”
My great-uncle Manny once put his money into onion futures. The way he explained the investment to me, he bought a future interest in a boxcar of onions that hadn’t been harvested yet. When it came time to sell the onions, he’d make money if prices were higher when the vegetables were ready for market than when he bought them.
Unfortunately, Manny wasn’t a sophisticated investor and waited too long to sell his futures. One day he got a call from the train depot wanting to know where he wanted his onions delivered.
Apparently Uncle Manny’s selling onions turned into eating onions (and then rotting onions). Manny’s investment got eaten up too.
A few years ago there was so much construction going on in my hometown that people said our official bird was the crane. Then condo sales hit the fan and the real estate business plummeted into the crapper. Estimates were there was a seven- to ten-year glut of empty condos available on the Miami market. But within the last two years the surplus has all sold and the sky is again streaked with cranes.
But while all those condos sold, the buildings they’re in are still dark at night because most of the properties were bought as secure places for off-shore investors park their money, not raise their families.
Turns out there are also selling condos and living condos.
If you’re not in the men’s ties, onion futures or real estate business you might be wondering what this has to do with you. It’s simple – if you’re creating products or services for yourself instead of your customers then you might be building wonderfully creative and functional products that no one wants to buy. And no matter how well you construct your products, nor how little you charge, if they’ve been created for a market of one then they haven’t been created for the market.
Because just like ties, there are “watching movies” and “selling movies” too.
Donald Trump is a racist. Bill Clinton is a perjurer. Oscar Pistorius is a murderer. Lindsay Lohan is an addict. Bill Cosby is most likely a rapist. I could go on and on with my list of tarnished celebrities but the evidence is clear – the spotlight of fame either exacerbates or exposes the sins of the very people we hoist up on a pedestal.
Why is it that so many of those we revere as heroes disappoint us so? Is it because people who are driven to seek fame and fortune are just as ambitious in their dark urges? Does a lifetime of endless accolades and attaboys create an expectation of greatness that diminishes real-world inhibitions and filters? Do unlimited resources of time and money provide the means for bad behavior (idle hands being the devil’s workshop and all that)?
Or is it our fault? Could it be that our idol worship creates heroes of such exalted position that there’s no way they could ever live up to our expectations? Do we long to see the mighty, the wealthy, the famous, the ones who’ve accomplished what we can only dream of dragged back down to earth alongside the rest of us or even lower – penniless, beaten, humiliated, and defeated?
A Bronx Tale is a movie fable about Cologero, a neighborhood kid nicknamed “C.” In it Cologero falls under the spell of Sonny, the local tough guy played by Chazz Palminteri, who teaches the kid how to get girls, money, and revenge.
But it’s Lorenzo, Cologero’s bus driver father, an everyman played by Robert DeNiro, who teaches C what life is really about:
Cologero: “Sonny was right. The workingman is a sucker.”
Lorenzo: “Pulling a trigger doesn’t take strength. Get up every day and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. We’ll see who’s really tough. The workingman is tough. Your father’s the tough guy.”
Cologero: “Everybody loves him, just like everybody loves you on the bus.”
Lorenzo: “No, it’s not the same. People don’t love him. They fear him. There’s a difference.”
Cologero: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand, Dad.”
Lorenzo: “You will, C. You will when you get older.”
What Lorenzo learned from a lifetime of pulling on a uniform, driving a bus, eating from a lunch pail, and bringing his hard-earned pay home for his family is that that’s where true heroism lies.
Some of us strive and make it bigger than big.
Some of us strive and make it big.
Some of us strive and make it.
Some of us strive.
But just like the bear that went over the mountain and saw another mountain, the best and worst part about success is that there’s never an ultimate end – there’s always another mountain to scale, another dollar to make, another goal to reach.
Imagine if you were talking to Bill Gates and he was complaining about something he couldn’t buy – a Renoir hanging in the Louvre, maybe, or a small European country.
“Don’t let it bother you, pal,” you might try to console him. “There’s always someone ri… Oh wait, no there’s not, never mind.”
And what could Gates do anyway? Go complain to the Sultan of Brunei?
As James Taylor sang, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it. Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.”
Because ultimately the lovely ride—and the people we ride it with—is all we have. And YOU are the real hero.
Each time I get off the plane at San Juan’s International Airport, my favorite PR shoeshine entrepreneur is there, waving crumpled passengers to his little polish parlor.
I’m so fond of the five minutes I spend in his chair that I even make a point of wearing shoes that need a bit of touching up when I fly to PR to visit my client. That way I get a good shine, reward his entrepreneurship, and look that much spiffier when I pull up to Meet Puerto Rico’s office in old San Juan.
When my shoeshine was almost over, my PR shoeshine guy stuck out his hand, looked up at me and asked, “¿Y su cinta?” (“And your belt?”)
Without thinking, I unbuckled my belt, slid it off from around my waist and handed it to him. The PR shoeshine guy dabbed a little polish on it, gave it a good buffing, dried it with a noisy black blow drier and handed it back to me, along with a bill for seven dollars more than I usually spend.
The best part? Not only did the PR shoeshine guy double the money he made from me but I thanked him for the extra service.
Smart restaurant operators understand this. They look to add new items to their menus without adding additional inventory and cost. Chinese and Mexican restaurants offer master classes in creating new products from the same old ingredients and giving their customers more reasons to come back and try new things. Infopreneurs, too, are busy figuring out new ways to increase their offerings by repurposing their content across blogs, books, websites, video blogs, audio interviews, and more. To meet this need, software developers keep creating new apps such as Vine and Periscope to take advantage of this phenomenon.
What opportunities does your business provide for increasing both customer satisfaction and revenue without much addition to your inventory or skillset? A quick look around – at both what you do and what your customer needs and wants – should provide you with a number of chances to grow your business.
Ironically, asking your customer what else they’d like is not usually the best way to uncover the opportunities that are hidden in plain sight. When Apple visionary Steve Jobs was asked how much market research he did for the iPad he famously answered, “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”
And speaking of hidden in plain sight, when I started writing this post I thought the PR in PR shoeshine stood for Puerto Rico. Now I realize is that PR actually stands for Public Relations. Because what could make for better relations with your public than pleasing them with something they didn’t know they wanted? And if it helps you make more money for very little additional expenditure, then PR can also stand for Profitable Revenue!
Peace, Reader (PR).