Making wine — and business — better.

Posted on October 18th, 2017

I’ve had the great fortune to spend the last few weeks touring Argentina and Chile. Together Gloria and I explored fascinating sites, ate wonderful meals, enjoyed spectacular wines, and met very gracious and hospitable people.

Not only did we try great wines, but we visited wineries in both countries and saw how the wines are made and what goes into making them so special.

Some of the wines we were introduced to were described in industrial terms: their weights, measures, time in the barrel, time in the bottle, temperatures they were processed at, and so forth.

The technical information did help us understand the wines better, but taste-wise most of them were ultimately forgettable — especially to someone like me who is an uneducated and unsophisticated oenophile in the first place.

Some of the wines we tried were described in more romantic terms: their histories, their struggles against bad weather and drought, and their experiences in French oak casks and on the tongue, for example.

Of course, some of these stories sounded a bit overwrought and implausible. But one really touched me.

Wine rootsWe were talking with the winemaker and the sommelier about their Sauvignon Blanc. As the sommelier explained it, the roots of grapes grown in soft soil don’t have to work very hard to find water. The wines they produce, therefore, are drinkable but not interesting. Or as he put it, wines from unstressed grapes are soft and lazy. Easy to drink, but once you’re done you’re left with nothing of value to think about.

But he said that his winery’s products were superior. That’s because of all the effort their roots had to go through to find healthy purchase in the rocky soil of the Leyda Valley. By working hard to break through the rough terrain of coastal Chile, the roots developed a strength and character that was reflected in the wines all that effort produced.

While I was listening, I was thinking skeptically about this anthropomorphic technique of comparing wines to people. The winemaker must have read my mind because he too equated wine with people. To him, the trials, tribulations, and travails people go through in their lives is what makes them interesting and gives them character. And that’s what he looked to do with his wines.

Then he brought out some samples and let us taste what he was talking about. I don’t know whether the wines actually tasted better because of what they’d gone through or whether I simply enjoyed the wines more because of what I learned. Either way I did taste a substantial difference. The romance of the story either gave me a reason to prefer his wines or it gave me the vocabulary to understand what I was tasting. Regardless, the wine experience was better because of the story.

Of course, we all know the power of suggestion goes a long way to influence the enjoyment of wine. When you listen to a knowledgeable drinker talk about aromas of fresh flowers, baked bread, stone fruit, blackberry notes, and subtle hints of citrus blossoms, it’s easy to be cynical and poo poo the descriptions. Because while you might be able to determine the ingredients in a stew or a sauce — cilantro and garlic, say, or tomatoes and basil — those items are actually in the food. But the descriptions of wines’ aromas and flavors are fanciful because none of those components are actually in the bottle. Instead, the tastes you perceive — minerals, fruit, herbs — are all created from grapes and the talents of the winemaker.

Now how does all this relate to your business? What can you learn from the world’s great wineries? It’s simple.

Do you simply sell what you do based on the ingredients that go into your products or services — your MBA, years in the business, licenses and patents — for example? Or have you created a romantic story that helps your clients (and your potential clients) better understand and appreciate what you do for them?

Always remember your clients don’t only choose you for what you can do for them. If you simply offer them legal advice, bagel delivery, new eyeglasses, or cybersecurity services, for example, they can always find those things cheaper somewhere else. But if you provide them with a sense of who you are and what you do, they will choose you for what you stand for and how you make them feel.

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m suggesting you can get away with not being the best in the business. You can’t. Your functional offer must be the best there is. I’m only pointing out that at the highest levels of business, your function is cost of entry. Once your clients understand what you sell is the best, then they can further actualize themselves and their companies by including you in their businesses and their lives.

Good Brands on Cyber Monday

Porsche sells performance automobiles yet most of the people who own their cars drive them back and forth to their offices.

Fender and Gibson sell iconic instruments played by every guitar hero from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page. Yet most of their customers will never play at Wembly Stadium or Carnegie Hall.

Speedo sells the swimsuits you’ve seen on Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps below their gold medals. Yet most of their products are worn by splashers and sunbathers.

And my sommelier friend’s wines are all made with unbelievably painstaking care and passion. Yet most bottles will most likely be enjoyed by people who wouldn’t know a focused palette of black currant and hints of cassis from a complex nose of violets, mint, and white pepper. Or Riunite on ice, for that matter.

Does this mean the struggle you went through earning your education or building your business is for naught? Of course not. Just like the noble fight those little roots put up to get through the soil, your travails not only made you capable but provided you with a heroic story that the world wants to hear.

Because as we’ve said so many times before, a good brand makes people feel good. But a great brand makes people feel good about themselves.

A Great Brand on Cyber Monday

 


My 82-year old neighbor left homeless by Hurricane Irma.

Posted on September 28th, 2017

My wife and I have a house on No Name Key in the Florida Keys. We live in a very small neighborhood of about eight houses, surrounded by acres of state and federal wildlife preserve land.

No Name Key is at MM 32, directly east of Big Pine Key. You might recognize that name. It was Ground Zero when Hurricane Irma made landfall and destroyed our community. No Name Key used to be a paradise. Now it looks like war zone. The extent of the destruction is hard to believe.

Help Bob Eaken Rebuild

Our good neighbor Bob Eaken lived at the end of our island. His home was perched on an incredible expanse of open bay and a view of the water and the small islands that dot the horizon. But that was before Hurricane Irma blew off Bob’s roof and his entire top floor. The possessions that Bob accumulated over 82 years are now spread in a giant debris field that fans out over a half mile into the “protected” mangroves behind what’s left of his house. Bob has nowhere to sleep, nowhere to live, and doesn’t even have a stairway to get up to the first floor that’s precariously perched on concrete stilts 12 feet above the wreckage-strewn ground.

Let’s Help Bob Eaken Rebuild

Imagine an 82-year old man climbing a ladder to even get into what little remains of his home. Funny thing is Bob knows all about ladders — he’s a retired firefighter who dedicated his life to saving others in danger.

Luckily Bob evacuated to Miami to weather the storm with us. When we were permitted back on the island and returned with him last Sunday, we gathered up his entire life (or what’s left of it) into five soggy garbage bags.

Why Bob’s story is so interesting is that he single handedly built our “Island’s End” community over 30 years ago. Bob was a Ft. Lauderdale firefighter at the time and would drive down on weekends to carve his dream out of the mangroves. Bob dredged the canal, cleared the roads, and built four or five of the houses in the neighborhood. Up until this disaster, Bob was still hoping on and off his boat, scampering up and down his stairs (now gone), and doing maintenance on his own house as well as all of his neighbors’ homes. You and I should be lucky enough to be in the shape Bob’s in when we’re his age.

Now Bob is hoping for some FEMA money and a trailer so he has a place to live while he tries to rebuild his home from the sad and soggy wreck it is post-Irma. But I’m convinced that Bob is the kind of guy that everyone will want to help. Besides FEMA, firefighter organizations, and a generous public would want to help Bob too if they just knew his story. I’m also convinced that Bob’s story is a great tale of American ingenuity, a can-do attitude, and the indomitable spirit that can inspire so many of us. Telling Bob’s story and rebuilding his house will go a long way to help ease some of the pain people are feeling.

Estimates are that it will take between $100,000 and $200,000 to rebuild Bob’s home. We already have a contractor who is working at below cost and scores of neighbors who are providing the labor to clear the wreckage from Bob’s life. Now we need money for supplies, heavy equipment, and skilled craftspeople. Our plan is to have use the funds you donate to reimburse the tradespeople and to pay for the materials we purchase to repair Bob’s home.

We’ve set up a Go Fund Me. At the time this article was published, we’ve raised $7,200 to help Bob. But we need more. If you’d like to help, please direct your browser HERE to see the site and donate. You can also help by sharing this story everywhere you can. Text and email it to your friends, post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere else people can find it. Let your friends and family know that if they want to help a real person instead of simply donating to a nameless, faceless charity, this is a great opportunity to make a real difference.

Bob’s story really illustrates the damage the storm did to our lives and our psyches. I believe your generoisty will go a long way to helping a very deserving neighbor rebuild his home AND his life.

I hope you do, too.

Thank you.


Business Advice From Hurricane Irma.

Posted on September 13th, 2017

Hurricane Irma Lessons


The computer I’m writing this blog post on is powered by a generator.

That’s because I’m writing this post hours after Hurricane Irma cut its cruel swath through Florida and the Caribbean.

First a quick update: we are fine, thanks. Our house is a bunker and held up to the winds. We have significant tree damage but everyone here is happy and healthy. My mother, sister, and brother and their families all stayed at our house and despite the storm howling outside, we enjoyed a safe and secure few days together.

Natural disasters, hell, disasters of any kind, have an interesting way of clarifying what’s important. After all, when you’re surrounded by 100+ MPH winds, it’s hard to worry about your golf score, your neighbor’s new Lexus or whatever petty foolishness has been cluttering up your mind. Instead, the necessities of life come into sharp focus. It’s almost like Maslow’s Hierarchy popped off the page of your college sociology book in crystal clear relief.

First comes safety, solid shelter, having something to eat, and clean water.

Next comes comfort – electricity, air conditioning, refrigeration.

Only with the cleanup after the storm do more things start to intrude on your consciousness – things like damage to possessions, ability to get to work, clean up.

From all this I’ve determined that the four most important things for both weathering a storm and returning to some degree of normalcy afterwards are:
1. Preparation
2. Friends and family
3. Water, and
4. Cash

Preparation matters because the more you do to prepare for the disaster, the easier it will be afterwards. In the case of a hurricane, having shutters, a working generator, plenty of fuel, etc. significantly increase your odds of surviving the storm and being able to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Friends and family matters on so many levels, from having people to huddle with during the deluge to working together to clear the shared roadways of debris afterwards.

Water is a metaphor for all necessities. After all, life does not exist without water.

And finally, cash. After a storm, the credit cards and ATM cards we mindlessly depend on most days are just worthless plastic playing cards taking up space in our pockets. But cash is king – at The Home Depot, the grocery store, or to pay the lawn guys who help clear debris.

Of course, this blog is not about my personal life or musings. Instead it’s a business blog devoted to brand building, innovation, and leadership.

So why the hurricane story?

Because the four requirements for surviving a storm are the same necessities you need to grow your business.

1. Preparation.
If nothing succeeds like success, then nothing gets you as ready for success as being prepared. Education, planning, dreaming, visualization, and thinking things through are all critical to being ready for whatever happens in your business. It’s hackneyed and corny, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

2. Friends and family
At home there’s nothing as comforting and helpful as friends and family. In business the same can be said for relationships. The banker who knows you and trusts you and extends credit and services. The distributor who knows they can count on you and is available when you need them. The clients and past clients who are thrilled with your products and services and continue to buy from you and provide you with referrals for new business. The knowledgeable friends and professionals who arm you with advice, contacts, and skill sets to deal with the things you don’t know enough about. Again, it’s corny but people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

3. Water
Of course water is essential. But in this case it serves as a metaphor for your brand. Warren Buffet says that a strong brand is the most valuable thing Berkshire Hathaway buys when it makes an acquisition. In the wake of a storm, and after a business setback, buildings can be rebuilt and cars can be replaced but a damaged brand and reputation are not so easily repaired.

4. Finally, cash.
Most business that fail – especially new businesses – do so because they are undercapitalized. Just like revenue provides a company with the people and materials it needs to thrive and prosper, revenue also overcomes a lot of sins. Mistakes are less fatal when you have the financial wherewithal to deal with them.

Got cash in your pocket after a storm? You can buy food, gas, chainsaws, and anything else you need. Have money in the bank after a business setback?

Likewise you can pay your taxes, cover payroll, restock your inventory, and continue to operate.

When a hurricane is thundering down on you and you haven’t prepared and don’t have friends and family, water or cash, you can go to a community shelter. It may not be pleasant and it certainly won’t be comfortable but it will be safe.

When your business experiences a setback and you don’t have those necessities – preparation, relationships, necessities and cash, there’s often nowhere to turn. But with a little planning and discipline, you can learn from Hurricane Irma and be ready for whatever comes next.


Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #10 in a Series.

Posted on September 5th, 2017

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, just click on each link: Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE. Rule #7 is HERE. Rule #8 is HERE, Rule #9 is HERE.

Four-word rule for success

Listen to enough writers and sooner or later it’ll dawn on you that the act of writing is thought of lots of different ways, few of them pleasant.

Ernest Hemingway found looking for the muse torturous. According to legend, Papa described it like this: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

And W. Somerset Maugham believed that, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Having spent the last ten years hammering out this blog week after week while also writing new books, countless speeches, articles and TV commentary, and keeping up with my client assignments, I’ve learned a little bit about just how hard maintaining consistent good writing can be.

But of all the things I’ve learned, regular writing reminds me about two universal truths which assert themselves time and time again:

  1. The key to good writing is not just writing, it’s rewriting, and
  2. The muse is a jealous taskmaster.

I’m not the first one to discover these two points, by the way. When I was researching quotes for this article, I’d already determined my two truths but wasn’t aware that others had explained them already.

Vladimir Nabokov said that, “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” And Hemingway was pretty clear on this point when he wrote, “The first draft of anything is shit.”

Because I sincerely believe that the most important part of good writing is rewriting, I try to write my posts with enough lead-time to read them over and over and over, crafting them a bit tighter on each pass.

As far as the jealousy of the Muse goes, this point is unassailable. If you want to write – books, ads, blogs, whatever – besides putting in lots and lots of hard work the other thing to always do is stop and write whenever an idea strikes you. Because if you wait until it’s more convenient, your good ideas vaporize.

To benefit from the thinking time I get when I run I keep a miniature Sharpie tangled in my sneaker laces so I can write my inspirations down on the palm of my hand as they pop into my head. When I sleep I keep a pad and pen on my bed stand to capture those 3:15 a.m. brainstorms before they disappear. And during the day I always try to have my laptop, iPad or a simple notebook within quick reach so I don’t risk missing good ideas whenever and wherever the Muse shows itself.

Turns out Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and The War of Art, already knew about the Muse’s demands. Pressfield explained it this way:

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

Saul Bellow said it like this, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

But just because the words and ideas might appear when you pay attention and work at it doesn’t make it easy. Why? Because we writers are always our own worst critics. After all, as Thomas Mann said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Which is why my four-word rule for business success #10 is Never Ignore Your Muse.


Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

Posted on August 1st, 2017

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

We͛ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success. My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business – and your brand – better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that͛’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

In case you missed any of the other rules, you can find them easily. Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. And Rule #5 is right HERE.

Customers know best
Throughout his career, Frank Lloyd Wright designed enough breakthrough buildings to not only become one of America’s most famous architects but to also be the subject of a song by Simon & Garfunkel.

Besides residences, Wright also designed a corporate headquarters for S.C. Johnson and a school campus – Florida Southern University. In fact, the Lakeland Florida campus holds the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures in one place.

Wright not only designed the buildings, but also created the site plan and dictated the land usage for Florida Southern. Legend has it the world-renowned architect left only one thing out:

Sidewalks.

When Wright presented his site plan there were no sidewalks. Instead, he told his patrons, “I’ll come back in a year and build the sidewalks AFTER I see where the kids walk.”

Wright knew that despite his best efforts to plan the traffic patterns for the campus, it was the users who would ultimately decide the best ways to get around.

Years ago, my parents’ restaurants sold a frozen orange juice dessert called an OJoy (OJ for Orange Juice. Get it?). After a few years they introduced a new dessert that swirled the orange OJoy with vanilla soft serve ice cream. It tasted just like a delicious Creamsicle and should have been a big success. The marketing geniuses named this new treat the “Son of OJoy.”

Only trouble was, consumers were embarrassed to order a “Son of OJoy.” Instead they’d ask for “one of those orange and vanilla things,” or “an OJoy with vanilla ice cream,” or some other clumsy made-up name. It wasn’t until we changed the name to the easy-to-say “SnoJoy” that sales picked up.

Avon created Skin So Soft to be a hand and body moisturizer. Skin So Soft users decided the lotion was more effective as a mosquito repellent.

Viagra was fomulated to treat high blood pressure and chest pain. Users discovered the drug was a little more effective a little further down the body.

My four-word rules for success #6? Your Customer Knows Best.

The smartest start-ups understand that no new business plan survives five minutes with the customer. Instead, they put a team together that is ready to zig and zag – to improvise and innovate – until they figure out where their products – and their customers’ desires – intersect.

As you build your company and your brand, always pay attention to what your customers buying habits are telling you.

Because Your Customer Knows Best.

 


How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Posted on May 10th, 2017

You know the old joke:

Q: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

A: “Practice, man, practice.”

This joke was probably never funny but it was accurate. In the old days before the Internet was as common as sense is not, the ability to do something well was the best predictor of success.

People paid more money for better products. And publications such as Consumer Reports provided consumers with information about which products performed better than their competition.

But then two things happened:

First, the ubiquity of the Internet meant anything was available to anyone at anytime.

Siri and her friends Alexa and Cortana, know everything and are instantly available. Thanks to their promiscuity of knowledge, it’s no longer necessary – or even beneficial – for you to even try to corner the market on brains.

Remember bar bets? It used to be fun and sometimes profitable to actually know who played third base in the second inning of the 1976 World Series. Or what song was on the flip side of Herman’s Hermits smash hit Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.

But today those answers are just a thumb-swipe away. Knowledge isn’t power, knowledge is atmosphere.

Second, function became ubiquitous.

There was a time when people would pay more for Mercedes and Volvos because they were better automobiles. When most cars weren’t made very well, those two marques were known for exceptional reliability, often traveling half a million miles before being sold and shipped off to third-world countries where they soldiered on for millions of miles more.

Having a car that could last for 10, 15, or 20 years mattered when a car purchase was a major percentage of a consumer’s income. But once leasing became the norm for luxury cars everything changed. After all, why bother to pay more for a car that will last for a generation or two when you’re only keeping it for three years? Mercedes discovered that there was no competitive advantage to selling longevity. Instead they had to get their buyers to pay more for something else. In their case, prestige and technology.

It’s the same for professional services. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of my time traveling the world and speaking at corporate conferences and annual conventions. Because of this, lots of my speaker buddies and people interested in the business ask me what they should do to build their speaking careers.

My answer is always the same. “If you want to speak more, speak more.”

“But how do I do that?” they ask.

“Easy,” I answer. “Just land a plane in the Hudson River.”

“What?!!”

Days after Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger saved USAirways flight 1549 he became the third-highest paid speaker in the country. He was so successful that Hollywood made a movie about his heroic act. Tom Hanks played Sullenberger.

A few weeks ago Dr. Dao was dragged off a United flight and onto a YouTube video that’s been viewed millions of times. If you keep your eye on his career, I don’t think you’ll be surprised to find him lecturing about customer service before long.

That’s what Dave Carroll did that after his video, United Breaks Guitars went viral. What does the singer actually KNOW about customer service? Beats the hell out of me. But his video was viewed over 17 millions times. Carroll’s infamy means he can generate interest in what he has to say and people will pay to listen.

You’ll notice that none of their exploits – Sullenberger’s piloting skills, Dao’s unfortunate ejection, nor Carroll’s busted guitar – mean any of them have the capability to do what they promise. But it’s not important. Function has become cost of entry. Today function takes a back seat to notoriety and branding.

I’m not suggesting you don’t have to be good at what you do. Only that those skill sets are NOT the reason your clients are buying your services.

Bill Clinton and Barak Obama are great speakers – yes – but that’s not why they get paid huge fees. Mercedes and Volvos are no better at getting you from Point A to Point B than Kias and Hyundais but they still command premium prices. Sully Sullenberger and Dave Carroll are not better speakers than all my pals in the National Speakers Association, but that’s not why they get high fees or more gigs either.

Today function is the ante you pay to get in the game. But it’s your brand value and your brand awareness that will help you win. Because while you won’t get to Carnegie Hall if you don’t practice, talent and virtuosity are not enough to get you there either.


How You Do Anything Means Everything.

Posted on March 13th, 2017

How you do anything means everything.

Most business books could be simply described as thick bumper stickers. Why? Because despite their pages and pages of examples and illustrations, many of them can be reduced to one single thought. And that thought can be the theme of a 300-page book. Or it can be a bumper sticker.

Here are some standouts from my library and their bumper stickers:

  • Good to Great, Jim Collins: Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus.
  • The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt: Don’t be a bottleneck.
  • The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber: Work on your business, not in your business.
  • Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet, Joachim de Posada: Don’t eat the marshmallow yet (the power of delayed gratification).
  • The Joy of SuccessSusan Ford Collins: There are 10 essential skills for getting the success you want.

Of course, no one would plop down $20 – $30 for a bumper sticker. So that’s why it makes good business sense for writers to guild their lilies and convert wispy concepts to weighty volumes.

How You Do AnythingOne of my favorite books is HOW by Dov Seidman. The simple bumper sticker for HOW is this: “How you do anything means everything.” In How, Seidman explains that the why and the how of what we do is often more important than what we actually do.

Two months ago I spoke at a conference in Las Vegas. The subject was my new book, All About Them. When I finished, a young woman (we’ll call her Lisa) came up and complimented me on my talk. She also told me that she and her fiancé had just moved from New York and she’d taken a job she wasn’t very happy about.

“What would you like to be doing?” I asked.

“I worked in finance in New York. I’d really like to get back into that.” She answered.

I signed my new book, handed her my business card, and asked her how else I could be helpful.

A few weeks later Lisa sent an email asking me if I knew anyone at the XYZ Bank & Trust. If so, would l introduce her? I answered yes and followed up with an introductory email to her and my good friend Bill. Bill just happens to be the CFO of XYZ.

Bill responded almost immediately. He told Lisa he’d be delighted to meet her and even suggested times he was available. Bill asked her to send her resume. And he asked for a quick explanation of the position she wanted.

Yesterday I ran into Bill at another speech I was giving.

The first thing out of his mouth was that he still hadn’t received Lisa’s resume. After that Bill told me about a second young woman interested in a job. The difference was that that prospect sent her CV and included research she had done on XYZ. Plus she sent a competitive overview and links to some articles Bill would find interesting.

Bill shrugged and said, “You know,
how you do anything means everything.”

How.” I said. “Dov Seidman.”

“Right.” Bill added. “My favorite book since Catcher in the Rye. Maybe since A Wrinkle in Time.”

I find Dov’s bumper sticker is a great gut check for me when I deal with others. Keeping Seidman’s mantra in mind helps me be punctual, refrain from gossip, and always try to under-promise and over-deliver. “How you do anything means everything” reminds me to stay present and attentive. It also reminds me to be helpful and supportive — even when I don’t see any immediate benefit in doing so.

Needless to say, Lisa’s not going to get the job at XYZ Bank & Trust. And the next time she asks me to make a connection I am going to politely decline.

Why?

Because how you do anything means everything.


What Oscar Wilde and Donald Trump Have in Common.

Posted on November 14th, 2016

Oscar Wilde was, and is, one of my favorite writers. The reason is simple.

I love the way he writes.

Whether or not you’ve read much Wilde, you probably love the way he writes too. That’s because many of the adages that we take for granted today were actually quips Oscar Wilde used in the dialog in his novels.

“I have the simplest taste. I am always satisfied with the best.”

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

“There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Oscar Wilde was so talented and prescient he may have even written about this very blog post. He said: “Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.”

Ouch.

Oscar WildeThe next time you have a few minutes, Google quotes by Oscar Wilde and spend a few very pleasant moments scrolling through his genius. If you have more time, pick up one of Wilde’s books; A Picture of Dorian Gray would be a great place to start. Besides exposing yourself to the pleasure of Wilde’s prose you’ll get a great overview of the vibe of the extravagant Edwardian English culture he lived in.

Throughout his works Wilde gave his readers privileged insight into who he was. He wrote around his own life and personality – his privileged upbringing, his belief in the philosophy of aestheticism, his interest in mythology and biblical lore, and even the  time he spent in prison for the then-punishable crime of being an outed homosexual.

Oscar Wilde’s life ended about as tragically as it could. He spent his penultimate years in prison in England and after his release lived in exile in various towns and cities around France. He spent the very last years of his life suffering the indignities that came with alcoholism and abject poverty. Finally, Wilde died from syphilitic cerebral meningitis. It’s tough to see how his life could have ended up much worse.

But today Wilde is remembered both for the fascination his life inspires and as England’s most popular playwright and classicist. What Wilde was most adept at was expressing his authentic truth and his view of life in his work as a playwright, poet, and novelist. In terms more relevant to this blog, Wilde created his own powerfully personal brand.

Today’s most popular celebrity entrepreneurs have built their businesses around the same practices Oscar Wilde employed.

Like Wilde, well-known recent cults of personality such as Anthony Bourdain, Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, and others have also built their reputations by promoting what it is that makes each of them special. Chances are your business — and your brand — could benefit from this same level of personal promotion.

It’s easy to disregard Oscar Wilde and other celebrities because of our dislike of whichever of the things they do we find distasteful. But you do so at your peril. Because there’s still a lot to learn — and a lot to employ in our own lives — from their successes.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde died on November 30th, 1900 in Paris, France.  He was still well known almost 30 years later when Dorothy Parker wrote about him in Life Magazine:

“If, with the literate, I am

Impelled to try an epigram,

I never seek to take the credit;

We all assume that Oscar said it.”






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    • User AvatarBruce, loved your post, I am doing a PhD and your words... by Julia says on Numbers Lie.
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    • User AvatarThank you Mary Lou. That’s very nice of you. by Bruce Turkel says on Numbers Lie.
    • User AvatarThis is great stuff, Tim, thanks. I actually read quite a bit... by Bruce Turkel says on Numbers Lie.
    • User AvatarI am literally amazed and amused by your writing. I have known... by Mary Louise Cole says on Numbers Lie.

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