What are CMO’s Looking For? – Takeaway from CMO Summit

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Click this image to see a video that I shot after the event.




LAOffice 2011 – Adapt or Die

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How do you need to adapt your business?  I talked about that and more at a recent event in LA/Laguna Beach. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how big of a name you have, it is how you can change your business to be as successful as you can be.  Click on the picture below to see the video I shot after the event.

Group of top-level brands at event on May 28 looking to improve their business.


“Johnny Vegas Syndrome”

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Recently, I spoke to a great group of executives in the travel industry at the Pearl Theatre in one of my favorite cities, Las Vegas. So I thought it would be timely to share with you an important piece of advice in my book “The Mirror Test” – it’s a syndrome to avoid at all costs. It’s called “Johnny Vegas Syndrome”.

Johnny Vegas Syndrome simply is getting away from the core of who we are. Too big for your britches –that’s what my grandma used to say. It’s the swagger you get after a big victory or success or sale; it’s an inflated sense of self. Too many successful businesspeople let Johnny Vegas invade their leadership style and their business.

And no one, NO ONE wants to work for, do business with or be around Johnny Vegas.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Let me say that again. People do business with who they KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST.

Johnny Vegas Syndrome is the evil outgrowth of success. The quickest way to offend customers, deflate morale and start down the path of bad decision making is letting Johnny Vegas take over.

So make sure you bust Johnny Vegas, stay true to who you are. Have a trusted friend or colleague who can give you a metaphorical slap in the face if needed. Avoiding Johnny Vegas is an important piece of passing the mirror test.

Celebrate the big victories then figure out how to use them to continue to drive the success of your business. But never let Johnny Vegas hang around.



Who’s the Fool?

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Today is one of my favorite days. April Fools Day. It allows us to dream big, take risks and believe that anything is possible.

When I was the CMO of Kodak, I was known as a prankster. I introduced the eyeCamera 4.1 and “Aromatography”. The eyeCamera offered such features as a facial recall assistant (eliminated that awkward thought… who are you?) and selective auto-focus and zoom to name a few. Aromatography, on the other hand, allowed you to smell your photos online. Neither one of these were real products. But, we sure got a lot of buzz, and, what’s more fun than using your imagination and coming up with something outlandish?

One of my all time favorite pranks was back in 1996 when Taco Bell purchased a full-page advertisement in the New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to reduce the country’s debt and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell.

You can only imagine the outrage the National Historic Park in Philadelphia received. People were up in arms about how the United States could sell such an iconic part of American history.

In the end, Taco Bell announced that it was just a hoax. Mike McCurry, the White House Press Secretary at the time joked that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and it was now called the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

The bigger question here is why do companies such as Kodak or Taco Bell come up with such outlandish ideas? It’s all about gaining publicity for the company. It’s hard to put a value on the press coverage Taco Bell received for their April Fools gag. But, I know this. It was 100 times more than the price they paid for the advertisement in the New York Times.

Since Taco Bell came up with this stint in 1996 we have had a number of major technological advancements. Facebook was launched in 2004 as a way to help college students socialize and in 2006 Twitter was launched. Just think about the buzz and all of the 140 character messages.

To see a complete history of social networking, PeopleBrowsr, the high-tech social analytics and engagement company, released a visualized timeline of the History of Social Networking.

I myself have been working on a major technology advancement. The clone app. When I figure out how to get my cowboy boots to face the right way I will be ready to launch.

So, today, as you communicate with your friends and colleagues via Facebook or Twitter, keep your eyes open and see if you can determine hoax versus reality.



It’s All About Me!

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Seems like everywhere you go you see or hear something about Charlie Sheen. Whether it’s on TV, the magazine stand or at your local coffee shop… everyone is talking about Charlie Sheen. How did he in less than twenty-four hours go from zero to over a million twitter followers?

It’s human nature to be curious. Everyone is interested in knowing what Charlie is up to. And, he’s done a great job of using social media to get the word out. Being curious myself, I thought it would be interesting to see what a representative sample would say when asked the question – “Do you believe Charlie Sheen will make a comeback”?

I enlisted Itracks, a world-leading marketing research company that provides its customers with insights for growth via its innovative suite of online applications and insight analysis to do a poll. The poll was taken between March 7 and 9 and a total of 237 participated in the poll. There is a margin of error +/- 3%.


Sample Results:

Yes (1) – 47.26%

No (2) – 52.74%


I was actually surprised at the results. Pretty much split decision. I think it really doesn’t come down to whether Charlie Sheen actually makes a comeback or not. It has to do with his reputation and whether or not the public will continue to embrace him.

When it really comes down to it, reputation and integrity are all you have. And, I believe the foundation for ones self is ingrained at an early age. For myself, I grew up in a military family. We moved to a different base every year or so and it forced me to determine “who I wanted to be” at an early age.

I remember walking down the street in my neighborhood, going door-to-door, selling “True Grit” – a national, monthly publication that was popular in the 1960’s and 70’s. It taught me a lot about tenacity, rejection and the value of a buck. This laid the foundation for who I am today.

I believe the reason so many people are obsessed with Charlie Sheen and his antics is because it makes people feel better. It makes us all say life is pretty good. And, I agree with that. Life is good. So, let’s all go out and make it great!



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