Thursday, December 27, 2012

Selecting an Architect

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) offers some helpful guidance on selecting a professional architect. Selecting the right architect could be vital to the success of your building program whether you are building a home or designing a commercial building. AIA is a good place to start because it is the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners. It has been since 1857. Today AIA has about 300 state and local chapters and serves as the voice of the architecture profession.

Architecture firms come in a variety of sizes and types. The average firm is made up of 9 or 10 people. Many firms are smaller. Of course, there are also very large firms with staffs of 100 or more. Some firms specialize in one or more project or facility types. Some firms include structural, mechanical, and/or electrical engineering expertise in-house. Disciplines, such as planning, urban design, landscape architecture, interior design might be a firm’s focus. Architecture firms bring their own combination of skills, expertise, interests, and values. All good architects will listen carefully and translate ideas into a viable construction project. So naturally it is important to look for a good listener in your search to find a good architect.

Architects help define the projects in terms that provide meaningful guidance for design. They do site studies, help secure planning/zoning approvals, help work out financing and a variety of other services. As you review alternatives among architects you should ask to see projects the firm has designed. You may want to see projects that are similar to yours or that have addressed issues such as siting, functional complexity, or design aspiration. Confidence in the architect is paramount. Seek also an appropriate balance among design ability, technical competence, professional service, and cost. Once you've selected the best firm, enter into detailed negotiations regarding services and compensation. The AIA Contract Documents-the industry standard-offer an excellent starting point.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bond from Dr. No to SKYFALL

Fifty years of James Bond Movies (1962-2012)

Dr. No (1962)

John Strangways, the British Intelligence (SIS) Station Chief in Jamaica, is killed. In response, British agent James Bond—also known as 007—is sent to Jamaica to investigate the circumstances. During his investigation Bond meets Quarrel, a Cayman fisherman, who had been working with Strangways around the nearby islands to collect mineral samples. One of the islands was Crab Key, home to the reclusive Dr. No.

Bond visits the island, where he meets a local shell diver, Honey Ryder. The three are attacked by No's men, who kill Quarrel using a flame-throwing armoured tractor; Bond and Honey are taken prisoner. Dr. No informs them he is a member of SPECTRE, the SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion, and he plans to disrupt the Project Mercury space launch from Cape Canaveral with his atomic-powered radio beam. Bond and Honey escape from the island, killing No and blowing up his lair in the process.

From Russia with Love (1963)

SPECTRE's expert planner Kronsteen devises a plot to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets and sell it back to them while exacting revenge on Bond for killing their agent Dr. No; ex-SMERSH operative Rosa Klebb in charge of the mission. She recruits Donald "Red" Grant as an assassin and Tatiana Romanova, a cipher clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, as the unwitting bait.

Bond travels to Turkey and meets with Ali Kerim Bey, the MI6 officer in Turkey. Between them, they obtain the Lektor, and the three escape with the device on the Orient Express. However, they are followed by Grant, who kills Kerim Bey and a Soviet security officer. Grant pretends to be another British agent and meets Bond. Over dinner Grant drugs Romanova, then overcomes Bond. Bond tricks Grant into opening Bond's attaché case in the manner that detonates its tear gas booby trap, allowing Bond to attack and kill him. Bond and Romanova escape with the Lektor to Venice. Rosa Klebb, disguised as a hotel maid, attempts to steal the Lektor and kill Bond, but ends up being shot by Romanova.

Goldfinger (1964)

Bond is ordered to observe bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger: he sees Goldfinger cheating at cards and stops him by distracting his employee, who is subsequently killed by Goldfinger's Korean manservant Oddjob. Bond is then instructed to investigate Goldfinger's gold smuggling and he follows the dealer to Switzerland. Bond is captured when he reconnoitres Goldfinger's plant and is drugged; he is taken to Goldfinger's Kentucky stud farm and is imprisoned. He escapes briefly to witness Goldfinger's meeting with U.S. mafiosi, who have brought the materials he needs for an operation to rob Fort Knox.

Bond is recaptured after hearing the details of the operation, but he subsequently seduces Pussy Galore, Goldfinger's private pilot and convinces her to inform the American authorities. Goldfinger's private army break into Fort Knox and access the vault, where Bond fights and kills Oddjob, while US troops battle with Goldfinger's army outside. Bond's plane is hijacked by Goldfinger, but Bond struggles with him, and shoots out a window, creating an explosive decompression, killing Goldfinger.

Thunderball (1965)

Bond investigates the hijacking of an Avro Vulcan loaded with two atomic bombs, which had been taken by SPECTRE. The organisation demands a ransom for the return of the plane and bombs. Bond follows a lead to the Bahamas, where he meets up with his CIA counterpart and friend Felix Leiter. The pair suspect a rich playboy, Emilio Largo, and search the area around his boat and then the area where they think his boat may have travelled. After finding the plane—but without the nuclear devices on board—the two agents arrange for it to be tracked and ambushed once the bombs are being moved by Largo.

You Only Live Twice (1967)

007 is sent to Japan to investigate the hijacking of an American spacecraft by an unidentified spacecraft. Upon his arrival, Bond is contacted by Aki, assistant to the Japanese secret service leader Tiger Tanaka. Bond established that the mastermind behind the hijacking is Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE and follows the trail to Blofeld's island headquarters.

Tanaka's ninja troops attack the island, while Bond manage to distract Blofeld and create a diversion which allows him to open the hatch, letting in the ninjas. During the battle, Osato is killed by Blofeld, who activates the base's self-destruct system and escapes. Bond, Kissy, Tanaka, and the surviving ninjas escape through the cave tunnel before it explodes, and are rescued by submarine.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

While searching for Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE, Bond saves Tracy di Vicenzo on the beach from committing suicide by drowning, and later meets her again in a casino. Bond then receives information from Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse and Tracy's father, about Blofeld's Swiss solicitor. Bond breaks into the solicitors office and establishes Blofeld is corresponding with the London College of Arms. Posing as an emissary of the college, Bond meets Blofeld, who has established a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. Bond soon establishes that Blofeld is brainwashing his patients to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout various parts of the world.

Bond escapes from the clinic after Blofeld identifies him as the British agent. Bond arranges a raid on the clinic using men from Draco's organisation. The raid is a success, although Blofeld escapes. Bond marries Tracy, but she is murdered shortly afterwards by Irma Brunt, Blofeld's partner.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Bond is tasked with investigating a major diamond smuggling ring which begins in Africa and runs through Holland and the UK to the USA. Disguised as professional smuggler and murderer Peter Franks, Bond travels to Amsterdam to meet contact Tiffany Case: he is given the diamonds and travels on to the US, where he is met by Felix Leiter. Bond moves through the chain, which leads to the Whyte House, a casino-hotel owned by the reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte.

Bond's follows the diamonds to a pick-up by Bert Saxby, Whyte's head of security, and then onto a research laboratory owned by Whyte, where he finds that a satellite is being built by a laser refraction specialist, Professor Dr. Metz. Suspecting Whyte, Bond tries to confront him, but instead meets Blofeld, who captures the agent and explains to him that the satellite can blow up nuclear missiles. Blofeld admits that he intends to auction it to the highest bidder. Bond escapes and frees the captive Whyte and they establish that Blofeld is using an offshore oil rig as his base. Bond attacks the rig, stopping Blofeld's operation and dispersing his organisation.

Live and Let Die (1973)

James Bond is sent to investigate the murder of three British MI6 agents, all of whom have been killed within 24 hours. He discovers the victims were all separately investigating the operations of Dr. Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island, San Monique. He also establishes that Kananga also acts as Mr. Big, a ruthless and cunning gangster.

Upon visiting San Monique, Bond determines the Kananga is producing two tons of heroin and is protecting the poppy fields by exploiting locals' fear of voodoo and the occult. Through his alter ego, Mr. Big, Kananga plans to distribute the heroin free of charge at his Fillet of Soul restaurants, which will increase the number of addicts. Bond is captured by Kananga, but he escapes, killing Kananga and destroying the poppy crop.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

After receiving a golden bullet with James Bond's code "007" etched into its surface M relieves Bond of a mission locating a British scientist, Gibson, who has invented the "Solex agitator", a device to harness solar power, thereby solving the energy crisis. The bullet signifies Bond is a target of assassin Francisco Scaramanga and Bond sets out unofficially to find him. From a spent golden bullet, Bond tracks Scaramanga to Macau, where he sees Scaramanga's mistress collecting golden bullets at a casino. Bond follows her to Hong Kong, where he witnesses the murder of Gibson and the theft of the Solex agitator. Bond is subsequently assigned to retrieve the agitator and assassinate Scaramanga.

Bond meets with Hai Fat, a wealthy Thai entrepreneur suspected of arranging Gibson's murder, and is captured, but subsequently escapes. He tracks Scaramanga to an island in Red Chinese waters, where the two men fight a duel: Bond kills the assassin.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Bond is tasked with investigating the disappearance of British and Soviet ballistic missile submarines and the subsequent offer to sell a submarine tracking system. Bond works alongside Major Anya Amasova of the KGB. The pair track the plans across Egypt and identify the person responsible for the thefts as shipping tycoon, scientist and anarchist Karl Stromberg.

Bond and Amasova follow a suspicious tanker owned by Stromberg and establish it is responsible for the missing submarines; the submarine in which they are travelling is also captured by Stromberg. Stromberg plans to destroy Moscow and New York, triggering nuclear war: he planned to then establish a new civilisation. Bond escapes, freeing the submariners captured from the other submarines and follows Stromberg to his headquarters, which he destroys, killing the tycoon in the process.

Moonraker (1979)

A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan is hijacked and Bond is ordered to investigate. Bond meets the owner of the company, Hugo Drax and one of Drax's astronauts, Dr. Holly Goodhead. Bond follows the trail to Venice, where he establishes that Drax is manufacturing a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to animals. Bond again meets Goodhead and determines that she is a CIA agent.

Bond travels to the Amazon looking for Drax's research facility, where he is captured. He and Goodhead pose as pilots on one of six space shuttles being sent by Drax to a hidden space station. There Bond finds out that Drax plans to destroy all human life by launching fifty globes containing the toxin into the Earth's atmosphere. Bond and Goodhead disable the radar jammer hiding the station from Earth and the US sends a platoon of Marines in a military shuttle. During the battle, Bond kills Drax and his station is destroyed.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

After a British spy boat sinks, a marine archaeologist, Sir Timothy Havelock, is tasked to retrieve its Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC) communication system before the Russians do. After Havelock is murdered by Gonzales, a Cuban hit-man, Bond is ordered to find out who hired Gonzales. While investigating, Bond is captured, but Gonzales is subsequently killed by Havelock's daughter and she and Bond escape. Bond identifies one of those present with Gonzales as Emile Leopold Locque and so follows a lead to Italy and meets his contact, Luigi Ferrara, and a well-connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant, Aris Kristatos. Kristatos tells Bond that Locque is employed by Milos Columbo, Kristatos' former organised crime partner.

After Ferrara is murdered—and the evidence points to Columbo—Bond is captured by men working for Columbo. Columbo then explains that Locque was actually hired by Kristatos, who is working for the KGB to retrieve the ATAC. Bond and Melina recover the ATAC but are captured by Kristatos. They escape and follow Kristatos to Greece, where he is killed and the ATAC is destroyed by Bond.

Octopussy (1983)

Bond investigates the murder of 009, killed in East Berlin while dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. An identical egg appears at auction and Bond establishes the buyer, exiled Afghan prince, Kamal Khan is working with Orlov, a renegade Soviet general, who is seeking to expand Soviet borders into Europe. Bond meets Octopussy, a wealthy woman who leads the Octopus cult. Bond finds out that Orlov has been supplying Khan with priceless Soviet treasures, replacing them with replicas, while Khan has been smuggling the real versions into the West, via Octopussy's circus troupe.

Bond infiltrates the circus, and finds that Orlov replaced the Soviet treasures with a nuclear warhead, primed to explode at a US Air Force base in West Germany. The explosion would trigger Europe into seeking disarmament, in the belief that the bomb was a US one that detonated by accident, leaving its borders open to Soviet invasion. Bond deactivates the warhead and then returns to India, leading an assault on Khan's palace.

 A View to a Kill (1985)

Bond investigates millionaire industrialist Max Zorin, who is trying to corner the world market in microchip. He establishes that Zorin was previously a trained and financed by the KGB, but has now gone rogue. Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley which will give him a monopoly over microchip manufacture.

Bond uncovers Zorin's plan is to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward and San Andreas faults, which will cause them to flood. A larger bomb is also on site in the mine to destroy a "geological lock" that prevents the two faults from moving at the same time. Bond destroys the bombs, and subsequently kills Zorin.

The Living Daylights (1987)

Bond aids the defection of KGB officer General Georgi Koskov, by wounding a female KGB sniper, Kara Milovy, a cellist. During his debriefing Koskov alleges KGB's old policy of Smert Spioam, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is subsequently abducted from the safe-house and Bond is ordered to kill Pushkin.

Bond tracks down Milovy and establishes she is Koskov's girlfriend and that the defection was staged. He subsequently finds out that Koskov is a friend of the arms dealer Brad Whitaker. After meeting Pushkin and faking his assassination by Bond, Bond investigates a scheme by Koskov and Whitaker to embezzle KGB funds and use them to purchase diamonds, which they then use to purchase drugs. After Koskov purchases the drugs, Bond destroys them. Koskov is subsequently arrested by Pushkin, while Bond kills Whitaker.

Licence to Kill (1989)

Bond aids Felix Leiter in the capture of drugs lord Franz Sanchez; Sanchez escapes and maims Leiter, killing his wife. Bond swears revenge, but is ordered to return to duty by M. Bond refuses, and M revokes his licence to kill, causing Bond to become a rogue agent; although officially stripped of his status, he is unofficially given help by Q.

Bond journeys to Sanchez's home in the Republic of Isthmus and is taken onto Sanchez's staff, where he manages to raise Sanchez's suspicions against a number of his employees. When Bond is taken to Sanchez's main base and drugs refinery, he is recognised by one of Sanchez's men and captured. He escapes, destroying the refinery in the process, and pursues Sanchez, killing him.

GoldenEye (1995)

In 1986, Bond and Alec Trevelyan—agent 006—infiltrate an illicit Soviet chemical weapons facility and plant explosive charges. Trevelyan is shot, but Bond escapes from the facility as it explodes. Nine years later, Bond witnesses the theft by criminal organisation Janus of a prototype Eurocopter Tiger helicopter that can withstand an electromagnetic pulse. Janus uses the helicopter to steal the control disk for the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons, using the GoldenEye to destroy the complex with an electromagnetic pulse; there is one survivor of the attack, a programmer, Natalya Simonova.

Bond investigates the attack and travels to Russia where he locates Simonova and learns that Trevelyan, who had faked his own death, was the head of Janus. Simonova tracks computer traffic to Cuba and she and Bond travel there and locate Trevelyan, who reveals his plan to steal money from the Bank of England before erasing all of its financial records with the GoldenEye, concealing the theft and destroying Britain's economy. Bond and Simonova destroy the satellite facility, killing Trevelyan and Grishenko in the process.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Bond investigates the sinking of a British warship in Chinese waters and the theft of one of the ship's cruise missiles—and the shooting down of a Chinese fighter plane. He uncovers a link with media baron Elliot Carver and finds out that Carver had purchased of a GPS encoder on the black market.

Bond comes across Chinese agent Wai Lin, who is also investigating the matter, and the two work together, establishing that Carver used the encoder to push the British ship off course and into Chinese waters. With the British fleet on their way to China, Bond and Wai Lin find Carver's stealth ship, board it and prevent the firing of a British cruise missile at Beijing. They blow a hole in the ship, exposing it to radar, leading to its sinking, and averting war between Britain and China.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Bond recovers money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon and friend of M, but the money is booby-trapped and kills King shortly afterwards. Bond traces the money to Renard, a KGB agent-turned-terrorist, who had previously kidnapped King's daughter Elektra. MI6 believes that Renard is targeting Elektra King a second time and Bond is assigned to protect her: the pair are subsequently attacked.

Bond visits Valentin Zukovsky and is informed that Elektra's head of security, Davidov, is in league with Renard: Bond kills Davidov and follows the trail to a Russian ICBM base in Kazakhstan. Posing as a Russian nuclear scientist, Bond meets American nuclear physicist Christmas Jones. The two witness Renard stealing the GPS locator card and a half quantity of weapons-grade plutonium from a bomb and set off an explosion, from which Bond and Jones escape. Elektra kidnaps M after she thinks Bond had been killed and Bond establishes that Elektra intends to create a nuclear explosion in a submarine in Istanbul in order to increase the value of her own oil pipeline. Bond frees M, kills Elektra and then disarms the bomb on the submarine and kills Renard.

Die Another Day (2002)

Bond investigates North Korean Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, who is illegally trading African conflict diamonds for weaponry. Moon is apparently killed and Bond is captured and tortured for 14 months, after which he is exchanged for Zao, Moon's assistant. Despite being suspended on his return, he decides to complete his mission and tracks down Zao to a gene therapy clinic, where patients can have their appearances altered through DNA restructuring. Zao escapes, but the trail leads to British billionaire Gustav Graves.

Graves unveils a mirror satellite, "Icarus", which is able to focus solar energy on a small area and provide year-round sunshine for crop development. Bond discovers Moon has also undergone the gene therapy and has assumed the identity of Graves. Bond then exposes Moon's plan: to use the Icarus to cut a path through the Korean Demilitarized Zone with concentrated sunlight, allowing North Korean troops to invade South Korea and reunite the countries through force. Bond disables the Icarus controls, kills Moon and stops the invasion.

Casino Royale (2006)

A reboot of the series, with Bond winning his 00 status in the pre-credits sequence. Bond is instructed to investigate the funding of terrorism. He tracks down and kills a bomb-maker and takes his mobile phone. Searching through the phone, Bond discovers a text message which he traces to Alex Dimitrios, and then on to financer Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre's investments involve short-selling stock in successful companies and then engineering terrorist attacks to sink their share prices. Bond foils Le Chiffre's plan to destroy the prototype Skyfleet airliner, which forces Le Chiffre to set up a high-stakes poker tournament at the Casino Royale to recoup his fortune. Bond is instructed to beat le Chiffre and is aided by a member of HM Treasury, Vesper Lynd.

Bond beats Le Chiffre at the poker table, but Lynd is kidnapped by Le Chiffre after the game, as is Bond, who is captured whilst pursuing them; Lynd is ransomed for the money and Bond is tortured. Le Chiffre is subsequently killed by Mr. White, a liaison between Le Chiffre and a number of his clients. Bond learns that his poker winnings were never repaid to the Treasury, which Lynd as supposed to have done, and Bond establishes that she was a double agent. Bond pursues her and is attacked by members of White's organisation: he survives, but White takes the money and Lynd is killed. Bond subsequently finds and captures White.

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Along with M, Bond interrogates Mr. White regarding his organisation, Quantum. M's bodyguard, Mitchell, a double agent, attacks M, enabling White to escape. Bond traces the organisation to Haiti and a connection to environmentalist Dominic Greene.

Bond uncovers a plot between Greene and an exiled Bolivian General, Medrano, to put Medrano in power in Bolivia while Quantum are given a monopoly to run the water supply to the country. Bond ascertains Quantum are damming Bolivia's supply of fresh water in order to force the price up. Bond attacks the hotel where Greene and Medrano are finalising their plans and leaves Greene stranded in the desert with only a tin of engine oil to drink. Bond then finds Vesper Lynd's former lover and member of Quantum, Yusef Kabira.

Skyfall (2012)

After an operation in Istanbul ends in disaster, Bond is missing and presumed to be dead. In the aftermath, questions are raised over M's ability to run the Secret Service, and she becomes the subject of a government review over her handling of the situation. The service itself is attacked and Bond returns to London, where he establishes a connection with the French mercenary Patrice, and then on to an ex-MI6 operative, Raoul Silva. Silva pursues his vendetta against M, while Bond takes her back to his old ancestral home. They are attacked by Silva, but overcome the attackers, although M is mortally wounded in the attack.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

How many times have you found yourself in a business meeting wondering if the focus of the meeting is misplaced? It is not uncommon for business teams to concentrate on accomplishing tasks instead of the context of those projects being addressed. We all want to see progress, and sometimes it is easier to devote energy and effort to a process, the scope of which, is easy to see through completion. The irony is that it often makes sense to take time to think before moving forward.

Consider the cost-influence curve. It’s a fundamental illustration that helps drive home the value inherent in planning up-front. It is a powerful argument in favor of a process of design and construction of any building initiative, for example. It stands to reason that a complete strategic overview of a structure’s intended use and purpose in the early planning stages will likely lead the construction’s form that follows its function. Your greatest impact on cost will be in the front end of the program, and that is why your ability to influence change is best addressed early, too.

There are countless examples of corporate scenarios that, in the heat of a sense of urgency/frenzy could result in unfortunate and ill-conceived action. Here are three common examples that seem to recur.

  1. A website that is hastily built with little or no attention to understanding the customer and positioning
  2. A decision to print cheap business cards and brochures based on low-cost production without careful review of what that decision says about your company
  3. A corporate logo or brand packaging decision rushed into without careful attention to how prospects are likely to perceive the product compared to alternatives in the marketplace
You have to love people who have a bias for action. We all want people on our team who will move quickly and with a sense of purpose, people who are driven to complete goals. As a leader, however, you must be able to step back and put it all into a relevant context. Aim carefully.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Betty

Betty Brady reflects on 20 years

“This will be the most boring interview ever,” says Betty Brady as we sit down to talk about her pending retirement at the end of the month. She insists that her story is not much to talk about but a few minutes into the conversation you start to piece together a career at Crossland Construction Company during an important span of history. The interview was anything but boring.  
 
“I first met Ivan Jr. when the metal building manufacturing company I was working for (Sonoco) in Chetopa, Kansas was shutting down. He asked me if I was going to go to work anyplace else. He said Crossland might be looking for some help. After giving it some thought I called to see if there was still a need. In 1991 the office was confined to where the mail room and benefits offices are now. We had fewer than 100 total employees and the office staff was just a handful of people.”  Betty remembers that time when there were really no titles and everyone just seemed to contribute to get the work done. Her main focus was making sure bills got paid. “It was a much smaller company but it seemed big at the time.” 

Betty Brady eventually became the office manager. “We really didn’t have a lot of formal policies and procedures. Looking back it seems like the time went by so fast.”

Betty smiles about some of the experiences that lead to deep friendships. She has worn a lot of hats from accounts payable to managing receivables and, for a time, she was in charge of the company picnics too. So many memories. Now, she is looking forward to retirement and taking care of her husband Calvin. People who have been around for a while know Betty Brady as a wonderful cook with some unique specialties like pumpkin dip, spiced peaches and candy corn and peanuts. She loves to decorate for the holidays too. Her house has been a showcase for Christmas Trees her family and friends have enjoyed over the years.

Betty knows she’ll have more time for cooking and her family and the holidays she loves so much but she knows she will miss the deep bonds of friendship she has developed with the people of Crossland Construction Company. “Good company. Good people.”  When asked for the advice she would share with a new employee, Betty didn’t skip a beat. “Be loyal. Earn your pay. Do what you are paid to do.” From 1991 through June 2011 she did just that. It’s that kind of pragmatism that defines Betty. We wish her all the best in her retirement.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Without Marketing, Nothing Happens.

Marketing is a peculiar career choice. I’m not completely sure it isn’t the new “undecided” major in college these days. I may have concluded this in part as a result of speaking to a group of college students at Saint Louis University chapter of the American Marketing Association. I was told by a faculty advisor at the school that Marketing was the most popular choice of major for incoming students. That got me thinking.
 
Anyone who has studied marketing will tell you that the discipline of marketing is considerably more elusive than the body of knowledge that a student of accounting, finance,  or architecture to name a few. I mean you’re not going to hire an accountant who doesn’t know the principals of depreciating assets. You aren’t going to hire an estate planner who doesn’t know how explain various transfer taxes. You aren’t going to hire an architect who can’t show you a set of building plans. So I decided to begin my presentation to this student group by asking what attracted them to marketing in the first place.

There was a range of answers. Some students wanted to pursue communications related fields (advertising, public relations or media) and they felt a grasp of marketing would be a good foundation for that career path. Others felt that marketing was basically “sales” and they felt that was where the money is in business. Still others had a combination of reasons why they thought marketing was a worthwhile major course of study that might prepare them for whatever road they ultimately chose.

Most marketing textbooks have two or three run-on sentences that define marketing. That’s okay. It’s even okay for students to feel that marketing is a way of thinking. It’s okay to have an open mind to the possibilities your future may hold. I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the line people started getting the notion that the investment in education (especially college) must  somehow be directly pointed in the direction of a specific job. That being said, it is important to note that, elusive or not: without marketing, nothing happens!

That’s because the fundamental reality is that marketing is part of nearly every career choice. It is in every single business transaction. Whatever framework or model you want to apply to your business, you are going to ultimately face the fact that some portion of your interactions are going to fall squarely in that fuzzy area called marketing. I have known engineers who have told me straight up that “marketing is soft” and that is isn’t scientific enough. Well, that may be true but try to sell something without it. Try to convince someone that your product is better than the competition based only on the superior engineering. (I know what you’re thinking – Mercedes Benz – only partially true. Status and prestige are not engineering and as important a reason for the purchase of a Mercedes.)  Even engineers makes emotional choices about brands and what those brand choices say about the individual.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Confluence of Events


 

A Confluence of Events
December 30, 2008 – January 2, 2009

SCENE 1

ROB

Opening scene: Growlers Pub in St. Louis Suburb - Creve Coeur, Missouri. Dave and Wes are perched on the end of the bar. Wes orders a Back and Tan and Dave is pondering a number of British Ales from a long list of options on the menu. It’s Tuesday December 30, 2008 but unseasonably warm outside  – around 45 degrees. Scene opens with a cell phone call from Rob. Rob doesn’t call often. It would be unlike him to call from his home in the Dallas suburb of Southlake just to shoot the shit on this penultimate day of the year. It’s starting to get dark outside and Dave and Wes have just completed nine holes at the municipal golf course in Creve Coeur. Wes answers his cell phone

Rob (on phone): Wesley Morgan, this is Rob. Are you playing golf?

Wes: No, I just got finished playing. Dave and I are at Growler’s Pub having a cold one. Let me get to a place where I can hear you a little better. What’s going on? Wes moves around and makes his way to the front door and foyer where the ambient sound is muffled but not eliminated.

Rob: You are playing today.

Wes: We just finished playing.

Rob is amused at my Wes’ golf obsession. You can hear the smile in his voice but he’s got something to report. Rob is all business. It is a practical matter – as he’s “the best.”

As a consequence of being so, he’s closest (of six children) to the aging parents.
 
Rob: I just thought I should let you know that Dad is completely flipped. He’s stalking one of Mom’s former caregivers, Bonnie. She works at Autumn Leaves, the Alzheimer’s & Memory Care Assisted Living facility Mom was in before we moved her. You met Bonnie when you were here this summer. Autumn Leaves was great but we had to move Mom to another place – where she can get more individual attention. She’s doing great by the way.”

Wes: I remember Bonnie. She’s from Kenya. The dark black girl with the big smile…  Super white teeth. Dad said she hoped to return to her country and pursue a career in politics or something.”

Rob: Yeah, well he’s completely in love with her or something. He wants to sue Autumn Leaves. They won’t let him talk to her. He thinks I’m the worst son because I’m trying to make him think straight. I know there is nothing you can do. I know you don’t call Dad that often …so if you did now he’ll just think I put you up to it. Greg calls him pretty often and Dan calls him once in a while too. It’s kinda crazy, just wanted to let you know.”

Wes: Okay Rob. Thanks for doing everything you do. Thanks for the call. A Black and Tan is waiting for me at the bar. Love ya.”

Wes takes his seat at the bar next to Dave.

Wes (to Dave): My brother Rob is really putting up with some challenges these days. I’m glad we got a chance to play today.

Fade to Black

SCENE 2

ROB AGAIN

Living Room the next day. It’s Wednesday December 31, 2008 – early afternoon.

Wes (answers phone): Hello.

Rob: Guess where I am right now.

Wes: I don’t know Rob, where?

Rob: I’m in my car traveling about one mile an hour behind Dad. He’s so mad at me - he’s walking home. That’s a three mile walk from our house in Southlake to his in Keller. He refuses to get into the car. I took his keys and he’s furious.”

Wes: Oh my.

Rob: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I took his car keys. He came by this house this morning with a cashiers check for $5,000. He wanted me to go with him to deliver the check to Bonnie’s parents. It sounds like a sweet gesture but I’ve tried to make Dad aware that he should save his money. He may need to have funds available for Mom’s care and who knows what might come up for Dad. And…he just shouldn’t be driving. He doesn’t want to give it up because if he has no transportation he’s giving up some freedom. I understand that ….He’s ninety years old and doesn’t always think clearly when he's at the wheel… I’m afraid for him. He shouldn’t be driving. And the truth is he might be better served in an assisted care place. Joy and I are researching options. 

Fade to Black
 
SCENE 3

MEGAN AND JOY

Still early afternoon – later the same day – December 31, 2008

Wes: Joy?
 
Megan: No, this is Megan. Mom’s on the other phone with my Dad. Do you know what he’s doing? Megan is home from college, Oklahoma. She and her younger sister Tara both attend OU. Both are home for the holiday break.   Kevin, 15, is home but most likely in his room. 

Wes: Yeah I heard, he’s walking home. It’s kinds crazy isn’t it?

Megan: Yeah.
 
Wes: Where’s Tara? Is she home too?

Megan: Not right now. She got a speeding ticket yesterday. She’s dealing with that. Oh, Mom’s off the other phone. Do you want to talk to her?”
 
Wes: Yes.

Joy: Hey….

Wes: Joy, what’s happening?

Joy: Well, Dad showed up early this morning and was determined to have Rob help him get to Bonnie’s house to give her family a check for $5,000. It was a cashier’s check. Rob managed to get his keys and well…now he’s walking home.

Wes: “You’re kidding me?

Fade to Black

 
SCENE 4

GREG

Later the same day. December 31, 2008. Living room. Wes calls Greg. Greg lives in Tampa. He’s navigating a bit of a career crisis while being father to Wesley and Matthew and stepfather to his wife Ellen’s two kids. 

Wes: Greg. Have you talked to Dad?

Greg: Yes, and he’s completely clear – and very lucid. He’s never been all that practical when it comes to money. If he wants to give Bonnie $5,000, we should let him do what he wants. I mean it would be nice if he’d consider giving money to help out his grand children or something but….. but that’s not how Dad thinks…ya know?
 
Wes: Lindsey’s out of school and working and Ben just graduated from college. They don’t need anything from Dad. And they certainly don’t expect anything. They hardly know him.

Greg: I know. But it might be nice if he worried more about his grandchildren than this Bonnie …  

Wes: I don’t think this is just about the money. I think Rob and Joy are trying to look out for Dad. When he has an idea …like a new picture window for a better view of the Sky Creek Ranch Golf Course or an electrical socket in the floor in his living room…or a publishing a book of his water color postcards…All this stuff costs money. Rob is trying to convince Dad to consider the expenses he may need to incur in the future.

Greg: But Dad’s always been stubborn. Remember when he built the deck on the roof of Edgewater house? Completely impractical. And as you have said – kind of dangerous too. Mom and dad were in their sixties when they would go up those stairs to sit on the roof…remember? Anyway he’s ninety now. Surely he’s thinking about his own mortality.   

Wes: Yeah, I know. You gotta love that creativity and the stubborn determination. He’s a member of the Greatest Generation. He’s a Hall of Famer at his college – even though it took John Carroll University over fifty years to recognize him. I think Uncle David helped get him that honor. Hey, you should start a petition to get me into the Lakewood High School Football Sports Hall of Fame.

Greg: Very funny.

Wes: But I was great. Even Dad says I was the best football player in the family. 

Greg: Ha. Ha.

Wes: Yes, I am a funny man. But….seriously, I totally understand that Rob is just trying to protect Dad from himself.
 
Greg: When he sets his mind to do something. That’s it. He said Bonnie has Moxie. When he uses that word …I remember from working at the studio every time he says someone has Moxie…To him it means something special… Moxie to him is a trait found in a person who can make things happen. He sees Bonnie as a person who can make things happen in the world. He wants to help her. He believes she can better herself. And he believes that to be a good investment.

Wes: Yeah but you told me he spent four hours with Bonnie’s parents on Christmas Day.

She’s got a 90 year old man stalking her. Imagine him sitting in the home of her parents on Christmas Day. She stayed away while he was there for four hours! It has to be a little scary for her – no matter how good his intentions.

Fade to Black

 
SCENE 5

JOY AGAIN

Living Room. January 1, 2009 Mid-day.

Joy: Hi Wes. 

Wes: Happy New Year. This has been a crazy couple of days for you. Sorry about that.

Joy:  Well Dan and Nettie are here. They are staying with Dad - so that’s good. Dad’s still mad at Rob.

Wes: You still have Dad’s car?

Joy: Yes. You know Dad really shouldn’t be driving. I know it’s hard. Giving up your car is like giving up your freedom. We worry about him in the car.  But if he doesn’t have a car…

Wes: I might be visiting on business sometime later this month.

Joy: You are always welcome. Your brother Sundance is planning on coming to visit later this month. Your sister Lynn ….and Lynn Kunkle from Key Biscayne are coming sometime. Dan and Nettie are here now and that’s been good.
 
Wes: On second thought maybe I’ll wait until the circus leaves town before I come to visit …

Fade to Black

SCENE 6

MARY LYNN MORGAN

Same Living Room – mid morning- Friday January 2, 2008. Wes is reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Lynn (his wife) is at the computer working a game of solitaire. Ben (home from college – University of Miami. He’s recently graduated but on break before returning to Miami to pursue an MBA. He is still asleep. His girlfriend Allison and their dog Colbie, a Doberman Pincer puppy are in the house too – all asleep.) Mary Lynn (Wes’ sister) calls and leaves a message. Mary Lynn Morgan lives in Columbus, Ohio – near her son Jimmy Varney and his wife Susan.  
 
Lynn: Your phone rang when you were out.

Wes listens to the message.

Mary Lynn (voice message): Wes, It’s your sister Lynn. I’m at Jimmy and Susan’s for the week taking care of the dogs. I’m calling from their phone. Dad’s in the Hospital. Call your brothers. 

Wes: Oh my God. Great message from my sister. She said something about Dad being in the Hospital. I’m sure as hell not calling her back to find out what’s happening. I think I’ll try Joy.  

Lynn: Good idea.

Fade to Black

SCENE 7

DAN

Same Living Room. Saturday afternoon, January 3, 2008. Ben and Allison on the couch. Both are reading books and very relaxed. Football is on TV but its background noise. Colbie is pacing back and fourth. Lynn is at the computer - again playing solitaire.

Wes: Hello.

Dan. It’s your brother Dan.

Wes: Yeah, I know your voice.
 
Dan: Nettie and I are here.

Wes: I know.

Dan: Well this is a difficult situation and Rob is at the end of his rope. I just want to say, whatever you might be thinking… well Rob knows what he’s doing. He knows best. He’s around Dad a lot and knows what might be best for Mom and Dad. You should support Rob.

Wes: I know. Rob is the best.

Dan: But Dad might go on the attack a little because he’s not happy about losing his car. He might even accuse Rob of trying to steal from him. All I want to say is that you need to support Rob.

Wes: Right. Of course. I’m glad you are on the scene Dan. 

Fade to Black

SCENE 8

ROB ONCE AGAIN

Living Room. Early Evening. Wes is surrounded by pieces of the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Sunday New York Times. There is kitchen noise (and a faint smell of cookies) because his wife, Lynn, is baking. She has to work the coffee window in Ladue in the morning. It’s  Sunday January 4, 2008. It’s too cold to play golf.

Wes: Are you watching 24?

Rob: Yes. How did you know? Oh, that’s right you were talking to Greg. We’re really into it. We are watching the first two seasons back-to-back. It’s a huge time investment but we’re really enjoying it. Every once in a while we take a break between episodes and Joy and I start talking about Dad. He can’t be driving. He is okay living on his own but….Dan and Nettie have taken the heat off for a while. They are staying with Dad. Dan and Nettie woke up the other day at Dad’s and he was on the phone. He was calling 9-1-1 to report his car stolen (again). They already had the report from two previous two 9-1-1 calls! Then Dad insisted on going to the hospital to get a doctor to clear him health-wise to be driving a car. Dan and Netti obliged and took him to the hospital - as requested. His plan backfired though. In checking him out they noticed something – a spot of pneumonia on his lung. The hospital policy is to keep him overnight. So that’s why he’s in the hospital. A fairly routine deal.

Wes: Well he seemed pretty healthy when I saw him in October.
 
Rob: He is. He swims. He probably would have even made it to the end of his three mile walk temper tantrum walk home but… A Good Samaritan finally picked him up and took him home. He wouldn’t get into my car - with me….He let this stranger drive him home instead. That was the third car that offered him a ride before he accepted the lift.  I followed them to make sure he’d be okay.

Wes: Well tomorrow is a work day. You need to be making calls and following up with people.

Rob: I know. But I have a few things I have to do for Dad tomorrow too.

Fade to Black.    

 
EPILOGUE

SUNDANCE

Living Room. Wes is on couch with Schlitz Beer and a small Cuban Cigar. Ben is on an adjacent couch listening to a book on CD (Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink), periodically checking his iPod phone and glancing at living room TV (ESPN hype about Texas vs. Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl). Ben effortlessly pushes Colbie (his Dobermen Pincer puppy) off the couch periodically.

Wes (Calling Sundance – the phone rings about 8 times before it is answered): Sundance. Wes Morgan.

Sundance: Well hello, Wes Morgan.

Wes: Happy New Year. I wanted to thank you for you holiday package. I also wanted to check to see if you were up-to-date on the Dad.

Sundance: Rob took Dad’s keys. He’s angry at Rob. Dad called 9-1-1 to report his car stolen (several times). Dan and Nettie took him to the hospital (at his request) to see about getting a doctor to clear him for driving. That move backfired because they found a bit of pnemonia on his lung and the hospital’s protocol is to keep admit him for observation. Meanwhile Dad is accusing Rob of being a terrible person.

Wes: Wow. That pretty well sums it up.

Sundance: And I can tell you that Lynn (sister) is a pretty bad source of information.

Wes: Well duh.

Sundance: I was hoping to visit Dallas area sometime around January 26, 27, 28 or 29 – somewhere around there. You know, I was critical of you when you were throwing roses at Rob all the time for his efforts. Now even I can see that he and Joy deserve a lot of praise for what they’ve been putting up with….Seen any good movies lately?….Hey do you have Verizon Wireless service?

Wes: What?

Sundance: Do you have Verizon? I can talk to you for free if you do…

Wes: This is an AT&T cell hone.

Sundance: Oh. Good bye Wes.

Fade to Black.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Moon Pie and Secrets to Success

Visit Sam Walton’s original retail store location of the in Bentonville (AR). The story of the world’s largest retailer is well documented. Evidence of the humble beginnings is apparent as you peruse the museum full of artifacts. Consider the story of the original marshmallow sandwich, The Moon Pie. Sam Walton took an interest in the product after a Wal-Mart associate in Alabama mentioned customer complaints about the hit-or-miss availability.

The product was created originally in 1929 and manufactured by Chattanooga Bakery which was formed by the Mountain City Flour Mill as a way to use flour that couldn’t be sold in stores. Eventually the Moon Pie became symbol of the South itself. There’s only one Moon Pie, the sole product of family owned Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga Tennessee. The Moon Pie even became a popular item to toss from Mardi Gras floats, especially in Mobile, Alabama.

The Moon Pie is a great illustration of the prescription Sam Walton offered for success: Commit, Share, Motivate, Communicate and Appreciate. This formula for working with his associates moved a lot of Moon Pies. Thanks Mr. Sam.  
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Public Speaking and Keeping it Real

On behalf of the American Marketing Association, St. Louis Chapter, I was able to convince Jim Woodcock to be our luncheon speaker in November of 2012. Typically the speaker brings a PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentation, fiddles with a laptop, worries about sound checks  and lights. Often the presentation is adapted from another presentation and another audience.

Jim suggested the format be more of an open dialogue. Most guest speakers would consider this tantamount to a high-wire act without a net. The more we talked about his plan for the session, the more I realized a couple of things. 1. Jim is a supremely confident speaker and 2. Jim is a seasoned professional and will know how to work the room. No canned presentation, no magic tricks, no cleaver staging or antics. Jim is going to approach this audience and encourage participation.

Jim Woodcock rejoined Fleishman-Hillard in 2005 following eight years with the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and Scottrade Center, the team’s arena. As the co-leader of the global sports business practice at Fleishman-Hillard, Jim offers clients a breadth of experience and expertise in the sports business, brand strategy, reputation management, public affairs, crisis communications, marketing, sponsorship, broadcast rights, facilities management, publications, messaging, media relations and training. I think he can handle this.

The presentation is next week. Jim provided me with an introduction bio and I have never been less concerned about the mechanics, speaker support and technology. That is what I call “keeping it real.” Now, this AMA audience can be brutally honest and tough in their evaluations. (Particularly, those who bother to provide their feedback via electronic survey after the event.) As the programming chair, I am thrilled that Jim is looking to break with the status quo and offer the benefit of his expertise in an extemporaneous and free flowing way. Certainly, I would not advocate this approach for a less confident and/or experienced speaker but I have a feeling Jim will be a big hit.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Poet inspires Artist


Born in Michigan in 1945 and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Robert Lobe completed his undergraduate education at Oberlin College in Ohio and headed east to Manhattan to study at Hunter College, a division of the City University of New York. He stayed. Lobe's aluminum trees, boulders and other natural forms are hard to classify. Intuitive, rather than analytic, his departure from Minimalist sculpture from the 1960s and 1970s. We might call Lobe's work Post-Minimalist sculpture.
The Palm at the End of the Parking Lot was installed by Lobe at Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis (1995). This sculpture was inspired a poem by Wallace Stevens (1954):




Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School. He spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life. He did not receive widespread recognition until a year before his death in 1955.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What’s Next?



Chapter Nine
What’s Next?

Strictly speaking I’ve moved too many times. Most executive recruiters and placement specialists would council that I should “stay put” for a while. I know that’s the conventional wisdom. I know it’s also probably pretty good advice. Still I’m pretty sure that my variety of experience has given me a confidence that a lot of people in this business lack. Let’s face it; insecurity and anxiety are facts of life in the advertising business. Clients come and go and billings go up and down. It’s not a predictable business. We don’t manufacture anything really. We sell concepts created by people. People become expendable. I’m proud of my ability to bounce back. I have been clobbered by ridiculous circumstances; mostly beyond my control and I still rebound.

I have three prescriptions for becoming resilient:
1. Seek Great Experiences
2. Be Committed to Lifelong Learning
3. Having a sense of humor.

Great Experiences
To put it into perspective a little: If all the accounts for which I’ve been privileged enough to contribute were added up and under my wing at the same time; Wes Morgan would be one of the 100 top agencies in America. The diversity of and the breadth of experience in categories, billings, media, print, broadcast, trade and consumer communications make me feel pretty confident that I have something to offer almost any prospective client. I’m a big believer in “making your own breaks.” I’ve been on a wild ride, to be sure. I choose to look at it like I’ve been playing professional ball with “the bigs” most of my career. Yes, I’ve been sent to the minors and done my time in what I call “dinner theater” (to mix metaphors). Mostly I’ve made myself a veteran of the big-time. You can’t take that away from me even if I become another statistic, a “has-been” ad guy. (At least you’ll never be able to say I was a “never-was” ad guy.) Suffice it to say, this was a turning point for me. I looked at my career and decided to take the act on the road. As you’ll see, I did travel. A very good friend and business associate of mine told me I was nuts. Essentially, he said “Advertising is a strange mistress to be chasing around the country, Wes.” Maybe he’s right. It didn’t stop me though.


Lifelong Learning
I’ve already cited several examples of things I’ve tried to do to continue on a mission of lifelong learning. I’ve already said you get so much more than you give when you share with students, practice mentoring, and participate in associations. These efforts are rewarding. They provide benefits that aren’t apparent before you become involved. Learning is the big one. You can always learn new things. But you have to want to grow and you have to seek out the experiences. And you must have an open mind. Lifelong learning is a natural by-product of being in the advertising business. You can find yourself, as I have, in the beer business one day, in the toy business the next, or maybe in the banking or telecommunications business. You have to be flexible and curious about everything. You have to be a sort of student of pop culture too. Go to movies. Enjoy music. Read. It’s all relevant. It can make advertising communications better. Alex Bogusky, creative director and partner at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky is one guy who has inspired me. Alex dropped out of college and jumped into the world of work at a young age. He has a natural curiosity and challenges everyone around him. I’d have to say he is a very good example of someone who is committed to a philosophy of lifelong learning. Alex once suggested that a college would give him an honorary degree someday. He already deserves it for his contributions to the advertising industry. I hope he gets the recognition he deserves. If I were president of Tapioca College
of South Central Florida (or some such place) I’d be more than happy to award Alex a doctor of arts degree just for the intensity with which he approaches each day. I try to do that too.

Sense of Humor
I can’t tell you how to have a sense of humor about your life and career. I can only say it’s really important. Life is serious. Bad things happen. Good things happen. Try to put into perspective. Advertising is important but, if you make a mistake, no one dies. Earlier in my career, (when I worked on Burger King, I think), someone told me to relax a little. “Advertising isn’t Brain Surgery,” they said. Years later I saw a cartoon that turned that calming advice on its ear. It showed a surgeon at an operating table with the nurse saying “Relax Doctor, this isn’t advertising.” Everything is relative I guess.

Dinner Theater
I’ve tried to explain career moves in metaphors like the profession of acting. If you’re an actor, you might pursue the big bucks in Hollywood Feature Films. Or you might prefer live acting on stage in a theater. You might be compromising. Only you yourself, can really know. Sometimes you might not be so sure. In professional sports (e.g. baseball) you can find yourself moving from team to team in a dizzying series of trades. All the while you have to determine if your love of the game justifies the moving around. I admire those guys. They play because they can make a contribution. They play because they are recognized as guys who add value. I can relate.