Archive for the ‘Future Thinking’ Category

Straight Talk on Gay Marriage

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

“Damn it,” says Kenneth Cole in ads all over Manhattan.

Do You Speech?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Speech is the Rosetta Stone of your own image. Master it and you have taken a gigantic step toward people starting to see the best you. And yet, the easiest way to fail is to lack the ability

#twitterfame, and Fame

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Coverage is so easy to get in 2009. There are outlets everywhere, with barriers to public distribution so low that anyone can get their name in some kind of media with minimal effort. Given that “normal” people have learned the tricks of the coverage trade, the time-tested celebrity accident has been rendered useless, because we’ve discovered that accidents happen and ultimately mean nothing.

Around 50 years ago we’d have believed that Frank Sinatra really did beat the snot out of someone pissing him off, because the guy was pissing him off. It’s how Frank rolled. He didn’t do it for notoriety, because he didn

Everybody Wants to be Everything Sometimes (apologies, Dean Martin)

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Many corporations believe the downward trajectory in consumer spending means they better become something they are not–and quickly. Instead of sticking to their knitting, selling what they are known for, many have inexplicably started trying to be a mercantile of all things.

Is this a sign that sellers are simply trying to be better corporate citizens by providing more solutions to the consumers? No, no no. It is, though, a clear indication that recessionary panic has bamboozled some of the powers-that-be into believing that expanding their businesses beyond what they are known for is actually good business. Example:

Best Buy is the only big-box consumer electronics retailer left standing, except PC Richard but that’s only east coast. (Circuit City is back as an online store, but has no plans to reemerge as a brick and mortar business.) Best Buy is a good place to pick up consumer gear, especially television sets and digital photography equipment. Bought something at Best Buy lately? As you are checking out, the cashier will inevitably attempt to sell you — ready — magazine subscriptions. Yes, magazine subscriptions.

You go to Best Buy to get a deal on headphones, not to be sold Entertainment Weekly or Car & Driver. Is the company really so desperate for sales that it risks pissing off all of its consumers by trying to upsell them on monthly rags AFTER they’ve already gone through the sales spiel on the floor? Sure, magazines are somewhat high-margin products, but is it really worth changing your brand identity to sell a few? Not when it leaves a bad taste in your consumers’ mouthes.

Another strange strategic example: Subway, the sandwich hawker. This chain has a reputation for making decent sandwiches. (They must be good, considering the franchise flourishes in the City of New York, which as you know is the deli capital of the world.) You roll in, get your footlong turkey on wheat for $5, it comes to you in that specially-shaped sandwich bag, and BOOM! back in the office.

Well, do you know that Subway now serves pizza? Seriously. You can order hand-held pizzas from the king of sandwiches. Why on Earth did the braintrust at Subway think this is a good idea? (And wait a minute: why is my favorite diner in suburban CT selling — tortillas?) There is literally no way your Subway Personal Pizza is going to measure up to the quality of your sandwiches, especially when the retail pizza business has been captured by the boys and girls of Pizza Hut and Domino.

Subway, stop it. You are dilluting a good thing. You make footlongs. If people want crummy pizza, they will go to a crummy pizza place! Yes, oh and besides being the deli sandwich capital of the world, New York is the crummy pizza capital of the world. For every good pizzeria, there are at least four baddies. All named Ray Something.)

The point is that if you are known for selling what it sells, be remembered in these putrid retail days for selling what you sell. That is, after all, what your consumers want. They come to you for your product, the one they once and still love(d). They don’t want you to imitate someone else’s. People don’t appreciate that. Just remember. Say it twice.

I’m at www.twitter.com/laermer a lot.

Computer Is Gone

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

For months, and maybe years, before the Y2K New Year

Rinse and Reuse: Lessons of High Line

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

The City of New York is full of parks

The (Fill in Blank) of Record

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Newspapers strive to be seen as the defenders of society

Laermer on CNNMoney.com

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

A deep recession calls for ingenious job hunting methods. Suddenly, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Plurk, and the like are viable job search tools. Social media — while far from perfect — is actually proving to be a useful tool as 2010 approaches. Or “2011!”

Twittering on www.twitter.com/laermer

What Are We Going To Do When The Recession Is Over?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Everything today seems very recession-centric. You can

Gumby is My Mascot

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Those who “have Gumby” participate. Not ones to sit idly by and watch from the sidelines, these are the folks who jump in and use their wits and intellect to get the job done. They overcome the most troublesome glitches and find innovative solutions. Gumby isn’t yes-or-no; it’s how and why.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the green Gumby and his pal Pokey were Idol-like TV fixtures as they joyfully lived the adventures that kids dreamed of: going to the moon, jumping in and out of books’ fanciful tales, hanging with people from far off lands.

Because Gumby was a Claymation creation, he was eminently flexible and had a special knack for getting into, out of, and through fantastic and often danger-filled escapades.

Gumby is more than ever becoming a key to success in whatever world you tool around in.

Gumby lives on in all of us–at least in those who can wipe away the thought, I can’t. Gumby’s power is more than flexibility, though. The next time a colleague, a friend, or Aunt Bertha asks how you of all people triumphed in the face of some unbelievable odds, tell her, simply, “Gumby.” If she runs off looking for the latest gadget code-named for our little green hero, let her go. If she asks “What do you mean, my young niece . . . ?” here are the real-life answers:

Gumby is attitude.

Snarky is so fashionable; popular culture lauds Gawker.com and its cadre of follower blogs and downloaders that pride themselves on carefully crafted sarcasm and forever cynicism. Gumby is confident, ambitious, and willing to get the job done–that’s the essence of “Gumbitude.” Gumby is optimistic and focuses on solutions–not problems. You call it like it is . . . and then you are willing to get how others see it.

Gumby is action. Lazy is easy. Action is often strenuous and sometimes exhausting, but those who have Gumby (or saw him on TV, and not the Eddie Murphy persona!) know that taking the effortless path rarely gets you where you need to be.

Identifying nascent trends, which is so important in these dire times, requires vigorous analysis of information from multiple sources, searching beyond your comfort zone.

Gumby is results. Gumby the flexible character was all about getting the job done–both well and in a timely fashion–by effectively using all tools available. Gone are the days when tasks came with a “when you can get to it” deadline. If you’re lucky enough to remember the office euphoria when IBM introduced the Correcting Selectric, then your head probably spins at the plethora of tools available to office workers now. These machines and doodads can help or hinder, and Gumby is all about knowing how to use them to deliver resultsthat have a measurable impact on a nonclich

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