Why there has never been a better time to wear white.

Why there has never been a better time to wear white.

Welcome to After Labor Day! This, unfortunately, is the darkest time of the year. Because now we are supposed to put away our white clothing until Memorial Day. Or until Diddy invites us to a party. Whichever comes first. I have known about this rule since I was old enough to make my own fashion faux pas. But I didn’t understand the rule, until now.

After long minutes of research (hey, it’s the information age) I discovered the Labor-Day-White-Thing was basically a mean girl rule established by a small gaggle of old money biddies in the late 1800s. They decided that they would use the imaginary rule to identify and ostracize new money ladies who didn’t know the insider rules, and wore white on the wrong days. Yet over time everyone adopted this standard.

How lame is that?  

This isn’t a rule. It’s a joke. Or at best a standard we follow without reason. With this knowledge, how do you pick out your clothes tomorrow?

There are two ways to view these widely followed, but non-rule-rules.

  1. We can adhere to them, just like everyone in-the-know.
  2. We can see them as the gifts they are. And use them to help us stand out from the masses.

When I was in college I had a track teammate named Alex Mautz. Alex liked wearing shorts so much he decided not to pack them away after Labor Day, or Halloween or Thanksgiving. In fact, Alex wore shorts every day for an entire year. Which is no big deal if you live in Florida. Or Ecuador. But we lived in Madison, Wisconsin. Where I experienced -26 Fahrenheit without windchill. Alex turned heads everywhere he went. Not only was he memorable, he provided total strangers with an instant conversation starter from November through April.

One of the most important things we do at The Perfect Agency Project is find ways to help people and organization stand out from the crowd. That’s how you build a memorable brand. And if you want to be noticed, cultural and category norms are a gift.

White wedding dresses don’t stand out. Red ones do. I have seen thousands of diamond engagement rings that all blend together. But my sister Heather’s stands out. Because it’s an emerald ring. Chick-fil-a is one of my favorite restaurants. But unlike most restaurants, it isn’t open on Sundays.  Yet Chick-fil-a is the first restaurant I think of every Sunday (can I get an Amen?).

If you, your brand or business want more attention, find a convention and start doing the unconventional. There are opportunities all around you. If you would like help finding your white clothes after Labor Day let me know. We could grab some caramels and talk.

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Why September 6th is the most important day of the year.

Why September 6th is the most important day of the year.

Happy New Year! That’s right, Tuesday September 6th is the real New Year’s Day. I know you’re probably wondering what the Dick Clark I’m talking about. Allow me to explain.

Americans traditionally celebrate the new year at the worst possible time. In January you are stumbling out of the most hectic and stressful time of the year. Which makes it a poor time to set new goals, quit bad habits and reinvent yourself.

The simple fact is that the fall, not spring, and certainly not January 1st is the best time for new beginnings.

If you were a tree, today is when your next ring would start to grow. Preschool starts in the fall. And so does Kindergarten, middle school, high school and college. Which means fall is the start of the next chapter for kids, parents and teachers alike. The day after Labor Day is the first day schools everywhere are back in session and fully engaged.

When summer break is over for kids summer vacations are over for adults. Which means that starting today we are all back to work. Our businesses are operating at full strength for the first time in 3 months. Factories are humming. Offices are buzzing. And farms are really farmy.

Churches now begin their regularly scheduled programs. So if you see a church, and see a steeple, open it up and you might see all the people.

The new television season starts now.  Both NCAA and NFL football kickoff now too.

This is a great time of year.

For those of you who used your summer vacation days well, you are hitting September 6th fully recharged. Not only did you take the last three months to fill up on Vitamin D, travel, relaxation and inspiration, you got a three-day weekend to top it all off.

Now that your tanks are full and you are refocused it is time to treat this like the new beginning you almost missed. Set new goals. Drop a bad habit. Pick a new challenge. Plan your next chapter. Grab that next rung. Or build your own ladder.

At The Perfect Agency Project we are fully engaged. Your team should be too. We’re all primed, rested and ready.  Let’s push hard. Have fun. And make this the best year ever. And here you thought today was just another Tuesday.

 

 

 

The most common phrase you should never say.

The most common phrase you should never say.

At the Perfect Agency Project we have a fairly obvious goal. In case you’re not great at reading comprehension, the goal is to create the perfect agency. And at the perfect agency people collaborate and are nice to each other.  Which means they don’t do or say jerkilicious things.

That’s why we are banning a very common phrase you probably hear or say all the time. Ready for it? Still ready?  Further ado. Even further ado  Okay, here it is:

I don’t disagree.

Please stop saying this.  This is one of the jerkiest statements we can make to each other.  It paints your reaction in a negative light. Both don’t and disagree are negative words.  Which makes it a double negative.

As most of you don’t not know, the double negative actually makes a positive. So this statement actually says, I agree.  But it states it in the most negative, reluctant, non-affirming way possible.

Instead let us say things like I agree. Or You’re right.  Let us support each other. Let us acknowledge our alignments positively. And most importantly, let us eat more lettuce. Now if you agree with me, please respond to this post by saying, completely don’t disagree with you. It won’t make me not laugh. But it will let me know who read all the way to the end.

Let’s stop TGIFing around.

Let’s stop TGIFing around.

Welcome to the second post in my Days Of The Week Series (my gut says this will be one of the seven best). Today we’re talking about Friday. Which is really more like Friday! It’s one of the most popular days of all time (see what I did there?) Everyone loves Friday. But I don’t love the way we often think about the day.

We all know the phrase TGIF.  The thing I dislike about this is that Thank God It’s Friday is really saying, ‘OMG! I am so thankful I have reached the end of my week of suffering!’

But on Fridays at the Perfect Agency Project we want to: Make the most. Not just coast. So we are rebranding the day as Phone a Friend Friday. Or Fone a Friend Friday. Or Phone A Phriend Phriday. Your choice.

Relationships are really, really important in business. I’ve made a genuine effort to develop, maintain and grow mine. In fact, people are one of my favorite things about this planet. And they were an important factor in me choosing to live on Earth.

Today we use lots of ways to keep in touch. We text, email, tweet, snap, chat, IM, Link and stalk people. But Fridays were made for phone calls. Because schedules free up and the pace slows down at the end of the week. So instead of using that lighter load at the end of the week to knock off early, or hang out at either the real or the proverbial water cooler, I encourage you to call someone in your network that you haven’t talked to in a while.

At a minimum, my Phone a Friend Friday calls are always a highly enjoyable end to the week. But they routinely provide great insights, advice and learning opportunities. They help strengthen my relationships. They often shine a light on another friend or contact that could use a call, a hand or a word of encouragement. And these calls regularly lead to new opportunities for me to work with some of my favorite people again.

So don’t start mailing it in just yet my friends. Pick up the phone today and end the week on a high note. Your Friday calls may prove to be the most valuable part of your week on both a personal and professional level. If you don’t know who to call, call me (614-256-2850). Even if I can’t talk at the time I’m sure to call you back. And my voicemail messages alone are usually  worth the call. Have a great day. And I look forward to catching up soon.

Why lying is so good for you.

Why lying is so good for you.

I used to think I was an honest person. I can only think of one promise that I’ve made and not kept, since 8th grade. On the night I graduated from high school I promised my friend Simon Phillips that I would sign his yearbook. And I still haven’t done it. A few years ago I reached out to Simon through Facebook to apologize and to try to complete my obligation. Apparently he forgot all about my unkept promise. I have not.

But smack dab in the middle of what I had considered to be a very honest life I realized two shocking truths:

1. I tell lies all the time.

2. I have no idea how smack and dab came to qualify the middle of something.

The lies I’m talking about are not little white lies. Not exaggerations of something mostly true. They are complete and utter falsifications and fabrications. Big league lies.

My string of outlandish lies goes back to high school. I can remember saying that I was the boys high school state record holder in the discus. I first told this lie when I was a scrawny freshman who had only thrown the discus in one meet. And in that one meet my best throw was 60 feet shy of the state record! I was a liar. Yes, I was a liar. And my pants were certainly on fire.

The lies continued in college. After a couple of rough semesters academically my GPA indicated that I was a terrible college student. But I lied and said that I was a great college student who got great grades and made the Dean’s list. All lies.

Once I started my career in advertising the lies just kept coming. Before I even landed a job I started telling outlandish lies about my accomplishments, accolades and income. I was a one man lie-athon.

But a funny thing happened after I told all those lies.

They started coming true.

Sure enough, in the last track meet of my senior year I broke the state high school discus record by 3 feet.

In college, I followed up a couple of terrible academic semesters with 7 straight semesters that included making the Dean’s List, being named an Academic All-Big Ten athlete, achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 every semester and graduating with a GPA of 3.88 within my psychology and journalism majors.

In my advertising career the lies keep coming true too. I lied when as a young writer I said I could help attract fun clients to the agency  where I worked. Then I helped the agency pick up Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea•Doo watercraft, Evinrude outboard motors, as well as CanAm ATVs and the Spyder Roadster

Building on that success I then joined a relatively unknown regional agency and lied about how we were going to work with some of the world’s best brands. And over the next few years we won business with Nike, Coke, UPS, Nationwide, Chick-fil-a and Wells Fargo.

The truth is, you need to lie to achieve great things. You have to believe the unbelievable to achieve the unachievable. (That’s some Jessie Jackson-worthy rhyming, right!?!)

Whether you call it lying or living into your dreams or positive thinking or envisioning or auto suggestion, this powerful tool is about lying to yourself so convincingly that you make the lie a reality. Which is exactly what I am doing on my quest to create the perfect agency. I believe it can be done. And I believe I’m the right person to do it. Which is a huge, and completely unsubstantiated lie.

I don’t know of any other way to make great things happen but to tell myself they will, even when there is no basis for it in reality. So I encourage you to try lying to yourself today. If you don’t feel great, say you do. If you haven’t achieved great things, say you have. Say it often. Every morning and every night, in the mirror. Lie to yourself.  Lie until you don’t even realize what the truth is anymore. And then make it all come true.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a yearbook to sign.

 

Why everything you’ve thought about Wednesday is wrong.

Why everything you’ve thought about Wednesday is wrong.

Today I’m starting a new Days Of The Week series. It focuses on the importance of each day of the week. The series will feature all of the best known days, including Monday, Friday and Saturday. But it will also touch on less popular days like Tuesday. But we are going to start the series with Wednesday. (Did the name of the post give it away?)

At The Perfect Agency Project we have deep experience in both branding and positioning. After performing careful research, analysis, a few focus groups, an online survey and interviews with key stakeholders, it is clear that Wednesday needs to be repositioned.

As the middle child of the work and school week this day has often been overlooked or forgotten. To most people Wednesday is Hump Day. It’s best known for being the half way point in the week. It represents the weekly hill to get over in order to start the downhill slide to the weekend.

This is so sad.  It is a horrible commentary on life, work and school. A week is not something to get through. To endure. Or to survive. The week, my friends, is your life. If you want the week to go faster and you’re thankful to be halfway done, you are saying that about your life.

Instead of calling Wednesday Hump Day, I would like to call it Evaluation Day. It is the day that we evaluate our progress towards our goals. It is the day we check to see if we should change something in our approach. Or if there is something more fruitful we can do in the last days of the week to make it a week to remember.

After beginning the week with goals in mind, on Wednesday we should take corrective action to make sure we achieve those goals and accomplish what we set out to accomplish. Wednesday should help you build momentum that you can carry through Thursday and Friday. Not to mention Saturday and Sunday, which apparently I just did.

I love me some Wednesday.  It represents the meat of progress. It is the full engagement day. Because it is equidistant from both Sunday and Saturday. Which allows us to keep our focus on the business at hand. If you are not finding the reward in your Wednesday you should find another way to spend your week. A new job, new career or new quest could completely change the way you see the day.

Wednesday is the American Midwest. Hardworking. Honest and real. Wednesday is farming and manufacturing and producing. Wednesday is where great things happen. Wednesday is not the fly-over states of some New Yorker magazine cartoon. (Which is really funny by the way).new-yorker-Map

So let’s all have a great Wednesday. Or Evaluation Day. Or Momentum Day. Or Full Engagement Day. Or maybe even Midwestern Day. Let’s make this the best part of the week. Because whether or not you realize it now, Wednesday is your life.