Give Nice A Chance

Welcome to 2017. We made it. No matter where you stand politically, there’s no debate about one thing; we’ve all just lived through a campaign season where the dialogue reached never-before-seen levels of nasty. From that perspective, we’re just glad it’s over. I was reaching the end of my rope with all of this when a visit to a local retailer turned into a welcome reminder of the formidable power of “nice.”

In need of paper and toner, I visited my local Office Depot, where the employees are always helpful. But the young man who helped me on this particular morning took nice to a whole new level, making double and triple sure that I had exactly what I needed, and extending every possible courtesy (and discount). He served up a “wow” customer experience and a bit of a wake-up call. In business and in life, it pays to be nice.

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Cover Story

My mom, a first grade teacher, was an expert at reading to kids, and my siblings and I reaped the benefits. She read to us every night, employing a wide range of dialects and injecting her unique personality into every story. I ate it up.

By my college years, however, the glow had worn off, and reading for me had become a chore. It was only later, when I took a job at a bookstore, that my second education began. Freed from the obligation to read, I started doing it for the love of it, hitting every section of the store, and devouring every title in sight.

With all this access, I found myself paying more and more attention to book covers. I came to realize not only how important a cover can be to the commercial success of a newly published work, but how some covers transcend mere marketing. At their best, book covers can stand on their own as fine art.

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Clarity By Design #1

In Rhode Island, the little big state where I grew up, they’ve got this thing for license plates. It goes back to the early days of the automobile, when your great grandfather came into possession of an early RI plate with a low number. To this day, in my quirky home state, there is a real status associated with having a low-numbered plate. They’re so popular that folks line up for an annual statewide lottery for available low numbers. Weird, I know, but these are the same people who put clams in doughnuts and call them clam cakes (and they’re delicious!).

Several years back, Rhode Island introduced a license plate featuring a deceptively simple design – a breaking wave pattern with a small anchor – an element from the state seal – perched, sentry-like, in the upper left corner.

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Toot Your Own Horn!

I recently enjoyed an informative presentation by Jennifer Way of Way Solutions. The Nashville-based author/consultant reminded a rapt audience of marketing executives that – despite the fact that we’ve all been conditioned otherwise – it’s okay, in fact it’s essential, that you go ahead and tell the world just how good you really are.

I had to admit to myself, there have been times where I’ve been too self deprecating when it came to my business, my brand, and my level of expertise. I think May is right; somewhere along the way, we’ve been trained to “let the work speak for itself.” The problem is, the work is the work. It doesn’t speak for itself. That’s your job.

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The Flip Side Of Creativity

I’ve always had a thing for flipbooks, those little handheld, refreshingly analog booklets that display an animation when you flip the pages. You know who else loves flipbooks? Kids, that’s who. And nobody understands kids better than the smart folks at Beam Camp.

Bootstrapped in 2004 by Danny Kahn and Steve Cohen, two New York-based music business veterans, the stated purpose of this innovative camp, located in the wilds of New Hampshire, is “to provide children with exciting experiences in creative problem-solving through working with their hands and actively collaborating with others.”

The kids at Beam Camp spend several weeks every summer completing a challenging and creative project. They’ve crafted moving sculptures, wildly inventive structures, various functional vehicles, and, yes, as the attached story from Wired magazine makes clear, they’ve put their own rustic spin on the venerable flipbook.

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