Posts Tagged ‘ strategy ’

an ideal first Monday of a new year

Over the holidays, I completely ignored the internet/email in order to get lost in books, magazines and movies. One of the most poignant articles I came across was ‘Coding for the Masses’ by Clive Thompson in WIRED.

In the article, he referenced Douglas Rushkoff”s book ‘Program or Be Programmed’ which makes the case that learning the basics of coding should become part of mainstream curriculum.

But, while I’m eager to read Program or Be Programmed, I have a feeling it’s going to make me want to do > make > code > create > as soon as I finish the book. Problem is, out of the hundreds of resources out there- I have no clue where to start first. I’m completely uninitiated to all things coding and also highly intimidated by the thought of it. And I thought there might be more n00bs like me; willing but wondering where to begin.

So in the true spirit of coding, I emailed Clive himself  to ask how he would break down the dense process of learning to code into smaller, more manageable lessons.

Amazingly, (admittedly, the whole office heard me gasp when his response popped up in my inbox. I do love that the internet and all her latest platforms basically exist to endlessly dare you to reach out/start something, create something/ or just ask a burning question) he wrote back rather quickly with the following suggestions:

“I decided last year to try programming again and a
friend suggested I try Processing. It’s a very fun language because it’s
a) easy and b) specializes in letting you easily create interactive
visual things on screen.

There’s also an excellent how-to beginner’s
book — — that I’ve been
using; it’s superb for the complete newbie. If you decide to try it I
recommend buying the book in PDF format, because it’s a lot easier to
cut and paste the bits of code than to laboriously re-type them out of
the paper book.

I’m maybe 1/3 of the way through the book and I’m having a lot of fun!”

Hopefully you’ll also find his suggestions worth test-driving, or maybe have other resources to recommend. But because doing something new is usually better with a buddy, my charming new mate Daniel Edmundson and I are planning to form a small group so we can work our way through the books & exercises while co-teaching our way out of n00b status. Bourbon will be involved. If you’re interested in forming clusters of aspiring coders, hit me up. Meanwhile we’re planning on posting our progress and any tips learned along the way, so more to come.

Aaaand because the universe has a dry sense of humor –  my attempt to ‘unplug’ only led me to a new hobby which will require me to spend even more time online and thinking about everything that occurs online, I’m OK with that. Following the Clive’s advice doesn’t exactly seem like a misstep.



Happy online shopping:


Note: Originally I titled this post as An Ideal First Monday Of a New Decade (rather than new year), which would have been incorrect according to Q Blog: “because there is no year 0, the  new ‘decade’ actually extends to 11.” See here:


tweaking your book – thoughts from a professional

I just had a quick chat with Earl Cox, head of Planning and partner at the Martin Agency- and those 30 minutes were ripe with valid points for anyone else putting together their book right now.

Why Some Books Sit On Desks:

“Most of the books are too dense, overwritten. Eliminate. Because when I’m flipping through a book I’m looking for three things:

I. AN insight. Not several insights, because then it’s just a recap of research.

Boil it down. “Planning is the art of synthesis and distillation. It requires a great deal of confidence. There’s an expression: ‘Often wrong, but never in doubt.” Sometimes you gotta be a little cocky. That’s what I’m paying you for: a strongly held opinion well argued.”

II. Is that single insight expressed imaginatively in the strategy?

III. Then, is the creative work actually built from that strategy?

Because I see so many books with a brilliant strategy but then the work that follows looks great but has nothing to do with the insight.

Books with Fat Heartstrings:

“Be very weary of movements.”

“I see a lot of books with 4 different campaigns and each one- claims to ‘save the world.’ It’s great to have a conscious and our business doesn’t always have the best reputation- but you have to remember we’re seeing book after book with campaigns declaring that this claim will forever revolutionize ‘_______.’

Remember clients pay us to sell things. Everything ties back to Wall Street. Stockholder Value.”

The Premature Furrowed Brow:

–I’ve been feeling off-kilter lately because I’m putting my book + resume together to apply for internships. Which means I’m looking at all my work through the premature anxiety of knowing I’m going to be either approved or dismissed by it.

After I told Earl this, he recounted how a woman he had just met at a cocktail party summed our business up in 2 seconds: “Your is a business where people try to find their self-esteem in their jobs.”

He went on to say:

“Self esteem has to come from inside.”

Don’t sink yourself waiting on external approval. “At my level, there’s no more Atta-Boys and Promotions- it’s just what’s expected of me. I had to go through that introspective period to realize that. Stop worrying.”

On Planning:

Mike Mattdox, a Brandcenter alum gave a lecture to a class- and one of the students asked Mike ‘what he would have done differently during his 2 years at the Brandcenter knowing what he knows now.’ Mike quickly replied:


Earl added, “the good planners and creatives know how to be provocative. It’s just what stands out. Doing what you think the client wants isn’t what they remember after watching 8 presentations on the same thing.

If you’re going to be meek in this industry- why bother?

Planning is the Thought Leadership Department.

“As a planner- you are a catalyst. You have to be prepared to lead a team based on an idea that you can defend against all others.”

Even though Earl is frequently the 2nd busiest person at the Martin Agency behind Mike Hughes- he always makes time for students. His dedication to the industry and commitment to nurturing talent is something you need to see for yourself. If you are interested in the Brandcenter – definitely make it a point to schedule an appointment with Earl while you’re in Richmond.

Best of Luck on Your Book!

** You may agree/disagree with his POV- but at least considering seasoned thoughts from a renown planning professional can’t hurt.

Google campus day @ VCU Brandcenter

Last week Google came to the BrandCenter to set up an intensive 2 day Google Campus.
They brought in 6 kiosks with a Googler on  hand to explain different Google properties such as Double Click, AdWords, Google Maps/Earth, advertising within YouTube etc. Then a mobile cafe to play around with the Android.

Thursday was a lecture on improving SEO & demystifying the Google AdWords AdRank.

Friday, the absolutely hilarious Aidan Chopra had us rolling with laughter as he gave 4 run mini-lectures of Google Sketch Up.

If you’re an Art Director and haven’t been using it (it’s free and there is also a paid Pro version) Get On It. You can subscribe to Aidan’s YouTube channel “Sketch Up for Dummies”

A basic HowTo by Aidan

Google Ad Words + Optimizing Your
Google AdRank
1. If the landing page of your site is Flash heavy- it’s going to lower your rank on a Google search result. (Part of the AdRank score is Ease of Navigation, so Google considers the lag in loading Flash intros a diasadvantage.)

Last week Julia Angwin wrote about how she worked to manipulate what pops up when her name is Googled.

What It’s Like to Be A Googler
Yes, every Goolger we met has serious pride about being a Googler. The phrases “Google always keeps the user in mind,” and “At Google we’re all about doing good things that matter,” was uttered a Google-load of times.

It’s kind of overwhelming because your inner snark wonders, “umm, company Kool-Aid???,” but on the other hand, it’s amazing that the culture is so well defined, embraced and understood for a company that massive.
But Robert Wong, who closed the 2-day event, made the point that ‘people work for three reasons: to chase a paycheck, to make a name, or because they believe in their work as a calling.’

Yes, Google is the juggernaut, but when you look at the 100s of things they produce for us to tinker with that are free, it lends authenticity to the comment that Googlers choose to work there to answer his/her calling.

Before they unleashed us on the Google toys

Before they unleashed us on the Google toys

Lunching with Googlers & the Martin Agency

Lunching with Googlers & the Martin Agency