When I was growing up the tiger brand belonged to a gasoline. You knew with that gas in your car you were going to tear up the road. Oh, it also belonged to Tony the Tiger; your cereal was going to make you feel GGGRRREEEEAAAAT! Then, there was the scary "Eye of the Tiger" song, part of that frightening swath of bad movie soundtracks that I hope will never be resurrected.
Anyway, today, the “brand of tiger” belongs to the man, Tiger Woods. But is his brand out of the woods? Will it ever be fully reconciled with its former self? Of course not. It will never go back to its elusive, excellent former position. But, the brand just might emerge better than ever. Here are 2 scenarios...
1) Tiger comes clean and owns up...
In this scenario we meet Tiger the REAL man. This is Tiger the humble, the guy who slipped off his pedestal (it's darned hard to live under child star scrutiny). This is Tiger who did what a lot of guys do but did it married (a really BAD idea, guys). Tiger, what WERE you thinking... Anyway, he can say sorry, he may never get his wife back, but a humbled, chastened Tiger could be good for his brand and others. For instance, the American car industry, “We were too big for our britches, give us a chance, we're ready to do it right...”
2) Tiger, bad to the bone and loving it!
In this scenario Tiger owns up to being an undercover bad guy. Yep, that's right. I was wrong, but being wrong can feel so right. And not only that, I'm good. Actually, the best in the biz, so get out of my way, let me get back in action. I'll show you guys how it's done. A fast food chain my be a good brand partner here. Yes, this is totally bad for you, but that crazy saturated fat tastes good doesn't it, so WHO CARES!
Tiger most likely you'll have to do a bit of both.
My recco? Just play good golf buddy.
Everybody knows, or at least should know, that a brand is only a brand when it replaces a thing. For instance, we generally say Xerox instead of copy. Or, we refer to tissue as Kleenex. So, when we think baseball I wonder if we all think Yankees? I tend to think that way, even though I am not necessarily a Yankee fan. After all, it’s a strange year when the Yankees don’t make it to the World Series (it gets boring always pulling for the obvious winner). Baseball used to be synonymous with America’s favorite pastime. I think football has usurped that role (if you ever read this blog you’ll know that my favorite pastime is golf).
As we get geared up for another World Series, with that ubiquitous team that managed to lose last night, I wonder if we really feel like it is worth bothering to root for one of America’s favorite brands. Well, I guess so, why not? I live in New York, so it probably makes sense for me to go with the home team. A brand works that way sometimes. And after all, I think it’s safe to say the Yankees are the ultimate power brand. Go Yanks!
Have you ever felt like you were on a grand adventure? One in which you didn’t know the punch line? Perhaps your epic adventure is fraught with danger. What lurks around the corner? Will I find a safe place to sleep and food to eat? Maybe it’s just a lark, a chance to hit the open road and discover new paths to take, or not…
Business is like an adventure, if you ask me. And while this adventure can be DAUNTING, and cause you to FREAK OUT every now and then, if you’re in it, then you probably know that it’s worth it. When I started this business I was nervous. I wasn’t really capitalized to do it, but I wasn’t going to take no for an answer, plus I had that little voice inside whispering, “Yes, take a chance.” So, I did. And boy what an adventure it has been, from cash flow to HR to a crazy economy and a host of clients all wanting what they want when they want it.
My SVP and I had a meeting the other day to discuss some future plans and after that meeting we were both struck by how far we’ve come in only a few years. We don’t have the London office yet, and Mumbai is still way off on the horizon, but we have dreams and so far a lot of them have been coming true. If you don’t know me you would think I was some pr junkie and just LOVED every minute of this stuff. In addition to my kooky golf obsession I am learning to play the piano and I paint quite a bit (and yes, people have been asking to BUY my paintings…). Plus, I write (I have a young adult novel I sure would LOVE to have published). And in my former life, all that I used to care about was art, in whatever form I could find it.
So, pr just kind of happened. But hey, it’s a great way for me to make a living and I DO like it. But what I really LOVE is running a business, and mainly because it’s an adventure. You just never know what’s going to happen next, no matter how much you plan. So, if you’re thinking about getting in the game I say go for it. You really don’t have a lot to lose and it could be the adventure of a lifetime!
People have said I’m competitive. I think they’re right. But if I had it my way, EVERYONE would win all the time. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works out there. So, if you want certain things in life you’re going to have to go to the mat.
I’ve understood competition mainly in relation to business. For our company it’s all about the pitch. This is the place where we do our best to get in there and win. But honestly, no matter how much you think you know about your potential client and what they want, after all these years of doing this I realize you can’t really be sure of anything. What may have seemed like an important goal for them or an unassailable strategy turns out to be all wrong. It is what it is. You just have to keep going when you misfire. Just keep swinging the bat, as my friend used to say.
I had a little brush with a new kind of competition last week. I tried out for our golf club championship (A-Flight, way under qualified for this given my experience). I crumbled like a cheap deck of cards. BUT what an amazing opportunity to learn! I’ll tell you something – I think competing in business is a heck of a lot easier than competing in sports. Talk about focus and not letting your head play with your head… I have no problem presenting a new business concept to the president of one of the largest beauty brands in the world, but put a driver in my hand and set me up against some club ladies and WOW, scary! Gives you a new respect for focus and not losing your cool under pressure. After that experience, getting out there and competing for some of the INCREDIBLE new business we have on the docket seems like a cinch. And it helped me think about preparing for next year—because no matter how intimidating it was out there on the first hole, I’m not a quitter. I may not have the competitive spirit of Tiger Woods, but I know you have to keep trying. And that goes for business too.
And that’s what today is. So, this blog will be short and sweet. I thought I’d go back to the thankful theme and make a list. I am thankful for:
- Florida (I forgot how beautiful it is)
- WWD (what would we do without our fashion and beauty trade?)
- Golf (I’m still not sure why I love the game so much, but I do)
- My 99 year old, amazing grandfather
- Snow (I’ll never stop loving it, that white stuff changes everything)
- Glenn Ford (he was a real man)
- Good dreams (they keep you going the next day)
- My church (because the people are incredible)
- Sexy, high-heeled shoes (what’s not to love)
- Olives (black, green, I don’t care)
- My 3 fabulous goddaughters
- The Bentley Coupe (nope, I don’t have one, yet)
And SOOOO much more. LOL (that’s lots of love)
I’m learning how to play golf and since I’m pretty darn ambitious I want to be good all at once. Well, good luck. Golf isn’t like that, generally. I do know a man who started in his 40s (or maybe 50s) and won the championship at his club several years later. He’s a member of Atlantic and it’s a damned hard course, so that’s a major accomplishment, but he’s an amazing guy.
Anyway, something I’ve been told is it isn’t about the score, but each shot, one shot at a time. Ok, that sounds good in theory but when you’re out there and sweating the crappy last hole and fretting about the next one, it’s hard to stay in the moment. But that’s exactly how one should play, at least in the beginning. And that’s also a great way to approach business. Yes, you need to plan. Yes, you need to know what the competition is up to and what the trends are. But what you don’t need to do is sit around lamenting the business you lost or the account you think you need. One meeting at a time, one conversation at a time—this is a simple, but healthy way of moving forward. And once you actually do it, you’ll be surprised just how productive it can make you on a daily basis.
There are two different disciplines that require that you hold something very lightly: golf and a sword. Imagine, the experts say, that you are holding a baby bird. If you hold “your weapon” too tightly you will crush it, if you hold it too loosely it will fly away. Simple, I know. But sometimes the simplest concepts are the truest. In this “interesting” time, when things are shifting fast, it’s critical that if you are in the agency business you consider how you “hold” your clients. Hold them too closely and they are bound to feel your desperation. If you hold them too lightly they’ll wonder if you care. Finding the balance ain’t easy as they say, but it’s possible and worth working toward. And if you need some practice, take up golf.
This, of course, is the most intuitive statement ever. Duh. But, you would be surprised how many people I’ve met, in biz and otherwise, that don’t subscribe to this basic belief. I’m 46 and for the past few years I’ve embarked on some new “hobbies.” I started playing the piano (reading music is like a new language and an excellent way to get the brain working first thing in the a.m.). I picked up golf (without a doubt my top new obsession). People always ask if golf has been good for my business and I say, no, it’s been good for my spirit. I started toying with taking French (I studied it in college and realized on a recent trip to Paris that I still had a cursory understanding of the language). And this is all great. But, the coolest thing I’ve done recently is to launch a Word of Mouth division—which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been willing to learn something new.
I remember a meeting I had with one of Hollywood’s hottest talent agencies a few years back. At the time they were trying to help one of the clients find ways to monetize their social media platform. Back then it seemed like a knotty problem. We all remember the discussions around “How the heck is You Tube going to make money?” Social media. It’s been an interesting journey, and it’s really just the beginning. If I hadn’t been willing to learn something new, I wouldn’t have launched our WOM division. I know other agencies that started this division, hit a bump because of the economy and dumped it. Thankfully, we plowed through. We have two campaigns currently running and the numbers/ROI on these programs are staggering.
What’s at the heart of learning something new? Curiosity, definitely. But you know what generally stops people from learning something new? Their ego. Its humbling to admit you don’t know something. When I started taking golf lessons my pro said I was a good pupil. This was an interesting observation because for years I had been a pretty bad pupil. But by that time I had had a few humbling experiences that reminded me that if I wanted to get better at something I’d better listen to the experts.
So, go for it. Chuck the ego, get a little more curious and get ready to learn something new. It just might be great for biz.
For those who know me my love of golf is legendary. Well, maybe not legendary, but it’s real. There is no mistaking my fascination, from the many hours I spend playing to the many hours I watch The Golf Channel (big old nerd here…). I’ve tried to understand what’s at the heart of this newfound infatuation (I’m 46 and I just started playing a few years ago.). I tend to have an “orderly” view of things (I like lists.) and so I thought it might be that there is something organized about this game that attracts me. Maybe. Here’s what I think as of this a.m., based on a conversation I had with my assistant, Whitney. Golf helps you “just do it” (sorry to borrow from you Nike, but you do back the number one name in golf).