Bono's Speech for Springsteen's Rock and Roll HOF Induction

Yeah, man. Bruce is a very unusual rock star, isn't he, really? I mean, he hasn't done the things most rock stars do. He got rich and famous, but he never embarrassed himself with all that success, did he? No drug busts, no blood changes in Switzerland - even more remarkable, no golfing. No bad hair period, even in the '80s. No wearing of dresses in videos, though there was those fingerless gloves in the '80s. No embarrassing movie roles, no pet snakes, no monkeys, no exhibitions of his own paintings, no public brawling or setting himself on fire on the weekends. Rock stars are supposed to make soap operas of their lives, aren't they? If they don't kill themselves first. Well, you can't be a big legend and not be dysfunctional. It's not allowed. You should at least have lost your looks. Everyone else has. 

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5 Human Truths

When you work in advertising you spend a lot of time talking about human truths.
Truths lead to insights lead to creative briefs lead to great ads.
Or something like that.

For no reason at all here are 5 totally useless, but indisputable, human truths:

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Small Talk In The Gold Coast

Yesterday afternoon, walking down a street I wouldn't normally find myself on at that time.

My headphones in, as always. Listening to Bill Simmons and Joe House pick the lines for Sunday's NFL games.

I heard a voice yell something and didn’t think anything of it. 
Then I heard it again, and reluctantly stopped.
(I
f you know me, you know small-talk outside of work isn't my comfort zone. I've crossed thousands of streets in my life to avoid it.)

A man standing in the middle of the sidewalk calling my name.
I stared blankly until he introduced himself.

An Englishman who had moved to Chicago about a year ago. 
We "knew" each other from Twitter and Instagram; having first "met" via a few very loose professional connections from ages ago (at least in Internet terms ... like 2006 or so).

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2051

A few weeks ago someone asked me to write an article on 2016 digital marketing trends. 

Flattered he'd think I'd have something unique to add to the cacophony (how many ways can we boldly predict 2016: the year of ubiquitous mobile commerce) I quickly (and politely) declined. I’ve done it before and am not interested in doing it again.

During our conversation I offhandedly mentioned I’d rather predict 10 years from now … I’d have more fun with it and no one could ever grade me. He chuckled (equally politely) and we went our separate ways.

But walking home from work that afternoon I started thinking about the future. Not 10 years out, but 36 to be exact. Because in 2051 my oldest son will be the age I am now (and the younger, 40). Specifically I thought about current-day institutions (i and I) we take for granted, and what would/wouldn’t exist in 2051.

On that 25 minute walk I captured these five thoughts. And then I stopped thinking about it, because that’s all the time it deserved. And because I wanted to get back to the new Bill Simmons podcast. And because as Nils Bohr famously said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future.”

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The Lockdown Drill

"We do it in case someone comes to school with a gun. The siren is different than the fire alarm. It's like woo-woo-woo instead of nuh-nuh-nuh. I kind of like it. It's kinda funny. When we hear it we all go into the reading area and sit very quietly in a circle. And we're not allowed to talk or leave until the policeman or teacher says on the microphone that we can move."

This is how my 5 year old describes the lock-down drill at school. It breaks my heart every time, including last night over dinner.

Of the many well-articulated, reasonable and rationale pleas for gun-control, the existence of the lock-down drill is the only one that really matters to me.

That there's something we can do to make it less likely the lock-down drill will ever not be a drill ... how can you be a parent (or a human) and not support that?

Go to http://www.bradycampaign.org/ or click the image to help end the epidemic. Or just to lend your voice. #Enough.

Go to http://www.bradycampaign.org/ or click the image to help end the epidemic. Or just to lend your voice. #Enough.

Big Brothers and Creativity

I hear this narrative recounted often in interviews (most recently as told by Steve Albini) and it always fascinates me. I wonder if – or how – it'll play out in my house with my boys. Because the interplay between them is remarkable. Because I didn't grow up with an older brother, so I have no point-of-reference. Because I always wonder where creativity comes from.

A 15 year old boy sits in his bedroom, alone.

Zappa.
The Ramones.
Rush.
New Order.
Richard Pryor.
Nirvana.
Public Enemy. 

He studies the record jacket, the lyrics.

He imagines, for the first time in his life, a world beyond the bubble of small-town highschool; a world where value isn't defined by homecoming dates and touchdowns and penmanship.

His big brother is off to college now. Or the army or a commune. With him went baseball caps and perfectly worn-in jeans. The music, the books, the family camcorder stay behind.

These brothers, 2 ... 3 ... 4 years apart. They grow up best friends. They eat, sleep and play together. These are mine, now. Always side-by-side.

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The Things That Make The Thing

In the last few years the way I watch sports has changed pretty dramatically. Actually, that's not true. I still sit on the couch, drinking a beer and yelling at the TV. More specifically, what I watch during a sporting event has changed.

I appreciate a well-executed pick-and-roll over a monster dunk.
I'm more fascinated by the intricacies of a great changup than the thrill of a fastball.
I try explaining to my kids why the blocking on a perfectly executed screen pass is so sublime.
I'm transfixed by constantly forming and re-forming triangles on a soccer field.
In a fight I only watch the boxers' feet.

I wonder if any of my contemporaries have noticed this as well. If it's some strange sign of maturity or an appreciation for the things that make the THING (if that makes any sense).

The finish is what makes the highlight package.
But lately I find the setup way more interesting.

Speaking of pick-and-rolls ... holy awkwardness.


Conscientiousness vs (and?) Creativity

Doris Lessing has her own version of our bedtime ritual - a rallying cry for independence and creativity. I found it a few weeks ago (via the excellent Nitch):

Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly throughout his or her school life is something like this: You are in the process of being indoctrinated...What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture...You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors...Those of you who are more robust and individual...will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself—educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always...that they are being molded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.
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You Don't Have To 'Get' It. Just Go With It.

In 1956 Elvis shook his hips on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Parents were appalled and confused.
Tried to get him banned, even jailed.

Happens with every generation. 

Rather than judge your kids for their Mindcraft obsession, endless selfies, hours of unboxing videos, music made by computers, Spongebob, and sartorial choices that seem to defy all reason ... try understanding it. Ask questions. I do, a lot. The things I learn -- not just about what's happening in the world, but about how my kids think -- are fascinating. And even if they don't know it yet I'm certain they'll eventually appreciate my curiosity. 

Stop pushing dated social paradigms on them. 
It won't work. They won't listen. And frankly it makes you old before your time.

These are forces way stronger than us.
Either ride the wave or get flattened by it.

Legacy

This spring I met someone who I found intelligent, inspiring and interesting. I had no idea that just a few months later he'd die - at the painfully young age of 43 - from a particularly insidious and aggressive form of cancer. Aren't they all?

I didn't know Tom well, but found myself glued to every word of every tribute that came across my inbox yesterday (and to the news articles I read about him). I guess it was the way they described his love of life, family and faith (and surfing). He sounds like a great man and father. And of course, his age hit me like a ton of bricks.

Almost a year ago to the day, another guy I knew passed away far too young (36) and far too suddenly. Again, I didn't know Kevin Silverman all that well but I can't help but marvel at the legacy he's left at such a young age. His friends set up a tribute page on Facebook last year, and it's always heartening to see the impact this guy had. Someone posts in it nearly daily. And just the other day his wife (who I've never met but seems like an amazing woman) challenged his friends ...

Today is Kevin's Birthday and we all want to remember and celebrate his amazing life ...
We would like to commemorate one of the major ideals Kevin stood for - kindness. We are asking for this huge group to participate in 6 days of random kindness. So today through the 20th please do something kind, little or big, doesn't matter - if we all do it it will add up to something amazing. We all like pats on the back so please comment to this post to tell us what amazing thing you did today! 
One of many messages posted on Kevin Silverman's tribute page.

One of many messages posted on Kevin Silverman's tribute page.

As I scrolled l through the ‪#‎wwkd posts something became abundantly clear to me ... when I die (which I hope is a loooong time from now) I don't really care what people say about me. Sure, I'd prefer nice things, but only for my kids' sake. What really matters to me will be the impact my life had on the way others live their lives. That in some very small (tiny, even imperceptible) way I'd be a catalyst for people leading a more kind and generous existence.

That's the only legacy I care about. 

I'm not there yet. Not even close.
Yesterday was a reminder to do better.

That's Tom and Kevin's legacy.

I'm Not A Runner

My mind doesn't find peace as miles melt away.
I run fast to be done sooner.
I don't have a clue if I under- or over-pronate (or what pronate means).
I can't pin a race bib on straight.
I don't hit the lakefront path to run an anxiety out of my system.
I sometimes pretend to stretch before I run. Yes, pretend. But only when other people are around, naturally.
I don't think I've experienced runner's high.
I buy running shoes based mostly on aesthetics.
Carbo-loading sounds horrible to me.
I run alone, but not for the solitude or space or peace. Simply for convenience.

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10 Family Commandments

I have a general disdain for blogs and articles (and people, for that matter) that dispense parenting advice. But recently I came across an article (which I can't find) with a smart suggestion: sit down with your kids and make a list of 10 things you want your family to be about/do/stand for. 

Commandments - I guess - is the best way of putting it. 

Here's where my boys and I netted out.

#10 was an executive order from dad.
#5 led to a solid 30 minutes of really bad (in a funny way) joke telling.
#3 was the most intriguing to them ... of course it would be for an 8 and 5 year old.
#2 and #7 were immediately violated when Maddox made fun of Henry's attempt at cursive - which provided an immediate teachable moment.

Just thought it's an idea worth sharing.

Transference of Expectations -> POTUS -> SCOTUS

I was recently at a conference hosted by Contagious Magazine, called Now / Next / Why. Really one of the most thoughtful days I've had in while. So it basically starts with these two guys talking about this idea of transference of experience expectationsas explained here ... 

“To start off with, Matt and Will from Contagious encouraged us to think about the best and worst brand experiences as of lately, and how transference of experience expectation happens without us knowing: the last great experience you have with a brand will then go on to shape how you feel about other things in your life. You might have had a terrific experience with Uber, where you can sync your Spotify playlist with the car you’re about to board, and then reasonably wonder why you can’t do the same thing with, perhaps, a restaurant you’ve booked for a special dinner out. You start to wish other brands or services in seemingly unrelated industries offered the same level of personalisation.”
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Is The Culture of Failure Failing Us?

What if success has nothing to do failure? What if success has nothing to do any of the factors we often attribute it to, namely hard work or luck. What if success has everything to do with making calculating decisions that put you in the best position to succeed? Or what if some people are just more apt to succeed than others?

I don’t think we’re ready to have that conversation because that would burst a lot of bubbles.

Hard work is easy to quantify in hours, push-ups, page-count. Anyone can work hard.
Luck takes no effort, it either happens or not.

And admitting some people are just more wired to succeed than others goes against the very fabric of our participation trophy culture. It would hurt too many feelings.

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Joe Biden delivers another gem

With his son days away from passing away, Joe Biden delivered another incredible speech. As he's done throughout his tragic, accomplished and storied life. His story and approach are unique, making him a different kind of politician. One of the few good ones. I don't know this man, but I love him.

K.I.S.S.

There are 38 pages of "Productivity" apps on the App Store (which include a ton of organization apps) that start with C. That's just one letter. Imagine R. Or even L!

Feels like we've way over-engineered things in an effort to make our lives simpler. Added unnecessary complexity to fairly simple problems.

In the last few months I've gone back to written notes, plain to-do lists and my calendar as a primary form of organization.

And at least for now it's working better than ever.

Sometimes an ad is just an ad

For a million reasons I really wanted to like this ad from Whirlpool.

But as soon as I clicked 'play' I was kind of bummed to realize Andy & Dad were actors.
And for a minute after it finished I wondered if it was part of a larger corporate initiative to support single dads.

Basically I wanted it to be Minute Maid or Honey Maid

And it wasn't.

And then I remembered that sometimes an ad is just an ad. And that's more than OK.

And then I found it sweet and delightful. 

Advice? Advice.

Money
Love
Parenting
Leadership
Health & Wellness

CC // "Always With The Big" // @W+J

CC // "Always With The Big" // @W+J

Can you imagine the number of words written since the beginning of time on these 5 topics?
Yet somehow we're as clueless now as we've ever been.
Either the advice stinks, or we stink at taking it.

Probably both.

Parents #doingood

The cynic will say this is simply a way to tug at heart strings in order to sell more juice. Or question what right Minute Maid has to even play in this sandbox. 

Well, yes, Minute Maid is in the business of selling juice. They shouldn't have to apologize for that.

And as far as their right ... well, it's not going out on a limb to assume there are a lot of parents who work at Minute Maid (and thus have a connection to this subject). And Minute Maid's audience is families. We're not talking about an oil-filter brand. They have as much right as Honey Maid, who I think has done it really well. (yes, the "maid" connection is odd)

It's simply a case of a brand having a relevant purpose bigger than their product. 

Most importantly, those are real kids, real parents, real letters and real tears. And there are no more real words than: "You get inundated with all this information about what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. And you start to second-guess yourself."

And it's already started a really nice dialogue about - and appreciation for - parents/parenting. 

Don't let the cynics ruin this one. It's a good effort from Minute Maid.