On Fatherhood For Father's Day


Exactly. For being liars.

With Father's Day approaching I was thinking ... here's the thing ...

I'm not the world's best dad.
You're not, despite what the card tells you.
No one is.
Certainly not the experts trying to sell copies of their book or drive pageviews. 

I let my kids chew gum. With sugar. Often.
They think Amazon closes at 5pm.
Sometimes I put them to bed early so I can watch basketball.
Occasionally I drop an F bomb in front of them.
I taught them how to use Apple TV so they can entertain themselves.
I yell at them to stop yelling.
I sometimes side with my younger son because it's just easier.
My six year old specializes in poop jokes.
At the grocery store we pick food from the salad bar and eat as we shop.
I almost exclusively make breakfasts that can be cooked in the microwave.

So the next time you pull up next to us at a red light and we're belting out our rendition of the uncensored version of Jay Z's "Can I Get A" please don't judge.

I'm not the world's best dad.

I'm fine with that.

Because every night I kiss my boys and tell them 'I love you.'

Doesn't even come close to making me the best. But it'll have to do.

Glad to be these guys' most imperfect father. I think they look pretty happy.


Anti-Vanity? Or Über Vanity?

If you take two things away from this, they should be:

  1. Whenever Noah Brier introduces you to someone, put energy behind following up on the introduction
  2. Find a way to meet Pamela Grossman

I recently had the privilege of speaking on a panel moderated by Pamela, Getty Images' Creative Planning Manager.  Pamela began the session with a shorter version of this wonderful presentation on recent visual trends in technology.  I can't encourage you enough to check it out.  As I told her afterwards, I was smitten by what she had so say and how she said it.

I don't think Pamela will mind me saying (as I did on our panel) there was one trend she discussed that I couldn't quite reconcile with what I've seen.  It's what she calls anti-vanity.  Paraphrasing liberally ...

As you look at people's Facebook profile photos you notice how much thought people put into it.  There's a very studied way of creating and choosing these photos.

But we balance this with 'real' moments that aren't beautiful in a traditional sense, but show us in a very real light. 

In other words, we use this juxtaposition to strike a balance.

I don't buy it.  In fact I think we put more thought into the 'real' photos than the staged ones.  I called it 'studied imperfection' - which I'm sure I must have lifted from somewhere else.  I'd say we are at our most vain when trying to portray our 'real' selves.  It's strange, yet makes total sense.  Example below ...


What do you think? Is the trend anti-vanity or is it über vanity?

Startup: The First Week+


A few observations from my first seven work days at Tap.Me.  In no particular order ...

  • Things move fast.  Real fast.  Not just the pace, but the rate at which decisions are made.
  • I've probably worked the same amount of hours as I always have, but it seems like I'm getting a lot more done.  Probably a result of the following two bullets.
  • Less meetings.  Likely a result of the company employing a lot less people than my last job.  Just a smaller pool of potential meeting attendees.
  • Less administrative duties.  No time sheets is a great example.  
  • Massive sense of pride in what we're doing.  People have been here much longer than I have, and they feel an incredible sense of ownership.  Heartening.  After only a week I'm starting to feel it.
  • Hoodies and noise-cancelling headphones are the uniform. I have the latter, and need to stock the former.

Still finding my way.  Having a blast.

Zappos: Bridging The Customer Experience Gap


I was looking for a pair of shoes.  Something fairly particular.  After a bit of searching I came across a brand I liked.  No reason to name names.  

I scoured their website, found the pair I liked and decided I needed to try them on before ordering.

Only problem is I couldn't find a retail locator on their site.  So I found their Twitter handle and asked very politely, twice, if someone could help me find a retailer in Chicago.


Then I sent an email asking the same thing.


Finally I walked Michigan Avenue and found a department store that carried the brand.  They had the shoe, but not my size.  But no big deal - I had confirmed my choice.

So I did what I always do - ordered them from Zappos.  Came the next day.  As sure of a sure bet out there.

I love the shoes.  Would probably buy another pair.  This, despite having a pretty poor experience with the brand (really, no experience at all).

The moral here is that a lot of companies have Zappos to thank for bridging the customer experience gap. I hope they realize that.  Both Zappos and the brands they sell. 

Take The Fight To Your Enemy

Besides just making me laugh, I appreciate that Samsung has the guts to take it to Apple.  Marketers could learn a thing or two about taking the fight to their enemy.

I haven't a clue about Samsung's product or what impact (if any) this campaign is having.  But I look forward to more of these videos.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4VHzNEWIqA]

Sonic Editions + Impossible Cool (Alt: All I Want For XMas)

There's nothing I like more than a smart collaboration.  The one I came across this morning combines two of my favorite things:  The Impossible Cool and Sonic Editions.  

Curator Sean Sullivan has gathered 18 well, impossibly cool images from icons like Ali, Bardot, Miles Davis, Jagger, Hemingway and more.  

It looks like they are limiting sales to 50 each.  All prints are framed/numbered/certified.

Two of my favorites below.  The first one I love because Bardot is Bardot - enough said.  The second one because I'm a sucker for any images of a young G.O.A.T.

Screen shot 2011-12-03 at 6.34.33 AM

Screen shot 2011-12-03 at 6.34.49 AM

Smart Dialogue About The Internet And Marketing

If you're looking for some good reading ...

I came across a blog this morning from a guy called Andrew Weissman.

Specifically I read Andrew's post called The Golden Age Of Internet Marketing? in which he poses questions and offers opinions on things every good marketer (Internet or not) should be considering.  

Read it yourself - I won't do it justice.  But I will highlight a quote I expect to use a lot in future presentations (emphasis mine)

These new emerging revenues streams will be native monetization models that are consistent with the fabric of the product, that run with the grain of how users interact with and use the service. Google ads are the perfect, and prototypical, example, because they deliver a unit in a manner consistent with the way the user is using the product to search for information. These units generally work because they align the interest of the three interested parties in a search: users, marketers and publishers. Users get what they are looking for; marketers' get performance on their spend because they buy against the search action itself; and finally publishers generate traffic from the content.

Noah Brier, using Andrew's post as a springboard , wrote Going Native.  Again, read it for yourself - worth the five minutes.  And again, a quote.  I love the use of the word "respect" here - it feels so non-marketing-jargonish to me.  I'm definitely going to steal that.  Thanks Noah.

I actually think there are a lot of startups that think brands are stupid, which seems crazy to me considering most of them are ad funded. What I’m trying to say is that building a native marketing unit requires respecting your customer (the brand) as well as your users (the consumer). At the end of the day what truly separates Google’s search ads from other marketing units is that it’s respectful: It believes the user is smart and the brand knows what it wants.

Handle Stressful Situations (From A Con Man)

I enjoyed this article on how to handle unfamiliar or stressful situations, with commentary from con-man extraordinaire, Frank Abagnale.  

It's a lighthearted read, but actually has some useful advice (emphasis mine) ...

  • "As Abagnale discovered, people are far less observant and attentive than you’d think; folks aren’t tuned in to looking for differences, absences, and discrepancies."  Totally agree - we train ourselves to think the eyes of the world are on us, when in fact everyone is thinking about their own predicament. 5763511779_c511dd73cb
  • "Abagnale found that there was great power in an uniform. This was back in the day when flying was quite glamorous, and wherever he went in his Pan Am pilot’s get-up, people instantly afforded him trust, respect, and admiration."  I've been advocating uniforms for years.  No, not real uniforms.  Just that everyone should have a consistent and recognizable style.  I think it helps us focus on more important things; and helps others feel comfortable with us.  Unfortunately I can't find many people who agree with me on this.  I must not explain it very well. 
  • "If you’ve been thrown into a situation where you don’t have the skills or knowledge to perform up to par, then you’re going to need to play catch-up every spare second you get."  Nothing to add here.  
  • "The best thing you can do when you’re in a situation where you’re out of your depth is to be extremely conservative with both your actions and your words. Say little and listen a lot."  Probably the most important lesson in life - shut up and listen.  

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by willislim



My heart is with Ford, a client I've had the honor of working with and a company I respect massively.

That said, I couldn't help but get choked up a bit at this great spot from Chevy.  Really nice storytelling.  Well done, from a Ford fan.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_I9fyX0RhI]

Spec Of Dust

According to the BBC I'm the 77,978,234,961th person to have ever lived, which reinforces a few beliefs that have been running through my head ...

1// That I am writing this and you are reading it is a MASSIVE coincidence.  What are the odds?  Begs a lot of questions about why people aren't more kind to their follow man.  Also begs the question:  why the hell are you wasting your time reading this blog??

2// Many came before me (but not the dinosaurs, according to Sarah Palin - we lived in harmony with them), and many will come after.  My time here is not even a blip on the radar.  Might as well enjoy it.  That extra glass of wine?  Why not? Extra bacon, please.  Friday hooky with my kiddos?  Sign me up.  Weekend getaway with my wife? Done deal!

3// Dogma is a foolish game.  There are no absolutes.  No black and white.  No conventional wisdom. No single way of doing things.  Who are we to say what's right and wrong?  The universe is far (far, far, far) bigger than us.

Zenfully yours,


AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Kaptain Kobold

Out of Orbit

Image: Randy Willis "It's All About Me" May 27, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Nearly every day I hear something along the lines of ...   

"I'm just as nice to receptionists as I am to CEOs."


"Why was that barista so stressed out?  For God's sake, he makes coffee for a living."


"I'm only a focus group of one, but I think [fill in idea the person speaking thought of] makes total sense."

It's the sure sign of someone who puts themselves at the center of the universe, with everyone else in their orbit.  Don't get me wrong - I find myself doing it sometimes.  And I force myself to snap out of it.  This is not about finger pointing (and even if it is, when you point a finger at someone you are pointing three at yourself).

Some perspective I often remind myself of ...

There's fundamentally no difference between a CEO and receptionist, so to brag about how nice you are to both of them means nothing (except to show you pity the receptionist).

And you think the PowerPoint deck you have to write is any more stressful than someone screaming at you because there's too much foam in their skinny latte?

And just because you think something's a good idea doesn't mean anyone else will. And it certainly doesn't mean everyone else will.  Steve Jobs was an anomaly.  

No one orbits anyone.  We're a big, mashed-up collection of people who are essentially no better or worse than anyone else (the Mother Theresas are cancelled out by the Ted Bundys).  And we're all here together for about a pinhead's worth of time compared to what's come before us and what's to follow.

No major point here.  Just thoughts.

Seth's Blog: When "minimal viable product" doesn't work

Interesting post from Seth Godin (the same Seth Godin who may or may not have cribbed a blog post from yours truly).  

The second point in his post makes me think of Quora, Google+ and a host of other hyped launches.

There's a burst of energy and attention and effort that accompanies a launch, even a minimally viable one. If there's a delay in pick up from the community, though (see #1) it's easy to move on to the next thing, the next launch, the next hoopla, as opposed to doing the insanely hard work of sticking with that thing you already launched.

From Seth's Blog: When "minimal viable product" doesn't work


James Van Doren: Co-founder of Vans shoes dies at 72

In the mid 80s Vans were the only sneaker I wore.  And there was one reason:  Spicoli.

The brand gained national recognition when Sean Penn donned a pair of checkerboard slip-on Vans to play the spaced-out Spicoli in the 1982 film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

via www.latimes.com

If you're too young to know the name Spicoli ...

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMtdrKIdDgE]

And now in 2011, Vans are the only sneaker I wear.  RIP Mr. Van Doren.

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage.

via www.nytimes.com

Halfway through the Steve Jobs bio, and I haven't gotten to this part of the man. Sounds wonderful, but hard to imagine given where I am in the story of his life.

If you haven't read this eulogy, it's worth doing so.

Digital Changes the Game for Leadership

“Departments” matter less than teams assembled fast from different parts of the organization with a common mission – regardless of the departmental tribe they may have come from. As such a leaders ability to assemble teams and get them working fast and productively can mean all the difference in the business. Having simple frameworks and playbooks for these cross-discipline projects is more useful than constantly evolving an org chart.Collaboration, creativity and innovation skills are the new premium

via johnbell.typepad.com

Nice post from Ogilvy's John Bell.

Particularly liked this point.

The only thing I'd add is that speed of decision making is also part of the new premium.

The Google+ Experience: 48 Hours Into It

Just two days into using Google+ and I'm really liking it.  Not prepared to dive into an analysis as 48 hours does not an opinion make.  Let's just say, it's been fun thus far.

One of the main reasons I've taken to it, unlike other upstarts, is how familiar it feels.  Google+ combines the best of what I like about Twitter and Facebook, with some delightful twists and the potential for great integration.  A few early thoughts on what I'm digging.  More to follow as I get into it.


Threaded comments

Following a conversation on Twitter is a chore, and heaven forbid multiple people are chiming in.  Google+'s threaded conversations are very Facebook-like.

  Screen shot 2011-07-02 at 9.41.03 AM

Loose Knit Friends

Google+ doesn't require people to mutually 'Friend' each other.  I can follow people who I think are interesting, without them having to approve me doing so.  Very much like Twitter; unlike Facebook.

Screen shot 2011-07-02 at 9.47.58 AM


One of the most talked-about features thus far is Circles.  Users can simply drag and drop people into different circles based on interests, etc.  It's a lot like a Twitter list, only so much easier and more intuitive.  It's also kind of fun.

Screen shot 2011-07-02 at 9.54.01 AM