Not a lot of point to what I'm posting here -- but it's on my mind, given the below post about stories.
I grew up with a family that revered stories. Especially my Dad. He died two and a half years ago at 82 -- his young life was spent, literally, in a drained swamp that was being converted to agricultural land. Full of stories that would be hard to imagine today. He told story after story -- so many that, thankfully, we had him record them before he died. What a treasure that is to have.
It wasn't just his side of my family, either. My maternal grandfather was a great storyteller as well -- he had a sense of understated humor like no other, too, which made his stories have a sly and mischievous undertone to them. That type of humor, I'm proud to say, is very much alive in my family today.
So last night, my mother and her husband were in town, and we made a nice dinner at home to celebrate their one year wedding anniversary, which was yesterday. Wonderful evening. While my wife and I were making dinner, our conversation turned to Europe, where we vacationed last summer, and my mother asked me to tell Carl about an experience my brother and I had there in 1992. It's not irrelevant now, so I'll share it here:
I had graduated from college two years prior, but my brother was between his junior and senior years at Baylor and took advantage of a relationship his school had with Westminster in London. He spent most of that summer living in the UK, studying and traveling around the British Isles. He invited me over to travel about the continent with him and four of his classmates, and I went.
The six of us started in London and decided to head for France next. I wanted to get to Paris for at least a day; the others had been there not long before, so they opted for Nice while my brother and I spent a day and night in Paris before we traveled to the Riviera to meet the others there.
Upon arrival in Paris, we made a reservation for a hostel room but didn't travel there immediately. Instead we kept our gear and walked around the city. Early in the evening, we're on the Champs Elysees and decide to have a bite at an outdoor cafe. We stop at one, but learn it's only a bar -- we elect to have a beer before going to find food.
We had some money, but not a lot of money. So we raised our eyebrows at the check when it came, which was something like US $30. For a total of two beers. It was obvious we were being taken advantage of, and as we were trying to figure out the best way to handle it, a young boy -- maybe 10 years old -- came to our table, picked up our check, and took it to his mother. She got out her money and prepared to pay it.
We of course objected, but she waved us off. We insisted that we couldn't let her pay without knowing why. She said, "We're from Kuwait, and we'd like to say thank you for all you did for us."
My brother and I, predictably, were agape. We told her we had not served in the military. No matter to her. She simply wanted to make the gesture. We were very humbled and thanked her as well as we could before she and her son left.
Since then, every chance I get, I try to do something nice for a member of the armed forces. I hope I would have done so anyway, but having a personal reminder of this kind makes the gesture even more meaningful for me. I hope it is for the people I thank, as well.
Hugh says that Seth says the future of marketing is going to be the ability to create stories other people will want to tell. Rings true. Think of when you're at the dinner table with your family, long after dinner is finished, and everyone is telling stories while you linger over the last glass of wine. Everyone is wearing a half smile, head tilted in earnest listening, enjoying the shared fun of the moment.
Man. Don't you want that from your marketing? Or at least as close to it as you can get? I do.
Mark Knopfler has a new CD out, titled Shangri-La. I've never been a huge Knopfler fan, but I know enough to appreciate his talent. I like what I'm hearing so far here -- "Song for Sonny Liston" has a cool, steady, blues-rock beat that leaves you satisfied.
Weather in Portland is hit-and-miss, as is usual for this time of year. Just in time for kids' soccer games this weekend.
Media Guerilla points out that PR owns the blogosphere -- meaning practitioners can't ignore the good and bad that can be done for/to a company in the 'sphere. Same issue that dogged Dell a couple of months ago. If you're in house, or representing clients in an agency, you cannot ignore the thought leadership of influential bloggers.
Note that Mike has started CrunchNotes, which I'm sure will be every bit as entertaining as TechCrunch.
Scott Ginsberg of nametag fame blogs about The River, a radio station in St. Louis that's working to create a lifestyle space users go to, rather than just listen to their broadcasting. Interesting. My favorite Portland station, KINK, does something similar thanks to its deep community involvement -- they even ask you to join the KINK Community, which I've done. Magic of music drawing you into other behaviors.
A brand is nothing more than an expectation that customers have of something. So if you're continuously elevating the customer's expectation and delivering on that expectation with an experience such that customers are predisposed to choose your brand at a price which allows you to make a profit, you are growing your brand. How can this be done without growing the "relationship" between the customer and that something? Please folks. Stop the double-talk.
Some of the double-talk reminds me of one of my favorite lines from MASH, when Henry is thanking a general for helping the 4077th build a new officer's club. He says: "Ahh, General. Allow me to thank you for this generous gift, without your magnanimosity we wouldn't be standing in the middle of it."
Back in the late 80s, five big name musicians (Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and George Harrison) formed a low-key supergroup they called the Traveling Wilburys. Made some great music.
I used to have the LP on cassette, years ago. One day I looked for the CD but couldn't find it -- out of print and pretty hard to find. A friend had a copy on vinyl and put it on a CD for me, and it's nice to have it again.
Yesterday, I get an e-mail from the famous David Isenberg, who's a fellow Wilburys fan (and a fellow pilot, too). He asked if he could borrow my CD to put into his Mac. Glad to share.
I never got to meet her, but anyone I've heard of that had any sort of contact with Ms. Parks came away with the same impression -- shy and self-effacing, yet quietly strong and a sure sense of self. One of those people who, in an ordinary act, shows courage and strength.
Many years ago, I was a junior junior staffer in DC, and I wrangled an invitation to an arrival ceremony at the White House, welcoming the prime minister of Australia. After the event, I walked out to Pennsylvania Ave. (before it was blocked off as it is today) to get a taxi, and rounding the corner, I walked right into Rosa Parks, standing on the sidewalk with Jesse Jackson. Both had just been at the White House for a commemoration of the Civil Rights Act and were standing there with a few others, waiting for a car to pick them up.
There was a huge crowd behind me, none of whom had seen Jackson yet -- but when they did, they all went nuts and started screaming his name, running toward him. Just then, his car pulled up, he leaped in, shouting "Keep hope alive!" the whole time.
I'm not sure anyone else recognized Ms. Parks, and if they did, they certainly didn't have the same reaction as they did to Jackson. She had a sort of bemused look on her face as it all unfolded -- as though she were pleased with the fact that what she did gave rise to a spokesperson like Jackson (even as over the top as he is), but that simultaneously, she was glad she didn't have to carry that mantle.