Sunday, September 2, 2007

What we can learn from the '83 Sixers

Okay ask anybody who knows me. If someone asks me what my favorite movie is, I will say, "Heat". (It's not really my favorite movie, but it gets a fierce debate going. People start attacking Al Pacino's overacting and stuff - it's quite funny).

Ask me what the best album of all time was, and I will quickly assert "Songs in the Key of Life", and silence debate immediately. You can't argue with Stevie in the 70's.

Ask me what the best sports team of all time was, and I will scream emphatically, "the 1983 76'ers".

First off, c'mon. Here are just a few of the greats on that team. Mo Cheeks. Mo Malone. The "Secretary of Defense" Bobby Jones (I had the poster where he was dressed up in a suit, with high top sneakers on - classic). "Instant Offense", Andrew Toney, Mark Iavaroni...the list goes on and on. Oh, and there was one other guy of note as well. A pretty good player named Julius Erving.

I am getting to a point believe it or not.

I want my team at West Cary Group to be like the Old 76ers. That's what I aspire to. Here's why.

  1. They weren't afraid to do the less glamorous work. The 76'ers would shut you down on defense. DEFENSE. Remember when people played defense? WCG will shut other shops down in the direct marketing arena - a corollary to defense in marketing and advertising. Often overlooked, but it can win for you.
  2. The 76ers had a swagger. Not cockiness, but confidence that when you're playing your game, and doing things your way, no one can compete. WCG competes against bigger agencies all the time. We hold our own because we're damn good.
  3. The 76'ers surprised and delighted spectacularly. Dr. J. at any moment, could get you out of your seat with something you've never seen before and will probably never see again. We strive to do the same thing at WCG - when we present, you will walk away shaking your heads going, "you know...they might not be quite right in the head, but they're damn good. They made us think, they made us uncomfortable, and they're going to make us successful."

Oh yeah. You can't discount that both of us have hall of famers named Moses on our teams. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Entrepreneurship is powerful and addictive drug

Life balance is not something I've been known to possess in vast abundance (at least by conventional evaluation)...but my recent plunge into entrepreneurship has made any semblance of it all but disappear.

I often work from 8 AM to 1 or 2 AM, but think nothing of it. Why? Because my entrepreneurship is an extremely powerful and addictive drug - with all of the associated euphoria and danger you'd come to expect with any addictive agent.

After working for many years at Capital One, one of America's great companies, why am I so taken by entrepreneurship?

Because the things that drove me away from Corporate Life are almost non-existent here, and the things that were once tremendously exciting about corporate life abound at my new office.

Let me give you an example or two about the things that drove me away:

  • I don't spend half of my day combing through a never-ending onslaught of email, voicemail, and IM's. My email is actually manageable, and when it comes, it typically is revenue related - thus, I want to read it
  • I don't spend 50% of my time putting together presentations. We work hard on presentations here, but when we do, they are are focused on two things - winning new business, and implementable strategy for our clients. In both cases, it's important, and the work we create is actually used
  • We focus on the important things. Our staff is small, and we're a little ecosystem. We're self-sustaining...we plant seeds through business development, cultivate crops through careful attention and technique, and harvest our product for sale in order to pay the mortgage and take care of our employees. If we focus on the wrong things, we don't eat.

Now the things that excite me (like the old days of a corporation in hyper-growth):

  • I work with the smartest people in the world - I've hand-selected a staff and board full of world-class minds and we actually get the opportunity to dialogue with each other instead of running from meeting to meeting...quite refreshing
  • Flexibility in my work day - I never was a 9 to 5'er kind of guy. I'd rather work some, go to the gym, play some basketball, then work some more...grab dinner, work a little more, and go home and watch Letterman. That's my definition of work life balance - my work integrates keenly into my lifestyle.
  • ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT - this is the big one. Everyone in our agency knows we have the opportunity to change the way advertising and marketing is done, and we've got the brains and skill to do it. We're smart, talented, and a little cocky, but we're all up for the challenge and locked in on the vision of doing things in communication that have not been done before.

Yep it's a drug alright...but as the song goes - "if loving it is wrong, I don't want to be right"

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Headed toward the future (but taking the scenic route)

There's a strange phenomenon going on in the world these days.

The smaller the screen that you pipe in audio, video, and animation, the bigger the thrill.

Not that you can't have a party and show off the game on your new 50-inch plasma screen. That still gets you some points.

But if a friend at the party pulls out his new smart phone, where the same game can be viewed, only many times smaller, grainier, and with sporadic dropouts...people will get really excited.

It's kind of like when instant messaging came around, and a friend exclaimed to me "now I can talk to anyone in the country at any time." His excitement level did not decrease when I mentioned that he could already do that with a device known as the "telephone". Remember that thing?

What's next? Maybe instead of discs, devices that play music miraculously on recorded tape. Now that would be different.