January 2008

Starbucks and Invisible Branding

2010-05-24T13:48:06+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

Starbucks is going to stop selling heated breakfast sandwiches because the smell of the food competes with the scent of the coffee.

That’s a gutsy move. After all, it has taken Starbucks years and investment to figure out a strategy and product to help provide protein foods versus just sweets and pastries during the morning daypart.

Parity & Convenience
Starbucks was smart enough to know that as coffee quality increases at their competitors, at some point customers begin to perceive parity and think, “eh, what’s the difference?” Instead of making a trip to Starbucks (for coffee) AND the competitor (for their McMuffin or other breakfast item), why not just get them both at the competitor’s place?

So they developed and offered a warm breakfast item.

Yet, all along Starbucks knew the benefit of convenience was at the cost of losing what was left of any coffee aroma in the stores.

The scent of brewing and ground coffee used to be part of the experience of walking into a Starbucks. Nowadays with the coffee being pre-ground and pre-packaged not much of that aroma exists.

As part of Howard Schultz return as CEO of Starbucks he’s adamant about getting the company focused (inwardly and outwardly) on the core of the brand. Some of it is philosophy, much of it has to do with the stuff you can’t see… but the experience.

Coincidently, in my inbox this morning was a fresh issue of Steal This Idea from Marty Neumeier’s company Neutron. (Marty is the author of Brand Gap and Zag!)

Invisible Branding
Here’s a bit of what is in the Steal This Idea installment titled “Invisible Branding”…

These days when CEOs and corporate marketers talk about investing in brand, they’re probably referring to traditionally visible touchpoints such as product design, advertising, or web experience. That’s great, but what they, and most people, don’t realize is that branding is much more than just the stuff you can see. Invisible branding refers to those stakeholder touchpoints that have little or no visual presence in the market, but can have a huge impact on your company’s reputation. …Each of these items are an essential part of a company’s brand, but because they’re not visible, business leaders often overlook them.

The Starbucks team is following what I call the “Aroma First” Rule. You can read about it in tomorrow’s post here.

A Flying Car, Ashes, Dick van Dyke, and Innovation

2008-01-28T08:00:00+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

Have you ever seen the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Here’s a quick plot summary from Amazon.com: Dick Van Dyke stars as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, who creates an extraordinary car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It not only drives but also flies and floats as it leads him, his two children and his beautiful lady friend, Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure.

So there is your flying car and Dick van Dyke.

But what about ashes and innovation?

Well, there’s a musical number where the villainous Baron Bomburst, ruler of Vulgaria, has captured Grandpa Potts (Caractacus’ father) and wants him to make his royal car float just like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Potts, in frustration, exclaims to the inventors, “It’s impossible!” They counter his pessimism with words of advice.

“Nothing is impossible. Courage, man… Courage!”

Roses of Success Scene

And then break into the song… The Roses of Successs. These are the lyrics… and a lesson for us lies within.

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you’ll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

For every big mistake you make be grateful!
That mistake you’ll never make again!
Every shiny dream that fades and dies,
Generates the steam for two more tries!
There’s magic in the wake of a fiasco!
It gives you that chance to second guess!
Then up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

Disaster didn’t stymie Louis Pasteur!
Edison took years to see the light!
Alexander Graham knew failure well;
He took a lot of knocks to ring that bell!
So when it gets distressing it’s a blessing!
Onward and upward you must press!
‘Til up from the ashes grow the roses of success!

FUN FACTS: The Roses of Success music and lyrics were written by Robert and Richard Sherman. Roses can grow well in sand or ashes because it make the soil more porous.

Jack of All Trades, Master of One

2008-01-25T10:36:38+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

The dusty adage “Jack of all trades, master of none” is defined as… “A person who can do many different types of work but who is not necessarily very competent at any of them.” So we work to be a master.

That sums up our basic evaluation system. Our job performance is based on meeting or exceeding the expertise outlined for our role. Human resource teams look for the perfect fit.

So, we become experts.

Brick by brick we build our tower of knowledge – hoping it stands taller than our competition (i.e. co-workers, fellow job applicants, others in the RFP process).

If you want to be remarkable, in addition to your tall tower… build bridges. Master your trade and understand others. Be the Jack of all trades, AND the master of ONE. The most advantageous directions to build your bridges are toward: Your Customers, Your Co-Workers, and Beyond Your Industry.

It’s obvious as marketers we need to know who are customers are and whom we’re targeting. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to memorize slide no. 23 in the brand presentation outlining “key segment demographics and psychographics”. You need to understand what candidly motivates their thinking and purchase decisions. What products and services they buy and how they really use them. I suggest picking up a Paco Underhill book. Start with Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Through empathy you gain true understanding.

Co-Workers / Departments
Sure you have to get along with your co-workers. After all, these are the folks we spend most of our time with day to day. But to really understand them you need to walk a proverbial mile in their proverbial shoes.

You rely on co-workers and members of your cross-functional teams to achieve your own agenda and goals. They’re trying to do the same thing. By understanding what motivates and frustrates the folks you rely on, you will develop a better relationship with them, and gain understanding how their world works. In the end, you’ll work more efficiently together knowing how their cogs and gears mesh with yours.

By the way, your interest and quest for understanding needs to be genuine. This way of working isn’t meant to be a ploy or scheme, but a way of authentically managing yourself.

Beyond Your Industry
Finally, and I think this is the biggest secret, is understanding how the world works around you. The more you understand about seemingly unrelated industries and systems… the better you will be at your own system.

For example, the process of film making has little to do with how marketing works (save the obvious marketing to promote a movie). I can’t imagine all the work it takes to keep track of all the shots, and scenes filmed on different days, and continuity, and who was wearing what, and how many bites did she take out of the pancake in that last scene? Consequently, if I understand the process used to manage the complicated minutia in moviemaking, I’m sure there are techniques we could apply to, say, managing the summer consumer promotion.

Next time you’re at a huge magazine stand, pick up a title with a business topic you know little or nothing about and read it. Or, start filling your mind with interesting facts, pick up a copy of the magazine Mental Floss or the book Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati.

“Jack of All Trades, Master of One” is what Built to Last author Jim Collins would label as the “power of the and.” Being a jack of all trades implies that you can’t also master one. The secret to remarkability is doing both. Build bridges between your tower and others. The result will be a rich network of knowledge.

That’s the fact, Jack.

I originally published this post on the MarketingProfs DailyFix Blog

Pave Your Life Roadmap

2018-05-27T10:34:27+00:00 Categories: create, grow, Sand for Your Inbox, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life?

What to be when you grow up?

This installment of “Sand for Your Inbox” is a special edition. I have handcrafted a proven technique that will help you answer these important questions. (No, really!)

Some years ago, I was trying to figure this out for myself. I did a bunch of reading, culled my self-help resources, and created a process to create a Life Roadmap. My Roadmap put me on course to launch Idea Sandbox and make key decisions in my personal and work life.

Outlined below is the very process I used from start-to-finish.

There is nothing more satisfying than getting in the driver’s seat of your own life and doing the things you are most passionate about.

Please share your comments in the reactions section at the end of the article.

Happy Driving,
Paul's First Name

Pave Your Life Roadmap

This process will (1) assists you in identifying what you’re most passionate about and (2) help you incorporate those passions into your daily life. By living your passions, you’ll be a happier and more fulfilled person!

The key steps to crafting your Roadmap are…

  1. List Your Passions – Make a list of all the things you are passionate about.
  2. Identify Values – Group your passions into themes.
  3. Set the Situation – Determine what conditions should exist for you to feel you’re fulfilling your Values.
  4. Reveal Action Steps – Identify what daily activities you should be doing to fulfill your Values.
  5. Visual Report Card – Draw a graph to visualize and assess your current status. (Don’t worry, no drafting tools required).
  6. Take Action / Follow Your Roadmap – Now that you have the keys. Get behind the wheel and follow this plan to drive your life.

Tips as you start…

  • Get yourself a stack of small sized note cards, or a notebook, or a journal… Whatever works for you to have something can come back to.
  • Take your time with this project, but give yourself a deadline. You should give yourself time to reflect, but not so much time you forget and don’t follow-up and complete your plan.
  • Don’t try to do this in one sitting. Plan on starting and coming back to each step. Letting each stage incubate in the back of your brain will provide you with better results.

Find a comfortable chair… here we go!

Step 1. List Your Passions

Objective: Create a list of things you are passionate about.

Make a list the things you are passionate about. If you’re using index cards, put one passion per card. Keep going until you’ve reached 100 passions.

Ask yourself…

  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What excites me?
  • What would I love to spend more time doing if I only had the time?
  • If I could only do one thing for the rest of my life, what would that be?

Forget your responsibilities at work, home, or with family. This isn’t a ‘have to do’ list, this is a ‘wish I could do’ and ‘love to do’ list. There are no right or wrong answers – these are all you.

If you know how and like to ideamap, they are very helpful for this step.

Step 2. Identify Values

Objective: Discover commonalities and group passions into recurring themes.

Next, review your passions and group them into common themes. Look for recurring topics and lump these together. (This is where index cards come in handy).

The book To Do, Doing Done by Snead & Wycoff has a great list of values, including:

Achievement Adventure Beauty
Career Growth Community Family
Financial Security Freedom Friends
Frugality Fun Generosity
Growth Health & Fitness Honesty
Inner Peace Joy Leadership
Learning Love Music
Nature Organization Personal Development
Productivity Spirituality Travel

While you may have loads of interests and passions, combining into value groups helps you narrow your focus on what truly matters most.

Don’t worry if it seems you have too many themes for your VALUES. After you’ve created the first round, you can pare down and combine. I had 19 different themes and finally ended up with 10.

My key values are Security, Relationships, Organization, Personal Growth, Fun & Entertainment, Contribution, Entrepreneur, Passion, Creativity, and Health.

Here is an ideamap I created to view and group my own Values.


Handwritten Map


Using Template

Identifying values is key. They represent activities that you care about most. If you do things that match your values, you will feel more fulfilled.

Step 3. Set the Situation

Objective: Determine what circumstances (new and existing) will allow you to fulfill your Values.

Now we’ll figure out what situation or circumstances you should find yourself that will make you feel like you’re fulfilling your Values. These are performance indicators. Their existence indicates you’re performing in your Values.

Answer this question:
If I had a life filled with [your theme here], I would: _____________.

The last part of the sentence will reveal these performance indicators.

For example, for my theme “CREATIVITY” my five performance indicators are:

If I had a life filled with CREATIVITY, I would:

  1. Think up new ideas
  2. Solve problems
  3. Create neat ideas that work
  4. Create new ways of doing things
  5. Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.

I recommend coming up with at least five (5) answers. It is okay if these match up with your original list of passions… But push yourself. There may be a big difference between what you are doing and what you should be doing.

Step 4. Visual Report Card

Objective: Gauge how we’ll you’re currently satisfying your Values. Determine which values you should focus on first.

Now we want to compare your values and see which you’re fulfilling and which need focus.

For each value, you’re going to ask yourself…
“Self, on a scale from 1 to 5, (5 being the best, 1 being the least), how am I currently doing in fulfilling these performance indicators?”

Repeat for each value and mark your scores on a radar diagram. A radar diagram is a round graph with spokes that measure each piece of information. (It looks like a radar screen). It is helpful to see how consistent or balanced your information is.

The values marked with lower scores need focus. A score of “5” represent values you are fulfilling. Theoretically, when you mark scores of all 5’s you’re at the height of following your passions.

You can download a blank template here (PDF), or create your own.

Here’s my completed radar diagram. My personal assessment is shaded in orange. The green area represents all 5s. So you can see I feel pretty good about my Entrepreneur, Relationships, Personal Growth, and Fun Values, but want to work on my Contribution and Organization Values.

Step 5. Reveal Action Steps

Objective: Determine what you should be doing on a daily basis – enabling activities – to satisfy your values.

If this life plan were a business plan, your values would be your objectives and performance indicators your strategies. Now we need to figure out the tactics, the enabling activities. Tasks to do on a daily basis.

Using your radar diagram as your guide, start with the value you indicated most needs improvement and the corresponding performance indicators.

Figure out what tasks you need to do to bring to life the performance indicator.

Take a look at my value of CREATIVITY as the example.

As I listed earlier, the performance indicators I have identified for this value are:

  1. Think up new ideas
  2. Solve problems
  3. Create neat ideas that work
  4. Create new ways of doing things
  5. Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.

The last one is the one I want to work on: “Express myself with art, music, and/or writing.”

I’ve narrowed the focus of this one to art and writing. I’m able to exercise my passion for writing through this newsletter, in my blog posts, and other writings. But, I want to be a better writer. So enabling activities could include one or all of the following:

  • Sign up for a writing class,
  • Get feedback from my English teacher friend,
  • Buy a book on how to improve my grammar.

The art part? I majored in art in college and love drawing and painting. However, I haven’t painted in years. For Christmas, I asked Santa for art supplies. I received an art easel and new supplies to do pen & ink drawings and watercolor. I’ve already started to enjoy using them and feel better.

When I brainstorm with clients, I often draw images instead of simply using words. Also known as graphic facilitation. This helps make topics easier to understand AND feeds my passion for drawing… This also influenced how I built Idea Sandbox, and is part of what makes my job so much fun. See how this all comes together?

To help work this step out, I created a document. In fact, the below document along with your radar diagram constitutes your entire Life Roadmap.

This document along with the radar diagram serves as my daily guide.

This link, Life Roadmap Plan, will allow you to download this as a Word template. Enjoy.

Step 6. Take Action / Follow Your Roadmap.

Objective: Perform enabling activities. Use your LifeMap as a guide.

Incorporate these enabling activities into your daily life. Put them on your calendar, to-do lists, whatever. (If you don’t have a system, start one now!)

Use your LifeMap as a guide for making life decisions and see how your choices affect the ability for you to engage in your performance indicators. When you’re faced with life choices that give you angst, it is because they affect your passion areas, your values.

Radar Diagram

Be Your Own Career Counselor

What I’ve provided so far will help you do the “things” that will fulfill you… But what if you’re trying to figure out what a fulfilling job or career could be?

That list of passions you built-in Step 1 contains all the specifications you need in finding a job you’ll find rewarding.

The hard part is to ignore whom you “think” you are today and dig into what you’ve written. Your passions outline your job description, you just need to translate

For example, my list of passions includes that I enjoy…

  • helping people, serving as a leader, passing knowledge onto others, finding inventive ways to simplify complex ideas…

What types of jobs would allow me to do these activities? I can come up with…

  • Teacher, Politics, Counselor, Sports Coach, Life Coach, Corporate Trainer…

If I take a look at my other passions and other factors… I don’t think I’d like to deal with bureaucracy, so politics may not be the role for me… I’m not a huge sports fan so sports coach probably won’t suit me. But, I’d have a blast teaching kids or helping them make better choices, and life coach and corporate trainer are worth looking into.

While working on this piece there are two other resources you should consider checking out…

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – You may find Myers-Briggs helpful, the MBTI tool is online. For a $60 investment in yourself take the assessment. The feedback will also help you gauge what you may enjoy.
  • Now, Discover Your Strengths by Clifton & Buckingham – This book focuses on maximizing your strengths rather than trying to “fix” your weaknesses. When you buy the book, a code printed on the front cover gives you access to their Strength Finder website. (They have a new, updated book called Strengths Finder 2.0)


That’s the program! It is intense, but your return on investment is colossal. Follow these steps, be honest with yourself, and I can guarantee you will have results.

Send me an e-mail if you have questions.

I wish you the best!

Your Life Roadmap is paved with a series of VALUES formed by groups of PASSIONS that manifest themselves through PERFORMANCE INDICATORS and are brought to life through your ENABLING ACTIVITIES.

Here are resources I originally used to build this process…

  • The Franklin-Covey method of defining Values, Roles, and Goals.
  • To Do, Doing, Done by G. Lynne Snead and Joyce Wycoff
  • First Things First by Stephen Covey
  • Franklin-Covey Mission Statement Builder
  • Ben Franklin 13 Virtues – Ben Franklin was one of the first self-improvement gurus (although he didn’t know it yet). In 1726 Ben Franklin created a list of thirteen virtues to guide his life. He used to keep a daily journal to note how he performed in keeping to virtues. (He openly admitted challenges with keeping to them).

Great Happens, It’s Tough to Always Be Good

2017-03-01T11:56:54+00:00 Categories: grow|Tags: |

In Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up, Steve shares the challenge of trying to consistently provide a “good” performance.

I see a direct relationship between what Steve comments about and the same concept in business… specifically customer service.

The consistent work enhanced my act. I learned a lesson. It was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical. Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time.

What was hard… was to be good. Consistently good. Night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances.

[click play to hear Steve]
How does your business consistently provide “good” service no matter what abominable circumstances?

Happy 2008

2008-01-01T11:38:42+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

In addition to wishes of health and happiness in the New Year, I wish you…

great ideas

better decisions

innovative solutions

Happy New Year!