July 2008

Reconstructing The Parthenon: Greek Week

2008-07-31T09:03:31+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

The Parthenon is the famous monument that sits atop a large rock hill called the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. It was build over 2,500 years ago, dedicated to the goddess Athena. And it is amazing.

Over the centuries the structure was used as a temple, cathedral, mosque, government headquarters and even a munitions warehouse.

The original structure of the Parthenon stayed intact for around 2,000 years, until as a storehouse for gunpowder, it was blown up by a stray cannonball during a war in 1687. While nature has affected the structure, most of the damage has been caused by humans (e.g. stray cannonballs, pollution from cars). More damage was done to the Parthenon in that year than in it’s 2,500 history.

Over the centuries, there have been several waves of conservation and restoration of the Parthenon and surrounding monuments. As time and technology have improved, the tools, methods, and accuracy have improved as well.

In the 19th century, restoration efforts – using the best technology of the day – included replacing missing marble pieces with poured cement fillings, and securing the structure with iron clamps. The cement has chipped. The rods rusted, expanded, and caused additional cracks to the marble.

Men placing a section of the epistyle (beam) and frieze into place
[click for larger image]

Today, they are replacing the missing marble with new marble from the very quarry used in the original construction. And to hold pieces together, non-corrosive titanium rods.

The white pieces are the newly quarried marble cut to the original dimensions of the Parthenon, and precisely connected to the original piece.

The columns were built by stacking huge pieces of marble. Contemporary technology revealed that – even though the columns looked proper – they were re-constructed wrong. Parts of the first column were stacked in the second and third. Parts of the second column, in the first and fifth, etc.

For illustration purposes only, I’ve shown the
missed-matched column pieces

Re-construction teams had to take apart the former construction and re-assemble the columns properly. Wow.

The Parthenon inspires. Makes me wonder what 20th or 21st Century construction will exist in the year 4,500?

What at your business is stacked wrong? And, although it may appear to be proper, really should be re-stacked properly?

Parthenon Fun Fact: Did you know most of the straight lines on the Parthenon are actually curved?

Being such an immense structure it had to be constructed with optical corrections. Straight lines – at that scale – would make the building look like it was sagging, as exaggerated in the illustration below.

So the designers compensated by adding curves as seen (exaggerated) below.

Source: Optical correction images from VisualIllusion.net

History of the Olympic Marathon: Greek Week

2008-07-30T10:02:22+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

With just eight days before the Olympic Games launch in Beijing… And it being Greek Week at Idea Sandbox, I thought you’d be interested in some interesting Olympic history.

Do you know the history of the marathon? The marathon race wasn’t part of the ancient Olympic events. It was added in the contemporary Olympic games in the 1800s…

Wait a minute… before I share the story of the marathon, here’s some background about the Olympics for you…

Olympic Game History

The first Olympic Games took place in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC. The Greek calendar was based on the Olympiad, a four year-period between games. The games were held for 1170 years, until they were banned by Emperor Theodosius I in 393 AD. (meanie)

The idea to revive the Olympics was proposed by French Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894, and in 1896 the first contemporary Olympic games took place in Greece.

The Marathon

As I mentioned, the marathon race is an addition to the contemporary Olympic events.

The inspiration for the marathon race, as a test of endurance, was sparked by the legendary story of an Athenian hoplite* soldier who, during the Persian War in 490 BC, ran from the battlefield city of Marathon to Athens (40 kilometers or almost 25 miles) to bring the news of the Athenian victory over the Persians.

So, when you see this year’s marathon runners, their race will remind you of the story from nearly 2,500 years ago!

*Hoplite soldiers used to fight arranged in rows – marching shoulder to shoulder with their shields arranged to form a continuous barrier that prevented enemy spears and arrows from getting through the wall of shields.

A Few Greek Symbols: Greek Week

2015-03-24T10:29:00+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|

When you visit another town – whether local or far away – tourist gift shops offer a nice table of contents to what you may expect within the destination.

In Athens, gift shops are loaded with items featuring the Parthenon, ancient pottery, owls, items with a Greek zig-zag pattern, and a strange round blue thing that looks like an eye.

The Parthenon and pottery are obvious icons, but what’s with the owls, geometric pattern, and the blue round eye thing?

Some new Greek friends… Georgia, Panos, and Costas explained to me the meaning of these symbols.

The Owl

The owl is an ancient symbol of the wisdom of Athens and is associated with Athena. It appeared on coins in Athens as early as 520 BC.
The coins were called “glaukes” – after “glaux” the ancient Greek for owl. This antique design is the current design for the contemporary Greek 1-Euro coin. The design is actually an image of an old Athenian coin… you can see the irregular stamp outline, the owl and an olive branch.

I have an owl figurine on my office desk. I like to think it helps bring me wisdom.

“Greek Key” Pattern

You’ve seen this pattern a million times, and perhaps have never thought about it. It is a Greek symbol representing infinity and unity. It is often used as a border on Greek buildings, pottery, and… of course… the New York City once-ubiquitous, Greek-themed, blue-and-white, take-away coffee cup.

(According to a New York Times article from 2005, “The classic “We Are Happy to Serve You” cup… design dates to the mid-1960’s, when the Sherri Cup Company of Kensington, Connecticut, designed it to appeal to the hundreds of Greek coffee shops then operating in the city. The cup was named Anthora, a muddled version of Amphora, the Greek word for the ancient jars depicted in its design.”)

The Blue “Eye” (Matiasma)

This symbol – typically round, blue, and made out of glass is used to ward off the evil eye and to block the dangers of envy.

This symbol has been used as early back as the 6th century BC…

The evil eye works like this:

Perhaps there was an occasion that you were dressed up and someone told you how nice you look. A few minutes later you spilled coffee down the front of you or split your pants. Or maybe someone told you how beautiful your new vase was and a while later it fell to the ground shattering in a thousand pieces. That’s the evil eye.
(Source: Greek Tradition Page)

To prevent this, the matiasma would be worn as a necklace or hung in the home. As a popular icon, it is also sold ear rights, bracelets, paperweights, etc…

Pictured is a matiasma pendant with the Greek key symbol on it. This is probably double-good!

Well, there are a few interesting icons for you. You’ll probably never look at a take-out coffee cup the same way again!

Greek Week At Idea Sandbox

2008-07-28T11:09:12+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

I’m not looking for college freshmen “pledge” students – I’m actually in Athens, Greece this week.

This is my second visit to Athens. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world – filled with incredible history, knowledge, and tradition.

I plan to share some highlights with you… and of course… relate it back to marketing and creative problem solving.

Μέχρι το αύριο. (Until tomorrow)

Pictured is Hephaisteion, the temple of Hephaistos. Considered the best preserved temple of antiquity. It is located in the ruins of the old* city of Agora at the base of the Acropolis (the hill where the Parthenon stands). Agora is the place where Socrates and Plato hung out.

*when I say old, I mean 5th century BC-old

Five Tips to Beat Procrastination

2011-04-07T22:29:55+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: |

Sand for Your Inbox
July 2008

Ah, procrastination.

I would have sent this e-newsletter sooner, but I did not get around to it. You see, I’ve been procrastinating.

Do you have projects that seem to linger? Tasks that nomadically drift from one day’s todo list to the next? Yah, me too.

Most procrastination cures prescribe productivity tips. However, we both know about productivity, that’s not it…

So, what do we do about it? I have found it is about… momentum.

Newton (Sir Isaac, not Fig) in his first law of motion, declares, “An object will stay at rest or continue at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.”

(A shout-out to all who have been writing and asking me to weave Newtonian mechanics in my newsletter!)

In plainer English… Unless you add a force to them… things that are still, stay still. Things in motion stay in motion.

Forces To Get You Moving

  • Block Distractions & Interruptions – Do your best to block out or get away from distractions and things that cause you to lose focus. Get yourself to a conducive space.
  • Take Smaller Bites – Trying to figure out how to eat it in one bite? – Break big projects into smaller chunk tasks. You’ll feel the adrenaline when you get that first task done… and the project is now in motion.
  • Figure Out Priorities, Know Where to Start – Perhaps you’ve broken it up into smaller chunks, but it still feels like it is hitting you all at once? Put the first things first. Use the Idea Sandbox Prioritizer Tool to assist. http://prioritizer.idea-sandbox.com
  • Stop Perfectionism – You want to do it perfectly, or not at all, right? Don’t be fooled… This is probably your mind helping you justify procrastination. Try doing it “not perfect” to get something done, and make adjustments in Round 2. “Good enough” is good enough to get started.
  • Keep Yourself Fresh: 48/12 Rule – For each hour, work for 48 minutes followed by a 12 minute break. This really works. The 12-minutes gives you a nice break. The 48-minute push helps you crank through your work. Even if you’re on a roll, still take a refresher break. (Especially if your work requires using a computer screen… the 12-minutes is a nice break for your eyes… and in the end reduces overall fatigue).

If All Else Fails…

If none of these ideas works for you, I recommend picking up Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art.” I have yet to meet anyone whose butt this book didn’t kick into gear. It’s that good.

Well, I hope these ideas help you. I wish you the best in getting things in motion.

Take care,
Paul's First Name
Paul Williams
momentum initiator
Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox • Seattle | Amsterdam

The Brilliance of “brilliant”

2008-07-14T13:06:55+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Those who become a member of the Idea Sandbox “Sand for Your Inbox” eNewsletter are sent a custom, hand-crafted membership e-card… It literally offers creative license to think creatively and problem solve in remarkable ways.
Sample Membership Card
Each time someone becomes a member – before I send the “welcome” message – I visit their website and try to learn more about them. Marketing Rule #1: It’s important to know and understand your customers.

brilliant logo

Recently a fellow named Ryan Morgan became a member. I found out he runs a company called “brilliant.” They offer insurance services to Columbus, Ohio-area businesses. Here’s how he states it on his site…

brilliant service summary

…a local, independent insurance agency that works with local, independent businesses. Period.

Difficult to get more specific than that, huh?

Ryan understands the secret recipe to being remarkable… zagging while others zig. And, having a Dominant Selling Idea… brilliant isn’t trying to be all things to all people… in fact, the opposite…He is only one thing to a very small, targeted group of people.

Check out his philosophy. brilliant has boiled what they do to a handful of bullets and fifteen words…
brilliant philosophy
Pretty darn simple… And inspiring, huh?

If you visit their, site you’ll notice brilliant spends little time talking about their company, instead you are greeted with big images of their happy clients… They believe in the Vidal Sassoon (beauty products) philosophy: “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

brilliant’s clients look good… so brilliant looks good.

Can your company’s philosophy be boiled down to fifteen words or fewer? Do you spend more time showcasing your customers than your own business?

How can you be more… brilliant?

Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

2009-01-03T11:41:08+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

You are cordially invited to attend…

Word of Mouth Crash Course
Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

hosted by
Andy Sernovitz
at GasPedal Word of Mouth Marketing

July 30, 2008 | September 4, 2008
Chicago, Illinois
learn more and/or register

Idea Sandbox friend, and Word of Mouth (WOM) guru Andy Sernovitz is hosting a small-group, word of mouth, marketing seminar.

Usually he only offers private training for companies at a very large price, so this is a rare chance for 50 people to get the best introduction to word of mouth that there is. (Andy is also the author of “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking” and the founding CEO of WOMMA – the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association… so he knows his stuff).

Andy is offering Idea Sandbox readers a $250 discount. Use code “weloveideasandbox” when you register. Nice!

This practical, hands-on, one-day course will deliver…

  • Master the five steps of word of mouth marketing.
  • Construct an action plan that your company can start using the very next day.
  • Get the same training that big corporations (Microsoft, TiVo, eBay) have received — for a fraction of what they paid.
  • Know how to translate word of mouth marketing into real ROI.
  • Participate in an active, intense day of practical brainstorming (not boring theory).
  • Learn from Andy Sernovitz, the guy who literally wrote the book on word of mouth marketing.

Andy has promised, “You will learn a repeatable, proven marketing framework that is easy to execute, affordable, and provides measurable results within 60 days.”

If you want to spread WOM about this course (and the offer) click to use these tools from Andy’s site.