Uncomplications

Is our evolutionary advancement driven, in part, by the creation of things increasingly complex? This home sitting stoically somewhere in London, is the antithesis of a modern home. You won’t find computer-controlled lights, security systems, or appliances seamlessly linked to an app on your phone or tablet. Think simple yet purposeful. Venerated in stature, an edifice devoid of pretense.

Similarly, this pub distills [pun intended] an uncomplicated persona. How so? Nowhere did I see a roster of specialty beers, ales, lagers, mixed drinks, martinis and so on. Visually, there’s a lot to draw your attention, but nothing approaching sensory overload. Six taps of beer, the usual suspects in liquor and I’m sure a wine list practical in scale and price points.

Ditto for this uncomplicated yet tasteful-looking bar. I’m all for imaginative thinking, but that’s a far cry from thinking that the latest and greatest is something we need. Novelty can make many things interesting, but the fascination can quickly fade.

Today, we’re seeing even more complexity in an already complex, confounding arena that is automobile manufacturing. Case in point, the steering wheel of Formula 1 race cars. It’s essentially a computer with a realm of adjustments a driver can make while racing. Granted, an F1 car is an extremely specialized machine, but we’re already witnessing technology trickling down to passenger cars: paddle shifting, adjustable suspension rates, electronically controlled ride height, dual clutch transmissions, electronic steering, throttle control and more.

Growing complexity effectively commoditizes our thinking. Artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction and this growing reliance, this transference or programming of cognition to things inanimate is troubling. Interestingly, the late Dr. Stephen Hawking once said that the rise of AI is utterly frightening. Why? AI advancement and its integration to our day-to-day living will reshape civilization and redefine humanity.

Uncomplications.

Have a face-to-face conversation [not Skype, not Facetime] with someone you value and keep in high regard. Pen a letter or card [not an IM, email or Tweet]. To feel good—really good—do something that will make another person smile, even laugh. We give too much of our time to monitors, hand-held devices, playlists, news feeds and much less to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Red Hat Society

There are some bumps in life that feel big–which is true–and then there are those bumps that we make much larger than we should. Studies have generally shown that once you get past the age of 50, your attitude, expectations and other attributes tend to improve. Translation: you’re happier about life because you recognize how far you’ve come. It’s often said that finding happiness and jettisoning the bad stuff can be made easier with help from family and friends.

Generally speaking—and regardless of gender—those 50 and older who say they have a “good, satisfying life” remain physically and mentally active, make a commitment to stay healthy, keep close contact with family and friends, and champion a strong, positive attitude. Enter the Red Hat Society.

Before “social media” became a common term, the RHS was already well into collective connectiveness. Like the innumerable groups we see on LinkedIn, such as  the social media marketing group and various others, there’s a roster of common interests and attributes for like-minded professionals. But even before any of this was created, we are first and foremost social beings that need social interaction. For the RHS, there are 3 attributes: you must be at least 50 years of age, a woman and have a joie de vivre.

It’s one thing to read about groups or societies that enrich your own life, but it can’t compare to being in the thick of things. Case in point: the RHS lunch gathering in the Round Table Room of the Algonquin Hotel. One of several chapters in the Tri-State area, these bon vivants gathered to reconnect, to discover new connections, but above all, to have some fun.

I heard conversations that can be filed under “status” with sub-folders, one each for the kids, the spouse/significant other, the job, the vacation, and more. While I’m certain there were sad discussions within the constant din, much of what I heard involved a good amount of chuckling and laughing. And it was contagious. I got a kick being an accidental listener and observer.

How do you define—and use—your “15-Minutes”?

Sometime in the future, we’ll have 15-minutes of fame. Attributed to Pop Artist, Andy Warhol.

 

Fifteen: __seconds is a quarter of a minute; __minutes is a quarter of an hour; __miles is 24 kilometers; __kilometers is 9 miles. I think the most “famous” of 15s is the one attributed to Warhol. He may not have actually phrased it, but it’s certainly part of his cultural brand.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame is also a music project created by composer-producer, Robert Voisey. That, in and of itself, is a fascinating enterprise.

Sir Richard Branson defines his 15-minutes as “me time,” time he finds in each day exclusively for himself in order to reconnect, re-energize, refocus, etc.

What can you do with 15-minutes all to yourself?  Some suggestions:

  • Write: in a journal [or start one]; a letter [to yourself, to someone that means the world to you, to someone who can influence positive changes, e.g.]; 15 words that bring a smile to your face
  • Learn and/or try: a new language [or improve on one that you last used in school or college]; to play an instrument; the practice of Yoga, meditation or Tai Chi; something, anything that you’ve wanted to explore, but it’s just out of your comfort zone
  • Turn your electronics off: and go outside and listen, engage your other senses of smell, touch, taste and sight

Reward yourself with a good thought, whatever that might be, and dwell on its possibilities…

 

Totalitarian Sentiments

 

Creating confluence, understanding & compromise 101. Photo: C. Centeno

We have met the enemy and they are us.  Circa 1960s: Walt Kelly from his comic strip, Pogo, in reference to the US involvement in Vietnam. The phrase is a variation from Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry whom, in the late 1790s said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Our sociological positions on culture, tolerance, honest communication, integrity, decorum and humility have fallen to new lows. Some of us—in particular those with the loudest and most obstinate of postures and voices—have created as well as promoted an intractable reality that has altered our ability and willingness to freely express our thoughts and feelings across many subjects.

Fueled by emotion, group think, individual perceptions and more, it’s become de rigueur to put someone down [shouting, shaming, name calling, e.g.] just to make a point. What concerns me is while someone can possibly make a point, the counterpoint is summarily dismissed. Its dismissal is total, a product of a scorched earth mentality that leaves no room for perspective, for critical thinking and even a chance, however small, to understand the meaning of the counterpoint let alone the person or persons expressing the counterpoint.

We not only agree to disagree, but we do so in disagreeable fashion. We create diatribe instead of discussion, insults in lieu of perspectives, bombast as proper elocution.

I leave you to ponder on William Faulkner:

“I believe that humankind will not merely endure: we will prevail. We are immortal, not because we alone among creatures have an inexhaustible voice, but because we possess a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

In the First Person

Hancock Shaker Village recently held the first of 4 dinners involving noted thinkers and authors.  The Food for Thought program involves a monthly dinner May thru August, and invites folks to “feed your mind, body and soul…with an illuminating author.” The first dinner quickly sold out as 76 signed on to chat and dine with former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. Within an ambiance shaped by the Shakers [who established this Village in the 1700s] the evening proved intimate, friendly, and grounded. In light of our current political climate, I suppose anything could’ve happened regarding a discussion of Mr. Patrick’s life politique; politics has been a lightning rod of recent times, as we all know, attracting more negativity to the point of consternation and frustration.

That wasn’t the case here. Instead, I was reminded of the importance, indeed the significance, of seeing things in person and to hear experiences in the first person.  We are so immersed, so much more involved with our digital devices that I think we’ve lost touch on how to converse with verve, clarity, honesty, expression, sensitivity, empathy, integrity, patience, consideration, reciprocity and more.  It’s a sad state of affairs and while this is a gross generalization, therein lies a truism in my previous sentence: many of us spend too much precious time eyeball-to-eyeball, hand-to-hand with a keyboard, a touch screen and/or ear buds.

In this setting, we conversed with Mr. Patrick and listened to what he had to say. He was genuine and unpretentious in his greetings with old friends and in acknowledging the company of new faces. In a space that consisted of movers and shakers and critical thinkers from the Berkshires and beyond, it would’ve been all too easy to spot someone posturing. No, we all possessed a quality common to each in that room regardless of social or professional standing. We were–and still are–sentient beings, vessels filled with doubts about freedom of speech, decorum, political bipartisanship, populism, nationalism, etcetera ad nauseum.

Yes, having access to commentary and perspective through YouTube, Vimeo, Aeon, TED Talks and others is timely, convenient and important, but I, personally, feel that being there, of  being part of the gathering, is a different experience from those encountered online. When you’re surrounded by the event, you are indeed, part of the event. Many things become visceral and palpable, vulnerable and accessible, sensuous and profound. And while many communications can be paused or saved or added-to-my-view list, I’m reminded that with such gatherings, Life has no pause or rewind buttons. You are in the moment, beguiling a terrific gathering albeit brief.

 

 

“My Better Self”

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The wife-husband duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are the indie pop group, Tennis. The music and lyrics to “My Better Self” is a heart-felt, rhythmic poem about several things, not the least being how we struggle with words to bring clarity to how and what we feel. This is my favorite stanza, which also happens to be the bridge of the song:

If I don’t use words
Then each sound goes unheard
Utterly senseless without nouns and verbs
But symbols suggest they are fit to possess
A purposely function
That cannot be met

Copyright-All Rights Reserved, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley

 

Demographic Segmentation & Marketing

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I learned early on in my career that market segmentation is but one level of segmentation. I think of the process as one of differentiation. Demographic segmentation requires specificity in a cultural subset. In other words, you don’t place spanish-speaking people as solely spaniards any more than those speaking french as frenchmen.

The subset is of material importance. Spanish-speaking people come from many places other than Spain, ergo the same for french-speaking people living elsewhere than France. Think Puerto Rico, Mexico, Columbia, Dominican Republic for the former and Quebec, Monaco, Ivory Coast and Belgium for the latter.

There has been a tremendous amount of buzz regarding LGBT civil rights. Ireland is the first country that recognizes same-sex marriage after its citizens voted it so just this past May. Caitlyn Jenner is a household name and we’re likely to hear a lot more about the former Bruce Jenner’s transgender journey.

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So, what does this have to do with marketing? For me, plenty.

First and foremost, we’re dealing with a community of people. Many countries treat LGBT people like criminals. In no uncertain terms, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender puts you on death row in several countries. So, tell me where’s the real crime taking place?

I recently attended a screening at the 28th Annual Outfilm CT Film Festival held on the beautiful campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. From May 9th to June 6th, controversy, art, education, tolerance, intolerance, inclusion, love, forgiveness, the banal and the beautiful were expressed across a variety of films, short and of feature length. The films I watched provided a temporal take on LGBT concerns as well as the eternal qualities of love, acceptance and foregiveness.

There’s also the economic take that cannot be ignored. LGBT folks are contributors and consumers. Some hold high-level positions in business [Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, e.g.] Yes, the human costs are invaluable, however the economic costs can be calculated. If you need more information, this recent article from The Atlantic can shed more light on the value of the LGBT economy.

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How important is the LGBT community? Here’s the short list of corporate sponsors of the Outfilm CT Film Festival: Pratty & Whitney; CIGNA; The Hartford; AARP; Aetna; Baccardi; Barefoot Wines, among others…like the firm I work with.

In addition to other key designations and credentials, Michael Matty, the President of St. Germain Investment Management, holds the following: Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor [ADPA]. While segmentation is important in marketing analysis, inclusion holds its own relevance as well.