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Try This Brand Mix @ Home: Pizza Rustica Salad, Made The Chop't Way

When you cross Pizza Rustica's ingredients with Chopt's emphasis on fine chopping, good mixing, freshness, and quality, you end up with the BEST salad on earth.

If you're on Atkins, emphasize the greens, proteins and olive oil and watch the carbs. For low-fat diets, you can season it with lemon juice. I try to avoid processed dressings with artificial ingredients.

This salad makes me feel great. Enjoy!

3 cup spinach, arugula, or spring greens

1/2 cup chopped roasted eggplant

1/2 cup artichoke hearts

1/2 cup red onion, thinly chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, sliced

1/2 cup olives, black, chopped

1/2 cup cucumber, matchsticks

1 cup tomatoes, fresh, chopped

1/2 cup carrot, matchsticks

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, in oil, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, roasted or minced

1/4 cup basil, fresh

1 cup sliced hardboiled eggs

1 cup albacore tuna, plain, water-packed

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoon olive oil or dressing

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Get a big mixing bowl, cutting board, and sharp chef's knife

2. Assemble whichever of these ingredients you like

3. Chop everything fine

4. Add oil or dressing of choice (preferably all-natural)

5. Grind and add salt and pepper

6. Mix thoroughly

7. Serve right away

Brand Success Goes To Those Who Study It

Talk to someone who "gets" branding and they will likely be able to recount the Oprah-like "aha" moment when they started to comprehend how it works. I've heard things like:

* "It was like a lightbulb went off."

* "It's like a domino effect...once one domino fell into place, they all did."

When I began working as a brand consultant in 2001, the going was tough. Most of the time, what passed for "branding" was really advertising. And of course, if you aren't into marketing, pretty pictures that say "Buy Me" are more appealing and more intuitive as an investment in communication.

Man was it tough.

Customers had questions like:

"Where's the ROI in what you are suggesting?"

"I don't have time to do all this assessment and strategy - can you get me something fast?"

The ROI part was huge. (Similar in fact to trying to sell social media to those who have never used it before.) Of course it's a defensive mechanism, not really about the money. Customers understand that these tools ultimately lead to changing organizational structures. Not everyone can handle that.

Nevertheless we did countless PowerPoints showing branded items vs. non-branded items. Just photos. We would say, "See? Value of a brand? Understand now?" We looked at each other in frustration as the customers nodded their heads at the other brands, but seemed to not understand how the analogy applied to them.

Sometimes the customers did get mad. We would describe to them the difference between their self-perceptions and the perceptions that their stakeholders had of them. They would question our methodology and even our competence.

We tried to explain that the results were valid. That the gap in perception was costing them money.

In the end the strategic part of branding was always a tough sell, while the pretty pictures were easy.

Fast forward a decade and now everybody is talking about branding, or so it seems. The value of a name, a reputation, an image, a promise is incontrovertibly understood. But one thing that people don't understand, still, is that branding is a science with principles that can be learned. While some are born geniuses in this field, others can simply study the core principles that make brands great, and apply those principles to every area of their lives in order to be successful.

I think I understand why people mis-associate branding with advertising, and think it's the department of creatives rather than savvy businesspeople. In reality, branding was born out of advertising. And advertising was not born in the laboratory. It was born in creative hothouses where writers and graphic designers sat over the work for hours and days, emerging with a "brainstorm" to sell to the client.

Back then, creativity was necessary to substitute for the lack of large-scale, sophisticated, computer-assisted techniques that we have at our disposal today and will see more and more of in the future, including for example:

1. Neuromarketing
2. Computer-generated analysis of consumer profiles vs. buying habits - psychographics, demographics, location, etc.
3. Computer-assisted marketing research that takes input from many people at once to generate a product prototype
4. The creation of shopping environments in which to study consumer behavior in a controlled way
5. Marketing research studies conducted as scientific experiments

This is not to say that art, creativity, genius has no place in branding (and marketing). To the contrary: People who are born with this skill (the Howard Schultzes, Madonnas, Richard Bransons, Donald Trumps, etc.) can shortcut much of the science because they "just know" what to do.

But for the rest of us, particularly those charged with managing millions of dollars in brand investments, it is worthwhile to take the time to study the tactics that work. To take branding seriously as a science, not an art. Because when you understand what the principles of branding are and how to leverage them, your chances of success in any endeavor are exponentially greater.

Basically, it comes down to this: Be the same shlepper as everybody else, and keep on saying that "my product speaks for itself." Or, face the fact that branding matters. Roll up your sleeves, study it and get smart. You'll put in less effort and be more successful, in the end - whether you're promoting your personal brand, your product, your service, or even a social cause that you believe in.

The Pope's Call To Action

A portion of the Pope's Christmas message for 2010 has left some
people hopping mad:

"In the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in
conformity with man and even with children."

In other words, he seems to be saying, "Excuse us for not doing
anything all these years—we thought the sexual abuse of children was

I don't believe that this is what the Pope meant at all. But still, it
doesn't sound good. Singer and prominent Church critic Sinead
O'Connor, wrote a furious open letter to the Pope that reads, in part:

"Exactly who held the theory [and]….Why in all the years since these
scandals broke out was yesterday the first mention of this
information?....The Holy Spirit requires you to familiarize yourself
with honesty and respect if you retain any desire to salvage the
remains of the church which has been ruined by its being allowed to
live by its own laws and not God's."

I am a huge fan of Sinead O'Connor. But I don't think she read the
message right. Rather, I agree with mainstream interpretations, like
that of Washington Post, which saw the Pope's remarks as a "remarkable
demonstration of public soul-searching."

I'm not sure if the Post saw the same thing that I did in the message,
though. What was brilliant about it for me was the way the Pope called
attention to the sociological phenomenon called "deviance." Basically,
deviance occurs when society defines a behavior as something that
stands outside the norm and punishes it. Many kinds of people are
considered deviant, but the most important category is the criminal.
We criminalize certain behaviors as a survival mechanism: By punishing
and banishing the criminal, we ensure the survival of the group.

In any case, the Pope's statement that pedophilia used to be
considered part of the normal spectrum of behavior (shocking—like who
were the Church elders hanging out with?) and therefore went
unpunished leads directly to his point: Child sexual abuse is rampant
because society has made it normal, both in religious institutions and
outside of them.

The Pope is telling Church leaders, but also the world, that it is our
collective responsibility to stop, dead in its tracks, the
sexualization of children in any institution or area of life, whether
that is the church, the synagogue, the mosque, the family, the daycare
center, the elementary/middle/high school, the sports club, or
anywhere else in society that this culture manifests itself.

In short, we must make it absolutely deviant to sexualize a child. Not
just as a crime to be enforced in a court of law, but as a set of
social norms and values that center on the preservation of childhood.
Its innocence. Its freedom from the intrusion of adult wants and

All of this may sound pretty obvious. Preachy, even. But if you look
around at our world, it's evident that the Pope's message is somehow
not getting heard. Definitely not getting heard in some of the
institutions that affect kids most.

The worst thing of all is that not only are adults harming children,
but children are buying into their own exploitation and destruction.
So that the adults don't even have to recruit them anymore – kids
nitpick and henpeck each other to conform to a sexualized ideal that
is way beyond their years.

A few examples:

• The entertainment industry is centered on taking innocent children
and turning them into objects of adult desire. How many celebrities
have been "role models" to our kids in their journey from Mickey Mouse
to way-too-adult attire? Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Miley
Cyrus are just a few examples that come to mind and we have seen their
"crash and burn." Even the child stars have even younger siblings
joining them in Hollywood – like Dakota and Elle Fanning, just 13
years old.
• Now Hollywood stars are taking their own branding a step further by
birthing or adopting branded "mini-me"-s, then introducing them to the
world of commerce virtually from the moment they enter the world.
These children are either parent-accessories or businesses in their
own right. Think of Suri Cruise, the Brangelina brood, the Jon + Kate
Plus 8 kids (coincidentally so angry they were expelled from school?),
the Spice Girl kid now starting a line of sunglasses.
• The fashion industry routinely recruits young, innocent waifs to
participate in a world that is way too sophisticated for their
maturity level. Those kids take the money, put on skinny jeans and
tight tops with plunging necklines and cutouts, and then the kids who
watch them influence other kids to buy similar items.

Unfortunately, marketers have been complicit in this phenomenon by
branding to kids virtually from infancy. Everyone is getting used to
being either branded or living in a world defined by brand choices. If
you don't speak or live the language of brands you are functionally

The Pope is telling us, in his message, to question this. Because it
seems like no coincidence that we are witnessing, as he puts it, "the
psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are
reduced to articles of merchandise…a terrifying sign of the times."

Also, it is no coincidence that "in the modern culture, child
pornography, drugs, sex trafficking are seen as normal and not unduly

For those who care about ethics in marketing in branding and life, the
Pope's speech is a call to action.

Brand opportunity: Kill the puffy coats!

Ever noticed that women hate puffy coats, regardless of their age?

This winter I have heard from several women that they would rather look good than be warm. Literally I have heard, "I will not wear puffy coats because they make me look fat!"

I have also heard the opposite - "I wear puffy coats and I don't give a **** whether they make me look fat."

Either way though, the worry about fatness is always there.

Even though the coat makes no difference, truthfully.

Nevertheless - there is a real opportunity for someone to come in and generate buzz around affordable, stylish, super-warm coats that are NOT PUFFY.

Good luck!

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Lessons from the Trumps: Your Haircut & Your Personal Brand

The cornerstone of personal branding is trustworthiness. Did you ever stop to think that people might trust you, or not trust you, because of your haircut?

Exhibit A: The Trump family of personal brands.

Donald Trump and his son both have variants of the comb-over. The elder's haircut is non-greasy, while the younger one's is definitely of the greasy variant.

It is noteworthy that the "original" Donald manages to maintain a good brand, probably because of his straightforward demeanor and signature tagline, "You're fired!"

The younger one's definitely comes across as non-trustworthy. I venture to say this is in large part due to the hair grease. Similar, I think, to the issue Scott Disick faces in his battle to win the trust of Kourtney Kardashian's family.

Ivanka Trump, both in haircut and in demeanor, always looks and sounds trustworthy. Thus she is hire-able anywhere, a born CEO.

Ivanka's mom, Ivana, has an even better hairstyle in my view. It reflects strength, time, effort, and also a degree of control - yet it still looks natural. I love that 'do!

Let us note this for all time: It's the level of control that matters when it comes to your hair. Skillful control = good. Grease = bad.

The haircut dichotomy within the Trump family is reflected in the corporate brand. I am drawn to Trump properties, but in the back of my mind always wonder how solvent the company is.