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The Best SuperBowl Ad of All Time - Apple's "1984"

I can't wait to see what they roll out this year, but doubt that anything can ever top this.

As I watch the video I am thinking that there are some people in this country who are still enslaved - the victims of human trafficking. Help free the slaves today by reporting suspicious activity to 866-347-2423.

Personal Branding & Your Health: 15 Actions To Take Right Now - That Actually Work

  1. Talk to your doctor as you are working out your lifestyle routine, especially if you have any conditions, are aging, or are doing what you think you should be doing but it's not working for you. Sometimes a health condition can mess you up. For example, I recently read that if you have hypothyroidism, raw spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli can interfere with the functioning of your thyroid – that was pretty shocking! Or you may have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, an endocrine imbalance, celiac disease or even food allergy. Many people crave bread and cheese because they're allergic to wheat and dairy.
  2. Totally love yourself, all the time. You may be fat and feel lousy. You may find yourself horrendous to look at. You may have tried, and failed, many times before. Forget all that and give yourself a big hug. Think about it this way: If you do anything in life as a way to punish yourself for "not being good enough," you can count on failing big time.
  3. Focus on action rather than deprivation. Exercise is action #1: Walk, run, bike, or climb stairs briskly ½ hour a day. "Briskly" means you're out of breath. You can cut the 30 minutes into chunks of 10 minutes each.
  4. If you normally hate exercise, that's probably because you think of it as something you're forced to do. Change that. Really it is a gift you are giving to yourself as a way to feel good, prevent illness, recover, lose weight, or simply to have a few minutes of downtime. If you are not convinced by this, visit any nursing home.
  5. Substitute better habits for worse ones rather than depriving yourself out of "willpower." I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago about how willpower isn't really effective for keeping New Year's Resolutions. (In contrast, immediate rewards for good behavior work very well – and every single thing you do to help yourself is an instance of good behavior.) Most important: If you are hungry, eat – just make better choices.
  6. Make a routine out of exercise and healthier eating. This will protect you from the "I don't feel like it" failure spiral and the "I messed up , now I'm a failure and may as well never try again" syndrome that happens to all of us.
  7. Prepare yourself for the inevitable cravings, headaches, irritability and other problems that will inevitably beset you when you change your lifestyle from unhealthy to healthy. The fact of the matter is that you are addicted to the very things that are harming you. These symptoms will pass.
  8. Don't believe anyone who says they have the "only answer." Everybody is different. That is why it's important to work with your doctor as well as to put up with a certain amount of experimenting till you find what's right for you.
  9. Accept that there are certain things you will have to give up because they truly will send you down a bad path. #1 on that list is sugar. Bury it.
  10. Visualize yourself eating healthy food and avoid looking at unhealthy food. That means: Don't watch the Taco Bell commercials on TV at night, don't stare at supermarket displays of Betty Crocker brownies on sale for 2 for $5, don't stand around the bagel platter at the office breakfast meeting, etc.
  11. If the idea of eating healthy food makes you feel deprived, consider that fancy restaurants routinely charge a lot of money for a plateful of greens & vegetables, topped with a protein of some kind, drizzled with healthy oil. If you eat like that, you are eating like a power player or a celebrity. In contrast, the dollar menu at any fast-food place is full of processed food and white carbs – the kind you are craving right now.
  12. If you don't like being hungry all the time, stop eating simple carbohydrates completely. This doesn't mean that you have to do the Atkins diet, but it does mean that you have to learn where the simple sugars are and stay away from them. Believe it or not, even fruit is not necessarily "safe."
  13. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This is easier if you eat healthy, impossible if you eat junk.
  14. Eat actual food as opposed to manufactured food. For too many reasons to list here, but prime among them that you don't really know what's in them.
  15. Don't laugh at nutritional supplements just because they are sometimes sold by hucksters. These could be of help to you. Your doctor can provide you with information, you can consult with a natural health professional, and you can do your own research online. We live in a very odd world where the first course of action when there is a problem is routinely manufactured solutions, drugs and surgery when sometimes the natural solution is staring us right in the face
Whether you undertake a health program to improve your image, your health, or your BMI doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you start today.

Take one step forward and have faith. G-d will guide you the rest of the way. As Martin Luther King once said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."


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It Takes A Dictator To Build A Brand


Great brands are not built by a committee of disinterested parties. They are hewn from the psyches of extremely obsessed people who narrate the story of their creation down to the smallest detail.

This is so obvious to me yet in real life many brands behave in such a way as to distribute the thinking. They think that they are companies, not brands (mistake #1); de-fang their leadership (mistake #2); try to ensure "buy-in" through numerous committees, working groups, and "task forces" (mistake #3) announced with grand fanfare yet destroyed by no follow-through (mistake #4); and jumble up their potentially powerful messages with corporate gobbledygook (mistake #5).

All of this is a huge mistake. Great brands are not about being politically correct. They are not about being all things to all people. They are about doing one thing inordinately, incredibly well. Usually because someone at the heart of the brand has an almost insane dedication to the brand as a personal cause.

Great brands reflect a kind of love affair between the founder of the brand and what they are selling. Brands-for-all-time have founders who are able to distill that brand into an essence and transmit the passion to the people who work for their company. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard achieved that, while they were with us. Steve Jobs has achieved that too - anyone who even stands next to an Apple store can feel the aura. Bill Gates did not, which is why even if you use Microsoft, you almost love to hate it.

The passion of the brand. The intensity. The obsession by one or two people who get it, and who have no compunction about literally forcing an entire organization to mold to their thinking. It is this thinking that is reflected in Google's decision to seize the reins back from Eric Schmidt and put the original founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in charge again.

I remember when they said that, the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, could never work because it made no sense to showcase your competitors. Now a lot of people don't trust any other Internet vendor except that one.

Donald Trump's brand may or may not be "devalued" right now due to over-extension, but clearly the businessman has been an "army of one" when it comes to creating a name out of whole cloth and selling it at a premium.

In the fashion arena, there is of course Ralph Lauren, who created a stunning brand story seemingly out of nowhere and who as sustained it for decades. (True: My mother remembers when Ralph Lauren was still known by his original name, Ralph Lifshitz. I still can't believe how his real-life persona is now the brand, not the reality of his heritage.)

And of course there is the Starbucks brand, built meticulously by Howard Schultz. If you follow my blog you know that Starbucks is a brand I love to hate right now, because Schultz has sold out the brand's original essence in pursuit of a "growth" strategy that dilutes it completely. That said, anyone who can steer a company from humble beginnings to being an instantly recognizable cultural icon, something that changed modern American history, has my respect.

What all of these companies, and all of their founders, have in common is a passion for the product or service that goes well beyond the norm into the realm of obsession. For other brands, it can be a single person or an army of people, but each one lives, eats, breathes, and you-know-whats an undying dedication to making every aspect of the brand absolutely perfect.

In my view, the way to gauge the success of a brand - the real metric - is whether there is someone behind that brand who sees it as a mission. Someone who will defend it, almost to the death, against the very thing that is normally taken to signal its success: money.

Which brings me to the #1 prime example of a brand facing such a crisis today: Facebook. It is well-known that Mark Zuckerberg has a clear passion and vision for the brand. He wanted to bring people together in such a way that their personal and professional selves were both in view, both integrated, and accessible for all the world to see. And he is deeply resistant to taking the brand public. But with Goldman Sachs investing $1.5 billion in the company, it surely seems headed that way. And once Zuckerberg loses that total control, we could well see the company head to its demise.

In Marketing Research & Life, Courage to Open Your Mind

Source: TidewaterMuse (Flickr)

I was always a difficult child.

As soon as somebody told me "this is the way it is," I would always ask "why?"

I can't count how many times I got into trouble for that question.

Not because it was a bad question. But because asking upset the social apple cart.

What I didn't understand was that sometimes a group decides that something is effectively "true" and "right," even though it isn't necessarily either.

Which is why I'm so fascinated by sociology. How do individual thoughts turn into group decisions? Because the answer to that question is hugely important.

* On the commercial side, you can leverage groupthink to sell things. (E.g., Uggs boots. Which really are Uggs.)

* Outside the workplace, you can channel group behavior toward the positive - such as the new interagency program to fight human trafficking and the huge social movement that is taking place around this issue.

* Frighteningly, group behavior can turn ugly too - the anti-Semitism now exploding in Egypt during its political quest for freedom is just one example.

As an adult I am glad to have a myriad of research tools available to me to help me discover answers to the questions I have. For many years I believed in the concept of a guru that supposedly "has all the answers." I thought I just had to find the right one.

Well, that didn't work.

Today I see that nobody has all the answers. Instead, there are helpful people who can provide assistance along one's path of discovery.

The thing that has made the difference for me, and what I hope to share, is to have the courage and self-confidence to believe in your questions. And then the persistence to see your research through.

It can be challenging and time-consuming, for sure, but the end result is worth it.

Don't be afraid to have that temper tantrum. Just use it for constructive ends.

Good luck!

15 Hidden Biases That Are Costing You Money

1. "I only need to read industry news to keep me up to speed - otherwise it's a waste of time."

2. "I know what my customer wants - not you."

3. "I don't need to respond to that - saying something will only make it worse."

4. "They didn't say anything, so they must agree with me."

5. "Focus on managing upward - don't waste time on 'nobodies'."

6. "It's more important that the information be technically correct than understandable."

7. "It's a bad market - there are no opportunities out there."

8. "I'm too old to change."

9. "I already know what I think - don't confuse me (with the facts)."

10. "There is nothing new under the sun - everything important has been said already."

11. "People are inherently (good or bad)."

12. "I have experience and you don't, so my opinion is right."

13. "I know all there is to know already."

14. "I am too heavily invested to walk away now."

15. "There is no way to turn this situation around."

Happy Monday!


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Personal Branding & the $50 Billion Sweatshirt: Zuckerberg Meets Eisenberg and Sandberg on SNL

If you didn't see Saturday Night Live last night, this clip is priceless. It shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confronting Jessie Eisenberg, the actor who played him in The Social Network, as well as the Andy Samberg, who plays him on SNL - all at once.

Which one of them is the real Zuckerberg? The person born with that name, who is under the magnifying glass and must conform to a certain image to maintain his reputation? The actor, who is under no such constraints but needed to enact a script convincingly to sell tickets? Or the comedian, who has no skin in the game but to make us laugh and so can perhaps be more insightful than the other two?

There is a lesson somewhere in here about personal branding and how our real personalities translate into others' perceptions of us. And why that matters.

But the real reason to watch is that it's just hilarious.