Showing posts from September, 2015

5 Brand Destroyers To Fire Today

Brand-Destroying Employees Are Like Barnacles Slowly Corroding Your Organizational "Ship"

Like barnacles corroding a ship, these people appear like benign growths on the edge of your organization, not really adding but not really taking away, either. The truth is, they’ll actively sink your boat in the water.

Think of them as the 5 A’s:
Abusive: Usually covertly, subtly, and implicitly rather than explicitly, these people shrink and shred the self-worth of those they supervise, work with and work for, alike. They’re not just “crabby,” they’re downright sadistic and they get an orgasmic thrill from making other people feel like s**t. Delete them from your organization at once, and watch the morale of everybody else go up immediately and drastically. Nobody wants to work with, around or for a soul-murdering pig, much less build a brand with them. Fire them ASAP and you’ll literally hear the sounds of cheering in the hallways. Or the bathrooms. Or both.Angry: Some people are just …

G-d's Truth and Your Truth: Magen David Sephardic Congregation, N. Bethesda, MD (Shabbat, September 26, 2015)

שׁבעים פּנים לתורה

G-d's Truth and your truth. Both valid, both real.

Differing interpretations of Halacha as valid. 
Your job on this Earth is to find your way. 
A bigger job - to create inclusive spaces that allow for like-minded community. 
That's what I learned this week in Shul. 
For more information:
Visit Magen David Sephardic Congregation, N. Bethesda, MD.Learn more about yesterday's Parsha, Ha'Azinu, at
Screenshot of MDSC via Midnight Rider.

An Understanding Of All Things Brand: The 10K Foot View

You have to understand that a brand is way beyond a logo now. You do understand that, because the Mad Men paradigm where we cook up Frankenstein in the lab and serve it up to you has been destroyed.
In its place is an open kitchen where you can see me cooking, and if I put sulfuric acid in the chocolate pudding you'll know right away, you'll Tweet it and Instagram it and my restaurant will close before the first menu ever gets printed. If we begin with this "first principle" or common assumption then the rest of the major questions about branding, the tired debates we've been engaging in for more than a decade now, have been resolved. And while scientific studies about which tactical approach are useful for marketing journals, it is the unresolved theoretical issues that have screwed the profession up badly. To the point where the word "branding" in some circles has become a kind of poison, a valid and critical discipline that cannot be uttered in name les…

Show Me Your Family & I’ll Show You Your Brand

Show me who your family is, I’ll read your tea leaves in an instant. That’s Grandma & Grandpa, on my mother’s side, Murray and Muriel Garfinkel, may they rest in peace. Lived in the countryside, up in Monticello, New York – “the Catskills.” Remember Dirty Dancing?  Those Catskills, except mine was a little later than the movie. My Monticello was: Passover with the whole extended family and “my aunt the feminist,” driving past Grossinger’s and the Homowack on the way to Camp Tagola, heading out to Woodbourne on a Saturday night in an overloaded station wagon with an underage driver, trying not to get killed; Joe Rota’s candy store and atomic fireballs on Main Street, walking to the courthouse on Shabbos. Three-hour walks down unmarked country roads, and looking at the daffodils. Grandma and Grandpa watching TV upstairs on Yom Tov, but not Shabbos, because they knew what was and wasn’t allowed. All fifteen of us getting under the covers and watching Days of Our Lives together, NBC-4, ex…

Remembering Another Yom Kippur War

I was 8 years old and don't remember all of it.
It started when the front door opened. It was just after Yom Kippur had ended. My father had been in synagogue all day and my mother had been fasting.

"Where's the Havdala wine, please?"

He said this to my mother not so much as a question but as an imperative. Wore a tall black hat in the traditional felt style. His shoes were perfectly shined as always. A suit severe and gray.

"I don't know where the Havdala wine is," said my mother.

"We need the Havdala wine," said my father.

What led to the next thing that happened, I don't know. But it is permanently engraved in my mind. It was like my mother just completely lost her shit, all at once, no warning. It was very scary.

"You want the Havdala wine?"

Her voice was elevating slightly. I could hear her rummaging around the kitchen cabinets.

Know that I love my mother and father very much. But my mother, to me, is like my life.

I did not know what…

Predicting 2016 With Brand Power

To determine the strength of a brand, the global research firm Millward Brown surveys customers regarding three criteria. (Their terminology is in quotes.): Unique: How “different” is the brand as versus competitors?Relevant: How “meaningful” is it to the customer? Do they intellectually believe it’s the better product? Are they emotionally attached?Top of mind: How “salient” is it to the customer when they’re ready to buy? Is it the brand the customer most readily thinks of?All other things being equal, I was curious to see how the candidates would stack up if this formula were applied to Election 2016. So I used the following methodology to pick a winner: Winnowed down the list to the most likely candidates on both the Republican and the Democratic tickets, using my own common sense.Pulled names and photos via Ron Gunzberger’s non-partisan website, Politics. These are listed below.Summarized my impression of their brand performance on each of the “Brand Power” criteria.Gave each point …

Leadership, Vision & Your Personal Brand Architecture

Hard to believe but it's been 18 years since Tom Peters wrote "The Brand Called You," first published in Fast Company, August 1997. Who can forget his call to action: "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It's that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable."As a young sociologist trained in labeling theory, I understood instinctively that in the end you are what the world labels you.

It wasn't a far cry from the messages I'd gotten in school, and in synagogue: Preserve your good reputation above all else.

But there was something else, that Peters didn't articulate. I felt it in my bones, but didn't have words for it in marketing terms. Sociologists call it role conflict: the problem that arises when one part you play on the stage of life clashes with the others.

I personally felt role conflict all the time, especially after I got married. I felt:
Squashed into the little-girl image th…

A Show of Jewish Unity 10 Years In The Making

Today is Tisha B'Av, a holiday of Jewish mourning for the destruction of our two holy Temples and many other terrible events that happened on this day.

We can never understand why bad things happen, particularly to good people. Nor should we, probably. Nevertheless on this day we traditionally focus on promoting Jewish unity.

We believe that pointless hatred is a principal cause of our destruction.

So it was fitting that the Beltway Va'ad sponsored a unity event aimed at bringing together Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Sephardic Jews. Here's the flier.

The event was held today at Beth Joshua Congregation, an Orthodox shul in Rockville, MD.

As soon as I parked the car I could feel the electric energy of the gathering. 

I snapped this photo of the attendees as they quickly and purposefully walked in. 

When I arrived, the room was filling up rapidly. We took our seats as Beth Joshua's Rabbi Uri Topolosky (pictured in the cover photo) greeted us. 

I sat in the back because I p…

Deconstructing What Is Easily The Best Marketing Pitch Ever

Understand that I am possibly the cheapest person on the planet when it comes to buying makeup. I will cruise past the entire CVS to get a lipstick marked $1.99, because really, who's going to see the label once the stuff is on your face? A fan letter I stumbled across in a blog post turned that icy resolve into hot steam. It's very likely I'm going to buckle and spend the $75 asking price for Stowaway Cosmetics' mini-kit. Consider the staggering implications of this. I am "devoted" to spending no more than necessary on certain things. And a dirt-cheap concealer, red lipstick and mascara will cost me $15 at the drugstore. (That's just the cost to throw out whatever junk has accumulated in my purse.) This pitch convinced me to spend $75 --> 5x more.There must be a formula behind such marketing magic.Let's deconstruct some of its major elements. Again, here's a link to the original post if you want to read the whole thing first. Jamie Beck, the writer…

3 Ways To Stop Sexism Now

If I were a man in the modern workplace, I would be confused about how to treat my female colleagues.I would want to treat them politely, just the same as everybody else. But sometimes being polite can also be perceived as sexist, overly personal or condescending. For example: I wouldn't know if I should hold open the door for them, or let them walk in through a doorway first.I wouldn't know if I should ask them about their families and kids.I wouldn't know if I should offer them help or not with a work assignment.The list of confusing situations goes on and on. Can one make a joke? Can one ask a female colleague to do something, if they are not a subordinate? Can one mentor a female subordinate, without that being perceived the wrong way? The first thing to know is the Platinum Rule:Treat others as they want to be treated. But of course if things were all that simple, we wouldn't need a whole bunch of specific rules, right? Let's face it, complication is a part of the…