29
Jun 15

On Vacation And Golden Tickets

The Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina.

While on vacation last week in the Outer Banks with family, we got to watching the Johnny Depp version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The movie itself is nowhere near as good as the original, but there was a particular scene when our protagonist, Charlie Bucket, is trying to decide whether he should take the final Golden Ticket he found in the chocolate bar and experience the chocolate factory tour, or sell it for money to help his poor family.

His grandfather, bedridden and essentially a background player for the entire movie, utters his only line of the movie, but it was a line that got me thinking.

Here’s the line:

“There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there’s only five of them in the whole world, and that’s all there’s ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”

According to the U.S Travel Association, Americans throw away $52.4 billion every year because they won’t take time off from work.

I don’t know how many days that translates to, but that is a staggering number, isn’t it? It means we are working for free when we fail to use our allotted vacation time.

The vacation time we are given is meant to be used for, well, vacation. A means to get away and experience relaxation and unplugging. A Golden Ticket, if you will.

And while some companies offer employees the ability to roll over their days, chances are high that those days get rolled over and, well, you get the point.

While sitting on a deck that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, cold beer in hand, a sea breeze warm on my face, I struggled to think of a good reason why anyone would purposely skip on vacation days.

But it happens a lot.

So I wonder: Are we really that busy that we can’t pull ourselves away from our desks? Is our confidence in our colleagues so low that we would rather work than hand off tasks to be covered in our absence? Are we really that full of ourselves that only we can do the work the right way?

Everyone is busy.

But those who balance their time well tend to get more done. And part of that balancing of time is leaving work behind entirely when we take some time off.

There’s something to be said about not thinking about your job for an extended period of time. I’ve found it can lead to a renewed vigor and passion for your work; an opportunity to start over, in a sense.

It can brighten your outlook and remind you there is more to life than sitting behind a desk, forced to endure what can be a challenging day-to-day existence.

You owe it to yourself to get out and cash in those Golden Tickets you’ve been given.

Don’t be a dummy.


12
May 15

Why A Lot Of Brand Social Content Sucks

suck

As I sit down to write this post, I wish I could tell you exactly why a lot of brand social content sucks, but that would require some form of concrete evidence, of which I do not have for you.

Instead, I think it’s appropriate to share a few different ways that brands, in my opinion, fail when it comes to social.

These are by no means the only reasons, but they come to mind immediately when I think of the ways brands suck at social.

Terrified of Being Vilified

For every great piece of social content a brand shares, there is a Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers situation.

When brands see something like this happen, they freeze.

The public revolts. Media outlets drag their name through the mud. Calls go out for people to be fired. There is renewed interest in getting everything approved by legal.

It’s disappointing. But nobody wants to be the next brand to make a mistake on social media, so they play it safe instead of trying to create compelling content that will be consumed by their community.

Slaves to the Hashtag

If there’s a holiday coming up, you can bet your you-know-what a brand is going to jump into that conversation. But rather than creating something useful, they slap together a bland post so that they can be “part of the conversation”; a post that adds absolutely nothing to “the conversation.”

It’s checking the box in every sense of that term.

There is no rule that says you have to participate. If your brand doesn’t have a logical connection to said holiday (See below) it’s okay to ignore it.

hut

Apathy for the Community

This is the one that drives me up a wall. If the brand is not setting out to drive conversation or solve a problem, why do they have a social presence in the first place? To gain as many followers as necessary so they can say they engage with a community of followers?

I hope that’s not the case.

Yeah, it’s great if you have 20,000 individuals following your account. But what’s the benefit if you’re just sharing shitty marketing images with lame hashtags in order to reach your post quota for the week?

***

In my humble opinion, brands should (and certainly have the capabilities to) go out of their way to create social content that their fans legitimately want to engage with and share with their friends.

Even something as simple as a creative GIF can be noteworthy when it’s done right. With the amount of resources most major brands have at their disposal, they have no excuse to create content that sucks.

If they’re mailing it in, Twitter would be better off without them.


08
May 15

The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others

 

apple

First of all, this isn’t about social media.

At least, not really.

But everything we do, it seems, is captured, in one form or another, to be shown to the world.

Okay, that’s not really true. If I had to do some math – shudder — I’d guess that five percent of our daily lives are captured and recorded to be shared with our followers. But as consumers who constantly have our eyes focused downward at our phones, or glued to the screen in front of us, it sure seems like our friends and family members are locked in to TMI Mode.

We see the amazing things they do as soon as they do it. And even though we know that they don’t share the bad, it can be quite difficult to convince ourselves that they don’t have it better than we do, even if our lives are pretty damn good.

The danger in letting us believe they’ve got it better than us is obvious. It lowers your impression of yourself, it leads you to act as if others are going to judge your decisions, and, in severe cases, it can lead one to take their own life because they will never measure up.

I read an article on ESPN.com yesterday about the University of Pennsylvania student who took her own life because she was afraid she couldn’t stack up to everyone else. One of the main points of the article was that social media was a big factor in her decision.

[Editor’s Note: If you are a parent, this is a tough read. But worth it.] 

The constant notification that shows how well everyone else is doing led this young woman to believe that she would never measure up to the filtered images on her Instagram feed, so she took her own life.

Again, that’s a worst case.

But if we’re constantly comparing ourselves to other in a game that we can’t win, who is to say we’re not dying a little bit every day?

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Someone else is going to do it.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. There is real danger to be had.

We need to spend more of our time trying to better ourselves for the direct benefit of us and our loved ones. The rest of the world be damned.


03
Apr 15

When Viruses Run Rampant

fg

As I write to you, dear reader, on this third day of April in the year of our Lord 2015, a virus is loose in our house.

It has infected two of us, and there is no doubt that my wife and I won’t be spared.

It has shown itself in the form of vomiting. The kind that spews out unexpectedly and returns again and again until there is nothing left to come up. It’s the kind that forces the carrier to carry a bucket at all times, lest the bug hit unexpectedly. It’s the change-the-sheets-on-the-bed-twice-in-the-middle-of-the-night variety.

AKA the worst kind.

So what, as parents, can we do when this hits?

Nothing.

Doesn’t that suck?

I can’t imagine there is much worse than knowing you’re going to be up four or five times with your kid throughout the night.

Don’t worry about not waking up – your parental intuition will force your eyes open at the first sign of a heave from the adjoining room. At that point, you might as well climb in with your little one.

Thankfully, as the kids get older, they become a bit more self-sufficient. Sometimes they make it to the bathroom by themselves. The days of catching puke in your cupped hands (I’ve had to do this) to prevent it from hitting the floor are over. Now, it’s just a matter of making sure it doesn’t get in their hair.

There is so much to love about being a parent, but puking episodes are, in my humble opinion, the worst. I’ve thrown up before just from hearing the kids lose it.

This virus should be gone in 48 hours.

But until then, don’t come near us.


31
Mar 15

The Reason Why Periscope Is Here To Stay

persicope

How do I know Periscope is here to stay?

Because people are using it in the bathroom.

If you work in the marketing/PR/social space like I do, the introduction of Meerkat and Periscope represents a significant opportunity to show off your brand.

It doesn’t take a genius to come up with the ways these apps can help you reach your audience that differs from what Twitter and Instagram offers.

But for everyone else, the onslaught of these apps has given human beings another way to let us in on the minutiae that makes up our daily lives.

And that includes going to the bathroom.

When I log into Periscope, I get to see every.single.stream that is live. This includes people sitting on the toilet, bros demanding likes to show their girlfriend in the shower, and live video of corgis running in circles.

These are hardly activities that a brand wants to partake in, but they need to understand the majority of users don’t want to use it professionally; they just want to show off the mundane shit that they encounter every day.

And that brings me to one of the drawbacks of the app: you’ll have to sift through a load of crap to find the gold since there is really no rhyme or reason to the streams that populate the top of your feed.

Sure, you can see your friends’ activity after it has already aired, but you almost have to be lucky to catch them in real time.

But that doesn’t mean we, as professionals, should stay away.

For every 50 people using it to show how they walk to Starbucks in the morning, you’ll find that one journalist using it to break news in real time, which is where the real value lies. (And you can’t discount the fact that it’s backed by Twitter.)

So jump in. Get your feet wet. Periscope is here to stay.

But be forewarned: You’re going to have to show your fridge.