The Brilliance Of The Founders

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” — John Adams


It’s the fourth of July and we’re celebrating the birth of our nation.  In a moment of retrospection, it struck me that they founders of our nation were brilliant in how the crafted the heart and framework of the United States of America.

  • They were careful strategic planners.  First, the created a vision of the future with the Declaration of Independence..  Then they followed that up with a strategic framework – the Constitution. They left most of the tactics to those who would have to do the work.
  • They acknowledged the need for change.  They were true try it/test it/fix it thinkers, establishing the concept of amendments to the constitution in Article V.
  • They new they needed teamwork.  It wasn’t always pretty, with plenty of disagreement, but the founders worked together to craft the Declaration and Constitution.  In fact, while the Constitution was written in 1787, it was ratified by the necessary 9 states the next year.  The very design of a bi-cameral government, with three parts to the governing  (Executive/Congressional/Justice) showed that they didn’t want a monarchy or dictatorship to be possible.  They knew it would take a team of people to make the government work.  That may be whey there were around 55 people were involved in the drafting of the information.

There’s a lot more to the Declaration and Constitution of course, but it’s interesting to me how the brilliance of these few people who drafted our future so long ago.  It’s such a good model it even works for us, today.  And administering the Constitution can still not be a pretty site.

Have a very happy 4th and think about how difficult it was for those brilliant people to create something that lasted so long.

Our primary objective is…

“Many leaders I know struggle with over-commitment. Dozens of great opportunities come our way, but there’s no way to do them all—or at least do them all well.” – Michael Hyatt


I received an email from someone wanting to start up a new project, which said, “our primary objectives are…” and then listed 10 points. I think I’ll avoid that project.

It’s a common challenge for many of us-trying to do too much at one time. If there are 10 primary objectives, that’s at least 8 too many. I’ve learned, usually the hard way, that strategy requires us to know what to say no to. Strategy is about doing the right thing, not about how much you can do.

Don’t know about you, but I’m not good at “no.” More always seems better, and like the email, there always seems to be so many good “primary objectives.”

What are you saying no to? If you really want to be strategic it’s an important question to answer.

Why Is Starbucks Giving Away Apps?

“As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product.” – Jef Raskin, Author, Scientist


I’ve gotten used to seeing the cards for free downloads at Starbucks, so it got my attention when I noticed something different. Here is a card for a free download of “Dora’s Skywriting ABC’s.” It’s the “App pick of the week.” So what the heck is going on, Dora doesn’t have anything to do with coffee!

What’s going on is Starbucks understands that the consumer is the key player in the relationship “dance,” and that anything special that will cause engagement is what they do. We’ve probably all seen a time when a child wanted our iPhone’s to play with. Starbucks has teamed up with Apple to provide, at no cost, a way to he a hero to those children and help them learn at the same time. Starbucks has come up with another angle about what Raskin calls “the interface” for coffee drinkers with children…or even coffee drinkers who are around children.

If Starbucks were radio, it would have come up with a “my favorite coffee” app. Radio tends to look inwards as if the music coming out of the box were the entire product. Starbucks, and the people at Apple, understand that if you focus on the consumer, the real product is what and how they use you.

If we were to think of the “product” as two things, (1) engagement with the consumer, and (2) the interface, or experience we create, we can begin to make that transition from radio organization to media organization.

Time To Change The Logo

Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity. – Edwin Land


I was standing in the lobby of a Doubletree hotel recently and saw a poster. “Yes, we’ve changed our logo” it shouted at me, as if I should be impressed. The truth was, I couldn’t remember the old logo, and it wasn’t what keeps me coming back to that chain anyway. Until I saw the announcement of the change I wasn’t aware of the need for a new logo. Now I wonder what dictated it – and I feel I missed a problem. Bottom line, though, is that the new logo won’t alter my use of that hotel at all. Bad service and bed bugs will, but not the logo.

I’m probably sensitive because of the 18 years I spent with a radio & TV company, where I learned the answer to low TV news ratings was to change the set. That’s right, change the desks and people ill watch more. And I’ve heard otherwise smart radio people tout the need to change the logo because it was “dated.” A new font, a stylized circle instead of a square, and people will listen more. I can’t remember a listener saying they didn’t like or listen to a station because of their logo. I wonder how many millions of dollars have been spent in the industry because to creative design and associated costs with the logo. And don’t even get me started with the reasoning behind “freshening” the jingles or updating the slogan!

You know what? Chances your listeners aren’t that aware of your logo. If you’re having real challenges the cosmetics aren’t going to matter much – the content is.

Cosmetics aren’t going to solve the problem if your station has been stripped of compelling content to “make the numbers.” Cosmetics aren’t going to help if your station has no “position” or mental place in the audiences mind. Cosmetics aren’t going to help if your station is devoid of creativity. Certainly cosmetics aren’t going to help if your strategy is wrong or non-existent.

If your having challenges you need to be able to look at your content first. It’s hard to be objective about your own creation, but it’s time we take a realistic look at our content, and honestly assess it’s “magnetism,” rather than something superficial.

Gentlemen, This Is A Football

“Gentlemen, this is a football.” – Vince Lombardi

Most of us are aware of this quote Lombardi gave to every player, at the start of every season.  It was Lombardi’s way of keeping his people focused on the basics.  But did you know that early in his coaching career he followed that with “And that’s the last you’re going to see of it for two weeks.”  Before the basics, he focused them on preparation.  They reviewed the plays, worked out the details, and got ready to earn the right to work with the ball.

I think we could learn from that.  We’re always ready to jump in and get something done.  Everyone else is on Twitter, so we’ve got to be on Twitter too.  Even if we aren’t sure how to use it, or what value we gain.  What would happen if we spent the time to learn about Twitter, and plan its part in your overall social network strategy.

That two weeks Lombardi took in preparation paid off for both he and his teams.  What could it do for you?