Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Geek, The Elite and The MBA Ignorant

This blog is about a die-hard topic with a twist.

I often write about the MBAs and Wall Street and some of the stupid stuff that they cannot stop themselves from doing.

Today, I specifically put some of the hot client work on the back burner to highlight and expand on that stupid stuff.

If you read onward through the writing, I will reward you with something completely different in the next blog post. 

Promise.  Cross my heart.

I am writing this on a Tuesday night. This past Sunday I spent part of the morning working on a project for a law firm at one of the Atlanta coffee houses.

As I sat down at a table and turned on my MacBook Pro, I chatted briefly with a guy at the table next to mine.

I try not to stereotype, but this guy had a “geek” twist to his looks and personality. 

He had a PC versus an Apple and a Nokia versus an iPhone.

Shortly after we chatted, a young lady showed up at his table and they started talking about business stuff.

The young lady introduced herself as a “marketing assistant” at Coca-Cola. 

I need to mention that they were both mid-twenty-something Millennials.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to their conversation, but the next thing I knew they were talking about taking his product to market and, as he said, “make my millions on the IPO.”

Okay.  I started to pay a bit more attention.

Their talk seemed to center on a course flow where he would ask for the young lady’s input and then she would give him an answer. 

It quickly occurred to me, that these Millennials were actually constructing his business plan.

I tried to stay quiet and not invade into their discussion, but I finally had to butt in when the young lady asked the geek entrepreneur who was his target market and he replied that he had not set any parameters around it nor did he believe it was all that important to even do it.

“Afterall” he said… “Its any kid between 3-to-8 years of age.”

I commented that I could not help but overhear what they were talking about and I was curious what was the product being developed.

“It’s a kid’s product” was the reply.

I then asked if either had any kids.  Both replied no.

Had they gone out and spoke to parents and kids in developing their product idea and both replied no.

Had they spent time watching Cartoon Network, Nick, Disney or Sesame Street, and they replied that they did not “waste time watching TV.”

When I suggested that entrepreneurs really needed to get out and meet, observe and bounce ideas off of their assumed targeted consumers, both quickly interrupted me.

She spoke first. 

“Do you realize that I work for Coke and obviously I know the marketplace.”

He spoke next.

“I have an MBA from Yale.  I am from the Northeast.  Do you have an MBA?”

I answered, “yes, I have an MBA that I got to learn what not to do and I have an MA to learn how to observe people to learn what to do.”

They both then agreed, “you obviously then have no understanding about how you start up a business venture.”


(I promise, I am not making this up)

There’s an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal about McDonald’s pulling rein on store growth based on a significant drop in sales.

The article goes on to highlight how McDonald’s attempted to be Politically Correct and avoid the wrath of the DC and Eastern Elite in their criticism of fast food in its role in causing American obesity.

McDonald’s aggressively has marketed its Kids Meals now complete with fresh apple slices. 

They have spent millions rolling out their new “egg white only” breakfast sandwiches.

No more push on the French fries, but more push on the healthy, good-for-you, salads. 

Shoot, forget those milk shakes and select a non-fat yogurt smoothie instead.

A Wall Street analyst is quoted in the article as highlighting McDonald’s sales are on a decline as partly due to Wendy’s launch of its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. 

The analysis cites the Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger as the best-selling new QSR product in the last decade.

Whether it is what we fuel our car with to what we use to warm the house to what we elect to do regarding our diet, word-use, hero-figures and child discipline, those DC and Eastern Elite believe that they can make market changes drive out the “evil” brands that are corrupting society.

My gut says that there is likely a close relationship between the DC and Eastern Elite and the professors lecturing to the MBA majors. 

Certainly, those academics found at the Ivy League schools like Yale. 

I might not be a PH.D., but my best advice is to frequently get out beyond the lecterns, the textbooks, the corporate facades and go sit down next to the common folks.

Watch them.  Talk to them.  Ask for their opinion and perspective.

Maybe… just maybe… go and order one of those Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburgers and listen to your gut as it dances in the fun of something juicy and tasty for a change.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What Not To Do... And What To Do!

I went to write this blog a few days ago when I retrieved the Atlanta magazine from my mailbox. 

I wrote about a half page of thoughts… and emotions!  But then, I got a call from a friend to grab a martini and I stopped.

Sometimes taking a break is a good thing and actually turns out a better perspective… and I am the first to say that the martini helps too!

I am writing this blog as I drink a cup of coffee at a new Jewish deli that opened up in Atlanta called The General Muir. 

You will see how The General Muir enters into the rattling below.

First… I have to comment that as much as I dislike what Atlanta magazine has elected to evolve into, I cannot critique the magazine for doing what it did.  After all, the magazine is in the business to sell ad space.

The current issue of the Atlanta magazine is its healthcare issue. 

There are a lot of print media that are jumping quickly on board with their specialized healthcare publications. 

The historic print media struggles today to maintain its ad spending revenue levels as hard copy circulation continues to tank.

To be honest, with all the healthcare reform going on right now, consumers are not necessarily big readers of healthcare ads.

But… we have to remember that healthcare, despite all the hype in Washington, is still a fraternal order.

The current issue is loaded with healthcare ads.  Lots of hospital ads. Lots of specialty care ads.  Everything from orthopedic groups to cancer care centers. 

The ads … and the marketing “managers” along with the ad agencies creating them… appear to dwell among their clones.

The word “care” appears in almost every ad.

So do the pictures with guys and gals sporting the white lab coats.

The ads trumpet self-declared quality and compassion. 

I have already taken the magazine and plan to use it to drive my business.

Like I said, I cannot hold Atlanta magazine responsible.

But I have no remorse in holding the ad agencies accountable.

Ad agencies talk the talk about their innovative thinking sets, but its ads like these that quickly strip away the clothes and reveal the nakedness of the agency’s top priority to receive the client compensation versus deliver the unique brand platforms.

I will use this edition of Atlanta magazine to showcase to clients what not to do.

Enough said.

Let’s shift to The General Muir.

The General Muir is a talked about addition to the Atlanta restaurant mix.

Ben and Jennifer Johnson and Shelley Sweet, the owners of another landmark Atlanta restaurant, are the owners who crafted The General Muir.

It is located nearly across the street from the CDC and just up the hill from Emory University. 

A larger percentage of Emory’s student body and faculty support actually has Jewish root.

General Muir is the name of the refugee ship that brought Jennifer’s mother and grandparents Holocaust survivors to New York after WWII.

In crafting the restaurant concept, its design, its interior, its graphics, its collateral materials… to be honest… every touch-point of The General Muir brand experience, Ben, Jennifer and Shelley went and dwelled with both the owners and the diners of the much-sought, upper Manhattan, authentic New York Jewish restaurant-delicatessens.

No question that Shelly who gets to the restaurant at 4am in the morning, has made it her mission to deliver a brand experience that does not have to communicate self-proclaimed personality, awards and recognition nor the attributes of what comprises the experience.

I encourage readers to check out their website… www.thegeneralmuir.com.

When I leave this morning, not only do I feel a sense of roots, inclusion, tradition and comfort… I very quickly believe that the passion about crafting the essence of a brand that I preach is a calling and a mission.

Shelley’s creation and her day-to-day dedication of opening the doors of The General Muir is also a calling and a mission.

One of my healthcare clients… a team of cardiac surgeons… is very passionate about what the team achieves with patients each and every day.

Nearly all of them are under the age of 45.

They have no ads running in the current issue of Atlanta Magazine.  And even if they did, I doubt that it would be anything like the ads running.

They go beyond the context of the tried and blue.

I encourage the readers of this blog to pick up a copy of Atlanta Magazine and page through it and observe what not to do.

I also encourage the readers of this blog to visit The General Muir and observe what to do.

And then check and see if Jennifer is in the restaurant and have her bring you Horse’s Neck Cocktail, some chopped liver and an assorted pickle plate. 

And then raise your glasses and make a toast of congratulations that Ben, Jennifer and Shelley were brave enough to craft a brand experience that makes The General Muir distinctive... and what to do... from the herd of corporate management that can’t.