Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

Category Archives: Cora

5 Things I’m Pondering Right Now

Changing Landscape

1 – A Changing Mobile Landscape

Wow. The pace of change in the mobile landscape is staggering. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile handset business was inevitable. Blackberry being purchased by private equity was less inevitable. I think many though Blackberry might be purchased by someone like Samsung or Apple. The private equity move is a bit of a head-scratcher. That’s some serious change. Add in Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C, both with the added security feature of finger print verification. Frankly, this security measure was long overdue and it was only going to be implemented well by Apple. We’re on the cusp of some serious changes, but I’m not sure these changes will end up being great for consumers. Why do I say that? Well, as the mobile world shrinks, will we see a slow down in innovation? Google is being less open with Android. Samsung wants to create their own OS. Microsoft has never really been good with leveraging an asset they purchased (see Skype as an example). There’s just a lot going on. While this might not be good for the consumer from an innovation standpoint, this could be great for the market at large. Less players, less devices, less fragmentation should create better standardization and hopefully start accelerating the road map for mobile marketing and advertising.

2 – Career Advice?

Yesterday, I came across this post titled, “Career Advice to My Daughters.” With a title like that, you knew it was going to get a lot of play. It was shared several times in my Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. Friends, called it “thoughtful”, “poignant”, “important” and a “must read.” I disagree with all of those words, except “must read.” I have a daughter, Cora. She’s 6. I became more and more irritated as I made my way through the author’s post. A great friend of mine, captured my feelings better than even I could. She said, “Wow. So, that guy’s advice is to basically NOT have a career? I’m baffled.” Another friend, this one a guy, said, “This is the same type of garbage that drives me nuts about younger employees. They’re “owed” great jobs. Companies do not owe you a job. They certainly don’t owe you a great job or career. It is a financial transaction. Provide value and be compensated. Be awesome and you’ll get the better jobs. On the plus side, if Cora and his kid were in a pool, Cora finishes in the top 50%.” I couldn’t agree more. While, I don’t need, nor expect my kids (both of them) to become CEOs, I do expect them to have an understanding of how the world works and that those who like ambition, drive and a clear sense of direction, struggle.

So Hard To Keep Up

3 – It’s Tough To Stay Digitally Fit…Even For Digital People

Keeping up in digital is challenging. I read. I read more. I try. I try more. I joined Snapchat. I hate Snapchat. I keep trying Snapchat. In a very sobering study from Adobe (PDF), it was revealed that less than half of DIGITAL marketers feel they are highly proficient at digital marketing. On some level, this isn’t surprising. For years, we haven’t invested in making digital important…certainly not important enough to invest in making our digital talent better through formal training-like programs. When we talk about building the digital capability and increasing our level of digital fitness at The Campbell Soup Co., we don’t focus on non-“digital” talent. Everyone needs to get more fit. Even those that are considered the most knowledgeable about digital, can always be smarter, better and more fit. When I read a report like this I feel even better knowing my kids are embracing digital and technology at such a young age.

Real Time

4 – Real Time “Marketing” Fatigue?

I watched, as many marketers did, the “real time marketing” efforts by brands during the Emmy’s. Most brands seemed to sit it out; and I happen to think that’s a good thing that reflects a return back to basic marketing fundamentals. Now, it’s possible, many brands sat out the Emmy’s because the Emmy’s aren’t as big as the Oscar’s. However, I tend to think it’s because marketers are realizing that real time marketing is a fad. Yes, I said a fad. Let me be clear when I say a fad, it’s the idea that an Oreo Super Bowl moment is repeatable every day. What isn’t a fad, isn’t being prepared, actively listening and striking at the right moment with an authentic on brand message that your audience actually wants to hear. What we saw with this most recent Oscar’s, were brands forcing the conversation. They were trying hard to replicate a moment. The problem is, you can’t force a moment. Moments happen, what you need to do is be ready to take advantage of the moment. Now, of course, leaders in the space, took umbrage with people calling them out for forcing a conversation and ultimately delivering off brand and mediocre creative experiences. They would have you believe that “no one” has this figured out and this is part of the evolution of real time marketing and it’s about innovation and test and learn. I’m not buying that. At Campbell, we often talk about how social is 99% preparation and 1% execution. If you spend your time preparing, you’ll almost always be able to take advantage of that 1% moment. If we want social to be better than robo-calls, infomercials and overly aggressive mass market direct mail, we need to focus on the preparation, not on trying to make execution the 99%. Our new soup campaign features a character called called, The Wisest Kid. You won’t find any tweets from him during the Emmy’s. There were certainly some great oppotunities, but we passed on them. Why? Because, we’re staying true to the campaign and our audience…the Emmy’s started after The Wisest Kid’s bed time. To have tweeted during the Emmy’s, with the hopes of catching lightening in the bottle, would have meant we were prioritizing short term gains and the expense of long term growth. Know your brand. Know your audience. Connect with them in a natural way.

Spartan

5 – Does Your Digital Org Road Map Include Blowing It All Up?

Digital moves quick. Every day it seems like there’s something new to keep up on. When you’re building a digital organization or looking to transform an organization into a more digitally fit one, you have to have a plan. I know that sounds basic. I realize you’re thinking, well gosh Adam, tell me something I don’t know. Ok, now, think for a second; do you have a real 5 year road map for where you’re taking the organization? Does it have vision and strategy? Does it include how you’ll evaluate your progress? For some of you the answer is yes. That’s great. Now, let me ask you, does your plan include and account for blowing up your entire model at some point? I didn’t think so. Why is this important? Part of it is as simple as the old adage, what got you here, won’t get your there. The other part though is that the skills, staffing dynamics, focus, priorities, partners and economic environments change often. While your vision and strategy should be consistent, the road map to get to bright will need to evolve and ultimately, at some point, you’ll need to blow it up if you want to be successful 5 years out from the end of your 5 year road map. We’re 15 months into our journey to be the most digitally fit CPG in the world. It’s a marathon. But, a marathon that we need to run at a sprinter’s pace. The more I think about things though, it might be less marathon and more like a Spartan Challenge style race.  In Spartan Challenges, you need to adapt and adapt quickly and often. You have fire, mud, hills and other obstacles. Those obstacles force you to reassess your path quickly. You need to be nimble, but not sloppy, as you keep your eye on the end goal.

Some Thoughts On Being A Parent

Perhaps one of the great truths of being a parent is that you’ll get to offer your children advice…that they won’t take. I’m guilty of this truth. At 33, when I look back on the great advice offered by parents, more so my dad, that I didn’t listen to..well…it’s staggering. But, that’s life, right? As kids we think we know better and that our parents are out of touch. When we transition from advice takers to advice givers it’s a moment you remember.

John, Cora and Adam

My kids, Cora and John are nearly 6 and 4 respectively. They’re young. They’re still growing. Right now, I try to keep things simple. There’s really only 3 things I try to reinforce with them.

  1. Love each other, be nice to one another; you only have one brother and one sister.
  2. Speak the truth and be clear.
  3. Mind your manners and your studies.

Sometimes, I even think it sticks.

Looking forward though, to when they’re old enough to really ignore me, I hope the following sticks.

  • Life isn’t short. It’s long. People tell you it’s short. It’s not. You have more time thank you think. Don’t be in a rush. Choose carefully. Many of your decisions, you’ll live with forever.
  • Love fast. Love hard. You’re heart will be broken often. You’ll break the hearts of others. Don’t let the fear of a broken heart stop you from loving. But, never tolerate someone who doesn’t value the love you have in your heart. Remember, life is long.
  • Work an honest day. Earn your keep. Don’t compromise your values for a dollar. Don’t be ashamed to earn what you’re worth, even if it means your valued more than others. Money shouldn’t define you. It doesn’t make you a better person. But, it can be the fuel you need to experience the world.
  • Quality over quantity. Always.
  • Don’t lie to your father. I’m your biggest ally, your best friend and the one person you can always trust.

I’m still learning from my dad. He’s my best friend. He’s the 1st person I turn to for advice. He’s the first person to keep me humble. No dad’s perfect. I think I lucked out, though. I hope my kids feel the same way.

Test Photos From The New Nikon 35mm 1.4G

I love new “glass” – that’s what we photo junkies call lenses. For a while I’ve wanted Nikon’s 35mm 1.4 G. It’s a great focal length for nearly all occasions and you can’t beat the 1.4. I recently got a great deal from National Camera in Minneapolis and couldn’t pass it up. This past weekend I put the lens through its paces. These are all shot at 1.4. I can’t get over how sharp they are in the foreground and how beautiful the bokeh.

This first one is from an outside skating area. It’s the day after Cora lost 1 of her front teeth.
Cora Smiling Sans Tooth

Same location as the first photo. We’ve been teaching John how to skate. On the advice of someone else, I bought him a hockey stick and it’s made a huge difference in how well balanced he is on the ice.

John the Hockey Player

Picked Cora up some acrylic paint and canvas. This was her attempt at painting my portrait.

Getting My Portrait

Ordered this custom super hero cape from Etsy. He’s in love with it.

Super John

The Joy Of Christmas

John and Cora at the Christmas Tree

Having kids is a guaranteed recipe for incredible moments that you’ll remember for many years to come. This was intentionally shot out of focus and as a silhouette. John’s on the left. Cora’s on the right. Both are reaching at ornaments on the tree.

A wonderful Christmas to remember, full of food, fun, friends and family. You can’t ask for anything more, can you?

Shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 50mm 1.4 D. Love the bokeh from the lens.

Like Father…Like Daughter

When people look at Cora it’s no wonder they think she’s just like her mother. They look like twins. Long blonde hair? Check. Blue eyes? Check. Short, button nose? Check. From head to toe Cora is a carbon copy of Cheryl. Or so it may seem.

See, Cora may be a carbon copy of her mother, in the looks department, but when it comes to personality, she’s 100% me.

This September, Cora started kindergarten. After, some minor deliberation, we chose a STEM school program for Cora. When you look at where the world is headed, it’s hard to argue with a program that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. The school we chose, Poplar Bridge is supposed to have a challenging curriculum and teachers who’ve seen it all and are thus capable of “managing” all types of personalities.

When I was in kindergarten, my parent sent me to a “special” school that was designed to unlock the potential in “gifted” minds. Seriously. Much like Cora’s school environment, my kindergarten pushed science and technology, while providing battle tested teachers.

Well, we had Cora’s first check-in last week. It’s not a formal parent-teacher conference, but it is an opportunity to understand how your child is performing, what they excel at and where there’s improvement. The feedback we received seemed like it was copied word for word from my kindergarten and primary school report cards:

1. Cora is exceptionally bright and articulate. It’s clear that the investment in time (we read to her all the time), experiences (the zoo, museums, etc.) and technology (she had an iPad at 3) have paid off.

2. Her handle on words and math are above the class average. Much in the same way, I was quizzed as a child, we quiz Cora. Sometimes she doesn’t even realize she’s being quizzed.

3. She likes to be the center of attention. I’d say, she’s a natural leader.

4. She can be bossy at times to the other students and a bit condescending. The condescension comes from the fact, she doesn’t understand why the other kids don’t understand the things she does. Personally, I think she needs better competition.

5. She has a problem sitting still and is always on the go. She’ll need that when she’s a future CEO.

6. She has a tendency to finish her assignments before anyone else and is dissatisfied in finding out there is no next assignment or reward for being first to finish. This one made me smile a Kool-Aid sized grin. She wants to be first, clear her list and wants the next challenge.

I didn’t attend the session with the teacher, Cheryl did. As Cheryl was sharing the feedback with me, I kept smirking, smiling and laughing. The apple, definitely, does not fall far from the tree. You might say, just as I’ve been decried, Cora is young, confident and restless. There’s a certain warmth that fills your heart when you realize your kids are just like you…even when they don’t look like you.

After receiving the stink eye from Cheryl, I stopped smiling, smirking and laughing. I said I would talk with Cora and help reinforce the feedback…especially the areas for improvement. Later on, with a serious face and a giant smile on the inside, I explained to my daughter, that:

1. She needs to respect and listen to the teacher.

2. She must understand that all kids are different and they all move at a different pace; she shouldn’t rub it in that she finished 1st.

3. While speed matters, so does quality and it’s better to be 2nd and have no mistakes than 1st with an imperfect score.

She nodded her head. She said she understood. She said she would listen and be better. I kissed her on her forehead, hugged her and thought, she’s only 5. What will the school say when she’s 10 or 13 or 17.

In the movies Road To Perdition, Paul Newman states to Tom Hanks, “natural law – sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers.” Apparently, Cora didn’t get that memo. It’s not just the sons, it’s the daughters too. I’ll take it. There’s nothing I’d change about her, even when you realize she’s young, confident and restless.

Cora Turns 5

Cora 1 Thru 5

Time flies. It really does. The above are photos taken on each birthday. It’s amazing how grown up she has gotten. It always blows my mind to think that I helped create her. Not to get overly sentimental, but you can really appreciate the concept of kids being a miracle…after you have your own.

At 5 she already has her own personality. We tend to think she takes after me…even though she looks like Cheryl. I’m just peachy with that. She has that great mix of confidence and cockiness that you’ll need to succeed in this world. Add in the fact, she’s a master on her iPad, growing up technologically savvy and is opinionated…and well…you can see why I’m busting at the seams just talking about her.  5 years; they go by in a blink.

I regret the days I don’t get to see her and I so very much enjoy the moments I do get to spend with her.  The distance and time challenges are made every easier, knowing she’s in the ever capable hands of Cheryl. These 5 years went by too fast. Let’s hope the next 5 years are as great to us as the first 5, but that they go by just a bit slower. There’s no rush!

First Photo From The New Nikon 85mm

I have an addiction. I love photography gear. For the past few years, I’ve managed that addiction really well. Although, to be fair, I was so happy with all my gear, there just wasn’t a reason at all to upgrade any of it. But, time marches on. More than 5 years after I purchased a Nikon 60mm Macro 2.8 and a Nikon 85mm 1.8 D, I had finally surpassed their capabilites. I’ve always felt that was when you should upgrade…not when a newer version of something came out, but when you’re work was being compromised by the gear.

Well, I traded in both the 60mm and the 85mm to Calumet Photo in Chicago. Calumet is a great place; I’ve done a lot of business there in the last 10 years. My intention was to trade in both lenses for the new 85mm 1.8 G. The G lens lacks an aperture ring, is lighter weight, sharper and more importantly contains a motor inside the lens that speeds up the auto-focusing. They accepted the trade in, but were out of stock on the new 85mm 1.8. Bummer. I waited nearly a month for them to address their out of stock situation…with no dice. So, on a trip to Minneapolis, I swung by National Camera (another great place) and picked one up.

This is the very first photo I took with the lens. Keep in mind this was taken, not with my Nikon D700, but with Cheryl’s D5000.

As Fro remarked in his review of the lens, when compared to the older 85mm 1.8 D, “When comparing the sample images at f1.8 it is clear that the new AFS blows the older AFD out of the water.”  He’s right. It does. It’s fast. It’s sharp. It’s light weight. It’s a huge step forward.  I took a good 50 snaps throughout the day and was never disappointed. Definitely a good purchase.

Rules For Dating My Daughter

Courtesy of my dad…via his iPad…you gotta love technology!

RULE ONE: If you pull into my driveway and honk, you better be delivering a package because you’re sure not picking anything up.

RULE TWO: Do not touch my daughter in my presence. You may glare at her adoringly, so long as you do not peer at anything below the neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off my daughter I will remove them.

RULE THREE: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off of your hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are idiots. If you show up at my home with your pants falling down I will be forced to ensure that they do not come off during the course of your date with my daughter by taking my electric staple gun and fastening the pants directly to your waist.

RULE FOUR: I’m sure you’ve been told that sex in today’s world without a “barrier device” can kill you. Let me elaborate: I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

RULE FIVE: Current thinking is that in order for you and me to get to know each other, we should talk politics, sports, and other issues. Do not do this. Your ignorance and stupidity will only serve to anger me. The only information I require of you is when you will have my daughter home. To this end, you only need two words: “early” and “sir”.

RULE SIX: I have no doubt that you are a popular fellow, with opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it’s okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you’ve gone out with my little girl you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry harder.

RULE SEVEN: As you stand in my hallway waiting for my daughter to appear, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time you should not be dating my daughter. She is doing her hair, putting on make-up, or whatever; a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, do something useful, like change the oil in my car.

RULE EIGHT: The following places are not appropriate places to take my daughter: places with beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool – places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight – places that are dark or poorly lit – places where there is dancing, holding hands, or excessive happiness – places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her throat – movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme. Hockey games are okay, old folks homes are better, a convent is best.

RULE NINE: Do not ever lie to me. I may appear to be a middle-aged, dim-witted has-been, but on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

RULE TEN: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming over a rice paddy. When my PTSD starts kicking in, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into driveway, you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Note the camouflaged face in the window is mine. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car

What’s In The Box Doesn’t Matter

One of the truly wonderful things about having kids and becoming a parent is the authenticity you get to experience when engaging with your kids.  Yes, kids lie, that’s true.  But, ask a child if she likes the dinner you’ve plated, that’s based on some new recipe, and you’ll know the truth.  Ask an adult the same question and you’ll be met with a very politically correct answer.  Well, unless of course, you ask me :)

Christmas is one of those occasions where we seem to always try and out do one another, keep up with the Jones’ and impress with labels. Labels, you ask? Yes, labels. We’re all guilty of it, even I am. Under the Kmiec tree this year, there was no Louis, Jimmy or Tory.  Nada on the Prada, MK and Hermes.  Sorry, not a single item from Armani, Versace or Gucci – yes, we avoided the holy trinity. No Christian, Coach or Coco. Also, I must confess, there was no Lexus under the tree either.

Now, mind you, this is no assault on the wealthy, chic or stylish.  Without the label segment, we wouldn’t have people to gawk at, velvet ropes to envy and of course nothing to lust for.  And this isn’t me being above such items or brands.  I’m the first person to encourage purchasing 1 quality purse over 50 cheap ones.  Ditto on shoes, watches and umbrellas (trust me on this one).

No, this is more about the observation that kids don’t care what’s in the box, what the label is on the gift or the logo they’ll be displaying. And with good reason…they couldn’t tell you the difference between Coach and and Couch.  If anything they care more about the wrapping paper…or rather the joy of unwrapping their present. They’re equally as satisfied with 1 gift as they are with 100.  Seriously. I’ve watched this up close for 4+ years now.  It’s a really amazing thing to witness.  Honestly, it leaves me wanting to be as genuinely label disinterested as they are.  But, alas, though I’ve witnessed this authenticity and I’m a marketer, even I fall prey to label love…but I’m getting better!

There wasn’t a single present under the tree for me.  That’s what happens when you become a dad!  The likelihood your 4 year old is going to hop in the car, visit the mall and pick you a present that she paid for with her credit card…is…well…unlikely.  But, what I did get this Christmas was something much better than any company could provide:

John, Cora and Dad

I got to see those smiles and feel the real Christmas magic that we yearn for after watching a movie like Love Actually. Besides, if they were wearing a label it would say my name anyhow :)

The Things We Do To Our Kids

The kids got to visit with Santa yesterday. The enjoyed chatting with the jolly fellow. But, honestly these moments are more for us as parents than they are for our kids. Looking at it that way is the only thing that explains why we dress our kids up and bring them kicking, screaming and crying (well, not my kids, but several others in front of us) to “Santa.”