Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Category Archives: Marketing & Advertising

The Incredible Difficulty Of Focusing

Steve Jobs Quote, Credit Tribal Rain Makers Club

Think about this for a second. In a given year, you have 1800 hours to allocate, at work. 1800 hours? Do the math. A “traditional” work week is 40 hours, with 1 hour of lunch each day, which means 35 hours a week. A traditional vacation time, is 2 weeks, which means, you’re working 50 weeks a year. 50 weeks a year X 35 hours is 1750 hours, rounded up, is 1800 hours.

Now, yes, I realize, the typical person doesn’t work 1800 hours. Many of us work north of 2000 hours. But, for all intents and purposes for this blog post, let’s call it 1800 hours. Each one of those hours is precious. An hour chasing down a really “cool” idea, while invigorating and exciting, might be time poorly spent, if it takes you away from your core focus.

This is something that sales staff members on LinkedIn, who spam your inbox, don’t comprehend. If I have an extra hour (which never happens) and my choices are to listen to a random cold call pitch or spend an hour reviewing progress against goals, meeting with my team, etc. – I can tell you the cold call pitch, won’t be at the top of the list.

Additionally, it’s why, over the years, I’ve pared back the number of conferences I attend. There’s no shortage of great conferences to attend, but with each one you eat into those 1800 hours. That 3 hour flight is expensive; maybe not in actually dollars, but in time. The 3 days at the conference, while beneficial, needs to be weighed against, what else you could be doing.

Focusing is hard, because it requires you to say no to the wrong thing, so that you can say yes to the right thing. And often times, saying no, can make you come across as difficult or not a team player. Saying no, also means, you may not pursue something that excites you. It requires discipline.

5 years ago, my point of view, on focus, would have been much different. As it would have been, 10 years ago. A decade back, all I wanted to work on was the interesting, sexy, cool and of course, potentially award winning, projects. I raised my hand for every would be, could be, might be, fun project.

Today, that’s just not possible. There are so many cool, fun and interesting initiatives, that I’d love to participate in. Even if only to listen to how my team is going to tackle the challenge. But, realistically, it’s just not possible. To get something, you often have to give up something. To stay focused on the objectives I have, unfortunately, I miss out on many things that stoke the flames of my interest. That, however, is a conscious choice.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but there are 3 things I do to keep me focused:

  1. Have a clear understanding of my objectives and how they ladder back to the division and company objectives. But, equally important, is understanding how you’ll translate them into something meaningful, tangible and measurable for your team members. Every week I chart the progress towards those objectives and every month I manage up by asking if they’re still relevant and if there are any new objectives, that we haven’t accounted for. You can’t set and forget your objectives. They aren’t written once at the beginning to the year and then evaluated at the end.
  2. I create filters to manage requests. I’m sure your inbox is filled with meeting invites, “quick questions”, so-called “emergencies” and 1-off projects. If you say yes to all of them, you’re doomed. But, you can’t say no to them all, either. When I get a request, I ask myself 2 basic questions: 1, will this help drive my core objectives? 2, will this make the organization better. Ideally, the answer to both, is yes. If, however, you have something that, isn’t part of your core objectives, but could improve the organization, that’s a conversation worth having.
  3. I find an hour every day to do two things. I make sure to “walk the floor” and check-in with my team and my colleagues. Sometimes just stopping by, opens up a dialogue, where I can be helpful. Walking the floor, also gets me out of my office, provides a well needed break in the day and provides accessibility to my team. Additionally, I make time to work on pet projects. This could be something I’m pursuing on my own, or something I’m helping someone else with. Either way, I make sure to plan for these types of initiatives in my 1800 hours.

That’s it. Simple as they seem, it’s incredible challenging to stay to the plan. There’s always something vying for your attention. But, remember, you can’t get something, without giving up something. It’s all about choices. No one is busy, they simply have a priority that’s more important than your priority.

Bring Digital DNA. All Others, Need Not Apply.

Yesterday, we learned that Sona Chawla, our CMO and President of Digital would be leaving Walgreens. It’s safe to say, without Sona, Walgreens wouldn’t be the Omni-Channel leader, it is today. She will be missed.

Sona Chawla - Photo Credit, Chicagobusiness.com

But, what an amazing opportunity for her to join Kohl’s, in the newly created role of COO. As said in the article:

We are looking to make the connection for customers between our stores and our online experience in a way that is seamless and unique,” Mansell told Fortune. “In order to do that properly, you absolutely have to have someone who is responsible for all of those different functions.

Amen. Today, it’s a digital DNA that companies want in their Sr. leaders. Well, in Sona, they certainly picked a great one

In a world, where we talk about glass ceilings, far too often, this announcement makes me smile. There is no person, more deserving of this opportunity than Sona. To be clear, I don’t mean, there’s no woman, more deserving. I mean, there’s no person. She is, simply put, exceptional.

For me personally, I’m equal parts sad and thrilled. Sona brought me into this organization in 2011, as the company’s first head of social media. She’s also a big reason why I rejoined Walgreens, in an expanded role, in February of 2014.

It’s nearly 2016 and in so many organizations, digital, is still an afterthought. Digital talent is still swimming upstream, pushing for a seat at the table. Not at Walgreens. In the 7 years Sona was here, she took us from virtually nothing to a worldwide, recognized leader in digital and omni-channel. We’re a destination for great talent and a place that companies want to partner with.

She will be missed. But, we have such an incredible team and unwavering support for digital across the company. Frankly, that’s the hallmark of a great leader…to build a team, that’s bigger than any one person. She’s leaving us much better off than we were, when she joined, nearly 7 years ago. I’m excited for what’s next for her and us.

Do Awards Matter?

Cannes Lions

A great friend and colleague asked me:

From a “client” perspective would it be safe to say you give zero f**ks about awards that agencies win? I’m getting tired of people asking me to submit for awards and would rather do something more creative with the $10,000 we’re going to spend on applications. Either a charitable donation, or some kind of bounty that brand managers would care about and think is interesting.

It’s a great question. My perspective on this topic has definitely changed, over the years. But, I think it’s a question, just about every agency asks/considers at some point, especially when you consider the costs for award entries. Those costs become important, when you consider, they’re part of the overhead for an agency and that means, ultimately a client ends up paying for them in the hourly rate. More on that topic here.

Getting back to the question at hand, here’s my perspective on the value of awards.

  1. Ultimately the awards an agency, who isn’t my partner, wins, have 0 bearing on me. I suspect, this is the case with more “clients” who are satisfied with their existing partners. Now, keep in mind, satisfied, doesn’t mean you’re thrilled with your partner, it simply means they’re good enough that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze to entertain switching.
  2. Now, if you’re my agency and I’m your client, I of course want you to win awards, but I care more about awards that are won for initiatives done on my business, than for another client. I’m glad when my partners (agency or otherwise) win an award. I want them to be successful. Why do I care? Because, they’re both a motivator for my partner and a sometimes powerful reminder, that we’re doing some amazing things together. However, no award compensates for poor business objective performance, unless it’s so transformational that you can convince yourself it’s meaningful beyond pure dollars and cents. For many, I’m sure the Oreo Super Bowl tweet is a great example.

Awards, at the core, are like a Michelin rating for a restaurant. When you make a reservation, you don’t intentionally, go out to pick a Michelin rated restaurant. Well, unless you’re a special kind of person. Those people aside, you pick a restaurant on a wide set of criteria: location, price, cuisine type and of course availability. But, should all those things lead to a place that was Michelin rated, 3 things happen:

  1. You instantly feel validated. After all, your choice is brilliant, if the Michelin people rated it. Who can question that seal of approval.
  2. The people you bring to the dinner, can’t hate it. “Wait, you mean, you completed disliked the place with 3, yes 3, Michelin stars? Are you crazy?” Now, that said, they don’t have to love it, but they can’t hate it. In agency terms, rarely does an executive get fired for picking the AdAge agency of the year or the agency who won 6 lions for X, Y and Z campaign. Granted,  they may not get promoted for it, but they don’t get fired either. When I worked with a commercial banking client, back in my old agency days, the client remarked, “our problem is, no one gets fired for hiring Bank of America.”
  3. You invoke some amount of jealousy, which feels good, from people who know you went to that restaurant. Here’s the key…that jealousy is only generated from people who actually know what a Michelin rating means. Net-net, some awards matter and some don’t. For example, just about everyone knows what a Lion is. Not everyone knows what a Shorty Award is.

That said, here’s the 2 reasons, I do think awards can matter for an agency:

  1. When I was at Fallon, David Lubars would say something to the effect of, “awards help make sure, we get an unfair share of creative talent, from a small pool.” His point being, creative people want to do award winning work. If you’re the place getting all the awards, you get the people, you might not normally get. I can tell you, when we did EDS Cat Herders, Buddy Lee and BMW Films, you got people to move to Minneapolis, who wouldn’t normally have considered it as a place to live and work. Be it creative, strategy, tech or some other function, people want to work with the best. Awards are one yardstick.
  2. In a startup capacity, as validation and a door opener. When XYZ company launches, companies don’t just take their call, in the same way they would if a well established and known company, called. This hurdle is no different than the one that exists in buying a new car/tv/dishwasher/etc. from a company you’ve heard nothing about. But, all of a sudden, if your company is the most awarded or earned the highest/best award, you’ve got a heck of a door opener. SaaS companies have been relying on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for, what seems like forever, for this very reason. That validation, puts them on the map and makes getting someone to take your call, a hell of a lot easier.

I can tell you that I don’t have an objective, for # of awards to win, but I can also tell you, we want to win them, just as badly as the next company. That said, if you had a choice between spending $100K in award submissions or investing that $100K into your employees, choose the investment option. Your employees will thank you.

Improve The Customer Experience, By Asking, What Is The Intent?

There’s a lot to look at when evaluating the “creative” that will reach a customer. From logos to the colors and from the photo to the call to action, there’s no shortage of things to review, critique and optimize. When you think about all the creative elements needed to support an integrated marketing campaign, this can really add up. You have the TV, print and radio elements. Then, there’s the video, banner and social components. Don’t forget about the email, paid search and in-store signage. It’s a lot to absorb.

With so many campaign assets to keep track of, it’s no wonder that we get a bit myopic when we review an individual piece of creative. “Checking” an individual piece, often means we lose sight of the overall campaign. We miss out on how this campaign is supposed to feel. We lose the ability to see how consistent all the touch points are.

This has nothing to do with this post. I just liked it.

Several years back, in an effort to fix this narrow approach to creative reviews, marketers created, “table” or “wall” reviews to regain the ability to see the forrest and not just the individual tree. Each and every piece of creative would be laid out, at the same time in a “war room” of sorts. The amount of paper that was killed in the name of “taking it all in, like the consumer will” was tragic. This approach, created great excitement in an organization, but was ultimately more sizzle, than steak.

Of late, our team is being asked, “what is the intent” of “this” element of the campaign. For example, if we have a holiday email set to deliver on 12/7 and another on 12/23, it’s not good enough that they:

  1. Have the right subject line, right offers, a proofread headline and all the necessary legal/compliance information.
  2. Look like they’re in-step with our branding standards, from the colors to the photography and from the logo to the font.

Please, don’t misunderstand. Those are important areas of focus. Indeed, we have to see the forrest (big picture) and the trees (each detail). But, increasingly, it’s becoming more imperative to first ask, “what is the intent?” That question is designed to help us understand what we’re trying to accomplish with a specific piece of creative and then link it to both the big picture and nitty gritty details. For example, if the 12/23 email is all about last minute gift ideas, would it make sense to include an offer for something that takes 7 days to get delivered? Probably not, even though, that offer is probably 100% factual and visually, in line with the overall look and feel of the campaign.

“What is the intent” is making us more accountable for the overall customer experience. When we have to think about the intent of something, we improve on how we’re evaluating what’s placed before us. We begin to see the connection between what we want the customer to do and how well we’re designing an experience that will elicit that action.

There’s no silver bullet for how to review something. But, starting with the question, “what is the intent” is a simple way to improve the effectiveness of your review process.

Bringing Back The Joy Of Driving

The open road. The growl of an engine. The feel of the steering wheel. The swoosh of the wind, as the window’s down. Driving, can be, such a joy. Once you get out of the city, leave the stop lights behind, get past the highway traffic and find that stretch of road that’s smooth, with subtle curves and a gradual climb, driving becomes enjoyable.

What I’ve always loved about cars, is that there’s a car for every person and personality. Some like a smooth and quiet ride. Some like a loud and stiff ride. And some like something in between. Cars are quite personal.

My first car was a 1987, white, Toyota MR2. It was fun. So much fun. It looked like a dust buster, with angled lines and it was so light that you always wondered at which point you’d float off the ground, fly through the air and end up in the atmosphere. I drove that car hard, fast and often. Despite the limited amount of metal around me, I always felt invincible driving it. I sought opportunities to drive. You can bet, I was the first one to raise their hand to pick up milk, Chinese food takeout or to drop someone off. Driving was fun. It was a joy.

Following that first car, I’ve owned American Cars (Chevy), Japanese (Infiniti, Toyota, Suzuki), British (Jaguar) and German (BMW, Audi). They all drive differently. From their acceleration to the sound they make, a cars “birth place” instills inherent characteristics.

Despite owning some fun cars (the BMW 328i comes to mind) I never felt that sense of joy. That is until a few weeks ago. I had my 2013 Audi A4 in for service. While in service, I received an email from the dealership that inquired about my interest in trading in my car. I hadn’t really thought about it. The car was only 3 years old. It was in perfect condition (if you know me, you know how meticulous and OCD I am about cleanliness). And it was paid off.

After making the wise switch from BMW to Audi, I’ve lusted for an Audi R8, but at $120K+, it’s not in my reality. The Audi TT, though, was in the price range, but I’ve never been able to convince Nichole that it was a smart purchase (apparently 2 seats doesn’t make sense when you have 2 kids). But, the Audi A3 sedan recently came over from across the pond. It’s only been stateside for 2 model years. The A3 is a tad smaller than the A4 I had, but with a beefier engine and better weight balance. In other words, it was going to be a fun ride.

Audi A3

So, on my birthday, though I hadn’t thought about the idea of a new car, I traded in the A4 for a 2016 A3. Gray, obviously. Monsoon Gray Metallic, to be specific. The first drive was from Chicago to Deerfield. It was awkward. Getting accustomed to a new car always takes some time. Later that week, Nichole and I drove from Chicago to Minneapolis. While you don’t get the subtle curves and gradual climbs, you do get an open smooth road. What a drive. Every time, I drive the car, I enjoy the ride, more and more. There’s something about the way the A3 handles turns, accelerates and darts in and out of lanes that make it fun. No, it brings joy.

Joy. Joy in driving, means you look for opportunities to drive. You look past the potential for traffic. You seek reasons to drive places. I had forgotten how much I missed that joy. Gosh, I feel like I’m 17 again. It’s a great feeling. When you consider that the average US driver, spends nearly 40 hours a year, in traffic, shouldn’t you at least enjoy the ride?

I can’t tell you if an A3 is right for you. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to at least test drive it. Perhaps you’ll then find the joy, I’ve regained.

“This Is Disney, Anything Is Possible”

A few weeks ago, Nichole and I took the kids to Florida for a well earned vacation. We stayed in the Clearwater area, on the Gulf side and had a fantastic experience. One morning, we woke the kids up at the crack of dawn and drove 90 minutes to Orlando. As the kids awoke, they remarked, “wait, this isn’t the aquarium, this is DISNEY WORLD!!!”

I’ve never had a bad experience at Disney. Much has been written about their relentless pursuit of creating an amazing experience. From the fact they aren’t “employees”, but “cast members” to the fact no cast member can ever say “I don’t know”, Disney creates an immersive experience that makes you forget that you just paid $100 for a single day ticket to one park. If there’s one story that’s always stuck with me, it’s the $100,000 Salt and Pepper Shaker passage from Randy Pausch’s tremendous book, “The Last Lecture.” Read it, then come back to this post. Yes, I’m serious.

Ok, back? Great! It was a hot day at Disney. Mid-90s, sun beating down on us, but thankfully it wasn’t overly packed. In the afternoon, following lunch, we ducked into one of the many air conditioned souvenir stores. The kids opted for “mouse ears.” And, by mouse ears, I mean, Cora got a Yoda version and John got an R2D2 version. You have to love how the Star Wars acquisition is fueling merchandising. As we were checking out, Cora noticed another park guest’s button. For those, not in the know, Disney will give anyone (yes, even adults) a free button to commemorate something they’re celebrating. This can range from 1st Visit to Just Married, and a host of other celebrations in between.

We were at Disney on June 17th and John’s birthday was 2 days earlier. Cora said, “John, you should get a Birthday Button.” John, being the honest kid he is, said, “But, today’s not birthday. It was Monday.” Well, the cast member, wouldn’t have any of that. He grabbed a birthday button, motioned for John and Cora to approach the counter and said:

This Is Disney, Anything Is Possible

He then, asked for John’s name, wrote it on the button, then placed tape over the ink, so it wouldn’t run or smudge, and then said, “Happy Birthday.”

Look, this isn’t a $100K experience, as outlined in “The Last Lecture.” I don’t know what it’s valued at to be honest with you. What I do know, is that, little things matter. They add up over time. And, a moment like this is pretty memorable. It’s certainly memorable enough that I’m telling all of you about it.

On the plane ride back, I thought about that moment and what it did for me, was, make me ask myself the question, “what would happen if everyone’s job at a store, was to give the customer a great and memorable experience?” In some corporate cultures, margin structures and store formats, that might not be 100% possible, but it’s worth shooting for.

When creating a memorable experience is everyone’s job, you end up with a photo like this, to share.

Me. Tink. A perfect match. She just doesn’t realize it yet. Damn Peter Pan!

A photo posted by Adam Kmiec (@adamkmiec) on

Sure, the kids got to meet Belle, but I got to hang out with Tinkerbell.

People. It’s Always About The People.

I spent Memorial Day in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It’s a beautiful place with a resilient population. To continue building and rebuilding, time and again, after hurricanes ravage not only physical buildings, but an entire community’s way of life, is nothing short of inspiring.

The sun was bright. The weather, warm. The beach, perfectly manicured. The food, flavorful. I explored. I partook in some local beverages. I ate well.

Two of the places I ate at, were owned by the same woman: Edith’s and its more casual sister restaurant, The Office. Before I go any further, let me say, if you ever get the opportunity to dine at either place, please do. The menus were diverse. The staff attentive. The prices, fair. And the experiences were completely memorable.

I was blown away by how amazing the staff was. Following the dinner at Edith’s, I remarked, “I’ve never seen such a complete commitment to creating an experience, at a restaurant.” A good colleague of mine, smiled and then told me an astonishing detail about the owner of places, Edith. Every year, she closes both restaurants for 6 weeks. During those 6 weeks, she pays her staff to spend time with their families and travel the world to learn from other chefs and restaurateurs. The 6 week hiatus allows the staff to recharge, learn and become inspired for how to keep Edith’s and The Office as one of the best restaurants in the area.

That a restaurant, which relies on tourism, shuts down for 6 weeks, voluntarily, is, in itself, an amazing story. I had so many reactions. But, as I reflected on this story, on my flight back, something clicked. In 2009, I wrote, “Make no mistake, the most important asset is human capital.” I also, often remark, that a critical goal of any organization should be, to get an unfair share of top talent. What Edith was doing, in ensuring that she was getting that unfair share, by investing in the important asset in an organization: The People. The local population of Cabo is constrained. It hasn’t grown much in the past decade, while the portion of Cabo San Lucas residents that have matriculated from the United States has grown significantly. It also remains a top tourist destination for United States residents.

The expectation that tourists have, can be quite high. Their choices for where to spend their hard earned dollars, are plentiful. By investing in the people, Edith is able to attract the best restaurant talent in the Cabo San Lucas area. And, it’s that talent that creates a dining experience, worth blogging about.

A better way to sum it up, might be this often shared parable:

Investing In People

It’s a great question and something we should all be thinking about. Are we, in fact, creating an environment, where we’re investing in people to a point, where we’re able to keep the best and attract the best?

Disrupting Your Sleep Experience

If it’s new or different, I want to try it. Philips Hue lights? Yep. Nest thermostat? You bet. August Smart Lock? Absolutely! Was a I an early customer of Harry’s Shaving Products? Definitely. So, I was definitely paying to all the new players entering the mattress category. The team over at Mattress Nerd, has a nice write up, comparing Tuft And Needle, Casper and Saatva. Those are the 3 major players looking to change the way mattresses are purchased.

Two weeks ago, over tequila, my wife remarked that she wanted to purchase a “real adult mattress.” I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. We had a very nice Serta Vera Wang edition, mattress, that she had claimed to love. I probed and said, “what do you mean by ‘adult mattress’, don’t we have one?” Indeed we did, but that mattress pre-dated our marriage and the real root of the desire, was to purchase a mattress together. Fair enough.

So, over tequila (again, this is a crucial detail), I took out my iPhone, visited Casper’s website and 5 minutes later had ordered a queen mattress. I looked at her and said, “I completely understand, I just ordered a new mattress from Casper.” She was stunned and happy; thus, we ordered another tequila cocktail, to celebrate.

Casper Box, Courtesy of Gear Patrol

Let’s start with the obvious question: Why Casper? Perhaps, better put, why Casper or any of the direct to consumer companies, instead of just visiting your local mattress store. That’s actually a simple one. As I said earlier, if it’s new or different, I want to try it. But, beyond that, I just never felt I was getting the right value from a mattress store shopping experience. It always felt like a shell game. Add in the fact, that there were so many, perceived, hidden costs and the generally lengthy delay in delivery, and it was clear, going to the mattress store was not the answer.

So more precisely, why Casper? I knew I wanted a memory foam-style bed. That was the easy part. We have pillows from Tempurpedic and they’re fantastic. But, there was just no way, we were paying $3,000+ for a queen mattress. After researching all the players listed in the Mattress Nerd article and checking out other companies, like Leesa, I felt that Casper offered the best combination of price ($800 with promo code, for a queen), technology, speed (delivers to your door inside of a week) and guarantee (100 nights to try it out). Basically, it was a gut call.

Before, I get into the mattress itself, let me first outline the good and the bad of choosing Casper.


  • Price: You can’t beat 3-5X cheaper than Tempurpedic.
  • Speed: Wow, it shipped in a box, via UPS, to my door, inside of 4 business days.
  • Delivery Experience: Let me stress again; it was delivered by UPS in a box. Why is that so big? Simple, it means I didn’t have to schedule a day off to be home for a delivery window, like the traditional mattress buying model.
  • Communication: Inside of 5 minutes of placing the order I received a text message and an email confirming my order. Every time the process moved to another milestone, I received an alert via text and email. There were no surprises.
  • Experience: No messy negotiation. No argument over delivery fees. No hard up-sell on a box spring. In fact, I never had to talk to anyone. The delivery of a mattress via box, is bizarre and awesome at the same time. For more on that part of the process, check out this article from Business Insider.


  • Size/Dimensions: So far this is the only real complaint I have. The mattress itself is 10 inches. My previous mattress and most higher-end mattresses are in the 12-15 inch height range. The mattress sits on a platform bed that’s designed to not have a boxspring. But, when we placed the Casper on the platform, it was so low, it was almost comical. To make up for the height problem, we ended up ordering a foundation from…Tempurpedic. The irony, was not lost on us.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the most important detail; is the mattress comfortable. I can unequivocally say, yes. Mattresses are often organized by how soft or firm they are. Casper claims their mattress is neither soft, nor firm; it’s just right. We couldn’t agree more. It was plush, but firm. It was soft, but firm. It was bouncy, but firm. Yes, I’m serious. I can’t say enough good things about the mattress itself. I’ve slept on uncomfortable mattresses. I’ve slept on great mattresses. I’ve slept on so-so mattresses. Casper, comes pretty damn close to replacing the my all-time favorite mattress experience: The Westin Heavenly Bed.

The only real disappointment I have, is knowing that Casper, will undoubtedly launch a new product, that will be better that their first generation generation mattress, in the near future. I’ll of course want the new one…but, unlike an iPhone, I don’t see myself upgrading mattresses every 2 years. That is, of course, unless Casper offers a mattress upgrade concept.

Now that would be truly disruptive.

Don’t Make Your Strategy, Platform Dependent

Two things, this past week, caught my eye. The first, was a great article from The Economist, titled, “The message is the medium.” Take the time to read the article, in its entirety. It’s definitely worth your time. But, since we all now, everyone seems to be TL;DR, these days, this is the one graphic you need to remember:

Texting Is Dying

After years of hockey stick-like growth, we’re seeing SMS, flattening, and ultimately, declining. This doesn’t mean that messaging is declining. WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger…and yes, even snapchat, are exploding in growth and eating SMS for breakfast.

The 2nd thing that caught my eye was this article from AdWeek, that outlined YouTube “star”, Michelle Phan’s plans to launch her own content/influencer network, called Icon. Michelle’s growth came from YouTube. Without YouTube, you could very well argue, many of us wouldn’t even know who Michelle Phan, was. But, to be loyal, in this space, is to miss out…or, as Michelle, stated:

“I’m platform agnostic,” Phan said. “I’ve been platform agnostic ever since I went online. I’m not saying I’m jumping ship (from YouTube). Platforms—they come and go, but storytelling is forever.”

Well, first, she states the obvious, that she’s not leaving YouTube. Difficult to leave the golden goose, eh? But, what’s really important is what she says about platforms. Platforms, indeed come and go. 20 years ago, it was AOL. 15 years ago, you had things like GeoCities. Nearly 10 years ago, Newscorp, purchased MySpace for $580M…only to be sold 5 years later for…$35M.

Strategies can’t be platform dependent. Building your strategy on top of a platform is like building a house on quicksand. It just doesn’t work. Don’t take my word for it, ask Zynga or DataSift. This isn’t to say that a platform shouldn’t be part of your strategy. For example, your consumer connection strategy, might indicate a need to understand, “Hopes, Wishes and Dreams.” That might mean, Pinterest, is a critical part of bringing that strategy to fruition. But, while you’re riding the Pinterest wave, you need to be keeping an eye out for the next wave, and more importantly, the right moment to move on to the next wave.

As exciting and initially lucrative as it can be to invest in a specific platform, your strategy, needs to take into account an understanding of your business, your customer and the macro-level environment. As, Brodie, told Rene in Mallrats, “Breakfasts come and go, Rene, but Hartford, “the Whale,” they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.” Today, platforms, come and go. And instead of Hartford (the underdog) succeeding only once, maybe twice in a lifetime, it’s more likely that the underdog, we weren’t paying attention to, becomes the leader. Platforms are quicksand. Be careful where you step.

To Keep Yourself Fresh, Try Something New

Earlier this winter, my kids decided they wanted to try skiing. Their desire to try something new, wasn’t something new. John and Cora are always trying something new. From food (Indian, Teppanyaki), to activities (swimming, painting) to sports (soccer, baseball, basketball), their thirst for new is nearly unquenchable. As someone who’s skied since the 2nd grade, I really wanted the kids to stick with skiing. It’s a fun and demanding sport that is never the same experience, even when it’s the same slope.

A bunch of ski bums.

A photo posted by Adam Kmiec (@adamkmiec) on

But, learning to ski and transitioning from beginner lessons to intermediate and advanced techniques, can be challenging, to say the least. To temper some of that frustration, I decided to learn something new, with them. After 25+ years of being a skier, I decided to learn how to snowboard. I told the kids if they were going to learn something, so would I…and we would learn together. We would fall together. We would get frustrated together. We would thrive together.

A full season, is almost complete, and I can say, this was such a great idea. We all took lessons, we learned from the bumps and bruises and we’re learning to enjoy something new.

The point of this post, isn’t to celebrate that we can all ride single diamond slopes. I mean, that is pretty cool. No, the point of this post, is to share the value that comes from trying something new.

Putting snowboarding aside, every month, I stop using something familiar and start using something new. For example, 3 months ago, I gave up twitter and spent the time I would have put into that platform, into trying to comprehend SnapChat. The month after that, it was YikYak. This month, I’m experimenting with Tumblr.

Today’s world changes in a blink of an eye. As a company, you’re not just racing against your competitor, you’re racing against your customer/consumer. As fast as you think your competitor is moving, your customer is moving even faster. Trying to make sense of it all, requires something more than a Mashable article or a Forrester white paper. It requires practical knowledge. That means you have to actually roll up your sleeves and trying something new.

Get out there, take a cooking class, sign up for Whisper or ask someone in your office to teach your the core of their craft. Not only will you gain personal satisfaction, but you’ll be more valuable to your organization and your brain will thank you improving it.