Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

Tag Archives: Digital

The Gross Misunderstanding Of Digital Talent

When most general managers put together a team, they focus on filling positions. You need a pitcher, a catcher, 3 outfielders, a 2nd baseman, a shortstop, a 3rd baseman, the 1st baseman and of course a bench of “role” players. They work within the confines of a budget or a salary cap, depending on the sport. Ultimately, every team is looking to win their league’s championship. Every team wants to put a winning team on the field. Of course, the only exception is the Miami Marlins; but I digress. It’s how you architect that team that greatly influences whether you win or if you’re just playing for second place.

When I think about building great digital organizations, I and others like me, suffer the same challenges as general managers in sports. We need to field a team that has us winning more than we lose and of course brings home championships every year. Now, the definition of championship will certainly vary by company and category. What’s considered championship worth by one organization may simply be the baseline expectation of what happens when you step on the field.

I’ve built a lot of digital organizations. I’ve talked with many people, smarter than me, who’ve put together digital organizations. While we may disagree on where to recruit from, what areas of the company to support the most or how many people you need; we never disagree on the fact that most organizations think about digital staffing the wrong way. It’s true.

If you want to build a great team you need to put great players on the field. Notice, I didn’t say the BEST players. While you don’t need the best, you certainly can’t put a minor league team on the field and expect to compete in the majors. It just doesn’t work. Ask the Marlins. The way most organizations build a digital organization is very hierarchical. They have a leader at the top, a handful of mid-level managers and several less experienced people to fill out the roster. In essence, they have many specialists (SEO, Social, Media, etc.) and handful of generalists and 1 person to lead them. The closest visual would be a pyramid. To be clear, you need all of these roles and types of experience. Though I’d rather see an hourglass represent a digital organization, much more so than a pyramid.

I was having breakfast on Friday with a really sharp head of digital at a large public company. We couldn’t be more lock step in the above. The reason a traditional pyramid model doesn’t work, is because for all their brilliance, most organization fail to grasp the concept of scarcity when it comes to building digital organizations. Scarcity? Yes scarcity. It’s one of the oldest economic principles. Scarcity states

limited supply, combined with high demand, equals a lack of pricing equilibrium. Typically, demand and supply will gravitate prices to a stable balance; however, scarcity of a good or service changes the way buyers will value the purchase, thus leading to new market conditions.

Simply put, if there’s less of something people value it more. This isn’t a new concept for organizations. They purchase commodities with a great understanding of scarcity. They acquire companies, distribution routes, patents and more, with an understanding of scarcity. But, when it comes to digital talent, they treat the marketplace as if it’s an over-saturated market, when it fact it’s a scare market. Let me qualify this for a second. There’s NOT a dearth of digital talent. Quite the opposite. There’s a significant amount of digital talent. What there is, however, is a very small amount of senior level (and senior doesn’t mean years, it means experience) 5-tool digital talent. I often remark that most organizations want a digital unicorn. The digital unicorn is the 5-tool digital talent.

  1. Marketing: They think of digital through the lens of marketing
  2. Strategy: They think of digital with a strategic foundation, not a bright shiny object syndrome
  3. They have the requisite technology background to understand when and where to leverage the right technology, platform or partner
  4. Execution: Unlike say a McKinsey consultant, not only can they talk strategy, they can also create direction and make something happen; often times leading the initiative
  5. Battle Tested: They’ve seen it…a lot of it…maybe all of it…and they’ve seen it again and again

How many digital unicorns do you know of? You probably know 1000s who fit 1 or 2 of the above. When you get to 3 or 4, you get into the 100s. But, if you were being honest with yourself, you probably only know a dozen or so who have all 5.

If given the option of putting a team on the field, where each player had only 1 of the 5, or putting a team on the field where every player was a unicorn, which would you take? It’s obvious right? You’d take a team of unicorns all day long.

So why don’t most organizations do this? I have 3 theories.

  1. They don’t value digital talent as business building talent. When’s the last time you saw a head of digital become the CMO or the CIO? Better yet, when’s the last time you saw a Director of Digital elevated into a VP of Marketing role? It’s rare. More rare than a unicorn. If an organization doesn’t see their digital talent as being major players in the future of the organization, it makes all the sense in the world to not to invest in unicorns.
  2. They don’t see digital talent as being scarce. They see the talent pool as wide, diverse and deep. When in fact, it’s narrow and shallow.
  3. They’re organizational structure was built on the traditional hierarchy model. You have a CMO, with a VP of advertising who has directors by specialty, who have managers by business unit who have specialists by brand/category. There’s nothing wrong with that model. It works really well. But, it doesn’t allow you to run an alternate model at the same time.

In addition to the 3 theories outlined above, I think there’s 1 other major element. Ego. In Michael Eisner’s tremendous book, “Working Together, Why Great Partnerships Succeed” he tells of the very pivotal moment in his career, when he almost didn’t ascend to run all of Disney. Bill Simmons, covered the topic when talking about Lebron and Wade teaming up. His narrative is much better than mine, so hear it is.

The company arranged a meeting between Eisner, one of its corporate lawyers and a former Warner Brothers executive named Frank Wells. Eisner expected to be offered control of the company, but there was an unexpected twist: Disney actually wanted him to share power with Wells. Co-CEOs.

Instinctively, Eisner turned them down. He knew himself well enough to say, “That can’t work.”

So what did he know? Still in his 40s, Eisner had already thrived in a successful alliance with Barry Diller before Diller left Paramount a year earlier. He wanted to run an entertainment company himself; not just for the financial and creative upside, but because he needed to know, Can I do this? Can I be The Guy? He doubted that two competitive people could run a complicated company like Disney and, for lack of a better phrase, share the ball. With that many decisions to make, one person needs final say. It’s the same reason we would never have co-presidents or co-NFL coaches.

Eisner realized all of these things in less than two seconds.

That can’t work.

Sitting a few feet away, Wells processed that same dilemma in those same two seconds. He was wired differently than Eisner, more of a free spirit and a thrill-seeker, someone who checked out of Hollywood for a few years to climb the tallest peaks in six different continents. You would never call him conventional. His next few words? Definitely unconventional.

“OK, you can be chairman and CEO,” Wells said. “I’ll be president and COO.”

Eisner quickly agreed before Wells changed his mind. But Wells’ intentions were genuine. He had no problem becoming Eisner’s Scottie Pippen, an unselfish sidekick who filled in the blanks, didn’t care about his stats and took pride in helping his team reach its potential. As Eisner wrote later, “We learned that one plus one adds up to a lot more than two.” Their partnership thrived for a decade before Wells died in a tragic helicopter crash, but not before they had transformed Disney into a multimedia empire. And it only happened because, in the matter of a few seconds, Michael Eisner and Frank Wells arrived at two separate conclusions that basically meant the same thing.

Most digital unicorns would never want to work with another digital unicorn. A digital unicorn, my self included, has an ego. To recognize that pairing up with another great digital unicorn would be the best move for an organization, would be a recognition that there is no “head” of digital. In today’s marketplace, where we’re still fighting for digital talent to have a seat at the adult table in organizations, it would be a difficult concept to wrap your head around.

But, think about it, if the current leader of digital in an organization broached the subject, wouldn’t an organization be more open to rethinking things? Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you’ve been doing something the same way for so long, it’s hard to recognize the need to change. That’s where a leap of faith is needed. The leader of digital must sacrifice his/her status as the 1 leader for the greater good and realize that to win…and win again…you need not, 1 digital leader, but several. If you’re smart and you can abandon your ego, you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter who the leader is. What matters is winning.

But, what do I know…I’m just a kid from Brooklyn, talking about unicorns, like they’re real.

What I’m Noodling On, Post CES

I like CES. In general you can get a lot out of any event if you know what to expect, are realistic, come in with a clear agenda and focus. This applies to CES, SXSW, iMedia, etc. I hadn’t been to a CES in years. Not for lack of interest, but because I generally reward my staff by sending them to summits. It’s a great way to acknowledge efforts and build morale. Anyhow, CES, is massive. You can get lost if you don’t focus on the signal and avoid the bright shiny objects.

No doubt there will be plenty of analyst recaps about the good, the bad and the ugly of the past few days. I’d encourage you to seek those out; they’ll broaden your knowledge base and give you food for thought. I’m not an analyst nor am I a futurist. I’m a geek and I’m generally pragmatic. So my interests are a bit different than Mashable’s.

So, here’s the 3 things I took away that have broad implications for today’s business.

1. We’re moving into the post mobile world. It seems crazy to say that, since so many of us feel like we’re just starting to get comfortable with mobile and its potential. Let me put a sharper point on this concept. For the past few years, mobile has grown as a stand-alone channel. We had email, texting/SMS, enterprise functions, mobile web, apps, etc. As marketers we covered all those bases and more. Now, with smartphone penetration well over 50% and mobile devices more powerful than computers from a few years ago, companies are rethinking what mobile can do. Instead of mobile being a channel, it’s becoming an enhancer of the experience. For example, there are new cable boxes and TVs coming out that allow your phone to control the entire experience, like a super remote. And, that super remote will bring content that syncs with the shows and enhances the viewing experience. Additionally, car companies are playing with the idea of allowing your phone experience to be replicated on the in-car digital display. This means all your contacts (something we’ve had for years through Bluetooth), all your music, all your apps and more.

2. The battleground is shifting to the car. With consumers spending 1.5 hours a day in their car commuting and cars becoming the gathering table on the weekends when all the kids and your spouse pile in to run errands, technology companies and automakers are shifting their attention to the car experience. Ford announced a partnership with USA Today to bring the USA Today “app” to Ford cars. That, isn’t a game changer. The game changer is that Ford, USA Today and Microsoft collaborated so that the USA Today content could be read to the driver over the car’s audio system. To make that work, talent rights and compensation models for distribution changed, seemingly, over night. Cars have had GPS for some time, but that GPS wasn’t used in the dynamic way like the GPS in your phone. Expect to see real-time data being streamed into the car to inform and persuade the user.

3. Syndication over Destination. It’s no surprise we have more media fragmentation than we’ve ever had. TV, DVR, mobile, social, print and on and on make it difficult to “target” and “drive” consumers to where we want them to go. That’s the old model; it looks like a funnel. Whe you take a funnel approach to marketing (not digital, but marketing in general), fragmentation is your enemy. But, if you think about medium being irrelevant, so long as the message is absorbed, fragmentation become a friend, because it becomes syndication. We heard from twitter, Arianna Huffington, CNET and others; the message was clear and consistent (perhaps a first from media publishers): focus on creating content designed to be shared and consumed across the web. This is leading some brands to organize teams representing marketing, communications, social and media like a newsroom. It’s also leading to companies re-examining the definition of things like “impression” or “reach.”

A few other quick thoughts:

1. I’m blown away at the over saturation of TVs. Seems like a miss. Do people really want another giant box, where the only difference is more pixels?

2. More walled gardens. Samsung is the biggest culprit. People don’t want to move their content from one place (eg iTunes) to another (media hub). Walled gardens benefit, at best, the company and rarely provide benefits to the consumer.

3. Wow, lots of companies getting into the headphone space. Even saw Bob Marley headphones.

4. Registration and badge pickup is still chaotic. Really, we’re still using paper badges?

5. Still bummed that companies don’t let you purchase items right from the floor, at a discount.

5 Things I Think About Digital In 2013

Crystal Ball

Before we turn the crystal ball on and look toward 2013, let’s see how I did in predicting what would happen in 2012. After all, if you’re going to go on record about something, you should be held accountable for your words.

  1. “We’re going to see a great deal more consolidation in the social services and software space a la Radian6 and Salesforce. This will lead to fewer options, less innovation, but greater adoption by corporate organizations.” Nailed this. From the acquisitions of Buddy Media (SalesForce), Vitrue (Oracle) and Wildfire (Google) to the partnerships between SymphonyIRI and Visible Technologies, the social media software world get very small.
  2. “The 3 social platforms I’m doubling down on are Get Glue, Pinterest and Google+. They have the right intersection of features, natural consumer behavior, and simplicity to generate scale and enterprise adoption.” Depending on how you look at it, I was right on 1 or 2 of these. Pinterest became a huge player. No one would question that. The world remains divided on Google+, but I’m taking it as correct prediction, given the linking Google is doing between Google+ and search. Get Glue was a bit of a swing and a miss, though the recent merger between them and Viggle, shows why I was betting hard on social TV. The right prediction would have been Nielsen’s partnership with Twitter.
  3. “Conversely, 3 platforms that have gotten a lot of attention, but I’m not bullish on for the enterprise are tumblr, Path (though personally, I love it) and Oink.  They’re all too niche or lack many of the necessary features needed by the enterprise to justify interest, dollars and adoption.” Nailed this. Oink disbanded. Path hasn’t grown. Tumblr, is still not widely adopted, if for not other reason than they don’t seem interested in working with clients to shape the platform for the enterprise.
  4. “More and more organizations will hire “heads” or “leaders” of social to help them take advantage of the space. This will be good for the industry. These heads will hopefully bring balance by eliminating hype and keeping people who thrive on hype, honest.  Additionally, I’ve seen other prognosticators indicating an end of the “Social Media Strategist” role and I couldn’t disagree more.  While, that role may eventually change, morph, and probably fold into the “Marketing” or “Digital/Interactive” role, make no mistake companies like buckets and definitions. Social still being new, will lend itself to being put into manageable buckets by organizations. Those manageable buckets require titles and organizational structures that clearly define boundaries.” Nailed this 100%. Everyone is hiring or has hired heads of social, even if companies have no idea what to do with their new hires.
  5. “Facebook is going to see serious backlash from marketers. They will no longer be able to simply rely on the fact that they are the biggest social network out there. The lack of data transparency, real analytics and their constantly changing platform that’s skewed toward making your purchase ads to create visibility, will lead marketers to consider, “what is my Facebook exit strategy?”” Total homerun on this. It wasn’t just marketers though. When Facebook went public they street even offered some backlash.
  6. “We’re going to see a large number of companies launch in the social insights space. Our problem isn’t having enough data. If anything we have too much data.  What we lack are insights from the data.  Companies like Crimson Hexagon are in a great position to take advantage of this trend.” Nailed it, though I wish I had used the word “big data” since, that’s basically what these companies are claiming to solve for.
  7. “There will be an unfortunate amount of companies trying to socialize everything. This will lead to poor user experiences, bad marketing and jump the shark moments like GM/Chevy crowd sourcing their Super Bowl spot.” Yep, predicted very accurately. From Wal-Marts Black Friday partnership with Facebook to McDonald’s using Hashtags in commercials, we have seen the socialization of just about all areas of marketing communications.
  8. “There will be a backlash similar to what we observed in 2001, where companies will no longer accept half-baked and poorly thought out strategies.  If you will, we’ll see serious curbing of of social ideas for social sake…or to check a box. There will be great rigor being applied to the evaluation of ideas.  Those companies speaking in a language of likes, followers and impressions are destined to earn raised eyebrows and clenched pocketbooks.” Tough to judge this one. There isn’t an official scorecard/evaluation of this prediction, but given the number of agencies like Victor and Spoils that couldn’t make it as standalone buzzword throwers, and were either acquired (like V&S) or simply folded up shop, I feel good about this prediction and I’m calling it a correct prediction.
  9. “The social media “old boys club” will finally see real cracks. It will no longer be acceptable for social media thought leaders to simply pat one another on the back. As competition increases in this space, it will become counter productive to not call BS and hold others accountable for what they say, think and write.” We saw this one come out in full fashion, especially as companies hired heads of social and digital, who were very seasoned. There were more questions about social media “gurus” than there were compliments. What did this lead to? Well, MANY, of these folks who were part of the old boys club, ended up joining larger companies. Speculation would be they plateaued and/or realized they were not going to be successful on their own.
  10. “We will see a major class action lawsuit or congressional inquiry into the privacy, or rather, the lack their of of social networks. Facebook will draw the lion’s share of attention, but companies like foursquare, Google, twitter and others will also come under fire.  People…the customers…the members will take back their privacy.” Happened. Happened. Happened again. The most recent version of this was the lawsuit brought upon Instagram after Instagram chained their TOS.

Last year, I predicted 10 things I thought would happen in Social Media. Given my success rate was 90%+, I’m not pushing my luck in looking toward 2013, so I’m going with 5 predictions. Here’s the 5 things I think I think about digital in 2013:

  1. We’re going to see less emphasis on hiring heads of social and digital and more emphasis on hiring heads of analytics and insights. Now, let me clarify this one. Many companies have a Chief Information Officer or a SVP of Insights. Few companies have a head/lead who is focused on taking structured and unstructured data and turning it into meaningful insights. We’ve heard the word “Data Scientist” thrown around in the last year. We’ve also heard “big data.” These two phrases are generally linked. Unfortunately, usually the role of understanding the data is ignored, outsourced or left to software. Companies who really want to know if what they’re doing is working and who want to invest smarter, will start looking for their own Jonah Hill character from the story Moneyball. Get ready to see lots of active recruiting for Chief/Lead/Principle Data Scientist.
  2. We will see a run of acquisitions by older/established organizations on startups or young organizations. What do I mean? We’re going to see something like Nielsen buying Viggle/Get Glue or Wal-Mart pulling another Kosmix purchase. You’ll see this also in the product space. For example, I think you’ll see someone like Gillette purchase Dollar Shave Club or Pepsi purchase Soda Stream or USA Today purchase Pulse.
  3. There will be too many companies trying to solve the “social TV” question. They will all offer different metrics. The lack of standardization will cause a big problem and set us back. At the end of 2013 or the start of 2014 we’ll see one clear winner.
  4. Twitter will file for IPO. Simple as that.
  5. Facebook will become less friend and more frenemy. To soften their transition toward frenemy, they will offer a tiered structure/classification that will essentially become a pay for access/feature model. Lots of words, I know. Here’s a good example of what I think might happen. Facebook will offer a premium Page Analytics platform that’s only available to brands/companies that have pages with X number of “Likes” or who pay Y dollars a month. In the case of needing X Likes, this is in essence pay for access, because many brands will need to launch Like acquisition campaigns to get the requisite number of Likes needed. You may see something like a fee for API calls to for Facebook Connect or paying X dollars a month will net you premium account management support.

While not a prediction, something I would like to see happen is Apple buy Sprint, create their own cellular network, stop offering iPhones on Verizon and AT&T and then really take it to Samsung. It’s doubtful, but it would be awesome to see happen. If 2012 was a predictor of my own prognostication, I’ll nail at least 4 out of 5 of these predictions. We’ll see how I did, come next December.

The Next Chapter

I’m excited to announce that I will be joining The Campbell Soup Co. as the Global Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media. In this newly created role, I’ll be working alongside some of the smartest minds in the CPG space to transform Campbell into one of the most digitally fit organizations in the world.

Campbell is based in Camden, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia, which means, yes, the kid who was born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey is coming back home to the East Coast. Bring on the pizza, bagels and soft pretzels!

Change is constant. Some people loathe change. I love it. Change brings about new opportunity. Change also offers reason to reflect. As I look forward to all that we can accomplish at Campbell’s, I’d be remiss if didn’t say…

Leaving Walgreens was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I can’t say enough about the leadership and the culture. Both, were key reasons why I joined the company and both are reasons we were able to create an award winning, best in class Social Media organization. If there’s one company that understands the value of social it’s Walgreens. I often say, social is a horizontal proposition, not a vertical fiefdom. Easy to say, much harder to do. Walgreens embraced that concept and afforded me the opportunity to lead our path toward realizing this end state. My only regret is that I won’t be there to see some amazing initiatives launch in the next few months. If you’re serious about social. If you want to “change the world” as one of team members often shares as his goal, Walgreens is where you should be looking. I wish my team, my colleagues and the organization all the best. Thank you for believing in me.

I plan to bring the same fire, passion, and commitment to innovation to Campbell that’s always fueled the successes of the past. As many of you know, being first has always been one of my key strategic pillars. Expect that to continue. Don’t look away, we’ll be planting several flags across the globe, at Campbell’s!

The Great Talent War

Amid all of the “advertising” discussion related to the first ever Facebook Marketing Conference in New York, there was another conversation taking place that didn’t quite get the attention it should have. That conversation was about the great digital/social talent war being waged right now.

For the past few years, in corners, bars and in places we don’t talk about, organizational leaders have been discussing the conundrum they are facing with respect to the exceptional digital talent they need, but don’t understand how to hire, leverage or retain. I’ve watched this up close from both the client side and the agency side for the past 15 years. I’ve watched companies trick themselves into believing they don’t NEED the talent, that the talent can be outsourced or that the talent could simply come the same places they’d been recruiting talent. I once worked in an organization that had more than 20 VPs of Marketing, but the highest ranking digital person was Director.

In perhaps one of the most important presentations I ever saw, an unnamed Global VP of Digital at a large CPG company showed a slide that had the logos of companies that had leaders of digital at the VP level and above vs. those with Director and below. On the left you had companies like Nike, Coke, P&G and on the right you had companies like Adidas, Pepsi, Kraft. She asked the question, which side would you want to work on? This was a presentation in 2004. She got it.

Well fast forward to 2012 to the Facebook Marketing Conference (aka fMC), on a very large stage, we heard progressive executives acknowledging that to succeed your organization will need digital talent. Not just any type of digital talent…EXCEPTIONAL digital talent.

Throughout fMC we heard several one-offs from executives like Nigel Morris (Aegis), Chris McCann (1-800 Flowers) and Ken Chenault (CEO of American Express). A powerful exchange happened early in the afternoon when Nigel shared:

The ad industry needs an “absolutely radical transformational change”, in terms of talent and organizational design. “We had to rip down all the silos.” Organizations need to be more collaborative, allowing specialists to work across different disciplines. “It’s really tough, it’s difficult, but unless our industry grapples that,” we’re not going to be able to satisfy clients.

That was followed up by Chris saying “Well, you can do all that, or you can just hire everyone under the age of 30.”

Agencies and clients are finally on the same page when it comes to what’s needed to continuing being relevant to their customers. It was a big “WOW” moment for me. In the hallways and breakout session areas, I found myself talking openly with people from agencies, retailers, CPG companies, research firms and Facebook proper about this talent issue. There was universal agreement that this will be the year we all look back and see there was a change…a true shift in how companies are thinking about digital talent.

Just so you don’t think I was full of it or cherry picking quotes to support my point of view, you should watch and listen to Ken Chenault’s fireside chat with Sheryl Sandberg. It’s nearly 30 minutes long, but it’s something you really should make the time for. In this conversation, you get a peak into how a very savvy organizational leader is embracing digital. The most telling statement from Ken during the “lightening round” portion of the chat, comes at the 24minute mark. When asked by Sheryl, “learn in the classroom or on the job” Ken makes no hesitation in saying, “on the job.”

Think about that. The CEO of American Express, fundamentally values real world experience more than books and degrees. That’s a big statement. And frankly, it something companies need to start understanding. The talent war in digital will be won, by those organizations willing to find the exceptional digital talent and be comfortable with the fact, that talent doesn’t neccessarily come from a “B” school. No, it comes from garages, agencies, start-ups, improv schools and many other non-traditional “learning centers.”

Have you heard the phrase, if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. Well, I ask you, how is it that genuinely smart people at the heads of companies fail to understand this very basic concept? You can’t simply turn the marketing guy who reads Mashable into the head of digital. You can’t simply hire the interns into Sr. Level spots because they grew up with Facebook.  You can’t simply take the head of IT and put him at the forefront of leading your digital strategy. You can’t simply hire someone with a Marketing degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard…who worked at McKinsey or Accenture and let them lead something as complex as digital, because they have the “management” pedigree. It just doesn’t work like that.

The digital talent war is real. Forward thinking companies were attracting, retaining and growing their digital talent back before 2000. Smart companies were doing it between 2000 and 2007. By the time 2007 rolled around, those who were late to the party were woefully behind. They felt the impact of being late in their mindshare, stock prices, quality of partners and of course financial KPIs.

Despite having all of this knowledge, with hindsight being 20/20, there are still organizations who aren’t investing in exceptional digital/social talent, despite the fact their competition most certainly is. We’re not moving toward an always on, ever connected digital and social world. We’re already there. And to not make having the the talent needed to take advantage of this new world a priority is simply maddening.

The Benefits Of Unplugging

True story; in 2003 on my 10 day honeymoon to St. Thomas I took 1, 1-hour conference call. I never lived that down. Even though it was 1 call, the impact and ramifications were significant.

Following that trip, it was agreed that we would only travel to locations that lacked cell phone reception. Translation: all travel was international. London, Paris, Rome, Mexico, etc. became “acceptable” destinations.

Of course, as technology advanced it became harder to avoid ways to stay connected. In London, I found an Apple Store to check work email. In Rome, it was a cyber cafe. In Paris it was a work paid for international SIM card. Crazy. Believe me, I know.

There’s not even a cost/price barrier anymore. Technology and the ease to stay connected, make it tough to unplug. Forget travel, just think about the last time you went out to dinner. How long did that phone stay in your pocket?

Of late, I’ve been trying to unplug. As I wrote earlier, it’s tough to change habits. But, you can change habits by making small adjustments. For example, here’s 4 things I’m doing to unplug more often:

1. When I go out to dinner, I turn my phone off, leave it at home or put in my coat pocket.

2. When I come home from work, the phone gets plugged in. Not just plugged in, plugged in, in another room. It’s out of sight and out of mind.

3. On weekends, when I’m with the kids, the phone is on lockdown. I rarely take it out. Not unlike with dinner, I will often leave the phone home if I’m out with them.

4. I’ve changed how I’m using social apps like foursquare. For example, I rarely check in all the time at every place I visit. These days I’m checking in with an intent or using foursquare to help me learn about places, not broadcast that I’m there.

Since I’ve implemented these changes a few weeks back I’ve been happier. It took a few days to adjust. Like a smoker who gives it up cold turkey, there was a period of adjustment. But, let me tell you it’s been worth it!

Vanity Will Keep Print Media Alive

As Al Pacino stated so eloquently in The Devil’s Advocate, “vanity is definitely my favorite sin.”  Even those of us who believe we’re above vanity, are truly vane at heart.  We often hear about people having their “5 minutes of fame.”  Think back to pre-internet boom…say 1995.  DVD players and DVRs weren’t in everyone’s home and most relied on VHS tape players.  If you were lucky enough to get interviewed on TV by a reporter you certainly got your 5 minutes of fame, but sharing the fame with someone was pretty damn tough.  The advent of the internet certainly made distribution of that video content easier, but you still had to be lucky enough to get interviewed.

Well, today, we’ve got blogs, tweets, and web sites.  Hell we’ve got millions of them.  We’ve got millions of people all trying to be the next great journalist.  They all think, yours truly included, that what they write somehow matters.  The web and the tools (like WordPress) that we have at our finger tips have made publishing and giving people their 5 minutes of fame a hell of a lot easier.

But, here’s the thing, getting quoted in digital print just doesn’t have the same punch, meaning, and impact as being featured/quoted in “traditional” print.  Look I’m an interactive guy, living in a digital world, and I can tell you that getting featured in Wired Magazine means substantially more than being featured on Wired.com.  When we get featured in print, in the real print, we run out of our house and pay for multiple copies of the magazine/newspaper.  Heck, we might even buy every copy the store has.  We save 1 for posterity, we send 1 to our mom, we bring a few into work, and we save the rest.  We’ll scan copies of the article and email them out even though the digital version of the article is available on the publication’s web site.

Why do we do this?  Well, I’ll let the words of Shel Silverstein, as sung by by Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show, in the song The Cover Of “Rolling Stone” answer that question:

“Well we are big rock singers, we’ve got golden fingers
And we’re loved everywhere we go
We sing about beauty and we sing about truth
At ten thousand dollars a show
We take all kind of pills to give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we’ve never known
Is the thrill that’ll get you when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

{Refrain}
Rolling Stone
Wanna see my picture on the cover
Rolling Stone
Wanna buy five copies for my mother
Rolling Stone
Wanna see my smilin’ face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Vanity is definitely my favorite sin and there’s nothing better than seeing your name or face in traditional print. Until we stop wanting to see our names in print, we’ll still need print, and print will continue to play a major role in the fabric of our lives.

"I’ve Worked In Digital"

It completely irks me when people try to make it seem like they understand the digital space by saying, “I’ve Worked In Digital.” It means absolutely nothing. I worked at a Dairy Queen when I was a kid; does that somehow make me an expert in the QSR industry? Of course not.

The most recent example of this comes from Nancy Hill, the newly elected President and CEO of the 4A’s. The full interview can be found here. However, the real meat comes in the form of this quote, “I’ve worked in digital, I’ve worked in every type of media. It’s less about what I bring from a gender standpoint than what I bring from a background standpoint.” Again, just because you’ve worked on some “digital” things doesn’t mean you’re an expert and it certainly doesn’t mean you can claim it as a benefit in your background.

The first giveaway, in my opinion, when some says “I’ve Worked In Digital” that makes it clear they don’t get the space is that they used the word “digital.” The category and discipline we live and breathe every day is INTERACTIVE. Digital can be an extension of interactive marketing.

Digital is also soooooooo 10 years ago; when no one understood the space at all. Digital sounded cool and trendy, but as the category evolved and matured we were able to provide a better definition around the medium.

Look, I’ve got no beef with Nancy. I’m sure there’s a hell of a lot she can teach me and I’m confident that she’s going to be great in her new position. However, don’t try to pass yourself off as being someone who can leverage interactive experience, when you’ve only played around in the space at a high level. In turn, I promise not to pretend I’m a broadcast expert because I’ve been on a few shoots?

Deal?