Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: YouTube

“What’s The Toughest Part About Being A Dad?”

Recently, we had some our best friends in town. As we were out touring Minneapolis, one of them asked me, “What’s the toughest part about being a dad?” I had to think on it. Talk about a meaty question. After a few seconds, I said, “well, I guess it’s the wondering that you haven’t done enough, or you could have done more. What keeps me up at night is the tension that comes from not knowing if I should have given one more hug, said one more thing, spent one more minute or read one more book and if it would have made a difference.”

Those thoughts keep me up and make for the toughest part of the “job”, because we want the best for our children. I got a bit introspective on the subject, the other night. Then, by happenstance, as I was researching videos for an internal presentation, I came across this great speach by Robin Williams, in the movie, ‘Jack.’

I’m a huge Robin Williams fan and I can’t believe I’ve never seen the movie. The full text is as follows:

You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry, thinking, “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?” But I say to you, “Hey, look at me!” Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

Parents, god bless you. Your “job” is so hard. I applaud all of you.

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.

Kick Out The Committees

I’ve never been a fan of compromise. It’s not that I don’t want to meet someone half-way, it’s that compromise often leads to neither party being satisfied. Let’s take the classic situation of, what should we eat for dinner tonight, as an example. If I want Asian and you want Italian, we have 3 options:

  1. We get Asian…in which case you aren’t getting what you want
  2. We get Italian…in which case I’m not getting what I want
  3. We get something else…in which case, neither of us gets what we want

There is a 4th option. DON’T COMPROMISE. In which case, I’ll order Chinese form Sang Kee (my favorite place in Philly) and you can order from the place you want, we bring it back home, and we’re BOTH happy. Think about this for a second. It’s a rather simple solution, isn’t it? Yet, how many of you compromise? Looks like, by the show of hands, it was nearly all of you.

I’ve recently fallen in love with a new commercial for the Dodge Dart. It’s not that I want to buy a Dodge Dart. It’s not that I love Dodge or the Dart. That said, I do love the message Dodge is conveying to the viewership…

To build something amazing…to change cars forever, you can’t compromise. Why can’t you compromise? Well, as Dodge so eloquently put it…visually…compromise leads to really bad cars. The problem of course is that we compromise all the time at work. Most organizations get buy (notice, I didn’t say, “thrive”) by consensus management. What’s that you ask? Well, it’s the process of making sure everyone has a chance to be heard…to have their opinion valued…and ultimately to make sure everyone agrees. That’s a recipe for disaster. It was the lack of consensus management that made Apple’s iPhone and iPad such game changing products.

When you manage through committees, you end up with compromise. When you end up with compromise, your customers certainly won’t be happy and your marketing won’t be effective. Oh…and all those good feelings everyone had because their voice was heard…yeah, those good feelings have a habit of going away pretty fast when you have unhappy customers and ineffective products or marketing.

So take a page from what Dodge is trying to do with the Dart. Stand for something. Don’t compromise. Kick out the committees and bring the RIGHT thing to market, not the thing based on everyone’s arm-chair feedback. The pain you’ll feel initially will be worth it, long-term, when the results exceed your expectations.

Blink To Win

As kids we’re taught that the way to win a staring contest is to not blink. We’re supposed to keep our eyes open longer than our opponent and not blink. But, have you ever considered that if no one blinks, both players lose? I mean sure, by the technical rules of the game, no one is a winner, but if no one is a winner then, aren’t both players losers? Watch this parody of commentators covering a Staring Contest “event” and then try to tell me both players aren’t losers if neither blinks.

The other night I voluntarily watched, in the theater, Something Borrowed. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s well scripted, with witty dialogue and an outstanding performance by John Krasinksi. There’s a great many themes, but one of the most important, I think, is the the least discussed or acknowledged: The Staring Contest. In the movie, we have two people who want to be together. They deserve one another. They should be together. But, neither has the confidence to express their feelings to the other. This leads to both characters being miserable with other people, instead of being happy with each other. Neither character wanted to blink. Neither wanted to make the first move. Tragic.

Sometimes you have to think about things in a different light. I try to do this all the time. Maybe too much. But, I think I’m on to something in this case. Have you been out with a group of friends when the topic for where to eat comes up? Have you been part of the misery that is, everyone not wanting to make a decision or a recommendation and instead electing to just be agreeable? Painful, right? That’s everyone choosing not to blink.

Blinking takes courage. It holds you accountable. You’re on record as being the person who blinked. Could this be why everyone middle school dances are always portrayed in movies as the girls on one of the gym and the boys on the other, with only a handful of couples in the middle? Rejection is certainly a deterrent from blinking. We fear rejection by default. We’re conditioned to be fearful of it. And why not? It stings.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he discussed at length, with great examples that our brains are smarter than we think. Our ability to make smart decisions quickly is there, but we’re conditioned not to make decisions quick because when we do they are considered rash and irresponsible. We applaud the person who takes a methodical approach to solving a problem or reaching an answer and we frown upon the person who is quick to arrive at an answer. There’s a litany of data that discusses the psychology of jurors and how even when they know “their answer” they deliberate longer so that they can feel better about the decision they arrive at.

But, the world needs blinkers. We need people are willing to take the lead, make a decision, be bold and go after what they want. Maybe, that’s why I love blinking so much. I love being on the offensive. Ironically, as I kid, I was also pretty awesome at playing the staring contest game. Guess, I’m just lucky!

Home Is Wherever I’m With You

Recently, I fell in love with the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. The beat is hypnotic and the style it’s sung in, keeps you engaged throughout. The sentiment of “Home Is Wherever I’m With You,” is powerful. As someone who’s lived in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska, I know it all to well. Give a listen and check out the words.

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Holy roly, me, oh my, you’re the apple of my eye
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you’re my best friend, I scream it to the nothingness
There ain’t nothin’ that I need

Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie, chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
There ain’t nothin’ please me more than you

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you
La la la la, take me Home
Baby, I’m coming Home

I’ll follow you into the park, through the jungle, through the dark
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Moats & boats & waterfalls, alley ways & pay phone calls
I’ve been everywhere with you

That’s true

We laugh until we think we’ll die, barefoot on a summer night
Nothin’ new is sweeter than with you

And in the sticks we’re running free like it’s only you and me
Geez, you’re something to see.


“Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?”
“I sure do, you came jumping out after me.”
“Well, you fell on the concrete and nearly broke your ass and you were bleeding all over the place and I rushed you off to the hospital. Do you remember that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, there’s something I never told you about that night.”
“What didn’t you tell me?”
“While you were sitting in the backseat smoking a cigarette you thought was going to be your last, I was falling deep, deeply in love with you and I never told you ‘til just now.”
“Now I know.”

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is whenever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you

Ahh, Home
Yes, I am Home
Home is when I’m alone with you.

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Moats & boats & waterfalls & pay phone calls

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

The Real Reason Groupon Missed The Mark

There’s been a lot of discussion about Groupon’s Super Bowl ad from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky.  The ads were deemed offensive.

I won’t get into a debate, here, about whether people just need to learn to laugh or if the ads were really offensive. Regardless of what I believe, enough people complained to make Groupon CEO, Andrew Mason, write:

Five days have passed since the Super Bowl, and one thing is clear – our ads offended a lot of people. Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.

We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted. We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads . . . .

Insensitivity aside, the real reason the Groupon ad missed the mark is because it had NO offer. Think about that. Groupon is a site that’s all about deals. It’s about giving you an amazing offer. The ad focused on telling that story through irony and humor…but without an offer. How do you take to the biggest stage in advertising and not hit the world over the head with what makes your company unique? Does this really surprise you though when you realize that Crispin is their agency? More mind boggling is this quote from Mason, defending CP+B:

The firm that conceived the ad, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands. When they created this Hulu ad, they highlighted the idea that TV rots your brain, making fun of Hulu. Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it’s different – ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we’ve always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers. We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes – even if we didn’t take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?

On one hand, I applaud Groupon for sticking by their agency. Many organizations would have thrown their agency under the bus. Well done Mr. Mason for realizing you hired them, you signed off on the strategy (if there was one) and you approved the creative. But, on the other hand, you support the work from CP+B, but basically saying, “well yeah, I mean that’s why we went to them, because they you know creative controversy.”

Well, while CP+B was busy helping you create controversy, it also helped you miss the right strategy and took you away from your brand’s DNA. You spent $3,000,000 to introduce your brand to 25 million people during the Super Bowl and you didn’t bring an offer to the table? Talk about a lack of call to action.

The Hot-Crazy Ratio

I’ve gotten into How I Met Your Mother.  As in I have roughly 40 episodes unwatched on my DVR.  Was watching several episodes today when I came across a true gem.  Barney provided his perspective on the dynamic between Hot and Crazy.

Hysterical and by my estimation true.

The Dark Side Of Passion

One of the characteristics I look for in people, especially those I hire, is passion. It’s a powerful trait. Passion coupled with a some serious smarts is a cocktail for success. Passion drives us to the edge. It keeps our interest peaked while it’s waining for others. Passion creates an internal desire to keep being better. It separates the front line from the “line.”

But as much as I love passion. As much as I crave it in the people I surround myself with, passion can be dangerous when misguided. Enjoy!

Admittedly, I’ve never experienced anything like the above video, but I have seen the dark side of passion. It’s a scary place, but something you can’t avoid.