Monday, January 21, 2013

Michelle Obama - To watch and wonder

The doting parent in all of us sighed a collective sigh of pride as our nation's leader and his young family completed their second inauguration. In front of the world, this family has grown up. Not old, mind you, though some are choosing to concentrate on that strangely NORMAL life experience. (Srsly, though, why are we so surprised when people age?) 

Instead, the focus this day should be on growth in the most positive way possible. 

The President's daughters are just another pair of daughters, dressed in moderate fashions from Kate Spade and J. Crew. Sure, I enjoyed seeing Michelle Obama command all the attention from her man and the United States as a whole...while wearing yet another gorgeous Jason Wu, but that was not the show stealer, in my humble opinion. My favorite part was watching the First Couple and their two daughters steal away those few fleeting moments of realness while the whole world watched in awe. Those few seconds of goofy smiles, knowing looks, sincere care and parental caution are no stranger to anyone with kids. Indeed, watching these two girls grow up before our eyes brings out the proud parent in all of us.

I watched the girls watch their mom and dad embrace and that was pretty special. I watch as one daughter took a break from all the hullaballoo and rested her head into her sister as only siblings can cuddle. That was really cute. I watched the girls take to their phones during lulls in the day-long ceremony and then at other times, they would trail their parents from afar when they needed to. I watched and wondered if those two calm and graceful teenagers ever pushed their parent's buttons like any good old American teenager known to man. I wondered if they had ever yelled at their mother. I wondered if their mom had cried in frustration ever or if the teenagers themselves had screamed into their pillows over how "unfair" or "cruel" life is for an average teenager.

I wonder less about political issues, economic uncertainty and Social Security during these certain times. Instead, I take solace in the uncertain-ness we shall all face as teenagers once and parents later. I wonder, therefore I have hope.

It's times like this that I remind myself that not only are we all in this together, but we need to take care of each other. We are our daughers' mothers and they are our future. 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Random Thought & an idea for a Famous Tattoo

It's been said that Marliyn Monroe never had a tattoo. If she had, I think she would have gotten one of the following quotes on her forearm or shoulder blade. 

"Kiss me and you will see how important I am." -- Sylvia Plath 

"Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own." -- Mother Teresa

"Your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of the chopine." -- Shakespeare

"Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company." --Mark Twain

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."  -- Aristotle

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” -- John Galt

"Nobody told me that grief felt so like fear." -- C.S. Lewis

"I am really cautious about what I say and do." -- Kim Kardashian

"Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. And it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." -- Marilyn Monroe

For more inspiration on adding a little whimsy and thought in permanent ink, visit this funky tumblr on tatts or perhaps Pinterest has something that will make you pause. 

Either way, "stay hungry, stay foolish," said Steve Jobs. It's good advice. 


Friday, January 11, 2013

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

Another thing happened on Christmas day. Ty Ziegel passed away. 

My brother served with Tyler in the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Company C. They were deployed to Western Iraq in 2004, where Tyler endured severe life-changing injuries as a result of a suicide bombing attack on Christmas Eve. 

He survived horrific injury and more than 50 operations before returning home to his normal life. And then eight years later, he slipped, hit his head and died quietly, among friends and neighbors in Central Illinois. Newspaper reports -- both local and national -- covered his heroic story and even photojournalists took note of the boy-turned-man without a face but with more soul than most will ever imagine. He went to war for our country and then returned home to fight for VA rights. He loved his dogs and was sarcastic and kind to all. Life is a battle, indeed. But like I told my brother after hearing the news of Ty's passing, it's obvious he had another calling. Rest in peace, Marine Sergeant Tyler Ziegel.

Author, photographer and Columbia professor Nina Berman captured his story in pictures and words that are truthful and inspiring. "Why ask why?" blinks the neon bulbs in the photo below, taken by Nina on one of her visits to my hometown. It's a perfect question to ponder this quiet day. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Mom Matters Most

You know her. She is a mom. Also maybe a sister, a wife, a daughter, friend, soldier, employee, and probably an organizer, stylist, decorator, do-it-yourselfer, a reader, writer or foodie, too. 

She brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan. She is the head of household. She is the one responsible for purchasing the bacon, laying it out for all those to consume and probably cleaning up the mess. She shops online to save time and money and she deserves and demands the best. She is very social; online and off and sometimes both. She rewards the best with loyal business and often becomes a machine of advocacy for brands she falls in love with. She will move mountains to get to joy and will endure pain beyond imagination for those she loves. And she shares these life experiences with others. She is visually inspired and uses Instagram, Path, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to showcase her handiwork, share her recipes, styles and heartbreaks. She uses Facebook to stay in touch and she maybe even Tweets out the most hilarious or anxious parts of her day as a way of telling others that follow in her foot steps one simple message: it's all okay. We are moms and we can do this shit. If she is happy, you can tell by her most social activity. If she is not happy, you better get the hell out of the way. And for the love of god, you better make it all better if you are to blame. 

I'm not saying she does it all. But let's face it. She. Does. 

If she is your mom, or your wife or your partner in life/crime, you better listen up. If she is your target, then you better know all this already. Or suffer the consequences of ignoring and being ignored by the biggest group of influencers on the web. 

Here are a few more fun facts about our favorite girl:

•Women control more than 80% of US spending. (Source: Fast Company) That’s $5 trillion by 2014, according to the World Bank.

•83% want deals and promotions, 70% want rewards programs, 58% want exclusive content, 55% want feedback on new products (source: AllTwitter)

•About 1 in 3 blogger are moms. (source: Hubspot)

•Moms on Pinterest continues to grow every day, with almost 5 million American moms visiting the site, up nearly 33% from March 2012. (Source: Nielson)

•According to the same Nielson report, at least 50% of moms use social media via mobile phone. Among US subscribers, more than 54% of moms own smartphones. (Source: Nielson)

•Moms are 85% more likely than the general population to share frequent advice about beauty and cosmetic products, 28% more likely to provide frequent advice about online shopping/e-commerce and 6% more likely to post a product review online (Source: Nielson)

•Globally, women consumers control $20 trillion in consumer spending. They make the final decision for buying 91% of home purchases, 65 percent of the new cars, 80% of health care choices, and 66% of computers. (source: Fast Company)

•Furthermore, 92% of moms active in social media buy products as a result of a social media recommendation.(Source: PRNewswire.)

Before you doubt the power of social moms, think about the fact that every minute of EVERY day...

  • 100,000 tweets are sent
  • 684,478 pieces of content are shared on Facebook
  • 2 million search queries are made on Google
  • 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube
  • 47,000 apps are downloaded from the App Store
  • 3,600 photos are shared on Instagram
  • 571 websites are created
  • $272,000 is spent by consumers online (source: AllTwitter)

Indeed, she deserves it all. Thanks mom!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Perfect Marriage

No, I'm not talking about cranberry and vodka. I'm talking about the idea that there is such a thing as a perfect marriage.

Let's break this down. 

First, just look at the idea that marriage exists. Two things -- or two people -- who come together and together result in something bigger and better than going it alone. Peanut butter and jelly is a perfect example of what that looks like. Some would say that Angelina and Brad are now more perfect than they were one week ago. (Didn't you hear? They got married on Christmas day.)
Another marriage that make sense was the Instagram plus Facebook k-i-s-s-i-n-g last year. Regardless of how you feel about the ongoing terms and conditions debacle, you are lying if you think it's a bad marriage. One billion people around the world deserve to have the best social sharing image repository of all times. Together these two powerhouses will make a union hard to crack. 

And then there is the Pinterest acquisition of Punchfork. Talk about endemic content meets the theory of 'keep your enemies' close. Facebook is, well, Facebook. A billion daily customers and growing. Hitting heights of connectedness on a global level that God herself probably could not have imaged. Honestly, Mark Z. is the man. (Not to mention his lovely wife.) And Pinterest does a few things really well, too. Images. Inspiration. The art of wonder. Punchfork did those things rather well, but with a uber sharp point on making food the star via recipe sharing and social connections. Together, these two will have a very pretty baby. 

TJX acquired Sierra Trading Post two weeks ago, in a 2012-year-ending move that makes me think we should expect good things to come from these two silent ships moving swiftly in step for the beach of eCommerce meets affordable retail chain operations. During tough times, the toughest of us go shopping. That's a fact. And when the wallet is strained, we prefer to shop at places that will accommodate our diverse tastes with a nice dash of savings. Because we know what we want. But we never really want to pay full retail price. That's why we shop designers at a discount. These mecca's of discount designer shopping need a better half to support the digital journey it's customers are on. Their websites are awful and can't compete with the likes of Gilt, Fab, OpenSky, ShopBop, MyHabit, etc. Similarly, the online site needed the content. So, in a bold move to acquire those missing personality traits each so obviously envied, they formed a marriage of sorts. By partnering with an online destination -- including their photo studio, logistics operations and web presence -- TJX pretty much married up. Well done and congratulations to the new couple. Same thing goes for Gap's latest acquisition of Intermix. Alot like marriage, a straight up purchase agreement is sometimes the best shot at a solid future together. So long as both parties extract something real and viable from the squeeze, unlike the unlikely mashup of Target and Neiman Marcus. That was straight up painful to witness. 

My wrap-up on marriage would not be complete if I didn't spoof it all just a bit. Thank goodness I don't have to. Kelly Ripa did it for me. Watch the spot on Brad Pitt (below) and then remember what I said about peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes I prefer jelly all alone, but the latest Chanel ad actually makes me feel sorry for the peanut butter. 

What do you think? 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

On the air. Unaware. Welcome 2013.

In the news and on your mind: What is the truth and how much is simply a marketing message?

I'm not talking about the fake fiscal cliff and all the Hawaiian-vacation drama that was entirely self-imposed and pathetically pretend. No, no. It's much more embarrassing than that. It's all about a baby.

After a certain somebody - who shall remain nameless - recently confirmed an announcement by another nameless face that she and they are, in fact, expecting a BABY, after all, I wonder... 

Is 2013 the year of the baby? 

It saddens me that it's not just another baby, either. It's a mother of all babies. Born to parents who have questionable motives in a society that sometimes appears to lack all empathy, ethics and understanding of the most human of conditions. For the most part. Not entirely, of course. That would be depressing. And now is a time we need to have hope

And that worries me. About this baby, that is. That we are going to place too much on the tiny head and shoulders of the smallest & most fragile beings to uphold a standard that is feasibly impossible to carry out until the tiniest and most vulnerable do what they do best. Crumble. Like grandma's apple pie crust. Only sadder. Because out of all the ridiculous behavior that we like to witness and experience AND all the marketing we support with our attention, dollars and resources, there is something so refreshing about those who are resilient to mass media. Those that are known as babies. 

The innocence of babies and the very idea of innocence is something that can have no monetary value attached to it. It's ethereal and international and it should be protected and not exploited. Of course, it's all relative, too. But you get my point.

I'm talking about The Truman Show. The movie released in 1998 about the boy in the bubble. You know the one. It's the one with Jim Carrey. And Laura Linney and Ed Harris. It's the movie about the poor schmuck who is raised under the microscope of the media and manipulated by marketing messages from the time the baby was conceived until he finally discovers the ugly truth some 40 years later. It's a funny movie. And poignant, too. And really, how far from reality is it? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unresolutions :: A Sign of the Times

You know what they say about setting resolutions? Long haired, freaky people need not apply. Or so the song goes. I rather prefer to work with freaky people. They are less boring, more fun and, well, less boring.

In other news, it's not the Times that makes the news today, but Newsweek. Just yesterday, I got my #lastprintissue of Newsweek. It nearly took my breathe away. I don't know why. I work in digital marketing, after all, so I saw this coming. And I'm rather happy about it. 
Okay. I'm lying. I know why it took my breathe away. Because it's a concrete indication of the sign of the times. It's the future impending on the present. It's the past catching up with the current. It's the same old, same old in new, newfangled ways. And it's easy to understand yet hard to comprehend. The more we have, the less we do. The more we have, the less we really have. The more we have, the more important it is to make things simple. And on and on and on. 

Take New Year's goals, for instance. Should our resolutions evolve as technology does or should it remain our annual opportunity to get back to basics? Following Newsweek's precedent, maybe we should not call them resolutions and instead unresolve altogether as we celebrate the new year. This year, let's concentrate less on what we are letting go of and instead grasp onto what we hope for. 

1. Tell more truths. 
2. Eat less. Move more. 
3. Spend less. Give away more. 
4. Work less. Play more. 
5. Sleep more. Worry less. 
6. Drink more water. Drink less wine.
7. Watch less TV. Read more. 
8. Go outside more. Travel more. Have more adventures. Share more.
9. Make more friends. Keep more friends. Make a better friend.
10. Love more. 

Why do we resolve but once a year to better ourselves and the world around us? Why not make it a theme to conquer it one step at a time. Like ruling the world with love and doing one thing a day that creates a smile worth sharing. I like that.