Yep, I got to hold the medal. (And it was more of a kick than I expected it to be!)

If you read my blog post on the Coupe de Monde of Fencing last week, you’ll understand why I’m posting the piece (link below) by Tim Morehouse. Tim is the #1 ranked men’s sabre fencer in the U.S. (14th world, I believe), two-time Olympian, and Olympic Silver Medalist (2008 Beijing, Team). His determination to open the floodgates of interest in the sport through increased public participation and branded corporate sponsorship is something I’ve been watching for about 3 years; and, it is unwavering.

Admittedly, with many years in luxury brand management, I’ve tried to do my part for the cause by alerting several of my luxebrand exec-friends to Tim’s cause – passively beating them over the head with “Hey! Watch Tim! Just sayin’…”, but budgets have been slashed. Empathetic to the difficult measures many have needed to consider during these tough economic times – laying-off several quality members of their respective teams, I’ve merely attempted to keep Tim on their radar. Even my most senior friends (EVP/SVP) are required to justify anything beyond their standard placement of marketing dollars.  IF sponsorship has been fit into the [marketing] mix, it’s mostly for the big events — like the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic (Prince Harry offered a TON of press, of course).  I dig the situation on both sides. My goal has simply been to plant some seeds. You never know when budgets may be shifted to “try something new.” While the luxury market remains soft, recent reports are showing signs of optimism.

The dip in the luxury manufacturing was the opportunity that prompted me to shift my focus/place under the branding umbrella, moving from management + execution to brand conception, platform development + strategy. Literally, as I stepped out of the luxury scene, Tim arrived.

My part 2 of 2 blog post will go a little further into how Tim’s journey has evolved; and why, as a brand and marketing professional, it caught my attention.

Please visit Tim’s (prolific) blog to read his take:

Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic 2010: The Sport of Polo Continues to Outshine Fencing (For No Good Reason!)

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Bud Caddell is a change-maker and a cultural curator.

I forget how I first came across Bud on Twitter, but I had already been following him by the time I had the opportunity to chat with him in person at Grant McCracken’s Chief Culture Officer Boot Camp. Bud’s a wicked-smart, culturally-aware, and downright talented man who authors one of my favorite reads on this here Internets – What Consumes Me. It’s an aptly named blog for the curiosity that drives Bud. That curiosity is what consumes me, too. I have flipped my life on its head because of that curiosity. And based on the number of people I’ve surrounded myself with lately who also seem to have caught this bug, I am incredibly bullish on supporting Bud’s new project: The Bucket Brigade.

The Bucket Brigade is the formal proposal for a new book Bud will pen with contributions and support through the micro-funding site, Kickstarter. My excitement over the work Fred Benenson (another of my connections) and the industrious crew at Kickstarter is an whole ‘nuther blog post.  Today, it’s about Mr. Bud Caddell.  The basic idea behind is project is this: Read the rest of this entry »

So, WABC/Disney pulled its programming from Cablevision overnight. Many who know me will say, “But Sheila, you don’t watch TV. What do you care?” Well, tru dat. However, I am in media. And I am in branding. And I am in brand strategy, which means I need to know what’s happening across the board. Most important to strategy is knowing how communications are being sent and received between brands and a consumers; and these days, that communication goes both ways.

This isn’t breaking news.  Many of us have been on the Cluetrain Manifesto for a while. You’d think that corporations, owners of those major brands, would know this stuff by now.  But as WABC/Disney has shown, they’ve pulled their programming from Cablevision on one of the most viewed (read: advertising placement dollars) of the year.  If I’m a media planner, I’m going to be considering my placements in major markets and WABC/Disney’s relationships in that market. WABC/Disney set a precedent telling everyone that they’re not afraid to pull the trigger in a negotiation, even when the casualties are their own advertisers and end-consumers.

And so in honor of WABC/Disney’s gross display of antiquated operations and strategies, here are the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto:

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice. Read the rest of this entry »

As I was hanging out and doing my sponge-like absorption of the vibes shooting left and right from the leading-edge thinkers in this emerging culture-cum-business age at the Chief Culture Officer Boot Camp, Lane Wallace was offering up their observation that “students needed to learn how to think critically and creatively every bit as much as they needed to learn finance or accounting” via their NYTimes (02/13/10) article.

People often ask me if I’m back to school for my M.B.A. I’m usually not very good at holding back the look of “ew, no!” that shoots across my face, but I’m trying to be better about it.  I have plenty of Ivy-clad MBA’s in my circle of friends that could buy me 10-times over to remind me that not all business school types are pulseless and blank drones who suck the vibrancy from culture without concern for the aesthetic value of life experience in the name of capitalism, one spreadsheet at a time.  Yes, I’m a capitalist.  I’m a producer.  I create capital and culture.

Ironically, I will (generally) explain that I am pursuing the equivalent of a “C-MBA” (Creative Masters in Business Administration).  I’m blessed to be in a situation to cherry-pick, what I feel, is the best of the best in applied business strategy, anthropological and sociological understandings, psychological theory (from environmental and cognitive to behavior), and applied design management. However, I will walk away with an “M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies,” which based on most hierarchical classification systems in corporate America, will completely keep me off the radar of most senior/executive-level hiring opportunities — even those I would totally rock. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve found a man who understands me.  It sounds impossible, I know.  But Grant McCracken has figured me out.

Grant has been in my life for about two months, and it’s been a culturally-charged lovefest ever since (Even his wife, Pam, is gorgeous — such a charmed life, Mr. McCracken!). I crossed his path (the intersection of anthropology and economics — yes, economics. I know I just lost half of you) when I stumbled upon the new Masters of Branding program at the School of Visual Arts.  Listed as one of the guest speakers, I learned about Grant as I researched the program in detail (an excellent program — very exciting in the world of branding!).

Chief Culture Officer was released a few months ago.  The book is a celebration for us ‘both/and-ers’ in this world.
Many of us are creatives, but have an extraordinary aptitude for business.  For us, going to business school would be akin to a lobotomy.  Some of us are more structured business-types, but have an incredible interest and curiosity in culture and its influence on business.

I read it in one (lengthy) all-nighter.  I can’t use life-changing or inspiring to describe it, because that would suggest a new way of seeing the world.  Grant’s discourse on the significance of cultural reference and understanding on the future of business IS the way I see the world. Validating and optimistic is Chief Culture Officer. And yesterday was further evidence of this.  But more on that in a minute. First, a little more about Chief Culture Officer…this is the necessary future of business as Grant sees it: Read the rest of this entry »