By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO at NYCA
Here’s what our friends bring to NYCA each day.
By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO at NYCA
Here’s what our friends bring to NYCA each day.
We are re-posting this piece written by Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA, in honor of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
To those of you who lost loved ones in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, here’s what happened in their final moments.
Your father was a hero. When the building shook from the blast, he did not concern himself with fear. He helped unblock an office door which had been barricaded by debris and furniture that had moved. He freed three people.
Your friend who was on the plane being hijacked recognized immediately how serious the matter was and reached to calm the shaking hand of the person in the next seat.
Your wife saw a man bleeding from his head and she tore a piece from her shirt and made a bandage for him.
Your aunt helped her co-workers who could not find the exit through the smoke – they all made it. Then she went back for others.
Your nephew who was the pilot on the plane had only the safety of everyone on board in focus every second.
Your grandfather found a young man pinned under a fallen piece of ceiling and even when the young man said go on without him – he stayed until others heard the calls and came to help.
Your husband took on the hijackers believing it would cost his life. He helped save hundreds of people neither of you will ever know.
Your grandmother who worked at the Pentagon led hundreds who were physically stronger to a secure area, putting them before her own welfare as she always has.
Your uncle gave his water to a choking woman who gave him God’s blessing with every floor they arrived at, arm in arm.
Your brother who always wanted to be a policeman knew without doubt as he followed the cries for help up the stairs this was the moment why.
Your sister searched her entire floor to make sure everyone was out of there before she began to make her own way down.
Your friend held the exit door open for his office-mates with his wheelchair, cheering as they moved on that “We’ll all get out together.” And he didn’t so much hold on to those who lifted him down as he hugged them.
Your son would not let the tired woman stop. He cajoled her by telling her she reminded him of you; how you two had to meet. He even called her mom to keep her moving.
Your flight attendant daughter was forced to the back of the plane with all the others on board but stood in front of them in protective defiance; keeping herself between the terrorists and her passengers.
Your sister climbed back up three flights against the crowd and heat, believing her assistant was still there.
Your college buddy’s sense of humor kept all in his voice’s range smiling and moving with hope.
Your niece lent her shoulder to lean on for a man she had seen in the elevator so many times but whose name she never knew.
Your sister-in-law saw a man sitting in the stairwell coughing, and shared her asthma medicine. They moved on together.
Your firefighter brother-in-law helped hundreds of people out, redirecting them to clearer exits as he climbed higher and higher.
Your nephew and his boss carried an older woman 38 floors.
Your cousin got everyone to sing “The Long and Winding Road” as they worked their way down, making up the words they didn’t know.
Your mother’s last thoughts were the same thoughts she’s had as she lay her head down every night since you were born.
You wonder what happened. You want to know what these people you love were feeling, what they were thinking, what they went through in their final moments. These are actual facts, exactly as they happened. As true as their love for you. As true as their faith in your love for them.
By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA
Ask a Zen master how to make your life complete and he’ll tell you to wash the dish. That’s it. The same goes for your business, I would think. Wash the dish. Totally. Feel the warmth of the water. Look at the reflection of the light on the surfaces of things. Let your fingers touch the sides of the knife blade – being mindful of the edge. Feel the flat of the spatula. Don’t think about things – any other thing. These thoughts are just distractions and diversions from what it is you’re doing. So just wash the dishes. Focus and giving over to the act without distraction will enhance your experience, your effectiveness, your life and your business.
This, of course, goes beyond washing dishes. It applies to your strategies, your conversations, all your actions, your relationships, financial spreadsheets. To compare: when washing dishes, notice the different materials that your dish is made from and you better understand the dish, just as you would when researching the demographics for your next product launch. This focus is not easy when you have your calendar backed-up. But if you just do what it is you are doing you will see that these audiences have emotions, behavioral patterns and, in fact, are not targets at all but human beings. And you can relate more deeply – which in itself is a wonderful reward. Then later it will help you to sell to those people. Later.
In dish washing, it’s not just a wooden salad bowl that you need to get clean – it’s taking care of the wooden salad bowl given to you by your grandmother who picked it out in Denmark from a lady who sang when she spoke, you remember now as you wash it. It’s about looking closely, past routine’s dullness, past conventional thought, past your next waiting activity, to being there in the action. It’s not stats it’s the way people behave. It’s your time with them to appreciate their consumer journey.
When you wash your bowl, you wash everything. When you enter fully into any single activity, there is nothing anywhere else — you are not in your next or last meeting. This is hard to do in this time of time-shifting, multi-tasking, life-juggling. But what a relief to be only here, only now. And in the now, you can begin to experience the true joy of dish washing or creating that marketing plan, and your children, yourself, your job, the joy of this moment.
You may even catch a glimpse of yourself smiling, in the reflection of a shining plate or financial plan.
By Bethany Farrelly, Associate Business Manager @ NYCA
A healthy work place culture is so very important. A group of co-workers who have respect for one another and make an effort to develop and nurture healthy working relationships have more of an effect on the business as a whole than they may think. When I entered the work force I did not understand the importance of company culture. Questions about the company environment were not even remotely in my consideration while interviewing and I don’t think that I am alone in this. I believe that it takes experience to understand the importance of a healthy working environment.
When a company greatly lacks a cohesive nature, it is felt by everyone. It is felt everyday by the employees and it truly affects their daily lives. Many of us spend more than a quarter our week at work, interacting with co-workers. When the relationships are strained or downright disrespectful and unhealthy, it has negative effects on a person even when the best efforts are made to keep a positive attitude and push through. Clients can also sense a divide or lack of cohesiveness within a company and that translates into a sense of instability. A company whose employees work well together are able to achieve better results and have better lives.
The company culture at NYCA is a refreshing change from some previous experiences. The people within NYCA’s walls work together and laugh together. It is actually encouraged here that all talk is not all business. People spend the time to develop good relationships with each other which helps everyone learn how to best communicate. I enjoy coming to work each day because even when the work gets tough, the people here work as a team and get through challenges together.
There is not and never will be a perfect working environment, but when efforts are made by management and each employee, it truly makes a difference. I believe that a constant effort to improve and foster a positive company culture is vital to any company’s success and overall health of its staff.
By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA
Why do these muckety-mucks muck up their jobs and their reputations, their loved ones lives and their own? Governor Schwarzenegger has an affair with his family housekeeper; Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, comes out of the shower, sees a hotel maid, has a few minutes before his flight and allegedly forces himself onto her. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer works up an $80K bill for prostitutes. All of these men are married, by the way. And as Bernie Madoff showed us, it’s not just about sex: he financially screwed everyone. It’s abuse of power. It wasn’t that these men didn’t think they would get caught. It had nothing to do with thinking. They didn’t feel enough, they didn’t care enough. They didn’t feel connected enough to their promises as husbands, connected to their promises, fiduciary or otherwise. They didn’t feel beholden to their responsibilities.
In the garden, these big shots, holding a single seed that one day could be a fruit tree that could feed their families, would know soon enough that they are not bigger than anything else. They would learn helplessness when dealing with the all-powerful weather, which has no time for political speeches, fools-gold promises, threats. They would learn to truly nurture, not merely take a one-time oath, watering regularly, fertilizing properly (ok, they have some background in this category), again and again. This is what it takes to have a healthy relationship — getting down on your knees, as it were. And even if they don’t feel it in their souls (they have them, I am sure), the physical repetition might summon commitment, or perhaps surface empathy, and if not, the constant trimming, grooming, will let them know that they must clean up their own mess. Humility will serve the ones who have mis-served.
To think of it, this might be easier for the politicians, it’s a more positive form of mud-slinging.
Being the center of attention is the most precarious place to be, ironically. Too much attention causes disconnection. These people need grounding. We all do.
By Michelle Edelman, President @ NYCA
On so many creative briefs, we see the same objectives over and over. Build awareness, create that elusive thing called buzz, grow topline sales, increase customer loyalty.
When’s the last time you saw a creative brief that instructed: thank our customers?
For many of us, the answer is probably never. Our efforts are always so focused on asking for the order, or gaining likes or fans or friends, or inviting the consumer to attend, save, sign up, share — all of this in anticipation of a purchase. Let’s be honest. We’re salespeople, really.
That’s why I wanted to share a particularly simple and moving experience from my recent purchase from Toms Shoes…
By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA
I love ideas. Not all ideas. Truth is I am a proud snob about the extremely rare ones that have the power to grow businesses. I pander to those. I’m brutal on the thousands of weak ones I toss away with as much regret as swatting a mosquito.
Ideas kidnapped me away from an intended career of writing poems, plays, TV shows and novels. I found writing prose beautiful, empowering, challenging.
At the essence of advertising is the idea. The advertising idea, as I think of it, is that intensely concentrated energy form destined to change behavior. It’s not easy to make a person cry or laugh with small black characters crawling on a screen but to get people to spend their money on a product when they set out to buy a different product — well, that takes some deep voodoo science.
Twenty-seven years into it, the hunt and cultivation of that kind of idea keeps me up nights ruminating, conjuring, Maaloxing, celebrating, praying; alive. The voice in a novel is a powerful current running through it. In advertising there are many voices, accents, dialects, languages to harmonize into a distinct chorus; more like a play, in my mind, with stage hands, actors, set designers, producers, musicians — and you must include the voice of the audience, not just listening but inviting them to coauthor, to get the mix just right. Of course, with these many variables, you realize, it is never ever right. This is also true of any writing. Copywriting is just more cumbersome, the odds are more stacked against you. That’s why there are more good novelists than copywriters.
Often, in advertising, you are working on a brand that already existed before you started tapping away to get to its core so there’s history you’re beholden to, invisible relationships that you will need to understand, nurture. Like marrying someone with step-kids.
In copywriting, your main medium is not words. You are working with preconceptions, competitive positions, visuals, the clock, evolving positions, sacred cows, relationships, ghosts haunting the brand from the past. And as high as you raise the volume on your headset to tune out the voices of the world into a powerful harnessed energy-force, you are on a team — a loud, then murmuring, un-unified, insistent, collective with (too often) different agendas. You are involved in a dialogue not just with your audience, but with your planner, your clients, your partner, your medium, your client’s customers, your competition, your own ego. These, more than words, are what the copywriter must work with. And when so many livelihoods are involved, all of a sudden clever just doesn’t seem so important, does it?
Also, unlike in a novel or a play, if you are a good copywriter you never write the ending. There’s no “Curtain gingerly lowers, catches on a piece of light, then darkness,” no “The End.” No “Fade Out.” If you are a good copywriter, you write for the action to continue and you wait for your next cue and you re-stimulate. The brand must go on. Like your kids, it should outlive you.
By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA
This past Friday, April 8, 2011 Manny Ramirez suddenly retired due to allegations that he was using illegal, game-enhancing drugs for the third time in his career. We first ran this blog in May of 2009. We figure another look at values and integrity was worth a second read, even for Manny fans.
Full disclosure: I never liked Manny Ramirez. Not when he was a hero of the Red Sox Nation. Not now as a Dodger. Not because he was good at playing baseball because I do have an appreciation for his machine-oiled swing and his carefree clutch play. But Manny being Manny was two too many Mannys for me.
So that takes me to a news show the other day reporting that Manny Ramirez’s Dodger jerseys are being bought at a record pace since the news broke of his steroid violation. He’s been suspended for 50 games but sales on Manny mania is up.
Tell me, why would anyone want Manny Ramirez’s name on their back – even more now than before – after he was cited for illegal drug use?
Full disclosure number two: I feel the same way about A-Rod. And anyone else who cheats in or out of a Yankee uniform.
I have no issues with success and the riches and fame earned from it if one gets famous for doing decent things, for winning fair. You don’t have to be a working class guy to be a hero. Talent and fame aren’t enough to make you a person to look up to. You can be admired for your physical beauty and social powers but to become a hero, character should count more than homers.
So here’s to the heart-pounding excitement of playing by the rules.
To the miles after miles of straight and narrow.
To delivered-as-promised accountability.
To doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching. And when they are.
Here’s to the guy who holds his trash to toss it in the garbage can and picks it up and tries again when he misses a fall-away jumper. With no stadium, no cheers, no two fingers to the lips and up to the heavens when it goes in.
Here’s to celebrating ordinary goodness at a time when celebrity is so prized and so attainable.
Here’s to aspiring to be that kind of everyday hero.
Hallmark ought to make a day for it.
Everyday Hero Day.
When you care enough to send the very best to those who care enough to always do their best.
Goodness doesn’t need a posse. If a good act is executed and no one sees it each of us is made better.
It’s easy to see a ball smashed in the ninth inning fly over the wall to win the game. Should you miss it, they will replay it on the jumbo screen, on the sports shows, on the local news, in the paper, online, in the blogs, fan sites.
You think we can tell goodness without a batting average? Without a stage or if it didn’t step out of a limo in a $1,000 suit?
This requires more action on the spectator’s part.
We have a responsibility to see, point out and to judge who we each want to put on the pedestal. If anyone.
My heroes’ names might not be in lights above all others. Some are, though.
She may not be able to sing or dance or run at record speed.
He may not have the mind to understand advanced strategy.
And, then again, they may have all of that. They may be famous for their talent and a nobody for their deeds.
They may be famous for their goodness. Like I said, being famous for doing the right thing is a good thing. It inspires more good stuff since fame is such an aspiration.
Give me the common good guy.
I will be proud to wear his jersey.
I will wait outside his workplace for his autograph.
I will point him out to my kids.
And put his poster over our bed (especially if my wife thinks he’s sexy).
You do the right thing under the intense pressure of an ordinary day or in the dark when the spotlight is off then you’ll have my respect and my thanks.
Now it may not be worth millions so I will also send you a hero card.
…”Recent research has uncovered a trend called ‘boomer bummers,'” notes Michelle Edelman, boomer expert and president of NYCA, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based integrated marketing and ad agency. “As [older] boomers pass into the typical retirement ages — as they get their AARP cards and turn milestones — they start to get depressed.”
Edelman, also a contributing author/editor for two baby boomer-related books, notes that the rates of suicide and clinical depression for these older boomers are rising. After all, they were part of the generation that wanted to change the world, but now are facing realities they cannot alter.
“Much is not controllable,” she adds, “particularly as age affects health and appearance.”
In contrast, younger boomers are still in the “family forming” stage, Edelman says. Many still have children at home; they are actively pursuing careers and were not greatly impacted by the turbulent times of the 1960s…
To read the full article, click here.
By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA
“It’s all too complicated.” We’ve all felt and sighed that. Life moves fast and can have so many layers, one can get paralyzed under the tonage.
Same with work. With so many channels of information constantly being updated even as we’re analyzing it all, we can get caught up in just staying current instead of creating change. When we get overwhelmed, we can’t be our most effective or happiest. If you want to change the direction of your life, of a company, of a brand, try to focus on one thing only. You have to block out the noise to hear the music. It’s that easy. Sure it’s an oversimplification. But oversimplifications can get you moving — and action wins. So, instead of the entire web of intricate behaviors, see only the action of a single movement.
For example, since I’m hungry, let’s say sales are down 24% on your global company’s frozen turkey slices. You’ve stared at the data for days and the turkey still isn’t moving. So forget the data, the percentages, the fact that your company produces turkey for most of the meat-eating world, and imagine a single person in a single store passing by the rack and reaching for another brand’s product. Your entire mission goes back from this moment — all you need to do is get that consumer to reach just a few inches over for your brand. For right now, it’s not about the changes in distribution, the trucking contracts, rising cost of turkey feather pluckers, shifting trends in eating habits, new entrants to the marketplace — so much, too much. Just focus on moving that customer’s hand over to grab a cold handful of your turkey. That’s the entire mission.
In all matters it comes down to one thing more than any other: what is that one thing that will make the customer move? It’s not everything, but for this jump-start it is the only thing. If you can bite-size the matter, you can handle it more easily, you get unfrozen yourself. Same in your personal life: if you want to stop smoking, you need to see yourself not as a child being brought up in the house of a smoker, not a smoker yourself for 17 and a half years who has tried to quit and now will lose the love of your life if you don’t. You just have to see yourself simply not putting a cigarette in your mouth. Once you master the image, you are on the way to doing the action, repeating it. Where do you not put a cigarette in your mouth? In church, your kid’s classroom – see that; it’s a starting point. Small movements, no matter how small, shape all things. Small makes a big difference. All the difference.