Manny Ramirez Strikes Out as a Hero

April 11, 2011

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.

Manny Ramirez

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.


NYCA president, Michelle Edelman, contributes to Progressive Grocer’s report on Baby Boomers

March 16, 2011

…”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.


To make the biggest changes, focus on the smallest things.

March 1, 2011

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.


The last tour on 101

January 26, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

I gave my last tour of the agency today. We’re moving this week. Jason, Joel, and Tracey, the three newbies, walked with me, starting outside on the sunny, nostalgic 101, lost in a time of vintage cars, chatty neighborhood diners and bike shops, then inside, walking around the boxes, spilling over with stuff, making the move all the way to the back, the Grove, by the Pacific Ocean where our fruit trees are bursting with winter oranges and lemons.

I give a tour of the NYCA world headquarters to all new NYCAers and long-timers. We talk about who we are: a sales agency;  how we work: harmonious chaos; what is success, what I expect from them, and what they should demand from NYCA. We give this tour to prospects, too. It’s pretty much the same talk, as we all are relying on each other for our mutual growth. We talk about the art on the walls from the gifted people of St. Madeline’s Sophie Center, and why we don’t like our own work in frames — “it’s a working tool, not precious art” — and The Learning Grove. Why we are by the wide open ocean and not in the crowded city. Why our color is baby blue and why we plant a tree for every one of our clients.

I moved more slowly than usual this time, not just due to age. I was saying good-bye and thanks to each touchpoint: the laundry line with our dozen NYCA different celebration t-shirts, the lyrics to the song, “Spirit of Water,” the harvester who reminds us to serve generously, even the awful stain that looks like Africa — and is almost its size — left by someone’s (I know whose) coffee. I explained why we have Frank Sinatra tilting in a too-big gilded frame in a conference room that is called Fargo and why we have another fancy frame cock-eyed around the fire extinguisher: “Challenge the norm!”

We have been here for 8 years and now are moving to a place which we are staging to be more current with the way communication works today and perhaps the day after: for more free-flowing collaboration, more openness and to be much faster, lots more fun.

On the back door that is our front is the word, “grow!” This is our greeter, our task master,  relentless as it is encouraging. And it is leading us two miles south. As we pack, I am reminded that little is essential to take except our creativity, courage, compassion and integrity. Don’t even need a box. We have it on our walls to make sure we do what we say we do: “integrity is better than pie.”

Above all, we are thankful.

Thanks to every single one of you, all the NYCAers, all our inspiring clients, partners who work so closely with us, and every single thing – yes, even you Africa coffee stain! — who took part in our growth, and helped us be all we can be here and push on to better places.

Thank you for the love that made every moment so valuable. I hope you felt it from us. See you not so far down the road.

Got to grow!


What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?


Do something insanely joyous today.

December 15, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

I make lists, helps me remember, helps me act, helps me feel worthwhile.

I check the item off and feel that sense of accomplishment until the next item I need to do challenges that feeling and round-and-round I go.

Human doing.

But sometimes, the instant act, no planning, no thought, is wonderful, too.

What inspires it? Hopefully a good thing – love, generosity, beauty, gratitude.

You become inspired and you act, no to-do list, just pure offering.  And the energy is big and true!

You know it could be a high-five, a “thank you,” a “you got a minute – how’s your life?” (this works best with people you know), a dance in the middle of a meeting when someone says something great!

When you feel moved – let the feeling take over – show it!

We have some people at NYCA who are just human bolts of natural positive love – they inspire good feelings with their actions every day with their high voltage power. I know for sure everyone can be that way to some extent. And we all should be for ourselves.

I notice sometimes people smiling at me when I take my walks, not only because I’m funny looking, because I am smiling and they are smiling back at me. They think I’m smiling at them – I am, but I am smiling at all, at myself. I like walking very much and it makes me smile. The energy goes round-and-round!

Do this at work. And work instantly is more enjoyable. I dare say, more productive (though that’s not the main point).

When we are inspired to act out, we feel good and make others feel good. That’s the point.

Take action, accountability, take charge of your energy and be a charge!

It takes conviction to break from the inner sanctum of safety and self.

Try it. It’s addictive.

Inspire your life today and the world in a happy, mindless, thoughtful, crazy positive act.


Trick or Truth

December 1, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Here’s a little story about advertising within a story about truth. Our client, Ryan from the UK, sent it to us.

I like this very much for the inspiration to remember we are creating products and communications that have to work hard in the marketplace. We too often get caught up in the success of a meeting and yield to our own desires, too far from the needs of the consumer. In that smaller meeting room with internal agendas, we can unknowingly get smaller-minded, choke off opportunity.

Ryan’s story reminds us why we do what we do together so passionately – to create growth in the marketplace and to please consider who is doing the buying and who we are competing against. Here the agency gave the client the opportunity to feel not like an innovator, an entrepreneur, but a consumer – the role that could help him make the best call for the work. At first it appears like just a selling trick but it is really a wonderful way to get to the truth. A trick, yes, but with a happy ending!

Reminder for the agency: we also need to go through this porthole to understand the consumer, the competitive set, as well as the client’s state of mind. The more we can understand our constituents the better we can all do our work, harmoniously and productively.

Thanks Ryan!

THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION.

My wife is an art director.

Recently she went to The Marketing Forum.

Being a creative, she expected to be bored by lots of case histories, graphs, charts, numbers.

But one client told an amazingly creative story about the birth of a brand.

It started when he was working in Belgium.

Every day he had to try to sell margarine (butter-flavoured spread) to people who didn’t want it.

It was dispiriting work.

To cheer himself up, every day he went to the same pastry shop and ate a delicious chocolate pastry.

Eventually it became clear to him.

“I don’t like margarine.

I do like chocolate.

I’m in the wrong game.”

Doing what you love is always the best idea.

So he quit his job and began working on perfecting a delicious, rich, chocolate pudding.

He worked on it until he had it exactly right.

Now he needed marketing.

He needed a positioning, a name, packaging, a brand in fact.

So he went to see an agency and asked if they could do that for him.

They said leave it with us.

So he waited.

And he waited.

Three weeks later they hadn’t contacted him, so he called them.

They said “We-ell…. You’d better come in, we’ve got something to show you.”

He went to see them.

They said, “We’ve got some bad news we’re afraid. It looks like someone else has already done it.”

His jaw dropped.

They said “Yes, unfortunately, virtually the same product, same positioning, everything. We’ve managed to get hold of some pictures.

If you promise not to let it leave this room, we’ll show you.”

He nodded.

They said “You wanted a stylish, classy chocolate pudding, deliciously gooey, yet premium? Look, theirs is called Gu.

It’s got the German umlaut (two little dots) over the letter U, so it looks like a smiley face. And it rhymes with ‘goo’ so it’s fun but classy.

A bit like Haagen Dazs.”

The client’s face fell, he said, “I can’t believe it. That’s a great name.”

They said “Yes, and look at the packaging: it’s dark, rich, elegant. Indulgent and chocolaty, but also stylish.”

The client said “This is terrible. How advanced are they.”

They said “Their sales force is ready to start selling it in. We’re worried because we think they’ll be very successful.”

The client said “What do you mean: you think they’ll be successful. Of course they’ll be successful. It’s a brilliant product, a brilliant name, a brilliant pack design. It’s exactly what I wanted dammit.”

And he sat back, depressed, thinking about all the success he could have had if only he’d got that idea first.

Then the account man smiled and said “Well if you really mean that I may have some good news for you.”

The client said, “What?”

The account man said “I made that story up. No one has actually done anything. This is our presentation to you: the name, the packaging, everything.

If you want it you can have it.”

The client said he felt as if the sun came out.

Instead of the usual shuffling, and humming and hawing he just took everything as it stood and went with it.

Isn’t that great.

We never want anything so much as when we can’t have it.

So instead of selling the client an idea in a way that lets him think he’s got all the time in the world to fiddle with every tiny unimportant detail, they let him see what’s really important.

How will he feel if he sees a competitor has done it?

If he’s been beaten to market.

He won’t quibble about the serif on the typeface.

He won’t worry that the background colour isn’t exactly 100% perfect.

He’ll just wish to God he’d done it.

What a great lesson.

Show the client the idea in a situation where he would give anything to have done it.

But it’s too late, someone else got there first.

It’s like a nightmare.

Then wake him up and tell him it was just a dream, and he’s still got a chance to do it himself.

Instead of suspicion and hesitation, he’ll feel gratitude and eagerness.

He’ll be concentrating on the 95% that’s right.

Not holding everything up for the tiny 5% that isn’t.

We’ll have a client that wants to move things forward, not hold things back.

By the way, the name of the client who told that story was James Averdieck.

And he’s just sold that brand for £35 million.