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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mama McCain

As a marketing guy who dabbles in political commentary, I’ve always been interested in seeing how politicians—particularly candidates—brand and position themselves in the field.

(I’ve been observing this for years, but rarely discuss it, since I don’t like to besmirch marketing’s good name by comparing it to politics.)

Anyway, I just had to comment on a recent stunt that (in my opinion) was nothing short of marketing genius: John McCain bringing his mom on the campaign trail.

Though not my personal preference for President, McCain is one of my all-time favorite senators, a man of intelligence and integrity. Yet his campaign has been sputtering all year, and I recently wondered if he was virtually eliminated from the race.

Until now.

Don’t underestimate this move. Mama McCain’s presence isn’t just some feel-good story that’ll blow over. It’s a brilliant strategic move that will have lasting impact, mostly because it addresses head-on those critics who attack John’s age. How can they say that now, with his 95-year-old mom traveling around town? How can they question his health and stamina, when he’s displaying genetic proof of his endurance? And how can the crowds not go crazy for this adorable old lady?

My guess is McCain’s just quieted a few naysayers while earning himself a nice chunk of elderly and mom-loving voters—perhaps enough to get back into the top three Republicans.

This is not your father’s John McCain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Business trip: Let's debrief

I'm not a corporate type. I do not like to speak about teamwork - even though I truly enjoy working with people and sharing goals. I rarely enjoy "icebreakers" or "team-building exercises" and I wince when people say "put that idea in the parking lot" when someone gets off topic during a discussion.

Here's what I learned at my two-day, 14-hour training:
  1. PowerPoint is supposed to be an aid to your lecture. You do not need to read aloud word-for-word what's on the screen because not only can I read that myself but it's also in front of me on the Power Point presentation print-out you handed out. (Perhaps I did not just learn this, exactly. However, the anger I felt at each slowly-passing slide really kept me from enjoying my deep breaths.)
  2. According to the Personal Interaction Quiz I am a yellow. This means I am a talker. Yellows are expressive, outgoing, friendship-oriented and highly creative, according to the Power Point. After learning about my yellow status I felt so creative that I tried to take notes with my non-dominant hand, made a list of what I will wear to work this week and doodled a very realistic picture of my best friend Julie.
  3. The Hyatt is very nice. I enjoyed Hyatt dinner, Hyatt coffee, Hyatt workout room and the extraordinary Hyatt bed.
  4. When in doubt, take notes. My swift note-taking made it seem like I was really learning - becoming part of the team and understanding those presentations. I'm such a fabulous fooler.
  5. I do not participate in role-plays. Ever.
  6. There is a difference between counseling and coaching. I'm not sure what, but I'm told that those are different.
  7. Finally, I've learned that a Mandasaurus can't be held down by corporate rules. I've got to be freer than this. I'm actually happy to say I'm feeling pretty damned inspired to look for something that will fill my days with less crap and more happiness. A yellow Mandasaurus can't be stuck in a such fake, PowerPoint filled world for long.
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.