Friday, December 23, 2005

Wine and Cheese Management ...

The title of this post probably sounds a little strange, but hopefully after a bit of explanation you will understand.

First, I deliberately mispelled my title so that it would be easier to read and pronounce. It is supposed be spelled, "Why-ne and Cheese Management".

The first part is so simple that even a two year old would understand it. If you have ever been around a two year old, you know that their favorite word is "Why". Why is the sky blue? Why are we going to school? Why do I have to wear these pants? (Some two year olds have some clothing issues, but that is a story for another post.)

From a business management perspective, Motivation is tied directly to WHY and if you give a compelling "why", your team will figure out a way to get it done. If you don't give a "Why", (and depend on "just do it because I said so"), you are limiting yourself to a solution that is not necessarily the best it could be. Think about it.... if you give workers the "why", they will use their own experience, dedication and creativity to come up with the solution. They may even ask for your suggestions (and learn from you by combining it with their own ideas), but in almost every case the result will be a better job in a shorter amount of time with improved moral and dedication for the next job.

The second part of the Wine & Cheese management approach is "The Cheese".

You might think that this part would be pulled directly from the popular business book, "Who moved my Cheese", but you would be wrong. The Cheese is about recognition and appreciation.

The Cheese comes in when you snap photographs of people doing things RIGHT. ("Say Cheese"... I'm about to take your picture.) These pictures should then be posted in public places with a brief explanation of why* this person is being honored.

* notice the use of "why" here also.

This educates, encourages and reinforces the key principles and practices that you want in your organization. It is also a great way to use your web site to extend "the face of your company" beyond your own four walls.

So, now, go out and have yourself a Why-ne and Cheese party !

It will make life more fun for you and your whole organization !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, Notewordy.com

Monday, December 19, 2005

Seth Godin Seminar .... January 26th, 2006 !

Seth Godin, one of the world's greatest marketing minds and the author of The Idea Virus, Purple Cow, The Big Moo and a fabulous blog is offering a one day seminar / workshop where you can learn and interact both with him as well as fellow attendees!

(He is also offering a $100 referral fee, so if you sign up please tell him that you heard it from Dave Wheeler's blog, Write On! at www.theshot92.blogspot.com . Thanks.)

Click here to learn more !

Dave

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Free E-Book ! ! ...

Click below for a free ebook from Scott Ginsberg (the nametag /approachability guy)...

http://hellomynameisscott.blogspot.com/2005/12/free-ebook-66-priceless-pieces-of.html

Happy Holidays !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, www.notewordy.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why Notecards as a business.....????

I was showing my newest notecards to a longtime friend (and a strong supporter of my efforts) and I thought his comment was interesting.

He said, "You sure are bucking the trend [with handwritten notecards]." I asked him what he meant and he replied, "You know, with email, cell phones with unlimited long distance calling and all the new ways to communicate, there doesn't seem like there would be alot of people who would be handwriting a note card."

I was a bit taken aback by the comment since I figured he knew the benefits of handwritten notes, but I reiterated them anyways. "Do you send greeting cards? Of course you do, and a handwritten note is much more effective way of making someone feel special. A handwritten card is an expression of who you are and when compared to a mass-produced cartoon the winner is obvious."

However, his question got me thinking about notecards as a business. Why would someone want to get into a business where ... ?
1) the general population does not care about it.
2) it is perceived as old fashioned or something your grandmother might do
3) alternative products can be purchased (in bulk) for 2-3 times less.

The more that I thought about, the more I liked the idea of a notecard business. I know that sounds strange or at least "counterintuitive" (which is a nice way of saying "stupid"), but there are a number of good reasons to like notecards and the associated business.

a) The greeting card business is worth billions.
b) There are many ways to offer something much better than a greeting card (in particular, notecards).
c) Notecards are definitely a niche (small) market. The market for art-based notecards is smaller still. The market for high-end, limited-edition notecards might be really small too, but I really like the product. Plus if it is only 0.1% of the billion dollar greeting card market, then it could be worth $1million dollars. The problem with that logic is the same as someone trying to sell soda in China.... there are BILLIONS of people there (all potential customers) and if we only get a small percentage, we will be rich! Everyone with even a little experience knows that it is not as simple as that. All people are different. A niche of one.


I should also add that my friend's other question was "Who would I send it to?" And the associated, unspoken question, of course, is, "Why would I send it?".

I will save those questions for my next blog entry.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Coming Soon .... Free Christmas Card !

I'm working on a FREE Christmas Card that you can download and print out on your own printer. My travel plans will keep me busy for this week, but check back here early next week for more information!
Write On!
Dave Wheeler !

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The GapingVoid/Stormhoek design challenge ....

Hugh put out the challenge for a new label / packaging design for Stormhoek (his blogsphere marketing "project") .... and this is what I came up with:

"Hugh,I think you are on the right track. The existing bottle/label design looks like every other bottle of wine (and if you didn't tell me the picture was Stormhoek, I couldn't tell from the linked pictures because the type was too small to see).

My recommendations (for what they are worth) are:

  1. Larger Stormhoek name on the label. The great part about the name is that it has two parts, Storm and hoek so the visual could actually wrap around the bottle and people could identify it by glimpsing only part of the name.
  2. Stormhoek is a WIRED brand. I would suggest a recessed part of the label area with actual (shiny) metal wires and dots (sort of like Hugh's art doodles). This would stand out in a wine shop and represent the electronic heritage of the brand. Alternatively, a flexible PCB could be wrapped around the middle of the bottle (and ideally it would be FUNCTIONAL... lighting LED's? Tracking shelf life?).
  3. There are a couple more bottle ideas that could be pursued... emphasis on the "Hook" with a bottle that can be hung in it's own unique "rack". This would serve two purposes... it would be a unique feature and it would also encourage consumers to DISPLAY their bottles in unique places. The other bottle idea is related to Brock's cork idea...a light in the top of the bottle which, when twisted to "on" position, would project on the ceiling of the shop. It could also be a great way to find your way home in the dark of night with your bottle of Stormhoek!

What do you think?

Dave Wheeler
Nov.10, 2005



Stormhoek Idea Napkin

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

When will you make that first impression???

It may seem strange to link to a newsletter from a Men's clothing store, but I thought their latest effort was worth passing along:

11 Observations That Reveal More About You Than Your Sign

http://www.menswearhouse.com/home_page/guys_guide/gg381_guidelines_template.jsp?dis=1408474395264107&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=1408474395264107


Write On !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, NoteWordy Art & Cards
www.NoteWordy.com

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NoteWordy Thought for the Day ....

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. " - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Importance of Location on Global Micro Brands (GMB)

This entry was created as a comment on Hugh Macleod's blog, www.gapingvoid.com. ....

"This is actually a comment on Avin's post, but he brings up an aspect of GMB's that might be of interest to you (and your readers).

How much does location matter?

In Avin's post he talks about Luigi the olive oil producer. If Luigi was based in Florida (USA) instead of Italy, would the brand have the same impact globally? I don't think so. Or perhaps it would create a different type of brand in Florida.

My point is that .... Location matters.

We all have preconceptions based on location (or as Seth Godin says in "All Marketers are Liars", our own "worldview") and these preconceptions influence how we value certain products.
Having said that, as marketers we need to recognize what preconceptions exist in our location and which ones, perhaps, might hold us back.

For example, I have a note card company that makes limited-edition, high-priced note cards based on contemporary art. The high-priced part could leverage the fact that they are made in Connecticut USA (near Greenwich). The contemporary art could leverage New York City.

Of course both of these statements are "in theory", since I still need to take my own advice and revamp my web site, www.notewordy.com, that is another story for another day.

Hope this adds to the conversation about Global Micro Brands !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, NoteWordy Cards
WriteOn! blog: www.theshot92.blogspot.com

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nominations open for NoteWordy Bloggers of 2005

The nominations are now open for the NoteWordy Bloggers of 2005 !

NoteWordy.com is sponsoring a contest to recognize the top, most noteworthy bloggers of 2005 based on their impact on the web and the world in general. The categories include:

  • Blogosphere - specific blogs related primarily to blogging
  • Marketing blogs
  • News blogs
  • Specialty blogs - unique subjects, covered exceptionally well
  • Personal blogs - entertaining, insightful ....

More detailed descriptions will follow in later posts. Selections will be made in December 2005 for release to the media in late December.

How does it work?
The selection process is semi-democratic. The democratic part is that you can submit comments on this blog (please keep them under 100 words) telling why a particular blog deserves to be one of the most NoteWordy blogs of 2005. The "semi-" part of the selection process is that these suggestions will be reviewed as part of the final decision, but the selection by NoteWordy.com will be final.

So comment often and with passion ! Tell who had great posts this year (preferably with links to great examples).

Winners will receive a complete set of NoteWordy.com limited-edition note cards and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with winning !

Vote now! Vote often!

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

If it's noteworthy, send NoteWordy.com!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This just made me smile .....

Check out http://www.whatwouldmacgyverdo.com/./about_the_book.html

This is the web site for a book being developed for Penguin books called, "What Would MacGyver do?". It is going to be a series of 75 to 100 original stories by and about people who have exercised MacGyver-like ingenuity in solving their everyday problems.

Maybe this is just my engineering background showing through . . .

Monday, October 10, 2005

Insights into your personality, intellect and ....

Check out:
http://www.tickle.com

There's lots of free tests that can give you insights into your personality, intellect and more. I especially like the Corporate Culture test (in the Career & Money section).

They give free tests and some results but if you want more detailed results there is a cost (most I've seen are around $5). Interesting stuff ...

Write On!

Dave Wheeler
NoteWordy.com Founder

Friday, October 07, 2005

What is your Lens on the World????

As I'm sure you know, I read Seth Godin's blog on a regular basis and have "borrowed" many of his best ideas for use in my business. Now, Papa [Seth] has a brand new bag [sorry, couldn't resist a 60's music reference].

Seth is starting to introduce "Squidoo". He has posted various cryptic messages on his blog over the past few months (like, "I'm working on something big", or "It will be out soon.") and the cat is starting to come out of the bag !

Today, Oct. 7, 2005, he posted "Everyone is An Expert", a PDF document, that explains the idea of a "Lens" for the Internet. Check it out.

I read through his PDF ebook and it appears that Seth has hit on a key value that certain sites provide... the value of "meaning", or a quick way to get "the big picture" so you can make sense of all the data and marketing and garbage on the web (without meaning it is sometimes hard to distinguish good data from garbage or hype).

I am hoping that I will be able to participate in Seth's new endeavor. It is an interesting idea and, like most of his previous idea, it is sure to spread quickly !

Write ON!

Dave Wheeler
Founder, NoteWordy.com

PS If you want to check out the blog for Squidoo it is here. The whole site is not up yet, so we will have to wait and see when it appears!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Expanding your worldview.... by checking out people from the library

I heard about the link below indirectly through Metacool blog which referred me to Bruce Nussbaum's blog (at BusinessWeek Online):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/08/25/wdutch25.xml

The article proposes an interesting idea... "borrowing" people from the library for 45 minutes to learn more about them.
"A public library in Holland has been swamped with queries after unveiling plans
to "lend out" living people, including homosexuals, drug addicts, asylum
seekers, gipsies and the physically handicapped."

How often do you interact with any of these types of people in your life? How about other types of people? The blind? The elderly? Kids? Priests? Marketing Managers? Bloggers? The list could go on and on.

But what would you find out? Perhaps you would learn about some of the unique challenges associated with the personal choices or circumstances but I would expect that you would also learn that these people are alot like you. Surprisingly like you.

How would you give this idea a try in your life? Leave a comment and let us know.

Write on!

Dave Wheeler
Founder, www.NoteWordy.com

Friday, September 30, 2005

Stretching Your Mind

Ni hao ! (Hello in Chinese),

I have just started learning Mandarin Chinese (through a course at a local community college) and am enjoying the feeling of stretching my mind !

I am also very aware of the saying, "You get out of it what you put into it!". The last language I learned was Latin back in high school and, as you can imagine, there hasn't been much use for it in conversations. Chinese characters are also an interesting challenge. They are so different from English characters or words that it is almost like learning a secret language of pictographs (almost like that ... but different).

What have you done recently to stretch your mind? Tell me about it in the comments !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler
NoteWordy.com

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Holiday Card Time is here ....

We are planning holiday (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza) cards at our company, as I'm sure many other people are as well, and it won't be long before NoteWordy.com comes out with a limited-edition notecard for the holidays (stay tuned to this blog and the web site for more info).

On a semi-related note, the link below shows that even lawyers are catching the "holiday" spirit !

http://www.legalmarketingblog.com/marketing-tips-233-donat-wait-any-longer-to-plan-for-holiday-cards-.html

Also some good points about how to deal with holiday cards !

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

BIG MOO .... is growing !

I just read on Seth Godin's blog about a new web site built around the BIG MOO .... called remarkabalize*

Check it out ... http://67.129.221.33/Custom/custom.asp?cmid=4110&id=839

Moo On!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Vision => Emotional Resonance

How often have you worked for a company and their vision was as bland as dry, white toast?

"We will sell widgets to the tall, short and sideways markets and [insert
motherhood and apple pie statement here]."

Sample motherhood and apple pie statements:
"be a world leader"
"provide top quality"
"be the preferred supplier"


A vision must resonate with the organization and, more importantly, with every person within the organization if it going to be truly effective.


From my years as a mechanical engineer, I learned that resonance is created when certain things happen. First there is a source of the vibration [the vision in our analogy here]. Second, the vibration must be transmitted in some form to the subject [the individuals in the organization]. Finally, there must be a "natural frequency" within the subject such that it responds to the vibration and begins to vibrate at the same frequency. To cross over from our analogy to business, this means that people must be receptive and have values and personal goals that support (and hopefully reinforces) the vision.

Natural Frequency = The Individual's Values

Back to the analogy... Vibration can also grow. In certain cases, the subject receiving the vibration adds to the vibration and the amplitude (or energy) of the vibration increases! It gains power. In an organization, this is seen when the individual increases their motivation and accomplishes more, which motivates others to support the vision, which accomplishes more, which motivates others .... I think you see how this can grow !

A good vision ignites emotions and passion for the mission ahead. A dry, boring vision is simply noise!

What is your vision? Share it with someone and see if it resonates !

Write On!

Good white paper on Blogs....

James Torio has his thesis on blogs posted at:
http://www.everyhuman.com/pages/2005/08/thesis.php

Check it out !

DW

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

FREE MOO being sent ...

I have made my selections ....

First, I must say that it was a tough decision. I looked for people who could influence decision makers (which is the premise that Seth set up) but I also looked for people who took the time to "connect" before just asking for a freebie. This taught me a valuable lesson that I will use in my business dealings going forward... if you want someone to do something, you have to "connect" with their world (or their "worldview" as Seth would say) and provide them a good reason to take action.

The three selections connected to my worldview through the following means:
1) By reading my blog and my website and offering some comments. One also provided an interesting link that was related to NoteWordy.com's Art-based card business.
2) By appealing to my "influence other readers" approach (by providing a glimpse of their network of influence)... and giving me a lead on a potentially interesting book to read.
3) By appealing to my interest in exploring new places and new ideas. (Which was not something that I have explicitly indicated, but perhaps it comes through on my blog).

I am sending out three copies to "the far corners of the world" (so to speak). One is local (Connecticut), one is in Denver, Colorado (USA) and one is in Turkey (assuming I can figure out the shipping & other details).

My sincere appreciation to everyone who took the time to send me an email and I hope others will give away their extra copies of the BIG MOO and create more FREE MOO !

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"FREE MOO" offer is ... FULL ! (sorry)

I would like to thank everyone who sent emails for the "FREE BIG MOO" offer I posted yesterday. I received nearly 200 emails in less than 24 hours and if it I had an unlimited supply of books (and unlimited funds for shipping) I would have sent everyone a FREE MOO because the responses were absolutely INCREDIBLE !

I have started to sort them into two piles ... Maybe and YES (there were honestly none that are rated a "no"). From that I am narrowing it down further to match the [very limited] supply of books that I have available. Plus I want to get them shipped out soon so I had to make some quick decisions.

Epiphany.... (I rarely get a chance to use this word, but I think it applies here...)
As I go through the emails, one thing jumped out at me.... this whole giveaway process is just a microcosm for (or example of) the Purple Cow / BIG MOO philosophy! The people who stand out (and are the most remarkable) are the ones that catch my attention and will most likely receive a free book.

WOW .... what a concept. Using a BIG MOO to get a FREE MOO !
(I wish I did it on purpose, but I think it still qualifies as an epiphany... ya think?)

I'm still sorting through the pile, but I appreciate everyone's emails and I hope to have some selections ready to go very soon.

Write On !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, NoteWordy.com

Interview with Kelly Hansen of InspirationalArts.org

NoteWordy.com and Write ON! blog are proud to present ...
An interview with Kelly Hansen of Inspirational Arts.org, Houston, Texas.
Kelly's business was mentioned recently in an article about greeting cards in USA Today
(online at: http://www.usatoday.com/money/2005-06-16-greeting-cards-usat_x.htm) which brought her to the attention of NoteWordy.com and, thankfully, she agreed to the following interview:

NoteWordy.com:
You have a very unique style for your art. How do you describe your style and how did you come up with it?

Kelly Hansen:
"I have always loved to print ever since I can remember. I like to say that my artwork is interactive. The concept engages the viewer and invites one to take a closer look at the message. It's a subtle way to share God's word with others. Each piece is constructedof 2-4 hand-printed Bible verses that pertain to the word and is read as the word is written, thus, ".art with a message."

The idea originated as a wedding gift for my best friend of 20+ years. My mom likes to say that Inspirational Arts was "born out of Love" as Love was the very first piece I created. In trying to think of something unique to do for her, I decided to construct the word' Love' out of 1Corinthians 13:4-8 which is often read at weddings and also included both of their names and wedding date. I eventually created other words i.e. Hope, Faith, Peace and Joy, and, as I began to share them with friends, they ordered them as gifts.

We quickly realized the impact my artwork was having on others, and, in August 2002, Inspirational Arts was officially born. "

NoteWordy.com:
Your works clearly convey a strong, emotional message that can help people express their feelings to the important people in their lives. Do you have a story or stories (aside from the first one that you did for as a wedding gift) that shows how someone purchased your work and the impact it had?

Kelly Hansen:
"The stories are what make all of this so exciting. I love to collaborate with others and bring their ideas and inspirations to life through my artwork. There are so many stories as I have done numerous custom gifts for weddings, births, baptisms, adoptions, graduations, those who have died, those who have survived cancer and many more. But, here are a few stories that have especially touched me.

We met a young girl a few years ago who shared with us that she was adopted and had recently reconnected with her biological brother after being separated since birth. She wanted to do something special for his birthday and decided to create the word 'Brother' with her own words about their separation and reunion. It was truly awesome to be a part of that special gift.

I did five names for a woman's great-grandchildren - each of which she chose specific verses and wrote a personalized prayer to that child...a true legacy of faith being passed on through prayer to the next generation.

A lady recently ordered a custom order for her husband who is becoming a firefighter. I created the word 'Firefighter' out of specially chosen verses and ended it with love from her and their kids with the date.

The list goes on and on, but the common thread in all of these stories is how God's word is alive and actively used to express the heart of each person and the love they feel toward their loved ones. I love to see what verses they choose knowing the importance that each one holds for them, and I am always amazed at how God makes it all fit every time. It's such a privilege to be used by God to serve Him and others in this unique way."


NoteWordy.com:
What have you found to be the downside of your art and/or your web site? What have you had to overcome to bring your art to a larger audience?

Kelly Hansen:
"I must say, when I first started my business, I gave away much more than I sold. I was so excited about what God was doing in my life through the gift of my artwork that I wanted to share it with everyone we met.

I do consider my artwork first and foremost as a ministry - it is a direct reflection of my heart, so adapting to the reality that it has become an actual business (and the idea is to be profitable!) has been personally difficult for me.

The entire foundation of our business has been built on relationships and word of mouth. We love to interact with people and to share my artwork on a more personal level. I am blessed to have the faithful support of my mom, and, together, we have participated in close to 200 events over the past 3 years in an effort to establish a customer base.

We presently have approximately 3000 people on our mailing list, and it continues to grow as people share my artwork with others. We launched our web site in January of 2003, and it has been absolutely amazing to see where my artwork has traveled outside of Texas as well as the United States. Our sales and the continual affirmation that we have received from others have encouraged us and our belief that God does have a purpose and a plan for my artwork and what He wants to do through it.

Our biggest challenge by far has been mass marketing and introducing the concept of my artwork to others in a way that requires little or no explanation. We sometimes feel that we have to work harder than we should in making sure that people don't miss the message - God's word within the word, but, once they see it they are so excited and appreciative that we shared it with them.

The things that I have had to overcome personally are fear of rejection and patience. I have to remind myself who I am doing this for and why I am doing it. My artwork truly was a gift from God, and, through the growing pains of this journey, He is teaching me to steward well what He has given me.

Unlike the external success that we are groomed to look for so quickly in gauging others in today's culture, God is giving me a success on the inside that only happens when you truly come to know Him for who He is and to believe that He will do what He says He will do. My complete trust is in Him that He will continue to guide us in the decisions that we make and will open the right doors for us in time. Until then, we will just keep spreading the Word!


NoteWordy.com:
What's next? For you? For your web site? For your art?" Anything more to add on these questions? What else should your readers / customers know?

Kelly Hansen:
"That's a great question and one I ask myself on a daily basis.

It's a transitional time for us as a business as we are trying to narrow our focus from retailing and doing so many local shows to expanding our wholesale business and reaching more people. It's a prayerful topic for us as to how we are going to do that. Where we are excited by the idea of partnering with larger manufacturer, we plan to continue moving forward on our own to the best of our ability until a door opens.

One of the hardest things to master in owning your own business - especially when it involves creative design - is patience. We have so many ideas - designs and applications, but we have to realize that we cannot implement them all at once.

As a creative person, the delay in seeing your ideas materialize can be very difficult. But, we just continue to do what we can and to try and maintain our focus on God and putting Him first knowing that He will make a way.

I don't know what the future holds for us. For me personally, this experience and journey so far has been one of tremendous growth. My artwork has been such a blessing and has allowed me to use so many of my gifts in such a unique way. Ultimately, I love to serve and meet the needs of others, and God has given me the privilege of being able to use His word in the process.

I am eager to see how He will continue to grow our business and how He may use it as a springboard for other purposes He has for me. Meanwhile, I am hanging on for the ride!


NoteWordy.com:
Have there been any people in particular that have been important or provided special support as you have grown your business?

Kelly Hansen:
"I work with my mom Liz. She got laid off 4 months after I started my business and has been working with me ever since. Her support has been invaluable, and she has been such a pivotal part of our growth and success.

We have both struggled with adapting to working for ourselves and, on top of that, out of our home. The transition has been an even harder for her after being in the natural gas industry for over 25 years.

Looking back at the timing of all of this, we could have never planned this alone. We all have the tendency to become so accustom to the same routine and to apply the expertise of what we know to only one field. But, according to Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.”

If we have learned anything at all, it’s that God can instantly change our circumstances and use us and all of our past experiences – good or bad - to accomplish His purposes. If we follow His lead, the blessings will come in more ways than we could ever imagine!!

NoteWordy.com:
We appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions and I'm sure our readers have gained some valuable insights from your experiences. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

Kelly Hansen:
This has been a great experience. Through your questions, I have realized the divine purpose of my artwork and am so thankful. God has grown me so much during this time – it’s been amazing.

Write On!

Kelly Hansen's web site address is http://www.inspirationalarts.org

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Quick Review of The BIG MOO !

I ordered the prerelease edition of THE BIG MOO (click here for more info) and it was delivered in 2 DAYS by 1-800-CEO READ (my compliments to them on their fulfillment process).

My expectations for this book were very high.... it is written by 33 of the top business writers in the world, edited by Seth Godin (one of my favorite authors) and focuses on the idea of the Purple Cow and how to get a REALLY BIG MOO ! (not just a regular purple cow).

I was not disappointed when I read the book. Or perhaps, more accurately, I was disappointed when I finished it since I wanted it to keep going! The stories and ideas are a rapid fire grab bag of business stories, life stories and just plain out-of-left-field ideas to help kick start your brain toward coming up with your own BIG MOO / Purple Cow.

Another interesting aspect of the book is that even though it is written by many top authors, including Tom Peters and Guy Kawasaki, none of the chapters are identified by author. This reduces the distraction of comparing Tom's chapter versus Guy's versus Seth's. It also emphasizes the point that these authors contributed to this effort for CHARITY, not notoriety. Clearly you can tell by reading the list on the cover that these authors have enough notoriety already!

Since the Pre-Release version was only available in quantities of 50 books, I have already sent out many of my copies to the key influencers I know in the hopes that they will help "spread the word" about the book and potentially end up purchasing bulk copies for their companies.

I have a few extra copies that I will be giving away and if you are a "key influencer", please send me an email at theshot92@mailblocks.com telling how you will help spread the word about this book (in 200 words or less ... I don't have tons of free time to read through long emails) and I will pick a few of the best to send out free copies. No promises on how long this will last, so send in your ideas as soon as possible!

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, August 15, 2005

Here Comes .... The BIG MOO ! ! !

What is the latest from the shaved head of Seth Godin? The BIG MOO ! ! !
It was just announced today on his blog. (click here)

The subtitle is, "Stop Trying to be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable" and it is a collection of stories/ideas from 33 of the world's best business minds that tackle one urgent question: What does it really take to make your organization remarkable?

And it is already getting coverage on some great blogs.. Click here for MetaCool.

And it is for charity ! ! ! www.acumenfund.org, www.jdrf.org, www.roomtoread.org

The catch? You have to order 50 books and "sneeze" / seed them for maximum word-of-mouth impact. Check it out!

Write On!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

August Attitude Adjustment # 1 - Enjoy Life!

I got the following from
http://www.attheheartofit.com/2004/06/

Everyone has challenges in their life, but it is important to find your "safe harbor" where you can put down your burden and recharge your batteries.

Enjoy!

***************************************************************
A lecturer was giving a lecture to his student on stress management.

He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, "How heavy do you think this glass of water is?" The students' answers ranged from 20g to 500gm.

"It does not matter on the absolute weight. It depends on how long you hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, it is OK.
If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.
It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

"If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier."

"What you have to do is to put the glass down, rest for a while before holding it up again." We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.

So before you return home from work tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it back home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you are having now on your shoulders, let it down for a moment if you can. Pick it up again later when you have rested... Rest and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I want to go to D-school !!!!!

I just came across a link at metacool blog to the following interview by Business Week with David Kelley (of IDEO fame) who is now starting a Design school (D-school).

Check out the interview:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_31/b3945421.htm

It sounds like an exciting experience! I want to go to D-school !!!!! (and not just because my name starts with "D").

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

PS Thanks to metacool for bringing this to my attention. Check them out at:
http://metacool.typepad.com/metacool/2005/07/whats_new_at_th.html

Monday, July 18, 2005

Passionate Endeavors

There is a great post today at "Creating Passionate Users" (check it out at the link below):
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/07/avoid_cliches_l.html

Kathy Sierra starts to talk about cliches but the best idea I got out of the post was the "trap of professionalism". We have all seen it. "Professional" work that has all the passion and soul beaten out of it (usually by a committee or managers). And "professional work" is never "risky".

Take a chance. Push the boundaries. You will find out that someone might actually pay attention to what you say !

One other thing about Kathy's article ... it had a link that led me (indirectly) to this site:
http://www.quatrifolio.com/graphics/buildingletters.html

Where I found the following quote ....

"Whatever you do will be insignificant but it is very important that you do it." - Gandhi

The next thing you do, whether it is a personal note to a friend or a brochure for your company will certainly be forgotten in a hundred years but it will be forgotten much sooner if it is not done with passion. Passion for doing important work!

That's my point. Create passion in your work and your life! It is so much more fun than the alternative!

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, July 11, 2005

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

First, let me say that this post falls in the category of "Do as I say, not as I do" (but I am working on changing).

The article at the link below by Jess Halliday, editor of NutraIngredients-USA.com, is brief, but based on a strong idea. Check it out:
http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=61206&m=1FPD711&c=tmfmbffmoptxhrw

NoteWordy Summary:
If Hippocrates (famous for the "Hippocratic Oath" that all doctors take) said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", why don't doctors treat ailments with food more often than drugs? The short answer... drugs make money. Food is cheap. Drugs are the fast answer. The magic bullet. Food takes preparation and work. Food takes planning and discipline.

The article goes on to explain some legislation being introduced as well as other background. I recommend taking a look ... and thinking about how your life could be improved by better food choices.

I know I will be thinking about it !

Write On!

Dave Wheeler
www.NoteWordy.com Founder

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Leadership Vector

Leadership. Without it, nothing happens. With it, groups of people can move heaven and earth. What makes up Leadership?

The best way to really understand Leadership is as a "Vector", but let me explain what that means. Back when I was in engineering school, I learned about vectors as part of the physics and dynamics of objects.

Definition of VECTOR: From http://physics.about.com/cs/mathsforphysics/g/vector.htm
A quantity in which both the magnitude and the direction must be stated. Force, velocity and field strength are examples of vector quantities.
  • Note that distance and speed are scalar quantities whereas displacement and velocity are vector quantities. Vector quantities are often denoted by boldface type for with an arrow above or a bar below the symbol.

Examples: While speed (like 30km/hr) is a scalar measurement, velocity (30km/hr North) is a vector, consisting of a speed and a direction (north).

Clearly as a leader you must have a Direction ...
  • A leader must have a strong vision. A goal is needed to generate desire by painting a picture of the results that are possible through action.
  • Difference between Speed and Velocity .... speed is only a measurement and it does not have a direction.

Secondly, a leader without Motion is simply one of the crowd ... A leader must

  • take Actions,
  • Get out of the crowd,
  • Boldness counts, especially in your chosen direction.


The last element of a Leadership Vector are the two C's ... Credibility & Confidence.

  • You gain both through Experience and by accumulating Results
  • To achieve results you need Personal Discipline and Tenacity to bounce back when, not if, you fail.

As A.L.Williams said, "If you want to be great, you first have to be good. If you want to be good, you have to first be bad. If you want to be bad, you first have to TRY." Greatness breeds confidence, but it all starts by TRYING.

TRY the Leadership Vector. It can be used by anyone can use in their life, no matter whether you are leading a Fortune 500 corporation or just yourself.

Decide where you want to go. Set a Direction.

Take Action. Put plans in Motion.

Build your credibility and confidence through results.

You have the leadership in you. Find your VECTOR and it will make your dreams come true.

Write On!,

Dave Wheeler

Present to WestConn Toastmasters, Danbury, CT

July 6, 2005 at the Wooster School.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The more things change, the more they stay the same

From a recent Seth Godin blog post:

To date, with the exception of easy (and juicy) black and white scandals,
consumers of all stripes have been resistant to taking action with their
dollars. Part of it is laziness, part of it is selfisness and part of it is
a long history of a laissez faire disconnect between what we spend and what
we believe.

I think that's about to change.

Why does Seth think we are going to change and react to the companies that we find objectionable in the marketplace? Seth even acknowledges that consumers are resistant to change.

From my perspective, "the more things change the more they stay the same" seems more appropriate than Seth's last sentence.

Many people can remember boycotting products at one time or another when we heard a story about how the company had acted inappropriately.

Examples include the use of child labor by a prominent clothing company (can you name the company?) or the conviction of a household diva for securities infractions (can you name the celebrity CEO?). Both examples (temporarily) impacted the companies involved, but the business continued and, given time and distance from the "story" have been able to remain a strong business entity.

Perhaps Seth means that stories can travel faster nowadays and if a story is sufficiently impactful, it could shake consumers out of their "laziness" or "selfishness" or "laissez faire disconnect" and get them to take action.

I'm not sure I agree. I think consumers are becoming more and more fragmented and a story that impacts one group won't necessarily impact others. Are consumers going to "care more" about issues that might not directly inpact their well being? I don't see a trend in this direction, but perhaps Seth sees something that we are missing.

It will be very interesting to see how Seth develops his idea and since he is the leading expert on the spread of ideas, I will certainly be paying attention to his blog over the coming months!

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

Founder, NoteWordy.com

Monday, June 20, 2005

Did you forget to send a Father's Day Card?

Hopefully you at least gave him a call on his special day!

If you did not yet send a note, you are not lost. You can still send him a message. Below are some of my thoughts on the subject of Father's Day...

I found a couple quotes that really made me think of my Dad ...
A father carries pictures where his money used to be. - Authur Unknown
Who hasn't "borrowed" money from their Dad? Who actually paid their Dad back? I don't know your relationship with your Dad, but I'm sure he deserves a holiday in his honor.

We need to be sure we take this opportunity to say Thanks to our Dad for always being there for us.

For example, I was thinking back to when I played high school basketball and my Dad made it to nearly all of my games. Now that I have many years in the working world myself, I can really appreciate the amount of effort and scheduling it took to get to those games. It meant alot to me then and it means even more to me now. Thanks Dad.

On Father's day, we shouldn't forget about our Grandfather too. I found a quote that made me think of my grandfather ....
My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.—Clarence B. Kelland

My Dad's Dad ("Grampy") was a man of few words, but if you watched him long enough you could tell what type of person he was. I miss him and I'm a better person for having known him.

Happy Father's Day,

Dave


Here is some background links on Father's Day...
History of Father's Day:
http://wilstar.com/holidays/fathers.htm
Quotations on Father's Day:
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art20797.asp

David vs. Goliath in the Greeting Card industry !

USA today had an interesting article about the impact that "the small guys" are having on the Greeting Card industry. See link below:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/2005-06-16-greeting-cards-usat_x.htm

The one thing that was missing in that article was the parallels between the book publishing industry and the greeting card industry. Books are the typical example for the creation of "The Long Tail" where small, low volume books are able to be offered via online retailers like Amazon.com while the traditional retailers are limited by their overhead to "high volume", "best selling" "successful" books.

When will the big guys in the greeting card industry realize that their market is fragmenting at a dramatic rate? If the book publishing industry is any example, probably NEVER or at least not until it is too late.

What does this mean? It means a super opportunity for card designers, especially card designers who make UNIQUE cards that appeal strongly to particular, specialized audiences.

Enter NoteWordy.com. (Hopefully) we will fill that void and be part of the next USA Today article about the demise of HallMark and the rise of the independent greeting card designers.

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, June 13, 2005

When Marketers REALLY ARE Liars...

I had the opportunity to read a prerelease copy of Seth Godin's new book called All Marketers are Liars which is now in bookstores and it got me thinking ...

If All Marketers are Liars (and Seth's title is a bit "tongue-in-cheek") why aren't more of them being sued? Isn't it illegal to make outrageous claims that you can't back up? (Even if it makes for a good story)

These questions made me pull out my notes from something I learned at a recent marketing law seminar that dealt with with the difference between how the legal system deals with "Puffery" and "Truth in Advertising".

The marketing law seminar was presented by ThirdWay Marketing in Manhattan, NY USA and featured Nancy C. Dowling, former Sr. Counsel for P&G for 10 yrs. and in-house counsel for Sears.

Nancy suggested the following rules for [legal] advertising:

  • Ads must be truthful and honest (unless they are clearly "Puffery"- which will be defined later in this entry).
  • Ads must have evidence to back up the claims BEFORE it is published/broadcast.
  • Ads cannot be “unfair” or “denigrate another brand”.

She also emphazied that "substantiation of claims" is not only required but can also be expensive. Examples of substantiation include:

  • Double blind comparison test with at least 300 consumers
  • Geographically dispersed tests to account for regional brand / category variation / usage patterns.

The seminar went on to talk about other related legal topics such as the NAD, FTC and trademarks but the point I'm trying to make is this .... where does Seth address the legality issue? Especially when Marketers REALLY ARE LIARS!?!

The answer was also provided in that same law seminar and it is called "Puffery".

The American Marketing Association defines "puffery" as:

1. (advertising definition) An exaggerated advertising claim that would be generally recognized as such by potential customers.

2. (consumer behavior definition) An advertising term implying gross exaggeration but usually not considered deception because it is assumed not to be believable. Examples are the mile-high ice cream cone or the world's softest mattress.

3. (sales definition) The exaggerated statements made by a salesperson about the performance of a product or service.

I have to assume that Seth feels that every Marketer who read his book already knew the distinction between puffery and legal advertising claims, but if not, hopefully this entry will put Seth's ideas into a little better perspective.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Seth's books and I wholeheartedly agree with the ideas in his new book (the importance of stories and living the story). In fact, I encourage everyone to read it, as long as you keep in mind that there is more to the story than just what you make up ... there are legal implications if you truly are a LIAR !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

P.S. Here is a link to a 5 page preview / excerpt of Seth's book in case you want to check it out.

http://www.fortune.com/fortune/smallbusiness/marketing/articles/0,15114,1053410,00.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Soft Obstacle .. The New F word

The link below is an interesting article about the new F word ("fine").

http://www.marketingprofs.com/5/arruda19.asp

Being "fine" is another way of saying that you are "OK". You don't want to be OK. (Or at least I hope that you have not settled for "good enough".)

You want to be AWESOME! And this brief article talks about how you can focus on your strengths to move beyond "fine".

Write On!

D.Wheeler

"Soft Obstacles" are holding you back ...

What is a "soft obstacle" and how does it compare to what we traditionally think of as "obstacles" to our success?

We can all recognize "traditional" obstacles - things that are between where we are and where we want to be. There is a whole "success" industry built around these types of obstacles. These obstacles are obvious, well defined and concrete. Hence, we call these "hard obstacles".

A hard obstacle can be anything that clearly and obviously stops your progress toward your goal. Examples in business could be:

  • A lack of funding (which means you have to either find more funding or find a way to get it done with less funding).
  • A lack of support from management. Again, you figure out what you need to do to convince the organization that it needs to be done.

Now, SOFT OBSTACLES are much different.

Soft obstacles are when we "let ourselves off the hook" or don't push ourselves to the level that we know is possible (or beyond what is even possible). Soft obstacles are a result of wasted time, limited ambitions and lazy thinking.

You probably won't know when you hit a soft obstacle. Things are moving along and you seem to be making progress toward your goal, but the seeds of your defeat are already planted. You have eased up and not pushed as far as you should. You have settled for "good enough" instead of "the absolute best in the universe".

Examples of soft obstacles are "denial of reality" (so you don't deal with the problem) or "limited thinking" (so you don't go far enough and end up as a late entry to a crowded market without any compelling reason for existence) or just plain laziness (this is OK, we don't need to do anything better).

If you think about it, you will see that a "soft obstacle" is often more deadly to your success than any "hard obstacle". You often don't recognize that you missed the boat until it is too late ... your product is already in the marketplace or the opportunity arises ... and passes you by.

A hard obstacle is always easier to deal with for one simple reason ... you see it and recognize it as an obstacle. This way you can begin figuring out how to overcome it.

In addition, if it is an obvious (hard) obstacle and your goal is something that someone else has already achieved (such as starting a business) then the odds are that you simply have to search out an existing solution to your problem.

The moral of this story....

Don't let yourself (or your team) get taken in by soft obstacles. Fighting them is difficult and it must be done EVERY DAY. Are you doing enough? Are you pushing hard enough? Are you far enough ahead of your competition?

Answer NO to all of these questions and start to plow through soft obstacles. Banish soft obstacles from the culture of your organization !

Write On!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, May 16, 2005

Where's the Bull (part 2)?

For more information on the book titled, "On Bullshit" that was featured on 60 minutes last night, Sunday 5-15-05, (and my previous blog entry), you can visit:
http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7929.html

This is a simple web page. Just some text about the book and the author with his photo and a link to download a video of an interview.

There is also a link where you can download the first chapter of the book, but I must warn you ... it is only 3 pages long. And the first page is a copyright notice !

Now THAT IS BULLSHIT !

Where's the Bull?

Did you see the 60 minutes show last night (Sunday 5-15-05)? There was a segment on a bestselling book by a professor called "On Bullshit" and they interviewed a number of people to explain how the world was getting deeper and deeper in BS.

A few comments....

1) 60 minutes missed a PERFECT opportunity to interview Seth Godin. I just finished reading a preview copy of his new book called "All Marketers are Liars" and it was BY FAR superiour to the people that 60 minutes interviewed. Plus, who are the biggest suppliers of BS? Marketers!
And Seth explains the good, the bad and the ugly of Marketing in his new book ... but unfortunately he did not call it BullShit (because if he did he would have been on 60 minutes).

2) I am skeptical of an academic review of BS. I expect I would learn much more useful information from someone in the "real world", but since I have not read that the BS book, I will have to withhold final judgement until I get a chance for a closer look (with a clothes pin on my knows of course).

3) The optimistic part of me was reminded of a joke by the 60 minutes piece. Copied from the following link: http://www.ahajokes.com/sea13.html

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.

Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist. Just to see what would happen, on the twins' birthday their father loaded the pessimist's room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist's room he loaded with horse manure.

That night the father passed by the pessimist's room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly. "Why are you crying?" the father asked. "Because my friends will be jealous, I'll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I'll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken." answered the pessimist twin.

Passing the optimist twin's room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. "What are you so happy about?" he asked. To which his optimist twin replied, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"

I read somewhere that this joke was a favorite of U.S.President, Ronald Reagan, who many consider the "Great Communicator", but who could also be called a "Consumate BS'r" since he was so good that we ACTUALLY BELIEVED him !

Write On !

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Reminiscing and Public Speaking

Seth Godin's recent blog post talks about how recalling good times can bring back shared memories (and help you learn a little bit more about yourself).
see http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/05/what_i_learned_.html

I would add one thought to Seth's post ... Toastmasters!

Toastmasters speaking clubs are a great (and inexpensive) way for people to improve their public speaking skills. There are clubs all over the world and in nearly every major city ... check out http://www.toastmasters.org/ to find the club near you!

And then invite an old friend to join you as a guest at the next meeting. It could be the beginning of a whole new shared adventure for both of you!

Write On!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Three New Note Cards Released by NoteWordy.com

Norwalk, CT USA(May 17, 2005) NoteWordy.com releases three limited-edition notecards featuring art by "Wheels". These cards bring the total number of available designs by Wheels to four with each limited-edition design consisting of less than 115 prints.

"Our first NoteWordy card, Artist's Brush, has been well received," said NoteWordy founder, Dave Wheeler, "and we are excited to be able to offer three more very unique, limited-edition cards for art collectors and note writers."

NoteWordy limited-edition cards are sequentially numbered and randomized after sealing to ensure that the odds of a purchaser getting Card#1 in the series is as likely as it would be to get #58 or #103 or even #115.

All cards carry the NoteWordy Limited Edition Certification seal as well as a brief "vignette" or mini-story based on the art on the cover of the card. This added feature expands the artistic experience for the purchaser as well as the connection to intent of the artist.

These cards can be purchased online at www.NoteWordy.com or through selected retailers. Visit www.NoteWordy.com for more information.

NoteWordy.com is dedicated to improving people's lives through art and handwritten notes. The art featured on NoteWordy cards is from new, up-and-coming artists with high potential and NoteWordy.com provides insights for improving relationships through note writing. Dave Wheeler, the founder of NoteWordy.com, produces a blog focused on note writing, art as well as his views on management/marketing.


The first 4 cards released by NoteWordy Cards featured art by Wheels. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Monday, May 09, 2005

Rewards and Incentives - for yourself and others

I got the following idea from a comment left on the Creating Passionate Users blog:
Link:
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/05/finegrained_tre.html

Comment:
In fiction writing, we call this feature gold coins. When you start out as a fiction writer, you learn that the easiest thing for a reader to do is to close your book and not pick it up again. The only way to make sure that someone finishes your book (and buys the next one!) is to "drop gold coins along the path," little moments that make the user gasp or laugh or get excited, anything that will jolt the user. It doesn't matter if it's a good or bad jolt so long as it's compelling. This tells the reader, "Look, I'm going to keep you entertained. Keep reading. And read the next one too."
If done at the right pace, you can almost guarantee the reader will keep reading, even if he violently disagrees with what you're trying to say.
Posted by: Elf M. Sternberg May 5, 2005 02:36 PM

How could this be applied to the relationships in your life? Do you "drop gold coins" to keep people interested in the relationship? I know it sounds like it could be considered "manipulative", but it can also add quite a bit of enjoyment to the lives of important people around you.

Consider for a moment how your life would be if you sent a handwritten note to someone important in your life once or twice a year. You would probably see some improvements, but how about if you sent a note every other month? or every month? Do you think that something good might develop?

And this does not have to be limited to your personal life and your friends and family. It could be used with business acquantances also. Of course the content of the notes would be different and they would have to be appropriate to the business relationship, but what better way to stay in touch than a handwritten note?

What about "gold coins" for yourself? Why not reward yourself with new experiences every now and then? Keep your life interesting and you will make it more interesting for everyone you meet !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

NoteCard based on "Artist Brush" by Wheels


"Artist Brush" by Wheels Posted by Hello
This is the first NoteWordy limited edition notecard !
Visit www.notewordy.com for more information and to purchase this card.

"Good Idea" by Wheels Posted by Hello

"Heart of the Rose" by Wheels Posted by Hello

"Lighthouse" by Wheels Posted by Hello

Preview of NoteWordy Cards to be released May 6th

Three new NoteWordy Cards will be released May 6th.

A preview image of each of the cards will be posted shortly.

Check back soon !

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Don't Forget Mother's Day !

Mother's Day is fast approaching .... Sunday, May 8th.

What do you have planned for the person who brought you into this world?

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a handwritten note to your Mom?

If it's been a while, you might want to start by finding a quotation that expresses how you feel about your Mom. This way you can "get the ball rolling" and then tell her how you feel.

I did some of the work for you ... here are some web sites with quotations related to Mothers or Mother's Day as well as my favorite quotations from these sites:

http://quotations.about.com/cs/specialdays/a/inspire_mother.htm

Florida Scott-Maxwell: Inspirational Mother's Day Quotes
"No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement."

Barbara Kingsolver: Special Quotes For Mother's Day
"It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't."

Elizabeth Stone: Famous Quotes On Mother
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Spanish Proverb: Quotes About Mother
"An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy."

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/momquotes1.html

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art19813.asp
This site has probably the longest list of quotes that I found including the following really good ones:

"Men are what their mothers made them." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there."-- Robert Browning

Now how about writing to your Mom ! She certainly deserves it!
(And some flowers probably wouldn't hurt either !)

Write On !

Dave Wheeler
Founder, NoteWordy.com

Friday, April 29, 2005

Happy Arbor Day (in Connecticut, USA) and Greenery Day (in Japan)

When was the last time you got a card on Arbor Day?
Not very often, right? Now, how many cards did you get for Christmas?
Which type of card would stand out from the crowd?

In Japan, April 29th is "Greenery Day"and it marks the start of "Golden Week" which is a weeklong holiday. "Greenery Day" is a day that has been set aside for nature appreciation.

If you do a search on the internet for "Greenery Day" you will find a number of Greenery Day cards that you can send, but I can't remember ever receiving an Arbor Day card. Why do you think that is?

As I was thinking about the idea of an Arbor Day card, I started wondering why landscaping companies don't plan their marketing efforts around Arbor Day? It seems like the perfect time to write a handwritten note (along with a coupon for a free lawn analysis or such) to potential new customers. The fact that the note is handwritten will assure that that it is opened (versus a mass mailing that gets immediately discarded) while the free offer/coupon, along with some nice handwritten words, will get homeowners to call for an appointment !

What a perfect way to start the dialogue with potential customers !

The landscaper's handwritten words could be based on a curbside observation of the homeowner's property* ... like, "We are often in your area doing work for your neighbors and if you would like some help cleaning up the fallen branches* or ideas on greening up your lawn*, please give us a call."

Be sure to stay away from negative comments like "You need to get rid of the ugly weeds and garbage in your front yard. They are an eyesore and your neighbors are talking about you." This would be a sure way to turn off your potential customer (even if the observations are correct).

Be sure you try to stay "on the customer's side" so that they see you as someone who can help them, not someone attacking them. If you are "on their side", you will be seen as someone who can make their life easier and more enjoyable.

Handwritten notes certainly have a place in business ... you just have to look for the opportunity that fits your particular business.

Happy Arbor Day! (CT)
Happy Greenery Day (Japan)

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

Friday, April 15, 2005

Something you should know ... about handwritten notes

Follow the link below to a brief but insightful interview with Margaret Shepard, the author of "The Art of the Handwritten Note".

http://www.somethingyoushouldknow.net/transcript01_27_05.htm

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The dilemma of the handwritten Sympathy Card

The stepdaughter of a former co-worker passed away recently and I had the opportunity to sign a card from all his former co-workers. A number of people had signed the card before it got to me so as I was trying to figure out what to say it occurred to me that this is probably the reason many people do not think to write a personal note... they can't think of something "off the top of their head".

It is a shame that most people give up at this point since a handwritten note conveys a much deeper feeling than a preprinted card with a simple signature.

What is the answer? Well, I have a couple suggestions.

First, think about the person you are sending the card to and see if any memories come up. They don't have to be "perfect", they just have to give you the feeling of connection to the person. Once you have this "connection", use it to express your feelings both about the person as well as how it makes you feel at the moment. For example:
"I will always remember how he helped me get decide on a college. His advice and listening were just what I needed and I will miss him. My deepest sympathy for you loss."

This works well for someone you know, but as I said, the card was for someone else's loss so I had to try a different approach. What I decided to do was use the combined mental capabilities of the complete world to come up with some appropriate words .... in other words, I searched the web for three words: sympathy, loss and quote. This led me to a site called quotegarden, (see link below):
http://www.quotegarden.com/sympathy.html

I was able to read through the quotes, find one that expressed something similar to what I wanted to say and re-wrote it slightly to meet my situation. The re-writing was such that I did not have to present it as a direct quote. I used, "An old saying goes ..." and then added my condolences at the end. Simple, yet it should also make them feel at least a little bit better at this difficult time in their life.

A handwritten note is not that hard to write. Make the effort and I think you will find it is worth it !

Write On !

Monday, April 11, 2005

Impact of a Handwritten Note ....

I am always amazed by the impact of a handwritten note. So few people write them that they have an incredible effect on the people who receive them as shown in the following excerpt from a blog by a young lady in North Carolina:

... You know what? Yesterday, I got a letter from [Boston Conservatory] in the mail--a general followup letter that was sent to all the "called back" auditionees--and on the bottom of my letter was a handwritten note from Michael Nash, the guy from the callbacks. He wrote: 'thank you so much for your sweet note. you sure deserve this letter. my best wishes to you in whatever path you choose.' I could've cried... he's the dean of the conservatory. THE DEAN! and he wrote me the nicest note there. I've just decided that I love theatre people!

Just one example of the power of a handwritten note !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler
NoteWordyCards

Friday, April 08, 2005

First NoteWordy Card Released !

It is official !

The first NoteWordy Card has been released !

It is based on a painting by Wheels titled, "Brush on Canvas" or as others have called it, "Artist's Brush". The card has a brief vignette (very short "story" or commentary) on the back and, like all NoteWordy Art-Cards, it is a limited edition print run. Only 115 of these cards were printed and there will be no additional runs, so if you miss out .... well, you don't want to miss out!

Here is a link to a picture of the painting that inspired the NoteWordy card:

http://www.NoteWordy.com/Images/artistbrush.jpg

As always, we look forward to hearing what you think about this card and any ideas you have for making the experience better !

Write On !

Dave Wheeler

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Questions for NoteWordy.com...

I've received a number of questions regarding NoteWordy Art-based notecards and thought I would use this blog to start answering at least a few of them...

"I've heard that NoteWordy Cards are "limited-editions".
How "limited" are they and how do I know that more won't be printed?

First, the term "limited edition" means different things for different products. A limited edition automobile might be one of only 5 or 10 cars (of course they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each so it is easy to see why the market might be limited too).

On the other end of the spectrum, I recently got a "limited edition" bottle of Mountain Dew soda ("Pitch Black flavor" in case you were wondering) and I would be surprised if there were thousands if not tens of thousands of this product produced.

In between these two extremes are a wide range of "limited-editions"... comic books are around 10-20,000 per print run, Beanie-babies are only limited when they "retire" a design so there are probably thousands, if not millions produced while Hugh Macleod (cartoon artist & marketing guru) will soon be launching a limited-edition of only 200 T-shirts with his art. (Check out Hugh at www.gapingvoid.com)

Speaking of the art world, artists often make "limited edition" prints of their art but there is very little stopping them from re-printing the image with a slight change and calling it another limited edition.

This is where NoteWordy Cards are unique. Of course the cards are produced in limited numbers. The first 4 cards are limited to less than 115 cards. There are also less than 40 pre-release draft prints created (not included in the numbered editions) that are used for promotion or as give-aways. These pre-release cards typically are not complete in some way. For example, the story on the back might not be included or the graphics are somehow different. All pre-release cards are marked as pre-release samples and/or "Bongo Cards".

The real reason that NoteWordy is different from other art prints is that NoteWordy Cards also OWNs the legal rights for the artwork "when printed as a stand-alone image less than 5x7 inches". NoteWordy requires artists to register their work by filing a copyright and then assign this portion of their overall copyrights as part of our process. This assures that the edition is truly limited while also still allowing the artist to produce larger prints if the particular work of art becomes popular, as it can when featured on a NoteWordy card !

Please let me know if this answers the question for you or if you have other questions about NoteWordy cards or note writing in general !

Write On !
dw

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What does Hallmark think is the ANTI-greeting card?

I found an interesting link when I searched for "anti-greeting card"... it was an article about an interview with a Hallmark greeting card artist called "Revilo". His real name is Oliver Christianson, but I find it interesting that he is considered "out there" by the rest of Hallmark.

check out the link below and see if you think he is really "out there" or not:
http://www.planetcartoonist.com/10stupidquestions/revilo.shtml

The more I thought about the concept of an "anti-greeting card" the more convinced I became that handwritten notes are the real "anti-greeting card".

When was the last time you got a handwritten card? Probably a while ago I'm betting.

When was the last time you got a greeting card? When was your last birthday? (probably the two are the same occasion.)

Wouldn't it surprise you if someone sent you a heartfelt note with birthday wishes (or any other kind of wishes for that matter)?

Hand-written notes .... the ANTI-greeting card !

Monday, March 21, 2005

Note Writing Crisis in America !

We have a CRISIS in America ....
and I don't mean terrorists or Linux or the spread of rap music...

According to Barry Shank, associate professor of comparative studies at Ohio State University and author of "A Token of My Affection: Greeting Cards and American Business Culture" (Columbia University Press, 2004), even when people have the opportunity to use their own words, people often us the same language, clichés and stereotypes found in the greeting cards themselves.

The following is an excerpt from an article on newswire.com (see Link), “There is this belief that if you handwrite a message, then somehow it is more true to your feelings and more original than a store-bought card,” Shank said. “But that’s not really the case. There are standard phrases, standard clichés, that almost everyone uses, even when they are writing a message themselves.”

[NoteWordy Interruption: Use of a "standard phrase" does not mean that a handwritten card is untrue to your feelings. You can write "I Love You", which is a pretty standard cliche, and if it is handwritten it definitely means more than when it is preprinted.]

In researching A Token of My Affection, Shank examined thousands of used greeting cards housed in the Bowling Green State University Popular Culture Library to see the personal messages people wrote on the cards.

Before he examined the collection, Shank said he believed that the limited, stereotypical messages found on most Valentines and other greeting cards were simply the result of mass production.

Companies couldn’t produce cards that were too complex, or too subtle, because they wouldn’t be able to sell enough to make a profit. “My thesis was that people would write their real feelings in the handwritten notes that they included on the cards,” he said. But Shank was surprised by what he found.

The most common marking in greeting cards, other than the signature, was the underlining of key words in the pre-printed messages. Even when people did write messages, the language hardly differed from what was in the card.

“I realized then that people really meant what was printed in those cards,” Shank said. “They don’t mean something else. Their true feelings are printed there in the messages." ... Shank believes "the popularity of greeting cards shows how our economy has affected our emotional lives – which is one of the key themes of his book. Greeting cards are popular because they allow us to show our true feelings, while at the same time distancing ourselves from those feelings."

I DISAGREE with his conclusions! For at least two reasons...

First he is only looking at a sample of GREETING CARDS. Of course the pre-printed text in a GREETING CARDS are going to reflect the feelings of the sender ... THAT IS WHY THEY PICKED IT to send in the first place! Hello, McFly...

Second, the "handwritten text" is IN ADDITION to the pre-printed text (at least the way that I read Shank's article). This means that the sender did not "start from scratch" and did not necessarily have to create their sentiments from their heart.

Of course, if the sender had a NoteWordy card perhaps they would have a better chance of expressing their feelings on the card (but I don't want to get all commercial right now).

WHERE IS THE CRISIS?????
You are probably wondering where is the crisis? Nothing earth shattering here, right?
Wrong. Shank's attempt to "high five" the greeting card industry and tell us that greeting cards write what we feel is insulting and degrading. I hope others of you out there are at least a little bit concerned about our capacity, as a society, to connect with the important people in our lives via a heartfelt note.

I'm not saying that everything Shank presents is completely wrong, but I have to question his research when he brings up a greeting card company's trend report from 1959 to show the new “rootless American” and how “family separation is a very significant aspect of contemporary life.”

Let's fight this trend toward giving our emotional lives to the greeting card companies. This crisis can be reversed if we each take a few minutes, once or twice a MONTH, to write a brief handwritten note to someone important in our lives.

It WILL mean more if it is in your own words and not pre-written by the Greeting Industrial Complex. Try it. You will be surprised by the results!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Wisdom Of Crowds.... and using that Wisdom for Profit

I just finished listening to a very interesting book on CD... The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. In his book, he has a number of examples of ways that the judgements / decisions / opinions of a crowd are in fact BETTER than the wisdom of most, if not all, of the members of the crowd.

This is interesting for two reasons.

First, "crowd wisdom" could be an great tool for improving business decisions since many companies are, in fact, just a crowd of people with (hopefully) the common goal of making the company successful.

Surowiecki has many, many examples in his book, but one that he did not use, but should have, is from the book, "The 7 day Weekend" by Ricardo Semler. In Semler's book, the author describes his HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL company that is primarily run by "consensus".

More specifically, he does not "tell" people what to do, they decide what the best course of action is and then implement it. Based on his success, it appears that he is using the wisdom of the crowd extremely well (while also providing an excellent work environment... the "7 day weekend" in the title).

The second reason that this is interesting is that it gives us the specific conditions that are needed for a crowd's decision to be wise. These 3 characteristics (and one method) are:
- Diversity
- Independence
- Decentralization
In addition, there must be some method to Aggregate the information from the crowd or otherwise your crowd isn't much of decision making machine!

Like any new way of thinking it can be a powerful tool. Of course, you need to know how to use the tool or you may end up hurting yourself. [Just ask the internet bubble investors how they used the "wisdom" of the crowd]

I won't go into great detail about what each characateristic means, (I will leave that as a teaser in case you are intrigued enough to buy the book) but I can say that I've found it very useful as I try to make sure that my company is a WISE CROWD and not just another HERD on the way to the slaughter.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Winning against WalMart ..............................


Seth Godin's recent post got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing!)
see http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/02/the_walmart_par.html

WalMart is often portrayed as the evil empire... selling at such low cost that it hurts suppliers as well as the local retailers that try to compete with WalMart. So, in my most humble fashion, I will now provide the answer to each of these problems (and maybe shine some light on the "WalMart experience" that consumers everywhere have made number 1).

WalMart Suppliers:
Don't become a supplier to WalMart and assume that you will operate "business as usual". WalMart will require you to cut your costs, improve your quality and delivery your products in a manner that suits their distribution system (e.g. RFID labels and inkjet barcodes). In exchange, you will get unit volumes beyond your wildest dreams! Of course, this sounds like the classic "deal with the devil", but it doesn't have to be. You can use the volume to drive a more cost effective organization which will help you deliver other products, perhaps to WalMart, but certainly to other retailers and grow your business. Get out of the mindset that you must get 20%, 30% or 40% margin to be successful. Focus on providing value while controlling costs and you will have a stronger business at 10% margin. This takes courage, but if you want to play the "WalMart game", you are going to have to "suck it up"!

WalMart Competitors / Retailers:
WalMart sells the mass market, high volume products. There are few companies that are going to be able to compete with them directly simply because of their incredible distribution reach and buying power. It is more important to be DIFFFERENT than to be less expensive.

Target is a good example of this. Compared to WalMart, Target offers (some) products that are more stylish and unique while still providing products at a reasonably low price. They have sidestepped the WalMart express and are doing well for their customers.

What about the small retailers, who can't even come close on price? You have to be even MORE DIFFERENT! What can you do that WalMart can't? Can you find new products that particularly suit your customers? How about taking your strongest niche (i.e. different and unique) products and extend your reach to the rest of the world via the internet?

I recently read that the number of books that you must sell to be considered a "best seller" is going down due to the wide selection of books. Amazon.com offers so many books that they have become a completely different entity than the "online version of a local bookstore" that everyone originally thought it would be. And, in the process, they have made it possible for niche books to be sold around the world!

In addition, Amazon is expanding beyond books into almost anything that you can imagine. (I exaggerated a bit, but you get the idea.) Clearly there are more opportunities out there ... if you are willing to find them and go after them!

You might ask, "How does this relate to your note card business?"
Well, I am not going to be selling to WalMart, or any other "mass merchant". I have made the conscious decision to sell my limited edition note cards only via the web and specialty retailers. This is not exactly unproven territory. Ty sold BeanieBabies through small shops with legendary success and if I can grow to even 1/10th of that size I will probably be happy.

Well, maybe not completely happy. There always needs to be another challenge !

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Seth Godin's Edgecraft process ... in a VISUAL format !

I thoroughly enjoy Seth's work and have followed the development of his marketing insights from Permission Marketing to the IdeaVirus to the Purple Cow and then Free Prize Inside. It is in the last book, Free Prize Inside, that Seth lays out the process he calls "Edgecraft", or "How to Make a Purple Cow". If you have not read these books, I highly recommend them!

Since I am very visually oriented (as are alot of people), I find it helpful to lay things out in diagrams so as I began thinking about the Edgecraft process for my company I tried to figure out how it would "look".

The linked file below is the result !

Dave Wheeler's Visual Presentation Model - based on Seth Godin's Edgecraft

It is a very simple model, based on an Excel spreadsheet and a "Radar" graph, but I find that is "shows the edges" (literally). The process of "finding the edges" is also useful since it helps you see what is important and where you need to improve (to show more "edge" than your competition).

If anyone has any questions or comments, please let me know. There is probably more explanation needed, but I will wait to see what you think.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Why should we BREAK ALL THE RULES ?

Have you ever wondered "Why should we BREAK ALL THE RULES ?"

What is the point?

Kathy Sierra brings up some good points about "Rules" in her blog (see link below):
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/02/f_the_rules.html

Inspired by her comments, I put together the attached diagrams: (link to PDF file below)
http://www.notewordy.com/PDFs/LifeCycleOfRules.pdfLife Cycle of Rules

I find it an interesting analogy to think of rules as signposts or trees in the forest that help keep you on the right path. Of course if there are too many trees or the signposts turn into fences, then you will lose sight of new opportunities!

Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees ... especially if your goal is no longer on your current path through the woods!

d.Mark "Dave" Wheeler

Also check out ... www.TheWorldsMostCreativePerson.com

Monday, February 07, 2005

What makes a good BLOG? Part 2

Hugh Macleod's Gapingvoid.com blog adds the following on the topic:

The reason Jeff Jarvis' blog is one of the most widely read in the world is exactly for those reasons:
-He's been doing it longer than most.

-The quality of his writing is better than most.
-The quantity of his output is greater than most.

Hugh definitely "gets it" when it comes to blogging and his reputation in the blogsphere shows it. The key is writing about what you feel is important, writing it well and, as they say, "the world will beat a path to your door" ... in 5-10 years or so. (It is not an overnight process!)

Keep up the good work Hugh !

Friday, February 04, 2005

If you are at all interested in what one of the largest, most highly regarded marketing firms is doing, you might want to check out the following article about P&G's acquisition of Gillette. (see link below)
http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=589&topicId=15026&isPreview=true&docId=l:255920758&start=1

It has lots of background and industry information as well as the following paragraph:

Meanwhile, the complexity of advertising, marketing and distributing branded consumer goods has soared, further pushing up costs. P&G is the world's biggest advertiser, with a budget of around $3 billion last year. A decade ago, 90% of its global advertising spending went on television. Today, for some products only about a quarter of the budget is spent on television. The audience for traditional media is fragmenting, making consumers harder and more expensive to reach. So, along with other consumer-goods companies, P&G is finding that so-called "below-the-line" forms of marketing, such as in-store promotions, posters, coupons and sponsorship, are often more effective.

Clearly there are many more "below-the-line" forms of marketing than are listed here... Word-of-Mouth, Internet and others... but the really interesting point of all this is that as P&G is finding their market more and more fragmented (and expensive to serve), that same fragmentation is boosting internet companies like Amazon as well as all the authors of books with limit sales (which would never have been picked up by a book chain).

How does this tie into P&G? And if they are on the "book chain" side with an old business model, what is the corresponding "Amazon" entity for their markets? How do they deal with the changes in marketing that are happening?

Stay tuned. (I might not have all the answers, but hopefully someone who reads this WILL!)