hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

May 31, 2006

Signs that you may have mutant powers


  • Excessive body hair

  • Strange skin tones

  • Interesting appendages

  • Even more interesting hairstyles

  • Projectile vomiting

Oh wait. That last one is a sign that you have the flu. Not that you're a mutant. Shoot. And here I was packing to head to the School for Exceptional Youth.

Sorry for the lack of writing. Hopefully, I'll have kicked this bug soon. Until I'm well, enjoy the rejection letters of some other failed mutants.

 

Signs that you may have mutant powers

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May 26, 2006

What's your deal? Are you trying to close a deal?

This morning, I spent some time tooling (yes, I said "tooling") through my feed reader, catching up on some old posts that a had been neglecting. Call it Spring cleaning. Call it searching for motivation. Call it get-to-the-point- because-I'm-running-out-of-room-in-the-RSS-summary-and-I-still-don't- know-what-your-post-is-about-jerky, if you like.

This time I was focusing on the "business blogging" section. Which, I guess, is the equivalent of picking up the newspaper and only reading the business section. You get a very focused view of the world, but not much context for anything else. Ah, focus. How long your weary ears have waited for me to whisper that magical word. Focus.

Yeah, well forget it. Back to the matter at hand.

So, I came upon an interesting piece that got me to thinking. It got me thinking about how corporate blogging has so attempted to divorce itself from typical marketing communications fluff that it may have lost some of the impact it needs. It may have lost some of the connective tissue. It may, for all intensive intents and purposes (Thanks for the correction, Deannie.), be sprained and in need of an air cast.

And what sagacious post has me pondering such thoughts before completing my first pot of coffee on a Friday morning? Converting Traffic Into Business from Corporate Blogging 101.

And why did it hit me? Well, it hit me because, for all intensive purposes, hypocritical has now become a corporate blog. (This is why I've been thinking about the symbiotic brand thing, as well.) I mean, it used to be a personal blog. But now that I'm out on my own, it's really my business blog, as well.

But, see, here's the thing. I don't really want hypocritical to be a business blog. I mean, in a way, I do. I think hypocritical is a very solid portfolio piece for me. Both in terms of my writing style and using blogs. But, I don't think I want to transition it into the world of "lead generation."

And, more importantly, I don't think you, gentle reader, want it to become a business blog, either. I mean, there are plenty (a veritable plethora) of business blogs out there. And a bunch of them are very good. I'm not sure that hypocritical wants to take that kind of heat. No, I think hypocritical belongs right where it is, and if some business results from that, so be it.

So, I'm not trying to close the deal. I'm not asking you for the sale. All I'm asking is for you to comment, critique, and return. Tossing a few compliments my way, every once in a while would be welcome, as well. Although I never tire of patting myself on the back.

Because, and this is the good part, so get ready. I'll put it in bold, just to give it the emphasis I think it needs. Ready? Okay. Ready? Because... if I'm doing good work, communicating, making connections, and helping people, then lead generation should occur as a by-product of that activity. And any marketing communications activities--blogs included--whose end purpose is lead generation are aiming at the wrong target.

Now, taking a moment to step back, I'm not implying that this is what the good folks at Corporate Blogging 101 are advocating. They just made a really intriguing point about having a "call to action." That's their contribution here. And I thank them for it.

The rant which spun out of it? Put that blame on me.

 

What's your deal? Are you trying to close a deal?

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Early musings: Symbiotic brands versus parasitic brands

I've been thinking a great deal lately about "symbiotic brands." Or at least that's one phrase I've decided to use to describe the concept to myself. 'Nested brands" could be the other. I need some phrase to keep me from looking crazy when I'm mumbling to myself in the checkout line.

And, for once, I've been doing my thinking without blathering in your ear, gentle reader. And honestly, I don't think I'm even ready to blather yet.

Yes, I realize I'm blathering right now. I'm just not blathering on and on about the topic at hand. This is more of a uncontrolled tangential ramble. Eskimos have all those words for snow. People in Portland, Oregon, have all these different words for rain. I have a multitude of ways to describe my meandering diatribes. Go figure.

What I'm trying to do, out of the goodness of my heart, is save you from a whirling-dervish rant on the topic. I'm trying to restrain myself for the greater good. Can't you see how difficult this is for me? I don't need you pointing out my flaws.

That's it. I want my CDs back. Now. And don't let the door hit...

What? Oh, yes, I'm sorry. You're right. This is your browser or feed reader or whatever.

May I continue?

Symbiotic brands. "What, pray tell, is the nutcase at hypocritical talking about this time?" you ask. And I'm glad you did.

I've been thinking about the co-existence of brands. Not in terms of product and company, but in terms of employee and company.

Take this for instance:
  • Your company has a brand

  • Your CEO has a brand


Are they cooperating or competing? Are they symbiotic or parasitic? Is one brand larger than the other? Should it be? Or should they be inversed. How do you balance those brands?

As I said, I'm still noodling on this one. But I'm convinced there's enough content here that, when written, it will make your scrolling finger sore. Per usual, I've also convinced myself that I am some misunderstood genius who has hit upon an incredibly insightful and unique viewpoint.

So, think about it. Even in this embryonic state. The idea, not you. And let me know what you think. I'll keep working on this one for a later date.

 

Early musings: Symbiotic brands versus parasitic brands

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May 22, 2006

Does timing of publishing and pinging affect my subscription base?

I don't know about you, but I tend to write at night. It's when I'm most feeling the muse and when I can actually stop and think. Jot down some poignant thoughts. And really just write. It's probably a hold-over from staying up all night writing my term papers for class.

Not that I did that, Mrs. Barry. I mean, don't be silly. I had all of your papers written weeks in advance. I was in bed, asleep, by 8:00 PM the night before they were due. They had already been edited three times by that point. I swear. Scout's honor.

Now where was I?

Ah yes, night writer. (Not to be confused with Knight Rider.)

It seems difficult for me to find the time to write during the day. Maybe because other people are paying me to write during the day. Maybe because I just don't get all riled up and whiny until the wee small hours.

But I get to wondering: is my subscriber base being affected by the fact that I publish and ping late at night on the (U.S.) West Coast? Would it be better if I published and pinged in the morning, my time? Would more people be lauding my insight, clinging desperately to my every word, rushing to their computers first thing in the morning to ingest my next oh-so-delicately spun yarn of insight? Skipping lunch on the (U.S.) East Coast to eagerly await my thoughtfully crafted missives?

And then I get to thinking: or would it just be better if I learned how to write and covered an interesting topic every once in a while? Would that have a positive affect on my subscriber base?

And then I get to thinking: hogwash, it's got to be the timing.

And then I get to thinking: if timing of publishing and pinging has anything to do with my subscriber base, then I should be huge in Japan and maybe, just maybe, even Kuala Lumpur.

What do you think? Have you noticed any particular ebb and flow with your subscriber base, given the times you publish and ping? Are there certain times that are better than others? Are there certain days that are better than others?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Then I'd be interested in pretending that they're my own, taking complete credit for them, composing a blog post about the matter, and publishing and pinging at exactly the right time, ensuring that my post will be read by millions of soon-to-be-loyal readers.

No worries, gentle reader. I'll still be kind to the little people when my high-horse has attained such great heights.

I promise. Scout's honor.

 

Does timing of publishing and pinging affect my subscription base?

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May 21, 2006

Take my RSS feed... Please, Redux

Paul Scrivens of Wisdump (the blog formerly known as Whitespace) and CEO of 9rules has a great post on the "second S of RSS" entitled "Steal My Content…Please." I like what he has written a great deal and I suggest you read it.

Why? Because I said so. Oh wait. I mean, I think it would be valuable for you to read it for two primary reasons (and no doubt, you have already guessed that one of the reasons will be for my own selfish ends):

  1. Because it sounds very similar to my own rantings and ravings, like Take my RSS feed... Please and An Immodest Proposal: Where Blogging and RSS are headed, and...

  2. Because Scrivs gets a lot more traffic than this little blog, so hopefully the ideas will percolate.


I was going to respond to Scrivs in comments, until I discovered that I had launched into a full-on ramble. And, apparently, I like him more than you, gentle reader, because I'm perfectly willing to subject you to that self-same ramble from which I spared him. (But, secretly, I know you like it.)

So here's what I wrote, and then deleted, from the comments. Enjoy:

It's interesting that you post this, because I had always assumed that this was where you were going with the 9rules stuff, originally. (I was thinking that way, so I assumed everyone was thinking that way.) Sort of an AP or UPI wire that provides premium content to publishers, on the Web or otherwise.

It's the classic publishing model. Subscribe to the wire: you get the content you need and the writers get paid.

Like you, I tend to lean toward open syndication of my content, summarized or otherwise. The value is not in getting people to my blog; the value is in getting my content to the people. My blog just happens to be one venue for doing that.

I think that's one of the many reasons 9rules works. I can rely on 9rules as a publication that provides great content from all sorts of journalists, covering all sorts of venues.


Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment here, but also head over to Wisdump. I'm sure there will be a good discussion there.

 

Take my RSS feed... Please, Redux

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May 18, 2006

Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York: Gleaming the Cube

UPDATE (May 20, 2006): Uschi Lang? If you're reading this, I suggest you watch the Apple Store time-lapse from 5:00 AM.

UPDATE: Gee, I thought. How I wish someone had set up a Webcam to watch this whole Billy-Joel-inspired Apple Store grand opening unfold. Apple, you sly devils, you. Fulfilling my wishes with hour-by-hour time-lapse shots of the crowds during the first 24-hours of operation for the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue.


ORIGINAL POST

Even for all my ranting and raving, this is one of those (rare) occasions where I'll bite my tongue and let a picture, or a series of pictures, tell the whole story. The Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York (between 58th and 59th) will be opening a few hours from now.

Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York

Did I mention it's open 24-hours-a-day? Oh, I'm sorry. Quiet. Right. ...No doubt Ron Johnson had a role to play here. Okay, that's it. Shutting up. Enjoy.


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Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York: Gleaming the Cube

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May 16, 2006

It's the content, he thought. The content.

Things are looking a little different around here. The poorly designed site of old has been replaced by, well... by a wholly new poorly designed site. Huzzah! I hear you cheering. Good, because I did for you. All for you, gentle reader. Not all those other people who come traipsing by the site. No, for you. Because you are my absolute favorite.

Um. Wait a second. I can feel your look. Don't sit there staring at me with a cocked eyebrow like I gave you a washing machine for Mother's Day. Give me a minute to explain.

The old blue hypocritical (which I can bring back at a moment's notice thanks to the magic of templates) was a placeholder design. A placeholder designed in the halcyon days of early 2001. Well, not halcyon in the traditional sense. Halcyon in the all-of-my-stock-options-are-in-the-toilet-and-I'm-having-a- hard-time-reconciling- my-twenty-hour-days- that-were-going-to-pay-off- and-even-though-it-was-fun- I've-no-idea-why-I-allowed-myself- to-get-all-wrapped-up-in-this-irrational- exuberance-fun sense.

I designed that template (and I use the term "design" loosely) to be a container for content. Now, in 2001, we weren't exactly embracing AJAX or really even getting down and dirty with CSS on a regular basis. So the template was very static. Accessible? No. Controllable? Yes. Lots of td and tr tags going there, if you get my drift, and I know you do. Hunh? Hunh?

Worst of all? It was wicked hard to read. Gray on blue? This seemed an incredibly inane thing for someone who claims to be "focused on design" to do. Hindsight, my friend. We all learn from our mistakes.

So, I began to reapproach the design. I began to rethink it. Despite all my ripping on Web 2.0 design, I started sketching out gradients and big type and horizontal stripe backgrounds. "The blog is called 'hypocritical'," I told myself. "You can do anything you want. In fact, you're a genius for coming up with that name. Brilliant. It's carte blanche to second guess yourself." And then I droned on and on for another few hours telling myself how cool I was.

But, then the marketing side of my brain kicked into high gear. Market research. I need market research. From my target market, even, maybe.

So, I laid my heart out to the masses. I even asked you for feedback. And did you respond? Indeed you did to the tune of a resounding, chart-shattering zero comments. That's zero with 9 zeros behind it.

Which said one thing to me: the only people who could actually see the site were those who were reading the posts in feed readers.

Oh RSS feeds and your deliciously undesigned goodness. Allowing readers to access the content they wanted without the chrome and widgets and... hey hey hey. Hold up. Wait one second here. I might have stepped in something here. And it smells awfully sweet.

You see, people tend to read this site for the content. Not for the design. So making the content as accessible as possible should be the primary focus.

And I tried. The design worm kept twisting, despite the fact that I didn't really have the skillset to satisfy it. But I kept trying. So I had to make some things a little gray or a little big or whatever. But my true goal was providing something that was more legible (like the fact that you can actually resize the text now because the sizing isn't hard coded) and accessible and all of that.

So that was the impetus behind the de-design. More lack of design. But now, it's more accessible lack of design. And, just think, now you can actually read it.

We'll just have to wait and see how that actually affects the subscriber base.

 

It's the content, he thought. The content.

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May 14, 2006

Read Emotional Design if the next emotion you're looking to convey is robots

Robots.

I read a book on design and what do I come away with? Robots. Okay, a strange teapot sort of thing and a borderline unhealthy obsession with Isaac Asimov. Yes, this is true.

But robots, you've got to give me robots.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I see beyond Asimov's laws of robotics to something far more trivial. His sideburns. Man oh man. Has he got me beat. Someday, maybe someday. Of course, now I'll never post a photo of myself here, living in fear that my sideburn envy will be publicly revealed and I'll die alone and depressed from the unending ridicule.

But, shockingly, I digress. Where were we?

Ah yes, Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things by Donald A. Norman.

You likely know Don Norman (it's not like we're tight, but that's how his Web site references him, so I'm going to play "overly familiar") as the less vilified half of the namesake for the revered Nielsen Norman Group. The more vilified half, of course, being Jakob Nielsen, the usability expert that everyone loves to hate. Or call a hypocrite. Or whatever.

Again, with Jakob, sideburns. Hmmm. Deeper insight into Don's psyche and more confidence for me to call him "Don." You English Lit types, take note. This is what we like to call a "recurring theme."

But I don't even want to mention Jakob, because who knows what kind of "sympathizer" comments will soon start appearing here. No, I'm not looking to become one of the hunted in the Web's own little McCarthyism. Rather, I'd like to focus on Mr. Norman and his book.

So let's do that.

Emotional Design. Is it really about that? Not so far as I can remember. All I can remember is that it's about robots. And, to be fair, there's not really all that much about robots. But to be unfair, that's all I can remember. Robots. Robots. Robots. Because I didn't expect the book to devolve into a "how we're going to build better robots" kind of piece. But that's exactly what I got.

And it started out so well. Chock full of promise and pithy quotes like:
Attractive things make people feel good, which in turn makes them think more creatively.
This is the kind of reinforcing-my-own-self-delusions fodder I crave. The stuff that makes my high horse ride a little higher.

But, here's the thing: the whole book is a setup to get you to the robots. And I don't even think he really gets into the whole robot thing until about 150 pages into it. But the whole 149 pages before that? Robot setup. Dragging you into his web. Getting you to nod in agreement. Oh yes, Mr. Norman, absolutely. You speak the truth as no other. Tell it brother.

And as we're all swaying to the rhythm and starting to speak in tongues. He hits us with it.
As machines become more and more capable, taking on many of our roles, designers face the complex task of deciding just how they shall be constructed, just how they will interact with one another and with people. Thus for the same reason that animals and people have emotions, I believe that machines will also need them.
What the...?

I feel as if I've just been sitting through some timeshare pitch. That I plunked down $15.95 through which to sit. Robots? Are you kidding me? Robots? Where's my helicopter ride? Better yet, where's the door? I can't believe I got suckered into this "you're going to have to build emotion into robots" schtick. I feel like a schmuck.

But that's not really the part that upset me. I think the part that upset me was the Norman suddenly becomes a proponent for thoughtful design so that we can sit around on our ever-expanding American tukuses as these weeping and frustrated machines do our every bidding. Now, there's progress for you. The drink bot gets frustrated and tells the dishwasher bot to eff off, so that we play Louis XIV, with our motorized servants scampering about our automated estate?
How will my toaster ever get better, making toast the way I prefer, unless it has some pride?
I've got a better question: Who cares?

I thought this was a book on design. But Emotional Design isn't that kind of design. It's robot love. In a kind of welcome-to-Westworld sort of utopian approach.

Speaking of which, Westworld is being remade. See? This is the point in this post where I lead you down the same primrose path that Don led me. All this blather to learn that there's a Westworld remake coming to theaters near you. Which is great, because everyone knows that the Logan's Run remake will need some competition to prevent it from becoming a critical bellweather.

Again, you English Lit types, wake up. Robots. Robots. Robots. Westworld is all about robots. Get it? Get it? Oh forget it.

And I was just hoping to make my creative direction a little more thoughtful. Luckily, if we can get to the point of creating an affected-artist robot, I no longer need to worry.


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Read Emotional Design if the next emotion you're looking to convey is robots

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May 08, 2006

Whatever you think, think the opposite, he said

I've been struggling, gentle reader. Wrestling within my own turgid strain. Afflicted with my own concerns. All the while, you wait patiently, perhaps even fervently, for some new missive. I know and I apologize. Cast that baited breath free, dear one. I've finally pulled my head out of my own selfish pursuits to see you standing there patiently.

Hi, hi, hello. Yes, I see you there. Have you been waiting long?

It's not that I didn't want to write. I did. But see, here's the problem: I've got a number of really good pieces that are half-cooked. Nothing's quite ready. It's just kind of sitting there like some tasty little half-baked bites that would just as soon give you salmonella as nourishment. And I really couldn't do that to you. Not after what we've been through. Give you salmonella, I mean. I realize I don't give you much nourishment either. Look, you're not making this any easier. I said I screwed up. Cut me some slack.

I've got this whole new thing starting. Or didn't you bother to read that? I mean, it's a big deal and you're just complaining that I haven't been writing and... Whoa whoa whoa. Deep breath. Deep breath.

Where were we?

So, I've been grasping at straws. What to write? What to write? The new hypocritical design is going absolutely nowhere. Well, it's going places. Just not any place that I or you want to see. Trust me. And if I don't get some new content up here to show that I write regularly, those 9rules guys are never going to take pity on me. And it's getting to the point where listening to Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" on repeat is going to send me off the deep end.

I'm sweating it. But you know what? Under dire circumstances, under the pressure of the moment, that's when I shine. So here it is. Are you ready? Here it comes.

Book report time.

Aw c'mon. Don't look at me like that. It's been a long time since I gave you a book report. It's not a cop out. Remember when we talked about Martin Lindstrom's BRAND sense? That was a good time, wasn't it? And what about Why Business People Speak like Idiots? Aw, there we go. I see that little glimmer.

So, let's get started.

As I was beginning to think about the potential of me actually being able to go out on my own, I was struggling with a little of the old self-confidence. And that's when, in the Logan Airport waiting for a plane, I stumbled upon this telltale little quip:
I wish means: Wouldn't it be nice if...

If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.

Always wishing life was different.

And that one got me thinking. And that kept me reading. See? It's so intriguing, you're continuing to read this entry, even though you know that it's more likely that I'm going to continue dragging you down a wandering diatribe than providing any valuable information. But you're hoping. Wishing and hoping, that this time it you'll hit paydirt.

And with this book, I think you will.

I absolutely encourage you to get it. You could read it during a lunch hour. Or a coffee break. And if you're in the right mood. The mood in which I was wallowing, it will likely hit you, the way it hit me.

And so I was tooling along through the book. Nodding affirmatively and eagerly to the "Think different" speak that was girding my strength, if not my ego. And then I hit this passage, and well, POW:
Resign. It's the best way to show people you mean business.

If people constantly reject your ideas or what you have to offer, resign.

You can't keep fighting and losing, that makes you the problem.

If you are good and right for the job, your resignation will not be accepted.

You'll be re-signed, on your terms.

If they accept your resignation, you were in the wrong job and it is better for you to move on.

It takes courage, but it is the right move.
And that didn't even accurately describe my situation, but it struck a chord, nonetheless. And it made me think. I mean, it's not like I was in some dire situation.

It's not like I was that famous philosopher, John McClane, as he was stuck in Nakatomi Plaza, trying to rescue his wife from the clutches of Hans Gruber, when he said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Quit being part of the problem and put the other guy back on the line." To which the jovial, Twinkie-toting, Watson-to-McClane's-Holmes Al Powell asked. "Hey, how you feeling, John?" And, wait for it, McClane's response? "Pretty (expletive) unappreciated, Al." And, well, that didn't really strike a chord, either. I just find myself quoting Die Hard at random instances in my life. I reviewed it for the Twin Falls High School Bruin News back in the day, you know. Oh boy oh boy. Could I write a piece with a natty turn of phrase back then. Boy, I could tell you some...

Oh, I'm sorry, where was I?

Ah, yes. The worm had begun to turn. The idea that I had to do something risky and different. That I shouldn't take the safe option. That I should take the road less traveled or whatever.

And that's why I think you should go buy Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden. And not just because it's the book that got me to thinking. But because I don't want to be out here alone.

Oh, I mean. Yes, it got me thinking. Thinking so much that I also bought his It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be.

And I think you should buy them too. Because he convinced me to jump. And if I falter and fail, I'm likely to succumb to the litigious American culture and sue him. So buy his books.

 

Whatever you think, think the opposite, he said

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May 02, 2006

Another Monster admirer sends me sweet nothings

Re: Manager trainee position

Bennett,

Thank you so much for your personal note. It's obvious that you have spent a substantial amount of time reviewing my resume, considering my skills, and researching my body of work.

Thank you so much for doing that. You'd be surprised how many "form letters" I get from recruiters who simply bulk mail everyone on Monster. It's a breath of fresh air to receive your thoughtful missive.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to take you up on the offer of "manager trainee," as I've recently accepted the role of Manager Trainee at the Dairy Queen, just up the street. The shorter commute will allow me to spend more time with my family and the discounts on Peanut Buster® Parfaits and chili dogs will return a substantial amount of cash to my pocket.

Given your depth of knowledge about me, already, I would guess that you're probably nodding in agreement. It's the right move for me. And for us. I just can't keep stringing you along. It's tearing my heart out.

Thank you, again, for your consideration.

Hope that helps,
Rick

Rick Turoczy
rickturoczy@yahoo.com
http://www.hypocritical.com

--- Letter wrote:

> (Name removed) Company the largest subsidiary of
> (Name removed) Corporation is seeking to hire a manager trainee
> for your area. We offer expense paid training, full
> employee benefits including 401k. A company
> recognized as a leader in its field for over 85
> years. What we offer is a unique career opportunity.
> Please call Bennett (Name removed) @ 503-555-5555. We are
> interviewing in your area over the next few days.


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Another Monster admirer sends me sweet nothings

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