I love books. The one that I keep going back to (sometimes Kindle, sometimes dog-earned hardcover) is "Principals" by Ray Dalio. 

Dalio talks about "radical transparency" as a liberating culture for companies. He doesn't mean an anarchy of manners. But failure to see things as they really are instead of how we think they are can hold back even the best employees or partners. 

In other words, openness feeds growth. Silence impedes progress.

What really hit me yesterday, though, was Dalio's words about what nature can teach us. 

"Everything from the smallest subatomic particle to the entire galaxy is evolving," he reminds us. "While everything apparently dies or disappears in time, the truth is that it all just reconfigured in evolving forms. Remember that energy can't be destroyed--it can only be reconfigured."

We've seen the rise and fall of US industries, companies and, yes, even humans.

But it's never really over. 

Reinvention and rebirth find their roots in the laws of nature and an energy that never dies.

More than reach

The math: $5M for 30 seconds to reach 103 million viewers. A cool $166,667 per second. 

Sure, TV advertising isn’t dead. 

But human attention is under attack. How many ads from the big game can you recall?

There’s a silver lining for those who bought air time: Ads get second lives on digital platforms where we laugh, share, pan, move on, come back, and spend time.

The $166,667 cost-per-second for a Super Bowl TV ad drops when we factor in the long tail of the internet. To exactly what, and for how much ROI, is a black box that James Bond 007 couldn’t even crack.

Imagine if we could examine the ROI for all Super Bowl ads that aired.

That might be worth $5M for those who measure more than reach.

The best meetings

A meeting is defined as a coming together of two or more people, by chance or arrangement —  informal or formal, calendar invite or not, serendipitous or structured.

The best meetings are where voices are heard, decisions flow and things get done that will produce results.

If you show up to an arranged-formal-calendar-invitation-structured meeting feeling like there are too many of that type at your company, guess what? 

You’re probably right.

Time is an asset

I have a Monday morning rule with a client’s small working group: Zero hourlong meetings. We keep things simple — 30 minutes or less. 

Sound crazy? Not when you stay on point. We’ve even been known to brainstorm.

But first we commit to our deliverables (and each other). Missing dates means we’ll talk about some items again next week or again until a deliverable is, well, delivered. 

Perfection is the enemy of completed. And while we’re not purely looking to finish a list for the sake of speed, we don’t want it to expand beyond what’s reasonable. 

Creativity, imagination and the work of problem-solving are hallmarks of innovative companies. How we get to results is half the fun.

In my 20+ years of marketing work, I’ve never heard anyone excitedly describe how many meetings they attend or emails they receive. 

Results count. Spending time is not the job. Knowing and investing the right kind of time is.


Seeing what's possible

Yogi Berra is remembered for his "everyman" quotes almost more than his accomplishments behind the plate and inside the dugout as a professional baseball player, coach and manager.

"You can observe a lot by watching," Berra said.

Makes perfect sense.

The more you watch, the more you see. The more you see, the more you observe. The more you observe, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the more you know. 

Seeing a path that others don't (or haven't yet) is an acquired taste born out of curiosity and a dose of bravery. Seeing what's possible is the only way to do what's possible. 


Those pesky mobile display ads

Why do people dislike mobile display ads? Here are a few reasons:

1. Limited screen space.

2. That text that just arrived.

3. That email alert that just popped up.

4. That calendar reminder for their next meeting.

5. That incoming phone call they need to take.

6. The traffic light's ready to turn green.

7. Their mobile data plan is tapped out.

8. They don't believe in any advertising.

9. They'd rather use Google search.

10. They'd rather ask their friends on Facebook what they think.

The takeaway:

Mobile display advertising isn't going anywhere soon in the free digital content model.

But one thing's clear to me: Search and social work for motivated customers seeking your product or service.


The choice

Every team, leader and employee at some point must make the choice:

(1) Be proactive, guided by strategy.

(2) Be reactive, guided by emergency.

Yes, some things that grab our attention can't be anticipated. But there's a danger in letting the line blur between external forces and internal behavior.

Using every last minute of time doesn't automatically produce greatness or desired results. Some of the best creative work I've seen was made when an artist, strategist or team was in a flow state well before the clock could start ticking loudly.

Reaching that place where output is effortless and time can't rob you of ideas doesn't always happen.

And that's ok.

A marathon runner doesn't cover 26.2 miles without a smart load of training and knowing in the race when to push harder and when to let go and trust the mind, lungs and muscles.


Magic factory

Language is part of a toolset we use to paint scenes in daily life.

If much of our in-person communication happens through body language and tone of voice, does that relegate words to a fuzzy code that can be misunderstood, unheard or ignored?

Not if we work at it.

Communication starts with listening. 

Listening requires understanding. 

Understanding requires thought. 

Thought requires concentration. 

Concentration requires a conscious decision.

In other words (no pun intended), we choose how engaged we want to be.

Language alone can create impressions.

Attention, openness and empathy--when combined with language--can create magic.