Archive for December, 2010

Snow White – or – The Blizzard of ’10

There is something special about a blizzard in New York City.   This one was spectacular.  On Sunday afternoon the first place I headed to was Central Park for a short 2 mile run.   There were only a couple of inches of white at that time. — not enough to draw out the cross-country skiers.

By the end of my run my mind was wandering to brands with snow in their name.

Hostess Sno-Ball

Hostess SnoBalls

Ivory Snow

Snowball (USB microphones)

Surgicel Snow

And of course all of the products (not trademarks) that are snow-y: snowboard, snow shovel, sno-cone, snow mobile, Snow White.

How many brands of snow can you name?

On Monday I took a few photos of the city to share with you.

West 78th Street

Amsterdam Avenue in the 80s

Flatiron District

Sculpture with snow white hair

Taxi! Taxi!

Is your door open this Christmas?

There is something about the holidays that creates great psychological pressure on people.  In part it is the unrealistic expectations of the celebrations.  In part it is the long hours of darkness around the winter solstice (betraying my north of the equator bias).

This is a time when families often fall apart instead of coming together.  This is the time of the year when organizations such as Covenant House are keeping their doors open for young adults who are in need of help.  Originally they kept their door open as a temporary shelter.  Today they have evolved in organization that can help kids get on their feet, finish their education and find a job — when there are jobs to be found.

You help keep the doors open this season.  All you have to do is contribute time or money.  Or both.  Just click on the logo below and it will take to you a site where you can make a difference.

The renewed Covenant House

Opening Doors for Homeless Youth

Not all taglines are created equal.  Some are great and some are lousy.  Some do a whole lot of good and some just distract.

This post is about a tagline that does a whole lot of good.  It is the Covenant House tagline, “Opening doors for homeless youth.”

I am proud that we created this tagline for Covenant House.  The metaphor of an open door is a powerful one.

But right now too many kids are having the doors of opportunity slammed closed in their faces.  The unemployment rate for young adults — 16 to 24 — is higher than any period in the past 3 decades.  For teenagers, it is hitting rates unheard of in a developed economy.

Tax cuts won’t do much for a kid who can’t find a job and ends up living on the streets.   Unemployment checks don’t go to a 19 year-old who never held a job.

Covenant House is one organization that is out there, keeping their doors open for young adults who need it.

You don’t have to love the tagline to click on it and contribute to Covenant House.    You can do a whole lot of good simply by making a donation.

Click to Open doors for homeless youth

Pop-Quiz Answers

True or false:  The number of United States Federal employees in 2010 is lower than in 1975.

Answer:  True and False!

True: If you factor out the temporary census employees, you’ll find that the number of federal government employees is slightly lower than in 1975.

False: But of course 2010 is a census year which creates a short-lived spike in Federal employment.

True or false:  The number of Federal employees dropped during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Answer:  False.

Fact checking can be done at BLS or the various blogs such as Calculated Risk and Econbrowser

Frankly I was knocked sideways by the facts.  They just didn’t square with everything I’ve heard from all sorts of politicians over the past 10 years.

True or False – or – Assume nothing

Two quotes that I carry with me, engraved on my heart:

“Question authority”  Written in the stairwell of Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  It stayed on the wall for the entire 2 years that I was there getting my MFA degree in creative writing.

“Assume nothing.  Question everything.”  Often said by the late Peter Kim.  I had the pleasure of working for Peter first at J. Walter Thompson and then when he started up Bright Sun Consulting.

In the spirit of those two quotes, I present to you a Pop Quiz:

True or false:  The number of United States Federal employees in 2010 is lower than in 1975.

True or false:  The number of Federal employees dropped during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Don’t peek ahead or poke around on the internet!  There is a prize for everyone who gets the answers correct!

How did JetBlue deal with the fall-out from their awol flight attendant?

We all remember that moment when we first heard about the JetBlue flight attendant who jettisoned his career by grabbing a beer off the plane’s serving cart and sliding down the emergency chute to escape an angry passenger.

How did JetBlue handle the fall-out from that spectacular story without the brand being damaged?

Find out from JetBlue’s head of corporate communications, Jenny Dervin.  On the evening of January 20th she will be one of three speakers in a NYAMA forum on dealing with brand crises in the age of social media.

For details, go to

The two other speakers will be APCO’s Kirk Stewart, who is Nike’s former head of corporate communications; and Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of Vivaldi and author of Hidden In Plain Sight.


Save the dates

Here are two upcoming events from the NYAMA in January:

On January 6th there is a NYAMA networking event at 47 East 29th Street, the Red Sky Lounge, from 6 to 8 pm.  It’s social networking the old fashioned way.

And on January 20th there is a real treat.  We’ll have 3 special guests speaking about How to manage a brand crisis in an age of social media.

Remember Steven Slater?  He’s the Jet Blue flight attendant who jettisoned his career this past August, making headlines around the world.  We’ll have Jenny Dervin from Jet Blue on hand to tell us how they handled that brand crisis!

Jet Blue in the News

We’ll have Kirk Stewart of APCO to give some insight into the influence of social media on the reputations of Nike and Toyota when those two brands had crises.

And we’ll have Erich Joachimsthaler of Vivaldi to share his views on the importance of Social Currency to brand reputation.  You may have seen his study on Social Currency in Fast Company and other publications.

Fast Company article on Social Currency


More details at

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