“The Match” Made my Memorial Day Weekend


Did you see it? Any of it? It was absolutely amazing. And I’m not alone in that assessment.

According to Sports Media Watch, “the latest edition of “The Match” — pitting Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady — averaged 5.8 million viewers across TBS, TNT, TruTV and HLN Sunday afternoon, the largest golf audience ever on cable.”

It’s pretty obvious why it delivered the audience it did. A dearth of live sports on TV. Tiger, Phil, Tom & Peyton. Professional golfers versus amateurs (although it’s a little strange referring to Tom & Peyton as amateurs.) Brady’s split pants. His miserable play for a good part of the round (something every amateur golfer has experienced on the course).

Koepka’s challenge to Brady:

Brady’s redemption on #7, in spite of Charles Barkley’s trash talk.

Justin Thomas as on-course commentator. Phil’s on-going mentoring of Brady. Tiger’s phenomenal overall play. Peyton’s amazing iron play. The tricked-out carts. The rain. Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. $20 million in donations to charities. The banter. And so on.

There was also a pretty special moment on #3, the Audi long-drive challenge for the pros. One of Phil’s sponsors is an enterprise-level software solutions company, Workday, that I used to work with as a consultant. Their CEO, Aneel Bhusri, texted Phil before the players hit their drives with an incredibly generous offer: a $1.5 million donation if Phil hit the longest drive. He didn’t but it was a great moment from a great CEO who runs a great company.

Spoiler alert: Tiger & Peyton won with a par on #18.

Did you see it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

The Image above courtesy of Getty Images/Ringer illustration. If I’m breaking any copyright rules, just let me know and I’ll take it down.

An Unprecedented, Systemic Use of the Words Unprecedented and Systemic

Please be advised that this is a commentary on words, not the underlying reasons the words have taken on a life of their own in 2020.

First, “unprecedented.” We’ve seen it EVERYWHERE: from politicians to business leaders to advertisers to the sweet little woman that lives down the street. I think her name’s Mary. I pulled some Google Trends data to confirm that the use of unprecedented is, in fact, unprecedented. And with the exception of a small blip in December 2016 (thanks to Donald Trump), it is. The good news (for me), its use has started to drop off:

In case you are curious, and I suspect you are, the December blip was a result of the following tweet from our fearless leader who fumbled a bit with his spelling of “unprecedented”:

What isn’t on the decline is the use of the word “systemic”. In fact, it blows “unprecedented” out of the water.

I am definitely not a linguist (although I did play one on a little known radio show broadcast in Liechtenstein, circa 1983), but I find it fascinating that people tend to gravitate to the language used by their social circles (in this case, the circle being the United States). I worked on Microsoft for a number of years in San Francisco and the Microsoft team at McCann SF literally adopted the Microsoft way of speaking. You didn’t send an “e-mail”, you sent a “mail”. No one else at McCann spoke that way.

So while I’m not one to try to bust a trend, please consider using any of the following words the next time you really, really want to say: “systemic”…










All synonyms courtesy of https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/systemic.

Are there any words you and your social circle use that few others do? Comment below.

p.s. the bit about the radio show may not be true.

Cocktails with Bob Hoffman

Thanks to the AAF Omaha for hosting last night’s AdReads Book Club & Happy Hour with featured guest, Bob Hoffman. The discussion centered around Bob’s book, Advertising For Skeptics. In his introduction to the book, Bob says “I like to write short books” and this one comes in at only 149 pages – each one filled with fact-based opinions about the sorry state of advertising today. Bob describes himself as “someone to add controversy and piss people off” and is also regarded as one of the best ad bloggers out there. He didn’t disappoint.

And an extra-special bonus: I finally got to put a name/face/voice to @LeeClowsBeard.

Cool Office Space or Unnecessary Overhead?

So I saw this tweet from @mindshare this morning:

Now don’t get me wrong, the office space looks spectacular. I mean look at the views. Look at the cool space for town hall meetings. That’s a lot different than what you see at Northampton Consulting each morning. [Truth be told, my space looks the same in the afternoon as well.] Am I at least a little bit jealous? Nope.

I have been lucky enough to work in some very cool workspaces in my career. 600 Battery, San Francisco. 27 Maiden Lane, San Francisco. 777 Third Avenue, New York. 318 Blackwell, Durham. Amongst others.

They all screamed creativity (well, 777 Third Ave. not so much but that was a long time ago). They were designed to make collaboration happen without anyone actually knowing they were collaborating. Lots of big, shiny conference rooms to impress not only current clients but key prospects as well. They were spiritual incubators for the ever-elusive big idea.

And because every one of these agencies spent piles of f*@king money building these spaces out, they had to show them (off) to everyone they could. The birth of the agency tour. Forget a visit to the Met, or the Guggenheim or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Come tour the ad agency. “Let us tell you about how the conference rooms were named (each one is a little known Anime character, cool huh?)” They’ll tell you about the time they blew through that wall, “the one right there”, as the current space simply wasn’t keeping pace with the agency’s meteoric growth. And while you might not catch it, there’ll be inside jokes sprinkled throughout the tour, clearly indicated by the little smirks of the well-meaning agency folks giving you the tour.

I have to ask though, who really benefits from the space? It’s certainly not the client/prospect. Sure, they get to go to the agency and sit in a badass conference room sipping Pellegrino as they review the latest concepts for Brand X Energy Drink (not competitive with Pellegrino, not at all). All good until they realize just how much that Pellegrino cost their company. Is it the agency employees? Sure, I guess, a little. But I’d wager that most employees (i.e., the ones not giving the agency tour) don’t really give a shit where they work (right Starbucks?). Or maybe they do when they realize they could be making a lot more money if the agency refocused their attention on them and not the state-of-the-art virtual reality experience in the main conference room, aptly named Haruhi FujiokaI.

It’s pretty clear that companies like WeWork or the Union Member House in Durham understand the need for alternatives to the traditional office space.

So if you want to spend a lot of money on bricks and glass and cool views, go right ahead. I’d prefer to invest those same dollars on my employees. Making sure they understand that my priority is on them and the work they do for our clients.

Arghh, gotta run. I have a call I have to get on from the comfort of my home office which has no bricks, limited glass and a partial view of the Smith’s house next door.

Good Leadership Requires a Healthy Ego

I came across a great article this morning from HBR entitled: “Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership“. It’s a quick read and definitely worth your time. Kudos to the authors, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter for their insightful take.

If you’ve spent enough time on the planet, chances are you’ve encountered someone in a leadership role that’s fallen victim to the ego. And it can be an ugly encounter.

“An unchecked ego can warp our perspective or twist our values. In the words of Jennifer Woo, CEO and chair of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, Asia’s largest luxury retailer, “Managing our ego’s craving for fortune, fame, and influence is the prime responsibility of any leader.” When we’re caught in the grip of the ego’s craving for more power, we lose control. Ego makes us susceptible to manipulation; it narrows our field of vision; and it corrupts our behavior, often causing us to act against our values.”

Of course, that assumes those values even existed in the first place.

Note: image courtesy of HBR.

Head. In. The. Sand. Part Deux

I am certainly not going to jump on the “bash everything that happened – or didn’t happen – at Cannes this year” bandwagon. That would be way too easy, especially if you simply plagiarize someone else’s words (think you know what I’m sayin’ @sureshdinakaran.)

That said, Pam Erlichman, CMO at Jebbit, wrote a great piece in MediaPost recently entitled: “What I DIDN’T Hear At Cannes: No Talk Of Correcting Data Missteps“.

Her overall position: “It’s time to shift focus off big data that goes nowhere to small, actionable data that drives lifetime value and deeper relationships with consumers. It’s time to put data collection and usage practices in place that are transparent and build brand trust with consumers. And finally, it’s time to provide real value to consumers in exchange for that data.” [My emphasis, not hers].

I hope the industry takes some tangible action before the many prognostications of the imminent death of everything we know come true.

Note: image courtesy of SmartCitiesWorld.

Head. In. The. Sand

Carole Cadwalladr: the ad industry is ignoring Cambridge Analytica fallout.

“In terms of responsibility, there’s something really key about Cannes Lions and the ad industry’s involvement in this,” she explained. “This is where the money is coming from. It is kind of depressing that there’s not a single talk happening in this entire week [about data misuse] with money swishing down through the streets.”

Hope you had fun in Cannes people.

To Burn Your Ace or Not to Burn Your Ace, That is the Question

For those that know me well, you already know that a good chunk of my free time is spent on a ballfield with my sons. While it’s been said plenty of times already, the parallels between life (and work) and baseball are all over the place. One such parallel is how you manage your bullpen.

First, let me give you a little context. This was my boys’ last year of Little League. I have either been a hyper-involved dad or a uniformed coach for them since they started playing t-ball. This last season I managed their Majors team. The team started off a little slowly, winning only two of our first eight games. But then things took a turn for the better: we won our next five games putting us into the playoffs as the #3 seed (out of 5 teams). We won our first two playoff games which got us into the division championship. We also won that game. Winning the division championship game got us into the Mayor’s Cup, a long-standing rivalry between South Durham Little League and our bitter rival to the North: Bull City Little League. And guess what? We won that game as well. Nine straight wins for those of you still reading this piece. All in all, 11 wins, 6 losses. Not a bad season.

So what’s my point? There are plenty of reasons why our season turned around. Our hitting improved. Our defense improved. The contributions made by the bottom of our batting order ramped up significantly. And one can never underestimate the power that positive momentum has on a team (or an individual for that matter).

But I think the most important reason for our success was the way that we managed our pitching staff towards the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. We tried to keep all of our regular pitchers available for the next game (1) by limiting the number of pitches they threw (which also helped keep our pitcher’s arm’s healthy). Some teams opted to be more aggressive and burn their best pitchers to secure the immediate win. So we went into the next game with all of our pitchers, the other guys went in without their best pitcher(s) and had to rely on #2, #3, etc. We took the conservative approach and it did us well in the long-term.

So I guess the real question that I’m asking is whether you put everything on the table today and worry about the repercussions tomorrow? A true win or go home mentality. Or do you plan a bit more thoughtfully, a little more conservatively so you have more choices in terms of how you manage the next “game”?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(1) The eligibility of a player to pitch in a Little League® Baseball game is governed by a tiered pitch count that is tied to the number of pitches thrown in a game. The pitch count determines how many days of rest are required before said player may pitch again in a Little League game. For example, if a player pitches 36-50 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed. If a player pitches 21-35 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar days of rest must be observed. If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no (0) calendar day of rest is required. There are also a maximum number of pitches a player may throw based on their league age.