Tag Archives: Now

Music + Moments, Volume One: Summer Songs

Summer songs– music that melds right in with BBQs, beaches, and umbrella-adorned cocktails.  And thus far this summer (yes, that’s right, even in these post-Labor Days, I’m still referring to this summer as if it’s still unfurling), has had more than it’s share of fantastic songs that are just as fantastically matched to the time of year.

fitting that they are spinning the globe, because that they surely do

fitting that they are spinning the globe, because that they surely do

The first of these is a song that, for me, is the song of the summer– even though I think they may have cheated.  When you release as song that ebullient and bouncy as “Warm Heart of Africa,” you release said song in July and you even pull out the steel drums, it’s hard for me to believe that you’re not making a direct play for the jam of the summer.  Brought to you by The Very Best, a combination of a great DJ (Radioclit), a cool Malawi singer (Esau Mwamwaya), and for this track the lead singer of Vampire Weekend (whose appearance with an actual African singer is somewhat confusing, but never mind).  If you like this cut, don’t just check out their record– check out their mixtape (if you thought Michael Jackson’s song from the Free Willy soundtrack couldn’t be cool, brace for surprise).  Since I’m hoping you already have this song, I’ll share with you an even-bouncier remix done by a DJ who goes by “So Shifty.”

Warm Heart of Africa, The Very Best (So Shifty Remix)

To hang in Africa for a minute, let’s bring out Toto.  And the South Rakkas Crew.   Continue reading

Music + Moments (the intro)

Those who know me or spend any time within earshot of me know that my life is lived to a soundtrack.  Working, running, relaxing, cooking, commuting– all are done to music, most to songs somewhat matched to the moment or the moment I’d like to have.  So, as I look to include music into this somewhat business-focused blog, I thought I would do it with this personal touch: commenting on the music and the moments that make up the soundtrack of my days.  Each entry will talk about a song or group of songs that tie in some way to a moment that the music creates or (ahem) amplifies.

I’ll try to share songs that you haven’t heard, but I’m not going to try for this site to be the one that scoops songs first.  I’ll write a bit about the music, but I’ll try not to veer off into commentary.  Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Anyone who loves music is opinionated about it; I suppose I’ll just try to steer my opinions closer to praise and banter, and away from pondering and polemics.  Lastly, pending time and motivation available, I may even periodically post a bit of my own dabbles in djing.

So that’s it.  Some music to pepper in amongst it all.  Hope you enjoy.

Ted Williams, Kung Fu Panda, and Strategy

When you are someone who is widely revered as being the best ever at what you do, I can imagine it’s actually pretty tricky when a representative from the ranks of the mere mortals asks you how you do what you do.  Where on earth do you start?  How do you craft an answer that’s anything but a polite way of saying either “practice hard” or “you should probably stick to (your) knitting.”

This makes it all the more surprising that Ted Williams (universally regarded as one of the best hitters in the history of baseball) had a very simple, helpful bit of advice when asked about hitting.  His advice?  “Get a good pitch to hit.”

from "Science of Hitting," by Ted Williams

from "Science of Hitting," by Ted Williams

Get a… what?  Huh?  Is it that simple?  Well, yes and no.  His first commandment of hitting was indeed that simple.  Yet he applied it in a way that was detailed enough that few were surprised when he wrote a book on hitting it was called “Science of Hitting.”  To help him find a good pitch to hit, Williams divided the strike zone into 77 parts– each the size of a baseball.  Then, using this tool, he identified his “happy zone”– the place in which he was an amazing hitter.  He swings at the pitches in his “happy zone” and he’s a .400 hitter (not coincidentally, he was that last major leaguer to bat .400 over an entire season).  But when he swings at the pitches that are low and away (what could perhaps be called his “misery zone”), his batting average measures up with that of an American League pitcher playing an away game at a National League ballpark.

Williams’ simple commandment of hitting is equally as powerful when considering corporate or brand strategy.  This is because strategy isn’t really defined by what you do.   Continue reading

To begin…

Hi there.

After much deliberation, discussion, and delay, it begins.

The concept for this blog is simple, and reflected in its title: Now, Then, Soon.

The world needs another source of prognostication as much as it needs another Twitter stream that aspires to link to a New York Times article the fastest, so I will spare you both.  Some of what I will write will relate to what I do professionally (brand strategy and advertising), but many will not.  I hope that you find them all interesting.  A  bit more on what to expect…

Then: The anchor of this blog will be what happened “then”– then being when I was a student from 2006-2008 (at Kellogg, in their Executive MBA Program).  When I began that program, I was a bit of an outlier: there was no one else from my industry in the program, and about as many people in my industry understood exactly why I was going to get my “MBA” (quotes added not for emphasis, but rather to reflect what was often a less-than-understanding change in tone of voice).  The reason I went was to be exposed to a huge array of things about which I knew nothing.  And on that count and many others, it happened and then some.   While there for about two years, I stood in front of a ferocious fire house of information and inspiration: every other weekend I was inundated with things I wanted to think about, wanted to apply, wanted to remember.  Some of these ideas succeeded in sticking to me at the time; yet too many didn’t.  So the anchoring endeavor of this blog will be a kind of intellectual archaeology: I will be going back through my classes, all of them, and pulling out an idea (or three) from each that stopped me in my tracks.  Something that made me think, and made me look at the world differently than I did before.  Each of these “then” posts will aspire to capture a key concept, and apply the concept to the world.  Which brings us to…

Now: When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was “Name That Tune.”  When I was a bit older, I was making mixtapes by recording songs off the radio onto a cassette.  When I was married, my wife commented to everyone at our wedding that I lived my life to a soundtrack.  Now, with most every chunk of free time that I have, I scour the web for songs and sounds and mixes that I haven’t yet heard.  There’s a pattern.  So, as a bit of “now” color, I plan to share a bit of the music that I uncover and enjoy at a fairly voracious rate.  Some of these songs might be accompanied by a meaningful reflection on their societal significance; many will carry only an encouragement to turn up the volume and dance around in your kitchen.  I haven’t actually figured out how to do any of these things, including dancing with any aplomb in my kitchen, but technology-willing I will try.

Soon: Whether it’s an idea I came across two years ago, a song I heard yesterday, or something I walked past yesterday, I will also share some thoughts on how the collision of all of these things might mean for the days to come.  But know that this blog won’t live entirely in the past, nor in the observations of the present.  It will try to think about, and perhaps even spark a bit of discussion, about what it might mean for the days ahead.

That’s the deal.  And so it begins…