Goof Sentiments: Sawyerhood from the West to the East

CLEVELAND 2011 (repost) – It’s hard to put into words when people ask (or tell) you to talk about your experiences and life in general.
Because what you’re asking about is magic.

I can tell you; I can show you by experiencing and sharing life with you, but it’s the individual way we perceive, think about and process the world around us that makes perspective “deep, magical or surreal”. Perhaps because I’m bipolar I; I don’t just see black and white; I’m captivated by the spectrum and everything in between. That being said,
This is for the geeks. Goof, dork, dweeb, ham … (insert nerd jargon ___  here.)

Growing up between Rochester, NY and California; dreaming, Disney and similar shenanigans were commonplace in our household.

As a hyperactive kid, there was always something to do: reading, movies, getting lost in the woods, climbing trees, catching alligator lizards at my Grandpa’s cabin in Grant’s Pass, OR and essentially anything that would move. Typical Sawyer-ish nonsense.

One of the best things about summer is time, or perhaps the absence of caring about it. Always a good time for reconnecting with old friends, family and some much-needed travel.

I remember Cape Cod, seafood, sand and surf…the smell of NO-AD 4SPF dark tanning oil (which I still use) and sun lotion in general.

Heading over to Sunday School in Dennis for a banana split or pistachio ice cream. Nom nom.

ice cream Dennis Massachusetts

Dennis, MA

Watching my family steam live lobster fresh from the pier (while us kids had french fries and chicken nuggets), and the smells wafting through the cottage as the adults imbibed over euchre, gin rummy and miscellaneous family card or board games (that quickly become a sort of heirloom).

Waking up in the morning to sunny-side up (and over-easy) eggs, hash browns and the fixins, climbing down the ladder that led to the kitchen and living room from the overhead loft, where my sister’s and my Harry Potter-ish twin beds lay adjacent.

I’m impartial to Backgammon, Scattergories and Scrabble –and naturally have become a bit of a Jekyll about winning. Okay, I’ll err on the side of modesty:

I don’t lose. If I do, it clearly must have been someone else’s fortuitous luck lol.

I remember those arcane trilobite creatures that were both fascinating and creepy: horseshoe crabs. Fish, slider turtles, barnacles and the sounds/muskiness of marine life and seashells. I could spend all day snorkeling and finding starfish; other random treasures.

ocean creature critter horseshoe crab beach Massachusetts

Womp

We would also frequent relatives in southern California where I was born, from Del Mar to Laguna Beach, and would roadtrip through the hills and wine country to visit grandparents in Fairfield, San Francisco and as far up as Oregon.

I remember the magic of looking for and seeing humpbacks breaching on the coast, and the whale watch in Cape Cod.

Traversing the Redwoods and wilderness near my Grandpa’s in Oregon; the solitude of cabins in Ontario and the 1000 Islands.

river nature outdoors Oregon wilderness

Sanctuary

I remember tents and storytelling in front of the fire, marveling at the wildlife and the elusive, chilling call of the loon (or is it heron?). Canoeing/kayaking out to an island and grilling out fresh catch, s’mores, corn on the cob and brats.

Staying up all night telling scary stories, talking about girls and fighting the endless debate of USA versus Canada. (Coke’s better than Pepsi…Hockey sucks! Lol).

Listening to the pitter-patter of the rain and wind against the tents, seeing how far we could rock the hammock before it flipped –and trying to hold on. And of course, as mentioned in the last post, King of the Raft.

A sense of comfort came with the unfiltered, unknown wilderness: a sense of belonging and discovery that stays with you. Through the crossroads, turning points and valleys along the way, remember to remember.

Pretty cool thing about life: there’s always something or someone that can knock you out of your lens and show you something new, something crazy, something poignant.

We just have to be receptive and ready.

Media, movies and entertainment had their place too: They were reserved for the road and on flights. Though I’ll save that for another day/post, I’ll leave you with boyhood sentiments via Max Goof:

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Tyler Orchard: When Brand Preservation Does More Damage than Good

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TORONTO —

Okay, I’m a bit stoked about this guys. From Australia to Toronto, the guest blog wayfaring with newly christened byronfernandez.com continues with my dude Tyler Orchard. You may have heard of him from Gini Dietrich, who recently advised him not to feed the animals in the insatiable playground that is Chicago-based Arment Dietrich and SpinSucks guest blogging community. But besides Gini’s ability to make us laugh and bedazzler jackets (cough, Konopinski, Bell) — Tyler’s meteoric rise through the PR, political and digital space has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s polite, reverent and a good listener. A self-proclaimed chef stuck in a businessmen’s body; Tyler has impeccable taste in red wine, good food — and people, too. And he knows a thing or two about business. “People know him,” to quote Ron Burgundy (though I can’t attest to how extensive the Orchard library of leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany may be). But enough of the shenanigans, on to the good stuff: It’s a privilege to introduce you to Tyler
Orchard

tyler orchard

Courtesy of Tyler Orchard, Parliament of Canada. All rights reserved.

WHEN BRAND PRESERVATION DOES MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD

We have a human nature to defend our character in an attempt to manage external perceptions. We all have characteristics that shape our personal identity.

Some of these elements may warrant suppression or concealment during certain interactions. Whether we like it or not, we have a tendency to seek approval, fit in to the environment we operate, and invoke a positive reaction when mentioned by others.

Not surprisingly, these predispositions subsequently play a major role in business development, branding, and PR initiatives.  

In the corporate world, a brand identity is a remarkably powerful and influential element of success (New York Times, The Importance of Branding Your Business).

Companies spend a considerable amount of time, financial resources, and effort in creating a brand that resonates with a mass consumer base or audience. Consequently, brand management and preservation has become a major preoccupation for organizations in the public, private and non-profit sections.

Perception, identity, and brand awareness is increasingly important within the business environment. This is because branding success is a key element in meeting certain business objectives, internally and externally.

These attitudes and experiences around a brand, often driven and dictated by the consumer, affect all channels of the corporate structure. With this importance comes the desire to preserve your brand identity at all costs.

This is a dynamic many entrepreneurs and business people can empathize with. When faced with a negative situation or potentially damaging encounter, it is an instinctive reaction for most individuals or brands to do anything and everything that will protect what has been built via investment, infrastructure and influence. This brings to mind the classic “fight or flight” dichotomy, and how we are biologically wired to react to real or perceived threat/s.

To quote the wonderful mind of Warren Buffett:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation — and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Many would perceive this loyal and strategic reaction as a sign of a promising corporate leader. I would tend to agree.

But here’s the kick: Does there come a time when our intrinsic nature to preserve something we care about deeply actually exacerbates the damage we are trying to mitigate?

This post is by no means a blanket description of the corporate landscape. Many companies understand the limits that they operate in. However, there are still those who maintain the “defend at all costs” mentality that has significant (and often ignored) repercussions.

There is something to be said about the perils of blind pride. It often leads us to make rash decisions that, while at the time may seem appropriate, only cause more headaches down the road and across relationships.

When an individual is emotionally invested in their company, brand or organization; that poignant connection can cause judgement to be clouded. This becomes paramount when people confront a direct challenge or crisis situation, be it communications or task-related.

But knee-jerk reactions to a dilemma are grounded in emotion, not strategic business acumen. It seems in these situations we revert back to our younger selves; when we would stop at nothing to quash an unflattering rumour on the playground.

Ignoring claims or evidence, denial, shifting blame, pointing fingers, and tunnel vision are all common elements of what I call “emotional management reversal”. Seasoned decision-makers, when faced with a troubling situation, seem to revert back to self-indulgent reactions that cause more harm than good. This is common when an initial decision or strategy goes south unexpectedly.

The decision to stand firm, ignore the inevitable, and resort to blame aversion tactics seems reasonable in a mind destabilized by the fear of failure.

But once a company ventures down this path, it is an all-or-nothing effort that can often result in significant brand repercussions.

Here are Five Ramifications that often ensue when a leader, manager or brand resorts to a bull-headed stance on trouble, crisis or possible failure:

1. Delaying an actionable response to a situation will only make brand and identity damage widen and deepen

2. There is a chance of alienating your customer base, audience or community

3. Tunnel vision and blind support damages perception, as perception involves trust, reliability and loyalty

4. Employees may lose respect in the corporate institution

and

5. Subsequent decisions are negatively affected in regards to marketing, communications and customer service/outreach —

 Especially when these initiatives are accomplished in the same channels (i.e. social networks or the public forum).
Strategic corporate loyalty and brand preservation are two characteristics that any business person should use in their personal description. Further, these elements in part define a company’s success. They are also founded on the same traits of entrepreneurship.
What needs to be respected is the clear difference between bold business risk and foolishness. When faced with adversity or potential failure, more business leaders need to respond pragmatically — and vehemently resist a reaction that is emotionally driven.
As business people and entrepreneurs, we need to understand that placing a bet on a particular development strategy involves risk. Brand development isn’t clear cut, nor does it happen overnight. Failure is a part of any company seeking to venture into a market and make a name for itself.
What differentiates successful business people from others is not failure in and of itself, it’s how they react when faced with crisis or defeat. Defending a decision that is not meeting expectations or objectives is not indicative of a person with pride, it’s evidence of blind irrationality.
Remember, failure is a part of the business world we inhabitcrisis is a part of the process, and defeat is part of the branding experience.
When all is said and done, sensibility and realism are characteristics that are far more important than pride and loyalty.
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Tyler Orchard is a Toronto-based Director of Communications and PR in the political world, as well as a social media consultant. He holds a masters degree from the University of Guelph in public relations and public policy. His views are strictly his own. Follow him on Twitter @tylerorchard or find him on LinkedIn. He blogs at Talking Points.

New Beginnings: Season’s Greetings from PR Land

CLEVELAND –

Um, for some reason it feels like ages since I’ve blogged.

I got lost somewhere between the U and C of cornucopia this year, and haven’t yet fully recovered. But before the thrust of new beginnings shifts into snowball gear with Christmas and the holiday season, I figured I should get back to writing.

Essentially since hitting the ripe-old age of 26 in September, it’s been a whirlwind of cataclysmic proportions, both personally and professionally. And for that, I know those of us going through them are especially grateful. 

Few upcoming items on the docket:

  • The next Cleveland HubSpot User Group (HUG) meetup celebrating Kuno Creative and the launch of Paul Roetzer’s book will be taking place at PR 20/20’s headquarters Monday, December 19th. Tickets are limited, so RSVP if you have not done so already. For further details, refer to the link above.
  • Paul Roetzer’s highly anticipated new book, The Marketing Agency BluePrint, and subsequent Marketing Agency Academy: BluePrint Series is also underway this month. For more information regarding pre-order and book details, contact Paul directly or follow him on Twitter.
  • Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand is also available on amazon.com

This month’s HUG will cover the new Enterprise Training program/software, and progress made thus far with superstar case study Kuno Creative, who has been tearing it up in content and inbound lately.

According to Patrick Shea, the go-to-guy and lead liaison between HubSpot clientele and partner firms, Kuno Creative’s staggering results include a 500% spike in website traffic, more than 650 subscribers in 90 days and garnering 7,000 leads from social media campaigns.

Note that this event is not limited to HubSpot valued-added resellers (VARs); it’s open to all business folks in the NEO area interested in learning more about how rapidly the PR and marketing services industry is evolving, on a national and global scale. 

In other news, I’m honored and humbled to announce I accepted my first career offer, with another upstart HubSpot partner, Structure Marketing in November. I have been working with the president and chief operations officer since October, and am excited about the building process and potential ahead.

I also published a guest post in recent weeks with Gini Dietrich and Lisa Gerber over at SpinSucks, which garnered PR Readers Choice blog of the year in 2010.

Tectonic shifts occurring in the industry, and as always it’s awe-inspiring (and a bit daunting – especially for new kids on the block).

Just keep swimming… 

Just keep swimming Dory Finding Nemo Walt Disney

“Around here, however, we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”

Any-who, back to the new job. As the work progresses from PR, and blends traditional with new roles and responsibilities across content and clients;

I will be specializing in all editorial, PR and social media functions as chief content officer (CCO). Which is basically the new name inbound and content marketing has bestowed upon lowly, persnickety editor-in-chiefs…)

Re-branding, rebuilding and the growing trend of virtual/work from home certainly has its challenges, and is not for everyone. But I’m excited to be part of continuing to drive change and growth within the marketing and digital services industry.

Other than that, I’m happy to spend some time enjoying the music, sounds and sights of the holiday season (thanks, Spotify and turntable.fm…) and reconnecting with old friends/family.  

I don’t know about you, but the goodwill, regeneration and peace reverberating around the world makes this one of my favorite times of year. 

Final tangent: thanks to my room mate for introducing me to this guy. I miss, and need to reunite with, this part of my past

Wishing you and your family, friends and colleagues all the love, peace and joy you can handle this year.

To new beginnings…

RELATED LINKS

SpinSucks/Arment Dietrich Inc guest post – Wile E. Coyote in Social SpaceTime 

Matt Ridings and Amber Naslund Launching Social Business Venture

Paul Roetzer – The Marketing Agency BluePrint