Category Archives: advertising

New Beginnings: Confronting Errors

I read an article written by Matt Cronin in Agency Post that proved eye-opening. Matt pointed out something that creative agency owners that I find especially true of small agencies: We tend to forget the importance of being watchful of our ROI and the things that make it.

Opening and running a business requires investment in those things that help us in that pursuit. But we miss the mark on occasion. Our biggest investment isn’t in equipment and software, but it in the people that work for the agency. In our efforts to keep the lights on and the rent paid, how an employee interacts in discoursing their job reflect on the brand – the agency.

There is a basic reason for this. We sometimes find it hard to face truths about the way we run our companies, thus not confronting an error. If a staff member fails to complete a project in a timely manner, we have not only failed the client, but jeopardized the account. People that spend chunks of money on an ongoing basis sometimes are looking for ways to save – a foul-up, presents justification.

My own experience has been one where a new business account representative failed to write a letter of acknowledgement to an RFP (we stood a good chance at being hired since we were one of two agencies under consideration.) It was a simple task, but it wasn’t done and the chance at a six-figure account dissipated. Another example was someone in the same position negotiating to bring in another creative agency (secretly and for a fee) on an account. Also, there was discord fanned by a rather intrusive individual complained about everything, including her salary and prying into everybody else’s. Certainly, this behavior wasn’t helping us in the least and really hurt our reputation.

I’ve described selfishness and business betrayal – but how did that happen? How did it slip by me? I could say I was busy with other day to day tasks, but it shouldn’t have gotten to that point.

Cronin contends that an agency’s goal is to maximize every dollar invested in a campaign. However, the failure to understand that an agency is a brand as well, is an ingredient in the formula for disaster. A solution is to re-interview each employee to determine job satisfaction, career aspiration and more importantly, what do they feel about the company. In other words, the interview cannot be superficial because one with corrosive attitudes hurts the company. It can tarnish the view of a brand.

This may be lost on some – companies need loyalty. There is some popular thought to the idea that as long as you show up, do some semblance of things within your job description, how you dress, speak and behave is the employee’s business. To an extent those are all true, but the employer is owed something too. The reason why an old fashioned idea like loyalty is so vital is that no business can sustain without it.

Take care.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President

CDM Digital Advertising & Integrated Marketing

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New Beginnings: In Debt

What is being in debt? There are two types of debt. First there is bad debt. Being in bad debt is tantamount to being padlocked in an outhouse in the country with methane gas building up around you. Worse when it is a dog day in August in Florida. Talk about uncomfortable.

Picture the panic on your face when a truck from the finance company backs up to your house and guys jump out with prison tattooed faces tell you ‘Game over, Jack.” Or, think about receiving a tax bill that essentially wipes out a year’s salary and you call your accountant, only to reach a disconnected number. This is three minutes before the lights go off. Or, think about that high interest rate loan you got from ‘Fat Tony’ last month and ‘Vito Big Knuckles’ is standing in your kitchen saying, “I came here either to chew gum or haul me some extra body parts home. Guess what? I ain’t got no gum.”

None of these are ideal moments. Debt stinks. Debt can be embarrassing. Bad debt is scary. I’m not trying to reveal any hidden secrets about either my personal, or business finances but honestly, my business had money embezzled from it by my accountant. That’s well documented and not at issue. My focus is another type of being debt — good debt.

Good debt is acknowledging that you have been helped on your life journey by someone special and indeed, unforgettable. Usually, in the case of the individual, there are very tangible qualities that make her very admirable. It’s appropriate to take time to express gratitude to those who have brought us past the hurdle, helped us jump through the fire. Unfortunately we don’t do it at, preferring to let time pass and if some tragedies bespeaks that person, we always bemoan the fact that we could of said more.

In life there people who keep you from walking off the edge. In my case, I’m indebted to my former assistant Karina. It was more than her smile, the flash of wisdom in her eyes and humor in her tone. It was and is her warmth and thoughtfulness. No, she is not departed the living to go entertain Jesus. She is living across town raising her three children and tending to the needs of her family, including her husband.

I’m grateful to her because there were times when I didn’t know what path to pursue to regain a lost client – she did. “Pick up the phone,” “I’ll write the letter pointing out how we much money we made them,” she told me on more than one occasion. That’s practical advice. And, you don’t get that from anyone unless they care about what they and you are doing. In Karina’s case, whenever possible she put our agency first. She even advised me of the practical reasons to get rid of the “teacher’s pet,” because she was not productive but only gave the appearance of being such.

The “teacher’s pet” was an untouchable creative and someone I thought of as being the most important person in the agency, but Karina knew different. She saw through the façade. She also told me it made sense for me to seize the mantle of handling new business and delegating responsibilities. Unfortunately, I was stubborn and didn’t listen.

Karina is business minded, but as a beautiful woman appreciated when that was acknowledged. It was okay to say, “That’s a nice outfit,” “You’re beautiful today,” without having to be worried about her filing an EEOC complaint. She reminded me in there things that we tend to forget in our instant coffee, instant gratification lifestyles – one of them is how to be human. Her beauty radiated from the inside and out, but it also surrounded her. I don’t mean to speak about her in the past tense, because as I said, she’s living somewhere across town.

This post started out talking about being in debt, and how unpleasant it is. I love the contrast, though. Being in debt and grateful to someone to whom you owe a lot is really ideal. I’m indebted to her, and very little I can do can pay her back because she is such a giver. All I can say is “Thank you, Karina.” My hope is that as the future unfolds I will be able to get people on staff that embody her qualities of grace, dignity and practical wisdom.

Bernard Alexander McNealy

New Beginnings: Re-branding is Daunting

Re•brand
verb
gerund or present participle: re-branding
1. change the corporate image of (a company or organization).

Re-branding is a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, and competitors.

In some case re-branding involves radical changes to a brand’s logo, name, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. The changes are devised to re-position the brand/company.

It also typically occurs when a company seeks to distance itself from negative connotations of the previous branding, or to move the brand upmarket. Re-branding seems to be the first thing a company does when it emerges from a bankruptcy or other presumptive business setback. Here is what all of this means in total: Management has recognized that business has change in methodology and product demand. Management has created a new business posture or even dismantled its old model. In order to stay relevant, one must adapt. Adaption communicates a new message a new board of directors’ wishes to communicate.

In our particular case, it has been hard. I must confess, it has been a little daunting. Our company, Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc. started this process deliberately, like an iceberg frozen in some vortex of a moon on the cold side of Jupiter. It was slow on purpose because we wanted to get everything right. I had two business partners – one left and to tell you the truth, left a tremendous vacuum. Partnerships work best when the partners have specific assignments in relation to the company. In her case, she had primarily responsibility for developing an execution strategy and helping develop a logo and website. Well, while I’m happy that she moved on because I will always be fully supportive, it didn’t obviate her duties. Somebody had to absorb them and it turned out to be me.

In the meantime, our other partner became immersed in a long term assignment pursuing what could be a gargantuan account as we handled little projects for them. It pays a few bills, so refusing them was a no-brainer.

A peculiar thing happens when one is reevaluating a business model –organizational weaknesses and flaws come to the surface. Our biggest flaw is not saying “no,” to life sucking accounts. I also discovered what it truly is to be drained during this process. A big client whom we launched, marketed, branded had boneheaded lawyer send us a nasty letter explaining why that now rich client decided to put the account in review. The last sentence dripped with sarcasm, “Oh, about your last bill…you practiced law as a mediator didn’t you…take us court…our assets are off shore…heehaw-haha…”

If you’re in the agency game you’ve met another type of client. It’s the guy that was formerly marketing or sales head at some Fortune 500 company. He got fired for being an asshole. The same guy turns up as the COO for a new client and figures out ways to get work out of your agency. He also dreams up ways to screw us out our retainer and fees. Staffers view him as the devil and cave in dealing with him, quitting in frustration. They didn’t realize why he did sowed trouble. It’s simple: He’s still an asshole. Or, maybe he is the devil.

We resigned nonproductive accounts, and let attrition run its course. Re-branding and dismantling an old business model teaches that you need a stomach to run an agency. You have to rebuild from the process. Agencies are not for the faint hearted, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.

I delayed the launch until later this September because even though Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc. seemed structured it wasn’t – and that can be fatal. It was a good outfit, but we operated without what all companies need – policy manuals for every department. So, as we are about to launch into being a digital agency, we are going to be structured like a traditional agency. Dichotomous, to be sure.

Why?

We aren’t in the entertainment business; although what we do can entertain. Our advertising work will be designed to sell products. I truly believe what David Ogilvy preached and Bill Crandall, ‎Chief Marketing Officer, Consultant at Della Femina Rothschild Jeary + Partners reminded me when he graciously agreed to network on Linkedin. We are a brand – thus we are advertising’s finest. We must approach our work qualitatively. Yes, CDM Digital will drum our motto into the heads of staff: “We have purpose, to create, to succeed and be the best.”

Re-branding and having to revamp my company is both exciting and precarious. “In the world of business, what good is it to be an original creative thinker, unless you can sell what you create?”

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy, CEO

CDM Digital Advertising & Integrated Marketing 

New Beginnings: When People Leave (A Teachable Moment)

Every person that owns a small business will face staff attrition. When people leave, how do you react? If they were problematic employees, the inclination is to applaud. That is more knee-jerk anything else because it may have been a significant reason to them. So, the question becomes how do you keep your staff together? The short answer is you cannot.

People have reasons for leaving companies. Often it has nothing to do with management, but unfortunately in countless instances it does. If you don’t address the issues, your company will become deader than Mo Green.

My agency has always had a small staff. We function based on need of our clients. At least three people are assigned to an account. I’m told that larger agencies commit six people on accounts, and usually the budgets are higher. That makes sense. Small staff grows with freelancers, part-timers and interns. At any moment, a small agency multiplies long enough to accomplish what needs to be done. This type of parrying can be expected when you operate as a squad rather than battalion. One day, I began wondering if this small, nimble outfit was viable because people stated to leave.

Why?

Usually, higher wages, or, greater creative responsibility are catalyst. Conflict between staff members may also be a causal factor. Business owners do a disservice to themselves if they are clueless as to what causes the run to the front door.

Here was my “teachable moment,” where the veil of ignorance fell from my face. I fired an account representative at the beginning of a particular month. An executive staff member left, too. I didn’t want to accept she had because there was no letter of resignation. I thought the worse. But we spoke a week later. While I breathed a sigh of relief, two other people resigned as I exhaled. Their reasons seemed sound and logical: creative opportunities; more money. I thought about counteroffers, but the resignations had finality to them.

Four valuable people had gone out the door, and clearly I missed warning signs. Friday of the same week saw one more departure – sound reasons I thought. That weekend, a letter of resignation came on my e-mail. I e-mailed my New Business Coordinator. “We’ll rally the troops. Let’s go through those resumes — don’t worry.” Her reasoning was sound and made sense. After talking to her I watched the Sopranos and got a nagging feeling Eddie Big Nose was gunning for me.

Monday I poured over resumes and found several good candidates to interview. New Business Coordinator came in, tearful with a letter of resignation. Another opportunity came along over the weekend. Blam! Blam! Eddie Big Nose got me.

I learned a lot as I lay figuratively bleeding. Maybe this will help someone similarly situated.

1. Meet regularly with the entire staff to keep them abreast with company happenings. Send a company e-mail in case something was left out;

2. Meet with employees likely to exercise free agency. There are subtle hints. There may be something that can be done – adjustments made to keep them. Make sure that the promises are sincere and can be executed within the timeframe promised.

3. Develop a sense of family. If affordable, have either a company picnic, or regular lunches. It is the little things that count;

4. Assign meaningful duties not within the job description;

5. Allow cross-training. Employee ‘A’ may be better suited for another position. Perhaps they are too reserved to ask about it but you’re meeting them halfway;

6. Don’t play favorites. This is very difficult because some people are more personable than others. A ‘q’ factor causes us to gravitate to them. That creates discord;

7. Strive to raise pay a above cost-of-living, and certainly keep up with industry standards;

8. Improve your benefit package, and pay bonuses:

9. Acknowledge your employees because they are the linchpin of the business.

In a previous incarnation of my business, staff broke bread at lunches, and we kept up with pay standards. Even though it strained our budget, bonuses were paid around Christmas. I’m not saying that this made me the perfect employer, no one is. But it’s your choice to cultivate a sense of family or became overly corporate. Your business will function better in unity. Sometimes, loyalty keeps a person wedded to a job because of intangibility.
I’m not too cynical or idealistic to want an old fashion company in our fast paced culture.

Check you later,

Bernard A. McNealy, CEO
CDM Digital Advertising & Integrated Marketing

New Beginnings: Don’t Forget The Basics

We grow weary of ourselves sometimes. This happens frequently when you take the late Michael Jackson’s advice to start with “The Man in The Mirror.” I guess this is when one observes and marks their personal behavior in particular situations. The tendency is to be self critical and engage self flagellation like a crazed, lustful monk for falling short. The problem with that is that we seldom establish a benchmark to reach –so  naturally in the fog of confusion, its likely the psyche will  take a beating. A benchmark is a basic requirement to measure achievement — don’t forget it.

I am finding in business, forgetting can lead to bankruptcy. We tend to trust a little too much in people that may not share  our zeal to form a company into a particular embodiment. Sure, we talk to the people we’re dependent on, but the problem is that talking and listening are not the same as communicating and listening. So we proceed on clueless. We hit a metaphoric brick wall. And in our bruised state we come to grips (sometimes) with the fact communication requires attention, hearing requires setting aside the ego because a divergent approach or polite dissent may be have been the best course. These are basics — too easily forgotten.

Having restructured from a different business model, I’m operating essentially what is a new advertising agency . In my enthusiasm to pursue new business, I forgot to include in my company resume the most important thing – facts denoting what qualifies CDM to handle a customers business. I also failed to take into consideration whether or not the businesses I am pursuing were within my scope of expertise. Theoretical competence is not real competence. This also a basic.

My presentation manual should also ask: “What do you, business owner require and your agency?” Needless to say if the question was posed to a potential client, likely it would be a generic, “Good work at a fair price.”  Those were givens. That potential client is probably looking for assurance that we can not only do the job, but his investment in advertising with our company will an eye popping return. My question to myself would’ve been whether we’ll profit from the arrangement. To some, that sounds mercenary. It isn’t because it is very basic to business. After all, commerce is an exchange.

There is a raging debate between business owners and workers about salary, other forms of compensation, reduced workloads, and having dialogue deciding the the company’s direction. I am old school. On my first adult jobs I kept my mouth shut and learned as much as possible. As long as the work relationship was not  exploitative, I could live with it. Now as I am comfortably in my baby-boomer years, It occurs to me that people will have differences of opinion. They want to engage in dialogue on things that were verboten when I first started working. The lesson here is that time changes thing. I suppose i am looking at “Man in the Mirror.” I’m seeing a person that is adapting while retaining values and perceptions.

It boils down to being basic and demanding its own set of remembrance. You don’t forget the basics because they never change.

Catch you later,

Bernard A. McNealy, CEO

CDM Digital Advertising & Integrated Marketing 

New Beginnings: Instincts, Sharp Eyes, Loud Voice

I am finished chasing down a particular business for an appointment. After so many communiques via email, telephone calls, and promises, the potential client cannot meet until some unspecified future day. “Strong pitch. Touched on our needs. Indeed,” the company president said. Without bitterness, frustration set in. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong relative to particular business.

Having placed myself in charge of acquiring new business for my revamped ad agency I wonder if someone else should be assigned to the task. After all, acquiring money for operational costs and paying people are so essential, my efforts should be concentrated on those things. That makes a lot of sense.

A quick word about my categorizing the state of my company as being “revamped.” That is not fully descriptive. What I did was tear down my business model. It hasn’t been an easy transition going from being traditional to disruptive and digital. There was evaluation of staff and the value of our accounts, and thus attrition. When this happens you find yourself standing alone trying to crystallize your vision.

Like minded people are hard to find. But, it is always a pressing need.

Two years ago, I began questioning my ability to judge talent. We interviewed several creatives to come in just above entry level. I sat down with the “perfect candidate.” She was smart, friendly, attractive and knowledgeable. She liked the way we laid out the office — roomy — clean — colorful. The neighborhood was crappy, but the office rocked. I extended an offer — she accepted. But, when she realized that we were committed to remaining multi-cultural, she withdrew. “I don’t really like that vibe. No offense,” was delivered in a soft but crushing voice.

My then PR Director came in as the candidate left and said she knew what was going to happen because her instincts told things about the woman I didn’t notice. The next candidate arrived minutes later. The interview went well and was a notch above “Miss Perfect.” Being the gentleman that I am, and because it got dark early, I walked her to her car. There was a quick mundane conversation, and I said, “I’ll let you know within a week.” This seemed okay with her. She served a long, absorbing smile and drove off.

As she was packing up for the day, the PR Director stared at me. She seemed disturbed. When asked, she replied: “That girl doesn’t want a job. She wants a social relationship.” When asked how she knew, she said: “Well, she folded and slipped a note under your laptop. I was passing by your office when you stepped out to take a call privately. She put a spot of her cologne on the note. She likes you, not the agency.”

My colleague went on to say that she had sharp eyes for this type of thing — “the charming siren.” I realize some professional women that will read this blog might take offense, but people casting shadows across your desk may have motives not even remotely associated with what you want. Their intent is diametrically dichotomous. Resumes often are an exercise in creative writing. Good fiction.

That’s not to say don’t trust people. We need a host of people to function in the ad business. I have to take somethings as they are. Other times references must be vetted. So, as I make decisions for my company, if instincts and sharp eyes tell me a truth hidden by a prospect, I am prepared to say “No” in a loud voice — even it if stays in my head.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

New Beginnings: A Druid, a Muslim, and a Christian Walked Into an Ad Agency…

Interesting days bring on interesting observations. This is being written on a Sunday – the day I attend church. Expressions of faith in something I believe is greater than me, shouldn’t scare anyone. The last thing I do at my agency is proselytize because I live my beliefs and let them display in my behavior. Mankind is a creation, not an accident. Believing as I do has never been a job requirement. I must confess I’ve wondered if the work environment wouldn’t be more harmonious if there was same think. Obviously the work wouldn’t necessarily be creative optimally – it’s just that yelling will be at a minimum.

Maybe. Maybe not.

CDM Digital strives to be multi-cultural. The non-proselyting policy is also stressed. Our company culture is idyllic, and can be challenging. I’ve had a team consisting of a druid, a Muslim, and a Christian working on projects. Things were going alone well with this team until loud voices erupted in the break area.

One of them suggested that their belief system was superior to another there was a lot of Alec Baldwin and Will Arnett 30 Rock insults growled under breath. Tension lasted the day.

It placed in detrimental the project they were working on, and needed to be addressed. I invited the staffers to my office to work it out. There were a lot of accusations. “They’re sabotaging me. That’s what those people do,” echoed around the room. I asked myself what the best way to handle the conflict? Several factors had to be considered. These factors became recommendations I suggest a small business owner should have in place.

1. Keep ‘hot button’ discussions to a minimum. People are social, so there is going to be interaction, verbal or otherwise. Open expression is natural, and should be encouraged. A manager cannot put in a rule forbidding conversation because such runs contrary to what we are – social creatures that need to express ourselves. If possible, tactfully include it in a personnel manual under “office decorum.” Negative behavior is disruptive.

2. Evaluate the personnel involved. I’m not talking about judging who is right, or who is wrong. It is always a good idea to take into consideration how qualitative the people arguing are. Determine how cohesive their work is with a team framework.

3. Be prepared to cross train and reassign. We know what works and what doesn’t – it’s evident by the work produced. But, since we have invested in the staffer, and weighing how hard it is to find the “right” personnel, it’s better to reassign them as opposed to taking disciplinary action.

4. Establish clear rules on to what will not be tolerated. Be prepared to act if these rules are violated. For example, invasion of privacy, offensive language, hate speech and name calling, sexual innuendos, physical intimidation, are forbidden. It may be grounds for discipline. Where either of those things exists, you have a textbook hostile work environment. You also are staring at litigation with your business as a defendant.

5. Have a progressive discipline policy. Yes, some people cuss when stressed; some people are ill suited to work with people that are different than they. There is racism where you least expect. Anti-Semitism, sexism exist because people either were fed a steady diet of it as children, or just developed nasty unattractive personalities. Perhaps they need to work elsewhere. The decision should not be based on snap judgement.

6. Have openness. My business is a creative agency. We have to foster the ideal environment for a person to work at their best.

Within the context of advertising, I do consulting with my clients. It is surprising how many scramble madly because there are no rules governing conduct or decorum. We owe it to ourselves to have a cooperative, fun-filled atmosphere so that the conclusion of the work day, we can appreciate each other as people and our collective work.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

New Beginnings: Thank You America

I was watching the former “Military Channel,” now called the Heroes Channel, and caught a marathon on the Revolutionary War. I watched with sheer fascination. Some see that war as analogous to David vs. Goliath, and that may be apropos – but I see it as something more profound.

I truly believe that at the invention of the Universe, in the firmament that was a plan for the United States to come about. This country has survived long and gloriously. It has always been badly flawed. It tolerated an economy predicated on the enslavement of other people – Africans — a group where some of my ancestors came. America in its flaws, some might argue, destroyed indigenous people in its expansion westward.

 

It was a land that fought a Civil War where one the issues was over slavery. America rose to the task when Abraham Lincoln held a divided Union together.  And it wasn’t until 1964 that, despite Democratic party obstructionism, the Republican Party led by Sen. Everett Dirksen (a wonderful and forgotten statesman) passed the Civil Rights Act. A Southerner, President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill, but a Yankee, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, listening to the reasoned arguments of A. Philip Randolph, Mary Bethum Cookman, Martin Luther King, Bayard Ruston and other of the lions of American history.

The United States of America, in its flaws fought against the threat of communism in Korea, Vietnam and places around the world, that I cannot pronounce, knew there was a greater fight — a battle for hearts and minds. Today, we see our nation once again sending its troops to those unpronounceable places to beat back the war declared by radical Islamists. Perhaps it is without real conviction from President Obama, but our men and women under color of arms protect this land — its people — its people — and its flaws.

Thank you America for getting past biases to elect a bi-racial president. Yes, he is ineffective, perhaps treacherous but we tolerated the rhetoric and put aside our differences to see if we could walk together into the pages of history. 

I’m so grateful America because I had passion fueled discussions with a Korean War veteran by the name of Lt. Cleveland McNealy (dad), who told me about struggle, racism, economic deprivation and other evils. I might not have known to appreciate the life I have.

I learned about the flaws of this great country – and I applaud its greatness. I grew up without my father but got to know him later in life. “Believe. Dare to be Great,” was his favorite phrase. Thank you America for letting me start a business – this descendant of Cherokee-Seminole, African, Portuguese, and Scottish peoples, amid my complaining. 

Thank you for allowing me to compete in a profession I love, advertising. Even if I don’t win the pitch, you are showing me the best of times.

I must thank you America for everything about you. You’ve given me a great life. I met Ronald Reagan, worked in the campaign of a diametric opposite, Tom Bradley four time mayor of Los Angeles and that great American hero, John McCain. America, you gave me opportunity to shoot the breeze with Buzz Aldrin, Shirley Chisholm and John Lewis. In every sense of the word they are Americans heroes.

I read a lot of black history. And yes, although I was young, I did my share of hell raising demonstrating for civil rights, and protesting. That’s why I love my country. It has flaws, but is a land of opportunity.

The American Revolution is a textbook study of greatness. It was also a time of political division (rebel vs loyalist, slaveholders vs slaves), while illustrating that from chaos greatness emerges.

I admire Gen. George Washington and consider him the greatest American of all time. Yes, he had slaves. But, there is evidence he also paid them and gave them the choice of leaving. Washington was such a charismatic figure, he could have declared himself King. This is unlike our present situation where we have a minuscule man striving mightily destroy our liberties and become the very thing Washington declined.

By the way, when we decide to make something, the rest of the world can’t match it. They can steal it, or learn to build it — but…

This is an example of American  greatness. It was two days before Christmas in 1783 when Washington strode into the statehouse at Annapolis, Maryland. He address the Congress and surrendered his military commission. Washington declared, “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of Action—and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

Imagine, he could seized it all. That type of man probably wouldn’t approve of some of the things we have become. Benghazi cover-up, coddling terrorists (Fort Hood killer), IRS scandal,a deserting soldier brokered for Al Quada terrorists and lying about it all. Politicians fan the flames of division, toward what end, who knows. We’ve sent God on vacation from our hearts. 

But this is still the country that Gen. Washington struggled to liberate. I’m grateful for it.

So, on your birthday, the day we declared independence from Britain, July 4th, thank you America for letting me be who I am. Thank you for letting me have a chance to succeed, and to fail, and be given another opportunity to do it all again.

If this is post disjointed, forgive me. There is emotion that swells in my heart when I think about the greatness of America past and hopefully future. Have any safe and glorious Independence Day.

Catch you later,

 

Bernard Alexander McNealy

Carson Dunn Media Advertising

New Beginnings: Meg Tilly Motivation Moment

In 1993, there was a remake of the Kevin McCarthy classic, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” called “Body Snatchers.” To me, life often plays out like a movie. Seemingly we live by a script. Sometimes we write it daily; other times life just sort of happens.

Each action one takes is the consequence of each event leading up to that moment of occurrence.

I’ve developed certain talents beneficial in carrying out whatever vocation I am undertaking. I am acting consequential to the script of preparation. For example, I went to law school and ultimately opened an administrative law and mediation practice; then, a series of events led me down the winding path of opening an advertising agency.

Lately, after more setbacks than progress, I re-evaluated whether I want to keep going. On a personal level it was hurtful when someone I relied on to help re-branding my agency, took her considerable talents elsewhere (she’ll do well). It was a bothersome setback when two people designated as department leaders proved ill-suited. Their responsibilities had to be filled quickly, so I selected myself because it was cheaper (doing thing on the cheap is always a mistake) because our clients were paying late if prodded — or not at all, if requested.

I didn’t like explaining our internal dwindle to prospects and existing clients. I’m still be a little unsettled by being thrown off-balance. Here is where the Meg Tilly Motivation Moment comes in.

The scene is a master shot of the den and living room of darkly lightly house with music droning low — one long continuous note. Will Patton, playing ‘Steve,’ Meg’s husband, runs frantically down the stairs into the silhouetted living room. “Carol! Carol! We gotta go! Honey! We…we have get out,” Steve shouts. Meg is in the den whispering into the phone.

“Carol! We gotta get out of here! We gotta go,” Steve repeats. Clearly what he feared has just struck. Tears and fear ride the current of his words.

Cut across to a close up of Carol (Meg). She’s calm, despite knowing what’s happened. I found what happened next inspiring because I was contemplating taking Steve’s advice. Throwing up my hand in defeat.

Carol coos in a halting, three gin and tonic voice: “Go…where? Shhh…I want you to listen to me, Steve. Shhh. This is important…Steve.That thing that happened in the room, happened. It’s happened everywhere. But, where’re you gonna run? Where’re you gonna hide? You can’t, because there won’t anybody there like you. So, I ask you — go where — where’re you gonna run – where’re you gonna hide?”

Carol is calm — zombie calm — Jody Arias sneaking in your bedroom calm. Hell, Carol’s Meg Tilly.

The movie’s called Body Snatchers for a reason. In life you think the spaghetti has hit the fan because you believe you’re in the wrong place. I’ve felt like and been Steve more than once.

In my case the issue boils down to what would being apathetic achieve? What would running away prove? What would neglecting the business by disengaging myself intellectually accomplish? There’s no place to run — there’s no place to hide. Importantly, there is no one else like me.

Meg’s sexy-scary voice soliloquy said what I needed to hear because it was true. I am where I belong. This is the right time to improve on it and push beyond fear and confusion to abundant success.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

New Beginnings: A Kick in The Pants Moment

I just caught a snippet of video featuring B. Bonin Bough VP of Mondelez International. The video segment was a promo for Advertising Age, but that isn’t what was important to me. The video was a “kick in the pants moment.”.

Mr. Bough touched on the idea of confidence and affirmation. He said a person has to remember to be their own cheerleader. For me, that means acknowledging how good I am at some facet of what I am doing in the ad profession. The more you put yourself in the conversation, the greater the likelihood someone will check you out. It’s not bragging, but trying to gain an advantage. From self-affirmation, business relationships flow.

No matter the size of the agency, we should be of notoriety, the good kind. No one will knows or care if we labor in obscurity.

I remember something that continues to rankle me about the disappointment of relying on a former staff member to sit down with me and create a couple of spec ads an a short video for a presentation. It never got done.  She was being paid, but she had to be approached like she was Queen Elizabeth or ‘Jenny from the Block’ — keep your eyes averted or she’ll throw chewing gum at you.  So, I went to the meeting as prepared as possible. I had some good research on the company and its target, and a few visuals in the briefcase. We were up against a slick nimble group, and I suppose its best to say our lack of materials got us blown out of the water. I did something that ran contrary to who I am — I apologized for the shortcomings of my agency. As it so happens, there were a couple websites we’d done (with some damn terrific copy, I might ad) that the client glanced at. 

Here’s the teachable moment. Later, the VP of the client company sensed my depression. He walked me back over what we’d done and failed to do. This guy was pretty “old school” and from New Yawk. He said, in essence, Jenny needed to take her butt to another block. Don’t allow people to pull me down, he emphasized. If I need a pat on the back, I have long, flexible arms and can do it. God knows that co-worker didn’t exalt our company in the least. I called Jenny in and told her that she was free to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Mr. Bough’s little cameo for Ad Age reminded me or two things: Its okay to be your own critic. However, my greater virtue is that given a chance to get in the room (That’s a Draperism) I can pitch an idea real well. After the backslapping done, the true measure of what I do, is the ability to capitalize on whatever opportunity I attain. 

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

 

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