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Let's See What Aunt Clara Sent You

"Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl." -Ralphie

Ralphie_bunny_suitMy girls and I chose Christmas Story as our first family movie night this Christmas season. So for the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about Aunt Clara. What was this woman like? Most of us have had an Aunt Clara in our own world at some point (or knew someone who did): sweet, befuddled, well-meaning, yet determined.

As the owner of my own pink bunny suit (long story), I've always held a special affinity for this scene. Poor Ralphie! Christmas morning is supposed to hold joy and excitement and anticipation as the wrapping is torn off each gift, and his character captures the overall moment with rapture. And then there's this.

What I want to know is this: what possessed Aunt Clara to produce this monstrosity in the first place? Did she, as Ralphie suspected, think he was somebody else? Did she just not know her audience well? Did she secretly harbor a pink bunny fetish? (SHUDDER) Could it have been averted if Ralphie's parents had provided her a little more guidance?

Either way, all you have to do is mention "pink bunny" and people think of Aunt Clara. It is the one accomplishment with which she will forever be branded. The entirety of Modern Western Civilization associates the two: Aunt Clara = Pink Bunny Pajamas. And then we sigh and smile.

As we wrap up 2012 and look toward 2013, I want to ask you: are YOU thinking about how your accomplishments are branded? When people hear your name, what accomplishments are they considering? Do they understand the compass directing you to accomplish what you did? Are you providing others with the direction they need to brand their accomplishments effectively.


Value Preposition

Funny-street-signs-arrows-good-luckYes, you read that right... Value Preposition.

We all know what a value PROPOSITION is... that statement telling everyone WHAT you bring to the table. It's been hammered and expounded and pontificated to death. From organizations to individuals, if you don't know your value proposition by now, you've missed the bus.

But what about your value PREPOSITION? You know what a preposition is... think back to your early grammar classes. Prepositions are those "directional" words: to, from, by, for, with, around, etc.

It's one thing to know WHAT value you bring to the table (i.e., your accomplishments), but do you know HOW that value is being conveyed? Knowing the answer to both is key to branding your accomplishments.

This weekend, I start teaching a new semester AND the first pilot site of my project goes live. For weeks, I've been wrestling with questions about my customers, students, and stakeholders. Am I doing this TO them, FOR them, or WITH them? The answer is all three (depending on what the "this" is).

But it's still an important question to consider. If you do things TO your customers, will they resent it? Everytime Facebook makes a major change, the posts are littered with complaints that they don't care about the users. If you do things FOR your customers, do they perceive it as patriarchal or an entitlement? Or are you accomplishing significant milestones WITH your customers in the spirit of partnership? Another possibility is doing things AROUND or NEARBY people who may not be your customers now, but are watching your current value PREPOSITION to see if they want to do business with you.

Just some thoughts as we collide coast into our weekend.

I'll Take a Squeeze of History with That Tequila

Margarita Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Time for a couple of Margaritas... a Dos Equis or two (would that make it a quatro equis?). Fiesta!

But why?


You heard me, Gringo: why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Well, we needed an excuse to drink between spring break and the start of summer?

Um... yeah.

I'm sure the Mexicans who fought the Battle of Puebla and defeated the French on May 5, 1862 would be thrilled to know that their sacrifice and bravery was merely an excuse for American libation-consumption.

I had coffee this morning with a good friend and colleage who shared a recent project experience in which one of her colleagues felt slighted because he felt he was being cheated out of hours because the project went a different direction. My friend had to remind him that the REAL REASON for the project was the benefit of the client, NOT his personal gain and ego. We've all had project prima donas who forget about the others out there who benefit from the project.

What about you? Do YOU know the real reasons behind your accomplishments? Or are your projects just another reason to get drunk? (Um... don't answer that. We'll discuss the term "rhetorical question" later.)

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

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