Thoughts on the Year Past and the One Ahead
First, Happy New Year to all!
We at the Right Brain Studio are celebrating the new year with a new look. I hope that you’ll visit our refreshed website and let us know what you think!
I, for one, am delighted to be back to work and look forward to another new year. It would seem that a lot of others are as well. For most people I know, 2016 couldn’t have ended soon enough. But will 2017 be any better?
As the new year is always a good time for introspection, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my own personal situation, to the craziness of what is going on in the U.S. and around the world, and how they relate. We marketers should be doing this throughout out the year, continuously reassessing both our personal brands and those we work on professionally.
There are never easy answers in life and marketing, especially in such uncertain times. It would be wonderful to provide you with some highly focused, sage advice and direction for the new year, but I am having some difficulty pining down exactly how I feel. Is there reason for hope? Or are we doomed to a year of political and social upheaval that will drag down the economy and our marketing efforts?
After careful consideration, I thought the only thing to do would be to write two, perfectly objective, balanced points of view from which you can choose.
I’m Okay and That’s All That Matters
Other than the imminent destruction of the planet, the end of American democracy and the onset of our slow descent into violence and ruin, I had a really good year.
A great year, in fact, one of my best ever! It was my best year in business since the Great Recession. Doors opened to me. There were new clients won, the return of some that lapsed, and 2017 is looking good. Intellectual, business and personal horizons also opened through my appointment as Adjunct Professor at USC. Life is good!
What difference does it possibly make if the world is going to hell in a hand basket? It’s God’s plan and we can’t do anything about it anyway, right? We really couldn’t expect freedom, prosperity and clean air forever, could we?
The important thing is that I’m okay. I’m making money, playing golf, dating beautiful women and enjoying some very fine meals in the best restaurants that L.A. and New York have to offer. And I know that I can count on the power of free markets, low taxes and removing those business crushing regulations to make life better.
Fortunately for me, I will likely be more than comfortable for the rest of my life. I may not be in the top 1%, but not that far away, either. Yes, membership has its privileges! Let the middle and lower classes suffer. The important thing is that my taxes are going down! How great is that? I’ll be able to take that extra European vacation next year! More hour-and-half-long massages! More classes at Soul Cycle! Maybe I’ll hire a personal yoga instructor and a meditation coach. What could possibly be more important than my own personal enrichment?
Let them eat tainted meat! Let them eat Twinkies for that matter! If the supermarkets and are stupid enough to sell food that’s going to kill people, then let ‘em! A few deaths from the Safeway hamburgers and we’ll see how many people shop at Safeway then! And why would I care anyway? I’m smart enough to buy only farm-to-table, grass fed, organic beef from Whole Foods.
As for my business, I must be doing something right. So I’ll just keep focusing on me. Do I really care about what my clients want as long as the checks keep coming in?
My advice to our clients is to follow my lead. Empathy is completely overrated. Our new role model is the President-Elect. Just keep telling your customers how great you are. They’re gullible and they don’t care about the truth. Just project power and they’ll be attracted to you! Most important, don’t think about the long term. Just do what’s right today, for that’s all that matters. People have short memories, so don’t sweat any of the small stuff.
Feel the Pain. Aspire to Truth, Transparency and Understanding.
People are upset, uncertain and worried. Many of us are worrying about our personal safety for the first time in our lives. I am old enough to remember the regular air raid drills conducted in elementary school during the height of the Cold War. (As if ducking and covering would save your ass if the Soviets dropped the big one on us!) It wasn’t a good feeling then, and what’s going on now doesn’t feel any better. A renewed arms race, trade wars, terrorists killing innocent people everywhere aren’t helping us sleep any better at night.
Objectively, life is good for many of us, maybe even most of us. But a lot of people are hurting and feeling helpless. For everyone else, even if you’re not struggling, the feelings of anger and frustration are visceral.
Let’s start the year by making a difference where we live and work. Let’s try, as best we can, to put aside politics and personal differences and get along better. Are you making recommendations because they make you look good, or because they’re the right thing to do for your company and your colleagues? Are you taking all the credit or are you acknowledging your colleagues in a generous way? Are you thinking about tomorrow or the longer-term impact of your actions?
Are you dismissive of people who don’t agree with you? Do you honor your customers or feel superior to them, thinking of them simply as “targets” to manipulate?
Much of what is going on at the global and national levels is out of our control. So let’s do our best to make a positive impact wherever and whenever we can.
Let’s be humble in 2017. Our products may be great, but let’s not brag too much. Better to let our customers know that we get them, feel their pain, and want to improve their lives, even if it’s in a very small way.
Most of us don’t sell life changing, transformative products. Wheat Thins, tasty as they are, will not change the world. But maybe Wheat Thins ads can demonstrate the little pleasures of their product and make us smile. And perhaps a small percentage of the money made from Wheat Thins can directly help make the world better.
For that matter, the money earned by The Right Brain Studio can also help. So I am inviting my readers and clients to suggest charities or causes to which we will commit ongoing contributions. Let’s not be political here. I hope you’ll consider causes such as feeding the world, children’s issues, helping the poor, education or creating opportunities for upward mobility. Each month, we pledge to donate a percentage of our revenues.
Let us know what you think! Which approach do you favor? And if you choose the latter, please send us your suggestions. I will post our decision on our website soon.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness in the New Year.
Linda JacksonPosted at 11:43h, 03 January
Love the new site and your commitment to charitable donations! I suggest the K.IN.D. Fund (Kids in Need of Desks) http://www.msnbc.com/kind-fund
Jean-Pierre LacroixPosted at 08:15h, 04 January
Hey Jeff, great website (finally!) and a position statement that truly…connects the dots of the value you provide. I also look forward to reading your book when its finished. Best success in 2017 and hope to have the opportunity of working together again this year.
jbhirschPosted at 15:05h, 04 January
Thank you JP!
ZairaPosted at 10:40h, 04 January
Definitely align with the latter. Congrats on all your continued success and the website refresh – looks awesome!
Ellen CoxPosted at 11:07h, 04 January
Hi, Jeff. Love the latest blog. Here’s a thought for your donations. Gandhi is often quoted as having said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Those with whom we share this Earth and who have no voice in its care and maintenace are often forgotten in charitable-giving decisions. Perhaps a donation to the ASPCA…a good, national organization. Or the Animal Legal Defense Fund (pursues cruelty cases and legislation).. Other animal-related charities are listed at: https://animalcharityevaluators.org/research/charity-review/mercy-for-animals/. (I’d not suggest HSUS as too much of their money goes to promoting themselves v. helping animals..) Looking forward to the new year…and, perhaps, another opportunity to work together.
jbhirschPosted at 15:05h, 04 January
Thank you Ellen!
Sue GartzmanPosted at 06:08h, 05 January
Great post. Please check out http://www.curtscafe.org. Can’t say enough good things about what Susan Trieschmann is doing with this fantastic program.
jbhirschPosted at 14:46h, 06 January
Thank you Sue!