Broken chain

What if?

Broken chain

People work extremely hard to make ends meet with the hope of getting ahead. While our economy has rebounded, it’s still strained and we continue to have job layoffs and home foreclosures due to job losses and skyrocketing health care costs leaving families destitute.

We work hard to provide for our families, pay our home mortgages, car payments, gas, health benefits, electricity, heating, groceries, clothes, cable, telephone service, college costs, and more. Gas prices have come down in recent months, but still continue to cripple our wallets as oil companies post all-time high profits. The cost of sending our children to college is out of control while there is no improvement to the quality of education. In the nine months that it took my daughter to research a college, apply, get accepted, get her first bill for tuition/room and board, the costs had increased three times. By the time her third year rolled around, costs had increased by 20%. We live in a world where we idolize movie stars, athletes, musicians and celebrities only because they’re famous. And their fame makes them millions every year at our expense.

Everything is fueled by money. Everything. Oil companies who produce the gas for our cars, need our money to exist.  Hollywood stars, athletes and celebrities need our money to exist and the cost of going to the movies, a concert or a ball game is ridiculous.They get multi-million dollar contracts because movie companies, sports franchises and their owners are counting on these bigger than life “heroes” to attract millions of people to see them perform on the screen, on a ball field, at a show. When millions of people go to the movies, concerts, shows or sports events, these companies and celebrities rake in millions and millions of dollars.

So why are costs rising in so many areas? Supply and demand. As long as there is a demand for these things, the institutions that control costs will continue to supply you with what you want and the price they want to affix to it.

What if there was something you could do to reduce the costs of college, buying gas, going to the movies, taking your family to a ball game, or going to a concert? Would you act on it?

I read an article some years ago that stated that if everyone in the United States boycotted the NFL for one day, they would go bankrupt. Just one day. If that’s true, that’s an amazing testimony to the power and influence that people can have. One bee can hurt. A million bees will kill.

What if for one day, no one went to the movies. Not one movie, anywhere. What if for one day, no one attended a professional sporting event ? Not one game, football, baseball, basketball, hockey. Nothing. What if on one day, no one across the US bought gas at all. Not one drop in any city, not in any state. What if next year everyone refused to apply to colleges and Universities across the US? What if students who were enrolled didn’t do back. They just said, “no.”

Radical thoughts? Or a powerful way for consumers to say, I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore! The bottom line is that our unbridled consumption of these goods and services gives companies and institutions permission to charge us whatever they want. Why? Because we continue to consume the same amount of goods regardless of the cost.

It’s time for us as consumers to fight back. One person or a group of people won’t make a dent to change climbing prices. If thousands or millions of people band together and just say no, things will change. Companies and Institutions will be forced to listen.  As a unified people in these United States we will let our voices and our wallets be heard. Remember, one bee will hurt. One million will cause drastic action.

What if our priorities were different? What if more money went into educating our children, to teachers, skilled laborers and everyday hard-working people? What if money went to repair broken cities, turn-around neighborhoods, fight poverty, encourage the arts, help people with life-threatening illnesses and diseases, fix roads or help the homeless? 

Talk to your family members, co-workers, neighbors. Set up websites, blogs, whatever it takes, but let’s unify ourselves to make a difference. Companies, celebrities, sports figures, Wall Street,colleges and all institutions will be forced to listen. Take a stand, make a real difference and fight back until costs are brought under control.

It’s time. I’m ready, are you?

 

 

IMG_0816

Is This Heaven?

Is this heaven?

 

The early July sun made my eyes squint. The air was crisp. The wind gently washes my face as the lull of water swirls below our balcony at our favorite place, the Chippewa Hotel. From my perfect perch on the third floor deck,  I gazed at the breathtaking Catamaran pulling into Arnold’s dock at the pier in Mackinac. The blast of the horn sent the seagulls flying. 

The sun burns through the fog in all it’s glory, and sparkles like diamonds on the water, my coffee is perfect. The hard working team at the Pink Pony, unfold the rows of umbrellas in preparation. I look out at the vastness of water as the hustle of people and boats builds momentum. My work pace begins to fade away from my memory.

The friendly clip-clop of horses filtered through the rumbling of bikes whizzing by. Children giggle and run up to smell the fresh fudge with eyes as wide as saucers, eating ice cream before it melts. The parade of people stroll by, renting bikes, many brought their own.

 My wife and I are ready to start our trip today with our bikes up the long hill past the Grand Hotel, as we pass the stables, make a left and disappear into the serenity of the West bluffs.

We take a breath in with our eyes and look at the boats coursing through the water towards the Mackinac bridge. I feel at home, as I reflect on the little town where I grew up. 

Is this heaven? No, It’s Mackinac Island.  I’m home. Again.

 

 

griffins-pond

SOUNDS OF SILENCE

griffins-pond

As we move through life, we reflect often. We all have a place from our pasts that gave us solitude, a place where you were allowed to just be a kid.  I had one of those places growing up. Located just down the hill from my old elementary school, and up the street from my old house. A place where fond memories were made, a place where I felt safe. Close your eyes, go back in time, when life was innocent and listen to the sounds of silence.

The grass was usually up to my waist in mid-summer. I walked slowly and felt the thick, dry grass tickle my legs. The air blasted like a hot furnace. When I stopped, no air moved,  which magnified the loud, whining, buzz-saw sound of the cicadas. I crept down the foot-wide, dirt path. Griffin’s Pond was nestled at the bottom of the field.

A crooked path circled the pond. A ceiling of tree branches leafed out overhead, and it felt like you were walking in a dark, green tunnel.  Through the towering white pine trees, I glanced at our smoky fire pit waiting for me to return. The burnt remains of sticks mixed with the white pines smelled like old mints.

The thick brush and fat, brown clusters of cat-o-nine tails reflected a mirror image. Green water lilies with tiny, white flowers floated in the muck as dragonflies hovered over the pond like a formation of helicopters. A bullfrog’s head popped up out of the water and stared at me. I saw algae dripping off of his shiny head. Water striders skimmed across the water like miniature pontoon boats leaving a trail behind them.

I sat down on the cool bank of the pond and felt the damp dirt through my jeans. The sun illuminated the shallow water and I peered to the bottom. Clouds of dirt puffed as the sun fish darted by. Minnows gulping for food made a plopping noise and left bubbles on the surface. I pelted the water with a handful of pebbles that swooshed as they tore holes in the algae, disturbing the silence. A box turtle about the size of my hand slid into the water, torpedoed down, and hid under a log. I grabbed a handful of water and slime. It felt like thick soup and smelled like the garbage under our kitchen sink when the lid is off.

The sun danced like sparklers on the water. I squinted my eyes and felt my tan cheeks stretch.Two brown ducks in the tall reeds took off. They flew about five feet above the water where their crystal clear reflections made them look like bags of flour. Their flapping wings blurred like fans. They landed like sea planes halfway across the pond,  hitting the water with the sound of hissing steam. The force of their landing sent waves rippling in every direction. I stood up.

Over the small hill on the far side of the pond, I heard the cars on the parkway zooming by like bees. Their sound wrecked the solitude of the pond. I sat down, and the cars vanished from my sight. I was hidden again from civilization, in my own private world of Griffin’s Pond. I looked at the refections in the water. I closed my eyes, the world went away. Years later, I went back to visit. This time with a blank canvas, paints and brushes. Griffin’s Pond stayed the same as I remembered it, but I had changed. How do you capture a lifetime of memories with a stroke of a brush? One stroke at a time. Can you hear it?  Life was good. 

get_real

Get Real.

get_real

 

We live in a world where we connect and engage by texting, facebook, face time, tweets, blogs, e-mail, smart phones and we are empowered in all things technological. We might feel empowered, and connected but sometimes we’re not. Especially when it comes to family. Sometimes, we really live in an artificial, communication world.

Last weekend in Hamilton Missouri, the town celebrated the  50th anniversary of Northwest Missouri’s Gas & Steam Engine show.  My wife’s grandparents on both sides were the founding fathers of the show. My wife’s family on both sides, and my father in law, were being honored. That, coupled with two family reunions, became my destiny. At first, I wasn’t interested in going because I’m busy running a company, the travel seemed overwhelming, but this was a big deal to my wife.

My father-in- law, has been in a nursing home for a while now and never complains about anything. Probably the nicest person I’ve ever met.His wife, my mother-in-law is in the same home, has severe Alzheimers and unfortunately, wouldn’t be attending.  Knowing that my wife’s parents were aging in their later years, with fragile health and wanting to support my wife, I went.

Mr. big time, ad guy, who’s created ads for American Idol, Toby Keith and Ford,  who lives in a communication world creating awareness,  connecting, engaging, and making impressions. I packed my bags, and drove 13 long hours to Missouri. In a town of approx. 1,700 people and 1.4 square miles, life took on new meaning in the town where the founder of J.C. Penny was born.

 A long dusty road gave way to a large field, brimming with hundreds of steam engines, puffing smoke, cutting wood, making steam, powering tractors of all shapes and sizes over 100 years old- a place where I’d spend 2 days with families gathered, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in- laws, nieces, cousins, 2nd cousins and kids.Friday evening, we rode on a flat bed truck, sitting on hay bales, wearing matching shirts, in a parade honoring my wife’s families. Families cheered us on, clapped as names were announced, and kids ran for candy. On Saturday, there was simple food, real people, where everyone contributed something- sandwiches, salads, beans, veggies, chips, and desserts and lots of love- and they showed it, with a smile, a handshake, a hug, a few pictures, but it didn’t get posted on facebook.

No one was tethered to a smart phone, no texting, facebook – just real people, talking in real time, catching up, reminiscing, laughing, telling stories. The only thing that mattered was that I was family and I was related to them through my wife who they hadn’t seen in years. I watched a tractor pull for hours- Brenda’s Uncle Charlie Moss came in 1st place going 262’ 10” in the 2,500 weight class. I had a lemon shake and it never tasted so good. I drove a steam engine tractor. A 1917 Rumley with no brakes, cast iron wheels, and 1 gear around the large field, and even parked it perfectly.

My father-in-law is legally blind with macular degeneration, but while driving on miles of hilly country roads, he knew every home, a mile apart from one another, the stories of the people who lived there, where he met his wife 65 years ago, were he grew up, where he went to school, and he knew exactly where Tom’s creek would show up on our drive-and it did. He gave new meaning to GPS- his was built in with life’s experiences.

We casually use the phrase “Get Real.” At the end of 2 days, I witnessed that come to life. It reminded me of the importance of real awareness, real face time, real engagement, where blogging meant a clogged fuel line, tweeting was a sound that a bird makes, public speaking was done without trying to convince anyone to buy something or do anything and a smart phone was no phone at all. As I drove the 742 miles home, with each mile slowly transitioning into the world I live in, I pondered that sometimes, real advancement means stopping and taking a step back. Real communication and engagement is one-on-one and personal.

I made a commitment to un-plug more often, to really engage more with loved ones and toget real, once again. I’d encourage all of you to do the same in your way. Maybe tuck your phone away during lunch with family or a friend, at your next meeting or while watching a movie with a loved one.  And if the opportunity ever comes your way, even drive a tractor, at least once. 

911

Made in America.

911

We’ve become desensitized to tragedy as a result of the constant barrage of current events, have become a society who for the most part, is fazed by nothing. On September 11, 2001, all of that changed. In an instant. A day in time when the earth stood still. We all remember where we were that day. We all scrambled to turn on TV’s. We all remember the shock, the numbness of watching planes hitting the World Trade Center, our World Trade Center, and watching them collapse. Over and over, and over. It was called “Ground Zero” and America had hit rock bottom.

We knew this was different. We knew we would remember this one. This was big. This one event so horribly cut through our mental clutter, and we all knew it. The U.S had been attacked on our turf. Those bastards. The numbness, the shock, the outrage, the confusion, the search for answers, the thirst for revenge. Our landscape had changed forever. Where mighty pillars once stood towering upward, were huge gaping holes in the sky. As if the Grand Canyon went away. This made us stop, this made us pray.That day, family bickering in the U.S. was put on hold. No special effects movie, this was real, no rewind or delete at the push of a button.

Things that seemed hugely important became totally insignificant in a flash. A country who only the day before, was so preoccupied in the fast lane, had suddenly come to a screeching halt. We stopped flying, I still have my cancelled ticket to Portland for September 12. Wall Street stopped, we held onto our money, just in case. We stayed home, only bought the essentials, we were afraid. When you looked up, there were no jets and no network of crisscrossed smoke trails.  Just sky, clouds and silence.

We were all in the uncomfortable position of becoming potential casualties in a war in which we have little role to play. As rescue workers dug through mountains of twisted steel, concrete and glass, we gave blood. We sent supplies and grasped at the overwhelming task of thinking what we could do to help. Terrorism is not about bombs. It’s purpose is to invoke fear, disrupt our psyche, to create the thought of terror, always. The attack didn’t break the American spirit as intended. It did just the opposite, it rekindled it. As our nation went to war, we stood up and dusted ourselves off. We went back to basics. We became spiritual again.

Family was our primary focus. We talked to neighbors, we went to churches, synagogues, places of worship and waved to strangers, just because. We were no longer white, black, Christian, Jewish, Asian, Hispanic or Muslim. We weren’t rich or poor, Democrats, or Republicans. We were Americans. In a country with fallen heroes, we had new appreciation for firefighters, police, emergency workers and our neighbors.

Remember the Grinch who stole Christmas? One of my favorites. The Grinch took every present from the Who’s in Whoville, everything they owned, to the last crumb of bread, to break their Christmas spirit. How did the Who’s react? They gathered in a circle, held hands and sang, “just the same.” And the Grinchs’ response? “They did it without ribbons. They did it without tags. They did it without packages, boxes or bags!” So here we are, twelve years later with an anniversary to commemorate the fallen.

I’ll leave you with this. The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and thanks to this, we manage to endure the burdens of the past. In our driving quest for political favorites, career success, beating our competition, and rising to the top, let’s make sure that we don’t plow ahead with such fierce determination, that we don’t stop to smell the roses, to tell our families that we love them, to appreciate that we live in a great country in spite of our differences, with heroes alive and dead and just for the heck of it, wave to a stranger, just because.

BENEFITS vs FEATURES and BUYING MOTIVES: Learn the Difference

Here’s an interesting FACT: In a recent survey, almost no business owners understood the difference between Features and Benefits in advertising.This is one of the main reasons most small-business owners marketing efforts don’t work. So, what’s the result of not knowing? Small-business owners only communicate the features of their product or service and NEGLECT TO MENTION THE BENEFITS. That’s not good because features don’t sell, benefits SELL!

FEATURES are factual statements about a product or service being promoted. When you promote only the features, you’re making your customer do all of the work to figure out what’s in it for them?

However, a BENEFIT answers the question “What’s in it for me?” The best way to truly understand the true benefit of your product or service is to FOCUS ON THE RESULTS OF THE BENEFIT. It’s critically important to apply this thinking to your business.

You have to know your customer to effectively communicate to them. For demographics, I recommend gathering as much data as possible: age, sex, household income, family size, media preferences. Equally important are your customer’s psychographics: Their value system, hot buttons, behavior style, fears and passions.

Next, list the features of your product or service and ask yourself – Why does this feature matter to my customer? When you dicover that, you’ll start thinking about how to communicate with that in mind. And finally, what problem or concern can this feature address for my customer? When you can address a problem or conern and offer a solution, you’ll get your customer’s attention.

We have to think in terms of results. When you think of the RESULTS of the BENEFIT, the situation becomes much clearer to your customer. When you use the RESULTSapproach to discovering your business’ benefits, the marketing messages you use to reach your customers will be RIGHT ON TARGET. This will motivate your customer to take action which is exactly what you are motivating them to do.

For more information on how your message can impact your customers, contact George Piliouras at george@gpiliourasandassoc.com or call him at 313- 595-1897. Plus visit www.gpiliourasandassoc.com to see how George Piliouras & Associates can help market and advertise your business to greater success. 

SPEAKING WON’T KILL YOU

In my career, I discovered that one of the key ingredients to being extremely influential in business was my ability to speak with authority, conviction and to make a passionate connection with my clients. I developed a presentation style filled with excitement, passion and enthusiasm which kept me in top demand with clients.

Did you know that more people fear speaking in public more than death? It doesn’t have to be that way. We live in a world where we communicate by texting, Facebook, tweets, blogs, e-mail, and on our cell phones, where we are empowered in all things technological. One thing hasn’t changed. The ability to communicate effectively, speak with authority and present powerfully in meetings is still in high demand in all businesses.

Powerful speaking and presentation skills have proven benefits in the competitive world of business. Professionals of all ages, who master great communication skills get remembered , desired, plus get ahead in business. That’s a fact.

To be successful in presenting, it’s important to learn the critical steps to overcome fear, build confidence, and develop proven skills in powerful communications. Key ingredients to successfully speaking in public are overcoming obstacles, being fully prepared, and discovering your unique personality. You can transform your ability to speak with enthusiasm, clarity, and passion, while engaging your audience.

Words are powerful, stories impact an audience, and using personal stories can be used to wow your audience. From my experience, here are some important areas to consider when speaking in public with confidence.

  • Overcome fear in presenting to an audience
  • Present ideas with conviction.
  • Understand and respect your audience
  • Speak with dynamics that will engage your audience
  • Learn how to use personal “stories” and weave them into your presentation
  • Learn the importance of body language, relaxing, and eye contact
  • Bring your presentations to life
  • Make your topics colorful, exciting and interesting
  • Understand your room dynamics
  • Have a winning, positive attitude when you speak
  • Communicate for success and be in total control
  • Practice, practice, practice

“George is one of the most dynamic presenters I have ever witnessed in my 30 years in this business. I have watched George sell ideas to thousands of Ford Dealers and he’s always been successful. This particular group are some of the best sales people in the world and for him to wow them the way he has is remarkable.”                       – Bob McClowry, Executive Vice President, Teamdetroit.

If your company needs to motivate your teams to learn how to present to clients with great success, I offer group and/or one-on-one coaching. Check out our press release and call to start your teams on the road to speaking success. It won’t kill them, promise.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010motivationalspeaker/07dynamicpresentation/prweb4310234.htm

Detroit. WINNING.

Detroit, going through tough times, digging our heels in, working hard to rebound, on the move. Our great city is filled with a proud pasts, tons of talent, and great hopes for a bright future. Detroit is transparent, the whipping boy of the media for so long, but everyone loves a winner. Which is why we all knew what Eminem meant when he said, “This is what we do.” We’re tough, we’re weathered, we know hard work, and don’t take lightly, people who try to take advantage of the underdog. Not us. So the big question is why Charlie Sheen, deemed Detroit a target market for his “performance.” Does he think that Detroiter’s know the true worth of his talent? Does he think that Detroit will understand and sympathize with him, after all, we know what it feels to be an underdog, right? Or does he think we’re that starved for media attention that he can simply walk in here, make an announcement, create an act of self-defiance, and we’ll line up to pay to watch him self-destruct, with our hard-earned money as we struggle to stay in our homes? Would Detroit, pay a multi-millionaire cry-baby, who trashed his career, along with his cast and crew, because he has no self-control? A guy who is fighting for custody of his children so they can be in the care of his goddesses, or porn stars, as described in the dictionary?  Or, is Detroit smarter than that? I hope so. It’s an insult to Detroit to welcome him here, celebrity style. Detroit is made up of real winners. People who know hard work, and work hard to right wrongs of the past. WINNING! True underdogs who have pride and don’t allow fakes and posers to take advantage of our work ethic. Which is why Detroit should send a loud message to Charlie Sheen and boycott his “performance.” Chrysler’s new line is perfect, “Imported from Detroit.” Which is why Charlie Sheen should be exported from Detroit.

So what’s new?

This past few months have been a blur. New assignments, new clients, new awareness and creative directed a book cover that’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Very new.  Also new, George Piliouras & Associates were recently awarded with a Sunrise Pinnacle Award for “Best of the Best” in Advertising and Marketing for 2010. It was a great honor to be recognized by our peers in the business, so what else is new? We also celebrated our 2 year anniversary which is a great accomplishment. It’s hard to believe that I lived a life as an Executive Creative Director for a global ad agency for so many years. Very rewarding, worked on very cool stuff, but there is a vibrancy of owning your own business that is so far, unmatched. That is truly new.

So what else is new? We live in a communications landscape that changes every minute, every day, and it can put you on overload if you let it. The secret is to digest it in pieces and keep it simple. No matter what we’re messaging, people can only handle so much marketing, advertising and communications without tuning you out. They can and they will. Think about it this way. If you went to best restaurant, with the best food and ate too much, you’d still throw up. So keep your messages simple, keep storytelling alive, don’t lecture and encourage a conversation with your audience and create ideas that are outstanding. New technology is great, but if your messages are boring, no one will pay attention. That’s not new.

360 Thinking

Do you use 360 degree thinking when marketing or advertising your business? If yes, good for you. If not, why not or better yet, do you know what 360 degree thinking is? In the past, advertisers dictated to a captive audience. Advertisers spoke, people listened. TV campaigns had radio spots to go along and prints ads that followed. Now, we live in a world with people on the go constantly and the consumers are in total control of the media. In 360 degree thinking, the idea is the central component and all other media stem from that. Websites, blogs, twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Banners, all things digital, newsletters, press releases, radio, webinars, tv, outdoor and the list goes on. There is no one way to market and advertise, but a multitude of ways. Then, all of the different media have to have consistency and continuity to one another so your company brand is speaking from one voice. Make sense? Big ad agencies know this and offer these kinds of resources to clients. But not everyone can afford the big agencies so what’s out there for the other clients who need that kind of thinking but don’t have the big budgets?

If you have different sources performing these communication functions for you without a central, creative point of view to make your message and imaging unified, “Houston, we have a problem!” Your messages will be all over the place, one won’t know what the other is doing and when and your branded look will be a mess. What the solution?

George Piliouras & Associates offers Big Agency Thinking and Ideas without the Big Agency cost. Prior to opening George Piliouras & Associates, I was the Executive Creative Director at J.Walter Thompson advertising. I understand what it takes to stand out in the market, I successfully help our clients enjoy the creative and marketing benefits of the big agency experience, but I do it at a fraction of the cost. How do I do that? Check out our website at http://www.gpiliourasandassoc.com. Check out what we’ve done, check out what we do, check out what people like Toby Keith had to say , then call me.

Post any thoughts or comments below, we’d love to hear from you.