Remember “air quotes”? Still in use and when you see it, still pretty dumb.

So, to my dismay (as it should be to everyone’s dismay), air quotes (finger quotes, ersatz quotes) has been replaced by the pervasive #hashtag.

In the quest to be super hip, hashtags have become the new communication tool. Tool it is. (It makes sense on Twitter, I get that.)

I’m receiving emails, regular business emails mind you, laced with hashtags. #WTF? Did everyone forget how to communicate? Are we all reduced to acronyms, abbreviations and other nefarious degradation of the English language?


I leave you with Chris Farley. He puts air quotes into perspective. Soon, everyone using hashtags regularly will look as #amazing.


You’re Going the Wrong Way

wrong way sign.jpg

A long time ago, before there were cell phones, I was driving home and as I came to the stop sign on the exit ramp, a little old lady was turning onto the exit ramp, maneuvering to get around me.

I honked and flashed my lights, and she stopped. I rolled down my window and said, “You’re going the wrong way!”

She smiled and nodded, “Yes, I know, I know!” Then she proceeded to enter the freeway.

Fortunately, there was a 7-Eleven right near the exit with a working pay phone. 911 calls were free, which was good because I didn't have any change.

I called the police, gave them a description of the car and driver, and they said they’d look for her.

I didn’t see anything on the 11pm news that night, so I guess the little old lady must have made it to where ever she was headed – safely.

A couple things come to mind in this story:
 - Someone was going the wrong way, who was in danger to herself and others, and I tried to intervene. Unsuccessful at that, I took the next step to get someone else – who had more authority and greater resources – to take over.
 - The technology of the times (this was 1982) was not immediate. I had to get to a working phone, make the call and wait until news at 11 to find out if she made the headlines. Fortunately, she did not.

This is relative to the way we do things today.

In advertising / marketing, everything is immediate. We operate trauma-esque centers that create and transmit messages to consumers at alarming rates, and at a volume where it all gets lost in the blur. Technology has allowed us to do a lot more – faster than ever.

How can you increase volume and speed safely – without errors?

In an agency or in-house marketing department, we put processes in place because of the speed at which we’re traveling in 2013.

We must to take those steps – in order – to ensure a good outcome. It’s like putting up a Wrong Way sign at the freeway off-ramp. They are reminders, and should be no-brainers. Yet, some people choose to ignore them.

Then we have to call the cops to apprehend those who don’t follow the most basic of rules.

Technology has allowed us to travel at warp speed, and gives us the tools to perform and respond more effectively. Process provides the rules so you don’t crash.

And when you disobey the rules of process, your Project Manager pulls you over.

Life is so much easier if you just follow the basic rules.

Listen to Complaints

We know the adage that if you listen to a complaint you become part of the problem. The problem with that thinking is that complainers still complain. And make life difficult for those around them. And hold up progress.

But on the flip-side, they may have a valid complaint. Maybe there is something wrong, we’re not looking at it the right way (their way), or they actually have a suggestion for an improvement but no one is listening.

And then again, there are chronic complainers. That’s for another post.

When I work with a client, I like to get right into the complaint department. The fastest way to solve a problem is to find out what is wrong. Listen without preconceived ideas (such as – this person is NEVER happy), and get all that stuff out of the way. If there is something wrong, assess it and address it. It may be one of the Trifecta of Issues: process, tools or people.

Process can be modified (do get everyone compliant on the program). Most issues are with those who skirt process and cause others to have to either cover the gap or run around trying to figure out what’s going on.

Tools you use can be a huge issue. Just like process, get everyone using the same tools – the same way. Consistency is key to ensure everyone has access to ALL the information.  There could be issues with tools like software that isn’t configured right or hard to use – or staff was never properly trained to use it. (My pet peeve).

People is often the tough one. Once expectations are clear, training is done, and everyone understands what and how they should work – those who don’t want to work with the program will surface quickly. Those who don’t understand will surface as well. Not everyone is cut out to be a PM or producer. And as I truly believe, this is not a job for beginners.

In the end, experienced staff should be able to manage work without complaints (other than the minor daily crap). If complainers continue, check the top two items (process and tools), then address the third item. Hear them out, and provide them with an opportunity to fix their attitude.  Without the fix, they demoralize everyone around them. Keep in mind, there are a lot of great, experienced people who would love to work for you – without complaint.