22Apr/110

Imagination

Posted by Terry

What is the imagination? We treat it like a thing, or perhaps a switch in our brains that turns on the idea engine. Whatever it is, it is certainly useful, which is a shame because most people keeps theirs firmly switched off, with a big red ‘do not touch’ sign on it.

Imagination is the foundation of creativity. Without it  - nothing happens, nothing advances, nothing is invented. The basis of growth (personally or professionally) depends on how your imagination is applied to the problems you face. So, what do some of history's biggest "imagineers" have to say about the subject? Here are some excellent viewpoints:

"It is often said that men are ruled by their imaginations; but it would be truer to say they are governed by the weakness of their imaginations."  Walter Bagehot

"The human race is governed by its imagination."  Napoleon Boneparte

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."  Thomas Edison

"Logic will get you from A to B, Imagination will take you everywhere."  A. Einstein

"The facility of imagination is both the rudder and the bridle of the senses."  Leonardo Da Vinci

"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination."  John Dewey

"The Possible’s slow fuse is lit by the Imagination."  Emily Dickinson

"Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future."  Charles F. Kettering

"Never before has the gap between what we can imagine and what we can accomplish been smaller."  Gary Hamel

‘You can’t do it unless you imagine it."  George Lucas

18Apr/110

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From…Oscar Wilde

Posted by Terry

Every now and then it is helpful (at least to me) to look back at some of the wisdom of the ages to remind myself how far off track I am in pursuit of a goal or goals.

No matter whether that confusion is about personal issues or associated with business, it is always good to remember that these things have been dealt with before and that some pretty smart folks have offered up great advice if we‘ll just follow it:

“If you reach for the stars, you might not quite get one, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either.”  Leo Burnett

 

“It is not enough to take a step which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.”   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

“It’s a funny thing about life:  If you don’t refuse to accept anything but the very best, you will often get it.”  W. Somerset Maugham

 

“In the long run, men only hit what they aim for.”  Henry David Thoreau

 

“Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

 

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.”  Cecil B. De Mille

And, from my favorite writer, social gad-about-town and raconteur . . .

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”  Oscar Wilde

Please share some of your favorite “words of wisdom.” You never know what positive path you might be helping someone define.

14Apr/110

Fact Checking is for Wimps

Posted by Jennifer

Last month The Yes Men issued a statement supposedly from G.E. stating the company was donating the entirety of its $3.2 billion tax refund back to the federal government. The release, issued on official-looking G.E. stationery, was picked up by The Associated Press and USA Today, which then pulled its story and ran another on the fact that AP got duped.

The Yes Men even went to the trouble of creating a website that looked like a legitimate G.E. site and included a link in the release.

The news business is fast and furious. In this 24-hour news cycle there is constantly something breaking (even if it's just that The Biebs got his bangs cut). This pace certainly means human error could be a factor in misspellings and other typos.

But releasing a completely false story? What happened to fact checking? The reporters I work with (the good ones, anyway) check and double check information before submitting a story. Dates, names and phone numbers - nothing is too small.

Know why? Because those reporters are held accountable for the mistakes. And it's not pretty when they make too many of them.

How does a completely bogus story slip through the cracks at two of the most elite news organizations in the country? Hey, USA Today, you ever think about calling the company? Hey, AP, ever think about asking around a little? A $3.2 billion donation to the federal government didn't strike you as a TAD more generous than G.E. had ever been in the past?

To quote Charlie Brown: good grief.

13Apr/110

Ideas at Home

Posted by Roger

I just completed Bill Bryson’s latest book: At Home: A Short History of Private Life.

I have read most of his work and enjoy his whit and humor. His attention to detail and fact finding is terrific. I recommend Baby Boomers start with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. I laughed out loud in portions remembering doing some of the exact things he references in the book.

In At Home, he takes us through his house and describes the history of each room with great detail and in unexpected ways. He touches on those things that impact the life we live and enjoy today.

I am fascinated with the inventions, ideas and people who changed the world. He offers up many things I didn’t know or even think about. So, for the next few months, I'm going to highlight some of the most fascinating things I took away from this book. In no way will it replace reading it...you should still do that. But, I hope these little tidbits will interest you just like they did me...

Lets start with corn. That’s right, corn.

Without this staple we would have no corn dogs, popcorn balls, corn fritters, creamed corn or corn on the cob. Not to mention soft drinks, chewing gum, ice cream, peanut butter, paint, gunpowder, insecticides or bio-fuels.

The amazing thing about corn is that it was engineered by the Mesoamericans. They created the first engineered plant. Corn depends on us for survival. Had people not been continually caring for it, it would be extinct.

So when we think of big ideas, not many are more important than an ear of corn. There is no more significant plant on earth. Pretty good idea.

More to come.

13Apr/110

Rat Fink. Stoolie. Canary. Millionaire.

Posted by Jessica

No one likes a tattletale…except, of course, the IRS. An accountant in Philadelphia recently received $4.5 million for tipping off the IRS that his employer was skimping on taxes. The accountant’s tip netted the IRS $20 million in taxes and interest from a delinquent financial-services firm. The Philadelphia accountant was the first to receive the “Whistleblower Award” because few people are aware that the award exists and it’s an arduous process for the award to actually come to fruition. The IRS hopes that this incentive will encourage more people to squeal on possible tax-evaders and views the Whistleblower Award as a sort of weapon against tax cheats and Wall Street crooks. The process necessary to win the Whistleblower Award can be time-consuming and laborious so you should begin delving into suspicious financial activity as soon as possible if you want to become a millionaire!

 

12Apr/110

Target Your Marketing for Cost Savings

Posted by Terry

Women and healthcare choice – you have an 80% chance of getting it right.

At the recent Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit in Orlando, FL, healthcare strategist Gabrielle DeToro suggested that packaging healthcare services for women can create a strong value proposition for the entire family.

Not surprisingly, women make 80% of the family’s health care decisions. Limiting your target market to “the” decision maker can save you money and improve your marketing campaign’s delivery efficiency.

7Apr/110

Buy low, sell high…after you check Twitter.

Posted by Emily

Social networking is taking over yet another facet of our lives – according to Timm Sprenger, a German doctoral student: Twitter could potentially replace expensive terminals.

Sprenger has analyzed more than 250,000 tweets during a six-month period and found that by using stock market news solely from the microblogging site, an investor could have made a 15% return – which is far better than any bank interest rate OR the rate people get by using an expensive analyst.

Sprenger is now utilizing his research to create a site that crowdsources information and prioritizes stock market news by how frequently it’s retweeted.

5Apr/110

Oxford Dictionary Adds “OMG” and <3 to the Ranks

Posted by Jennifer

Last month the Oxford English Dictionary added "OMG," "OED" and the heart symbol to the ranks of such words as "onomatopoeia." Wonder if they're listed next to "ridiculous." OED? Really!?!

The last time I checked, the dictionary was supposed to define words...not acronyms.

And when did the Oxford English Dictionary start referring to itself like a bad teen drama on The WB?

Call me old fashioned, but I didn't complain when they added "D'oh!" - a reference to the ultra-popular Fox animated series The Simpsons.

While I might begin to question the need for "bromance," "hockey mom," and "staycation" in our (supposedly) most hallowed of word-defining tomes, does LBD (little black dress) or BFF (best friends forever) really need a dictionary listing?

Perhaps Oxford should develop a dictionary for pop culture references or to help unwitting parents decode their teen/tween's text messages. But they don't belong in the Oxford English Dictionary. Oh, pardon me...the OED.

*note: links go to www.oed.com main page, as a subscription is required to access the online book.

1Apr/110

News Release 101

Posted by Terry

News release mistakes can turn a positive spin into a communications hiccup. These may seem like simple considerations to avoid, but reporters won’t take a second look before tossing your release if it qualifies with these infractions:

1. Language is too glowing regarding the subject matter. Stick to the hard facts. If it sounds as though the product or service is being editorialized, the information may lose its credibility.

2. Contriving a hook. Creating a hook for your release is a good idea...as long as it is relevant, creative and makes sense. Nothing will kill credibility with an reporter faster than a week or contrived hook.

3. The setup is too lengthy. Get to the point and get there quickly. Who, what, when, where and why. Don’t make the reader “fish” for the salient information. Remember your inverted pyramid. Give them the basics in the first paragraph.

4. Feigning familiarity with a publication or journalist. Don’t act as though you know the journalist or editor you are submitting your release to if you actually don’t know them. The insincerity of your greeting will translate directly to the release content and will likely result in it being tossed with yesterday’s news.

5. Proofing Errors. All content must be accurate. Period. Proofing errors are an instant deal killer for many reporters. Not to mention the poor reflection on you as a professional. Along those lines, make sure you’re up on your AP Style. They just made some changes to long-standing rules, and you need to know ‘em.

   
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