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Friday, November 15, 2013
Volume 19 | # 444
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Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. » General Omar Bradley

Hold the Ice

We don’t get very many snow days in Houston, and when we do, we simply stay home.

But when you’re in the northern, upper, “Are-we-in-Canada-yet?” section of Michigan as I was this week, you may have to drive in the stuff.

I smiled at the familiar refrain I heard from the young lady at the hotel desk as I departed.

She said, “Oh, don’t worry. Folks around here know how to drive in these conditions.”

Of course, any evidence of that kind of statement is usually hard to find. It’s often the locals who are “used to snow conditions” who are the biggest hazards out there.

I have a required-traffic-school record that suggests I’m not the most patient driver in the world. But icy roads “slow my roll”, so to speak.

Novices like me actually de-ice our windows before getting into traffic, drive at speeds that don’t test the limits of kinetic friction, and try to make sure the guys behind us don’t have to test them either.

(It’s fair to say I’m more Swamp People than Ice Road Truckers.)

But to my eye, many “experienced” snowy-conditions drivers take the fact that they haven’t caused a multi-car pileup (this week) as evidence that they are snow-driving-Dale, Jr.’s or something.

In the midst of this, I found myself reflecting on the pros and cons of experience. I thought back to something one of my best friends told me years ago.

He is an attorney and joked that in certain matters, he thinks you’re better off with a rookie lawyer than a seasoned one.

He said, “When you’re new to the business, your eyes are open. You’re scared out of your mind and going over documents with a fine-tooth comb. You don’t miss anything.”

He continued, “It’s the old veterans with lots of experience under their belts who are more likely to skim through and miss something. They’ve seen these things hundreds of times, and their attention to detail may not be there.”

I suppose it is human nature to pay less attention to small details when we become comfortable with our regular routines.

And in some situations, that can be a good thing.

But big opportunities are often missed when we begin to take things for granted.

Make sure that you aren’t going through this week or month on “cruise control.”

Try to take on some of your more familiar tasks with the focus you had when you were still afraid of crashing.

It may be eye opening.

The Pink Princess Protocol

A recent trip with my son to a local mega-colossal-mart had me cringing, laughing, and eventually explaining certain aspects of marketing to him. We were running into the store to pick up a replacement blade for our sidewalk edger.

As we made the left turn towards what is normally the garden section, he said, “Whoa. I don’t think they keep the grass cutting stuff here anymore.” I laughed and agreed.

He then said, “I thought the next holiday was Thanksgiving.”

I suggested that the real money was made on Halloween costumes and decorations… and then Christmas decorations and presents. To most folks, Thanksgiving is now apparently only about overeating and watching a usually bad NFL game.

That entire section of the store had been taken over by Christmas paraphernalia. But no worries, the garden stuff had been relocated to the covered area outside.

When we made our way through those doors, we came upon the largest accumulation of pink princess bicycles I’ve ever seen. (Granted, I haven’t seen all that many… but this one was big.)

There were well over 100 pink bicycles neatly lined up where lawn furniture would normally be. It was an unavoidable, eye-straining sea of pinkness.

My son asked, “You think they’re going to sell all of those pink bikes?” I told him, “Probably. You want one?” (I thought that was funnier than he did.)

For the rest of that trip and into the evening, we joked about pink princess bicycles. And it later dawned on me that the big, incongruent display in that area of the store had grabbed our attention like few things could.

In fact, we walked by hundreds of products and dozens of more “normal” displays without any of them really gaining traction in our conscious.

All of those displays were well-done and in keeping with the holiday theme of the store. They blended nicely.

But that’s not really what you want displays to do, is it?

Sure, if I were explicitly shopping for those particular items, I likely would have noticed them easily enough.

But I wasn’t. And I didn’t.

We’re getting ready to enter the most marketing-saturated season of the year. But much of that marketing will look like everything else around it.

Step back and take a look at your branch(es).

What could your pink princess marketing move be?

Now and then it's good to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy. » Guillaume Apollinaire

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