Small-scale Public Art Makes a Big Statement About Place

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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I stay sane (somewhat) when I travel by walking every morning , no matter what city I am in. Some I visit more often than others. Sometimes there are great gaps between visits and it’s fun to see the changes and evolution, either good or bad, these places go through. This morning it was Tacoma. It was my first time back in almost a year. The changes were evident, and not just because the economy has improved. There were still a number of downtown storefronts that were empty, vacant for what appeared to be some time.     Read More

Paying it Forward Shows up in Unexpected Places

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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And maybe that’s the point. Like tucked in the rim of a Life is good ball cap in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. When shopping a week ago for an inspirational pick-me-up for my brother Richard, who’s going through a tough time, I discovered this $5 bill tucked in the rim of a mustard-colored hat displayed on a hat holder. Not one that was on the table and more likely to be picked up, but the one on the display rack, placed there intentionally. I checked it for size, pulling back the rim, and viola. The folded $5 bill fell out into my hand.     Read More

Fourth of July—an intersection of community

Thursday, July 3, 2014

As a Canadian living in the US the first week of July is always a great experience. July 1st is Canada Day, the day my home country achieved independence from England (in 1867), and July 4th is of course, well July 4th, or as I hear most people refer to it, simply "the 4th". Both holidays share many things in common. A day off work. Fun outdoor summertime food and drink. National anthems. Flags hung on front porches. Parades. Fireworks. Friends and family getting together.     Read More

Keep up with the comps? Or create a new path?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Plenty of business travel = many hotel nights. One flag is much like the other, and in fact most times on check-in I forget which loyal customer card to pull out. Free WIFI, free bottled water, complimentary made-to-order breakfasts, free morning newspaper. Whatever it is, the hotel world suffers from conspicuous competition.     Read More

The writing life.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A few weeks ago I cleaned out the final remnants of my high school, university and early adult life from an old trunk they'd been occupying in my parents' house in Canada. Memories came to technicolor life, some excruciatingly happy, some brutally sad. Some big wins, and some real losses. Each one of these remnants, I can see now, have made me who I am. Every weakness, flaw, imperfection. Every wish and hope.     Read More

Life according to a Tunisian cab driver in Chicago

Friday, November 8, 2013

This morning in a cab on my way to meet my dear friend Kathy Cecilian for breakfast in Chicago I had one of those moments drop into my life that for a brief moment in time make me stop, take note, and think of things completely differently. I take a lot of cabs in my travels, and am threatening to write a book about the stories many of the men and women who have driven me through cities all over the country have shared. You can learn a lot in 20 minutes in a cab with a total stranger. Today was one of those most precious times.     Read More

We're all customers. How "salesy" can you really take?

Thursday, June 27, 2013
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Today I had the amazing pleasure of visiting a community we opened in Tampa, FL about 8 months ago. First, I am here to tell you, the housing market is back. People want to buy homes and they are excited to do it. The building activity is great, and we are accelerating Phase 2.     Read More

Lessons learned from Lucas (the best dog ever) who left us 5 years ago today.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Five years ago today we said sad goodbyes to Lucas, the best dog ever. My sweet precious boy, when diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, had just one month left to teach me some of the most important lessons ever. Lucas knew these intimately and lived them every day. I am still his student. Five years later, I've still got much work to do. An encore re-post in honor of his sweet sweet soul, shining eyes and easy smile.     Read More

Playing to the pets—for real.

Thursday, October 18, 2012
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Check this out, proudly displayed in the lobby of The Curtis Hotel in Denver. This is an amazing and fun example of a hotel brand embracing the oft-forgotten four-legged members of the family. They don't just "accept" dogs. They celebrate them.     Read More

A New Brand Promise in Subtle Change in Job Titles

Monday, June 18, 2012
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This morning was week two in a row of east coast travel, on Delta Airlines, and probably the seventh or eighth week this year alone on the same 8am departure from San Diego to Atlanta, to then connect to points east. So I know this was the first time I've heard a subtle difference in how the Delta team working the flight refers to themselves.     Read More

You can tell a lot about a city by how it lives at night

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
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When the night is up and the lights are down in the downtown core of any city in the world, its true self shows. Seattle. On a very windy Tuesday night in January. The district between Belltown, and Pike Place Market.     Read More

Do you create "bragging rights" for your customers?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lunch break reading today—the Sept. 26th issue of Advertising Age, and a story about auto branding at the German auto show in Frankfurt. Feeling good about the grapefruit I'm eating, my eye catches the subhead: HELPING CUSTOMERS BOND WITH THE BRAND.     Read More

Strong brands know it's as much about what you won't do, as what you will.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lately I've had more conversations than ever with people launching a new business and creating a new brand, or trying to revive and re-position a tired brand. I'm taking it as a sign of our improving economy. And I love the dialogue because so many people, some very successful in business, see "brand" as a marketing thing. It's the logo, right? Or it's the color of their website, that matches the color on their business card. Or it's just that we need a new company story, right? That's the easy part—that's just the skin you show the world.     Read More

Look outside your industry ... how do you stack up?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spent some time today on a call with our team in Tampa, working on the customer experience we want to deliver in our new community, planned to open in mid-2012. We tossed around the usual notions of how to encourage customers to sign up with us, online and in person, so we can learn more about their home and community preferences.     Read More

Open for business

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
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I had an early appointment this morning before work, and arrived just in time to see the person I was meeting with arrive at her shop. She unlocked her gate, upon which hung a wooden 2-sided sign, "Open/Closed". She flipped it over and the day began.     Read More