College graduates — stop listening to your parents and professors!

June 14, 2010

Henderson-Dollar At least stop listening to those parents and professors who still believe it's 1980.

As you might imagine…this is the time of year when we get bombarded with resumes, calls and college graduate drop ins — all looking for their first job.  I remember how frustrating my search was.  Everyone wanted someone with experience…which of course, no one would give me!

I've spoken to several college classes and many a recent grad over the past couple months and I can tell you without a doubt that most of them are going about finding a job all wrong.

And sadly, this is due to the tutelage of their well meaning parents and some out of touch professors. 

Entry level jobs are not won with marbled resume paper and cover letters that tell employers how much you like people.  And…you should not tell me that you're going to call to schedule an appointment.  That's sort of my job.  If I want to actually meet you.   And seriously — spell check.

I wrote a post outlining what I would do if I were looking for a marketing job today.  (click on the link to check it out) Even if you aren't interested in marketing — most of it still applies.

But bottom line — you need to get our attention.  And the standard resume/cover letter combo isn't going to cut it.  You have to do something to stand out, to be noticed and most important — to be remembered.

The photo above is a little something I got in the mail from job seeker Kurt Henderson.  The copy is clever — he acknowledges that time is money and he'd like a little bit of my time.  He did several other things right.  But…the bottom line, I've had this orange envelope (and the dollar) on my desk for about a month.  I need to start talking to some entry level type folks.  Guess who is getting my first call?

And in fairness — not everything your parents tell you is out of date.  Handwritten thank you notes never go out of style.  Neither does doing your homework.

Good luck finding that elusive job.  I promise, you'll never work as hard to get one as you will this first time out.

P.S.  Check out this free e-book aimed at grads!

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Dawn walks out their brand talk — thanks to BP Oil Spill

June 1, 2010

I am sure that everyone at Proctor & Gamble (parent company of Dawn liquid soap) wishes that the BP Oil spill never happened.  I'm sure they are just as concerned as the rest of us are about the short and long-term implications of this disaster.

However… they were also smart enough to recognize the incredible opportunity it presented to them.

Dawn liquid soap is the only product approved for use with animals who have been oil-soaked.  So as people are paying more attention to the entire crisis — Dawn is playing a starring role.

And I'm not just talking about the news media shots of the adorable ducks getting a bath.  P&G has really thought about how they can differentiate themselves from the other liquid soaps. 

Let's face it — the fact that you can use Dawn to clean off an oil-soaked animal is not going to come in handy for most of us.  We're not going to rush out and buy Dawn now that we know. Our pets aren't likely to be dunked in oil.  But… we love a hero.  And Dawn's stepping up to that role by taking the lead in  not only caring for the animals affected by the spill but by becoming a voice of advocacy and information regarding the problem.

So, since we have to buy dish soap anyway…why not buy the hero brand that is stepping up to making a difference?

Let's look at the various ways they're claiming this leadership position.

The TV spot:

The bottles/the donation:


Notice the new bottle design.  See the cute (and clean) animals? What you can't really see is the little snip on the top of the label.  But on that snip, they tell you how, through the purchase of that bottle of liquid soap, you can donate $1 to save wildlife.  To activate your donation, they direct you to  (By the way…as of 5/31, they'd raised $413,475 thanks to their consumers — can you say that's a huge boost in soap sales?)

The website:

When you get to the website, they don't just let you donate, they engage you in the crisis.  They connect you to photos of animal rescues, encourage you to meet some wildlife champions and visit their Facebook page.

Screen shot 2010-05-31 at 11.40.36 PM

The Facebook page:

Screen shot 2010-05-30 at 12.56.58 PM

Here's where they really set the hook.  They use Facebook to tell us stories about the rescue, show us pictures and promote the organizations who are doing the hard and dirty work.  They don't hold themselves out as the heroes — they are the support behind the heroes.

In other words — they're writing about what they know we care about, not their soap.  They celebrate when the animals are released back into the wild, they teach us how we can protect and save animals in our own neighborhoods and they are the chief cheerleaders for the effort.


So… why does all of this work and where's the brand lesson for us:

  • Dawn understood their own product — and saw how they were genuinely different (self awareness)
  • Dawn was willing to share what they had/knew in a time of crisis (sincere generosity)
  • Dawn was willing to let the conversation be about more than their soap (be a part of something bigger)
  • Dawn put resources behind the bigger picture, knowing it was in alignment with their brand (they give, not just take)
  • Dawn found a way to let us connect (we can donate, we can follow the efforts on Facebook, etc)
  • Dawn found a way to sustain our interest and their effort — just watch what they do over the next few months, I am guessing!

Bravo P&G.  And thanks for helping save the animals!

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Indulge in some gratitude

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!  Even if you're not in the states — why not take a moment today and remember some of the blessings you have in your life?

I try very hard to make my blog about you.  I want to infuse value, insights and fresh ideas in every post.

But I believe that one of the most powerful emotions we can experience is gratitude.  I believe it literally can move mountains and change hearts.  On this day of giving thanks, I ask your forgiveness as I recognize my own incredible good fortune.

Anyway…enough prelude.Soglogo

In 2006 at the Balanced Life Center blog, the author created the Season of Gratitude.  She invited other bloggers to share “a gratitude moment” and I couldn’t resist joining in back then and I can't resist making this my annual Thanksgiving post.

It is more true today than when I wrote it 3 years ago: 

Rather than create a laundry list of the incredible and plentiful blessings that I am surrounded with every day, I decided to narrow my focus to my greatest gift. 

My daughter.  She is quite simply the best part of me. 

Her questions force me to find my own clarity.  Her humor is the perfect salve for a stressful day. Her fears remind me of my own humanity and her teen-induced insecurities keep my heart tender. 

Her zest for life’s delights feeds my spirit and her need to re-charge urges me to slow down now and then. Her laughter triggers my own (sometimes in the most inappropriate places and times) and her tears show me the depth of my own vulnerability.

Her drive to succeed tempers my own so we can talk about balance and her sense of discovery (both academic and of self) lets me indulge in the same. 

Her need to learn about the responsibilities that come along with being given a good life allows me to share my talents unselfishly and take her along for the ride.

Her presence gives me purpose.  Her future gives me hope.  And her faith in me inspires me to be a better person.   

She is my Jiminy Cricket.  She is my legacy.  And she is, every single day, my season of gratitude.

How about you….will you take a moment and share your season of gratitude with us?

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To find your nerve, find your core

October 20, 2009

Shutterstock_33666787 A few months ago, I received an intriguing e-mail from a guy named Steve McKee.  He had an idea. 

He wanted to build "a website dedicated to supporting the community of corporate professionals who want to move beyond the economic morass and return their companies to the growth path. This grass roots effort is intended to help jump start corporations and, therefore, the economy."

Each day of the 4th quarter, they would have a different guest author address the issue of how do you get back your nerve and get back to some semblance of business as usual.  As you know, I've been rallying against the paralysis caused by the recession (here, here and here) for quite some time so I jumped at the opportunity.

My contribution went live today and I'd like to:

  • Share it with you
  • Get your feedback
  • Ask you to share it with others

Here's how I started….

When the recession hit, many companies lost their nerve. They began to second-guess their own decisions. They compromised on what they believed was right because right was too expensive. They chased after business that wasn't really a good fit — because any business was better than the potential of no business.

And they lost their way. A side effect of being lost is being scared. Sometimes being scared leads to being paralyzed. In my opinion, that's why this recession got so bad.

We got scared and we got stuck.

It's time for us to find our nerve and get ourselves out of this recession. I highly doubt there's going to be a bailout for any of us.

So how do we break loose from our fear and get some nerve? We get back to our core.

Please check out the site to read the rest.

While you're there, check out the rest of the site.  There are polls, plenty of blog posts from some very smart folks, and some eye opening facts about the recession and advertising/marketing.

Also note that this is a very savvy effort on Steve's part to promote and sell his new book, When Growth Stalls. Rally the troops around something they're passionate about and they'll do whatever it takes to get the word out.  And sell some books along the way.

The site is well done, Steve's intentions are honorable and I encourage you to check out the guest posts.

Photo courtesy of

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August 5, 2009

64615304 As the recession pounds on, it wears on people.   Everyone is a little more uptight, a little more worried and as a result, perhaps a little more "me focused."

That gets in the way of us being capable of offering our customers, co-workers and employees something very valuable.  


My definition?  Simply offering support, forgiveness, or comfort to people in our world, whether they've earned it or not.  In other words…cutting them some slack.

It's more than turning the other cheek.  It's about assuming the best of everyone.  It's being empathetic of where they're coming from.  Meeting them where they're at. It's about choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt and being gentle.

It is acknowledging that they are human, in the humblest form.

Our clients/customers count on us to be their guide.  They're the experts in their field and they look to us to be their expert in ours.  We've promised to show them how to get where they want to go.   It's our job to get them there as safely and effectively as possible.

Do clients always behave like we'd want them to?  Do they always make the best decisions or react with the speed, amplitude or enthusiasm that we'd prescribe?  Do they drop the ball?  Or hand it off to the wrong person/team? Or forget about conversations about potential consequences and decisions made until there's a problem?

You know the answers to all of those questions.

But here are the questions that truly matter.  What was their intent? What was in their heart?

Hopefully when we slow down and ask those questions, it will be easy to offer our grace.   I truly believe it's a customer retention tool every business needs to embrace.

(Drew's note:  This was originally published in my weekly column in the Des Moines Business Record.  Normally, I don't re-use that content here but I received so many notes, e-mails and calls about the column that I decided it would be worth breaking my self-imposed rule and sharing it with you as well.)

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Happy Father’s Day

June 21, 2009

To all of you dads out there…especially those of you who share with me the joy of having a daughter…I just want to wish you a very happy Father's Day.

Many things matter to me.  But absolutely nothing matters more than being a good dad.  It is without a doubt the most incredible and important thing I have ever been called to do.

If you're lucky enough to have an amazing child like I do — tell them.  Smother them in your love, praise and pride.  And, if you're lucky enough to have a fantastic dad like I do — tell him too. 

Don't miss the chance.

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How will you be remembered?

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance.  Not just remembering the person but remembering their legacy, their gifts to the world, their community, their family.  We tell stories.  We look at pictures.  We are touched again by these people who have gone before us.

There are moments in time,  like Memorial Day, my 40th birthday, a visit to ground zero in NYC that give me pause.  I get off the merry-go-round long enough to wonder if I am making the right choices and how I will be remembered.

The 9-11 tragedy and the images that now surround ground zero should give us all pause.  The people who died that day started off their morning thinking it was just another day.  Just like we do, every day.

I found myself wondering what they would have done or said differently.  All the things that at the moment mattered — really didn't.

What if it had been you?

  • Would you have shouted at the driver who cut you off?
  • Would you be at the office and miss saying good night to your son or daughter?
  • Would you worry about those five extra pounds?
  • Would you panic at this quarter's sales numbers?
  • Would you cling to that grudge?
  • Would you worry about your blog's ranking?

Who would you think about? What would you do?  What would you say?  Why don't you say it today?

Here's my question for myself this Memorial Day.  And for you. 

How do you want your life to be measured?  What if today was the day?


Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
Measure a year?


In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife


In – five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?


How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Seasons of love
Seasons of love


Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan


Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?


In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died


It's time now – to sing out
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year
In the life of friends


Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love


Measure your life in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Note:  I took all of these photos on Memorial Day '07.  The 5th, 6th & 8th photos are of pictures that hang in the memorial area. (So they are my photos of someone else's photos) The rest are of artifacts in the area.  One of the most striking realizations as you walk around the site is the deep hunger people have to leave notes or messages.  They've written on signage, walls and anywhere they think their voice might be able to linger. 

It's not graffiti, it's grief.

The photos are mine, the lyrics belong to Jonathan Larson from the musical RENT.



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Best recession marketing tip — give it away!

March 10, 2009

80099712 Are you worried about sales?  Have you had to lay off some staff?  Are you scared about making it through the recession?

Give away your product or service.

I know it's counter-intuitive.  There's nothing conservative about giving away your hard-earned wares.  I'm not going to go all new age on you — but there's some magical that happens when you share what you have. 

Here are some of the benefits:

You and your staff will be reminded how good you are.  When sales are coming a bit more slowly or everyone is pushing you on price, it's easy to forget just how good you are at your craft.  By giving it to someone who really needs it — they're bound to be effusive with their gratitude — and that feels good.

It's amazing word of mouth.  In these days of doom and gloom media — who isn't going to love a story of genuine generosity?  And what do you think the recipient is going to do once they enjoy your wares?  Right — talk about it.  To everyone and anyone.

It's a statement of faith and confidence.  Think of it as a "screw you" to the recession.  It's standing tall and saying…"we're not only going to get through this economic downturn….but we're going to do it by helping others.  We're going to serve our employees, our clients and those who may not be able to afford what we sell — so we're going to give it away."

Want a concrete example?  My agency, McLellan Marketing Group, just announced that we're taking applications for our 3rd annual Adopt a Charity program.

Here's how it works.  Non-profits apply (they can download our application here) and we choose one in April.  Then, for an entire year — we adopt them.  Not only do we adopt them, but some of our business partners like Brackett Media and Event Services and Radio Garage also adopt them.  

Over the course of the year, the charity will receive over $75,000 in free services.

Do you know a non-profit who could use a professional marketing squad for a year?  Encourage them to download the application and get it in before the end of March. 

More important — get out there and give the recession a raspberry.  Give away a little of what you have.  Share your expertise.  You'll be amazed at how good it is for business.  And your heart.

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7 things you didn’t know about me meme (sort of)

January 11, 2009

85423593 I swear, I must be the slowest runner on the planet — I keep getting tagged! ;-}

Daria Radota Rasmussen tagged me with the 7 things about me meme

Now, I’ve already told you plenty of things about me in the previous taggings…and only 2 of those were even remotely interesting. 

So rather than bore you with more things about me, I thought I’d tell you 7 things I haven’t done yet but really want to do so I can use them in the next meme.

The “I haven’t done them yet, but some day these things will be about me!” list

  1. I want to see a baseball game in every major league ballpark (I’m about half way there.)
  2. I want to write a mystery novel (I have it in my head…even the opening sentence.)
  3. I want to visit every Disney theme park in the world (I’ve got Disney World, Disney Cruise and Disneyland covered.  Still have Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort to go.)
  4. I want to visit Scotland with my Dad (this is in the works — should be able to cross it off the list in 2009.)
  5. I want to own my house, free and clear.  (No chance of crossing this off in 2009!)
  6. I want to be the cool grandpa  (Okay…I don’t want to cross this one off for a LONG time!)
  7. I want to launch a podcast/CD feature…interviewing all of the smart and cool people in marketing that I’ve met along the way.

So that’s it, kids.  Hopefully a few of these will get shifted to the got it done column in ’09 and a few that are definitely a longer-term goal.

How about you…what’s one thing you deeply aspire to do that might surprise us?

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Erma Bombeck is my New Year’s inspiration?

December 31, 2008

63312255  A few weeks ago, Lewis Green wrote a post about his commitments for '09.  He challenged a handful of us to do the same.

I've been ruminating on it since then because I don't hold a lot of stock in resolutions.  A resolution is a "I'm going to try to…." which almost always results in a week long or month long effort…and then back to the old bad habit.  Typically, resolutions are just wishful thinking.

But a commitment feels more solid.  It's a promise, not a wish.  And so, rising to Lew's challenge…here's my commitment for '09 inspired by all people, Erma Bombeck.

When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say…."I used everything You gave me."

 ~ Erma Bombeck

What does that actually mean for me in '09?  In a nutshell, it means serving/helping/teaching as many people as I can, both in person and through technology. 

But specifically in my work world, it will mean:

  • Keeping this blog laser focused on helping business leaders market and brand their business better and smarter
  • Continue to travel the country, speaking at conferences and conventions
  • Launching a teleconference series that will allow readers to listen, learn and ask questions about marketing and branding
  • Introduce a new way for businesses to interact with me and build their own marketing program (more on this in early '09)
  • Look for more collaborative projects like Age of Conversation and Bloggers Social that give all of us a chance to learn from each other

And specifically for my soul, it will mean:

  • Being present and in tune with my family and friends
  • Continuing to be available to speak to college classes
  • Continuing my service to the non-profit boards I'm fortunate enough to be on
  • Giving myself permission to slow down and find an oasis to soak up now and then
  • Remembering that laughter, music and solitude are not wants, they're needs

How about you…what commitment are you making to the new year and yourself?

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