Off My Desk, 2011

| November 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

My annual search through my tidbit collection yields … items:

Bad: No one to blame? Blame the media. Newt Ginrich either didn’t have his cheat-sheet ready or just didn’t like the question. When debate interviewers (understandably) asked the candidates their opinions re healthcare, he scowled: “You want to puff this up into some giant thing?”

(My take: That’s now known as the scowl that defines the Newt. In media training, we instruct our clients in the art of deflection, not aggression.)

Better: When asked about certain candidates making their religion a central element of their worthiness for public office, president Jimmy Carter – well-known for his own religious faith – adhered to the separation of church and State: “I’d go so far as to say, “ he said, anyway, “that it’s unconstitutional to claim that one’s faith (in elections) should prevail.”

Debatable: Diet Coke’s new design? The experts disagree. “This is a great redesign … absolute simplicity and boldness … Just a big-ass logo.” (Armin Vit, UnderConstruction LLC.)

But, proof that marketing is an inexact science: “I can’t say I like it. The design is clumsy and is obviously only new for new’s sake.” (Jacob Cass, Just Creative Design.)

(My take: never change your company name or brand design, unless, of course, the company’s been criminal.)

Happiness makes you happy section: It’s now been proven, an Oxford psychologist says, that even if you laugh until it hurts, the physical act of laughing makes you happy. (It’s about cerebral endorphins, etc., but this is a short column.) Laughing, unique to humans, might also boost bonding, and may even be a key to how we’ve emerged as social animals.

At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Jennifer Aaker, a cheerful instructor, teaches “Designing Happiness.” She’s defined happiness as “a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” We get that.

The research has drawn the attention of commerce, so companies have been inspired to instill “happiness” in their marketing. That’s what’s going on when you’re asked for your own experiences with a product (i.e. Adobe software), or you expect a Coke from a vending machine and get a bouquet of flowers instead.

You might, then, feel like panting with joy, And if you really did pant, instead of laugh, says Dr. R. R. Provine, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, you’d still be expressing happiness – but just like an ape.

Underwhelming and over-rated section: 1. Bristol Palin. She’ll likely make a fortune from the ad-boost accompanying her appearance on “Dancing With the Stars,” plus her memoir, mega-bucks fee for her speeches advocating abstinence, and … whatever comes next in her Mama Bear’s daughter role

2. Linda Hudson, business expert, advises women to “Stand Up for Yourself,” “Project Your Voice,” and “Don’t Fight the System.” For this sage insight, she gets a full page in Fortune.

(My take: Ho hum. Or, I could just be jealous.)

Overwhelming and insightful section: l. Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack provided advice in the 18th century. Author Tom Blair updates it with ‘Poorer Richard’s America.” (Skyhorse Publishing.) Sample: “Congress is a great team of horses, some harnessed tail-to-tail, others head-to-head, thus assuring only the slightest movement, but great mounds of horse manure.”
Tom Brokaw wrote the foreword.

Still on my desk: 1. An amazing assortment of instructions – and lamentations – re our ever-changing communications, the floundering phone, the evaporating email, the Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. choices for how to tell the kids to come home for supper.

Yet, 13-yr. old Ben Walcher updated me on the doings of his cousin Joe O’Brien, 13, who lives close-by. I said, “Oh, when did you two get together?” “Skype,” said Ben.

2. Marc La Cloche, who was taught barbering while in prison for robbery, was denied a license, upon release, to become a barber because he’d been in prison.

3. Headline: “Bubbles of Energy are Found in the Galaxy.” “Wow,” said Princeton Astrophysicist David Spergel.

My take, exactly. A new stack’s already begun.


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