You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.
Fifty years ago today John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States. The often-quoted, powerful words of his inaugural address (“and so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” beginning at approximately 12 minutes into the speech) still echo across the decades:
As this video reveals, not only did the young President confront his critics; he stirred Americans to action and inspired a generation. As an small example, since that cold January day in 1961 more than 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 139 countries and making a difference every day. (See yesterday’s tribute to Sargent Shriver)
Many analysts agree the speech remains one of the most important in political history. Journalist Peggy Noonan noted that “This was a presidency interupted. It didn’t have enough time to impose real meaning. It had enough time to impose a mood…and an indelible memory.”
Words matter…especially when they inspire action! Thank you President Kennedy.
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., American politician and activist, died yesterday at the age of 95. He was often referred to as a peace builder and remembered for his role as head of the Peace Corps. But as his biography points out, Sargent Shriver’s career of public service and civic leadership spanned the second half of the 20th century and confronted a range of seemingly intractable conflicts that pitted Americans against each other. He helped build peace by developing and implementing programs and policies structured to promote long-term, cumulative, peaceable change.
President Obama said that Sargent Shriver “came to embody the idea of public service.” There is little I could write here that would speak more eloquently about his legacy than tributes such as this article in Vanity Fair and this story on NPR. And perhaps the words of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says it best:
I owe much to Sarge Shriver. So do hundreds of thousands of us. So does America. So do millions in the world who we got to know, got to learn from, got to teach us. What a great man we lost today. God take him, for all of us who loved him.
Today our nation celebrates the birthday (January 15, 1929) of Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, this is the 25th anniversary of establishing this national holiday to remember his life and his heroic efforts to advance civil rights. It also happens to be the birthday of another famous “Jr.” – the son of the man pictured here with Dr. King. Today is the birthday of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (January 17, 1954) – a man who has channeled his life’s energies into protecting the environment. Both men, in their own way, devoting their life to making the world a better place.
The intersection of these two occasions prompts us both to look back, and to look to the future. In that spirit, I offer these few quotes that seemed particularly forward-looking and relevant to the state affairs in our country today. The first, from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s father, offered on the night Dr. King was assassinated:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
The second from Dr. King:
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”
And finally, from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
the present shouts…the future whispers. Our job is to amplify the voice of the future.
What will you do today to shape the world we live in, and its future?
If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’m a loyal customer of Starbucks. So I paid particular attention to their announcement yesterday that they will mark their 40th anniversary in March with a new version of their logo. CEO Howard Schultz explains the evolution of the design this way:
This new evolution of the logo does two things that are very important: It embraces and respects our heritage, and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel it’s more suitable for the future… The new interpretation of the logo, at its core, is the exact same essence of the Starbucks experience. And that is the love we have for our coffee, the relationship we have with our partners, and the connection we build with our customers.
This reinvention of the logo reminds us that the image most often referred to as a mermaid, is actually linked by Starbucks to the mythological siren – the seductive creature that lured sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of an island. Essentially Starbucks is saying that the updated logo continues to express the elements of their brand:
- a unique retail experience that creates a Third Place for our customers between their homes and places of work
- a carefully crafted offering of the finest, high-quality coffees from around the world
- the emotional connection that our partners make daily with our customers.
So while there has been some initial pushback by some Starbucks fans, I (for one) think they’ve done a fine job linking the visual element of their identity with their brand promise…not only for their external customers, but for their internal customers…their employees. As a senior writer at Starbucks notes on their webpage “We all needed to really, deeply understand for ourselves who she (the siren) is.”
Howard Schultz understands that companies must evolve to stay relevant – and brands are communicated visually, verbally and experientially. Starbucks is undertaking this change at a time when many consumers, still reeling from the impact of the recession, are longing for the familiar… so their is bound to be criticism. We all remember what Gap went through with their attempt to refresh their logo. Starbucks, on the other hand, has a strong track record with brand communications. Pay close attention to how they navigate customer feedback and manage customer expectations.
I look forward to the next few months. See there…I guess the siren song has lured me in…again!
Over the past year or so I’ve enjoyed reading some of the perspectives of global brand strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin. Yesterday he wrote for Advertising Age’s CMO Strategy. The article, entitled “For CMOs, 2011 Will Be About Explaining Why, Not How“, reminds readers to keep their eye on the basics and “come up with the substantive reasons why consumers need your (brand) vs. how you’re going to use neat new ways to tell them the same old things.”
Take a look at the article and then let me know what you think:
You can read Jonathan Salem Baskin‘s blog at dimbulb.net and follow him on Twitter @jonathansalem.
Welcome to the first business day of the new year. Over the past few weeks any number of sources have been doing their best to help us prepare for 2011 with their predictions for the upcoming year:
Mashable offers up its roundup of predictions for the Web in 2011 here.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and administrator of Social Security. offers his predictions about the US economy here.
CNBC’s Mary Thompson offers her predictions for the banking sector in this video.
Forbes offers a few thoughts on individual philanthropy in 2011 in this article.
In addition to predictions, we’ve also had the promise of more data from the 2010 U.S. Census to help us prepare for 2011 and beyond. In December the Bureau released the population count of 308,745,538 along with apportionment totals for the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. The really in depth information, the summary files for the 2010 Census data, will be released “on a flow basis” from April 2011 through September 2013.
In other words, only time will give us a clearer picture of the profile of our nation… and only time will reveal the relative accuracy of these predictions.
For now, the one important insight I carry into the new year is that the shifts and changes within our personal and professional lives will continue to be fast-paced and far-reaching. How we chose to respond to those shifts and changes will be the greatest factor in determining whether or not this year turns out well.
Whatever the new year holds, I’ll do my best to keep exploring the horizon with you. Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.