My 10 Desert Island Discs (and What I Learned)

The Premise

A few weeks ago, I announced I was compiling a list of my ten favorite albums. You know, if I was stranded on a desert island and could only take ten record albums with me, what would they be? I thought it would be easy.

I was wrong.

I love music; I play it every day. My recorded music collection is fairly extensive (more than 13,000 songs in my digital library and about 1,100 compact discs) and it’s fairly wide-ranging, from classical to show tunes to jazz and the gamut of pop music.

The single guiding rule I set for selecting the albums was simple:

They had to be original album recordings – as opposed to compilations or “greatest hits” collections. (By definition, compilations represent music from multiple albums.)

The List

So without further ado, here is my list.
(But please read on to see what surprised me and what I learned as I agonized over this process.)

1. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn (1991)

2. Rubber Soul – The Beatles (1965)

3. Graceland – Paul Simon (1987)

4. Abbey Road – The Beatles (1969)

5. The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby & The Range (1986)

6. Dad Loves His Work – James Taylor (1981)

7. The End of the Innocence – Don Henley (1989)

8. Lauren Wood – Lauren Wood (1979)

9. The Band – The Band (1969)

10. Moondance – Van Morrison (1970)

The Revelations

It’s Personal

This is a very personal endeavor – more so than I anticipated. I can’t imagine too many people choosing Lauren Wood for their lists, yet I could not not have that disc on my list.

Another aspect of the personal nature of the list is that, for me, it’s very much about the music on its own merits. These albums stir strong emotional responses within me, yet none of them made the list because they remind me of specific moments or people in my life experience. (There are individual songs – most of which aren’t found on these albums – that mean a great deal because they connect me to life events. But that’s a different list.)

It’s Difficult

I was surprised at how much harder this selection process was at this point in my life. When I was younger, I would have cranked out a top ten list without hesitation, certain of my choices and confident of my superior taste in music.

This time, I found myself coming up with dozens of recordings that I love. It was quite a mental wrestling match to pare done to ten. At the end of this piece, I’ve listed my 50 favorite discs for your consideration. (Even getting this down to 50 was agonizing. I had to drop Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell – a tough, tough call. And the same is true for albums by Fleetwood Mac, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin…)

Bottom line: I am pleased to see that my tastes have evolved and grown to include a broader spectrum of genres and performers.

It’s a Limited View

I do recognize that my final list contains only popular music (virtually all of it rock) from a fairly narrow time period (late 1960’s to the early 90’s).

While I enjoy lots of different music, it came down to the ten discs I absolutely had to have on my island. And for me, it’s songs with pop melodies and strong vocals.

I imagine this reflects the development of my appreciation for music. My parents had a modest library of records, mostly Broadway and big bands. (I can still hear Patti Page singing, “Let’s take a boat to Bermuda, let’s take a plane to St. Paul.”) My awakening to the power of music came with the rise of The Beatles and the frenzy that this “new” Rock ‘n Roll generated among my pre-teen peer group. Radio playlists and local bands (The Dantes, Sir Timothy and the Royals, Billy Graham and the Escalators) were tremendous influences for my developing sensibilities and enthusiasms.

So, even though I greatly enjoy Broadway’s Les Miserables and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (as well as a host of other different genres), my strongest preference remains rooted in pop/rock. Which leads to…

The Ego Adds to the Work

I found myself thinking in terms of how others might react to my list. Was I hip? Is my taste too dorky? Too dated? If I pick a certain disc, will I elevate my status in the eyes of some people?

This concern cropped up quite a bit – and I had to make a conscious effort to stifle it. After all, these are my choices for my desert island. (See It’s Personal.)

Following the Guiding Rule is Tough

I must admit that some of my most-played discs are greatest hits compilations. In fact, my extended list of 50 includes seven such albums. I also added three other compilations: two tribute albums and a movie soundtrack. (In other words, my expanded list is made up of my top 40 discs plus 10 compilations.)

Marvin Gaye (or probably more accurately, Motown Records) led me to including compilations. I love the music of Marvin Gaye and I assumed he’d have a disc in my top ten, but…

I found it impossible to locate a truly great digital album that wasn’t a compilation of his most popular songs. In my memory (whether accurate or not is a subject for debate), he had two strong record albums back in the day: What’s Going On and Mercy Mercy Me – yet I could not find them in either iTumes or Amazon. There is an album titled What’s Going On, but it has been repackaged to include his greatest hits.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of Marvin Gaye discs available – all with different combinations of his best songs (packaged as duets, love songs, anthologies, greatest hits, his number one singles, etc., etc.).

There’s a Difference between Favorite Albums and Favorite Songs

As I put this list together, it immediately became evident that my favorite albums very rarely contain my favorite songs. There are many albums that contain a great song, but fall short on putting together a total package. And, in this age of mp3 downloads, there is far more emphasis on the sale of singles – to the point where some songs exist without the framework of a complete album. An example of this (and one of my huge faves) is Willie Nelson’s “The Scientist.”

And, yes, a by product of my desert island disc list has been the start of listing my favorite songs. But that will be for another time…

Here, as promised, is my Top 50 Album List:

1. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn
2. Rubber Soul – The Beatles
3. Graceland – Paul Simon
4. Abbey Road – The Beatles
5. The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby & The Range
6. Dad Loves His Work – James Taylor
7. The End of the Innocence – Don Henley
8. Lauren Wood – Lauren Wood
9. The Band – The Band
10. Moondance – Van Morrison

11. The Art of Tea – Michael Franks
12. Across From Midnight – Joe Cocker
13. Sail Away – Randy Newman
14. Child is Father to the Man – Blood, Sweat & Tears
15. Bustin’ Out – Pure Prairie League
16. Halcyon Days – Bruce Hornsby
17. Nick of Time – Bonnie Raitt
18. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
19. So – Peter Gabriel
20. Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue / An American In Paris
- Boston Pop/Arthur Fielder

21. Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago
22. Thriller – Michael Jackson
23. Faith – George Michael
24. Say I Am You – The Weepies
25. It’s Like This – Rickie Lee Jones
25. New Moon Shine – James Taylor
26. Songs from the Attic – Billy Joel
27. Flag – James Taylor
28. Night Calls – Joe Cocker
29. Aja – Steely Dan
30. Careless – Stephen Bishop

31. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman
32. My World – Ray Charles
33. Boys In The Trees – Carly Simon
34. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
35. Organic – Joe Cocker
36. Breaking Silence – Janis Ian
37. At Home – Janis Seigal
38. Night Beat – Sam Cooke
39. Medusa – Annie Lennox
40. Blue – Joni Mitchell

Compilations:
41. Hits – Phil Collins
42. The Very Best Of – The Eagles
43. Actual Miles – Don Henley
44. Best of (Millennium Collection, Vol. 2) – Marvin Gaye
45. Forty Licks – The Rolling Stones
46. The Last Waltz – The Band
47. The Best of War and More – War

Tributes:
48. Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead
49. Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John

Soundtrack:
50. Tin Cup (soundtrack)

I’d love to see your list of favorites.

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Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

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Copyright © 2013 Rod Ebright

 

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Sweet Charity

There’s a lot of good work being done by a lot of charitable foundations, maybe more than you might imagine. A quick Google search list more than 60 wish-granting organizations alone. There are foundations for virtually any type of disability, disease, and disaster. There are charities for dogs, cats, whales, and a multitude of other critters.

When developing a brand for a non-profit, the most important concept to grasp is this: People give to causes, not to organizations.

(This is obvious when you look at similar organizations. Save The Whales says it all in its name; The Cousteau Society requires much more explaining.)

Imagery is very important. Where weight-loss promotions rely on “before-and-after” pictures, charites succeed with “before” images. Show the problem and people will respond. (Conversely, show them the result of charitable work – the happy ending – and people feel they’re not really needed and tend not to give.)

It’s also essential to understand why and how people give. To boil it down, it comes to this:

1. Giving is an emotional decision. (And, yes, there is a tax benefit, but that is not the driver of the decision on where to give.)

2. Just like good branding and effective salesmanship, charities must help their audiences evolve through three stages: Know, Like, and Trust. A relationship with your donor is critical.

3. While charities may run events and fundraising promotions and display those big “giving goal thermometers,” the significant breakthrough gifts – large one-time donations and estate gifts – come only when the giver is ready to give. Large gift donors are not motivated by your timetable.

In fundraising, the closer your brand is to your story, the better.

And if your story moves people, you can do a lot of very good things.

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Copyright © 2012 Rod Ebright

Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like. ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and such. Simply send them to www.RodEbright.com (click on “Blog).

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Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. He conducts an annual three-day Creativity Retreat (October 12-14) in the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

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[Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

 

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The Five Most Important Letters in Branding

The practitioners of any pursuit – be it science, engineering, performing arts, or competitive athletics – know that you must master the basics.

And when you lose sight of the core principles of your craft, you fail.

In branding, the most fundamental truth is that the customer owns the brand. Every successful brand has delivered a compelling response to these five letters that represent the consumer’s perspective: W.I.I.F.M What’s In It For Me?

Answer the W.I.I.F.M. piece of your branding puzzle and you’ll give yourself a clear path to your perfect brand solution.

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Copyright © 2012 Rod Ebright

Want to share this Information? You always have    permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like. ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

__________________________________________

Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. He conducts an annual three-day Creativity Retreat (October 12-14) in the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

__________________________________________

[Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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The Elevator Speech

elevator speech noun – A concise yet complete description or story that can be told in a short time period, such as the time it takes to ride in an elevator.

Over the past months, I’ve found myself working with groups and individuals on the Elevator Speech. It shouldn’t come as a huge revelation that a good Elevator Speech and a successful brand share the same traits:

Brief. Get to the point. An effective Elevator Speech should be no more than 20 seconds in length.

On Target. Structure your message from the point of view of your audience. The fact that you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your offering has NO bearing on what your audience knows and feels. Determine the benefit (not feature) that will resonate with your target audience.

Singular in Purpose. No one item can be all things to all people. Find the single aspect that best defines your product and place the focus of your message upon it. And once you’ve found your singular message, NEVER vary from it. Play your “commercial” again and again. Repetition is a key tactic that builds familiarity, even among disinterested audiences.

Unique. You must distinguish yourself from your competition. Like your product or service, your Elevator Speech must be different from all others.

Well Structured. Not unlike a good branding proposition, a well structured Elevator Speech has three key components:

1. Introduction (the who and what)

2. Benefit (the why and how)

3. Closing Statement (the call to action)

    (A useful device is to connect these thoughts with the phrase “so that.” Example: Soft-Glo Reading Lamps provide an optically balanced light so that you can enjoy hours of reading and working without eye strain or headache.)

    Memorable. In addition to the “Singular in Purpose” and “Unique” traits mentioned, a special phrasing or presentation style will make you stand out. Bob Berg, author of Endless Referrals, tells of the paper company sales rep who ended her elevator speech by saying, “When you think of toilet paper, think of me.” A memorable line, wouldn’t you agree?

    In short, the ideal Elevator Speech informs, entertains, and engages us.

    In this era of hyper-communication – with an evolving array of inexpensive instantaneous message outlets available to anyone with a phone, a camera, or a computer — an effective Elevator Speech is a vital tool to possess.

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2012 Rod Ebright

    Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like.

    ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

    __________________________________________

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. He conducts an annual three-day Creativity Retreat (October 12-14) in the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    __________________________________________

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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    The Magic of Branding

    “The essence of magic is controlling the perception of the audience.” — Doug Henning

    Who doesn’t love a great magic trick?

    Substitute the word “branding” for “magic” and Doug Henning’s statement still holds true.

    But, wait a minute!

    Isn’t it cynical and manipulative and unethical for advertisers to manage the public’s view?

    There are two answers:

    YES, it’s wrong — if you are unethical. If your intent is to deceive or defraud your audience, then you practice bad branding “magic.”

    But if your interest is in directing attention to the compelling (Amazing! Astounding! Fantastic!) aspects of your product, then the answer is NO, it’s not wrong. A little magic is just what you need.

    Think about it. If you can determine what people see, then you can guide how people think about your product. This guides what they remember and what they tell their friends. This builds expectations and belief.

    Consider your marketing effort as a magic act.

    Determine what you want your audience to see and think and feel. Those classic components of branding – differentiation and positioning – will certainly guide your presentation. And while staging is important (the showcasing of the “surface” elements — messaging, packaging, media and so on), there can be nothing that diminishes the audience experience. Outstanding product quality, customer service, and other key business qualities are essential to positive perceptions.

    Remember, like a magician who, after elaborate theatrics, pulls a raggedy stuffed bunny from his top hat instead of a live rabbit, the marketer who stages a dazzling ad campaign to deliver a disappointing product will end up with a disillusioned audience.

    Amaze your friends and neighbors (and prospective consumers) with a dazzling presentation that ends with an astounding revelation (a great product) and – presto! – you’ve become a magician.

    You may even want to think about wearing a long black cape at work…

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like.

    ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

    __________________________________________

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. Registration is now open for his Creativity Retreat at Akita, Oct. 7-9 in the beautiful Hocking Hills of southern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    __________________________________________

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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    On the Right Track

    Just outside the Union Station, the iconic railway terminal in Los Angeles, etched in black stone are these words: VISION TO SEE, FAITH TO BELIEVE, COURAGE TO DO.”

    It’s easy to guess that this inscription was intended to inspire the general population dealing with the challenges of the 1930′s as well as the thousands of servicemen and women who passed through this spot in later years on their way to Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, and other military destinations.

    It is safe to say that these words were not written to guide 21st century advertising.

    Yet they do.

    The creation of a powerful and successful brand cannot occur without vision, faith, and courage.

    Every time I encounter mediocre advertising (which, sadly, is pretty frequently), I wonder: Was there a better idea that got dumped? At some point in the creative process, did someone come up with a visionary concept but a lack of faith in the idea or the fear of failure stopped it in its tracks?

    The very nature of successful promotion is to be different, to stand out. Over the years, this quality has been defined by many terms: unique selling proposition, differentiation, positioning, brand personality, the wow factor, and on and on.

    The very act of being different moves you into the realm of the unknown. It takes courage.

    And courage exists only when you have a strong belief (faith) in what you are doing. And a strong belief in something new and different can only come from a focused, well-inform vision.

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like.

    ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

    __________________________________________

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. Registration is now open for his Creativity Retreat at Akita, Oct. 7-9 in the beautiful Hocking Hills of southern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    __________________________________________

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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    It’s Not about the Storyteller

    I worry that too many clients and their advertising agents are delusional.

    Sure, they may state that they are committed to making the sale – they may even believe it – but deep down inside, the truth of the matter is that they are really motivated by politics or ego.

    In Ohio, there is a regional hospital system currently running a campaign, “Believe in WE.” Bad grammar aside, it is almost impossible to discern a benefit to the consumer. I cannot help but think that the creators of this were focused on pleasing an internal audience, such as the executive staff or the board. What is the brand promise in such a narcissistic point of view?

    How many times have we seen a CEO or company owner serve as the spokesperson in their commercials – and how many times has it failed? For every Lee Iacocca who can pull this off, there are hundreds who fail. (A dead give-away to the ego-driven promotion is when the CEO’s children start appearing in the ads.)

    Super Bowl Sunday has become a great showcase for misguided messaging. Now there are, of course, some very good ads that run, but there are also a troubling number of spots that seem committed to entertaining or amazing or shocking us at the expense of engaging us with their brands.

    David Ogilvy (1911-1999)

    I have found a helpful way to gauge branding effectiveness in an example put forth many years ago by David Ogilvy. He said:

    When Aeschines spoke, they said, “How well he speaks.” But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, “Let us march against Philip.” I’m for Demosthenes.

    Successful branding and effective advertising is not about the storyteller. It’s about the listener.

    Getting people’s attention isn’t the end goal. Capturing their imaginations is. And how a successful marketer does this is by finding effective ways to give the customer something he or she wants.

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like.

    ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

    __________________________________________

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    __________________________________________

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

    Posted in Communication, Information Please, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Building a Brand: Who Do You Trust?

    Good branding and effective advertising require a mastery of objectivity and a measure of discipline. They also require trust.

    To appreciate this, take a page from the playbook of someone who led a wildly successful branding campaign.

    by Robert TownsendRobert Townsend in his book, Up the Organization (published in 1970 by Knopf), tells of the creation of the campaign for Avis Rent A Cars, the classic “We’re Number 2, We Try Harder.”

    In the early 1960s when Townsend was CEO of Avis, Hertz was dominating the rental car business. It wasn’t possible for Avis to match the Hertz ad budget and Townsend realized he needed advertising that was significantly more compelling dollar for dollar than Hertz. He called on one of the great ad men of the time, Bill Bernbach, creative director of the legendary agency Doyle, Dane, Bernbach.

    Here’s the part of this story that stands out:

    Bernbach told him that most clients put their advertising through an approval process that destroys the work and kills the morale of the creatives. “If you promise to run whatever we recommend, every creative in my shop will want to work on your account.” Townsend agreed.

    To make certain his executives lived up to his promise, Townsend wrote the following memo and had it framed and placed in everyone’s office at both Avis and at DDB:

    Avis Rent A Car Advertising Philosophy

    1. Avis will never know as much about advertising as DDB and DDB will never know as much about the rent a car business as Avis.

    2. The purpose of the advertising is to persuade the frequent business renter to try Avis.

    3. A serious attempt will be made to create advertising with 5 times the effectiveness of the competition’s advertising.

    4. To this end, Avis will approve or disapprove, not try to improve, ads which are submitted. Any changes suggested by Avis must be grounded on a material operating defect (a wrong uniform for example).

    5. To this end, DDB will only submit for approval those ads which they truly as an agency recommend. They will not “see what Avis thinks of that one.”

    The story goes that when Bernbach came back with a campaign that proclaimed Avis was only the number two rental car company and promised “We Try Harder,” everybody at Avis hated it. But Townsend respected the agreement with the agency. He reminded all parties that everyone was responsible and accountable for his or her specific job and that each person needed to be respectful of other’s expertise.

    Does this sound like a dream scenario or a standard practice for the business advertisers and their agencies that you know?

    Doesn’t it make sense to trust the business leaders to be the experts in their businesses and the advertisers to be the experts in advertising? By delineating authority, accountability is also defined – and objective measurements will clearly tell what (and who) has succeeded.

    We Try HarderEpilogue: The Avis campaign ran as DDB presented it. Avis’s annual 10% sales increase rose to a whopping 35% – and “We Try Harder” went down in advertising history as a legendary success story.

     

     

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Want to share this Information? You always have permission to republish any of my posts in your company newsletters or personal or professional blogs. You may also run copies for staff meetings or post on bulletin boards and the like.

    ALL I ASK is that you include a link to my blog in case your readers would like more insights, stories and inspiration. Simply add this: If you liked this article, you can read more at www.RodEbright.com and click on “Blog.”

    __________________________________________

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    __________________________________________

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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    The One-Two Punch(line)

    Q. Why did the mushroom want to go to the party?
    A. Because he was a fungi.

    Q. Why did he want to leave the party?
    A. Because there wasn’t mushroom!

    There is something about a two-part joke (or riddle) that gives me great satisfaction. I think it’s because of this quality: humor, by its very nature, is an unexpected revelation — and by then telling a second related observation, the impact of the humor is dramatically (and unexpectedly) increased. (What we are presented with is two jokes –again, by their nature unexpected — with an extra measure of surprise provided by the connection of the two. Three moments of the unexpected in a two-item package!)

    My favorite two-part joke:

    The poor fellow always had trouble finding and holding onto jobs. He had very poor physical skills — bad hand-eye coordination and limited strength. The local priest took pity on the man and offered to find him work at the village’s church.

    After trying many tasks without success, the priest and the poor fellow finally figured out that he could ring the church bell. The only problem was that the fellow just couldn’t properly pull the rope; the only way he could consistently ring the big bell was to go up to the top of the tower where the bell was housed and, at the given time, take a run at the bell and strike it with his head.

    This worked very well — until that fateful day when the weather turned cold and rainy. When the poor fellow ran at the bell, the wet conditions caused him to slip right past it and fall off the tower to the sidewalk below.

    A crowd gathered around the body. “Who is this poor man?” someone asked.

    A voice in the crowd replied, “I don’t know his name, but his face rings a bell.”

    Which leads to this:

    The village priest now needs another bell ringer. To his surprise, he finds that his former employee had an identical twin brother. Like his sibling, this poor guy is thrilled to find work but he has trouble properly performing this task. He, too, must to go up to the top of the tower and, at the given time, run at the bell and strike it with his head.

    This works very well — until that fateful day when the weather again turned rainy. When the poor fellow ran at the bell, he slipped right past it and fell out of the tower to the sidewalk below.

    A crowd gathered around the body. “Who is this man?” someone asked.

    The answer came: “I don’t know his name, but he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”

     

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    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

     

    Posted in Funny Thing, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    A Story of Persistence

    Since childhood, Larry Dane Brimner wanted to be a writer. As a young man, Larry taught school while struggling to get his work published.

    Now this was in the 1980’s, well before email and electronic submissions. Larry would mail copies of his manuscripts to publishing houses and wait for replies, which came by way of U.S. mail.

    Larry tells the poignant tale of the excitement, anticipation, and agony of awaiting a response to his very first book submission. It came, eventually, in the form of a rejection letter. Of course, this was disappointing but he made up his mind to keep writing and keep mailing out his manuscripts.

    For some reason, Larry kept that rejection letter. He placed it on the floor of a spare closet in his home. When he received another “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter from a publisher, he placed it on top of the first letter. He did the same with the next rejection letter. And the ones that came after that.

    Time passed and Larry continued teaching by day and writing on nights and weekends. He kept submitting manuscripts. Months turned into years of this same routine.

    Motocross Bicycling: getting airOne day there was a commotion in front of his house and Larry found that some young boys who were riding their motocross bicycles in the street had crashed into his parked car. In the classic manner of turning lemons into lemonade, Larry noticed the boys’ dedicated interest in their sport – and he decided to write a book about it.

    BMX Freestyle (Watts) by Larry Dane Brimner was published in 1987. This, his first book, was a commercial and critical success that launched his writing career. Today, Larry is an accomplished writer with more than 150 published titles. Most are for young readers.

    These days, his full-time occupation is writing and speaking about writing.

    On the day that Larry received word that one of his books was finally accepted for publication, he grabbed a yardstick and went to his closet. He measured the stack of rejection letters piled neatly on the floor.

    It was 26 inches high.

    Chills went through me when I first heard Larry tell his story, and I am getting them again as I share it. What a tribute to the power of perseverance!

    This is a lesson to be carried by anyone who aspires to success. Whether you work in the arts, in advertising, in retail, in product design, or in any other of an infinite number of endeavors, persistence is a key to your breakthrough moment.

    And it’s not only a matter of learning from your off-target attempts.

    Persistence is necessary to establish awareness and build recognition. This concept may manifest itself as consistency, repetition, saturation, high-traffic visibility, or viral exposition to name a few branding and marketing tactics.

    Success comes with persistence.

    You can say that again. And again.

    __________________________________________

    Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

    Rod Ebright is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.

    [Note: I am a guest author of blogs for "Beneath the Brand" at TalentZoo.com. To assure the folks at Talent Zoo that they are publishing original content, I've consented to wait 48 hours after being posted on their site before I share my advertising-related blogs here at RodEbright.com.]

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