Here’s Looking At You, Kid…

Free Beer!

Like you, I’ve been getting cold calls from recruiters since I began working (decades ago in my case). My experience is that they are rarely helpful; largely because the recruiter is often low on information.

I don’t blame the recruiter for being low on facts. The information about a job, or consulting project, is (or should be) provided by the agency’s client.

However, I do blame the recruiter for contacting prospects even when they have insufficient information about a role.

Recently, I was (cold) contacted by a recruiter about a “SharePoint Position.”

He didn’t provide a job description, but mentioned opportunities for “free beer!” on three occasions in a single Linkedin message.

I responded to recruiter and told him that his message didn’t give me a good vibe about the client or his agency.

He responded, “My client has a VERY casual work environment and they just let the work week speak for itself.”

WTF does that even mean?

It creates huge problem for all parties when a client doesn’t provide recruiting agency with sufficient information about a role, but still issues “get me candidates” directive which causes recruiters to start Linkedin spamming of “prospects.”

This is a tremendous waste of time for all everybody: the client, the recruiting agency and the candidates.

If a client doesn’t really know what they need in a candidate, or isn’t sure if they really NEED a candidate, then should they really be giving marching orders to line up interview prospects?

Should recruiters who are given nebulous instructions, about an amorphous role, start cold-calling candidates without a healthy pushback to the client?

If the client’s response is “Because I said so!” then can they really expect to find qualified candidates for positions for which the requirements are still in an ill-defined state?

Now about this “free beer,” thing. After eight years working for big ad agencies and then later finding myself in the muck of the “Dot.Com(edy)” era, working myself ragged, I can tell you that the price of “free” beer is a pretty steep one.

“Free beer!” as a selling point is rather unappetizing to me, especially in the absence of a job description.

After an email exchange with the recruiter, I told him I was not interested in talking further because my vibe about the client had not improved.

I explained that I really didn’t think that he and the client couldn’t provide a role description, and their value proposition was “free beer!” I didn’t have any interest.

I also made an attempt at some constructive criticism, though I think my worlds might have made me seem Humphrey Bogart in ‘Casablanca’, because my message felt like this:

“…claims that the client ” ‘….lets the work week speak for itself…’ and ‘free beer!’ don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Some day you’ll understand that.”

Not my exact words, but the sentiment is pretty damn close.

I don’t expect to change recruiting processes much. My influence on recruiters and their clients doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Though, I think it important for agencies and hiring managers receptive to constructive criticism. For a company to expect qualified an agency or candidate to act upon nebulous instructions is contrary to best practice in recruiting.

Perhaps someday, they’ll understand that.

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No Congress Left Behind

My fellow Americans, we  are a nation at risk.

The current  US government shutdown is but the latest symptom of a protracted malady. Drastic, immediate,  measures are required if we are to  begin healing.

We, the people, must fix this situation because Congress is incapable of doing so on its own.

Therefore,  I’m  proposing  a new law, which is based on the wildly successful education guidelines that have had robust bipartisan support for decades.

Just look at the shiny, happy people watching No Child Left Behind being signed into law.

No Child Left Act Signing Ceremony

No Child Left Act Signing Ceremony

While, Congress has long tried to privatize traditional public services, (most notably eduction), it has repeatedly failed to show adequate yearly progress (AYP) in its own work. We can change that  with just a few, simple, Draconian measures.

I call the law No Congress Left Behind, affectionally known as  NCLBtoo.  Key provision of NCLBtoo  is that  failure by Congress to meet AYP goals will result in demeaning,  punitive measures.

If Congress fails to meet AYP goals for two consecutive years, it must submit a two-year improvement plan. If we’re lucky,  the plan involves all members of the House and 1/3 of the Senate losing their reelection bid.

If they miss AYP targets for  three consecutive years, Congress will be forced to offer tutoring  (by public school teachers, scientists, economists, sociologists,) for  Representatives and Senator until they quit talking shit, about shit they know nothing about. This should put an end to remarks like this: “I”m not scientist, but Imma going to tell you why scientists are wrong…”

After four years of missing AYP targets, Congress will be relabeled as a “Corrective Action Congress”. This may result in  replacement of members of Congress and will require Congress to  extend the number of hours that they have to work. Certainly the thought of working five whole days per week will scare them into compliance, eh?

After the  5th  year of missing AYP targets, Congress will be restructured. This may include closure of the Congress (Yay!), or that Congress will become a “Charter Congress” in which a private company takes over Congress. Since this Charter Congress operator  will be a  “not for profit” organization, CEO pay will be capped at $2 million per year. Or $3.5 million, because,,,,DC is as expensive…as shit, you know.

Oh, and for the first year penalty….I’ll come up with  clever embarrassing hashtag and you can retweet it.

Contact your US representative and Senators  today and let them know that you support “NCLBtoo. “


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I Love Content, Season II

Content-Strategy Web Events

About a year ago, so that we could  share our learning with the world (and  dodge inclement weather), the West Michigan Content Strategy Meetup began hosting online events featuring content pros from around the world.

They were so much fun, we’re planning “Season II” with a recording session scheduled for November 9th (release details to come). “I Love Content” is our series title.

Our Season I episodes are listed below for your binge-watching pleasure.


“Brand Video: Evolving Beyond a Selling Platform” (December 2017)

A few days before discussing  the winter webinar season with one of the group’s cofounders, I’d shared a video about video (so, very  meta) created by a colleague from my ad industry days, Dennis Ryan.

Laura agreed that Dennis would be a great candidate for our inaugural meetup/webinar. He agreed, too and we made arrangements for “beam in” from The Twin Cities.

We scheduled the event for December 2017, and it was wicked cold in these parts, and colder in Minnesota (I know…shocking). The webinar format seemed like a genius move.

“Why is Podcasting so F*cking Popular?” (February 2018)

For our second online event, Laura contacted Gretchen DeVault and Tera Wozniak Qualls , women entrepreneurs (fempreneurs) who host a weekly podcast about kickass women fempreneurs.

Once again, the weather outside was frightful, but our guests were so delightful.

If you aren’t familiar with Gretchen and Tera, or their Lean The F*ck Out podcast, you can acquaint yourself rather quickly with these episodes:

“Narrative Warfare: A Discussion with Deb Lavoy” (April 2018)

I’d interacted with Deb Lavoy on social media a few times over the years and thought that she’d be a great guest presenter and made plans to contact her at some point about a lunch-and-learn event.

Then a few months ago, Deb wrote a blog post based on her recent experience as a panelist at a National Academy of Science workshop.

“Narrative Warfare” is a hot topic and Deb’s post was excellent. My plan to contact Deb mutated from “contact her soon” to contact her now”.

Deb has been kind enough to agree to do a followup event (still to be scheduled) with us on this topic. Stay tuned.

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Bo Knows Content Marketing

Content:  I Know It When I See It

The term “content marketing” bothered me a bit when I first heard it.

I knew what marketing was. I’d taken courses in college and later worked for some large advertising agencies.

However,  I was hard-pressed to think of any examples of marketing that occurred in the absence of content. I’ve never identified any cases, have you?

Now, a few years later, I’ve come to accept the term “content marketing”, for a few different reasons. I won’t go into all of them, but becoming acquainted with  Content Marketing Institute was certainly a factor.

According to CMI:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

To be clear:  I still think that “content marketing” is a subjective,  imprecise term. Though I can accept the CMI definition of content marketing.  Because I recognize that we live in a subjective, imprecise, world.

And there are few terms more subjective or imprecise than  “content”.

I think that nowadays when most people a say ‘content’, they are referring to the types of content (text, video, illustrations…) that we compose on a computer.

However, there is so many other expressions  of content out there: pottery, wood carving, improv…

A couple of years ago, I learned of this group in West Michigan, who are undeniably content creators (and perhaps, content marketers):


Learning of the Crazy Ladies Quilting Circle caused me to  begin re-thinking the definition of the word content. Clearly the members of this group create content. It’s interesting to learn  of their strategies of  incorporating  ‘yo-yos’ and “monkey wrenches” (I love the domain-specific vocabulary)  into their content products

I won’t chronicle my  entire acceptance journey, but let’s just say I’ve come to like this definition of content: from

“something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts:a poetic form adequate to a poetic content.”

While the definition doesn’t explicitly list pottery, or improv, or photography…their inclusion is implied.

In short, everything we produce is content. We’re all content creators.

Like many terms in our lives, the definition of content (therefore content marketing) is a slippery, squishy, evasive one.

The proper definition is in the eye of the beholder, or as Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in a US Supreme Court opinion (about a specific category of content):

“….and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so (provide a shorthand description).  But I know it when I see it….”

Likewise, “content marketing” may be hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Let’s look at an an unconventional example of content marketing in the following section. 

What Did Bo Know And When Did He Know It?

I especially like the previous definition of content, because it includes non-traditional forms of content. Thus, according to the definition, artful expressions such as this as  would be considered content:

The content-creator  making the catch, and the ascent up the wall,  is Bo Jackson, considered by many to be  one of the premier athletic performers, of the 20th Century.

ESPN named Jackson the Greatest Content Creator in history (OK, they didn’t say content creator…I think it was “athlete” or something like that).

Jackson won acclaim as a Heisman Trophy-winning three-sport star in college, and his brief–though brilliant– stints in both Major League Baseball and the NFL.

If we accept that athletic performances are content (as I do), then Bo Jackson is an A-list content creator.

At the height of his fame in the late 1980’s, he played baseball full-time for the Kansas City Royals and football part-time for the Los Angeles Raiders (following baseball season’s end).

At the time Jackson was under contract with athletic-apparel manufacturer, Nike, which produced one the  of most memorable ad efforts  of the era:  the  “Bo Knows” campaign.

The first Bo Knows ad featured a smart script, with an ensemble cast of some of the era’s notable athletes, and a  famous blues-rock guitarist who delivered the mother of all dad jokes.

Nike  made a solid media buy, too.  The  ad launch coincided  with  Jackson’s appearance in the  starting lineup in his first baseball All Star Game.

Nike and its ad agency, Weiden and Kenndy did good work, but there were some things that were beyond their control.

Moments before it aired, Bo Jackson hit  a long home run in his  first swing in the All Star game….the call was made by legendary  Dodgers announcer Vin Scully and a recently  term-limited president making the call.

Yes, Vin Scully and the Gipper behind the mic  as a Heisman Trophy winning NFL sensation hits a home run in The All Star Game.

Nike (and W&K) got a bit lucky there.

To extend the Lefty Gomez adage, of “I’d rather be lucky than good”:  on this night, Nike was good AND lucky.

To truly appreciate the full context of the ad’s premiere, it’s helpful to watch Jackson’s at-bat that preceded the airing of the spot.

This was his first All Star game, he was the first batter for his team and he hit a home run on his first swing:

And merely three outs later, the first of  the “Bo Knows” ads premiered:

Oh, Bo Diddley… if there were only  Nobel Prize for Dad jokes….

In light of this ad (and Jackson’s timely All Star home run), let’s consider a customized CMI definition of content marketing:

Nike provided a strategic marketing approach in which Bo Jackson focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content (touchdowns, home runs, acrobatic catches) to attract and retain a clearly defined audience (sports fans, and those who buy athletic apparel)  — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (buying ‘Swoosh’ logo clothing).


An injury cut short Jackson’s  football career, but he  was able to return to baseball for a few more seasons. With an artificial hip, no less.

His determination to play baseball again led to another series of Nike spots featuring  his bionic hip, his rehab routine, and rant-prone comedian Dennis Leary.

 In 1993, he returned to Major League Baseball with a new team (the Chicago White Sox), and a new hip. In his first at bat of his comeback season he hit a towering home run:

Of course he did that (he’s a master content-creator). Thus, Nike subsequently sold more apparel.

Because Bo knows content marketing.

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