Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In memory of Lucas, best dog ever 09/24/97 - 06/23/08

Dogs can teach you so many things. My sweet precious boy Lucas, when diagnosed with adeno carcinoma, had just one month left to teach me some of the most important lessons ever. Lucas knew these intimately and lived them every day. I am still his student.

Things you've taught me:

Always show your deep love and devotion when someone you love enters the room.

When there's a crowd, hang back but be near and strong in your commitment.

Forgive quickly, easily and completely so you can love the next moment.

Enjoy absolutely everything you can to the fullest, and show those around you your joy - even at the simplest things.

Be free and giving of your love and support when someone you love is hurting and distressed. Come to them on their terms to help.

Keep playing, even when you may not want to, and show those who love you that it matters to them.

Come when you're called, no matter how you feel - and stay really really close.

Trust the ones you love the most will always return, even if you don't know when or why they left.

When they do return, be open and ready to make a complete fool of yourself showing them your love.
Jump. Dance. Smile. Wiggle. Kiss hard and fast.

Let your eyes show the full depth of your emotions.

Be gracious and accepting when someone tries to help, even if you really don't want it.

When you're scared, come to the ones who love you for comfort and support.

When you just need to "be", and you feel pain or discomfort, let it out, let those who love you stroke your head and love you up.

Approach each day as if it were the first and last day of your life.

When there's anger around you be quick to move in and offer comfort.

Live fully, beautifully and completely in the moment as it happens.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The things you see in airports

Ever noticed how the TVs in most American airports are always tuned to CNN? I love that, because it gives me snippets of the news as I fly on by. It's great. Except when the Breaking News story is one about a Continental Airlines pilot dying in the cockpit mid-flight. That's a little unnerving, happening right now in the SFO airport.

The plane was landed safely by the co-pilots.

As I was processing that, and thinking about a colleague who told me she was flying on 9/11 and noticed how eerie the DFW airport was, with all the TVs turned off, I heard a woman's voice right behind me, "It's a boy! I told her I thought they would have a boy!".

I turned to see three elderly women, seeming to be heading out on vacation, connecting to another flight through SFO. The woman who spoke had a cell phone pressed to her ear, tears rolling down her cheeks as she likely received the news of a new grand baby entering the world. She asked questions about weight, name, etc. and immediately relayed the answers to her travel buddies. They shared in her joy.

The circle of life continues, there for the observing in every airport in America.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fair Food - A cultural right of passage?

Ok, I have NOT been to a county fair, except as a dog show participant, when I was more worried about grooming space, the right bait and set up space ringside. Until yesterday. The San Diego County Fair is like nothing I have ever experienced in Canada. Not the PNE or the CNE, nope - neither comes close. Sure we have the same animal displays, petting zoos, 4H clubs, pig races, etc. And there's the guy with the super chamois and the kitchen gadget vendors with the microphones on headsets yelling, "It slices, it dices, it make smoothies in the morning!"

But the food here was crazy.

The left image above is the deep fried Snickers and Reese's booth
The middle above is deep fried artichoke.
The right one is Wendy eating the deep fried Snickers - you have to see it to believe it.

Not just hot dogs and burgers, candy floss and kettle corn. No no no - we are talking fair food. Mostly deep fried, and that goes for everything you can imagine. Deep fried artichoke hearts, deep fried Snickers bars and Reese's bars. Corn dogs the size of I don't know what. BBQ turkey legs so massive you feel like you are starring in a Flintstones epsiode. Raw cake dough, fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and called funnel cake. We had to really look hard for the frozen yogurt guy.

Food aside, god love America for figuring out how to do beer and wine gardens every few feet, complete with pretty decent live entertainment. We saw a fabulous tribute band who played Journey like Journey played Journey. Made me feel old - I knew all the words, and the guy on stage singing was probably 24 at best.

It was a total cultural experience. I feel like I've been through a right of passage in some way.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Melissa Etheridge - Live and Alone at San Diego County Fair

Saw Melissa Etheridge last night, row 4 in Del Mar. Call us groupies, we have seen her probably 15 times. We saw her first show after 9/11 in Denver, on Oct 4th. She was very emotional, humbled by the events. We saw her last show (in Seattle) before she got the tragic news of her breast cancer diagnosis.

The anthem she wrote, and sings near the end of every concert now, "I Run for Life" has been played at more breast cancer fund raising runs than any other, and was inspired by those events.

Then there is the theme song she wrote for Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth"' - the lyrics of which were written and still say "a woman can be president" - because at the time it looked like Hilary would win. Now when she performs it she sings "a Black man could be president".

This soulful rocker, a girl from Kansas, is an inspiration in so many ways. She did the quintessential "pack up and leave", and headed for California. where she sang for years at the Que Sera on Cherry Avenue in Long Beach, living on tips. Whatever you think about her politics, and if good solid rock isn't your thing, Melissa is living her dream, made of her own doing. Every time I see her I am reminded of that fact. Last night, in the midst of this crazy (re)depression she thanked her concert goers and reminded us all to start with a little ball of joy right in our center, and see what happens when we feel it expanding out from there, touching others, and if not, making us feel better in the process.

Live free.
Speak true.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Ok, but it really DOES rain a lot there right?

This is a great piece.


Nothing more to say than where you are from sticks with you, like a great plate of pasta to your ribs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Law firms forced to shrink

Another Sunday New York Times read and another ton of stuff to think about. This week's issue included a story about the impact the current economic malaise (I refuse to call it a crisis anymore, because someone needs to start heading toward the up and positive side of it) is having on big Wall Street law firms.

It focused on the challenges of making the tough decisions to lay off team members, and in some cases decades-long attorneys with big cases under their belts, second mortgages to pay on vacation properties and kids in ivy league schools.

After a couple rounds of lay offs at White & Case (one big firm) the article talks about "big" as a business model being bound for obsolescence. I think this has been coming for years, and it is perhaps only the current economic situation that has made it more real.

What is interesting is watching how companies deal with it. At White & Case they had three choices (probably the same holds true for any big business now): 1. Do nothing, risking the firm's survival; 2. Couch layoffs as decisions based on poor performance; or 3. Own up to the crisis and bid large numbers of lawyers good bye. They chose the third.

So very very hard, for the leaders and those who lost their jobs. Hugh Verrier, the company Chairman made what might seem a simple point, but for me it cuts right to the heart of company culture: "There were tough judgment calls," he said, adding that he tried as best he could to preserve the firm's culture and that the 'how' of the dismissals was at least as important as the 'why'."

While it was hard to read about the paradigm shift in such a venerable profession, and the loss of jobs for so many, there is a big part of me that thinks the changing the this natural order is a healthy thing. It's not sustainable long-term to have pyramid billings where clients pay for groups of associates to do they job, when some can be said to be training or watching, or back-filling in the event something happens. It's not sustainable to have the padded estimates by type of job, rather than the actual hours spent. This is true in many industries, not just law. Take advertising agencies for example. So the billing structures and client relations probably need to change.

I am down with that.

But what worries me in the midst of this paradigm shift is that as the "bottom line" takes on a greater focus, the kind of guidance, thought consulting and strategic advice given by professionals like these lawyers becomes commoditized. That runs the risk of shifting too far the other way, where the only "accountability" becomes an accounting metric. Equally as dangerous as the outmoded hierarchical big-bonus-jobs-for-life we see evaporating.

You'd think by now, after many of these cycles we would have figured it out - take pride in what you do, deliver great results, work hard, and look for new ways to innovate and add value to your customers, whomever they are. I have to believe that if we could do that, the natural order would win out and it would actually be the right answer.

And, high five to those leaders like Verrier who actually understand and value the importance of culture even in the midst of tough choices.

Read the full article here:


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Laetitia Winery Makes WSJ Top 12 list and Sends Facebook Friends a Special Offer

This week the WSJ released their Top 12 Wine Buys. Check it out at:

One of the wines on the list is a Laetitia Chardonnay, from the Central Coast (CA for all you Canadians), a winery where we are wine club members. Ok so that's cool news enough, except Laetitia has taken this media event and tied it into their Facebook site and promoted it to their friends and fans. When they first joined Facebook in April they had 181 fans within about a week. Now they have over 1,000. And they are a small niche production winery on the Central Coast. Not Target. Or Starbucks. Or the Oprah Winfrey Show. Or (insert name of your fave pro sports team here).

They are a small, superb winery on the Central Coast that in my opinion has done a great job of using Facebook the right way - to share excellent news and to provide a special friends/fans only incentive just for being there.

Check them out on Facebook at:

I cut their message only in the off chance some one is not on Facebook so you could see it in action:

WSJ's BEST BUYS offered at FACEBOOK discount

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 8:59am
Each year the Wall Street Journal puts a panel of acclaimed wine critics together to pick the top 12 of “America’s Best Wine Buys.” This year the 2007 Laetitia Estate Chardonnay was selected among the 12 and, while the twelve wines selected didn’t include a sparkling selection, WSJ named the Laetitia Brut Cuvee the “Top Fizz.”

The WSJ/Facebook Offer (while supplies last!):
We are excited to share this accolade and for anyone who mentions Facebook in the tasting room or ordering by phone will receive:
- 20% discount on the WSJ wines AND residual purchases
- 30% extended to any club members when mentioning Facebook!
- Bonus: Buy 6+ bottles and receive complimentary ground shipping

How to Order:
Call in or drop by the tasting room and mention "FACEBOOK." If calling in, please direct your 'Facebook Offer' purchases to Kristin Kate Smith at direct line 805-474-7641.

Laetitia 2007 Chardonnay, normally $18, now $14.40 for Facebook and $12.60 for Laetitia Wine Club Members!
Laetitia Brut Cuvee NV, normally $22, now $17.60 for Facebook and $15.40 for Laetitia Wine Club Members!
If you are a friend or fan you get a great discount on their wine to celebrate their WSJ distinction.
Great strategy.
Authentic answer.
No fake paid bloggers.
No made up personas.
Just a great business connecting with their loyal following. Now isn't that "social media" at its best?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Target® responds - just 18 hours later

Ok so Target® meant what they said in their ad in the Sunday NY Times about getting back to me. I received this response from Julie at Target Guest Relations just 18 hours after sending my suggestion (see last night's post)

Dear Teri,

Thanks for letting us know how you'd like to make Target® even better!

It's exciting to hear the many ideas from guests like you and we appreciate your suggestion about having a "Give Back" day where our guests can help out others in their communities. There have been a lot of families hit hard by these tough economic times so, as part of this initiative, I'll be passing your suggestion along to our Senior Executives.

We work hard to make Target such a fun place to shop. Whether it's our merchandise, services or commitment to communities we serve, we're always looking for ways to improve your shopping experience and new ways to bring you more for less.

(800) 440-0680
Target Guest Relations

I made it red, in honor of the Target bull's eye. A couple things to note... the message back to me was personalized and they spelled my name right. Very awesome in my world. Julie actually read my request because she expressly referred to it in her reply. And the last paragraph (and likely part of the first) is a canned reply that I am certain everyone got. Oh well, they've got to get their corporate message out somehow I guess.

Cool though. The original ad with this offer to send them my thoughts was likely seen by millions in Sunday's NY Times, and they took it seriously. It makes me say it again - I can't imagine a good old fashioned department store even 10 years ago doing this. It's the age of customer control in fine form.

Score one for Target, staying true to being customer responsive, even if partially canned.
Now everyone keep your eyes open for "Give Back" day at the Target in your neighborhood.

Someone else try this and see what you get back from them.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sent to Target June 1, 2009 at 9:04 p.m. PST

Following up on yesterday's post, here's the message I sent to Target today (more@Target.com). I will keep you posted on any response I receive, and when I receive it.

Hi Target types;
I loved the ad you ran in the NY Times yesterday. I hope you are sincere about wanting ideas for more things you can do for your loyal customers today, because I think it is in times like this when you can make a difference the most.

Here's my thought. It involves giving back to those who need it most. I know you already donate 5% of profits to local community efforts, which is awesome, but how about if you encouraged people to come to Target stores to donate clothing, household items in good order, etc. on one day each month and on that day they could receive a store credit of whatever amount made sense based on their donation to spend in your store that day? There are more people than ever losing their jobs, or getting their pay cut back, I think this could have a real impact. Target stores are a much more public place than say the local Goodwill drops, and you know as well as I that more people than ever, from all stripes, are coming to your stores looking to buy essentials at great prices. Why not make it easy to do 2 things - shop for those things you need, and give back to others all in one trip? You could control the cost to you by selecting one "Give Back Day" per month - make noise about it on Twitter and elsewhere, and there would be no way Wal-Mart or any other retailer could copy it.
What do you think?

In the meantime, Koose, great comment on yesterday's post. I can ALWAYS rely on you to dig up the source, no matter what the issue. For those of you who don't know him, meet David Kusumoto, well read, great writer and funny too.