Month: July 2016

Are Your Marketing Goals Aligned With Customer Objectives?

Are Your Marketing Goals Aligned With Customer Objectives?

As marketers, we often skip the important step of assessing our marketing goals against customer objectives. As a consequence, we fall in love with our message and forget to question what it is the customer needs to know or wants to hear. It’s not hard to check if this is true of your company—simply answer the following two questions.

1. What are the three most important things you want the customer to know about your company, product or service?

2. What are the three most important things the customer wants to know?

The customer, not the company is the hero of every standout brand story.

Image by Glenn Scott.

Are Your Marketing Goals Aligned With Customer Objectives? | From The Story of Telling


via The Story of Telling

July 31, 2016 at 11:22AM


Beating Trump

Beating Trump


Trump owns the news cycle, he’s the headline every damn day, whereas Hillary’s nowhere to be found. Taylor Swift did not become the biggest star in America by laying back and resting on the laurels of “1989.” She had listening parties, of both professionals and fans. She delivered Christmas gifts and filmed the ensuing hysteria. And despite experiencing a backlash, she could still sell out stadiums all across this great nation of ours. You see the fans don’t care about the haters. Don’t piss in the wind complaining, best your enemies by playing their own game, but better.


Want to replace Taylor Swift, do her act better than she does. Or come up with something transcendent that eclipses her. This election is about persuading the undecided. You’ve got to speak to their issues and convince them. The anybody but Trump faction is never gonna vote for him, don’t bother preaching to the converted, if anything it alienates the middle. The middle is worried about jobs and their future. And you appeal to these people emotionally, you feel their pain, something Bill Clinton was so good at. Stop railing against the Donald and go after his fans.


Kanye is the master here, he held rallies to roll out his fashion line and his video, and charged for the privilege of attending. Kanye thought outside the box, he realized it wasn’t about unit sales, but mindshare.


The person with the best message wins online. If Hillary were smart, she’d get into a flame war with Trump, engage him on his own terms online, spontaneously, on Twitter. The eyeballs and the news would be overwhelming. Trump’s a man of no substance, Hillary’s a wonk. She’d win any battle if she only played. Furthermore, it would set up the debates, it would defuse Trump’s firepower and put him on his heels. And Hillary could reference the online shenanigans during the ultimate televised encounters. Once again, Trump wins by being outrageous, that’s why people tune in, to see what he says next, it worked for him in the Republican primaries. Hillary’s got to go for the jugular, she’s got to be tough, we know she’s got it in her, she’s got to stop playing soft grandma and become bad ass grandma, which will further demonstrate her ability to lead, it’s a win win. Hillary’s not touchy-feely and that’s okay with the women on the work front lines, who have to deal with a man’s world every day and know how to play rough. 1992 was a generation ago, those ladies pissed off that Hillary didn’t want to stay home and bake cookies are in retirement homes wondering how they’re going to pay the next bill, if they’re not still working. People want a fighter and a winner, and that’s Hillary, not Donald, and if she’d just take off the gloves, stop smiling and start sneering…she’d issue the knockout punch.


Don’t take the bait! Don’t react to Putinism or the Muslim inanities, this election is about economic security, plain and simple. Once Donald gets you off point, you’ve lost. If someone was gonna be turned off by Donald’s wild statements and flip-flopping they’d have already abandoned him. You think the press is doing your job, by hammering Trump every damn day, but when it comes to entertainment there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And Trump has made this election about entertainment. You can’t win on that level, he’s better at that than you are, but if you illustrate his inadequacies by challenging him, you’ll succeed. Trump is thin-skinned and cannot let a comment slide, he’s always got to react. Go on Twitter and ask him how he’s gonna balance the budget with his tax plan, ask him how he’s gonna repair our nation’s infrastructure, ask him how he’s gonna keep black people and Latinos safe. Own the issues, play offense, not defense, that’s when Trump looks worst, when he’s force to respond to specific questions far from his wheelhouse, the ones important to undecided voters.

It’s a game folks. And Trump has revealed it to be a completely different one from what has come before. And all the established players have been caught flat-footed. The Republican party, the media and now Hillary Clinton. Past is prologue. Don’t be one of the seven dwarf Republicans playing your own aged game as Trump clears the board. Bush had a plan, no one cared, they want action and emotion. Rubio had no substance. And Carson was a dodo and Christie was tainted. And while they were jockeying for position, Trump redefined the race and then won it, to everybody’s amazement.

He’s gonna go low. He’s gonna say things that are gonna make many wince. But his words won’t be so different from those used in bars and households all over America today. Decorum is out the window, everybody uses the F-word, life is a rap battle, and the person who believes they’re above this is seen as out of touch and ends up being squeezed out.

Beyonce tested limits and got even bigger. Standing up for something instead of just smiling and playing nice.

And the “Voice” contestants play by the rules and then never succeed in the marketplace.

And Drake releases new music constantly, he’s always in the news.

And Bieber is the biggest and baddest, and he’s left a trail of missteps in his wake, but no one who listens to his music cares, they just love the songs.

Sing your song Hillary. Say what you’re gonna do instead of claiming America is already great. Be a leader, something Obama has faltered at. Challenge Congress. Push back. Organize. Have us follow in your wake instead of you following in ours.

As for Goldman Sachs and the speech money…do your Checkers mea culpa, say you needed the money and you kept making the money because money is power and you needed to accumulate so much to take on the corporations. Make your supposed flaws your assets.

Today’s musicians may not be cutting edge musically, but no one has done a better job of harnessing the new communication tools to reach the populace. It’s musicians who dominate social media, it’s musicians who are now unfiltered and in the marketplace every damn day. Better to consult with Taylor and Kanye than Robby Mook. And Bill’s aged and out of touch and Obama is so busy playing nice that he might have beaten Romney but would be challenged in today’s world.

The battle will be won by making your own news, by controlling your own narrative, not by being interviewed on Fox News, but by being all over Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Never forget, the mainstream media is last, stories are built online. You can create your own narrative, musicians do it every damn day, Kim Kardashian is the master of this. Hell, she’s a good example. People hate her for having no talent. But you know what talent she does have? Making money. By staying in the news and appealing to those open to her message.

And many more people would be open to your message Hillary if you just got into the pit and fought it out.

You can do this, I know you can.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes, they’re quickly forgotten, step up to the plate and take some whacks, it’s the home runs we remember.

P.S. Own the criticism. Just like African-Americans took back the N-word and Obama called the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare,” tweet Trump and tell him it’s CROOKED HILLARY! And that you’d be tweeting from Benghazi, but you couldn’t get a plane there fast enough, just like you couldn’t get troops in to save…

P.P.S. Ask any golfer, you play to win or you don’t. Sure, Hillary might eke out a victory with her present strategy, but who’s she gonna kick if she fails but herself. No one is better informed on the issues than Hillary, no one knows better how to shepherd change through our system, she’s got to stop having her seconds telling everybody this and DEMONSTRATE IT!


via Lefsetz Letter

July 31, 2016 at 03:55AM

David Lindley At The Levitt Pavilion

David Lindley At The Levitt Pavilion

He drives a Toyota Sienna minivan, a 2004, if it weren’t for the sideburns he’d be mistaken for a soccer mom.

For far too long we’ve equated music with riches and fame. Ever since the Beatles, and then the paradigm was supersized with MTV and now too many see playing as a vehicle to somewhere else, assuming they play at all.

But not David Lindley, who picked up a ukulele at four and got hooked, the deal was sealed when he put his head on the piano while his relative’s string quartet played back in the forties, he’s been picking ever since, from long before you knew he played with Jackson Browne, long before “Mercury Blues.”

The Levitt Pavilion is a free venue in Pasadena, we took the train, there’s a stop right there.

And in a small clearing there’s old fans, families and those in search of cheap entertainment assembled under the stars to hear music every bit as good as that being paid for across town, but without quite the same cachet. Oftentimes performed by those past their commercial peak, from back when music ruled the world and chops were everything.

And David Lindley’s got chops galore.

And a personality to match. As Dolly Parton put it during the recording of her “Live From Dollywood” LP, Lindley came to the gig all the way from MARS! That’s right, musicians used to be known for their quirky personalities as opposed to their ability to dominate social media.

So Lindley’s got a rack of instruments. He plucks them one by one and ekes out a sound that’s skilled but absent from the radio, they call this music.

And the highlight was “Meatgrinder Blues.”

Like every other number, it had a backstory. David was with Ry Cooder, telling his fellow axeman a tale of a friend’s woe. And Ry responded that this person was in the “self-meatgrinder.” Hmm, there’s a song in that, David said to himself, and he went home and wrote one with his daughter and sang it last night.

And it was satisfying but then when it was nearly done David told us he had a self-meatgrinder with him right on stage. That it was off in the corner, and if we wanted to go inside…

There were handles, you had to climb up. And when you got inside, you had to spread your haunches over the blades and then pull the handle and…GRIND, GRIND, GRIND!

You suspended disbelief. The story went on so long you had time to remember when you’d put yourself in the meatgrinder. And then the playing got fast and furious and one wondered…WHAT EXACTLY IS HAPPENING HERE?

There was Elvis, and then the folk explosion. Then came the Beatles and the business was transmogrified from a sideshow of hustlers and crooks to the mainstream, suddenly musicians were not only rich people, they had more power than politicians and businessmen.

And then it all disappeared.

They took it to the limit too many times. The joy was no longer in the note, pure and easy, but in the penumbra, the trappings, the side salad.

But David Lindley is still interested in the main course. He practices three to four hours, almost every day. You see it’s all about education, he wants to LEARN! He’s studying tracks from the Middle East and videos on YouTube. How did they do that? He wants to do it too. And he won’t be finished till he can play everything he hears in his head, which is never.

And the penultimate number was his classic “Mercury Blues.”

Only this time there was a new verse, his baby went to Costco, brought home some tuna, and he doesn’t want that mercury runnin’ ’round his brain.

I first saw Lindley at the Bitter End, accompanying Jackson Browne, who referred to him as the “Lindley Brothers,” since every time David picked up a new instrument he exhibited a new personality.

And then there was his star turn on “Stay.”

Needless to say, I needed to buy “El Rayo-X.” We were not only fans of the stars, but everybody we saw in the credits.

And David re-emerged with Jackson at the Greek a couple of years back, re-creating that seventies magic with a twist.

But I had no idea I’d see him last night until a friend informed me of the gig. You see there’s so much happening you can’t keep track.

So I ended up sitting outside on a hot summer night exposed to a guy who never gave up because it was never about stardom and bank to begin with, but only the music.

And that’s not only refreshing, it’s a REVELATION!


via Lefsetz Letter

July 30, 2016 at 01:42PM

Election Lessons

Election Lessons

This is the bleeding edge folks. Politics is the tech of the teens. It’s got everybody riveted and lessons are being reinforced daily. Like…

1. Off the cuff, not scripted.

This is what is endearing people to Donald Trump. He seems human. We keep hearing that Hillary cares, but we just don’t care about HER! If you’re not authentic and vulnerable, if you’re not speaking from the heart, you’re gonna lose today.

2. Facts don’t matter

Nobody believes ’em anymore. There seem to be multiple sets to prove multiple theories, people react with emotion. Life is not a math problem, it’s messy and you go with your gut.

3. Advertising is overrated.

Read this article:

“Clinton’s Convention Was Made for TV. Trump’s Was Made For Twitter”

Clinton spent $68 million on TV advertising, Trump spent less than $6 million. Used to be the person with the deep TV ad budget won the war, i.e. the election, not anymore. Turns out no one’s paying attention, today it’s all social media, it’s all word of mouth. And that’s where the Clinton campaign is lacking.

4. Shrug off mistakes.

Gotcha politics are over, which may be why the Republicans lost control of their own party. Melania didn’t graduate from college so they took down her website, never mind ripping off Michelle Obama’s speech. He who falls on his own sword repeatedly loses in the future. Admit your mistake and move on. We’ve been holding elected officials to a standard so high nobody can reach it. But now we’ve got a thrice-married guy who’s all over the place essentially tied with an established pol playing by the old rules.

5. Double-down, don’t admit defeat.

This is what Roger Ailes did so well. Today, in light of accusations, in light of guilt, either admit quickly and move on, as per above, because the news cycle is so fast, or push back. We’ve been living in an apology culture for far too long. Celebrities commit faux pas and they shed tears and go to rehab, claiming they didn’t know what got into them. But people don’t act that way in regular life, they obfuscate, they defend, they don’t capitulate until there are no other options. Everybody’s a five year old at heart, afraid of being less than. So when you push back people identify, and usually those attacking are playing to win the battle, but not the war. Gretchen Carlson desired to win the war, she caught Fox unawares, she brought Ailes down.

6. You’re the elite.

What’s that poker cliche, if you look around the table and you can’t tell who’s the sucker, it’s you?

If you look at Trump and can’t understand his success, don’t know anybody who’s voting for him, then you’re probably a member of the elite.

Baby boomers thought the elite was the old white men in the establishment, who oppressed them, they never felt they would be like them, but they are. Today’s wealth in America is not dominated by those who inherited money, but those who made it. Who got first class educations and then triumphed. Read Ronald Brownstein’s article in the “Atlantic”:

“The Diverse Left and White Working-Class Right, Does the Democratic Party – open to all immigrants, races, genders, and sexual orientations – have enough room for less educated white voters?”

The Party abandoned the working class, not vice versa. It didn’t stand up for unions, its leaders were so busy triumphing and pillaging that they lost touch with those below them. And despite all the paeans to those less fortunate, these same winners don’t want to sacrifice. Not only do they want to fly private, they don’t want to sit in the back of the plane, where you’re elbow to elbow and the luggage racks are overstuffed. They don’t eat fast food and they don’t stay at Motel 6. They’ve picked themselves right up and marched far away from their middle class brethren whose opportunities have evaporated. Go to an Ivy League school and you can get a job at a bank, be less fortunate and you never even step into a bank, you’ve got no savings and you can’t afford a checking account.

This election is about the haves and the have-nots and the dirty little secret is the haves just cannot see what they’ve got and how it pisses the “little people” off.

7. Don’t make me feel inadequate.

I thought Hillary’s speech was quite good, it reached out to so many, but by time I got finished listening to her, Chelsea and Bill I felt like I’d wasted my life and accomplished very little. But as the hours went by I felt it was a lie, that no one could be that much of a saint, and I got angry. Hillary’s playing by the old rules, where it’s all about your resume. But today’s LinkedIn generation knows resumes are for lying, they’re all puffed-up to give you a good image, there’s very little there there.

8. Media is distrusted.

The talking heads are elitists with little gravitas. We’re sick and tired of being talked down to, which is how both Fox and MSNBC lost control of the narrative.

9. Numbers, not opinions.

Polls are everything, we follow the horse race. And if you pooh-pooh this, please note that the box office grosses and “Billboard” chart are in every publication known to man. And “USA Today” even prints the Mediabase chart!

Polls are flawed, and we trust them less and less, but numbers resonate most these days. And the truth is the numbers look good for Trump. We’ve yet to see if Clinton gets a convention bounce, but right now, Trump has a 46.7% chance of winning in November, and that’s almost a double digit jump within the past month.

“Who will win the presidency”

“Where The Election Goes From Here”

10. In the land of multiple messages, clear messaging is key.

You can’t break through the clutter, this is the high concept election, if you can’t convey your message in a sentence, it’s lost.

11. People embrace change.

Otherwise why would they keep switching social networks, never mind upgrading their mobile hand-sets?

Silicon Valley knows this, that you can’t rest on your laurels, it’s not what are you doing for me today, but what are you going to do for me tomorrow!

But the media is still propping up Apple while Amazon, Google and Facebook are eating its lunch, do you expect truth to be revealed in the press?

We want the new and different, we’re sick and tired of the same old thing, we want revolutionary hope, even if it’s a pipe dream, otherwise it’s just too tough to get out of bed in the morning.

I thought the Democrats rallied, their Convention ultimately featured a rainbow coalition of speakers. But I felt strangely separated from those in charge, the elite. They seemed to say they had experience and they knew better, like a record exec rolling in dough from overpriced CDs who couldn’t see Napster coming, who could not see customers embracing poor quality MP3s instead of CDs.

The twenty first century has been about progress. The only problem is this progress has left so many out. And the victors say those on the sidelines shouldn’t complain, they’ve got flat screens and smartphones. That the success of the rich will trickle down to the poor. That’s a right wing canard the public has fully rejected.

If you want to win today you’ve got to be in the game every damn day. And the game is not network TV and newspapers, but social media. And it’s about sticking to your vision and being impervious to failure. It’s about gaining constituents and figuring out what to do with them later.

That’s right, it’s like tech.

Betamax was better than VHS, but the latter triumphed.

Google had no business model before it became one of the world’s largest and most profitable corporations.

Amazon lost tons of money before it came to dominate.

It’s a very long game, you plant your seeds years before.

Hillary’s been detached from the rank and file for far too long. And it’s a world where your acolytes prop you up. And everybody supporting Hillary is old and has been in the game forever.

That’s right, the game changed.

And Hillary missed the memo.

She’s playing by 1990s rules. A Pentium in an era of ARM chips.

She could eke out a victory, but the above issues remain.

Wanna win?

Be authentic, don’t poll to adjust your vision, go by your gut. And use the new tools to triumph. That’s right, Netflix was built on the Amazon Cloud. The tools are within reach. It’s what you do with them that counts. You can reach everybody if you want. But you must be innovative, you must experiment, you must keep tweaking until you emerge triumphant.

Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.

But he’s 32. And transforming Facebook into a video service, after moving the app to mobile and dominating hand-set advertising. Google was asleep. The media thinks Facebook’s about birthday photos. But Zuckerberg demoted the media he courted.

All within a couple of years.

Don’t stay the course.



via Lefsetz Letter

July 30, 2016 at 05:59AM

Friday Link Pack

Friday Link Pack

giphy For reals. I am with her.

Yay, balloons!

– Interesting read: Five things that can make you a better parent right now Agreed.

3 Easy Ways How to Pit Cherries

Capitalize my title. This is helpful!

Jerry Seinfeld and John Oliver in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Basecamp offers impressive employee benefits. One of them is that you can work wherever you want: Work from anywhere in the world. Move cities, keep your job. Amazing!

– If I was a bird, I’d want to live in this Birdhaus.

– Eva Solo designs beautiful objects. This Grill To Go is no exception.

A Checklist for Everyday. I like this. (via)

– For my German speaking readers: I love this beruf der woche series over on Zeit Online.

– Can’t wait to get my hands on Jocelyn K. Glei’s book Unsubscribe. It just became available for pre-order.

Buildings that resemble the things they sell. Funny.

– “A tip for combatting impostor syndrome is to focus more on what you’re learning than on how you’re performing.” Interesting article on the Imposter Syndrome. (via)

– I dig the General Bucket.

OMG these knives!!!

– I can see why this Darth Vader Toaster exists. So over the top it’s good.

– This Wave Necklace is a beauty.

A collapsible bucket. Smart.

– You love Tacos? Then you’ll probably love this Taco Tattly by Jessi Preston.

– How stinking cute is this kids 2 seater sofa with rainbow buttons?

– This pool float is a winner.

– The Poo Plunger made me laugh. Can’t wait to show my kids.

– So simple: 7 Learning Strategies to Borrow From Your Kids

– Did you know at Tattly we handle all of our product and campaign photography in house? Here’s a glimpse behind the scenes of some of our recent photo shoots.

– My friends at Meet Up are looking to hire a Head of Product Design. Great company. Great people.


via Swiss Miss

July 29, 2016 at 12:44AM

Pokemon GO or Pokemon No?

Pokemon GO or Pokemon No?

Credit: NintendoUnless you’ve been living under a Geodude this past month, you’ve no doubt been exposed (either willingly or unwillingly) to some part of the current social media/mobile gaming sensation, Pokemon GO.  Niantic’s new “catch ’em all” treasure hunting mobile game is lighting up Charmander tails across the globe with approximately 75 million downloads and roughly 25 million daily active users.

Since I’m an attorney that loves video games, and since people seem to like lists, I figured I’d take some time to set out my “Top 5” list of potential legal issues arising in connection with Pokemon GO.

1.  When you click “I Agree” before downloading the app, you are likely creating a binding contract containing the Pokemon GO Terms of Service.

If you’re like most people, whenever you download any sort of software program or app, you quickly breeze through the download and install screens, indiscriminately agreeing to whatever is necessary to start the download and install.  You should know that by doing this, you are actually agreeing to a legally binding contract.  These contracts are called “Click Wrap Agreements,” and they are generally enforceable.  Thus far, it is not a valid defense to say “Nobody reads those things.”  The only real defense to a properly deployed click wrap agreement is to claim that the terms are unconscionable, and that’s a very difficult row to hoe

2.  You are potentially letting Niantic into your bedroom, literally.

Similar to a lot of apps, the Terms of Use for Pokemon GO give the developer a great deal of access to your information.  In addition to the GPS and other location data used to play the game (which Niantic has broad authority to log, store, and use), the Terms of Service provide Niantic with:

a nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide, royalty-free license to use, copy, modify, create derivative works based upon, publicly display, publicly perform, and distribute your User Content in connection with operating and providing the Services and Content to you and to other Account holders.

Accordingly, when you’re suffering from insomnia and happen to capture a Clefairy while waiting to capture some Z’s, the image that is generated through your phone’s camera can likely be used by Niantic.

3.  It doesn’t matter if Pikachu is hanging out in your neighbor’s backyard.  If you go on his or her property without permission, you are trespassing.

Under the law of most states, entry onto private land without the permission of the property owner is both criminal and civil trespass.  Most states also allow a defense of justification if the trespass were necessary to avoid some greater harm from occurring.  (Think taking shelter from a life threatening storm.)  However, the presence of a moderately rare, or even incredibly rare Pokemon has never been, and will likely never be, a valid justification.  It’s also important to note that permission to be on property can be conditional and is revocable; I could allow people on my property to bird watch, but I could kick them out if they tried to steal my Dragonite.

4.  Although it’s tried to effectively disclaim liability for any conceivable harm suffered by its gamers, Niantic could be liable under certain circumstances.

As with many contracts, the Niantic Terms of Service contain expansive liability waivers intended to insulate it from any and all lawsuits or damages claims arising if someone dies or is dismembered playing the game.  However, California law (which governs the Terms of Service) doesn’t generally allow the disclaimer of reckless or willful conduct.  Thus, if Niantic had reason to know that gamers were likely to walk off a cliff while playing the game, but still allowed Pokemon to spawn 5 feet past a significant precipice, they could potentially be liable for harm that results.

5.  Unless you were paying attention and opted-out of the arbitration agreement found in the Niantic Terms of Service, you have likely waived your right to ever sue Niantic in court or participate in a class action lawsuit.

This is probably the most boring topic of the Top 5, but perhaps the most important.  The Niantic Terms of Service, like many click wrap agreements, contain a mandatory arbitration provision for any disputes you may have with the company.  While arbitration is not inherently worse than court proceedings, most people like to at least preserve the option to sue in a court of law if it becomes necessary.  To preserve that right in connection with Pokemon GO, a written notice had to be submitted to Niantic pursuant to its Terms of Use within 30 days of downloading the app.  If you snoozed, you lose.

While I could go on, it’s getting late and I’ve got monsters to catch and demons to slay.

The post Pokemon GO or Pokemon No? appeared first on DuetsBlog.


via DuetsBlog

July 28, 2016 at 09:02PM

Is “Good Enough” Good Enough?

Is “Good Enough” Good Enough?

Oct 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning during game one of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Madison Bumgarner, a man with impeccable IF

As many of you already know, over at The Story Grid Podcast, I’ve been serving as newbie fiction writer Tim Grahl’s developmental editor.

We’ve been at it for about nine months now and while Tim had to discard just about everything from his first draft, we’re making steady baby-step progress as he pivots into a new narrative direction.

It has been enormously gratifying to witness how the fundamental story principles that took me so long to understand are beginning to embed themselves into someone deliberately learning the craft.

But it’s a frustrating process too. And that’s no knock on Tim. It’s just the nature of mentoring creative work.

It’s frustrating in the same way it is when you try and teach someone a skill that abides an M + TEn = IF equation.

M stands for mechanics, i.e. the working parts of a thing…for Story it’s II, PC, CR, CL, RE (Inciting Incident, Progressive Complication, Crisis, Climax and Resolution)

TE stands for trial and error

n stands for however many trials and errors an individualized system/organism needs to reach a cathartic success moment.  n could equal from one to infinity.

IF stands for “integrated feeling,” the reproducible biofeedback trigger of the aforementioned cathartic success moment when the body and mind aligns with the universe to produce a moment of purity.

When a golfer picks up his tee knowing her ball is dead center in the fairway or a basketball player knows the 3 pointer is nothing but net milliseconds after the ball leaves his fingertips, the IF is in play.  They experience an integrated feel of the moment, so they don’t have to sweat the result.  They “know” the result before it actually happens. That is called magic and every single one of us has felt it that magic at one time or another in one place or another in our lives.

Being a developmental editor is an M + TEn = IF mentoring process…like teaching your son or daughter the best way to throw a baseball with accuracy and speed.

The most reliable mechanical motion is an adaptable (long arm, medium arm, short arm) windmill overhand throw released from the ear.

When I see kids throwing from a three quarter release or a from-the-shoelaces sidearm, it drives me nutso. Even if you forget about the damage it does to young arms (but why would you?), there are just so many ways that a sidearm merry-go-round throw can go wrong.

But an overhand throw perfectly (even imperfectly) executed, is as reliable as an old Maytag washer. No matter if it’s a long arm motion from the outfield, medium from shortstop or a short one from second base.

The reason why it’s difficult to get kids to throw overhand is that young boys and girls just don’t have a lot of trunk strength. And coordinating a full body motion presents a particular challenge to little beings still growing into themselves.

And then there is the deception of visual cues.

Something that on first glance seems to be all about the hand and arm (Come on dad, all I have to do is move my arm… let go of the ball and it flies in the air)…isn’t. Now changing an “obvious” perception into a deep understanding that throwing is all about using the big muscles of the body, not the little ligaments, tests one’s resolve.

Warnings like—if you rely on the little ligaments, stress them too much, they get irreparably damaged. And once they’re damaged, you end up walking away from the game. It will just hurt too much to play—don’t mean much to a kid who can fall off the garage roof, cry, recover and then do it all again five minutes later.

I talk until I’m hoarse, but you can’t really explain a proper overhand throw to someone who hasn’t successfully generated one yet. You just have to keep focused and keep catching their thrown balls until they do.

Now once they do throw a textbook overhand fastball, they can “feel” what you’re talking about and you’re a genius. There’s a Eureka! moment and dad isn’t as big of a grind as they thought he was.

My oldest has worked through the process and he’s now a bigger blowhard about overhand throwing than I am. Together we’re driving the youngest in our family crazy. My daughter is a natural athlete and her n was like 4. But that presents it’s own problems too…when things come too easily, you devalue them.

Again, until the kid executes the overhand himself…feels it…it will be torturous trying to explain it to him. Especially since he’s figured out a way to piece together a herky-jerky motion that for the most part “works.” That is, the ball gets near enough to the target to be playable. It’s not perfect, but it’s not crazy wild either…good enough.

Isn’t good enough okay, dad?

Well, it is, you admit. Until…it isn’t.

The thing is that short-term “good enoughs” diabolically undermine long-term mastery. They’re Resistance’s single celled bacteria, infecting you without you even knowing it.

Which brings me to why there are so few developmental editors working today.

It’s because working with a newbie writer is like teaching a new baseball player how to throw his own brand of fastball.

Let’s back up a minute. What do I mean by a developmental editor?

Well, editors come in four traditional varieties.

  1. Copyeditors…these are people who learn all of the rules of grammar/spelling etc. They mark up a story using industry standard shorthand and correct all of the technical errors. Without copyeditors the world would be a mess. Our ability to clearly communicate with one another would erode. We’d live in Emoji-land…essentially hell. Copyeditors are simply indispensable and we all need to bow down to them.
  2. Acquisition Editors…these people discern what literary properties can be best packaged and sold as commodities. They buy and then pass on the rest of the editorial work to someone else. Publishers are great examples of acquisition editors. They’ll buy a book from a big agent. And then hand it to a senior editor to “clean up.” If the book works, it was all because of the publisher’s great nose. If it tanks, the senior editor screwed it up with her wonky meddling…
  3. Line by Line/Style Editors…these are editors who plod sentence by sentence through a manuscript to make sure that the voice and style are consistent. These are the disciples of Strunk and White. They take the purple out of the prose.  They’re the micro.
  4. Story Editors…these are people who point out story glitches. They take a global point of view and explain to the writer which of his plot points aren’t working and/or when and if the writer is nailing or flubbling the obligatory scenes/conventions and/or expectations of the targeted readership. They’re the macro.

These four kinds of editors make up 99.99 percent of the profession.

The variety the Big Five publishers care most about is, of course, the acquisition editor. The reason being that you can easily evaluate how effective an acquisition editor is by his financial track record. An editor who picks winners will rise in the hierarchy even if they can’t do any of the other stuff.

And sadly, no matter how talented an editor is as a line-by-line connoisseur or story tinkerer, if his personal Profit/Loss report is in the red…he just won’t make it in New York. We remember Maxwell Perkins because of the commercial success of his writers as much as we do his editorial genius. In fact if his crew of writers were just well reviewed Nobel prize winners without tens of millions of copies sold…Perkins would be as anonymous as every other editor you never heard of.

Quick, who edited Nadine Gordimer?

So what’s a developmental editor and why are they so rare a breed?

These are people who work with writers from idea to final draft. They provide story advice and guidance throughout the writing process.

To beat my metaphor to death, they teach fresh writing arms how to throw original overhand fastball narratives.

DEs explain what to do in a particular scene and then they watch the writer execute the scene (like watching a little leaguer throwing from second base to first base). DEs then evaluate the scene (throw) and advise the writer about how an adjustment could help him lock in to his own private natural narrative motion (his own voice).

DEs explain the mechanics and show the writer how the pros have done it before, but until the writer puts it together himself in his own unique way…all the DE can do is look at his practice, evaluate his result and tell him “that’s not it…try this instead…nope, still not it…try it this way…a little better…but not quite there yet…etc. etc. etc.”

M + TEn = IF

The thing is that new writers, like little leaguers, often use herky-jerky motions to move their narrative balls.

Yes, the obvious cues (clichés) they’ve picked up by copying other writers without putting their own unique spin on a scene can oftentimes work. But while the scene may be “good enough,” the writer who hopes to string a slew of those things together to make an entire book work…is not preparing himself for the best chance of success.

It’s the equivalent of relying on ligaments instead of the big body muscles to create a reliable strike.

Can you throw junk for nine full innings and win? A teeny tiny group of people in the Majors can. Most, though, can’t. They need perfectly executed fastballs.

So the DE’s job is difficult.

The writer just wants to get the ball near the plate, good enough, and he’ll piece together something any which way to deliver something that works.

If the DE does not have the wherewithal and dedication to insist that the writer cut the shortcuts and develop his big muscles (his craft) and he goes along with the good enoughs, the writer’s writing ligaments will be permanently damaged. So damaged that the act of writing will begin to hurt so much that he’ll eventually just quit doing it.

I think pro writers understand what I’m trying to describe here.

They know the difference between their fastballs that snap right on the inside corner of the strike zone, knee level, and their off-speed junk that they use to knock a reader off balance. So much so that they’ll be the first one’s to tell you about the scenes they three quartered or side-armed just to mix it up or just to get the damn thing finished.

Keep in mind, that I’m not criticizing off-speed junk. You need to be able to throw that stuff too.

But the hard part is learning how to unleash one’s own private overhand fastball. That’s what the best developmental editors teach writers…how to discover and then unleash their best stuff.

Again and again and again.

And once a writer has that integrated feeling, she doesn’t need a DE anymore…


via Steven Pressfield

July 28, 2016 at 08:32PM

Dead & Company At Irvine Meadows

Dead & Company At Irvine Meadows

It was analog in a digital era.

Same as it ever was except the audience had mobiles.

To paraphrase that great philosopher Max Yasgur, it’s a great world where nearly ten thousand people can get together and have a night of fun and music and nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless them for it!

It was the eighties Deadheads. With a patina of oldsters and youngsters thrown into the mix. They were worse for wear, bodies were imperfect, hair was long but scraggly, but they were all smiling, bonding with their brothers and sisters, and enjoying the mellifluous music of the latest iteration of the Grateful Dead.

The Other Ones were good, ever listen to their double CD package from the nineties? It’s a keeper. But despite Fare Thee Well and the varying Furthur and Lesh/Weir combos touring this century, there was no path forward.

And now there is.

Credit John Mayer, for injecting vitality into the group, bringing the others along on this freight train to the future. Having blown up his own career and time passing him by Mayer executed a masterstroke by uniting with this entourage. He doesn’t look like Jerry Garcia, he doesn’t play like Jerry Garcia, but the assemblage with him included is much more together, functioning on a higher plane than the old Grateful Dead ever did.

You can’t replace Captain Trips, but you can fill the hole and march into the musical wilderness in pursuit of fulfillment and happiness.

Garcia was a passive leader. Mayer doesn’t really lead at all, but emits such sparks, such energy, that the whole enterprise levitates, as well as the crowd.

It’s not like other shows. It’s not about the hit. It’s about the experience. And isn’t that what it’s all about these days? Signifiers are less about what you own than where you’ve been. And if you were there last night you experienced a tribal rite so rare in today’s world, one in which the music mattered and everything else did not.

The Democratic Convention might as well have been held on Mars, this was the California of the sixties, disconnected from the rest of the country, on its own trip of freedom.

And rather than utilize your mobile to surf, you used it for pics. You wanted to document the experience. There was no crowd huddled with their faces down, mesmerized by their screens, this was about participation.

And participate they did.

With tons of bad dancing, inspired by the music. You could see all the way back to 1965, how the Dead got started. It wasn’t about hits, but party, vibe, letting the music take you away. And their tribe got bigger and word started to spread and suddenly, the Grateful Dead were a touring operation that turned into a juggernaut, all based on the show instead of the record. It got to the point where there were no records. New material existed on bootleg tapes at best. You see you had to be there.

And in this era of phony processed music, people clamor for authenticity, that which is real, that which is human, that which they can connect with.

Can you play?

That’s not even a question anymore. Someone else plays. And oftentimes it’s not guitars. Concertgoers expect perfection, it’s all shiny and impenetrable. But last night… A few bum notes were hit, the vocals weren’t always perfect, but sheer truth emanated from the stage. This is what happens when you get a bunch of people dedicated to the music, who follow it wherever it will take them, who are not looking to expand their brand, just to journey down the endless road.

And I can’t say everybody was in thrall the whole show. There was a constant buzz, of people talking. At some points the music was merely background to the party. It was so different from that overpaying prick who talks to his date the whole show, here it was about community, and if you asked someone to move, they did, and while some were speaking, some were singing and…

I don’t know where else you get this.

There was a jam band scene a couple of decades back. But whatever stars there were faded, and if they still exist play to a hard core audience and that audience only. Whereas the Dead is multi-generational with recognizable songs. I defy anybody to go and not know a few, whether it be last night’s encore “Johnny B. Goode,” “Fire On The Mountain,” “Jack Straw” or the Jerry Garcia classic “Deal.”

This is the new American songbook. These numbers have penetrated. They might not be Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” but they represent the heartland and the coasts and everywhere in between. Deadheads populate this entire nation of ours, and they’re all coming out to see the Dead & Company.

I know, I know, makes you wince. Weren’t the Chicago shows supposed to be the end?

But Phil’s 76 and been through the Big C and does he really want to traipse across the nation, visiting far-flung outposts to satiate the faithful? Better to visit them in Port Chester.

But what appeared a dash for cash at the outset has morphed into something completely different. The act is not stultified, nor are the shows, they live and breathe.

And they’re different every night. Which is revelatory in this world where the gig is synched to machines and runs like clockwork. It’s different in every city, and I lamented I missed “New Speedway Boogie” at the Gorge, made me want to go.

Everybody on stage was fired up. Oteil Burbridge plucked with a fire that transcended his work with the Allman Brothers. Jeff Chimenti smiled and tickled the ivories like the road would go on forever, that he was not destined to die in the chair like nearly all of his predecessors. And Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann… They definitely looked worse for wear, but their playing was solid and the drum solo segment was curiously intriguing, not a moment for a bathroom break. Watching them you could see all the way back to the beginning. When no one expected fame, when touring was an adventure without scrutiny, when you could drug and screw and nobody would know. This is the only thing they know, and they’ve ridden it for decades, ain’t that the American Way, where what you love fulfills you.

And then there was Bob Weir, the youngster of the group.

Now he’s 68. But he’s still the voice, he’s still the same person. His whole life has been consumed by rock and roll, we remember when we wanted to be him, when we all wanted to play in the band.

And when you’re on stage, looking out at the assembled multitude, you get a hit of energy and appreciation you just cannot get anywhere else. Write an app, make billions, fly around the world on your private jet. That doesn’t compare to the love and attention you get from a crowd of acolytes, who are there because of your rep and will go wherever you want to take them.

And where the Dead & Company go next I’m not sure.

John Mayer can return to pop, but I don’t see why. The scene has moved on, it doesn’t need him. And it’s so regimented, you can’t BREATHE! But unlike his brethren who are already in the rearview mirror, Mayer has found a way to wiggle out of the straitjacket. When it looked like he was through he found something new.

It wasn’t nostalgia.

It was more like a family reunion. But one in which not only did you catch up, but you marched on, to new places.

Things went down you won’t understand, unless you were there.

We spent a little time on the mountain, we spent a little time on the hill, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre that’s about to be torn down.

But one way or another, this darkness has got to give.

It’s not so different from the sixties. You have great swaths of people who feel disconnected from and discarded by the mainstream. They’re looking for sustenance elsewhere.

And last night they found it.

You too can join Uncle John’s Band.

You can pick up an axe like John Mayer, and perfect your playing, see where it takes you.

Or you can be a listener, familiar with the material, wanting to get closer.

Everybody’s invited, everybody can come in.

But no one is better than their neighbor, we all look out for each other.

And we’re all subservient to the music.

You see the music gives us something to live for.

And the music sets us free.


via Lefsetz Letter

July 28, 2016 at 10:15AM