Admission #1:  We flunked high school calculus.

[So maybe the teacher had an issue with our mouthing off.]

These days, though, it doesn’t pay to get snarky with math or its proponents.  Because in every hour of our work life, numbers come into play.

Colleagues in our sister industries have similar concerns, especially about media measurement.  That stalwart of our parents’ TV black boxes, Nielsen, recently publicized a solution – its new C7 rating would accommodate a week’s worth of views, the total time spent on different platforms (from Netflix to cable to YouTube), and the average audience size.  In partnership with Facebook, it also aims to deliver age and gender demographics for online video viewers.

Digging in deep, the questions still proliferate:

  • Will this account for the folks who (admission #2:  like us) save TiVO- and Roku-recorded content to replay AFTER a week?  Or those who binge-watch specific series and programs way after their debuts?
  • Will this drill down into audience profiles so we know the true value of what’s being sold and bought?
  • Finally (and probably most significant, in our eyes):  Will this C7 analyze attention – how intently people engage with content?

Hey, advertisers aren’t the only ones who yearn to get those kinds of scores.  Those of us practicing change inside companies haven’t yet figured out employee engagement with content – let alone with the corporation.

Or have we?


Of late, a number of rather elegant articles extolling the virtues of thought leadership are appearing in professional journals.

Most interviewees talk about owning issues and leading industries through these strategies, and acknowledge that, while concept peddling might not immediately ring the cash register, it will help differentiate the company from its competitors.

They also mention that, as integral to marketing (especially for service firms), thought leadership is an important way to look at the future, and shape people’s perceptions of the business and its products and services.  Rules are usually included:  Just sell ideas.  Always give it away.  Have a unique perspective.  Focus on one topic at a time.  And market it like a product with a campaign, without any viral expectations.

What they don’t mention is that thought leadership is another form of content marketing.  [Okay, maybe a higher category, but it still involves discovering and/or creating the right information at the right time.]  Similar guidelines for content marketing apply, full force.   Our top three:

  • Position this gently as intelligence, not a “we did this good” case history.
  • [Gasp!]  If needed, feel free to footnote competitors and recognize their contributions.  Sophisticated information consumers live out there.  They know.
  • Encourage use and re-use and recycling with a credit (if possible).  That’s the way your ideas will resonate.

It’s a brave not-so-new world for those who want to build their thought-leading capabilities. 

*With apologies to our fave Yankee coach and catcher.


A few weeks ago, ad agency JWT announced its first-ever report on Female Tribes.

[Do ignore the fact that the agency’s former chair might be facing a lawsuit re alleged sexist and racist remarks.]

Though the news release and subsequent coverage were sketchy (we suspect the details are being saved for current and prospective clients), it supposedly looks at the rise of “female capital” and the value women bring as leaders, wealth creators, and artists.  Twenty different tribes, from cultural icons and Asian alphas to teen activists, were identified from a base of 4,300 female respondents in nine countries (ages range from 18 to 70).

Three “arghhs” come from us: 

First, because this kind of survey – regardless of depth and breadth – appears to be a sort of typology foisted on top of what we as women know are our differences and commonalities.  After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick out Beyoncé as a cultural icon and Malala Yousafzai as a teen activist (among other tribes). 

Second, the use of the phrase “female capital.”  It reminds us of time spent in professional services firms where they categorized work in HR and talent as human capital.  A phrase that’s not really descriptive and definitely dehumanizing.

And third, the sad fact that, to our knowledge, this is the first attempt to figure out the world of women from a perspective that doesn’t involve why we buy. 

Anyone ask Gloria Steinem?


Six billion every day.

No, not McDonald’s burgers, but emojis sent and received via the world’s two-plus billion smartphones.

Advocates (and there are many, with tops being ad agencies) claim these little pictures emulate our feelings and the expressions and gestures we use talking with others in face-to-face conversations.

Still others who have plumbed the psychology of these stimulations du jour insist they’re changing our speech patterns and expressing our authentic selves – our interests, our reactions, even innuendoes. 

We don’t buy it.

Though this trend started in the ‘90s and gained steam of late, thanks to marketers like Coke and Dove, Bud Light and Starbucks (among others), it’s simply another way for us not to talk – and, by extension, not to understand each other. 

Sure, it promotes our brain’s desire for visual communications.  And it’s definitely a convenient shorthand to capture one, maybe two emotions.  But even those frequent users insist that there are clear rules for campaigning with these Japanese little pictures:

  1. Know your audience’s emoji usage habits, like age, location, and gender
  2. Identify the most common emojis and
  3. Know how the audience speaks.

Hmm.  So if we truly studied our target audience’s speaking patterns, as number three recommends, wouldn’t it be easier to just, er, talk with them?