For a while now, the research community has been trumpeting the notion of focus. 

In other words, toggling from one thing to another doubles errors and decreases productivity.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Stanford.   University of California/Irvine.  And still other psychologists are encouraging that we do less, get more.

Yet software and technology seem to demand our attention on all fronts, at all times.  Count, for instance, the number of browser tabs open.  Notifications per minute about email, texts, and other media.  Even the times per hour we check our inboxes.

So, like the slow food movement, Slow Web is being born.  It’s the idea of doing one activity at a time with as few distractions and interruptions as possible.  No real-time alerts, simply concentration on the activity at hand. 

As communicators and, quite frankly, proponents of media of all sorts, it’s to our advantage to champion SW.  Much of our advocacy could be in the form of a true campaign; after all, who knows best how to tame the tech beast than us?  Recommendations like prioritizing, meeting with managers to identify to-dos, identifying and avoiding distractions, and, yes, underestimating daily goals are just a few top-of-mind thoughts (and we’re sure you’ve got others).  Even goldfish have a longer attention span than we do.

It’ll take time, patience, and practice.  We call it “catching the mono-culture.”


To us, vacations* are times to experience the new and novel.  To explore unfamiliar territories.  And to kick back and relax (a hard thing for us to do).

Africa was our destination.  A trip we’d been salivating over. 

We witnessed fighting-to-the-death hippos (over a girl, no less). 

Saw painted wolves, fur dripping with blood after a kill, and no cares in the world, except for their pups. 

And watched baboons monkey around with all things human.

That same trip connected us with villagers and townies in the big and little places in South Africa, in Botswana, and in Zimbabwe.  Out our train windows we negotiated with Africans selling hand-crafted items.  After Victoria Falls they descended en masse.  And in a little Zimbabwe community, all 20 citizens greeted our bus – and proudly showed us their cell phone, their homes … and their beer-making hut.

At every stop, at every pause, we heard the word “ish.”  To them, it meant sort of, or around the time.  There could be delays – unavoidable due to nature.  There might be some variance in getting together, depending on other people.  The “ish,” to them, was truth.  They would absolutely stick to the agreement, to the meeting.  But “ish” might intervene to make them miss the exact time.

That’s alien to our work worlds.  At many companies, “ish” might be anathema … even a few minutes off might spell an issue, even some sort of warning.  On the dot, after all, means punctuality.

Yet:  Is it time to re-think our clocks, and savor the minutes we spend waiting – and, perhaps, dreaming? 


*That’s the reason for our month-long blogging silence.  We’re back!



Everyone’s doing it.

E-bookstores overflow with Mindful Work, Mindful Teen, even Mindful Birthing.  Participants at the Davos’ World Economic Forum could opt to sit in on a session.  Phil Jackson of the Knicks credits it with promoting general well-being.  Even Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, having introduced yoga and meditation throughout the healthcare giant, says those practices have reduced stress levels and pain while improving sleep levels and productivity.

With its origins in the Buddhist concept of sati, or the memory of the present, mindfulness was appropriated by a savvy scientist in the 1970s, who then parlayed it into a worldwide movement.

Is it mainstream yet?  Well, sorta.  Ellen Langer, a researcher into this topic for more than four decades, explains that, bottom line, mindfulness simply helps you appreciate why people behave the way they do.  Her perspective:  That life consists of moments – and if you make the moment matter, everything will matter. 

It reminds us of the reason many of us started in this business:  To make things matter and, by extension, to make ourselves matter.  By starting with awareness, the foundation for all of advertising and marketing and communications work, or so our thoughts went, we can awaken people to new things, new philosophies, new ways of being.  The challenge today (other than mastering the chaos around us):  To ensure that we’re mindful of what truly matters. 


In most places, the grapevine works overtime – though its practitioners might not.

It’s human nature to gossip and complain, agree most psychologists.  Yet what’s not so humane are the times that management either doesn’t know or ignores the issues.

And if frequent enough, those bitches and moans just might lead to anonymous reviews on glassdoor.com, to workplace incivility, higher absenteeism (and lower productivity), and retention issues.  Not to mention legal actions.

New software provider Memo has it solved (it thinks).  It’s designed an anonymous e-forum to vent – and yes, management reads and responds.  Major employers like Amazon and Deloitte have subscribed.  Later this year (pre-IPO), Memo will launch tools that collect data on employee sentiment, moderate comments, and engage with workers.

Which is where we, as marketers and communicators, gotta step in.  Software that interacts with employees?  Seriously.  How about leaders who share issues, validate that problems are real and that solutions are in the works? 

Today, working for companies with a purpose is more than a candidate request.  Balancing (or blending, the word we prefer) work-life demands is not just the fervent wish of millennials.  And transparency, very soon we predict, will be mandated by potential new hires.  And why not?  Those companies with the highest morale and greatest collegiality, research shows, are also those where employees can respectfully complain.

Where is your company on the kvetch scale?