Week of September 22, 2008

Hey everyone, here we go. . . . . .




Just back from beautiful Atlanta where they actually had cool weather!


I was honored to have my Interpersonal Communications learning program a permanent part of sales training for one of my top clients and get to teach a group of bright sales folks.


At the same time projects were piling up around the Repeatable Successful Acts platform that requires me to customize the program to meet specific industry needs.  This is always a great enjoyment because it gets me the opportunity to learn about industries as diverse as rural telecommunications to genetic identification efforts.  It is amazing what you can learn.


Next week I have a quick trip to LA, and then back to Dallas for a project, then on to San Francisco before I get a chance to sleep in my own bed.


I remain honored and full of energy around the opportunity to show how the strategies I have designed can benefit any industry!





It is the heart of the political season and all eyes are on America as the dance between ideologies changes from a waltz to a jitterbug.  It is fascinating to watch the strategies unfold and the ups and downs that can happen in the blink of an eye.


In our “instant” world, there is little or no room for error.  Every time you open your mouth it is simultaneous chance for success or failure.  Sound bites rule the airwaves and we have become a society who believes you can understand any issue with a series of bullet points.


A politician is a great source for watching presentation skills.  As the debates happen or for that matter don’t happen, use them as an opportunity to observe and improve you skills.  Here are a few things to watch for:


  • Hand Motion:  Americans are expressive in our speech patterns.  Watch how the candidates hold their hands and use them to create impact.  See if they have been “over-coached” causing them to look unnatural.  Every speaker has a very personal style, I call it their “JAZZ” and you need to build on the JAZZ to make them effective instead of reconstructing to make everyone appear the same.  This is a foundation point of our teaching philosophy.
  • Speed of Response:  Though they will know the questions ahead of time, there is still a need to think before responding.  Most mistakes are made when time exceeds thought or when speed gets the upper hand over thinking.  The candidates that think first will come out ahead.
  • The Face:  Watch for how the candidates us their face.  Do they smile at the appropriate time (smiling is one of the most powerful aspects of presenting), do they shake their heads in disagreement over their opponents position (a big mistake).


Use these debates to learn!








MOVIES:  Eagle Eye looks to be really exciting and I have only a small window this weekend to get in a film, so this will be the one!


NetFlix Fans:  The Arrival –   Yes, this is a Charlie Sheen movie, BUT it is really fun and about an alien attempt to terra form the planet to meet their hot house needs.


TV:    Though football season tends to dominate my TV time with catching the University of Texas (for my son Dylan), the University of Arkansas (for my son Colin) and of course the Cowboys, I am still able to catch a few of the new shows.  The Mentalist on CBS was kind of interesting and the new season of House continues to make it my favorite show.  By the way, this weekend the Horns play the Razorbacks and Colin is headed to Austin where by son’s will lock up in opposition for the big game.


BOOKS:  The Little Red Book of Selling – by Gitomers.  This is a must read for ANYONE in business.  Don’t forget, everyone is a sales person!


MUSIC:   Coming back from Atlanta I chose to listen to one of my favorite singer / songwriters – Bruce Cockburn.  I was floored when I found this FANTASTIC video of him singing one of my all time great songs – Pacing the Cage.




WEB SITES:   Do you dig magic?  Try this web site:








I am amazed at what people don’t know!   This week two wonderful young high school girls knocked on my door, seeking support of a Republican candidate running for office.  They had on red, white and blue shirts filled with buttons, a hat with the candidates name and were armed with a clipboard.  As I opened the door, even before they could talk, I held up my hand and said, “I have two questions for you”. 

I asked one, “Tell me what you like about ________________.  She paused, looked at the other girl and said, “He’s really nice.”  OK.  I then asked the second girl; “what makes _______________ different from his opponent?”  She said;” he likes people”.  OK.  So I said, then his opponent, who is running for a job in which his product is PEOPLE, does not like people.

They both looked at me, wishing they had knocked on someone else’s door.  I said; “you both really don’t know anything about the candidate for whom you are seeking support.”  They laughed and told me that no one had asked them anything.

I made a simple recommendation; Make sure you can answer two simple questions:

1.      What value will your candidate bring to his country?

2.      What separates your candidate from his competition?


If you can speak to these you will be successful with any question.

I imagine they made a mark on my mailbox warning others to stay the hell away from this house!



I never knew what you all wanted, so I gave you everything.

Bruce Cockburn


Drop me a note with your comments at steve@creativeventures.com




Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Adios and Aloha.




Week of September 15, 2008

Hey everyone, here we go. . . . . .




Due to the fury of hurricane Ike, I had an unexpected week in town.  Though Dallas escaped with nary a scratch, air travel was really disrupted.  The week at home gave me chance to catch up.  A couple of projects that were on the table:


  • Customize The Architecture of Presentations; I have two clients that will be learning presentation design.   Most bad programs are not the result of a bad presenter, but instead suffer from a lack of design knowledge.  There are core principles that when followed almost always guarantee impact.
  • Repeatable Successful Acts:  I designed the introduction presentation to this strategic platform to be flexible to client’s specific needs.  I have three offerings coming up that all will be customized to client’s specific needs.
  • Interpersonal Communications:  I have new exercised to integrate into this core curriculum course prior to its offering next week.


Agent/manager extraordinaire Chris Ryan will be on the road next week with working with new clients to expand the Creative Ventures sphere of influence.






Let me see if I have this right.  I mean I want to be sure my creative little brain has its economic hands around our current financial mess:


  • Credit squeeze is sucking the life out of an otherwise pretty good business environment.  Hey, lots of non financial corporations have pretty strong balance sheets.
  • Wait a minute you say, what about energy pricing, the cheap global dollar, global warming, continued housing crashes, all the foreign money in US markets, our aging populations impact on social security and Medicare, and all that other stuff.


Here is the reality, at the end of the day what the hell can you do about any of this?  What as an individual can you do but sit on the sidelines and pray that at the end of the tunnel is some economic light? 


Remember, we are a nation of business.  We are the most creative, innovative economic machine the world has ever seen and despite the well of economic input drying up, ideas are not dying. 


So, back to my question, what can you do?


Work on your SKILLS.  Get better at what you do so you can be competitive. 


Take classes, read, study, discover opportunities to learn.  In time of global turmoil focus on what you can do.  Focus on your skill sets.  Become a better thinker; jump at the change to improve your communication skills.


When the dust settles the economic picture will look different and yet strangely the same.  After the tech and telecommunication bubble burst the landscape was different but had lots of similarity.  Though when financial institutions fail the ripple impact is global, the world will continue to spin, there will just be a bigger wobble.


Be ready – Do something that will impact your career – IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS!







MOVIES:  Nothing at the theater that will drag me out to the movies this weekend, though I might head over to the Dollar Movie to catch Kung Fu Panda.  Everyone I know who has seen it has loved it!


NetFlix Fans:  Tortilla Soup –   A marvelous film with one of my favorite actor’s, Hector Elizondo, at his best!


TV:    The new season of HOUSE MD (my favorite show) started this week and gives FOX a huge night with House and Fringe.  This weekend is both the US Davis Cup team playing Spain and the Ryder Cup for golf. Oh, and the Cowboys play the Packers on Monday night!  Couch potatoes get your beer and chips ready!


BOOKS:  The Faithful Spy – by Alex Berenson.  Meet spy, John Wells and welcome to a great read.


MUSIC:   I love Peter Gabriel and this is an often overlooked great song.






WEB SITES:   Struggling to stay organized in a chaotic world, here is a great blog posting to help you along.






For those of you who know me, you know I a fitness buff and even though I train like a demon, every once in a while I like a grilled hot dog.

·        69% of Americans prefer eating hot dogs on a bun.

·        7-11 is Americas #1 retailer of cooked hot dogs.  They sell almost 100 million a year (proudly, I have never had a 7-11 dog).

·        $1.9 billion is spent at the supermarket on hot dogs annually.

·        32% make mustard their favorite topping, with ketchup bring up second with 23%.

·        Joey Chestnut won the annual Nathan’s hot dog eating contest consuming 66 dogs and buns in 12 minutes.  He won $10,000.

·        14% of Americans prefer corny dogs (reminds me the Texas State Fair is coming up).

Grill a dog before summer is over!



“When I’m falling, I always know when my feet hit the ground?”

Peter Gabriel


Drop me a note with your comments at steve@creativeventures.com




Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Adios and Aloha.




Week of September 8, 2008

Hey everyone, here we go. . . . . .




Just back from beautiful Minneapolis MN.  Cool weather (what a treat) and a city still with its best foot forward, only a few days removed from being in the National spotlight, hosting the Republican National Convention.


I had the honor of introducing new ideas to a Fortune 500 company Leadership Conference.  A fantastic group of people with a vision for the future and a leadership structure to get them there.  They have an unusual mix of participation and commitment at all levels. 


I also had dinner with an old friend who combines high energy, business acumen and a twinkle of mischief to help lead a multinational company on a recent repositioning that is destined to be talked about for a long time!


Just a fantastic trip.


Then it was off to a client launching a national sales blitz at their Dallas operation.  Lead by the new COO and the best meeting planner I know, they turned a quick idea into a big success!  Fantastic!


Hurricane Ike spoiled a weekend in Austin where my Razorback son was going head to head with my Longhorn son.  Both were disappointed by the cancellation of the game, but also knew the destructive path nature can leave.


Good luck to everyone in the path of the storm and batten down the hatches, you’re in for a blow!







The concept that new ideas come and go; making the evaluation of their impact limited to their time at the forefront of our consciousness is not true.


Social networks are just newborns in the amount of time their impact has stretched across the world, yet both Facebook and myspace have changed the landscape of interaction and communication in a little more than 4 years.


Now there may be a few of those out their that are unaware of these web sites that connect friends through a massive base of similar likes in music, sports, films and favorite social activities.  You sign up or have a friend recommend you, and then you let all your friends know you now have a site ready to go and watch the interaction start to take place.  Photos of activities appear, inside jokes spread like wildfire, parties explode and rumors abound.  Pretty cool stuff.  A sign that connecting social, in any way possible is in our human DNA.


Both social networks started within a month of each other and though myspace is now part of the Rupert Murdock massive media empire News Corp, it’s Facebook that has pushed ahead in site usage and visits.  Both are close in most categories such as international visitors, averaging over 115 million and basic functionality.  The question is that in a world of unique choices, which will dominate or will the world share both as strong competitors.


This is the key question as revenue production, after all, is a big player in the social networking world and advertisers are constantly faced with a choice of where to put their dollars.


Facebook and myspace are always pushing new horizons in ideas to create core value to both their users and their members.  Competition always pushes innovation so keep your eye on the new horizons they will reach in making connecting to friends a sure fire money maker!














MOVIES:  The Cohn Brothers have a new release and along with David Mamet are my favorite film makers.  Their No Country for Old Men won best picture and this weekend’s release of Burn After Reading is their latest comedy release.


NetFlix Fans:  Forbidden Kingdom–   If you want to have some fun during Hurricane Ike, check out this martial arts epic with Jet Li and Jackie Chan.


TV:    JJ Abrams new series Fringe broke this week and it is going to be a huge hit!  It’s on the Fox Network and brings us a combination of thriller and sci-fi plots with a clear connection between the two!


BOOKS:  A Whole New Mind – by Daniel Pink.  A wonderful ride through the impact of right minded people and since I seem to be lacking a left side of my brain it was like preaching to the choir!!!


MUSIC:   At a client celebratory party, one of my clients and I got in a conversation about Monte Montgomery, a Texas guitar legend and made me want to repost one of my favorite songs of his.  It’s a little long, but WHAT A PICKER!  This is a MUST WATCH and heck, it’s Friday, celebrate a little!




WEB SITES:   Jackson Browne is one of my ALL TIME favorite singer songwriters and is now touring.  Here is how his fans keep up.






I’m a beer guy.  In fact, it’s the only alcohol I drink and because I never have more than one per sitting, it makes me very selective of what I drink.  No sissy “lite” beers, only beer with something to say in the matter of taste.   Here are some new American beers that are carving out a place against their competition:

If you like Guinness, try Deschutes Black Butte Porter.

If you like Pilsner Urquell (a great beer) try Stoudt’s Pils.

If you like Blue Moon try Ommegang Witte.

If you like Sam Adams (another great beer) try Southhampton Altbier.

These will make you look like a knowledgeable booze snob like those wine drinkers who ask what the grape mixture and Ph of the soil was in the sip they just sniffed, swished and swallowed.



“When will I look back and smile?”

Monte Montgomery


Drop me a note with your comments at steve@creativeventures.com




Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Adios and Aloha.

Week of September 1, 2008

Hey everyone, here we go. . . . . .




Coming to you from the city by the bay, beautiful San Francisco.  This gem of California remains my favorite city in America.  Last night we went for a dinner cruise in the bay with everyone from the meeting.  We had perfect weather and it was a fantastic end to a challenging meeting. 


Though it was a holiday shorten week there was a lot going on.  I spent much of it preparing for 10 consecutive weeks of travel.  Shipping teaching tools to various locations, customizing presentations and reporting on two key strategic platforms I am launching for a couple of great clients.  That makes for a busy week!


I actually found a little time to start writing the book. Yep, really writing.  No hints on the exact topic, at least not yet.


Next  week  I am off to Minneapolis.


Maybe as we creep into September temps might lessen in Dallas.  I can only hope as the past Labor Day was filled with my favorite combination – heat AND humidity.


I signed three more offerings of the Repeatable Successful Acts platform.  It is really picking up momentum as we head into the 4th quarter.


The September newsletter is done and has been sent.  If you want on the mailing list, send me a note.  You can also access it on www.creativeventures.com .








As markets become more and more segmented, competition becomes the name of the game and finding advantages is a full time leadership job.  Even competing against the big boys, you can find ways to create winning formulas.  Here are a few ideas we use with clients:


  • DISCOVER:  You should be in constant discovery mode, always looking for ways to find out what your customers are thinking and what they want.  Use surveys, organize customer “do-nut” meetings with free eats and coffee where the goal is to find out what your clients think.  Call them after a sale or engagement to find out how you did.  Customer information is gold.
  • PLAN:  Put your information to a logical use.  Make changes that customers suggest to show their input is valued. 
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE:  Assume responsibility for mistakes immediately and provide elegant, simple solutions.  This alone is a huge factor in customer loyalty.  Add levels of personalized service to make an impact.  Try handwritten notes.
  • ATTENTION TO DETAIL:  This is one of the first places I start when engaged by a client.  Everything from the initial greeting to a simple smile is on the table.  They all make a difference and require constant maintenance.


These are a few of the strategies that will allow you to win the competitive war.





MOVIES:  Forget about Traitor and Babylon AD, both sucked.  At the end of Babylon I looked around and thought, “I don’t remember leaving the theater for an extended period of time.”  The whole thing didn’t make sense.  Try Bangkok Dangerous with one of Laura’s fav’s – Nick Cage.


NetFlix Fans:  Redbelt –   This is my favorite movie of 2008 and is now out in video.


TV:    The 11th Hour is a new science based thriller series about an FBI scientist who stops science related catastrophes.  Looks really cool and I will be there for the 1st episode this fall on CBS.


BOOKS:  Swan Peakby James Lee Burke.  After a series of non-fiction reads the trip to San Francisco gave me a great opportunity to jump back into some of my favorite authors.  Burke’s character, Dave Robicheaux is one of the best ever created.  Burke’s rich writing style is one of a kind.


MUSIC:   Chris Volpe does a marvelous job with a phrase that turns your imagination.




WEB SITES:   Keep up with all the happenings at the US Open.





Everyone likes getting a thoughtful surprise, and giving them isn’t so bad either. But it’s not always easy to find the time to shop and send something or, for that matter, to remember to do so. A Brazilian startup has come up with a solution: prepaid plans for multiple gifts over a set period of time.

Targeting male gift-givers, Ticket to Mind offers four different plans: Basic, Plus, Advanced and Express, ranging in price from BRL 19.90 to BRL 69.90 per month (USD 12.00-42.00 / EUR 8.25-29.00). The Express plan, for example, is aimed at “conquering a new love or renewing an existing one”, and TTM will send three bouquets of flowers over a four-month period, at random times. The sender receives a notification before each bouquet is shipped, and the flowers include a card with a message based on information provided by the sender.

Other plans include a wider variety of gifts: chocolate, toys, cosmetics and “spicy” items. Prices for each plan include products, shipping and notifications, with no additional costs charged. No mention of TTM is made on the gifts or packaging: the company wisely points out that they’re keen to remain completely invisible to the recipient. Once they’ve signed up for the service, gift-givers can track shipments online and—depending on the plan—pick a few of the gifting dates. But not all of them. After all, the whole point is to be thoughtful not just on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year. We’re reminded of a trend name that our sister-site trendwatching.com coined a few years ago: planned spontaneity, which sums up the service perfectly. Amazon.com & e-commerce friends: one to add to your services? (Related: Never forget to send a birthday card again.)

Website: www.tickettomind.com.br



“I’ve lived my whole life

Like the words were on the tip of my tongue.

Chris Volpe


Drop me a note with your comments at steve@creativeventures.com




Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Adios and Aloha.