Sunday, March 23, 2008


For those who know me well, my 10 mile walks are legendary. Today was one of those perfectly crisp spring days, with nothing but blue sky above. I was in “the zone,” thinking, reflecting, renewing my spirit. It was a wonderful “two bridge” kind of day.

My usual trek takes me from my home in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn through a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, over the Williamsburgh Bridge, through the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Lower Manhattan, over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan/Brooklyn Overpass, through Brooklyn Heights and back home through Fort Green and Clinton Hill.

In the span of an afternoon, I hear laughter and several languages. Each and every time, I consider myself very lucky and fortunate to be living here.

If I walk non-stop, I can go door to door in three hours. But why rush? I use the time to reflect, listen, and of course shop. Today’s trip netted groceries and spring shoes, complete with good vibes from several shopkeepers who will keep me coming back to their establishments; yes, manners are still fashionable!

What struck me today was the number of storefronts for rent; some of my favorite haunts had gone out of business. Yes, friends … the recession is real. It’s been more than a year since I’ve made this trek, and today provided valuable, street-level perspective on what the city faces in the months ahead.

What I love most about Sunday afternoons is the quiet. While major arteries usually hustle and bustle, people are just calmer on Sunday. Horns honk less, people are less frenzied. Less is just more. The city is simply more peaceful and pleasant, allowing us all a brief moment to just revel in the pleasure of a long, reflective walk.

Keep your cholesterol low and your heart rate in check; let your feet give your entire body a wonderful treat!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Industry pioneer Carol H. Williams shared a wealth of wisdom during her keynote address at the 2nd Annual Diversity in Advertising Leadership Conference and Career Fair, sponsored by New York University and the Business Development Institute.

Her poignant comments were directed to more than 500 students and young professionals from throughout the US, including students from The City College of New York’s (CCNY) Media and Communication Arts, AD/PR specialization.

Carol pioneered icons like the “Pillsbury Doughboy.” Early in her career, she created Secret’s longstanding “Strong Enough for a Man—But Made for a Woman,” indelibly branding the personal care product in the mind of the consumer.

Now, she heads Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA), which boasts $350 million in annual billings and is based in Oakland, CA. CHWA has 150 employees and offices in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit.

“Not bad for a girl from the South Side of Chicago,” says Carol, who attended Northwestern University and was once awed by the skyscrapers downtown on Michigan Avenue that she once never thought she’d never set foot in, much less have office space in. Often, she was the lone woman and loan African American in advertising’s persuasive corridors of power when she started in the business in 1968.

Challenging the audience to embrace these “exciting times,” she warmly relayed an office exchange about Barack Obama’s bid for US President. A fellow “Southsider” she said many in her generation of baby-boomers never thought they’d see a Black man on the brink of possibly leading this country. Further, she said the new media landscape was virtually redefining the nature of politics and the national Presidential election, with unique media partnerships between CNN, YouTube, Telemundo, Univision and the Congressional Black Caucus.

She urged young people in attendance, which included Asians, African Americans, Latinos, Anglo-Americans and others, to use their innate talents to “take part in this exciting, new revenue generating reality!” By working hard and cultivating your contacts she stressed, “You have the power to transcend time, media and ethnicity” by working together on creative campaigns and dynamic content.

“There were one, two or three of me. From the looks of this audience, there will be hundreds of you. You’ve got to have the courage to push the doors of this industry open even wider,” said the industry pioneer who started her career at leading agencies including Leo Burnett and Foote Cone and Belding.

Carol urges young people to take chances and not be afraid to bare their souls and says, “Creative people pull their clothes off; you have to be willing to share your experiences.”

As they explore “their readiness this journey” into the world of marketing, she implores future and junior ad execs to take a look at who’s in the room. Carol enthusiastically suggested partnerships with classmates and contemporaries, leading to in-depth insight and influence. The long-term result: income-generating opportunities!

She says, “Your dialogue with each other and the consumer is paramount. Your ability to infuse your talent with the needs of the marketplace is critical. You are the ones stepping up. You are the leaders in the field for the next 10 years. Get to know each other. You must share what you know with each other. Yes, you are the leaders!”

Carol offers the following tips for young people entering the industry:

> Don’t be pigeon holed. Learn all you can about various aspects of the industry, the creative and the business/account management side; become “masterful” at the entire business of advertising.

> Know the industry inside out. Understand where it’s going.

> Green thinking is blooming around the planet. Plant seeds and nurture your expertise.

> Understand phenomenal shifts in the “context of community.” Middle Eastern philosophers, poets and Indian Ph.D.’s are gaining visibility in Western culture as leading thinkers and contributors to society.

> Stay grounded. Always remember, “Whose eyes are you looking through?”

> Every step you take is a defining moment in your career.

> You are going to get a lot of “no’s” to your ideas. Look at what you’ve learned, perfect your product/pitch; you won’t always get a no.

> Fear is a constant companion. Fear is inspiration to any hero!

> Advertising is a calling. You must move out and move on to make a difference.

> Manage up. Manage down. Manage laterally. Manage vertically. It’s all in the way you handle tasks along the way. Always strive to answer the phone as well as you kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend!

> Create a “feel good” environment or energy field. Your goal is to heal the sick, to make people feel a little more hopeful! Provide strength, optimism and intelligent choices.

> Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.

“Are you ready?” questions Carol. Inspired by the creative talent in the room, she was buoyed by the possibilities and encouraged all within earshot to “ride the monumental wave of change and not be suffocated by the old paradigms.”

Providing historical perspective, Carol reveals the advertising and marketing communications industry lagged behind for decades, stuck in part by “outdated, depleted and dying mechanisms” to reach consumers – particularly ethnic audiences.

“Now, the dinosaurs … are going the way of the dinosaurs,” she says, noted by the closing or mergers of many former industry leaders. “By maintaining your creativity, you can get out of the quick sand and retain market share—for your clients and your own agency’s growth.”

She relayed a passage from South African Bishop Desmond Tutu’s poem “Disturb Us Lord” (paraphrased):

“When our dreams have become true,
If we sail too close to the shore
To learn how to be a champion swimmer,
You’ve got to take some risks
And move out into the water.”

For sports buffs, she compared advertising proficiency with former Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordon’s basketball “dunk moments.” Known for his prowess on the court, Jordan was often quoted regarding his pure passion for the game.

“When you become superior at something, the money will come,” says Carol. She encouraged the audience to work hard and most of all, have patience. “Leadership requires more than degrees and technical skills. You must have principles to guide your adventure. Know that our achievements are shaped by the terrain of our lives; always strive to be honorable.”

Carol reveals, “In retrospect, I’ve had a ball during my adventure in advertising. Most importantly, I understand common people can reach uncommon goals by moving beyond boundaries and mastering the art of teamwork.”

And, Carol says, “When the world gives you reasons to quit—stay optimistic!”

Peppering her comments with historical references (always the ad woman), she pointed out that fellow Illinois native Abraham Lincoln lost 12 elections on the road to ultimately winning the Presidency.

Her advice: “Keep taking that shot, every chance you get. Dare to be yourself, even in the face of adversity.”

“Don’t let this Armani suit fool you,” said the daughter of a Dad who completed third grade and a Mom who finished high school. “I am an African American woman. I am Kissey … traveling the Underground Railroad.”

To thunderous applause, Carol said, “My $350 million agency is my own personal ‘Up from Slavery’ success story. It’s my badge. I’m bad and I know it! Never let the media use your history against you!”

And, she compels all to develop confidence and “earn the freedom to think and see your ideas impact people.”

Maintaining a youthful spirit, inquisitive nature and passion for Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and Star Trek anecdotes, she encourages the future advertising leaders to put messages in terms audiences can easily understand.

Thanks in large part to Carol H. Williams, we can now explore new worlds and new civilizations, a la Star Trek.

I’ve heard a lot of advertising and marketing “talk” during more than 25 years in the business. But everyone doesn’t have a message. As a seasoned professional, I was inspired by her presentation.

Carol’s message resonated with my experience in the industry. And, it motivated me to set in motion an exciting chain of events to take my business and teaching contributions to the next level!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


The past month has been very exciting. Finally, I have a few moments to catch up on my blogging and spread the wealth with you. Highlights include:

Professional Development

A recent advertising conference got me thinking about my decades of experience, mentors and industry colleagues.

I recently reconnected with friends from Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA), including Kay Lucas and Herb Kemp. We’re all pioneers in the field of ethnic marketing; still standing, still contributing and proud of it!

CHWA Founder/CEO Carol H. Williams provided the keynote address at the recent “Diversity in Advertising Conference and Career Fair,” sponsored by New York University - Business Development Institute. Carol’s agency bills $350 million; not bad for a woman from the South Side of Chicago. More on her talk later via a more extensive blog post.

True to form, I bolted to the front of the room to shake her hand after her talk. After a meaningful exchange, she said, “Let me know how I can help you.” Carol didn’t know how much she already helped via her inspirational words.

PR 101: never forfeit an opportunity to personally connect with an industry guru; true leaders are always open and receptive. I shared my genuine pride in Carol’s accomplishments and revealed how her words that morning buoyed me to excel. She responded in kind.

Since that conference 10 days ago, I can’t tell you how much I’ve achieved! Immediately after the Carol-Lynne connection, I was on the phone with Jerome Smith of BrandEvolve; our initial conversation expanded to what we could ultimately do in support of South Africa, a country we both love. That led to a connection between Jerome and Ana Julia Ghirello of Ghirello Design—a brilliant young web developer; both companies are in growth mode.

True to my corporate branding, Millynneum is “Your catalyst for connections in a climate of change.”

It’s empowering to listen, learn and implement your ideas! Each day is a unique case history, a course in human relationships. Use each interaction to graduate to the next level of success!

Suzy Welch & The Power of Blogging

A January 11 Millynneum Insight blog entry about Suzy Welch’s forthcoming book 10-10-10 led to an email from the author and former editor of the Harvard Business Review! Yes, I'm very excited and look forward to conversation with Suzy in the next few days.

As I tell my students, thoughts and ideas don’t count big. The world is now paying attention, thanks to the internet. Remember to “tag” or index your blog content, which allows search engines to find you and your ideas.

Continue to push your ideas and unique perspective via the World Wide Web. Work your own brand of magic on a grassroots to global level!

Tip: Register for the beta test of Twine. The new application automatically “tags” your writing, allowing entrepreneurs, writers and scholars to connect visionary concepts. Why not work with a colleague in Brazil? Authorize connections with entrepreneurs who live in Australia!

Think of Twine as an overblown Linked In. Register now and get ready to dramatically expand your network and resources. All systems are go for 30,000 more to join the elite research network.

Like Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Get ahead of the curve and put your thoughts in overdrive!


The Presidential election inspires us all to cultivate a better understanding of what makes this country tick.

Delegate convention seating (or lack thereof) at the Democratic National Convention for Michigan and Florida representatives forces us to think about back room political maneuvering. As Michelle Obama so eloquently says, “politics is a sport.”

Face it. Maneuvering and manipulation is part of the system. It will continue, and quite frankly, is what gives the USA its A-1 rating! As we’ve all honed our crafts in various professions, politicians are also pros at what they do. Never underestimate the depth and breadth of politics.

While we’re all working our plan A (the vote), the people who control the world are implementing their plan B and plan C.

Realize “the plan” was crafted years ago. If you’re serious about what you do—you’ve got to think ahead! No excuses. Plan, spring forward and catch success!

And, don’t forget plan D (discipline, diligence) and plan E (energy, enthusiasm and efficiency). Deploy these sport-life techniques and you’ll come out ahead.

Here’s a quick example of the RNC’s political savvy. When I was a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, a local politico, Dunedin City Commissioner David Ramsey approached me about running for office. Did it matter that I was a registered Democrat? Guess not.

“We need people like you,” he explained. Further, he said the RNC would send me to a political training camp to hone my skills. I’ve relayed this story to scores of people over the years, as a testament to the organization and effectiveness of the Republican Party. They stay on message and work their plan. And, it helps that my father was a loyal Republican.

Thus, I have an appreciation for our two party system and democracy as the best plan E— development of an elite group thinkers and contributors to society.

Always think out of the box and understand you never know who you’re talking to. Your connections can give voice to your values and ideas in ways you don’t understand for years to come.

Spread Your Enthusiasm

Whenever you have good news, spread your enthusiasm!* In some cases you might write a blog entry or share news with a family member, trusted colleague or valued client. Enthusiastic exchanges keep you upbeat, engaged and receptive to nuggets of insight from others. I’ve consciously tried this over the past few days and it makes a difference.

Like Suzy Welch says, think about what can make the most impact in your life or others over a 10 minute - 10 month - 10 Year period.

The rest: take 10 seconds (or less), and let it go!

*In the vein of one of my favorite comedies, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, starring Larry David; favorite character, Susie Green, a woman who’s never afraid to speak her mind!