Intrusively Coercive or Just Plain Nagging

Intrusively Coercive or Just Plain Nagging

You have to love this. It’s brilliant. PC at its absolute best.

Last week I attended one of those business management seminars that companies send their up-and-coming business managers to, with the purpose of providing them with appropriate and practical business management tools that were not taught at their respective business management graduate schools where they, in fact, studied for a master’s degree in, wait for it….business management.

Part way through one of the afternoon sessions, entitled something like, “Peer-to-peer conflict resolution in an open-plan office setting“, one of the participants, a very articulate young manager called Seth from Bangladesh, at least that what his name-tag said when we met over a plate of what looked like a pile of mashed yeast and alfalfa sprouts during the typically rushed lunch break, asked the question, “What about nagging?”

Nagging?” questioned Dave, one of the ever-so-well-dressed but slightly clipped in his verbal response instructors. “Nagging?” he repeated. “Yes, how do I resolve being nagged at work?” Seth re-iterated.

I am glad you brought this up, Seth“, Dave continued. “We like to refer to this as being Intrusively Coercive“.


That got me thinking right away. Hmm. “Are you intrusively coercing me my dear, or just being a nag?”

Are You a Nag or an Intrusive Coercer? I actually like the term Intrusive Coercer, sounds little romantic don’t you think, or even a bit mysterious, “Hi, I’m an Intrusive Coercer.” I can just see it now. Dark walnut wood-paneled room. Fireplace. Barman, probably 70. Skinny. Polishing a glass with small starchy white towel. Purposefully. Knows everybody, seen everything. Ah, and there he is now, sporting an ever-so-slightly ill-fitting purple velvet smoking jacket, ciggy in one hand, dry martini in the other – straight-up with a twist – “Instrusive’s the name, Coercing’s my Game”.

A little nefarious maybe, but alluring nevertheless? It has a sort of obsequious magnetism (fail), it peaks your initial attention, but may not hold it for long, once you figure-out it means nothing more than to…





















Or, Carp on at…

…maybe, just maybe, I’ll stay with just being Nagged, the old-fashioned way. After all, it does have an equine feel, and that can’t be that bad. If you like horses. If you don’t, it’s still just nagging.



Alphabet Schmalphabet.

Hmm, recent blogging and commentary on Google’s corporate reorganization and subsequent new corporate name, Alphabet led me to think about unscrambling that name or, in essence, recreating such, as “they” did.

This has been the theme of several thought pieces recently. One of the best was penned by Toby Southgate, CEO of Brand Union, posted in LinkedIn on August 12th. I would encourage you to read this below.

Interestingly, the longest word you can make by unscrambling and re-arranging the letters in the word ALPHABET is, in fact, “HATABLE” – meaning capable of being hated, deserving hatred, or detestable. Nice eh?

Let’s not dwell on that, shall we.

Here’s Tony’s thoughts.


Recreating The Alphabet

Last week’s news from Google—the full implications of which are still being revealed—is one of the most incredible pieces of corporate brand communication I can remember.

It’s a brand name we all know. One of the biggest, newest, most successful, influential, imaginative businesses in the world. Truly global, tens of thousands of employees, billions of users, an unwavering vision to change the world. And they simply pick up and change the name of the business at the top of the tree. The publicly listed entity is now Alphabet, and Google is a wholly owned subsidiary.

By any stretch, this is a huge change. A remarkable one. And the lessons for our industry—for brand and communications professionals and marketers everywhere—are multiple.

Do you think they went through a laborious name generation exercise? Do we imagine months of sweating over post-it notes and whiteboards, exploring every possible embryonic option on the classic Interbrand / Lippincott / Siegel ‘proprietary’ naming spectrum from rational / functional to emotional / descriptive? And yes, by all means, include our agency in that list—surprise alert—we’ve all wheeled out the same tools on occasion, and anyone who pretends otherwise is lying. The gene pool of our industry is small and talent can be fickle. No news there.

Once they had a shortlist, do you think they shared plans and multiple ‘comfortable’ options with in-house and external legal? Did they seek guidance on trademark ownership and IP protection? Did they have endless discussions about whether or not Alphabet was ‘truly ownable?’ “It’s a proper noun, of course, so we can never really OWN it.” (Don’t lie, industry colleagues—you have uttered those words even if you did not want to).

Of course they didn’t.

Google speaks about thinking big, and does.

Google leads by example and by doing, not by theorizing and espousing.

Debate has merit of course, but action has energy, and creates more.

They believe in being bold, and that starts with decision making. Quick, accountable, clearly communicated decision making. And accepting that no decision is ever perfect or complete.

There will be more questions. There already are. “Where does Ventures sit?” “Will GoogleX still report to Sergey?” “Who’s this former McKinsey guy that’s now CEO?”

They will be dealt with and managed efficiently and rapidly. As Larry and Sergey wrote 11 years ago, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.”

We work in an industry and are surrounded by people who talk a lot, and often about big, bold stuff. Because challenging thinking is tough to embrace, it’s more often a topic of conversation than a reality. An agenda item and a meeting topic, too rarely a fact of our working lives. And because most people who claim to be brave and to want to do something different and radical often become paralyzed in the face of opportunity to do exactly that, we’re stuck in a world where most corporate and brand communication looks and feels—well—kind of the same.

So we have to move from conversations about doing, to actually doing. From generics to specifics, from comfort to discomfort. We need our ideas and our work to be brilliantly designed and beautifully connected. The same way yesterday’s news from Google is delivered and presented: perfectly consistent—regardless of scale, breadth, and subsequent achievement—with the promise its founders made when they set the business up.

Nothing else really matters. It’s noise.

I’ve spoken to two very senior Google execs in the last 24 hours. Neither of them had more than a few hours notice. They weren’t involved. They confirmed the speed and agility and privacy of the changes. They also applauded the bravery. In other organizations, they’d be posturing and defensive. “Why wasn’t I involved?” “Where’s the research?” “Will it translate in Asia?” “Alphabet—seriously?” At Google, it is embraced.

Speed. Bravery. Execution. Clear communication. Action over debate.

We have a lot to learn. And perhaps most challenging of all, we’d probably like to think we already know this is an effective way to build brands today. We probably talk all the time about doing things differently, but always end up with the same excuses. “Wait for next time.” “The client wasn’t up for it.” “The brief wasn’t right.” “We couldn’t sell the route the CMO really wanted.”

These are excuses. We have to find a way.

Tony Southgate, CEO Brand Union August 12th, 2015

Hump Day Chuckle. FORE!

Nyuk. Nyuk.

My boss phoned me today. He said, “Is everything OK at the office?”

I said, “It’s all under control. It’s been a very busy day. I haven’t stopped to take a break all day.”

Can you do me a favor?” he asked.

I said, “Of course. What is it?”

Pick up the pace a little. I’m in the foursome behind you.”


London Calling. Summer 2015

I like this article recently published by Dave Hendrick, CEO of LiveIntent


Last week I moved my family from the safe suburban confines of Stamford, CT to the leafy Muswell Hill neighborhood of North London in support of LiveIntent’s expansion into the UK and Europe.

Why London? One reason is the business climate.

London has become a legitimate contender in the business of technology. According to London and Partners, VC funding in London’s technology sector reached $682 million in Q1 2015. This represented a 66% increase over Q1 2014. Total investment in the UK Technology sector totaled $856 million in Q1 2015. On any level this is significant, but it is even more significant because the London market has so few ‘Unicorns’ in that number. Only one company in the report – World Remit – received an investment of more than $100 million. ‘Unicorns’ usually require investments of $100 million or more to achieve their valuations, so the fact that only one of those occurred means that UK Investments are true ‘earlier-stagers’.

While VC tech investing is just getting started in the UK, as compared to Silicon Valley or New York, the market for technology services is well-established in the UK. Imagine your favorite US-founded consumer service – it will expand here if it isn’t already. Imagine the B2B service that you can’t live without – it will expand here if it doesn’t get copied.

Progressive Investment and knowledge-sharing programs from the UK Government branch UKTI and TechCity are reaching across the city and across the ocean to attract and nurture relationships with technology companies and entrepreneurs. Visa programs have been established to support immigration and business-creation. Co-working spaces like WeWork have expanded aggressively in London to help start-ups focus on their operations and create community.

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies and the ‘sharing economy’ have only made London and the UK in general, an attractive market for investment.

LiveIntent is very excited to be part of this burgeoning tech scene. The next decade will show London to be a leader not only in Finance, but also in fashion, food and forward-thinking innovation.

Dave Hendrick, CEO LiveIntent

Borrowed and Shared with Pride from eMarketer today, August 18, 2015. Good Stuff.

Millennials (Finally?) Embrace Mobile Banking.

Those ages 18 to 34 are more than twice as likely to bank on their phones as baby boomers.

Millennials are adopting mobile banking at a much higher rate than their parents and grandparents. According to eMarketer’s latest US mobile phone banking usage forecast, nearly 59% of 18-to-34-year-old mobile phone users in the country will access their bank, credit union, credit card or brokerage account via mobile browser, app or SMS on their phones at least monthly this year. In contrast, fewer than 28% of baby boomer mobile phone users will use mobile banking in 2015.

Having real-time mobile access to personal financial information is a baseline expectation among millennials today, which helps explain why this cohort comprises the largest share of US mobile banking users. But many baby boomers still haven’t made the jump,” said eMarketer analyst Bryan Yeager.

Baby boomers have been slower to adopt mobile phone banking for several reasons. Many prefer to access their accounts using larger-screen devices such as tablets and desktops. And while both millennials and boomers think banking via desktops is more secure than banking on mobile phones, that concern is not keeping millennials on the sidelines.

Marketing and education around the security aspect of mobile financial access could help move the needle with adoption among the baby boomer audience,” added Yeager.

Within brick-and-mortar branches, banks are also trying to convert baby boomers into mobile customers. Tellers are often trained to show customers how to download and use mobile banking apps.

With a growing mobile phone banking user base on track to reach more than half the US adult population by 2019, more banks and other financial firms are treating their apps and sites as the primary point of engagement with customers. They’re also experimenting with ways to cross-sell other relevant financial products, upsell to premium services and even acquire new customers entirely through the mobile channel,” said Yeager.

While baby boomers have been much slower to embrace technology for their banking needs, the gap between boomers and millennials narrows when examining digital banking as a whole. By the end of this year, eMarketer predicts, 74.2% of US adult millennial internet users will bank digitally via any device, vs. 59.4% of baby boomer internet users.

Overall, digital banking user growth is slowing among both groups as the activity matures.

eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies.

Watch this video that highlights how we put together data and insights:

See more at:

Are you an Irrational Optimist?

In Bounce Magazine, Matthew Syed quotes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, one of the most successful football (soccer) coaches in the English Premier League, on how athletes must approach competition:

To perform to your maximum you have to teach yourself to believe with an intensity that goes way beyond logical justification. No top performer has lacked this capacity for irrational optimism; no sportsman has played to his potential without the ability to remove doubt from his mind.”

The same is true for everyone. Be smart, be logical, be rational and calculating, and never stop trying to improve your skills. But most important, be irrationally optimistic.

Jack Welch, ex-CEO of GE has espoused this irrational optimism as a trait he has admired in his successful managers during his tenure at General Electric.

Anyway, enough of that.

Here is your “Starter for Ten,” Bamber – some of you will remember this ditty from University Challenge TV in the 1980s.

Besides that, I came up with the following little intergalactic cosmic brain-mosh-pit mensa-like puzzle thingy while listening to some new time-signature-challenging Indian Guru Raga Jogeshwari music the other night. Really.

Again, this is better read aloud. Slowly. To some else, close by, who is listening. To you.

While the word One is unique, you’ll notice it is made-up of three letters, as is won, however solo is four.

On the other hand, the word to, correctly reflects its make-up of two letters, as does the word Two which is three, as does too.

But the word trio is four, but Three is five.

Then again Four IS four.

Interestingly Five only has four, but quartet, as in four, is seven,

and Six comprises three. Yet again half-a-dozen’s got eleven.

Come to think of it, Sextet can confuse us with an accurate six,

but Seven can also be six, as in Septet.

Gosh darn it, Eight, as in Octet, is even less than seven, at five, but Ate, however is three,

whereas Nine is more in-line, at four.

Finally, there is Ten…but, hang on a minute, that is two…digits (1 and 0)

(One of) The Most Beautiful Days of the Year – First Day of School: 7.57 am. Thursday, August 27th

To be read, preferable out-loud, in one breath, without taking a pause…

Look Out, here comes our new Teacher, Mr. Strictly!” exclaimed fourth-grader, Toby McCarthy, Jnr.

Wearing a pair of dung-colored, crooked and cracked, and quite predictably heavy-framed spectacles, while sporting a messy mop of mushy hair that had a Yoda-like musty quality closely resembling a pile of two-week-old abandoned Sunday New York Times Art Sections that had been left out in the rain one downpour too many, and despite his mother having tried to keep the poor boy’s fringe in one place with fistfuls of her cheap and ever-so grossly pungent brand of hair-gel, called “The Best Head a Girl Can Get”, a jar of which she won at a recent girls mini-bachelorette party ‘down the’ Jersey Shore with her friends Tracy and Joella during a particularly nasty and embarrassing evening at a sensationally sticky-floor joint known locally as, “Buns of Steele“, featuring thong-clad Adonis’ complete with red bow-ties and Mr. Clean-like sparkly pecs, and now having been finally urged-on by his new class-room buddies, the still slightly reluctant fourth grader, Toby McCarthy Jnr., quipped sheepishly, “What’s all this flour on your shirt and on your hands Teacher Strictly” to which Mr. Strictly replied, “Mr. McCarthy, let me explain something to you”.

…to be continued.