Archives: January 2005

The Purple Hotel

Purple Hotel 1.jpgIf you grew up on the north side of Chicago or in the north suburbs sometime in the last 40 years, you probably remember "The Purple Hyatt" in Lincolnwood, Illinois, a shrine to Sixties Kitsch Style. I actually remember going there to visit family friends when I was about 6, circa 1965. Even then I could tell it was tacky!

By the time I worked at the Hyatt corporate office in the early '90's, The Purple Hyatt had become "The Purple Radisson," and no one at Hyatt could mention the hotel without a sigh of relief that it was no longer associated with our brand. After all, this hotel was sort of a local joke.

But I drove by there yesterday, and saw a twist on the branding of this property that is, at the least, amusing. The hotel is no longer The Purple Hyatt or The Purple Radisson—it's The Purple Hotel. Why apologize for an architectural anachronism? Embrace it!

High Speed Web. Low Speed Service.

[This just in from one of our colleagues: Mike Neiss, welcome to blogworld! It seems Mike had to get a bit upset before he had something to say ...]

From Mike:
I started getting odd messages from my clients that their emails were being bounced back. Well aware of my technology expertise level, I figured I must have done something wrong. I reconfigured my account settings in Outlook, sent a trial message, and it appeared I had fixed the problem. Wrong. I finally talked with my web host, ipower web, at 5:30AM. Seems that when I renewed my domain, someone forgot to register it at ipower. Of course they were appropriately "sorry for the inconvenience" and appreciated "my patience." Patience in the web world?? No way! I was out of touch with my clients and friends. They blew it, not me. They had my cash, I had no website.


Right-Brain Rules

Our Cool Friend Dan Pink has a new book on its way March 24. In A Whole New Mind, Dan writes that "To flourish in this age, we'll need to supplement our well-developed high tech abilities with aptitudes that are 'high concept' and 'high touch.'" Meaning the left side of our brains has gotten a pretty good workout so far; now it's time to develop the right side. The book is excerpted in the current Wired magazine.

Caveat Emptor Verizon

I left Verizon Wireless two years ago for the lower prices at Sprint. Sprint was a big service disappointment, so I decided to return to Verizon. I dashed into a Verizon store two weeks ago and figured out what I wanted in about 5 minutes—4 lines, the first two at $99 and the second two at $9.95 each.

Then, I returned a week ago to sign up for new service and buy phones. It was taking a long time and I had to be somewhere, so I had the sales person do all the paperwork, and I returned an hour later to pick up the phones and sign on the dotted line.

OK, this is ultimately my fault: I didn't read the fine print to see what the extra surcharges were. I figured the surcharges were equally egregious as all cell phone companies'.

Then the first bill arrived. Additional surcharges and taxes amounted to 69% of the monthly fees, i.e., a hidden $82 on top of the $120 that they were advertising. Taxes are a small piece of that—most of it is for Verizon.

Yes, when I go back and read the fine print, I see those charges were described. So yes, it is my fault. My fault for trusting my new cell phone provider and assuming that they won't try to reach into my pockets to grab cash when I'm not looking!

Re-imagine a Life Without the Right to Choose

Okay, it was Sunday and Ski-day, but did you catch the historical news? Lines of people, one for men and another for women, stood waiting patiently to cast one PRECIOUS vote in the first election that allowed people to express their minds and their hearts without losing them. And it was the first in five decades. FIVE DECADES is a lifetime.

Re-imagine a life without the power to vote, to have a say. Sounds terrible and out of control, eh? Out-of-control is what stresses us out to that state where stress makes us stupid and, ultimately, contributes to sickness and shortens longevity—i.e., stress makes us dead. But it sounds too much like life in the corporate fish bowl where lack of control, due to an inability to have a say, takes a serious cut into health, the ability to stay at the front of the pack and to stay in it for the long run.

Re-imagine a life in the wide world of work that embraces the ability to choose your destiny, to exert control, to VOTE. Now that's worth standing in line and playing-to-win! Proactive, provocative, really going for it! That's a life worth living and loving whether you're a solo flyer, a contributing team member fielding hockey pucks or corporate takeovers, or a global competitor.

What would you do to defend, or obtain, your right to vote? What would you choose or not choose in the workplace setting where you "spend" most of your life? What will you do today?

Pam Brill posted this on January 30, 2005, in News.
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How Fast a Brand Can Lose Its Power!

Rewind the clock to 1998, the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. Even considering The Tribune, The Sears Tower, Billygoat Tavern, Steppenwolf Theater, Michael or Da Bears, Sammy Sosa was just about the biggest, most meaningful brand in Chicago.

And it continued on—from 1998 through 2002 Sammy hit 292 homers while batting .306 with a .649 slugging percentage. He is the only player in history with three 60+ home run seasons. And, he had a great personality—the fans loved him.

Fast forward to today: News of Sammy's trade to Baltimore. Fans interviewed on TV saying they're happy to see him go. The Cubs are paying a big chunk of his $17 million salary next year—for him to play on another team.

Things started to tail off in 2003 when Sammy was caught with a corked bat and suspended for 8 games, after which his performance suffered. This past season he missed a month with back problems caused—embarrassingly—by sneezing. (By then he'd lost the sympathy of the fans, and the sneezes became a joke.) Then he walked out of the clubhouse and left the ballpark before the last game of the season started, because he was unhappy that he was dropped to a lower position in the batting order.

Beyond baseball, what's the lesson here? If the Brand Called Sammy can go from hero to persona non grata, just think what can happen to your company if you stop performing ... or get caught corking your bat!

Event Slides: Houston

Tom speaks to DePuy Spine in Houston, TX. You can download the slides here.

Clothes Make the Man

Or in this case, the man makes the clothes. Yes, someone recently pointed me to this new blog—English Cut—by an actual Saville Row suit maker so check it out. Thomas Mahon is brilliant, and so is his blog.

The "someone" is a favorite blogger of mine, Hugh MacLeod, aka GapingVoid, here at Check out his manifesto, "How To Be Creative" on Seth Godin's cool site, Change This.

Couldn't Help But Notice

As we're ranting about the P&G/Gillette merger, my Fortune magazine arrives with the cover story:

Why Carly's Big Bet Is Failing
Buying Compaq hasn't paid off for HP's investors. And there's no easy way out.

Do you think Fortune will be able to save this cover layout for when they write the inevitable P&G/Gillete story sometime in the not too distant future?

RANT Gillette

Tom's got an audio post at