Thursday, January 31, 2008

Never Never Never Give Up

10 years ago I met a most talented and ambitious photographer: Steven Sebring. He had been filming the singer Patti Smith and had a huge pile of material in several different formats - and wanted to start putting it together.

I introduced him to Lin Polito, a wonderful and creative film editor, who over a period of months dug through tens of hours of footage and shaped the first 15-minute taste of the film.

Cut to 2008 and Sebring’s film, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, is a full length 1 hr 49 minutes, is in the Sundance Festival and Steven wins a Cinematography award. “Very well done” to all concerned.

I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, “Never, never, never give up”. Steven worked on this film for 12 years. It will be seen in 2009 on the PBS POV series.

Here is what Variety says about Dream of Life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

So who's in charge?

I don’t like indecision-by-consensus, and I've seen it too often. I am a huge believer in having someone in charge.

Much business success comes from the ability for leadership to make a decision and act on it. Yes of course you may need to socialize the decision in your organization and have a strategy for getting it implemented. But that is different from not being able to make the decision stick in the first place.

Having said that – if you have partners, by all means consult with them and show them due respect. One of the strategies I recommend is to have each partner responsible for making the decisions in their own specialty area. But there still needs to be someone who will have the final word, someone who is managing the budget or whatever is the constraint. One person: the GM, the President, whoever – but someONE.

And for that one person here is some valuable advice: make the decision and move on. If you are at all smart, most of your decisions will be right. Yes, some of them may be wrong, but most of them will be right. And if you put off your decision, the percentage of right to wrong will probably be no different. And you will have lost all that time when it hadn’t been made and all that time when you were sweating it.


Have someone in charge.
Make the decision and move on.

Try it – you might like it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Know what you do best

When you want a great pizza you go to the best pizza parlor. When you want a good steak you know where to go. That great steak and the great pizza are certainly not found in the same place.

Your clients view you the same way. They are looking for the best of something in particular. So you have to make choices and be clear when you express them. Emphasize your strengths and be clear about the value you offer. Decide how broad or specific your niche is. (are you Target or Some of this decision will depend on your what you like doing and what you're good at. But a big piece of it must depend on a good understanding of how your client thinks when he/she’s buying. If you don't know how or what your client is thinking, then finding that out is your Marketing Job One.

At Pollock Spark we say we serve "leaders of creative businesses, large and small". Is this too broad? Too narrow? We've helped partnerships made up of creatives and business guys. We've helped film directors and film editors where the company is just one person. What they all have in common is that they are creatively driven businesses. What do you think?

Your brand is ...

Your brand is the result of 1000 small gestures.

I met recently with the head of a company who told me how their brand had been blue and yellow, but last year they changed it to blue and brown.

“Blue and yellow” is probably not their brand. Their brand is the picture of them that their clients, investors and staff hold in their heads and their hearts.

Your company’s brand is the sum of the way your phone is answered, what is found on your website, how you react to a complaint, the quality of your ideas and work of course, your positioning and value proposition, your pricing, what your clients say about you, the cleanliness of your coffee room and on and on and on.

The ideal is for all those things add up to the picture that you want your clients, investors and staff to hold. If they don’t, then you have 1000 things you can tweak to get to where you want to be. One of them may be the color of your logo – but it is almost certainly the first one you should be thinking about.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Celebrate Everything

When I was purging my files for the New Year I found those two inspirational words on an otherwise blank sheet of paper: Celebrate Everything. I commend them to you - the positive feedback can have a truly excellent effect on you, your people and your business.

A talented artist/businessman I used to work with would smile wryly when anything went right – anything at all – and say quietly “it’s the small victories, the small victories.” In fact I am celebrating the finding of this note even now with a cup of tea and a blog entry.

Celebrate everything. Celebrate when your receptionist buys flowers, and your creative teams are excited. Celebrate the purging of your files and the call from a prospective client (one came in as I am writing this), celebrate the rewriting of your website and celebrate having a new idea.

You will feel good, your people will feel good - and all those small victories will start to add up to some really big ones.