Everything I need to know, I learned from the funny papers

Confession: I’m 52 years old, and I still read the comic strips first when I get the Sunday newspaper. (Kids, ask your grandparents what a ‘newspaper’ is.)

This past Sunday, there were two comic strips that I found quite profound… tucked in among the usual banal suspects like Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois.

Pearls Before Swine is consistently very good, and Stephan Pastis really struck a nerve with this one:

Non Sequitur is another standout strip, and this one was outstanding:

You can keep your philosophy books… I’ll take my life lessons in nine panels or less, thank you very much.

Saturday morning cartoons

Saw this video earlier this week and it cracked me up. Hope you like it too:

 

Go-Go-Godin

I go to a lot of concerts every year. Yesterday I saw a different kind of rock star. Seth Godin is marketing wizard, a best-selling author, a brilliant blogger and one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen.

Yes, this guy rocks!

He was in Cincinnati yesterday to give the keynote speech at an event called “Brandemonium” (because all of the good names are taken, apparently).

His presentation was ostensibly about how consumer brands can better connect with customers in the digital age. But really it was about life. About generosity. About art. About connecting. About overcoming fear.

His presenting style should be required viewing for any public speaker. Way too many folks try to cram a bunch of bullet points, charts and graphs onto their PowerPoint slides, and they wind up being a huge distraction to the audience… and a crutch for the speaker. Seth uses compelling visuals (one per slide) and a sprinkling of text to move his narrative along, so you can focus on the story instead of the charts and graphs.

I set up a blog a few years ago, and created a whopping total of about five blog posts in the first 18 months of its existence. Then Seth issued a “blog post a day for one week” challenge via his own blog, and that was exactly the kickstart I needed. (So if you don’t like dubbatrubba.com, blame Seth, not me!) He taught me that if you keep waiting for “perfect” you’ll squander your talent (using that term very loosely). “Ship your product” in Seth’s parlance means creating something and putting it out into the world.

I highly recommend you subscribe to Seth’s blog. You’ll get a daily email containing his latest blog post – most posts take just a minute or two to read, but the food for thought will sustain you all day long.

I know I sound like a fanboy. Because I am. You should be too.

We’re down one clown

A few days ago, the guy who played Bozo The Clown on TV in Arkansas during my childhood passed away. I vividly remember watching the show. I even more vividly remember thinking “this is cheesy” even in my not-fully-developed brain. The wacky hair. The obvious scull cap. The goofy “no right answer” questions he’d ask the kids, like “Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” or “How smart is your mother, 100 or 45?”

Back in those pre-historic days, a tape recorder served as an entertainment outlet for my siblings and me. The first “comedy” tape (using the term very loosely) we ever made featured several Bozo parodies. But watching the tribute segments and reading the obits, I have a newfound respect for Gary Weir, the Arkansas Bozo for more than 25 years. He clearly enjoyed the work, and made sure that the kids felt special.

 

There’s a lot to be said for giving your all at your job, and focusing on your customers instead of yourself… even if your role is to be the clown.

Marketing 101

“Give your product an appealing name”

“Make sure the product photo doesn’t look like dog poop”

You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover…

… but you can judge a LinkedIn request by looking at the profile summary. Here’s an easy “accept” one:

Executive recruiter from Columbus? Sure, why not? I’ve never met him, don’t know him from Adam, but my LinkedIn bar is very low (it’s like Facebook “friends” but without the cute baby pictures). Maybe he can help me land my dream job (replacing Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy. Buy American!)

Whereas this one is a no-go:

I appreciate the e.e. cummings lowercase style of the name. Thanks to my company’s Diversity & Inclusion training, I have a much better understanding of — and appreciation for — the fact that different cultures and backgrounds have different societal norms. Perhaps in Brazil it is customary for professors to wear clothes that in the U.S. would be considered “sleazy nightclub” outfits. But my gut is telling me no, unless I want to wind up becoming the plot of a Lifetime movie (working title: Extra Credit: The Abduction and Kidney Harvesting of Dubbatrubba) or a Van Halen video.

 

 

 

 

It’s a vicious cycle… actually it’s a gentle bicycle.

I like weird music that no one has ever heard of. I listen to bands that don’t even exist….

…We interrupt our regularly scheduled boring blog post for an even more boring Public Service Announcement:

46 days from now, I’ll be participating in the Cincinnati edition of the Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life Event.

This is my third consecutive year riding and raising funds to fight CF. I’ll be doing the 32-mile route because that’s all my ancient bike and my even-more-ancient knees can handle.

Don’t worry, I’ll wear a helmet with my bowtie.

If you feel so inclined, please considering making a donation to help find a cure for this insidious disease. You can do so at my page. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible, and more importantly you’ll have my undying gratitude. I will name my first son after you (provided your name is Gabriel).

Thanks for considering it.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

… and I still like those bands.

 

 

7tdS4QO

500 channels and nothin’ but the same two guys on

It made my heart so happy  (in a fake Kelly Ripa way) that Kelly Ripa decided to replace one overexposed co-host (looking at you, Michael Strahan) with another overexposed co-host (Seacrest…in).

[Sidebar topic: Kelly Ripa is the black widow of TV hosts – discuss amongst yourselves.]

Seriously, are Strahan and Seacrest on a not-so-secret mission to take over every airwave that exists? Michael Strahan is a host on Good Morning America, and an analyst for FOX NFL games, and hosted the reboot of $100,000 Pyramid. Before he got the heave-ho from Kelly, he was basically on the air about 12 hours of every day. And Seacrest covered the other 12, with American Idol, E! News, all those E! red carpet shows, the annual New Years Rockin’ Eve… in addition to his daily four hour radio show and the weekly American Top 40 countdown. I hope they own stock in 5-hour Energy.

Actually, I kinda hope they get laryngitis.

I’m not a regular viewer/listener to any of the shows listed above — in fact I barely watch any TV at all — but even I can’t escape the two-headed host-beast named Stracrest.

All that on-air time must be cutting into their prep time:

The Boss was right.

 

 

 

166.7% awful

A bank based in Cincinnati — Fifth Third Bank — unveiled their new tagline about a week ago. If you already put your socks on this morning, apologies in advance, because they are going to get blown right off by this gem:

This is banking. A Fifth Third better.

OK, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now. What an amazing, stupendous… piece of garbage.

“You know the saying: ‘He gave 110 percent?’ We give 167 percent,” said chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius.

The ads quickly make a point of explaining that five-thirds equals 166.7 percent, then pledge to serve customers that much better.

Yes, that’s right, while customers are expecting Fifth Third to take care of their money, Fifth Third (aka 5/3) is asking their customers to do fractions. Welcome back to 4th grade.

The Fifth Third name is rather unwieldy, coming from the merger of the Fifth National Bank and the Third National Bank way back in 1908.

So I’ll grade on the curve. But their slogans have gotten progressively worse over the past couple of decades. They used to be “the only bank you’ll ever need.” That morphed into “working hard to be the only bank you’ll ever need.” Then came the decidedly lame “the curious bank”…

Customer: “Where’d my money go?”

Bank Teller: “I’m curious about that myself.”

It would be hard to lower the bar from that curious slogan, but somehow 5/3 found a way. If my math is correct, they lowered it 166.7%.

“Wow, they really make banking seem simple and not at all intimidating!”

Thanks to my contacts in the Cincinnati ad agency community, I was able to find the runner-up slogans:

  • Turning fractions into actions
  • 4 is between 5 and 3, and we are working 4 you
  •  Invert your divisor and multiply your savings
  • Fifth is really Third if you subtract the illegal voters
  • 1.666 – the number of the beastly bank
  • You’re gonna need a Fifth of whiskey when we take a Third of your money

I’m 166.7% sure that I’m not going to be banking at Fifth Third anytime soon.

“You passed the math test…. have a golden lolly!”

All I ever needed to know I learned from the funny pages

I’m part of a dying breed: I still get a Sunday newspaper. And the first section I read is always the comics. Probably because my brain is so feeble. But you can find some profound wisdom in the funny pages too. Here’s a Pearls Before Swine strip from last year that I found very enlightening.

It puts the rat race in perspective, doesn’t it?

If you don’t get a newspaper but still want to keep up with the comics (an underappreciated art form, sez me), you can check out some decent ones at GoComics.com. A list of popular strips is here. They just re-ran the great week of Calvin & Hobbes daily strips where Calvin finds a hurt baby raccoon. Start here and read six days’ worth and you’ll see how Bill Watterson could convey more about the human experience in three black-and-white panels than most folks could do in a thousand-page novel.