Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I confess: I do not know the 5 secrets to instant entrepreneurial profit and eternal success…

… and neither do they. 

There aren't 7 SEO techniques you can implement in your website to ensure you 10 new customers every 30 days. There are not 3 lessons you can learn from General Patton that will guarantee you will exude leadership skills that inspire your employees to sell for you in their sleep. Google+ will not make your business the next Google, and neither will Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. There is not one white paper you can download that will change your life as soon as you read it.
I have a very short romance cycle with buzzwords. About the same amount of time a pear is good. The first time I hear one, I don't know it's a buzzword yet. It's still a word that sounds really smart because a small group of people use it in a specific way. For a little while, I feel cool if I know one before everyone else does. I seem really smart and on-trend if I use it while describing something to a client. But that's it. That is the peak after which the buzzword gets more popular and starts being compulsively spewed out of the mouths of the masses. At that point, it's lost its value to me and becomes merely another common word. It's over.

For some reason the rest of the world doesn't realize this.. Instead, for years, if anyone just says one of these buzzwords, they are looked upon as an expert. It doesn't even have to be used in a sentence! They don't even have to know what it means or where it came from! It just has to be uttered. While the majority of the population is being wowed by these experts, I'm itching all over from the merciless assault of buzzword overuse out there. Make it stop!
In the past 24 hours these headlines came straight to my inbox/feed/stream:
  •  5 ways to succeed as a startup in an industry awash with competitors
  • The 1 Question That Inspires Innovation
  • 4 ways to harness the power of co-creativity
  • 5 Ways The Kardashian Family Built A $65 Million Brand
  • How to manage a team of robot workers
  • PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, on the 5 C's of leadership
  • 3 ways for CEOs to avoid overconfidence
  • The best apps for building a business
  • 6 Google+ Myths Debunked
  • 25 Questions To Ask Before You Outsource HR
  • Five Things Hollywood Teaches us About Product Design
  • 4 social media case studies from the tourism industry
  • 5 key questions to ask about your social campaigns
  • 6 Creative iPad Uses For Small Retailers
  • Top 5 Legal Issues Of A New Company
  • 100 Websites You Should Know and Use
I know, I know, you're wanting the link to a couple of these because they just might contain THE answer. Well I'm not providing them. These headlines are just to illustrate the weight of the world that is on my shoulders. Realize that the reason all of these came to me is because I actually subscribe to the sources. They really do have something smart to say, even if it isn't going to change my life. I have to keep up with trends and technology because it's what I do for a living. Besides, some of these articles might have the next buzzword in them, before it becomes an overused and sales-pitch-ish.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I confess: I hate false [eyelash] advertising

In the world of makeup, beauty (on the surface) trumps reality. Makeup's number one mission is to decorate. Why be plain? With makeup we can accentuate the best in ourselves and cover up the worst. Like fashion and hair, it's an accessory – an accent – to our image. It allows us to look different with different moods and events, too. Who wants to look exactly the same all the time? That's all fine as long as there is some kind of integrity to the image we make of ourselves. Unfortunately, there is a point when makeup crosses over from being decoration to being disguise. Why don't we see beauty in our natural selves? Because of advertising.

Yes, advertising – that insidious, brainwashing, sales pitchy, repetitive, starburstish, spammy, manipulative, interrupt-your-entertainment, get-in-front-of-you-hundreds-of-times-a-day industry that I am in. Of course, it doesn't have to be that bad. There is a manipulative and brainwashing power behind advertising and design strategy, but if used for good, well, it's all good. That's why it's so important to self-regulate. Advertisers have big a responsibility to be honest.

My latest pet peeve is mascara ads. What the hell are they thinking? What the hell are the consumers thinking if they believe a little bottle of mascara is going to give them eyelashes like this? How are we supposed to choose mascara based on that misinformation?
Dishonest advertising is more than just a con to get your money… it can be damaging to the health, wealth and happiness of society. When people begin to identify more with the ads they see than they do their own reality, self esteem plummets and their wallets empty out. When people begin to want what they see in ads more than what they have in real life, their life becomes one big failure in search of the unattainable.

Three cheers to the U.K. for cracking down on L'Oreal and Maybelline for running these misleadingly-airbrushed ads of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington (read more here).  It's a giant slippery slope that starts with something simple like covering a blemish. Who doesn't want to smooth out their skin a bit? Heck, if I could Photoshop myself every morning, I would!

The answer lies not so much in refraining from using makeup as it does in creating only honest advertising. Decorate but don't lie. Emphasize but don't lie. Communicate the strengths and leave out the weaknesses, but don't lie. I'm all about honest propaganda for a good cause!