Monday, May 12, 2014

Is 2014 Your Summer of Fun?

We all know about "staycations."  Whomever came up with this (clever) phrase somehow wants you to think it's suddenly become cool to take your few precious weeks off and save money by staying and exploring your home town.

People here in the Northwest will travel to Multnomah Falls, the Oregon Coast, the high desert or three hours north to Seattle for a Mariners game.  All fun ideas, but once you've done them, you've done them.  The same goes for your home town, I'm sure.

What I really want to do this summer is take a "Braincation" and take the time to reflect on expanding my horizons and really reaching out to others.

Forget New Year's resolutions,when the weather heats up, so should your brain.

Are you volunteering this summer?  Meeting at least one new person a month?    Exploring  new jobs and experiences through social media?
A dear friend of mine named Sherry, is calling 2014 her "Year of Fun."   She is normally fun and entertaining, but she has doubled down and is dedicating herself to doing fun things and living a fun existence throughout the entire year. I think she's on to something big.  Let's take our lead from Sherry, one of the great free spirits in America, Let's take a slightly smaller bite of the ambition apple and make it in the summer of _____. 

Fun?  Commitment?  Volunteering?  Friendships?  Water parks? Loving people? Movies?  Being fabulous?

Make a three month commitment to have fun, make more money for you, your company and just plain improving.

Let's also try to do less worrying, watching television, eating crap, being sarcastic, losing our patience and grumbling.  I am guilty of all of this.

We've waited nine months for the good weather.  Let's not blow it.

I you're in AZ, it's already 120, so I can't help you, but for the rest of us, I'm doing as much as I can afford, and am focused on a summer of introspection, self-improvement and fun.

Thanks for the tip, Sherry.  You are so smart.  Bring on the warm weather.  I'm ready.  Now, if it would just stop, raining here in Oregon.

Rich Brase

Friday, March 28, 2014

Career Fusion: Creating a Blended Work Life

Career Fusion.  How's that for a term to describe your life?

In fact, I think this amalgam of words perfectly reflects what so many of us are doing these days--melding together similar or dissimilar careers or hobbies to create a fully satisfying life.

In my case, my love of broadcasting, marketing, music and baseball have become part of my new career and revenue stream for the past five years.

No 9-to-5 office job for me, babe.  Perhaps you've made a similar switch in your life and career.  You used to be an accountant for a large firm.  Now you're a free-lance accountant/ventriloquist who also works at a vineyard.  You're a hyphenate.
Oscar-winner and puppet-master Kevin Spacey has his hands in lots of things

In the beginning, it felt funny (being just one thing) and leaving my last job, not having a place to go for 40 to 60 hours a week and having a group of colleagues with which to eat lunch.  If you are like me, I was my job.
Too obvious?  Oh, shut up!
The current reality, especially if you are an experienced professional, is we now have the chance to be all the things were meant to be.

Writer Richard Paino describes it as "easy (and usually prudent) to give up on one’s love of something because it doesn’t pay enough to keep up with the bills. It is also common to toss aside one ability for the sake of another that is thought to be more practical. But consider the idea that a person can use his or her work related talents in ways that also serve unmet inner needs."

Paino presents us with this video of Robert Gupta, who was confronted with this same conundrum of which way to go in life. Instead of choosing one path or the other, he married two seemingly disconnected career paths, medicine and music. He found a way to satisfy his desires both to play music and heal others.

This is one space where effective problem solving and creative thinking are applied to career planning.

Take a look at my career.  Yours, too?
Mr. Paino continues:  "Thinking, for example, of how to marry chemistry with sports or of finance with furniture making is both challenging and bewitching but can add some clarity in making a career choice. It can involve  taking stock of one’s knowledge, skills and abilities, reflecting on what is missing in the work life, and brainstorming with friends, family, and a career counselor. The more people involved in the process, the more potentially beneficial unions may surface."

"Applying one’s varied abilities or interests in a joint effort or through multiple professions has the potential to deliver great life satisfaction. Finding the right approach is perhaps dependent on a person’s identity. No matter how one chooses to get there, it will require a great deal of self-evaluation, creative thinking, the courage to engage others and a watchful eye for opportunities."

I call it Career Fusion.  Fuse your passion with your future.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Importance of Clear Direction

Giving and getting clear direction.  It seems so simple and obvious, but is often difficult and complicated.  The importance can't be underestimated, and often makes the difference between a successful campaign and a forgettable one.

Here are five signs that the direction is fuzzy, at best.  If you see these, stop and ask more questions... or gird your loins for a Sisyphean feat:

I'll know what I want when I see it.  Promo Coders know how much I hate this lack of direction.  If you happen to hit a home run, trust me, it's just a coincidence.  This statement reflects lazy thinking with no true objective, unless you hear...

Give me something with attitude.
  Your first question should be, What kind of attitude?  Aggressive?  Detached?  Confident?  Don't be surprised if this is just shorthand for...

Make it cool.  Remember that Simpsons episode where Homer became a vo actor for an animated dog, Poochie?  Backward hat and sunglasses in tow, this approach perfectly mocked the "cool" direction.  Nike has never called themselves cool, and has spent decades reinforcing their cred.  The quickie alternative, of course, is...

We need something that will go viral.  Newsflash: If you set out to make something that goes viral (without paying for it, of course), it ain't gonna happen.  The reality is, this is lightning in a bottle, and nobody really knows what will hit, even if you hear...

It should be just like x, only a little different.  Charlie can only bite one finger.  Yes, you can put up a toddler biting Marley's finger, but it  won't work.  The same goes for all that "me too" stuff you see on-air.  Just because Ford uses kinetic typography like nobody else, that doesn't mean Fiat should start using it.  Your brand should develop its own voice.  Period.
So, how does one overcome muddled direction?  Very simple.  

If you're giving direction, present a clear road map with plenty of room for ingenuity.  Know the brand, playing field, uniqueness of the challenge and parameters.  Then, make sure these are conveyed.  (Hint: Use active listening.)

If you're getting unclear direction, stop and ask for a clarification of the above.  What's more, try to discern if the range is 4 to 6, 2 to 9, or just 5.  (Hint: Use active listening.)

This way, there will be less last-minute panic and more time to plan the party.

-Ed Roth 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Five Ways to Thrive as a Free-Lancer After 40

Are you tremendously qualified and yet feel you've been searching endlessly for that perfect job only to ultimately lose out on jobs to people way less qualified?

Feeling frustrated, bunkie?

Look, I know you miss the hubub and stimulation of working in an office, and if you're over 40 (or especially if you're over 50), they ain't calling.  You keep applying to open jobs that clearly have your name on them, but no dice.  Another rejection...or worse...they don't respond at all.  Like you're invisible.

They don't want you.  They want a 25-35 year-old with "upside," not someone who can hit the ground running and help the company grow.  They want someone they can train, not someone who comes ready-made with a great work ethic.  They will think that they can't afford you, but won't take the time to find out the salary you require.  If you're currently out of work, it's amazing how much "bang for the buck" they could get with you.  Sad but true.

Personally, I've been told I'm intimidating (a 6'3" New Yorker), which can be a tough sell off the east coast.  From Fresno to Framingham, old pros are bringing their baggage and heading out to pasture without their permission.

So, Uncle Promo is here to give you hope in 2014.  Time to get your free-lance business up and sprinting today.   Less moping.  More money!

Julia began her career humiliating various breed of fowl at 49
1.  Figure out what you want to do when you grow up. 
     The people who console you by saying "this could be a good thing" when you first lost your job? 
     Yeah, these are people who have never been out of work.  These are the same people who
     say  "it's all for the best" when someone dies.  Is it?  Have you ever been dead?  It's not fun,
     'cause there ain't no encores.  But now that you have the time, make a list of the things you
     absolutely would NOT want to do next.  The rest of your life is a blank canvas.  Spend as much
     time as you can exploring other jobs and asking questions.  If you're lucky and you ask the right
     questions of your friends who are also changing their lot in life, you will find something to
     light your fire and help you pay the rent quickly.

2.  Make a name for yourself
     Don't delay.  Create a catchy company name, spend the money, get with your lawyer and start an
     LLC, get your business cards printed ( is a cheap and easy start) and build business
     and marketing plans.  This will be cathartic...really, it will.

Attention pwease...I am now on Twitter.  Roll tape!
3. Start spreading the news
    Get out there and network.  I know it's a pain and you feel like such a phony, but that's now your job. It will take a while, but let those cards flow.  They won't do any good in your wallet. Be particular about the events you (and your new company) attend.  Those networking events through your Chamber or local Ad Club are usually a waste of time and money.  They're mostly boys and girls just starting their careers, independent insurance agents and financial planners trolling for clients.  These folks will take your card and call sell you on their services.   Move along, Sonny.     

4.  Stay current
     Do a lot of reading on trends and try to develop new skills you never had time to develop
     when you were pigeon-holed in your last job and you had employees doing things that YOU  
     now have to know how to do.   Your business is changing daily.  Blink and you'll be left
     behind permanently.   Plus, every new technology is fun...once you master it.  Not on Facebook,
     Twitter and Instagram?  Do it today.

Wait for it...wait for it...
5.  Be Patient
     Toledo wasn't built in a day, and neither will your new
     career.  Start slowly and focus on building your new
     career one client at a time.  The first year or two will be
     tough, so you may have to nail down another job to pay
     the bills, but that can be fun, too.  You'll be opening
     doors to a new parcel of work pals, and thus new
     opportunities. That's not a sin; it's a necessity.

I don't have to tell you it's like the wild west for free-lancers out there, but once you get your rhythm, you will find your niche and thrive. 

Let me know how you're doing.  Unless you're bidding on a job against me, we're all in this together, but talent wins out every time.  You know you've got the guns.  Time to focus them and take the credit when your plan comes together.

--Rich Brase

Saturday, January 4, 2014

One New Year's Resolution You Can Actually Keep

In 2001, I made a resolution never to make resolutions again.  It's the only one I've ever kept.  After years of going through the ritual, I realized that they're a waste of time... simply a list of shoulds.

First of all, we don't keep them.  Think of all the gym membership cards that gather dust by February.  

Second, we make excuses for not keeping them, if we remember them at all. That was so long ago...

And third, if we keep them just because they're resolutions, we really don't want to... and eventually, won't.  You know it's true.

Here's scientific proof, Part I:  It's only January 4th, and you've probably already forgotten what you promised the world a mere four days ago.  Either that, or chalked it up to eating too much over the holidays... but now it's under control, right?

So why bother?  If you want to make a change, it doesn't work if it's simply calendar-related; changes occur because of genuine motivation (positive or negative).

Change is ongoing.  It's also called learning, growing, evolving.  Like Woody Allen's shark, it must keep moving or it dies.  This is true on both personal and professional levels.

Here's scientific proof, Part II:  How'd you do on your resolutions for 2013?  What's that, you say?  You don't even remember what they were, much less making them?  

Despite best intentions, chances are, resolutions were kept for a few weeks when convenient, then conveniently forgotten. There are exceptions, of course, but I'll bet not many.

So this year, do yourself a favor.  Liberate yourself with the last resolution you'll ever make... and the only one you can actually keep!

And now, on to 2014...

-Ed Roth

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Raising a Strong Daughter in 2014

I've been a writer, producer and bad trombone player, but want to know about my current job?

For the past 19 years, I've been the father of a gorgeous, smart and talented young woman. 

With sons like these, my poor mother should have ended up in Bellevue.
I'm as proud of my daughter as (I hope) you are of your kids, but I'm still learning how to do it as I go.  To start, you need to know that I grew up in a family of boys (three to be exact) and the biggest kid of dad.  My poor mother never had a chance--hockey, baseball, basketball, football,  Add the fact that I have no aunts, uncles or cousins and didn't have a lot of women in my life growing up.

Fast forward to the day Gillian was born.  The best day of my life (hey, you thought I was going to say it was the day I bought my Prius?).  Like most of you who are parents, a day hasn't gone by that I haven't worried or wondered about the best way to raise her. 

Every day, I sweat how to raise a little red-headed girl to be a woman of strength and character.

Let me call on a real expert--Dr. Linda Nielsen, a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University.   Dr. Nielsen suggests that dads focus on the "M & Ms" of raising daughters--men, money, mother, meaning and Myths & misconceptions.

Teach your daughter that it's OK to express and be assertive about her opinions and her needs.  Make sure you're there for her when she's upset.  Most of all, teach her to be herself, showing appreciation for her talent who she is.  Most of all, get her to communicate directly with the men in her life, not necessarily through her mother and other women.

Teach her how to be self-reliant and grow up without believing that any man is the key to avoiding financial hardships.  Help her gain freedom and confidences to make wiser choices.

She loves her mom more than anyone can measure, but make sure you get your alone time with her.  Give her the gift of you, and use your time to teach her things she needs to know.

Encourage meaningful personal conversations with you.  She needs to give dad the chance to develop the same meaningful relationship with you as with her mom. 

Let go of the myths about men.  Show her that men do talk about personal issues, how we can be empathetic and nurturing, communicating well.  We do love our daughters as much as women.

Since 1990, Dr. Nielsen has taught a course called "Fathers & Daughters" at Wake Forest, the only course of its kind in the U.S.

And so my terror began on an overcast November day in Chicago.
It's been 19 years now, and I wish I knew how the final portrait of her life will look.   But raising a self-reliant and confident young woman is a job I take seriously.  My life has taken a few bumps along the way, but I'm always aware that how I handle things is setting an example for my little girl.

I'm not sure if I'm the perfect dad (she's our only child and is away at college in NYC most of the year), but I hope you believe that being a parent is the best job in the world, because it is.

She may not say anything, but I know she's watching.  So, set a great example and keep talking to your daughter, because the way you treat women is how she will expect to be treated in her life.

Let's make 2014 a great one for all the women in our lives. They deserve it.

Happy New Year to you all.

--Rich Brase

Monday, December 16, 2013

Celebrating our First Anniversary with Uncommon Honesty

It's been a year since Ed and I started The Promo Code with the idea that we could spread some marketing joy to all the good little boys and girls in the media...or just people who loved talking about media and promotion.

It's all good, y'all.

Christmas is only nine days away.  This is a favorite holiday for a lot of us, to be sure.  Even if you are not a "Chritmas person," it's time to celebrate all your blessings and the people who enrich your life.  It's also the time where countless writers and columnists want you know that they're thankful for their dog, their parents and the fourth grade teacher that pushed them on to greatness.

This year, I celebrate honesty.  Even when it stings a little.

I was talking to an old creative services friend the other day who asked me what former employees would say about me. I gave a truthful answer based on what I knew were the thoughts of over a hundred people I've supervised over the years.   A lot of those people have worked for me at multiple stations.

The answer was simple:  kind, generous, flexible, funny, talented...and incredibly handsome.

The truth is--I've never actually asked.  What boss would actually ask "what's it like to work for me?"
It just never came up from people I was supervising.  Have YOU ever asked?

As their supervisor, it was MY job to tell them what I thought of THEM and how THEY were doing.

Are your intentions being properly being received?
So, on a frosty morning in Portland, I had coffee with an old friend, who used to work for me but who now works at another station.  Since he left my employ, we get together to talk about family, mutual friends, musical theater (that's right) and television.

So, I took the opportunity to ask the question--what was I like to work for?  Some of the answers took me aback.

When I thought I was helping by editing spots, I was actually screwing things up (I am not a good editor). 

He said a lot of great things about me, but I should have asked this question years ago, so I could polish the rough edges and become an even better manager.  I think it's called 360 Evaluations--where your employees get to evaluate you.  This is a double-edged sword, as no matter what you do, some people will walk though fire for you, but some will hate your guts even if you give them a big raise. 

It's easy to put on blinders and say "I'm the boss and I'm smarter than the rest," but this is wrong in so many ways.

So, heading into Christmas, I rejoice for my family (who love and criticize me), friends (who tell me the truth) and a warm house to come home to.  As you go through your journey, don't forget to ask "how am I doing?" from time to time.  It may smart a little, but what you learn will open your eyes and make you stronger.

For that, you should give thanks.

Wondering what this gorgeous woman sees in me
In case you want to know, I'll be eating Christmas tacos  with the beautiful Victoria, my fantastic daughter, Gillian, who is home from college and our good friends, the Franklins, so it should be a great day.  You should come over.

Merry Christmas and happy Promo Code anniversary to Ed Roth, my partner in crime, to you and every one you know. 

--Rich Brase