Browsing Tag


100 Things I am Thankful For – circa 2009

photo.jpg by you.

So this is my third installment of 100 things I am thankful for, the original continues to be the most active search post on spatially relevant and this always is favorite post to write every year.

The terms vary from funny things to be thankful for to what kid’s should be thankful for.  Regardless, this is the most rewarding post to write every year.

  1. My family – it just keeps getting bigger and bigger – better and better
  2. That big brothers take care of the other siblings
  3. That twins just know what to do
  4. The peaceful early morning drive to the office
  5. Frost in the country
  6. Coconut curry soup
  7. That the University of Michigan Medical Center doesn’t suck at any thing they do.
  8. That I will not achieve Gold status on delta this year and probably next
  9. The cheese in Spain is about the best anywhere
  10. The fact that Spanish wines are insanely cheap, compensates for the cost of cheese 😉
  11. Time off with no internet access
  12. A cab driver who doesn’t talk to me
  13. The ability to see the mountains everyday
  14. That my friends stepped up on the club seats for New Years with Panic
  15. That big brothers take care of all the other ones
  16. Pleased when people understand the difference between hallucinating and vision.
  17. Wireless on a plane, but only kinda.
  18. That Ron, one of my mentors, recovered from his stroke fairly quickly.
  19. That Chattanooga is about as pretty as anywhere else on an overcast day
  20. Hulu – at least when I am in the United States
  21. A new tie
  22. Fringe, the TV show
  23. Julia, the nurse with the Jello
  24. Karen, the nurse with the infectious optimism
  25. My readers
  26. The crew in A2 (Chris, Patti and Drake)
  27. Waking up to fog and just knowing the mountains are still there
  28. Any day Em doesn’t have a saved segment of Dr. Phil backing her up on something.
  29. My friends in and around the greater San Francisco bay area (Ruslan, Rick, Chris, Mark)
  30. That science continues to advance and the Discovery channel tells me so
  31. New Socks
  32. Working from home
  33. My new grill which is just way too much for the average steak, but I still use it
  34. Skype
  35. Emily’s cooking, specifically her pork paprikash and whatever new thing she has discovered online.
  36. The Hadrian Snuggle Mood every morning
  37. That Jen is a great mother of Kevren and Dijouri and a friend
  38. Everyday I have the opportunity to just take in the scenery, like colors
  39. The beach, not a lake beach, but a Gulf beach more than anything
  40. Catching up with Friends when on the road
  41. Old Town Madrid
  42. Not having to travel for Thanksgiving this year, 3 years in a row!
  43. My external hard drive which has over a decade of junk on it.  I just might need that presentation from 2001 for something
  44. That my parents, although grumpy are still good folk who I need to talk to about stuff. Wisdom is a good thing
  45. Not having to travel for Thanksgiving this year – three years in a ROW!
  46. That I still have my atlas from my 18th birthday, it has a SIGNIFICANTLY less pages now thanks to my kids
  47. That Em and I did actually get out to see some music this year that wasn’t Thomas the Tank Engine
  48. The moment I realized that there IS a speed limit on the autobahn and only got 1 ticket
  49. That the SEC has just crazy good tailgates
  50. A Sunday afternoon drive with the family
  51. That my kids trust me enough to actually “friend” me on facebook – SUCKAS! 😉
  52. That Auburn didn’t win and I was asleep by the end of the game
  53. That Ken’s 40th birthday party was not just good for him, but me as well.  Great to see friends and talk to adults.
  54. Watching Dijouri think
  55. Watching Kevren with his little brothers
  56. Watching Prescott dance
  57. Watching Hadrian “cook”
  58. I am well within 60 days of no more diapers until I am a grandparent
  59. A perfectly smoked turkey (fingers crossed, doing my first one today!)
  60. The day I realized that personal email is more or less junk, so no need to manage it
  61. Days when the clouds roll into my backyard, not that high up, but enough to get the occasional low lying cloud roll in.
  62. That I actually rented my old house for 2.5 years on a single lease.  2009 the Year of the Slumlord
  63. That Hannover, Germany, while not seen as a hotspot is filled with good people
  64. That Cold Play just happened to be in town when I was on a trip
  65. On time and on budget feature delivery.
  66. That most people are thoughtful, kind and mean well.
  67. Real life conversations with kids or adults
  68. Insights from My Twitter Stream
  69. Free Wireless
  70. That a broken iPhone can be easily transitioned in an iTouch for the kids
  71. That most people can still smile, even during hard times
  72. That Patti still has that special way of making me feel special after 15 years
  73. Looking at Canal’s can just make any day better
  74. That Prescott and Hadrian are pretty good friends
  75. That Kevren and Dijouri are pretty good friends
  76. Every chance I get to golf, I have to get ready for senior tour after all
  77. Street Musician’s with really good instruments
  78. Watching folks who worked for me in the past doing well.
  79. That I have time to read to my kids
  80. That Kevren and dijouri take the time to teach their brothers stuff.
  81. That rare reality when leftovers actually taste better the next day
  82. The recurring reality when Emily sneaks leftover ingredients in and doesn’t tell me
  83. The fact that I have 2 back up set of head phones in my briefcase, just in case Hadrian pulled one out
  84. That a day on the Hooch is as good as anything, just bring sunblock.
  85. That I have time to read to my kids
  86. Layovers I can actually enjoy
  87. Ideas that work
  88. Ideas that don’t work and learning from them
  89. Any opportunity where I can teach someone something – kids included
  90. Sleeping in to 7:30 am
  91. That it all works out in the end, no really does.
  92. Grey Goose and Red Bull
  93. That steak at Bones with John and John
  94. Every chance I get the time to enjoy architecture
  95. When I have extra room in my bags to compensate for the clothes I have to buy because I didn’t pack right
  96. Entertaining Tweets which pop up when I’m in a meeting and make me laugh out loud and then have to explain it.
  97. That Sheryl seems to always have what I need on her hard drive
  98. The other contributors here who make Spatially Relevant Better everyday than I can alone
  99. The random call, text, hand written note, facebook poke or other outreach that confirms we are all still connected
  100. Any opportunity to share, listen and be with people I care about

photo by you.

While unexpected, I am appreciative – Alltop Branding Listing

Alltop. I don't know how I got there either.

YEEE HAW! Spatially Relevant recently was added to Alltop under the Branding Section, I think it may have something to do with the eBook, The Social Marketing Construct: Evolving brands and changing realities, but I really don’t know how. It could have been the Presidential Brand post, which I really liked writing with Sheryl’s help.   Could be Sheryl’s Out Telling Stories piece?  Sheryl is such a better brand person than I and completely saturated with work to the point she can’t blog, but only edit.  Obviously she didn’t edit this one.

Alltop. How the hell did that happen?

I really have no idea, I sorta was hoping it was my Social Brand Management Slideshare show, but that was so long ago, there is no way.  Another no way it is possible piece is the Brand Extension of the 5th P, but since most folks haven’t read that again no way.

I did search my email and I did find a thread with Neenz, so perhaps that was the selection driver.  At the end of the day, it is about value and value is different for every person and marketing is clearly about telling stories and developing a brand and that is about all I know, which apparently may be enough.

After reviewing the list SR is clearly with good company/in over our heads.   I can’t inventory all of them, but here are a few of the cool kids, which SR now needs to try and keep up with:

  • The Big Kahuna – The brand identity guru, Scott White.  Gosh I Hope that is how he wants his brand identity cited.
  • A Clear Eye – Tom Asacker’s blog, this guy does brand math and I’m always happy see people do math.
  • The Brand Strategy Blog – Not sure their green assertion in the article I linked to is right, since I know some REALLY old folk who are more green than most 23 yr old vegan’s I know.
  • Krishna De’s Blog – There is a little micro-casting going on over on Krishna’s blog with the Wicklow County piece, but heck it’s a community service and it is Ireland, so you should be able to drive most anywhere at anytime.
  • Dimbulb – “Brand on the Run” is just clever, no way I will ever be that clever.  Added to my reader.
  • Branding Blog – I’m not sure I’m going to meet cool people and get them rich, so you may want to check out the branding blog, as you ain’t gettin that here team.
  • Personal Branding Blog – Any person that has a post on Italy and personal branding has to being adding some value, since Italy IS brand from an export perspective.  I guess that is what you get with a “global team” of writers.
  • Dave Knox’s Hard Knox Life is an interesting play on words/name and he appears to have some interesting fact based research.
  • Brand Curve – The coolest brand blog name out there, IMHO
  • Whiplash – Any one with an Obama piece has to be OK.
  • The Engaging Brand Blog – Not sure what it is, but the site makes me dizzy, not so much via the feed though.  Could be the far better content than I or something else.
  • Guy Richards – I like to blog about business travel too.  Mainly how much I suck at it.
  • Greteman Group – I really like their logo, content is good too.
  • Orange Blog – Just got nominated for being a top advertising blog.  Kudos.
  • The Brand Elastic – The second coolest name for a branding blog.   Brand is definitely situational – people, location, age, activities, interactions and the name supports that, plus they are featuring National Geographic post right now.
  • Director Tom – Actually met him at a conference last year.  Very cool to finally be close to his caliber, ok not really that close, but on the same list anyhow.
  • Expert in the Rough – Not sure, but I think he is using a geology metaphor, so I wonder what is the hardness of the Alltop list on Moh’s scale? Mica? Feldspar?
  • Brains on Fire – As a marketer, I clearly know hair on fire, I guess brains on fire is the equivalent of not noticing the fire for a while and it getting a little out of control.  The thank you video is a good idea, might be better than a list.
  • ID-ology – Cool name and any blog with a category called brilliant thinking has to have some good content.
  • Tungsten – I just want to live in the mountains and brand, which is apparently what these folks do.  Right on!

There are bunch more at, check them out and find what you like.  I’m clearly over my head on this, but at least for the next day or so, I will use my listing as market focused validation that Spatially Relevant doesn’t suck, or at least the blog sucks less than I thought.  Ultimately brand takes a village and so does Spatially Relevants staying in Alltop, so thanks to all you readers and those that come by way of Alltop.



Black Rock City: A Network, Teamwork and Preparation

I spent the last week moving from one climate to another, sometimes multiples in a single day thanks to my first trip out west to survive 5.5 days in the desert. Before I left, I would have never thought I would have come back from Burning Man 2008 with a lesson for work, but in fact I did. Don’t get me wrong – I came back with a bunch of other lessons too, like Tuesday is the new Thursday and Lake Tahoe is a good place to wash away the whole BRC scene and get to see some very cool sights, like a random Kiss concert.

So where to start? Well at the beginning…

Reno – US80 Exit 22 – Saturday @ 1:30-ish

So the trip to Reno is a long one, at least from Atlanta on Delta. We spent the whole day making our list so Em and I land in Reno and we are off! Well sorta, we wanted to synch up with Genghis, oh yeah everyone gets a playa name. I’m Echo, you don’t need to know why – it’s another post, say next week-ish. So we catch up with Genghis and the Barbi Death Camp folks to get the low down on what to get, just to make sure our list is remotely correct. The group rattled off the expected list:

  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Granola/Oatmeal bars/breakfast bars
  • Beef Jerky
  • Blah
  • Blah
  • Blah

Should have listened a little better, but I was excited. So off to the nearest Target, the liquor store and Long’s we went – we spent the next hour or so speed shopping and off to the playa – fast forward 6 hours…. The ad hoc/text based rendezvous at the gas station the group was just the first lesson in teamwork – these folks stopped in route to help a couple of kids from Atlanta who are obviously out of their element.

The Playa – A Big Dusty City

So we show up to the playa – it’s a little warm and the place is still under construction but from like 3 miles out you can tell this is no ordinary camping thing. We pull into our camp at 3:30 and Dart and somehow we beat Genghis, our camp sponsor for lack of a better phrase, who left at least 40 minutes ahead of us on our way to Weeeee!ville.

Even without our sponsor in hand, I go about to introduce myself and the first person I introduce myself to, was a cat I’ve know for like a decade – Marty/Frater. So this has got to be a good sign, right up to the point he offers us a juice. Oops – forgotten item 1. This began the first real discussion of what we forgot? It also started one of many discussions on what had happened previously on the playa and how you just won’t know what you need until live through your first burn.

One thing that became apparent very quickly in camp is everyone we had already met from Fickleodeon was willing to make make sure the folks around were having a good time and that they were safe. To that end, fun can’t start until you’re setup and Marty pitched in to help us setup and we pitched in to help him move his camp to a new location.

Ready, Set, Wander!

With our little piece of playa in place, we coasted through the rest of the afternoon on sunscreen and liquids into the evening. As sundown approaches so does the nightly neighborhood wander and prep.

During our evening prep we find our next set of forgotten stuff – no lights, not even a glow stick which I would have thought my wife had hidden away in some backpack, since she brought with her a party kid heritage, not to be confused with a raver heritage, but nope. So there we are – a couple of darktards on the playa waiting to get run over by midnight bikers who can’t see us as we make our way around the streets of the city. Marty to the rescue – lights and glowsticks. No barter necessary – gifted, thanks Frater.

Since we were there on early passes, most everything was in a state of setup and in fact until we left on Thursday, things were still being setup. After chatting with folks around camp the first night the common theme is you ALWAYS forget something and your list always getting bigger EVERY year. I immediately was struck on how presumptuous everyone was on next year’s list during our first night chat, but I moved on.

After setting up the bar, stage and other gear we decided to go to town for a camp ice run and restock for us. So we rode into Empire for a restock – beer, fruits, vegetables, silver, plates, ect.. basically whatever we could buy that they had there at the local general store in say a 200 person town in the desert. Reasonable product assortment, but not complete enough to address our gaps in total.

Yup – we still forgot stuff on the second stocking as well, nevermind the selection issue….I think the heat does something to your short term memory.

All Fickled Up

Upon our return from the store the finishing touches were being applied to the camp, after everyone pitched in the morning and setup the 20×30 revival tent, the shower and a most ingenious evaporator for returning the gray water to the environment I found on the playa, thanks to the mad welder Mongo. What’s gray water? It’s waste water from coolers, doing dishes, brushing your teeth… The goal of this event is to make sure while we have a good time we need to respect the natural environment, which mean no waste water into the environment, so Mongo built a cool contraption to introduce it safely back into the environment – an evaporator. Burning man is a leave no trace event – the playa effectively becomes the fifth largest city in Nevada temporarily and within weeks of the event ending there is no trace that 10 story towers, ginormous crane requiring art, make shift diners, bars and clubs sustained almost 50,000 people throughout the labor day weekend and the prior week.

Just so you know – a revival tent is really easy to put up with 11 people, not sure it is possible with under 4.

Many hands make for light work

Monday – The Dust Storm

Apparently the desert is one of the harshest climates EVER – no really, you can’t imagine it without experiencing it — I tried, I was wrong. We burned through most of our sunscreen in 3 days and didn’t have painters masks or bandannas – which is a problem when the dust kicks up. Especially with an asthmatic on the team. It wasn’t a problem for long – folks in the camp had extras so we could go out and explore the playa during the storm!

The first place we went was to catch up with Antron. At his camp Sally and host of others were hanging, but the dust storm was a little much so our list of places to go became a list of 1 – there. So we spent the next like seven hours in camp injustUS, where they had an incredibly chill shade and dust structure to waste away time with tunes and chatter. We also went out that night to watch a little house music with Ted and Bunny on the playa. This Fire Rave thing/camp was complete with like 20 foot fireballs which accentuated the drum beat and twin screens for projecting highly orchestrated visuals for the way loud house music.

So Monday night closed with about 400 folks on a corner of the playa (2:00 and Esplanade) watching DJ Dutch mix it up with fire and bass until the morning. At least I think it was Monday – time is a completely relative thing at burning man.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

With time not a real variable the day on the playa is pretty simple: –

  • sleep as long as you can until the sun turns your sleeping structure into a sauna
  • make coffee
  • Chat
  • wander around
  • look at art
  • eat a bunch of whatever
  • find some music

Thursday only made it to wander around 1 last time and take camp down, but even the breakdown showed team work were we redistributed our beer, water and foodstuffs.

Preparation Isn’t Enough

So where is the lesson in this rambling play by play? I think it starts with what I went with – stuff stuff and a network. Quickly I learned that the folks I was able to catch up with more valuable than what I brought.

In BRC it’s not what a person has or can do, it more about what a group of people can do. To me it seems pretty straightforward – every person has a list and everyone’s list is different – lesson’s learned, interest and an understanding of what others are bringing to camp, like say a blender or a disco ball. Like with any task one might encounter, having the right network of folks or camps, having the right skills and working together is key for success – perhaps even more than being prepared.

No matter how much you plan there are always things that come up that require something you don’t have at that particular time. Being reliant on others is not traditionally a position of strength, but in the right environment which encourages team effort you can find success and fun by utilizing the strengths of folks.

Not every scenario is a survival gig, like Black Rock City, but most require you have a near approximation of the right stuff and the right attitude to get things done – dust storm or not. As folks in the workplace what can we do to better understand what folks bring to the camp? How can sharing our lists other folks in camp strengthen a deliverable?

Everyone we met forgot something and each of those items no matter how well prepared a camp was, could have made life just a little bit better for the group. While I originally thought it was presumptuous to think we were going again next year on the first day, in retrospect, I think we were making our list when we cracked our first beer and drove the first stake into the playa.