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Antonin Scalia, Seth Godin and Smooth Fitness

September 7, 2006 | By | One Comment


Antonin Scalia I lean over to Charmaine and say, “Hey, that guy looks like Scalia.”

Antonin Scalia was sitting in the seminar like any other nobody at a American Political Science Association convention a few years ago in Your Nation’s Capital. He even asked questions, deferring, as befitting an academic setting, to the august panel of experts. The room hushed as he spoke: We were in the presence of a gentleman.

We chatted him up after the panel. He had a firm handshake, direct eye contact, direct language. We love him.

Not everyone does.


Seth Godin Seth, the Master Marketing Guru doesn’t care for Scalia. Him being all that is wrong with America. Scalia or Godin, your pick depending on your world view of politics.

But this is not a problem for Your Business Blogger: I am on all three sides of the debate. The country has no better Supreme Court justice than Antonin, no better marketer than Seth. And now no better elliptical trainer than Smooth Fitness.

On this, Seth and I would agree, I think.


Smooth Fitness I bought a Smooth Fitness piece of hardware last month. Recently, I received a follow-up phone call from the Smooth Fitness Director of Customer Experience, Keith Menear. We talk about the terrific Smooth Fitness CE 3.2 Elliptical Trainer machinery, my smooth on-line purchasing experience, the constant follow-up and Smooth Fitness touches. Actually, Keith let me do all the talking, which is how I prefer to do business anyway. I subtly let on how I am a world famous, very influential blogger.

Keith brightens audibly, I could see the light coming through the cell phone, “Are you the Purple Cow guy?”

I tense up, “What?”

“You know,” says Keith, smiling. “The blogger who wrote Purple Cow?”


Keith is excited, “Yes, the staff let me know this author…”

“–Never heard of him–”

“…who just bought one of our ellipticals.”

Time to surrender. “Oh, I guess you mean that struggling marketer, Seth Godin.”

“Yes, that’s him! The staff is psyched — Seth Godin just placed an order.”

“Well, I suppose he has some name recognition…would be great for your business, huh?”

Keith is floating off his Aeron, “Right, I hear he’s quite a superstar.”

“I suppose…well, this is nice Keith. Now, what can I do for you?”

“What was your name again…?”



Smooth Fitness

Some Assembly Required In any event, customer service was outstanding. The Dude, a pre-teen in my Penta-Posse, read the directions (something I’ve never done before), followed the directions (something I’ve never asked for) and completed the assembly and had me working out in an hour. Silent and smooth as silk.


Smooth Fitness

Under Construction by

The Diva & The Dude Your Business Blogger has very simple tastes — the best in everything. I have noticed, however, a near fatal flaw in the Smooth Fitness product. Shared unfortunately, with my old Mercedes: no place for my coffee cup. (The only thing that ever had a cupholder was my computer…)

And please understand that Smooth Fitness products are frightfully expensive. And worth every dime.

And that’s no lie.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

This is an unpaid endorsement. So far. Smooth Fitness has a referral program — drop my name (if you can remember it) (no one else does) when you order and I get a few bucks from Smooth Fitness. To buy a coffee cup holder for my ellipitcal trainer.

19 Aug



Great Brands: High Love; High Respect

August 19, 2006 | By | 3 Comments


Tom McMahon’s 4-Block World is proof that truth is simple as salt and sells.

Tom points us to the block to be in for us marketing guys positioning a brand: Love and Respect.

Love and Respect. Ying and Yang. Nuts and Bolts. Male and Female. Like Sex.

It has ancient Biblical proportions. Where each gender has a different directive from that Good Book: Men are commanded to Love their wives. Wives are commanded to Respect their husbands.

Together, the two become one. Eternal. Brand.

With children as dividends.

As a Lovemark.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Be sure to bookmark Tom McMahon for your daily reading enjoyment. You’ll love it; I guarantee it. 4-Bock World. 4-Ever.

George Mason Means Business and now Basketball

March 31, 2006 | By | No Comments


George Mason University A dozen years ago Your Business Blogger went school shopping.

To buy an MBA. Living in Northern Virginia, we were considering one of the three local Georges — Washington, ‘Town, Mason.

We were budgeting north of 40K. Self pay. So I was really, really interested in the cost.

So I ask GW, “How much?”

“Around $42,000 or so.”

“Or so? So what does that mean?” I wondered.

“It might be a bit more.” Said the major university big time recruiter smarty pants.

I was a sales manager at the time. I turned on the huffy sales manager voice, “Can you tell me the number it will cost me. The number I need to budget.”

“We don’t have the exact number,” says the GWU MBA seat seller.

I pause. Why would I buy an MBA from a business school that can’t even forecast their own costs? And they’re supposed to teach me this stuff?

I would have thought this unusual. But Georgetown said the same thing.

So I go visit Peggy at George Mason. She had the exact cost. No hidden charges. I like her. I bought a seat. Two years later, another consultant is set loose on the world.

George Mason had long been known for two things.

1) Favorable mentions by Tom Clancy in his books. And,

2) A university with a conservative flavor. Walter Williams et. al.

Now GMU is in the NCAA final four. Set to beat Florida Saturday nite.

Which creates a business opportunity. Alan Merten, the GMU president is scrambling to take advantage in the serge of applications that follow winning basketball teams.

“A target rich opportunity,” says Merten.

You can bet Mason will get the business branding of higher education right.

Mason can do the numbers. George Mason knows how to do business. Now basketball scores. Increased enrollment numbers are next.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

We should be hearing from Professor Starling Hunter, at The Business of America is Business. He teaches in the United Arab Emirates. George Mason has 31 students in an extension campus there. The UAE has Patriot fever, I understand.

My church pastor, David Wayne, the JollyBlogger, is a Gator guy. Can’t wait for Sunday’s sermon.

The Happy Booker has more.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

Jollyblogger is on the other side.

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Aslan's On The Move

March 29, 2006 | By | No Comments


Chinese Snacks in Chengdu Your Business Blogger was looking for a bit to eat. Maybe some local flavor. In Chengdu, in the middle of China.

A traditional snack. I dropped into a small grocer and loaded up. Pringles, Oreos, washed down with a Coke. And Cheetos chaser.

Then I noticed something. As I looked down into my feed bag, I saw international brand names.

(Nothing escapes Your Business Blogger.)

Peter Drucker said that innovation and marketing were the only competitive advantages the USA needed.

The raw ingredients in Coke and Cheetos are commodities. Available anywhere. Cheap.

The real added value is in the marketing. From America.

china yoest pepsi ad

Pepsi ad at The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

china wyeth beijing yoest 06

Wyeth formula ad in the Beijing subway

china starbucks beijing airport yoest 06

Starbucks at Beijing Airport

china coke chongdu yoest 06

Coke bench ad in Chengdu, China

china aslan streetside poster chengdu yoest 06

Narnia sidewalk poster, Chengdu Narnia? In the Middle Kingdom?

china aslan theater poster chongqing yoest 06

Narnia at a theater near you, Chongqing, China American marketing on the move.

Aslan’s on the move.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Interested in Narnia? If you are near Glen Burnie, Maryland, be sure to come to the C S Lewis lecture Thursday nite.

More pics at The Travel Bug

See Snacking Across China.

Visit Basil’s Blog for his pick of good posts.

Faked Out in East Asia

March 21, 2006 | By | No Comments

“It’s all fake,” said the young man who lived in town.

We were looking at acres of a bazaar, that was, well, bazaar bizarre. Rolex, North Face, Mont Blanc, DVDs as far as the eye could see.

None of it was real.

There was a ‘new’ word that swept thru elite American campuses a few years ago: Authentic. Professors liked the word because it had three syllables instead of the single syllable ‘real.’

Inauthentic for the academy was even better — it has four syllables instead of single syllable ‘fake.’


In this (new) age of exploring our feelings, few ask any questions about the emotion of fake goods; stolen brand names.

How does the fake North Face make you feel?

Your Business Blogger owns a real Armani suit, purchased some time ago from a reputable establishment. (Yes, only one.) Every time I slip the coat on, I stand a bit taller.

Tragically, few people have ever recognized or identified the brand name suit on its smug owner. No one knows it’s an Armani.

But I do.

And that is the difference. The suit is real. The emotion is real. Ergo I am real.

The feeling is authentic.

Not everyone is as shallow as Yours Truly. A fake brand, a fake suit would make me feel like… a fake.

And feelings are the only things that count.


Full Disclosure: Your Business Blogger did a little shopping in East Asia. And bought a North Face duffle bag to haul all the loot home. I was assured that it was real. A sign, in English!, said so.

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up at CaseySoftware.

Sponge Bob Square Pants and the US Army…

March 12, 2006 | By | No Comments

…in the same sentence? Your Business Blogger is a-travelling in East Asia.

So I’m on a subway and studying local people.

And notice a two year-old little boy held safely by his mum and dad. I smile: The little guy has a US Army patch on his shoulder. As a brand name decoration.

And back in my hotel room, Spong Bob is on. In English.

It’s just like being home.


10 Feb



Capitalism, Culture and Google

February 10, 2006 | By | 2 Comments


GoogleIn Chinese there is no word for “privacy.”

Google’s business practices in China are under question. In having a different product for different counties. I am not so sure Google is departing from a sound business theory. I think Google’s strategy deserves a case study. On doing business in different cultures.


Yoest, Faisal Alam in

New Delhi, IndiaYour Business Blogger was in India working with North American and Indian managers. Having thrown off our British rulers, we still shared a common English language.

But cultural communication was another matter.

American managers were frustrated that Indian executives and staff were not always truthful.

Or so it seemed.

If a supervisor (of any nationality) would ask an Indian subordinate a closed question such as “Does the report include the budget from Bangalore?” The Indian subordinate reply always would be ‘yes.’ Even if the answer was ‘no.’ Accompanied by a side-to-side movement of the head — which corresponds to the up and down affirmative head nod in America.

Was the Indian employee lying to his superior?

It depends on cultural perspective.

(Yes, yes I know — Alert Readers know well that Your Business Blogger subscribes to Timeless Truth: Truth is not relative.)

But the Indian culture is one of deference and respect for authority. It is not within the languages or culture to say “no” to the boss. Immediate compliance — obedience — is something every boss, in every culture really wants — but American’s seldom openly admit.

The culture is different. Where change to USA standards should not be forced.

Supervisors working with Indian subordinates should only ask open ended questions. A question allowing something other than ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ “Show me the line item for employee taxi expenses for Bangalore.”

The USA manager should understand also that the Indian manager will seldom say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ to a subordinate.

Additional questions are time consuming. But necessary to do business across cultures. And to respect differences in culture and tradition.

I think we should ask more questions. And take the first step.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” says China’s Confucius.

A single step from a single person. Countries don’t do business. People do business.


President Nixon meets with

China’s Community Party Leader,

Mao Tse-Tung on

February 29, 1972

Nixon went to China. Google went to China.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

In Chinese, in The Common Language (Mandarin) there are no words for “private” or “privacy” as we understand in English.


Nixon at the 2,000 year old Great Wall of China, 24 February 1972

Mark at Mark My Words has commentary.

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The Year’s Best Product Endorsement

December 19, 2005 | By | No Comments


Merry Christmas

from The White HouseThis year’s Christmas controversy continues with the Presidential Holiday Card omitting Merry Christmas.

Instead the First Family included a verse from Psalms. From the Bible.

No, no, the endorsement is not of Bush for the Bible.

Well, actually it is. But permit me another observation.

Not Scripture, but a secular endorsement.

Your Business Blogger looked at the card cover and read the inside content. But was most interested in the back of the card. See the bottom.


The Hallmark card company was selected the fifth year in a row to be the supplier for the season.

The Christmas card was mailed to 1.4 million of Bush’s closest friends.

Hallmark is making a lot of good impressions.

Congratulations to Hallmark on receiving The Year’s Best Product Endorsement.

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Toyota Ad Campaign Parody

December 15, 2005 | By | No Comments


Ipso Facto


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Blog roll or bookmark Ipso Facto.

Vote! Ronald Reagan Endorses Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity

December 6, 2005 | By | 11 Comments


President Reagan with Charmaine Crouse, (her maiden name)

from Reasoned Audacity


Reasoned Audacity is a finalist in the 2005 Weblog Awards! She’s in the Best of the Top 501 – 1000 Blogs category.

Please Vote! You can vote once a day through December 15th. This is a case where voting early and often counts…much like voting in Chicago.

Charmaine is honored to be in such great company in this category — and a bit sad to be competing against some of our favorite blogs: Willisms, American Princess, Armies of Liberation, Vince aut Morire and MacStansbury.

However. Not sad enough to not ask for your vote: Reasoned Audacity!! Those are great blogs — go read them, and then go vote for Reasoned Audacity. That’s the good thing about being a conservative: we like competition.



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Thank you (foot)notes:

7:00 UPDATE: The Poll is open!! We so appreciate your vote. . . and most of all, We appreciate you reading Reasoned Audacity!

Full Disclosure: Your Business Blogger married a-way over his head.

Mudville Gazette has Weblog Awards post.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

Jo’s Cafe has open trackbacks.