Albuquerque Coffee Roaster Startup Supports New Mexico Nonprofits

It was Kurt Vonnegut that wrote that the most daring thing a person could do with their life was to create stable communities. That doing so, true problems facing humanity may be cured.

We’re loosely quoting Vonnegut but his idea behind incremental, small change causing large change is profound. The idea was shared by Leo Tolstoy and Margaret Mead and evident in modern businesses like Warby Parker and their “Get a Pair, Give a Pair” campaign. It’s also what we believe at Pour Vida Coffee Roasters. That changing the world through coffee alone may be a stretch, but coffee can fuel our community and cultivate world-changing possibilities.

Read more at pourvida.com.

I transcribed my daughters story

This is a story that I transcribed for my daughter Amelia. This story is about her little brother Abram (a little over a year). Amelia illustrated and conceptualized this story. She is 3 years old.

Abram A Poop

Abram A Poop, by Amelia Gros

page1

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Abram. He was always stinky. He pooped and he wooped and he snooped. (Amelia wanted to point out that the poop in this scene is black)

page2

One day he went to school. Abram pooped at school. Abram was not allowed at school. (Amelia also pointed out here that his pooped was red)

page3

Abram went to the doctor and wanted to eat crayons. (Amelia commented that Abram was running with crayons from Dr. Spy, who doesn’t exist in real life but judging from his name, is the best doctor ever.)

page4

Abram goes to dance class. He wants to poop at dance class. (Amelia made it very clear that Abram in the scene is “black as night”. Probably due to some poop trauma.)

 

 

 

 

Hank

It was just the idea of it, he thought.
The reality… piles of nothing.
Like the man that was swallowed up by the sinkhole in his bedroom.
He never stood a chance.
“What happened to Hank?”
“The earth ate him.”
The idea though… the idea was novel.
He believed he was a god-damn genius.
And he spoke the words to her like he was singing bible hymns.
She said, “Not tonight, Mr Sensitivity.
Sure, you’ve been dancin’ all your life
but you ain’t ever gonna dance with me.”
He grew old and bitter.
He poured liquor on his wounds so they would not heal.
He became a stray.
“What happened to Hank?”
“The earth ate him.”
But even dogs have things they can dream about.
And the earth will spit him out.

 

The Good, The Bad, The Jeffs and The Rest

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude and reaction towards it. My friend Jeff Allen is great at controlling his reactions and always has a wonderful attitude. He can be described as a person that always looks on the bright side. A few of us (mutual friends) were sitting around swapping stories about Jeff and agreed that he seemingly has complete control of his reaction to any situation and it’s often positive. If you do not know Jeff, then perhaps you know someone like him. He’s the kind of guy that could be sitting in a restaurant, a bomb could go off bringing the walls crumbling around him and he wouldn’t run, scream or panic. There may be complete chaos. Jeff would simply stand up and say, “woah, this restaurant just blew up… wow that was nuts, glad i’m okay… I guess I should help cleanup!”. There’s not many people out there that have this level of control over their reactions but I am betting you know at least one.

On the other end of the spectrum is where I tend to live. I sweat the small stuff, the medium sized stuff and the big stuff. I live in a constant state of perspiration. If you don’t know me, then perhaps you know someone like me. I’m the kind of guy that catches a cold and starts googling symptoms that inevitably leads me to believe I’m dying of Churg-Strauss syndrome (yes, I research the rare disease database). My bad days always get worse.

An example of this happened about 8 years ago. It was just one of those days that started poorly. One of those mornings where you wake up and your entire body is achy like you spent the night battling dragons. Once my day starts poorly like that, I have a hard time snapping out of it. I woke up sore and grumpy and I began to rush. I couldn’t find my “go to” shoes. Instead of calmly taking the time to find them, I grabbed a pair from the back of the closet that cut into your Achilles tendon as you walk. I arrived at work late with a slight limp.

Sitting at my desk at work, I just kept thinking that this day is really bad, it will only get worse and eventually I would die or get kicked by a mule or something. Frustrated, I decided I needed an early, unhealthy lunch. I barely arrived at work and all I can think about was running out barefoot and stuffing my face with a Wendy’s Baconator. So, I left for lunch and as I drove I kept thinking about what was going happen next in this bad day. I almost expected something bad to happen, and well… it did.

My tire on my truck blew out as I was driving around 65mph on the freeway. I wobbled a bit and pulled over. I wasn’t thankful that I was able to steer to safety. I was frustrated and added “having to change a tire on the side of the freeway” to my list of bad day woes. I got out of the truck, pulled out my tools and spare and I began changing the tire while talking to myself about how miserable I was. Other vehicles on the freeway zoomed by and I could feel the wind of each pass. I kept thinking, “great, I’m going to be hit by a passing Pontiac Aztek and this will be the end of me”. I thought about something bad happening over and over again and then again… it did.

I felt the hit straight across the entire right side of my body. I fell towards my truck where i’d been kneeling to change the tire. It wasn’t incredibly painful but being hit at incredible speed causes more of an intense rush and you don’t think about the pain. I thought it was the end. My eyes were watering as realizing I was still alive, I turned and expected to see an intense car crash. I looked up and thought, “did someone happen to get the license plate of that…ummm…. 50 gallon plastic trashcan that just hit me”. Yes, that’s right. I watched as a big 50 gallon trashcan bounced away from me and along the oncoming traffic, off of car hoods, denting and causing pandemonium.

What in the world just happened you ask? Well, an old pick-up truck was speeding along and his giant plastic trash can flew off the back of his truck at the exact moment he passed me. The trashcan then bounced off of my face and back into the freeway causing chaos. I couldn’t make up what just happened, I’m not that creative. My entire side of my face was red and swollen like someone… well, like someone took a giant piece of plastic and slapped me with it. A city worker pulled over and said he saw the whole thing and asked if I needed help. I felt okay so I declined and finished changing my tire in an angry daze. I got in my truck and peeked in the mirror to see a giant welt along my face. I drove off with a half-red face, forgetting my tools on the side of the road.

That day really didn’t get better for me, although I can say it didn’t get much worse. Looking back at it now though, I must think about my friend Jeff. If I were more like Jeff that day may not have been so bad. Jeff would’ve woken up with the beginnings of a bad day and he would’ve made light of it. He may not have rushed out to lunch, full of rage and who knows, he may not have been hit by a trash can in the face. However, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that bad things happen to everyone. They happen to me and they happen to guys like Jeff. It’s how we handle our emotion and our reaction that is the most important. If what happened to me were to have happened to Jeff… well, I believe he would consider himself to be incredible lucky. What are the odds of that happening? I’d like to think I was the first person to be hit in the face by a trash can that flew off a truck on the freeway. Jeff would certainly believe so and to him, that particular day wouldn’t be so bad.

No matter what happens in life, I urge you all to be more like Jeff. I’m trying. Take in the bad events that unfold and try to muster a smile and move on, no matter how difficult. This will leave you more time to focus on the things that are good.

 

 

Forever is composed of nows

I am a man that forgets things. I am a man that loses things… things like my car keys, my wallet, my eye glasses or my id-badge for work. I forget birthdays. I forget things that others have asked me to accomplish. I am in a constant state of confusion about where things are and what people have asked me to do or remember. I forget where I parked. I forgot what I was doing in that grocery store. What was I supposed to buy? I’ve forgotten to wear socks. I’ve forgotten the password to everything. Did I miss something extremely cute that my daughter said? Did I miss something extremely important in my life?

One day, I asked my two-year old daughter where my glasses were. She promptly found them on the coffee table. How was it my daughter was more aware of my belongings than me?

At dinner one night I realized the answer. My daughter is present. I realized that it’s not because I have a poor memory but rather I rarely live in the moment. I am rarely present. I tell my wife Chelsea this at dinner. I say to her, “You know I have a hard time being in this moment, my mind is wandering on what I need to do later. What website should I program? What idea for a company should I work on? What should I paint or draw? What I need to accomplish in my life. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were an iPhone app that allowed you to find your missing dog or cat using GPS? I could call it FidoFinder”. Sheesh, let my ignorance and lack of consideration be a lesson to all you men out there. You don’t tell your wife over a date-night dinner that you are not enjoying the moment with her but rather thinking about programming a website. I blew it and although I knew that I hurt her feelings, Chelsea is incredible and understanding so she promptly removed my foot from my mouth for me. Chelsea has grace and I apologized.

Emily Dickson wrote, “Forever is composed of nows”. I am missing all the “nows”. I walk into my house after work, throw my keys, wallet and whatever else down in hurried anticipation of some ridiculous thing I want to do later. I am a man that has started hundreds of failed projects and I believe I will fail thousands more. Doing this however isn’t a bad thing, but I needed to find a balance. I believe it’s this balance that allows people to enjoy life and in turn have the energy and creativity to be successful.

Now, I am a man that is a work-in-progress. Since I realized my fault, i’ve been living more in the now while balancing my future aspirations. Although my eye-glasses are missing, I’ve been able to take in more important moments. Last night I sat and watched Chelsea hold our two-week old son Bram and dance with our little girl Amelia. I’ve danced with them before but last night I just watched and breathed it all in. I remember everything about that moment, the music, the lighting, my daughter’s curly hair, my wife’s posture as she cradled and swayed our son. That moment is mine and ours. I will replay it over and over. It was slow motion and I was present. FidoFinder can wait.

 

 

The evolution of the presidential campaign logo

Hope. Change. We all remember the slogans Barack Obama’s campaign used to solidify the 2008 election. Now the POTUS is using the keyword “Forward” for the 2012 election. MSNBC has quickly adopted the slogan “Lean Forward” and like Fox News there’s no surprise which leanings they have. Yet this post isn’t really about politics, it’s about marketing and at a more basic level, his logo. Whether you agree with Obama’s politics or not, we must agree that his campaign ran a tight ship when it came to marketing.

The Obama campaign in 2008 struck all the right chords. First, the country was reeling from two wars, a devistating economy and policies of the Bush administration in general. Like any good marketer, the Obama campaign devised a message and delivered on it with precision. This message was consistent in brand and included a solid logo, slogan with it’s catch phrases, website, social media presence, speeches, commercials and incredible pop-culture artwork. All they were lacking was an official jingle. I can write a book on the campaign’s marketing, but since this is just a post, I wanted to focus on the logo.

We know the message of “Hope” and “Change”. Barack Obama was lucky enough that his last name began with an “O”. This lent itself to be easily adaptable into logo form. The campaign tied the “Change” message into the “O” logo with the “Rising Sun”. The stripes can almost be a prairie or the heartland of America. The elements of the flag are nothing spectacular and they are seen in nearly every “For President” logo. The colors red, white and blue are pretty standard as well.

Something the Obama logo did accomplish was to create a recognizable brand withought any text. Some brands have worked decades to get to this point and very few brands have accomplished this. One particular that comes to mind is the Target logo. Others include McDonald’s Golden Arches and the Nike Swoosh. This approach for Obama was so effective that his future contender Mitt Romney would attempt something similar which we’ll look at further down in this post.

The Obama logo and the Target logo.

 

It’s undeniable looking at the two logos above that you know exactly what they represent with no words and no “spelling it out”.

The Obama campaign struck a chord. It’s certainly unique to people running for president, to be this cohesive and cognisant with their branding. I was really curious so I went back roughly 30 years through the “For President” logos.

Obama vs Romney 2012:

As you can see the Romney campaign, so influenced by Obama’s 2008 logo, attempted something similar. Although I do not believe the “R” lends itself to a logo as well as the “O”. The color schemes are also much brighter and they are much more like a logo than previous campaigns. They are on white and contain elements that can act on their own without text.

 

The Romney “R”:

Doesn’t work so well on it’s own

Obama vs McCain 2008:

The McCain logo is interesting to me. The choice in the color blue is unique and the overall feel is of the Air Force which of course was intentional. If I remember correctly it was all about being a “Maverick”.

 

Bush vs Kerry 2004:

These are the days of using a flag prominently in the logo. The blue colors were also more dark here.

 

Bush vs Gore 2000:

The Bush logo wasn’t too much different in 2000 and 2004, other than the italics. I could almost hear the conversation in ’04. “Mr. President, what do you think of picking-up your ’00 campaign logo” – Campaign Designer. “Well, I like it but I was hoping to give it more of a Nascar feel”- George W. Bush. Gore on the other-hand, well that’s simply awful. It’s somewhere between Star Trek and “The More You Know” Logos.

 

Clinton vs Dole 1996:

Logos as cropped blocks, makes them hard to visualize off the lawn signs.

 

Clinton vs Bush 1992:

I like these two logos actually. The two lines under “BU” in Bush is a little strange, like they were trying to highlight the letters.

 

Bush vs Dukakis 1988:

Let’s get retro.

 

Reagan vs Mondale 1984:

 

Reagan vs Carter 1980:

Carter’s logo color is very unique. I quite like it because it’s different but was it effective? Probably not. The other thing I love about both of these logos are the fonts. They are nice fat font faces. They also don’t push the stars, stripes and flags on us. Just simple font logos. However, either logo could be the front of a magazine cover, Reader’s Digest comes to mind.

 

Anyway, thanks for a taking a quick trip down “Presidential Logo” memory lane with me. I’m excited that the design world is being utilized fully, especially in elections to come. The sheer force a logo has, as seen with the Obama “O”, is undeniable. To all of my designer friends out there, keep designing and keep influencing as your design work has more impact than we sometimes know.

Scientific Advertising

If you’re in advertising or interested in getting into advertising, you must read the book “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins. The book itself was written in 1923, but much of it’s contents resonate in advertising today.

“Nobody, at any level, should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times” – David Ogilvy

With regard to David Ogilvy’s quote, I’ve only read the book once and I hope to read it again but I doubt that I will be reaching the lucky 7. That said, advertising was always been relevant in my career (having a background in Graphic Design) and with one read of Hopkins’ book, I’ve grasped advertising more than ever. Even now as a developer, I use what I know about advertising to create a much better, more marketable product. Some times that product is a web application. Some times the product is me and my skills.

Some of what the book “Scientific Advertising” will teach you:

  1. That every ad is the equivalent of a sales person standing before you.
  2. How grammar and fine writing has little to do with writing ad copy that sells.
  3. How to use scientific testing to create more effective advertising.
  4. How to make a brand, a business stand out from the crowd
  5. The laws of Advertising

A few snippets I’ve picked up from the book:

1. Do Your Research — “An ad-writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full information on his subject. The library of an ad agency should have books on every line that calls for research. A painstaking advertising man will often read for weeks on some problem, which comes up. “. To be effective these guys researched everything. They had medical journals on the effects of coffee if they were making a coffee ad. They had dental books when they were making a toothpaste ad. They engulfed themselves with research and data that rivaled the top experts in the fields of the ad’s topic.

A good example of the effectiveness of Hopkins’ ad research was the Pepsodent ads he created. Pepsodent was a new brand of toothpaste. Before Hopkins, people weren’t brushing their teeth ritually. They would simply gargle with salt water or tonics. It was in the early 1900’s and people were peddling tonics that clean teeth left and right. Hopkins, in order to come up with the Pepsodent ad campaign, read through countless dental articles, books and scientific studies. In the middle of one book he found a reference that plaque builds up on teeth and later he would call this “the film”. He conceived the idea that Pepsodent was a creator of beauty and that it removes this film.

In one ad he wrote: “Just run your tongue across your teeth, You’ll feel a film—that’s what makes your teeth look ‘off color’ and invites decay.” and another read: “Note how many pretty teeth are seen everywhere, Millions are using a new method of teeth cleansing. Why would any woman have dingy film on her teeth? Pepsodent removes the film!”

 

This ad copy served as genius at the time. It also contributed to a large tooth brushing habit. Pepsodent began adding chemicals to their toothpaste to make your mouth “tingle”. This and the ad campaign prompted the routine of brushing everyday, to look beautiful and to feel tingly clean. (Charles Duhigg, New York Times reporter and author of the bestselling book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business )

2. Understand Psychology — The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he knows about it the better. He must learn that certain effects lead to certain reactions, and use that knowledge to increase results and avoid mistakes.

Hopkins writes of the enduring human need to be curious. Humans want to learn more and it’s an incentive that advertisers may use to gain the sale. A headline may serve as a hook, to grab a person’s curiosity and take them through the ad’s contents and finally the call to action.

Another, is that people are generally honest. This is why the ads that boast “Try it for a week, if you don’t like it return it for the full price”. Or the ads that offer a free product, “Try it for a week, if you like it then buy it, if not return it”. It also plays a bit into reciprocation. There have been many other studies in advertising that show when you give someone something for free, that they will return the favor or reciprocate. An example of this is a Night Club where all drinks are free and the only form of payment is a tip jar. People are more likely to tip higher than the drink was worth.

With all that’s out there now on advertising, I urge you to read the book “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins. It lays the foundation to what you’ll need to know about advertising. I did find the entire book online here in one neat blog post. Get it while it lasts… http://scientificadvertising.blogspot.com/

Other related books worth reading…