Friday, October 31

A Gay CEO?

(This article also appears on Huffington Post.  Click here if you'd like to read it there.)

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, "came out" yesterday, just a couple weeks after National Coming Out Day.

Best quote from his announcement:  "Let me be clear:  I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."  He also went on to say that while he has been open with many of his colleagues, he's never "announced" it before.  I understand that fully.

But first ... when have you ever heard being gay described as a gift?  I love it!

Sure, we've grown accustomed to celebrities coming out, some with great fanfare.  But business people?  It's a rarity.  Big business people?  Hardly ever at all.  In fact just a short time ago, BP CEO John Browne resigned for fear of being "outed."  That was 2007.  My how times have changed!

I was personally told, back in the day, that I shouldn't tell people that I'm gay.  I was told that I'd lose clients and people would be afraid to work for me.  This coming from "friends."  Maybe it was true, I'll never know.  It may have taken me awhile, but I eventually told people.

I eventually put a picture of my partner in my office.   With my kids.

I eventually took my partner to a work function.  Even to a client dinner.

No fanfare, no announcement, no declaration.  I didn't wave flags to scream it down the halls. Just a slow process, really just telling people one on one for the most part.

For many years I had my own agency, CPPartners.  We created the first print advertising for Tylenol specifically targeting the LGBT community timed perfectly for gay pride that year.  An industry publication wrote that I was the "openly gay" President of the agency.  It was meant well, but just sounded so odd at the time.  Sounds even odder now.

Coming up through the ranks, I'm sure I paid for being open.  I would walk into meetings and comments were made publicly about "the gay guy walking in the room."  I smiled through it, but it worried me about being labeled as someone who wouldn't go far as a result.  I felt like it was being said to somehow push me down.

Looking back from where I sit now, I don't care.  I did what I had to do to balance my career with raising my kids.  I'm happy with every decision I made.  My kids are succeeding in college, thank you very much, and I'm thrilled with my work.

Was I proud ... yes, but also scared.  I didn't know what the impact would be to my professional or personal life.  I still don't really know.  But thanks to high profile business people like Tim Cook, I think we can all breathe just a little easier now.  Let's hope he sparks a trend of people being more open about who they are, no matter who they are, at work.

Have I ever considered being gay a gift?  No, but I do now.

I say Bravo to Tim Cook.  While some may say, "What took you so long?"  I say anytime you're ready to talk about who you are is the right time.  Bravo!

His brand just skyrocketed in my book.  Thank you, Tim!

What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, October 27

Enter, The Hand Sanitizer

I've made two trips to Dallas in the last couple of weeks, and I live in Manhattan.  The Ebola scare has certainly been top-of-the-media in both markets, and you can't possibly escape the nonstop coverage.

In our media-driven world, that's a given.

But there's another side effect of the situation that's equally as noticeable and once again changing our behaviors ... hand sanitizer.

It seems like the hand sanitizer comes in and out of favor, as our awareness and paranoia for infectious conditions rises and falls.

Literally, everywhere I went in the Dallas area there were bottles and pumps of hand sanitizer.  And now that New York City is on alert, they are popping up all over the city here as well.

I hadn't seen them since the last time we were worried about such things ... If I remember correctly it was the swine flu.

It's almost as if the hand sanitizer is a barometer for our depth of concern over catching something dangerous.  Like a thermometer of sorts.  We are worried now about Ebola, so enter the hand sanitizer.

As a result, I'd wish they'd go away!  I'm sure we all do!

Of course, the interesting part is that the branding doesn't seem to be an important part of the mix.  Sure, there are brands in the equation, but they don't seem to be driving the solution ... just reacting to public sentiment.

Is there a perceivable difference in the products?  Is there a role for branding here, especially when emotions run so high?  

What's your experience?  JIM.

Sunday, October 26

Take It Personally

My series at Entrepreneur about brand positioning is coming to a close.

My final perspective ... take it personally.

Give it a read here if you'd like.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, October 24

Not That Kind Of Girl

Before I start, I must say that I am by no means a super fan of Lena Dunham.  I don't think I'd even say I'm a fan.  I don't think she's honestly even on my radar.  If anything, I'd probably say she's over-exposed and I don't really pay attention.  Her over exposure isn't to the level of Kim Kardashian, but it's all relative.

So along comes Lena with a new book, Not That Kind Of Girl.  I never noticed TBH.

Along comes her web series to go with the book, I never noticed.

I was at a conference yesterday for The PR Council where this INCREDIBLE woman, an American woman who is Muslim was talking about prejudice.  She said to watch Lena Dunham's new web series, or at least the first episode.  She said it was "must see."

I'd do just about anything this woman told me to do.  She was that insightful, brilliant, informed, and logical.

As soon as I got home, I clicked in:

Ok, this is the first definition of feminism I have seen that absolutely 100% matches mine.  Actually, it doesn't match my definition of feminism, it matches my definition of how we should go through life, and how we should look at others.  It is exactly what I say to my daughter, and to my son.

Sold.  What's your experience?  JIM.