Monday, September 16, 2019

The One - A Speech for Stephen and Margaret's Wedding

Stephen and Margaret Wadsworth
What seems like a few short years ago, computers stood six feet tall, and required special raised-floor computer rooms. We were so proud of our technology back then, that we put thick glass windows on all sides of these computer rooms so everyone could stare in wide wonder at the blinking lights inside, humbled by our massive compute power.

After being away from the office for several weeks, on this particular day, I was back at work, and catching up with my crew. We were hanging out in the hallway behind the computer room— remember, the one with the glass windows on all sides—when all the sudden something caught the corner of my eye, and it wasn’t the blinking lights.

Unconsciously, my head spun, my twenty-something eyeballs bored a hole right through that first pane of thick glass, through the computer room, and through the second pane of thick glass, and landed on…



Without a thought, I blurted, “That’s THE ONE.”

Out loud.

With a bunch of guys standing around looking at me like I was nuts.

No…I mean literally, right there, staring across an ice cold computer room, past the blinking lights, through two panes of thick safety glass, I fell head over heels in love…with her.

“What?” they asked.

“That one, she’s THE ONE. I am going to marry that one,” I burbled.

“Which one?” someone asked.

“The tall blonde one with the amazing…”

“That one? Keep dreamin’. . . That girl wouldn’t give you the time of day. Waaay out of your league!” another replied.

“And she’s got a rock on her finger the size of Everest. She’s taken,” they warned.

“Doesn’t matter, she’s THE ONE. She’s mine, and I am marrying her. Just watch.”

Absolutely true story.

In one magic moment, everything that ever happened in the past, to either of us, came together to put us on either side of two panes of glass in Newton, Massachusetts—all the trouble, heartache, failures, success. . . the schoolyard scrapes, the graduation gowns. . .

Seriously—think about it—if not for that one insane moment dribblety-X years ago, none of us would be here in this room tonight.

But, both of our individual stories did come together at exactly that moment, and nothing has ever been the same since.

And people say life is just a random set of events?

No way.

When you know, you just know.

Which brings me to these two. (finally)

Are they just ridiculously, ludicrously, absurdly in love with each other or what?

When we first met Maggie, we just knew she was THE ONE. We all fell in love with her at first sight.

But more than us loving her, we knew instantly, she and Stephen loved each other.

They really do a lousy job of hiding that don’t they?

So damn cute…

But also reassuring.

Because they remind us of the best in ourselves.

Ah, to be twenty-something—handsome and beautiful, productive and successful.

To be in love, and to have the whole world ahead of us . . . the mortgages, the diapers, teething, Disneyworld . . . with kids . . . during school vacation, schoolyard scrapes, graduation gowns . . .

Kid’s weddings.

The reason we smile when we look at them, all googly eyed and kissy faced over there, is because their love is so pure, so inescapable, and so irrepressible that it reminds us there is good in the world…

In our Judeo-Christian tradition, we believe this form of agape love originates from God, from his love for mankind. And, we know, it is a rare gift.

So, when we experience such deep abiding love, whether in ourselves or in others, it reminds us that, indeed, there is God in the world.

Thank you both for sharing your love with us so generously. Experiencing it through you, and with you, is truly good for our souls.

Please raise your glasses with me.

Thanks to Jeff and Trish and everyone on Margaret’s side of the aisle for raising such an amazing woman. We love ‘every little inch of her’ almost as much as you do.

And thank you—Mags—for loving Stephen as much as, or maybe more, if that’s even possible, than we love him.

We are very happy for you both, and very excited each of you have found, THE ONE.


The New Wadsworth Family

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A million mile smile...

A dear friend of my daughter made a few youthful decisions – some stupid and some not – that eventually resulted in the births of two beautiful baby girls before she graduated high school.

Lily’s friend and her baby’s father faced a variety of demons – some of their own making and some not – but eventually found a path to faith, marriage, and an honest effort to take their lives in a better direction.

My daughter stood by her friends as these fateful winds blasted about them. She worked part-time jobs through college to buy the baby girls clothes and gifts at birthdays and Christmas. She stayed overnight with them to give her friends time alone. She taught the girls, played with them, scolded them, but mostly loved them deeply.

When her friends decided a change of latitude was required to escape the demons, Lily helped them pack up their clothes and toys, and crushed them with hugs and kisses before waving them on their way to a new life in Florida.

At first, the peace was enticing. Without the distractions, Lily focused on herself – getting into the best shape of her life, and earning top grades – but under the surface, the emptiness was almost more than she could bear. She stayed in touch, of course, but instant messages and video chats don't fill holes in your heart.

Let me tell you, watching your kid in that kind of pain, and being helpless to do anything about it...

As we knew it would, the dam burst a couple of weeks ago when the older of the two baby girls mentioned DisneyWorld on a Facetime call,

“The princesses are so beautiful, Big Lily. We want to meet them so bad! But, Daddy doesn’t have enough money to take us right now. It’s hard, but we have to wait until he saves up to take us.”

Well, let me tell you, I don’t have 3 million frequent flier miles, and 1 million Marriott points, sitting in the bank for my health. And, I’m not taking them to the damn grave with me.

Lily was on a plane headed south in days. My son Jeffrey – the wizard of hotel upgrades – worked his magic to conjure a suite for them at the Dolphin. And I suspect his mom may have slipped a few sheckles in her purse.

And here they are, on their way to see the princesses, fairy godmothers, and singing bears.

Think you will agree, those smiles are worth 10 million miles.

And lest you think I am a complete softy, Lily split the admission with her friends who did, in fact, save up. God bless them both, and keep them headed on the right path.

It’s anyone’s guess who paid for the overpriced t-shirts and mouse-ears. 

My kids are freaking awesome...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pull Up Your Socks

The founding fathers are once again lying face up in their graves, with knowing smiles on their skulls.

This is exactly how it was supposed to work. When one side or another gets too far out of line, the system swings back.

Here are ten things I would tell my kids today if they still listened to me:

  1. Trump loves his family, just like we love you. 
  2. He wants the best for all American's, including our family.
  3. He will make it easier for businesses to create jobs for people like us, so more people will be able to earn money, take pride in their work, and stay out of trouble.
  4. He will make it harder for bad people, especially bad people who sell drugs, shoot innocent kids and police, and who are making our inner cities very scary places for the people who live there. 
  5. He will chase away many of those really, really bad people, so they can’t hurt us.
  6. He will not chase away people just because they are different, only people who are bad and want to hurt us.
  7. Just like we tell you to work hard and always do your best, he will reward people who work hard, and make sure people who are lazy won’t be rewarded.
  8. He will make sure we are safe by strengthening the people who protect us.
  9. Just like we lock the doors to our house, he will lock the doors to our country so only good people can get in.
  10. He will sit with the unpopular people at lunch, so they don’t have to sit alone.

Now, pull up your socks, blow your nose, and get on the bus.

Everything will be fine. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chicken Soup for the Ceiling - Remembering Joyce Zdenek

When Joyce first found us, we were a couple of snarling stray cats hopelessly wandering in and out of furniture stores across New England in search of a new couch.

We weren't looking for an Interior Designer, that's for sure.

As fate would have it, we straggled into Bassett Furniture, and an "Interior Designer" we would have – whether we thought we needed one or not.

Like a pair of half-drown kittens, Joyce took us under her wing, dried us up, sorted us out, gave us a warm bowl of milk, and fixed us a cozy, warm place to settle. 

And sold us a couch...a really, really big couch.

"Trust me, it's perfect."

"But… it's a huge sectional, we just sort of thought, maybe a couch…?"

"And we'll have to replace that counter top – forest green Formica is so 1990s! This house NEEDS granite. I know just the guy, Filippo. He'll take good care of you… I'll have him here for measurements tomorrow."

"But, we kind of like…"

"And these curtains! No, no, no…they have to go…"

"Er…they were Pam's mother's…

"Well, they look like it! Margie will stop by Thursday for measurements. She's FABULOUS!"

"Um… OK, if you say so… Who's Margie?"

"This place needs some seafoam. On the ceiling, I think. I always paint the ceilings, it's my little secret."

"A green ceiling? White isn't good?"

"Trust me!"

And we did trust Joyce. 

We trusted her with paint, furniture, paper, carpets, stone, bedding, fixtures… One day at a time, one room at a time, and ten thousand dollars at a time… Joyce transformed our house into a home.

Joyce's gift of perception, her innate and extraordinary ability to see through the eyes of others, allowed her to know what you would like – or more importantly, what was right for you – before you did. Never defensive or imposing, she lovingly made you feel like her decisions were your decisions – even though behind the hugs and kisses, you both knew different.

She defended Kirby's precious collection of antiques and knickknacks from Pam's disdain, organizing and presenting them professionally…in the basement...out of Pam's sight. 

Joyce helped Kirby over his own disdain for seafoam green, and autumnal orange, and oceanside blue. She protected both of us from matchy-matchy-ness, and surrounded us in 'updated' colors before we had time to object.

Along the way, her subtle and not so subtle ministrations reached beyond the transformation of our house. Joyce helped us resolve disagreements, overcome stubbornness, break bad habits, understand different points of view. She gave us the courage to stand up for our own desires, while showing compassion for the desires of each other. She taught us that compromise brought better outcomes than conflict. 

Joyce redesigned more than our home, she helped us redesign our lives. Joyce redid our house, but she transformed us.

Over the years, our relationship with Joyce evolved. From salesperson, to designer, to coach, to cheerleader, to friend, and finally to family. In her, we found not only our own personal interior designer, but also our own personal 'jewish mother-in-law" from another mother. Not that we were looking for another mother-in-law, mind you, but in Joyce, we would have another mother, whether we thought we needed one or not.

Chicken soup, brisket, matzo, a little wine, some desert… along with advice on child-rearing, parent-management, nutrition, the latest haircut, matching outfits, popular music, hard work, and the occasional placement of a few pictures… No stone was left unturned by Joyce's talent for organization, eye for style, and power of persuasion.

And like a mom, we worried after her, too. Giving her advice and encouragement on men, health, career, fulfillment, or just getting through the day. She made us laugh, and fret, and occasionally act foolish. We smiled at Joyce's obvious pride and joy in her children. And as a family, we now share their grief, and offer our continuing love and support to Danielle and Jessica.

For us, remembering Joyce will be easy and inevitable. As we look at our home, every corner is touched by Joyce's signature style. Every chair, lamp, rug, wall, and ceiling received Joyce's personal stamp of approval. As we look at our lives, every corner is touched by her warmth, compassion, and the love she showed us and shared with us. Her loving spirit will be with us always, in our home and in our hearts.

We trust God knew what he was doing in taking her so soon. And, we hope he likes seafoam green. Because one thing is for sure, the kingdom of heaven is about to get a complete makeover, whether He thinks it needs it or not.

Besides, solid gold is so 1990's...

Rest in Peace, dear friend 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Launch Day

For me, the preparation and build-up to a major product launch is one of the highlights of technology marketing. The sheer volume of effort that goes into a successful launch makes the launch project stand alone in our marketing craft.

The process starts with early visioneering sessions – a chaotic white-board soup of R&D schedules, customer requests, market directions, competitive analysis, sales input, calendars, strategy, and healthy dollops of both hope and optimism. What’s in? Out? Important or filler? When can we release?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hats off to Harry's

When we wrote our best-selling, five-star rated book, Recommend This!, JT and I thought a lot about what it would take to establish trusted human relationships with people you've never met (and never will) using only online and digital communication. 
We're both big believers in Zig Ziglar's approach - sell yourself first, help first, build trust first. In fact, we wanted to title the book, 'Help First", but the book marketing folks thought otherwise.
At the time, we were enamored with Dollar Shave Club's online use of video, friendly quirky approach to build a tribe, and have some fun. We wrote a lot about DSC in chapter two.
Well now, DSC has some tough competition in the let us ship razor blades to your house business. Harry's is hitting it hard with promotion, tie in, and tribe-building.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Advice for the (About to Be) Newly Married Man

Congrats on your engagement.  

Marriage is a good thing.

I've been married for the better portion of my life - longer than I was single.  If fact, given how I lived my life as a single man, I'm sure I would be dead now if not for marriage.

So, by all means, go get married.

Getting married, however, is a major league, expensive, pain in the butt, so I suggest you get that part of the process over with as quickly, cheaply, and painlessly as possible.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

For Dads, Daughters Are Different

For dads, daughters are different.

When a son is born, we hold him up for all the world to see.

When a daughter is born, we hold her close to protect her from all the world can do.

We watch a son, but we behold a daughter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An honest, pleasant, old-fashioned, relationship-oriented car dealer?

Following our horrendous experience at Brigham and Gill Motors, we found another similar Jeep Wrangler listed online at O'Hara Motors down in Falmouth. The car was a year newer, and had less miles than Ali's.

A bit far away, but Pam's Dad lives there so I emailed the dealer.  He was up front about the doc fee - and other aspects of the car.  I sent Pam's dad over to look at, and he reported it was in good shape, hadn't been smoked in, etc.  So far, so good.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dishonest and Rude is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

My mom used to play bridge with a nice lady named Peggy Brigham. Every couple of weeks, I got the call to drag up the card tables from the basement and help mom set up the living room.  I still remember the chocolate covered nuts mom would put on the table. A living room full of bridge playing AAUW members was a loud room, but I remember Peggy was really bubbly and really loud. She was also a bit of a celebrity because her husband owned Brigham and Gill Motors out on Rte 9, where everyone bought their cars.  I remember also that she lived up on Livingston Road - in one of the BIG houses in town.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Umpteenth Anniversary

We’ve both worked hard, probably too hard, to raise a great family. Our kids are awesome, each different and special, reflecting the love and hard work we both poured into them. You are a wonderful mother.

We’re both feeling proud and sad and happy and scared as each of our babies now steps out on their own, but we can both also share a deep sense of satisfaction knowing we raised them well, and knowing we are there for them unconditionally and always.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Awesomely Awful Airline Customer Service Experience

Ah, Noreen.  You’re a rising star in the pantheon of nasty, foul-tempered, airline employees that ruin your employer’s brands, and destroy the value of their relationship networks every day. 

Bless the hardworking, smiling, go out of their way folks at JetBlue.  How do they do it?

Somewhere at Delta Airlines headquarters in Atlanta, a team of marketing experts are beating their MBA’s against the wall, trying to figure out how to improve customer service, increase NPS scores, and build valuable long-term relationships with uber-profitable customers (like me).  They know that the success of the airline lies in convincing me, and the rest of my last-minute purchasing, frequent-flying peers to choose Delta. 

And Noreen – you do realize we have a choice, right?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Implement a digital marketing plan that works with the modern consumer

Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share is a comprehensive guide to effectively engaging online audiences by leveraging the fundamental nature of human relations. By reframing the expectations of digital consumers as a drive to make connections, the book enables digital marketers and communicators to harness the power of the Internet by rethinking traditional methods of audience interaction and engagement. Marketing has become less about trumpeting a product, and more about creating a niche within the community.
Invasive, assertive advertising is falling by the wayside as the digital age provides consumers with more choices than ever before. While the medium has changed, the central principle of marketing – building relationships – has not. Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share guides communications professionals through the new digital reality of marketing to the online audience, and provides the information companies need to build a brand that attracts customers instead of chasing them. The book examines the needs of the digital consumer, and provides a roadmap toward fulfilling those needs as a brand. Topics include:
  • Why storytelling engages more than broadcast messaging
  • Shaping digital content to receive attention
  • Nurturing online communities and delivering on promises
  •  Being authentic and maintaining credibility

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Friend, Paul

I lost a friend a couple of days before Christmas.  Hell of a guy.  Solid as a rock.

The kind of guy who was so competent that if you thought about it you’d feel  like a dolt in comparison, except he made you feel like the coolest, smartest guy on earth when you were with him.

Hell of a guy.

Calling him a friend seems sort of selfish and cheap.  We didn’t exchange Christmas cards or anything.  I had a few beers with him once in a while.  We argued about football, gave each other a bunch of crap when we could.  I didn’t bother to learn his wife’s name until I got the call that they found him dead in his bed the day before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recommend This!

So, by now fellow readers know that I've co-authored a legit business book with Jason Thibeault called, Recommend This!

Personally, I think you'll enjoy reading it, and you'll find it valuable. I hope so.  It was a lot of work to write it, and we have no motivation other than to help you.

JT and I won't see a dime from the project, but that was never the point.  We wrote it because we had to, we had something to say, which we thought was valuable.  Its like an itch in the middle of your back that you can't quite reach. It drives you crazy until you find a tree to rub up against.  Well, for us, the book was our tree.

Now that the book is done, that itch is better, but another one has crept up between our shoulder blades - this one is a little harder to reach, and only you can scratch it.  We want people to read the damn thing - argue about it - curse us out, or shout our praises. Doesn't matter. The only way to scratch this is not be ignored.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Stop Right There!"

She's pointing a finger at me, and when she catches my eye she flips her palm up into a stop sign.

Way to make customers feel welcome, Belle.

She's concerned that a first class passenger needs to get back to his seat, and wants me to hold up in the galley and wait for him to get settled.  I got no problem with that. As readers know, I am about the most compliant, and thoughtful, passenger an airline crew could hope to have on board. If you haven't read it, check out my earlier blog post "Sit Down, Shut up, and Fly".

What I do have a problem with is Belle.  She's a first class you-know-what-that-rhymes-with-hitch. Every inch of her body language screams, "I'm sick to death of dealing with you idiot passengers."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why We Are Patriots

Boston is a tough little town – always has been.

We face down Mother Nature’s worst - blizzards, hurricanes, fire, and floods (both water and molasses).

And human nature’s worst - unjust rulers, criminals, bigots, and downright scoundrels. 

A decade ago, we faced the devil incarnate. 

Every time we walk through American Airlines Gate B32, we get a shiver up our spine knowing the bastard himself was right there at 7am on September 11, 2001.  Walking down the same jet way.  Breathing the same air.

Yesterday, we faced him again. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

A storytelling masterwork

I'm really excited about the new focus on storytelling in marketing - Coke is doing amazing stuff - loved the race in the desert idea-and they're online storytelling presence is awesome.

We've been talking a lot lately as an industry about storytelling.  I am a big fan of stories as marketing tools.  It's so much more interesting and engaging experience a story rather than a pitch.  Yesterday we saw a dozen great storytelling adverts on the Super Bowl.

None more powerful emotionally than The Farmer

Everyone - including Gary Sinese loved it.  But I say, it's a lousy commercial, and a poor use of storytelling.  Why?  Quick, what product was it pushing?  A pickup truck, good.  Which one?  Chevy? Ford?  No wait...Ram Pickups? hmmm...doesn't Fiat own that brand now?

The commercial was well executed. Paul Harvey, great.  But the connection of the brand to the story?  Not so much.  Chrysler could have woven in all the great stuff they have done for farmers over the must be more than trucks, right?  Well, a quick search doesn't show that much actually. Chrysler doesn't appear to have a farm equipment focus. In fact the only tractor related Chrysler connection was an old news story about Chrysler strong-arming a tiny mid-west tractor manufacturer into giving up its Plymouth Tractor brand.

Bottom line, great execution, but no brand hook other than repetition, equals lousy marketing storytelling.

Monday, January 28, 2013

One lousy touch point destroys the entire customer experience

One unsmiling flight attendant, one lonely french fry on the floor, one hair left in the hotel bathtub…

one lousy little snag in an otherwise perfectly planned and carefully choreographed system is all it takes to collapse the entire enterprise into mediocrity.  Whether you are paying millions of dollars in advertising to attract frequent flyers, or staffing the cash register at your own boutique, the experience you provide customers is a layered house of cards.  One little puff of ill wind sends your entire creation crashing down on itself

Thursday, October 18, 2012

99 and 1/2 Days

Alaskan crab fishing may well be the most dangerous job in the world, but being CMO is the most dangerous in the enterprise. The average tenure of a CMO is 40 months, or 1200 days.  You'd be nuts to give a CMO a mortgage.

Today in my 99th day at Limelight.  I only have 1100 days left – to fix the marketing operations plumbing, fill the pipeline with a steady stream of opportunities, increase brand awareness, improve analyst relations, build a user community, build out international marketing, and develop ‘thought-leadership’ whatever the heck that means. 

Maybe I should just jump overboard now and get it over with…

Nah.  Having too much fun.  And, I don’t get seasick. Much.