Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Long Time Away

I haven't blogged in a while. Not motivated. Nothing of interest to say. No desire to speak to a topic. That isn't to say I haven't been busy or that life hasn't been interesting. So, I've decided to add a few snippets on a variety of topics that crossed my mind but didn't warrant going through signing in and drafting a full post on their own merit.

It seems everyone is claiming to be an entrepreneur or pursuing their "entrepreneurial spirit" these days. Being "between opportunities" or motivated by one's dissatisfaction with their employment situation is not the same as being an entrepreneur. To me, the most disturbing use of the word is when someone uses it simply to describe their self-employment. Owning one’s own business is not the same as being an entrepreneur. Businesses can be inherited, purchased, and started from scratch, but being an entrepreneur is about launching a business, product or service to solve problems other people have not been able to, with every intention of doing it again to solve another problem, maybe even before the first concern is fully up and running. Because you've owned the local Dairy Queen for the past five years after an unfulfilling career as an account, or your father finally named you president of the family roofing business does not qualify.

A client of mine, who is both an entrepreneur and a gifted writer, is urging me to write a book on brand strategy. He's even offered to coauthor the book with me since through his business he has acquired some degree of knowledge on the subject. He contends I am the best person in the world at explaining what branding really is, how it differs from marketing and how it relates to business planning. I take this as a supreme compliment because he has access to some of the most advanced senior management, brand management, and marketing minds on the planet.

The problem is, I just don't feel motivated to educate anyone (other than paying clients) or share my thinking beyond my current circles of influence (including this blog). His argument that I could be recognized as a leading authority in the world, and expand my business tenfold again are not compelling to me. For the record, In's & Out's, my business, was never intended to be a conventional business. It's a way to make a personal living. Unlike most conventional businesses, I have no desire to have employees, multiple offices flung around the globe, or lots of people replicating my work so that I can take a cut of the action or create a legacy that my children can inherit. It is enough for me to practice my craft. As I tried to explain it, I liken it to a piano player who gets joy out of banging the keys in the saloons of his own choosing every night. Recording and selling music, going on concert tours, giving lessons to students and posting recitals on YouTube might widen the audience and even generate greater revenue, but it doesn't satisfy the person who just loves to play the piano in a live setting. I don't require a wider audience, and the current level of rewards and recognition meet my needs.

I can one day die a contented man who didn't feel the need to leave an indelible business mark like some latter day Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy, Stephen Covey or Ray Kroc.

How does one explain waking up one morning and realizing a lifelong passion is no more? After taking a self-imposed, extended break from soccer, I went through some sort of detox. It's true. It happened to me a few months ago when it dawned on me that if I never attended another soccer game, or coached again, it was OK with me. I haven't missed the sport and I'm now in the process of giving away all the equipment that has cluttered my garage and basement family room and storage area for all these years. At the same time, this awakening has provided a sense of uncluttering in my life as well. The sport that has defined me in so many ways for so long is no longer relevant or meaningful to me, and now, like the vast majority of Americans, I am free to ignore it.

For those of you who follow this blog, you know I am no fan of Father Pflager, the Catholic priest who has never seen a TV camera, microphone or mirror he can pass. Seems he upset Cardinal George in Chicago by not agreeing to leave his parish post of 30 years in a reassignment that would have him running the local high school. As is his practice, he ran to the media to plead his case and wound up getting himself suspended for expressing something akin to “If the Catholic Church can't support his business model any longer, he'll find another parent company.” I understand he was considering a merger with his close friend, Louis Farrakhan at the Nation of Islam, or possibly GE, or Starbucks. After all, it's all about distribution and media attention to Pflager. The Cardinal, who reminds me very much of Homer's boss on The Simpsons, buckled and reinstated Pflager temporarily. The lesson: Pflager's true colors emerged. He believes the parish he represents is his little cottage industry and his alone. The Cardinal, on the other hand demonstrated once again that the Catholic Church is all about spinning its wheels in meaningless shows of order and strength while sweeping stuff under the rug.

Can't do it.