Monthly Archives: August 2009

How to Prepare for the Lottery

A week before the school year started, I answered my phone to an unrecognized number only to experience something akin to (and here is where I date myself) a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake winner moment – sans Ed McMahon. 

My son’s elementary school started a dual-Spanish/English language program last year and I had ‘entered him to win’.  Alas, to no avail.  Kindergarten came and went and there was no knock at my door.  Best I got was ‘runner up’. 

Fast-forward a year and he’s IN. 

Just like that, we went from raising a child in one language to two. I am first-generation born American. Raised in a Spanish-speaking household, I am fortunate enough to be fluent, without much effort. I made a promise to my Dad that I would do the same.  I tried, really I did, and for the first almost-four years my son spoke Spanish as well as he did English.  Then came the day he bluntly told me he would speak Spanish ‘no more.’  I wish I could lay all the blame on him, but in reality it was no easy feat on my end.  As he aged, so did the complexity of our conversations. It became apparent to me that by insisting that we only speak Spanish, I was building a barrier between us. 

Clearly, healthy communication is difficult enough on its own – no need to complicate it further.

This experience helped me realize that no matter how hard I try to prepare and control the environment around me, there is always an element of the “lottery” lurking. 

“It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.”

That lottery element seems pervasive – I had a fantastic networking meeting this week that under ordinary circumstances would have exceeded my expectations. Instead it left me disappointed because of this one line:  “I wish we would have met two months ago, my firm just hired blah, blah, blah….”  Honestly, the rest of that sentence was a blur.

How do we avoid heading down the existentialist rathole?  Prepping for meetings and following through in light of the idea that somehow ‘luck’ comes into play can be very frustrating.  That being said, doing the homework – in the case of my son’s education, applying for the program, is essential to the possibility of having your lottery number called out. You’ve got to have a ticket in order to win.

By the way, I do know Ed McMahon never actually worked for PCH but I do find it fascinating that I believed he did until I ‘Googled’ it.  Apparently I am in good company.  Theres’s no big prize to register for but maybe my MarketingSmack will resonate and encourage you to stay the course.  You can find my MarketingSmack at or visit us at

Health Care Policy, The Truth in Bullet Point Format

This is not about health care, really. It’s about truth. It’s about messages, and what we want and need in our communication.

At the risk of disclosing my ignorance—or worst yet—my indifference to the world of politics, the debate over our nation’s health care whirls around me as I silently sit on the sidelines, not participating.  

My primary source of information, or dis-information, depending on your view point, is my FaceBook friends. I live in a very liberal town, so most of the individuals in my life are clear Obama supporters and thus support his national health policy.  My FaceBook town is not as homogeneous, housing a spectrum of individuals.  There I learned that the 47 million un-insured are that way because somehow they want to be.  And that we pay 50% more than the next highest spending country per capita with the worst outcome. 

I am amazed at both the dichotomy of the messages – and how deeply each side believes to have THE TRUTH. 

The sad truth for me is that I can’t be bothered with sorting out all the clutter. I can barely keep up with running my life – you know, making lunch for my son; feeding the cats; networking; running Summit Strategy Partners.  I want someone to gather and analyze the data then present a succinct PowerPoint presentation with insights: those areas where both sides are in sync (in my opinion this is most likely where the truth is hiding) and the chasms.  A handful of verbatims would be nice.

My guess is that there are a great many of us who walk around with this as a secret wish—that a succinct case be laid out in front of us. A nice package that sells the truth and supports it with evidence.

Perhaps you’re wondering how best to serve your customers or what new target market to approach and how? 

The latest MarketingSmack doesn’t clear up the murkiness our politicians create. My not-so-altruistic interest is to remind you that marketing strategy insights are just a phone call away. or visit us at