Chautauqua

We call our blog Chautauqua because we’re taken with its derivation, the intellectual movement begun in the late 19th century, and because it connotes the kind of conversation we hope to share with you. Some of that conversation will be about marketing and advertising. Some of it will be about communication in general. Some of it will indicate that, of all the things you might get from us, ordinary won’t be one of them. All of it is intended to bring you into our circle.

Blog Posts

Please click on a few posts below. And please share your thoughts. It can’t be a chautauqua without you.

Trust Everybody, But Cut the Cards*

A gentleman named Venky Ramachandran ("I design context for the Future of Work") wrote a LinkedIn post recently that made it easy enough to imagine he'll soon be designing the context for his the Future of his own Work, since he had the courage (or the naiveté) to...

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Reliable Idiots

When I was in my teens, Brent Musburger was on CBS covering the NFL. During one such telecast, my father told me Musburger was an idiot. I took Dad at his word and remained skeptical. In the 1980s, I was watching a college football game with my sons, both of whom are...

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Crowded Lines

Recently, for the first time in nearly 30 years, I heard the song, "Don't Dream It's Over", by the Australian band, Crowded House. (The band comprised Paul Hester, Nick Seymour, and the Finn brothers — Neil, Tim, and Dorsal.) Along with a beautifully melodic chorus,...

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Unnatural Abilities

Fast Company, in a magnanimous attempt to help David Hoffeld sell his book on selling (why did he need the help?), published this article — "Your Brain Can Do More Than You Think It Can, Says Science". Hoffeld is (according to his profile on Amazon) "CEO and chief...

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My Trendy New Year

I was in a chi-chi shop during the Holidays that had a display of handbags fashioned from something called vegan leather. My first thought was that vegan leather must come from cows fed only on corn-fed grass that had been humanely slaughtered by filing down the teeth...

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Nigerian Prince: RIP

I didn't receive any formal notice of his demise, but it appears the Nigerian Prince who was, at one time, so notorious for his spam emails, as blatant as they were transparent, has bought the farm. I suspect this because I recently received the following email from a...

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Gibberish: 3,647,105 — Language: 0

Already reeling and darn near senseless, language is still taking body shots, kids. This post showed up in my LinkedIn feed after attracting some recent comments. It contains this nugget: Frustration and even anger are common, understandable reactions to new ways of...

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Go Ahead, Back Up

This just in, kids. According to Harvard Business Review, networking events are a waste of time. That's right. The author, who's the founder and CEO of an un-networking community, has this to say: Regardless of how you define networking, your success will be directly...

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It’s About the Fight

Seth Godin published a recent post that said this, in part: There are plenty of people who will pander, race to the bottom, and figure out how to, "give the public what it wants." But that doesn't have to be you. Professionals have standards. Professionals push back....

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No Dots in the Echo Chamber

We're not losing our ability to connect dots, kids. We're giving it away. That reality was driven home by three things that came to my attention recently. Two of them were articles. The third was a website. Here they are, in order: 6 Cognitive Biases That Are Messing...

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The Empath to Reality

Sincerity is everything. Once you learn to fake that, you've got it made. (Variously attributed.) As I get older, I continually wonder about reality, about the nature of reality, about our ability to perceive reality, and whether there is any objective reality at all....

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Have You Heard From Yourself Lately?

It must have been a slow news day at the Wall Street Journal. The editors commissioned Alina Dizik (God bless her for being young) to write a piece about office space. She produced the article, "Open Offices Are Losing Some of Their Openness", which, through no fault...

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An Evening of Hartford History

During a recent visit to the Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Hartford, Connecticut, to see and hear Marc Cohn perform, I ran into a friend, who happens to be an architect. That led to a later discussion with Anne Bjorkland* about the depressed market for...

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On the Road … to Business

A confession: As a late-blooming college student (I was 28 when I hit the hallowed halls of higher education), I became a Literature major because I didn't have the vaguest notion of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don't. I still haven't grown up. And I...

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Regressive Innovation

Are you ready for this? The venerable Hartford Courant ("the country's oldest newspaper in continuous publication") ran an article about Aetna's trimming its workforce (another Obamacare casualty), in which it published this: As it scales back its workforce, Aetna is...

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Today’s Interview

Following last week's press release, Yours Truly (YT) interviewed the two principals quoted in the release — Herman Belch (HB) of World Technology Firm (WTF) and Albert Murfwhiffle (AM) of Nano File Works (NFW). Herein, a transcript of that interview. YT: Gentlemen,...

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Today’s Press Release

I don't know if you've seen this. But I have ... everywhere. Baked, AK – October 47, 2016 – World Technology Firm (NYSE MKT: WTF), a leading global provider of innovative solutions and services, today announced a strategic partnership with  Nano File Works, Inc. (NYSE...

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The (Rocket) Science of Breathing

I was absentmindedly listening to a conversation between two people the other day, when one of them said, "Nadi shodan." I immediately, reflexively, but rather presciently (without intending any pun, of course) said, "Gesundheit." Little did I know I'd be sorry for my...

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The Lessons of Experience

More than 20 years ago, I worked for The Travelers. That's right: In those days, it was called The Travelers, as opposed to Travelers, it's known today. I worked in the division that sold health insurance. That's right: In those days, it was called health insurance,...

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Rules Are For Chumps

Good news! We now have even more reasons to justify our conducting ourselves like idiots — linguistically lazy idiots at that — and to rationalize our utter disrespect for language and its precepts. That's right. The editors at Inc., apparently tired of doing their...

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Disruptive Innovation Research

A phrase caught my eye the other day. It was one of those phrases that was sad, disheartening, and demoralizing all at the same time. It was sad because whomever wrote it no doubt believed he thought it meant something and also believed he knew what that something...

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Nuts for Donuts

If you're anything like me, you have a hard time getting away from your desk during the day, even for biologically and physiologically important things like eating and ... well ... you know. There are always things that have to be done: The next deal has to be made....

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Two Missed Boats

The other day, I saw the LinkedIn profile of a person who'd given himself the title, Freelance Conceptor. When I saw it, I thought, as Robbie Robertson says, "Oh, this is sure stirrin' up some ghosts for me." Contemplate that for a moment. For that matter, just...

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The Nosey Know

Oh, boy. Here's another guy who wants to tell us what to do. It's no coincidence, by the way, that he also wants to sell us something (dig a little more deeply under the free free Web training*): Interested in more? This article is an adaptation of a longer blog post...

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Purple Is the New Powerful

One of the reasons we love what we do is that we get to hear every conceivable rationalization for subjectivity, arbitrariness, and disregard for the target audience. Case in point: We recently created a new corporate identity and corresponding collateral materials...

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