Friday, December 26, 2008

Lessons from My Son

My 16-year-old son wanted to be a chef. So I asked a friend who owns a restaurant if he could possibily work for him. My son was 15 at the time. He put him to work in the kitchen. He does prep, he works on the line, in almost two years now, he's picked up a lot of skills.

While he no longer wants to be a chef, realizing how hard the job is and how difficult it is to have a real life when you spend your nights in the kitchen, he does know what to do. Unfortunately he rarely cooks at home. I still do most of the cooking.

But for Christmas, he insisted on having his Uncle Giles' potatoes. These are scalloped potatoes baked in about 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream. The pan is buttered and rubbed with garlic then the potatoes are mixed with the cream and baked for about 2 hours. I insisted if he wanted this unbelieveably rich dish, he could make it. He used the Mandolin, sliced the potatoes and proceeded to put them in a big bowl he filled with water. Then he put the bowl in the sink and ran the water for about two minutes over the bowl until the water ran clear. He said this was how you get rid of the starch. In my zillions of years of baking, I'd never learned that trick.

The potatoes were undeniably, the best potatoes I have ever eaten. And they will only be made one time a year.


The Flip Video

So in the last 10 days a lot has happened. Sorry not to have posted sooner but I hardly had a moment to shop! We all know that's important.

This holiday season I kept to my spending diet. Important gifts only. Not a lot of the empty shop like crazy stuff. The best gift was the Flip Video, a barebones video recorder that I got at Staples for my son and husband to share.

I thought it would be a cool thing to have on fishing trips, for quick videos of the moment that my son wants to shoot. Who knows. It got rave reviews everywhere. See below.

Read here

Let's see if it passes the test of time...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lesson on Openness

It was obvious to me that the industry I work in -- advertising and marketing -- was tanking long before my newest client told me that her company was being folded into the parent company.

She's a smart, well-liked executive who came to the agency side from the client side with big ideas.

She hinted that the parent company might call me for some help. And they did. That presented me with a big of a dilemna. My loyalty of course, is to my former client. She was shown the door and is trying to put together a new venture. But the prospective client is a big organization. A foot in the door for something that could become something bigger.

After I got off the phone with big company guy, I called my former client. I told her I'd been asked to meet with the big guy. And she said, "if someone wants to pay you money in this economy, I understand." Not sure what kind of response I was looking for, but I knew I could not meet with the Big Guy, without letting her know. Maybe, 10-years ago, I would have done things differently. But I've learned that being upfront and honest is the best way to move forward in business.

Now if only those bastards on Wall Street were reading this blog!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Show Must Go On

If you're wondering why so long between posts, it's because "A Christmas Story" has occupied all my free time.

I think my mother said "If you want something done, ask a busy person." I'm now just a plain exhausted person.

But you won't believe this. "A Christmas Story" opening on Friday. It was a really good performance. Saturday comes and as the crew is checking the 80 sound cues, the amp blows for perhaps the 10th time. Did I mention the show is being produced in the Wilton Playshop - a truly historic building with prehistoric wiring, insulation, heat, etc? After 1/2 hour I realize my husband isn't going to get the system to work so I race back home, lug his 50-plus pound amplifier into my car, race back to the theater and after delaying the start of the show 45-minutes, we go on. Thankfully every audience member stayed, cheered and enjoyed the show.

Come Sunday, still working on a rigged up sound system. We're 3/4 of the way through the show, readying for the very funny bunny scene when "pop" out go all the lights. The magic of cell phones informs us that it's not just the theatre, but half the town. A tree falls down, the powerline crumples and lights go out for hours.

We ask the audience what they want to do? Do they want to come back? Do they want their money back? Do they want to stay?

Amazingly, they want the show to go on. So we rig flashlights, open every window and door and perform the last 5 minutes in the semi-darkness.

Live theatre. You never know what's going to happen. But if you roll with it, you can be surprised, engaged and get a standing ovation.

Two more weeks... I understand the electic was fixed today and a serious grounding problem that could have burned down the entire building has been fixed. Perhaps this coming Friday night we will have an actual sound system.

For real fans of the show/movie. Check this out:


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Teddy Bears Make You Smile

Many years ago, one of my clients challenged its resident branding genius Brian Collins, to come up with a christmas lobby display. It had to feel good and do good.

Brian envisioned a giant Christmas tree made of teddy bears. And right before Christmas, the tree would be disassembled and given to kids in city hospitals.

Today when I arrived at the office, the teddy bear tree was sparkling. The bears - all red. (The colors have changed from year to year, but red is my favorite).

It was a simple and elegant idea. And like all simple and elegant ideas, it has not gotten tired. In fact, it continues to bring a smile to my face, and everyone who enters the building no matter how many times it is seen. Once again, proving the adage that big ideas last. Thanks Brian - here's to you.
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