End of Life Strategies

End of life expenses can be enormous. It can cost more to stay alive those last few years of life, when you probably aren’t earning money, than all the many years leading up to it. But, at that point, what can you do but spend money to stay alive and enhance your quality of life if possible? When the end is near, you know it.

When you are considering pitching or taking on a mature client, you can be sure that they will be probably have a big budget available if you can help them. Well-established, with lots of funding sources, inertia can keep cashflow humming but ‘Too Big to Fail’ is only for the really big boys. Even multi-billion dollar companies filing BK isn’t uncommon at all these days. Especially retailers.

So, you’re considering serving late stage companies? This means you’ll have to be ready to reign in the wild ideas and increase the typeface in your deck. Late stage these days could be a bank looking to target Millennials (darn Venmo!), a car company looking to resonate with “Moms” (like they haven’t been the controlling household spending since WWII) or maybe a traditional healthcare company that doesn’t want to seem like a traditional healthcare company? Get out the decaf and call the over eager intern. You’re headed for the bus line.

So, how do you pitch leaders of a sinking ship? Gently. Reality isn’t welcome in these boardrooms. Studies are going to be key, especially if they are irrelevant. Focus on synergy and just insert 2.0 behind any concepts you pitch. Like, “It’s basically ATM Card 2.0,” and wait for the dramatic slow clap and the awkward high five from your newly minted sickly client.

Now, you landed the business and you bought the office ping pong table and Doublezero fridge so you’re going to need to keep that retainer coming. Since you guys have been using Madlibs to write copy for your latestage clients (who love your “wackiness”), you’re all kind of bored and the catering and outings are becoming essential for morale. Gotta keep moving. Just remember, you’re billables are up and the dinosaur community is buzzing about how you guys are dynamite with the Internet. You are officially working in hospice.

Now, these guys aren’t going to go all of a sudden. You’ll hear about layoffs and sliding revenue. That’s when they call you for some peppy new ideas to drive growth. Get the team together. Focus! Ideas. Bad ideas will go better! You might want to make some special binders for this one. Pictures will be key.

So, now your client has been with you for awhile and he’s looking worse for it. He knows what’s coming. He’s seen the numbers. But he’s hoping — with that seven figure retainer and how hip you guys look – that you can come up with something that will stop the bleeding. Something that will stop the pain. You’re not a magician. You just work in marketing. But you can make him feel better. It’s time for a tribute.

There’s nothing like celebrating the person steering the ship into the iceberg to make everyone feel better. Get’s everyone excited about arranging deckchairs on the Titanic again. Produce the video and run the ad campaign. Hide the data and send your condolences.

Now, once you’ve lost a few clients to natural causes, you may want to mix up your roster a bit. Maybe pick up some start-ups or “cool” brands? But you’re not the same creative you used to be. You’ve been mincing the facts and nodding at nonsense for awhile. You’ve been designing for dotards and writing for brotards. It’s going to take a lot to get you back in game.

Good luck to you. You saw the $$$ and went with an End of Life Strategy. The catch is of course that “You are what you eat” and you’ve been feeding off companies that are fading into obsalence while surviving on legacy dysfunctional bloat. Now you’ve got that in your system. It’s in your DNA. You are someone with a high “toxic load.”  If you want to get healthy you have to starve the beast and take on some healthy (hungry) clients. Eventually, you’ll get your edge back but it will be tough. It’s not easy getting near death experiences out of your system.

Why I Will NEVER (EVER) Use Clickbait

It seems like so much of what I see on social media are boring articles with sexy and misleading headlines. Based on likes and shares that still seems to be a winning formula for some.

While it may seem like I’m judging these folks, the real reason I will never use clickbait to drive traffic to my content is because I will fail and take my already little-known personal brand on a confusing detour without benefit. It’s not that I wouldn’t — it could be a great business case study and create a marketing engine for me — it’s that I’ll kick air hard and the other people I interact with on LinkedIn will know.

I admire the pioneers of self-promotion on the Internet.

I see so many people doing clever things on the internet to promote their brands. Some of it’s great (Neil Patel), some is bad (someone was spared here) but what matters I suppose it that it’s working. It’s not that I wouldn’t go low – it’s that I don’t have the skillset to make money off of it. It’s like a granny who decides to shorten her hemlines — a sorry sight, a pitiable effort and no one wants to see.

I admire all the smart people out there who are finding a way to create a platform online. There are so many different places to speak up: twitter, instagram, Quora, LinkedIn — and more coming down the pike I’m sure. It’s exciting to think about how all of us humans are so open to new forms of communication and connection.

I really like Joe Rogan. He’s about the last person I would think I’d like but thanks to his popularity online I’ve listened to several of his shows on You Tube (I pay to not have ads) and I really like his stuff. Highly recommend hearing his thoughts on plastic surgery “monster face” He is an original thinker with common sense and wit. I can’t imagine Joe Rogan getting traction in the old days of broadcast-style TV & radio. He’s too politically incorrect and unscripted,  a strange amalgam of a UFC commentator, stand up comedian and self-taught philosopher.

I also like Cole Escola. He’s a cross-dressing comedian out of Joe’s Pub in NYC. Check out Serial Killer Documentary Takes Horrible Turn and Mom Commercial for a taste. Like Rogan, Cole is an original who caught fire thanks to the democracy of the webs.

The point here is that while I cringe at seemingly legitimate people/publications using lame semi-clickbait headlines like “Bill Gates’ Surprising Annual Letter” and “The One Quality that ALL Successful People Possess,” I recognize that this is the price of democracy online. In order to get the good stuff, we have to wade through a lot of garbage.

But at least on the internet the good stuff is there. Especially if you pay. I pay for Netflix, YouTube Premium and someone is paying for my HBO GO credentials. That’s not democracy – that’s capitalism. I feel like I’ve watched more high quality programming in the last few years than my entire earlier life of command economy-style broadcast/vhs/DVD.

Of course, the other side of that is the incredible amount of pornography on the Internet. –The world simply doesn’t need more porn being made or new channels for its distribution. But, this is the other side of user-supported content (through ads or subscription) on the webs. This is what Plato warned us about. The tyranny of the masses. And it’s not just pornography. It’s the Kardashians, it’s Instagram models at large, it’s the Clinton News Network and FAUX News. All of these garbage-peddling Charlatans know how to command an audience and to evolve quickly in a changing digital landscape.

So, while I’m terrible at getting eyeballs on my writing, I commend those who are able to attract and sustain an audience. It’s SOMETHING. I tip my hat. (I seldom where a hat)

Just as clicks were replaced with impressions and many content creators are shifting towards subscriptions, there will be a continued evolution in how content is supported and selected. These will be the forces driven by taste and money, as well as the legacy-type powers that be (The 2019 Grammy’s brought to you by the Kardashians? Travis Scott’s (live?) voice was so synthesized he sounded like a robot??).

So for now, I salute all the innovators in this online land grab. For those like me, who just enjoy the ability to self-publish and the benefits of social pressure to maintain this discipline, I commend you, too. Hopefully, overtime, we’ll see more unlikely stars like Joe Rogan and Cole Escola through the digital collective and it will become easier and easier to skip past the garbage.  

In Praise of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a problem you can ignore while it kills you. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Improperly ventilated areas and heavily censored discussions/willful ignorance may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels.

The nice part is that side effects include confusion, weakness, blurred vision, headaches, nausea & loss of consciousness. So, if you don’t want to deal with the carbon monoxide leak, or any other problem in your business, all of these debilitating symptoms may help you avoid any ugly issue you are faced with.

Carbon Monoxide is the problem and the solution. It’s the beginning of the End.

Carbon monoxide detectors are easy to install and relatively affordable. But they are annoying. They start going off out of nowhere and about what? They are especially irritating when the leak might be expensive to fix and everyone is kind of buzzing and feeling ill at the same time. If someone does start squeaking about the air quality, they become the problem. Oftentimes, it’s not good to be a carbon monoxide detector.

Unlike electrocution or a heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning weakens and sedates you so that the end is a gentle snuffing out – not a scary sudden jolt. When the end is near, it’s very likely a poison victim won’t know what’s killing their business.  Is it our advertising? Is it product design? Is it our HR strategy? This (faux) unknowing (they know what’s wrong but it’s HARD or EXPENSIVE to fix) may lead to some desperate dying jabs at familiar scapegoats. Final throes if you will…

A happy survivor of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you realize that you have carbon monoxide poisoning, and you want to stop it, the Mayo Clinic recommends you go outside and get some fresh air and then immediately seek medical care.

Fresh. Air. If you don’t know what is killing your business get some Fresh Air.

Millennials are like their Grandparents.

It seems like a lot of people think Millennials are garbage.

I’m surprised how often I hear people I basically respect go on and on about how “entitled” “narcissistic” and addicted to social media this generation is. I have an alternative view. [disclosure: I am technically an elder Millennial]

Several years ago, I stumbled across Strauss & Howe’s theory of generational turnings which states that each generation is a response to the one before. They actually map out each “Turning” back to the War of the Roses to present. I totally buy into this schema.

Strauss & Howe have helped shape how we understand ourselves by age cohort. These two actually coined the terms “Baby Boomer,” “Gen X” and “Millennial” though their ultra-prescient work seems to be basically outside the zeitgeist these days. According to them, Millennials are poised to help save the world from itself thanks to their concern for each other, conformist nature and confident optimism. Not exactly what you hear around the water-cooler…

The Next “Great Generation”?

The gist of their Generational Turning theory is that there are four types of generation archetypes: Hero, Artist, Prophet and Nomad. Under this theory, Millennials, like their grandparents, are a “Hero Generation” which historically has meant that they are community-oriented and are likely to advance new technologies and industries. There have been three American Hero generations, including that of the the founding fathers and the GI Generation.

The Rise

Each four Turning cycle, or saecula as Strauss and Howe calls them, is an 80-90 year period which begins with a “High” that comes out of “Crisis” like the post-WWII Era Baby Boom and burst in new industry and innovation. This in turn leads to an “Awakening” where societal norms are challenged in favor of the individual rights and spiritual autonomy as reflected in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of “Free Love” ideals. Think of being a young person coming of age in the 1950’s in the U.S. as the “Great Generation” quickly sought to rebuild a society nearly destroyed by Hitler. Unlike their GI parents, teenage Baby Boomers could easily take their security and prosperity for granted and seek “more” from life – more meaning, more purpose, more connection, more progress and more art. The Turnings are a natural ebb and flow of human call and response type behavior.

The Fall

After an “Awakening”, we have an “Unraveling.” Since societal institutions have been challenged and weakened in the generation prior, this era is characterized by individualism and a lack of idealism. Think of the go go culture of the 80’s with Gordon Gecko-types in Wall Street and the Brat Pack in Hollywood, as well as the beginnings of MTV, the pre-cursor to today’s ubiquitous and vapid reality TV. Meanwhile, self-serving in-group first mentalities were a perfect breeding ground for the ensuing 1980’s “Culture Wars” that would shape a highly-polarized political discourse for decades to come.

A New Saecula begins withMillennials Rising in “Crisis”

Finally, we arrive in our current “Crisis” era (a new saecula has begun!) which Strauss and Howe date roughly from 2008 to 2026. Just as that of the Great Generation, this final type of Turning is an era of destruction. The last one started with the 1929 Market Crash and culminated with the all out global conflict of WWII. Our present one in began with the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks which began our ongoing new Always At War Era and hit a fever pitch of uncertainty and calamity with the 2008 Financial Crisis. Based on the Turnings theory, we have another decade ahead of increasing threat before our society will be saved…or not. Now, back to Millennials…

How are Millennials like the Great Generation?

  • They hate credit cards
  • They have experienced intense threats to social order and the erosion of key institutions such as religions, universities and political ideologies.
  • They aren’t particularly rebellious? Millennials like influencers not revolutionaries. They are more likely to go to Fyre Festival than Woodstock. To better understand how conventional and uncreative this generation is, please check out this 2011 Report published by the U.S. War College entitled “UNDERSTANDING MILLENNIALS TO IMPROVE RECRUITING EFFICIENCY” This report heavily references Strauss and Howe, as well.
  • Millennials like consensus, cohesion and collective advance hence they (insert heart icon) social media “Pew Study: Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change”

The bottom line here is that the dominant dialectic around Millennials as spoiled children is tired and anecdotal. It is a symptom of what I call the “get off my lawn” perspective of an older person who is romanticizing their generation’s early days and likely their own past. The most concerning issue is that the condemnation of Millennials inhibits the ability and imagination of older age cohorts to best work with this rising generation and their unique mindset and potential.

Condemning a group as incapable or entitled engenders a comforting narrative for those who can’t incorporate or engage the said group. It’s a whining excuse that is still working for companies that can’t retain Millennial employees, homebuilders who can’t sell their poorly designed McMansions and cable companies that are already hemorrhaging losses due to young “cordcutters.”

By marginalizing Millennials, these older naysayers are actually adopting a short-sighted strategy for dealing with the largest generation in history. One that is set to implode in just a few start years as Millennials begin to form households (many are delaying this) and shape the worklife they want.This new way of living poses major risks to their elders.

For instance, if Millennials continue to prefer small dwellings in urban areas, what will happen to all the Baby Boomers who have their retirement locked up in their suburban mansion that suddenly no one wants to buy? What about retiring professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants) who want to sell their book of business to someone young but no buyers are willing to work the 100 hours a week necessary to realize justify the sale price they want (based on revenue projections/multiples)?

American religious institutions await a brutal reckoning with more than a third of Millennials identifying as a “non” which is to say they don’t identify with any religion at all. Religious leaders would be wise to remember the Prayer of St. Francis (a radical himself) which says to seek first to understand than to be understood. Though, if history is any indication, a listening stance among old-guard religious leaders seems highly unlikely. Same with political parties handing a significant percent of Millennial voters over to “What is Aleppo?” Gary Johnson “WashPo: Could Donald Trump lose the millennial vote to Gary Johnson?” (I voted for him myself and no longer publicly discuss politics with any smugness).

In sum, Millennials are actively carving out their own ideals and their own ways of living, working and loving. As the largest age cohort in history they (we) will reshape the world and they (we) be should mentored and encouraged in order to achieve the best outcome.

Endlessly complaining about Millennials isn’t productive but it may have the positive effective of making younger people care that much less about what older people them of them. As Katherine Hepburn put it: “I don’t care what they think about me, I never think about them.”

You can read more of my stuff at maurna.com

My Fumbling Return

I’m returning from a significant hiatus. In the short life of this blog, I’ve sworn off smartphones, facebook and instagram. I’ve lived with the smug luxury  of surgically removing these seductive annoyances from my life. Mere months later, in an early July entry, I acknowledged my excitement holding my new IPhone mid phone number transfer. Still, I vowed no return to facebook or instagram. This also did not last.

So, now I’m a full-on working class anti-hero once more. I’m working on restoring the heroic to my life right now. Until then, here are my pros and cons (what a great book title “Pros and Cons: Consultants in the Age of Experts” ha)

Anyway, as promised…


pros: connectedness to worthy humans I care about, awareness of news and ideas

cons: a difficult-to-resist pull towards believing that people are what they seem and an equally disorientating forced neck-turn towards thinking that I (Maurna Desmond) am only what I seem to be. Pretty toxic! Plus, nothing cool happens. I also find myself checking it alot when I’m bored instead of DOING SOMETHING or THINKING DEEPLY.


Pros: connectedness, a bubbling feeling of self-worth with each friend request and like. A heightened sense of the fleeting nature of time. For instance, as I find myself struggling with the perfect selfie. How modern! (and pathetic 🙂 )

Cons: A distorted sense of one’s community. Warped really. Encourages vanity and superficiality. Celebrates  extroverts and posers. In a relatively short period of time, I find it depressing like candy in the morning. Tastes good in the moment but the anti-wholesomeness of it kills you within a few hours. I also find myself checking it alot when I’m bored instead of DOING SOMETHING or THINKING DEEPLY.

I’m in a bit of a personal renaissance. I may have discovered what really makes me happy intrinsically. I may have discovered it (again) but this time I will shape my life around it (again.)

Sometimes, my life feels like it’s just remembering and forgetting.

Xx Minky

Richard Rohr: Silence Talk

~Start Listening AFTER 13 MINUTES ~

Listening to Richard Rohr on my IPhone yesterday while I was driving down to Orange County felt super analog and amazing. It was a great use of 3G technology.

If you have the time and you are interested in wrestling with the mysteries of life, you should watch this.

You kind of have to spend the time to hear what he is saying in context but at about 29 minutes he talks about how time expands in silence and there is a ‘fullness’ and it’s profound.

Dwight’s Goodbye

I just love rereading Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 Military-Industrial Complex Speech as he left office.

He was concerned about a “scientific-technological elite”but I think it’s more financiers/politicians — basically power brokers. I think it’s a rare scientists who has the constitution required for what he is outlining (and of course has happened).

Here’s a key part of it:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

  • and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

Morning brings back the heroic ages.

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora  as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching Thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages.”

Read more http://thoreau.eserver.org/walden02.html