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.

A New Age

This blog’s original purpose was to chronicle using a pager and later a flip phone as my primary mode of communication. The removal of the internet from my hands was an extreme divorce from how I had been operating, whether looking up directions to familiar destinations or using text messages to remember where I was last in a text relationship. It was a leap backward into unknown territory. As Herodtus said, “You never step in the same river twice. ” Trust me, flip phoning was different in 2004 when everyone was painstakingly punching in “cu l8tr.”

A few lessons:

1. Outdated technology can be worse than no technology.

2. Convenience can consume your time and conserve it.

I have my new IPhone and the number is migrating as I type. I am excited to group text, send a photo and shazam.

I love technology and I’m hoping/aspiring to have the discipline to make it my servant and not my master. Wish me luck!

I’m not going back to facebook or instagram.

And, I’m 30.

Research: Fastest growing group of Smartphone Owners make less than$30K

According to a 2012 Pew study, 34% of Americans making less than $30k a year have a smartphone, a 12% jump from the year before which is the greatest percent increase in any income bracket.

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This could be a positive in terms of closing the digital divide but unless they are using a supercheap service like a prepaid monthly plan at $50 a month and a used phone, they are spending over $700 a year+ and it seems more like conspicuous consumption than an appropriate line item. It’s way too much money considering what this group’s fixed expenses would be. Also, I believe this is close to what is considered poverty in the US according to federal standards. The question is whether there are benefits to these families and individuals in terms of earning potential, educational attainment and overall well-being that justifies the expenses.

“U.S. median household income fell from $51,144 in 2010 to $50,502 in 2011.[3] Extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, doubled from 1996 to 1.5 million households in 2011, including 2.8 million children.[4]

Problems: Losing my flip.

In the last two weeks I’ve repeatedly found myself searching for my flip thinking I’d lost it. I’ve found it in my purse most of the time but once I’d left it on my bed —  it had been hidden in the folds of my duvet. (that’s a lot of past participial right there) The vibrate sound is subtle in cloth and I had to walk around my apartment several times, macbook air in hand, calling my own phone using Google Voice and listening closely for the soft drone of my muffled flip.

This is a serious concern. If I lose my flip I lose the 12 numbers inside it which probably took me 90 seconds each (or more) to enter. I also have to activate another one of my free flips which I think takes 2-4 days to complete. During that time, I could miss an important text or call. In reality, that’s unlikely but I can’t really escape the cult of now and accessibility entirely.

Also, you can’t be without a phone unless you notify everyone via facebook these days and I’m off it. If I post it on G+ only Guy Kawasaki will know. And if I post it on twitter, I might lose even more followers than I already do with each retweet or post I make. That’s how I know my diminishing flock aren’t bots. They abandon me.

Anyway, I don’t really have a plan for finding my tiny phone. It’s tiny and untrackable. This is a going concern.

Alarm Clock = 6am local birds chirping

This is day four of waking up naturally to the sound of birds outside my window. I never heard them before this week. In the past, my IPhone alarm would wake me up at 630 and I’d use the snooze button until around 6:48. Because I tend to ignore issues or work around them, I do not have an electronic device for waking myself for work. So I guess my body is cooperating with my laziness by sleeping lighter and being more sensitive to morning sounds. I’m pretty sure lighter sleep means more REM which means I’m getting better sleep.

Let the vacation continue!

Trying Not to Judge Myself

So I get home from work and I have a chest cold that is intense. We’re talking room-shaking coughs that leave me tired and heady. So it’s a gorgeous spring day and instead of walking (can’t run with this cold) or maybe going grocery shopping, I settle into my couch and see who’s on gchat (my new lifeline) and check the two non-time sensitive emails that have arrived. One is bad news that a material I had hoped to use in my product I’m developing is too expensive (damn) and the other is basically spam.

It’s suddenly 6:30pm and my east-facing room is darkening. I make myself a little snack of triple cream cheese and water crackers and pour myself a nice little glass of wine from the bottle my roommate generously opened the night before. I’m trying to enjoy clips from Beverly Hills Housewives but the damn thing keeps switching to Atlanta Housewives and I’m wondering if I’m subconsciously racist and then I remind myself that I also don’t like New Jersey Housewives and feel better. I got sick of flipping back to BH and you know what, I like Nene. I like her style, I like what she has to say, and you know what else, Phaedra is CRAZY.

Clearly, not my proudest moment. Avoiding taxes and my AMEX statement, I pour myself another glass and make a nice little dinner of almond milk and granola. Back in my couch dent, I gchat my friend Lizzie, grab a drink? She’s out with her guy. I send out another invite to crickets. I settle deeper into the microfiber and down. What to do?

I create an online dating profile of course! I’m not sure what sort of situation that sparks most peoples’ drive to do this but I guess for me it’s buzzed at home on a Monday night in a dark room. Anyway, the profile creation has lead to several things. 1. Lots of emails that are now going directly to Bin. (this isn’t me being cool. I literally had like 30 in a couple of hours and couldn’t figure out how to send them to their own folder.) 2. The realization that I meet a lot of great guys in real life and need to alter my interior self to frigging connect with one of them. 3. That the aging process is real and 40 isn’t just a number! 4. And for the worse or better, this is what my personality assessment said:

“You are rather cautious about letting people know what you really think and believe; even your closest friends find it hard to know what your deepest feelings are. You keep your inner world to yourself. If you have weaknesses, they are YOUR weaknesses and you feel little need to let others in on them. If you have unpopular or unconventional beliefs, they are YOUR beliefs and you seldom feel a need to put them into the conversation.

To be sure, you’re not a closed book. You’ll talk about a lot of things you think and believe, and you’ll share personal details and opinions about a wide variety of subjects. But these are mostly the safe stuff, which don’t involve painful experiences or deep opinions or personal details that could potentially cause embarrassment later on. You can be quite candid on a more casual level. But when it comes to information you consider deeper and more personal, you generally like to keep it to yourself.

It’s safer this way. You learned somewhere – either from painful experience or intuition, or perhaps both – that being open can be a hard experience. Someone may think less of you, or criticize you, or some other unnecessary difficulty may result. So you don’t open up too often. What’s wrong with making it hard to be hurt?

Nothing. Who wants to be hurt? But if you’re hard to hurt you may also be hard to know. You know how to be kind, to lend your hand when someone is in need or share what you have when someone is in need. But that’s about sharing THINGS; it’s not about sharing yourself. Our question for you is about relationships; open and honest friendships. Does your style of keeping your emotional cards close to the chest, so to speak, make it difficult for you to experience the full range of intimacy? Intimacy is an experience inside us; it’s about being known, honestly and completely, and still being loved. So in protecting yourself from being hurt is it possible you’re also keeping yourself from being known and, to some extent, being loved?”

Oh, God. I miss facebooking and texting.

Social Isolation or Authetic Social Reintegration?

This week no one outside of my family and very close friends and a guy I have been seeing contacted me. I guess I also received some emails related to my startup but beyond that, nothing. I genuinely do not miss it. Without the mirror on the wall, I don’t find myself wondering who l should contact to feel a connection with the world. I suspect that all of the easy means of contact we create beget an appetite for meaningless and near effortless signs of life.

My week was full of community. At least the latter part. I spent time with friends and family and didn’t spend any time or energy on marginal relationships. I feel that not having a phone or facebook is forcing me to invest in real relationships.