Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We've moved, and been inspired!

Since our last post, our blog has changed homes and found inspiration. 

In an effort to share what moves us, and ultimately hoping to create a conversation about what inspires each of us, we have upgraded our blog from a single entity into a comprehensive webpage on our website dubbed "Inspiration." 

To further emphasize the importance of this and showcase the impact that it has on all we do (we are much more than traditional advertising, marketing and public relations), we have dedicated the first navigational tab on our website to promoting 9 categories of items that inspire us: blog, music, food and beverage, art and culture, people, fashion, advertising and marketing, mindfulness and potluck. All will be updated monthly, with the blog changing weekly. 

We hope you'll come for our blog, and stay for our page. 

Learn more at

Monday, December 30, 2013

Proof that STiR is a leader ... years ahead of The New York Times

On Monday, April 11, 2011, Greg Salsburg, CEO and The Big STiR of STiR-communications, shared his thoughts on how "thought leadership" should really be tweaked in thinking and action to "thought provider." 

More than 2 years later, The New York Times agrees.

Read both articles below. 


The Thought Leader
December 16, 2013

Little boys and girls in ancient Athens grew up wanting to be philosophers. In Renaissance Florence they dreamed of becoming Humanists. But now a new phrase and a new intellectual paragon has emerged to command our admiration: The Thought Leader.

The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts.

He doesn’t have students, but he does have clients. He doesn’t have dark nights of the soul, but his eyes blaze at the echo of the words “breakout session.”

Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like.

In fact, the calling usually starts young. As a college student, the future Thought Leader is bathed in attention. His college application essay, “I Went to Panama to Teach the Natives About Math but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life,” is widely praised by guidance counselors. On campus he finds himself enmeshed in a new social contract: Young people provide their middle-aged professors with optimism and flattery, and the professors provide them with grade inflation. He is widely recognized for his concern for humanity. (He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.)

Not armed with fascinating ideas but with the desire to have some, he launches off into the great struggle for attention. At first his prose is upbeat and smarmy, with a peppy faux sincerity associated with professional cheerleading.

Within a few years, though, his mood has shifted from smarm to snark. There is no writer so obscure as a 26-year-old writer. So he is suddenly consumed by ambition anxiety — the desperate need to prove that he is superior in sensibility to people who are superior to him in status. Soon he will be writing blog posts marked by coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people: “Kelly Clarkson: Satan or Merely His Spawn?”

Of course the writer in this unjustly obscure phase will develop the rabid art of being condescending from below. Of course he will confuse his verbal dexterity for moral superiority. Of course he will seek to establish his edgy in-group identity by trying to prove that he was never really that into Macklemore.

Fortunately, this snarky phase doesn’t last. By his late 20s, he has taken a job he detests in a consulting firm, offering his colleagues strategy memos and sexual tension. By his early 30s, his soul has been so thoroughly crushed he’s incapable of thinking outside of consultantese. It’s not clear our Thought Leader started out believing he would write a book on the productivity gains made possible by improved electronic medical records, but having written such a book he can now travel from medical conference to medical conference making presentations and enjoying the rewards of being T.S.A. Pre.

By now the Thought Leader uses the word “space” a lot — as in, “Earlier in my career I spent a lot of time in the abject sycophancy space, but now I’m devoting more of my energies to the corporate responsibility space.”

The middle-aged Thought Leader’s life has hit equilibrium, composed of work, children and Bikram yoga. The desire to be snarky mysteriously vanishes with the birth of the first child. His prose has never been so lacking in irony and affect, just the clean translucence of selling out.

He’s succeeding. Unfortunately, the happy moment when you are getting just the right amount of attention passes, and you don’t realize you were in this moment until after it is gone.

The tragedy of middle-aged fame is that the fullest glare of attention comes just when a person is most acutely aware of his own mediocrity. By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots.

In the end, though, a lifetime of bullet points are replaced by foreboding. Toward the end of his life the Thought Leader is regularly engaging in a phenomenon known as the powerless lunch. He and another formerly prominent person gather to have a portentous conversation of no importance whatsoever. In the fading of the light, he is gravely concerned about the way everything is going to hell.

Still, one rarely finds an octogenarian with status anxiety. He is beyond the battle for attention. Death approaches. Cruelly, it smells like reverence.


Thought Provider

April 11, 2011

I have come to bury Caesar, not praise him. -- Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare: Act 3. Scene II

I admire many in the world of business. The ability to innovate, initiate and guide their companies to achieve desired success is astonishing. I also admire those tactile bunch that get into the mix physically, working alongside to ensure goals are achieved.

However, over the past few years a new leader has evolved. One slightly more passive than those aforementioned and possibly held in higher regard. I think this new leader would set Brutus in a venal rage.

The “Thought Leader.”

The Thought Leader has become the moniker of choice for those donning the dais of network functions. For purposes of full disclosure, I have used this term often and have been called one by many. OK, by a few … OK, once and it was a family member, but I assumed it was implied many other occasions.

I digress.

The world went array and we looked to leaders for opinions. We elevated those thoughts because we felt ours were somehow askew. However, great leaders, great companies, great people don't just THINK, they ACT and equally GIVE. I don't want to be associated with or be known anymore as a Thought Leader, I seek for "Thought Provider."

My suggestion reminds leaders of their very essence, to lead. And, that is much more powerful.


Gregory Salsburg
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Skill vs. Attitude

In the mid 80′s sales guru Zig Ziglar stood at a whiteboard and smiled at the 20 students staring back at him with big eyes. Zig had written several bestselling books and created America’s most popular sales training program. The 20 students were neophyte managers, trembling with excitement at having been chosen to be in that room.

Marker in hand, Zig said, “Name for me every attribute of the perfect employee.”

Students called out attributes while Zig wrote them down. They had nearly 90 on the board before they began to slow.

“Can you think of any others?” They painfully named two dozen more.

“Think hard. I want you to describe the perfect employee. I need every attribute.” They studied that whiteboard until they began to sweat. They got to 114.

Pointing now at the first word on the list, Zig asked, “Is this a skill or an attitude?” They said it was an attitude. Zig wrote a big “A” next to it. Pointing at the second word, he asked, “Skill or attitude?” Another big “A.”

Twenty minutes later, Zig tallied the final score: of the 114 attributes on the list, only 7 could be classified as “Skills.” Five were “Skills/Attitudes,” and a whopping 102 of them were purely “Attitude.”

Zig could have saved himself 30 minutes by just blurting out the punch line: “Employees don’t lose their jobs because they lack skill. They lose their jobs because they don’t have a good attitude.” But Zig didn’t want to say these things and then try to convince them of their truth. Zig wanted them to say it and thus convince them to “always hire people who have the right attitude.”

By now you should be drenched in realization that you are attracted to me and our firm equally for our attitude, as our skill set, AND yes this is deliberate!

“I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to anyone else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him… Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent.” – Elbert Hubbard

I had a similar moment with the great Deidre Krause. “I finally figured out how to improve employee morale,” I said. “Productivity skyrockets and everyone loves coming to work. It’s a program that never fails. Works every time.”

She sat there looking at me.

I stood there looking at her.

Finally, she raised her shoulders and turned her palms upward. Looking steadily into my eyes, I said, “Fire all the unhappy people.”  I could see those words struck her with relief and agreement but also with such comical force that she began to laugh. But I wasn’t laughing.

None of us wants to run a sweatshop. None of us wants to be that hard-hearted boss who fails to appreciate the humanity of employees. None of us wants to abuse our people with the cold pragmatism displayed by many in corporate America.

BUT this is why so many businesses become country clubs for employees. I’ve played victim to it from time to time but it’s a focus to never be repeated and squelch offenders with a heavy hand.

Here’s how it happens: a whiner makes a reasonable request and you grant it. That request is expanded upon and accelerated until it ceases to be a privilege granted to employees and becomes an inalienable right. And that was only the first request in an unending stream of others brought to you by an increasingly dissatisfied staff. And you, sadly, are now seen as the oppressive dictator.

It’s time the “Dictator” delivers the declaration of independence to the whiner.

My advice, and Deidre’s agreement, is that you identify the “firebrand of discontent” within your company – if you have one – and give that person a smiling declaration of independence as you shake their hand, thank them for their months of service, and say, “You are now Free… free to go.”

Words to Live By: Rules vs. Principles

“Be the exception not the rule.” I say this often, and often mean be exceptional and not the expected.
However, at the root I try to reinforce that principles are more important than rules.

Laid side-by-side, a stick and a rope of the same length share a similar appearance. Likewise, rules and principles look alike even though they have virtually nothing in common.

Rules are like sticks.
You can prod people with them.
You can threaten people with them.
You can beat people with them.
But you cannot lead people with them.

When a rule doesn’t fit the circumstance, your only choice is to break it.

Principles are like ropes, able to conform to the shape of any problem. They are less brittle than rules, and thus stronger. Principles whisper valuable advice when needed most and when applied regularly shape you from the inside out. Rules only shape you from the outside in. Unlike rules, people are happily led by principles, often wearing them like a badge of honor.

A rule requires obedience.

A principle requires contemplation.

People are often complaining about the abundance of rules. Ever once hear that about principles? I am sure you have heard, “rules are meant to be broken.”  Ever once hear that about principles?

I admonish tyrannical beings who seek to lead by rules. I secretly (and not so secretly) reveled in their misfortunes and demise.

I have aligned myself with those who are far from flawless but whose principles are unwavering.
Rules are demanded by people who have not the wit to understand and apply the appropriate, all-encompassing principle.

My principle? Have principles!

Change Your Life’s Prism

Through what lenses do you examine possibilities?

The first 2 lenses are intellect and emotion. Sometimes you use one, sometimes the other. This is normal.

Intellect employs hard facts and cold logic. Emotion relies on soft intuition and warm connections.
Will the first impression be made in the head or in the heart?

In all your communication and attempts at persuasion – especially in your advertising – be careful to make a deep, dual impression; one track in the head and another in the heart.

But what happens after that first impression has been made? Are there other, smaller lenses that read the second, third, and fourth impressions?

My friend Larry recently told me that a careful examination of all the biggest non-fiction books of the past 50 years revealed 4 common characteristics. These patterns solve riddles that few have ever considered.

Unless you’re a non-fiction author, you don’t really care what makes a non-fiction book successful, do you? But what if I told you these same 4 characteristics are the keys to successful advertising? I saw that. Your ears perked up like a hungry German Shepherd.

Communication, to be highly successful, must have:

1. A Big Idea
- Concept
- Insight
- Information

2. Nuts & Bolts
- How To Step-by-Step Instructions
- Examples

3. Entertainment
- Writing style
- Anecdotes
- Adventure
- Surprise

4. Hope
- Visualized Happiness
- Promise
- Inspiration

(1.) The Big Idea and (2.) Nuts and Bolts are more about the writer than the reader. Yet, these are the only things every writer of non-fiction feels a need to share. And now you know why we churn out more than one million dull new books each year and why most of our advertising is gruel.

Dull communications are about the speaker, the author, the product, the advertiser. Lots of examples supporting a big idea are merely white noise – the sound of traffic in a too-busy world – when there’s no entertainment and no hope.

Successful non-fiction – including highly effective advertising – is about the reader, the listener, the viewer, the customer. These beloved messages deliver (3.) Entertainment and (4.) Hope.

Larry shared with me this Big Idea. We can use it to lift the effectiveness of our communications to new heights. This should give you Hope.

5 Career Game Changers To Win Relevancy and Rewards by Peter Gruber

By Peter Gruber

What’s the secret to becoming the most highly paid and recognized individual in your field?
Legendary, Emmy-award winning television sportscaster, Al Michaels, famous for shouting one of the most memorable sports lines of all time – “do you believe in miracles?” – during the U.S. victory over the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, as well as being the only play-by-play commentary/host to cover the four major sports championships: the Super Bowl (6 times), World Series (8 times), NBA Finals (2 times) and the Stanley Cup Final (3 times) – and reaping impressive financial rewards from his successes- recently conversed with our UCLA Masters Class on The Business of Sports.

Michaels exhorts 5 strategies that propelled and sustained his enormous success followed by my declarations of how you can adapt them to get your winning edge to stay relevant and highly rewarded in your business.
  1. Be flexible –Michaels gleaned over his many years as a leading-edge sportscaster that the audience viewing habits changed. Instead of staying dormant in one place watching three hours of sports, the audience was more distracted and was active with sometimes two or more other tasks, bringing them in and out of game play. Recognizing what the audience really wanted, he adapted his announcing style to incorporate the repetition of certain key elements in the story to be sure his audience stayed connected with the narrative.

    Get Your Winning Edge By…staying attuned and in tune with your audience. As they change, you must adapt to stay relevant and attractive. You must evolve or become extinct. This is an issue of attitude more than aptitude. If you want a long career, in order to not become “old dog,” you must learn new “tricks.” 
  2. Limit the Lingo – Michaels is at the epicenter of one of the most formidable assets in professional sports media, NFL Sunday Night football, as its anchor sportscaster. Michaels points out his audience has grown tremendously largely as a result of the increased percentage of women who have been drawn to it and follow it. Michaels attributes this, in part, to making this sport accessible by not using too much unique vernacular. It can’t be a clinic. The ideas can be sophisticated and it can be rich content, but it has to be inclusive. You’re always trying to enlarge your audience.

    Get Your Winning Edge By…understanding that in your business you ought not be speaking up or down to your audience, but that you’re speaking with them. You must communicate so they understand easily and “get” the value proposition of your offering and are compelled to take the action you want. Don’t let your ego get in the way to show how smart and clever you are. It’s about the connection, so it’s important to speak the language and the tone that aligns with your audience. This will support you in sustaining and growing your audience (customers and clients) and will enhance your reputational and economic value.
  3. Use technology purposefully – Michaels points out that there is no doubt that technologicaladvances have enhanced the viewer experience. But, it is just a frosting, and too much frosting can overwhelm the cake. Using technology just to show off can backfire as it did when a decision was made to put a light weight camcorder on a jockey’s head to capture a race, and the viewer experience of bouncing on the horse was nauseating. Whereas the Skycam, which was started in the competitive football league, was so successful that adapting it by the NFL became a boon to the audience’s enjoyment of the game.

    Get Your Winning Edge By… understanding that new technology when purposefully applied can deepen the connection to your audience, or when indiscriminately or over used becomes a cold comfort. It’s not about the features of the technology, i.e., how it works, but whether the benefit (what’s in it for them) adds real value to your audience. It can position you as a thought leader who is able to execute on your thoughts and deliver the benefit to your audience. This will escalate your currency inside and outside of your organization. It will advance the development of your personal brand. And, most importantly, it will differentiate you from your competitors who may seek the same audience, job or promotion.
  4. Truth rules – In journalism Michaels believes that truthfulness begets trust and respect. Because of his commitment to the truth, Al felt he was more often granted an interview from someone who otherwise would have been reluctant to speak with the press. Get Your Winning Edge By… being authentic. In today’s technological world, untruths can be revealed in mere seconds and reputations can be instantly and often irreparably damaged. It’s always far harder to regain trust than it is to earn it, so build and grow your relationship with your employer and your customers based on authenticity and transparency. This will solidify your relationship in good times and bad.
  5. Propel connections – according to Michaels, the most “popular” sports are the ones that create and maintain an emotional fan connection. Connection is the key. Fans must believe they own the team and they make a difference. And Michaels must facilitate this connection to earn their loyalty. Get Your Winning Edge By… identifying what stakeholders (both up and down your food chain) are most important to your success and be sure to make an emotional (not merely intellectual or informational) connection to them. This emotional connection, through the stories you tell or the experiences you share, fosters a deeper relationship making you the more “popular” and favorable selection than your competition.
You don’t need to “believe in miracles” to remain relevant and highly rewarded for your product, your business or your personal brand. Instead, use Michael’s 5 success game changers and create your own miracles!

Original posting of article.

Better than Creativity ...

A rich knowledge of history is better than creativity.

Let me qualify that. A rich knowledge of history is better than creativity if your goal is to make money.

The most profitable form of creativity is to repurpose the proven.

Do you want to put together a group of colors that create a powerful effect? Maybe for a website or a sign or a brochure or a living room?

Common sense will tell you to hire an expert. That expert will ask you to describe the feelings you want the color scheme to conjure and then he or she will aim all their education, talent and experience toward doing what has already been done by minds far greater than their own.

Yes, common sense would tell you to hire a talented expert. But common sense is merely the name we give the collection of prejudices we acquire before the age of eighteen. (If you feel you’ve heard that statement before, it’s because Albert Einstein famously said it in the 1952 book, Mathematics, Queen and Servant of the Sciences.) Common sense is overrated.

An enlightened soul who has escaped the boundaries of common sense will quietly inquire of the giants whose footprints went deep into the earth, those giants whose fingerprints can be found on the hearts of billions of people they have touched.

Why pay a lightweight for advice when you can consult Gustav Klimt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh for free?
  1. Go online and select a series of world-famous paintings whose color palettes have the mojo you seek. (Mojo, by the way, is just the name we give to high-voltage emotional juju. Einstein didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure it’s true, anyway.)
  2. Download only the paintings of artists who rocked the world.
  3. Import those paintings into Photoshop and sample each of the four or five principal colors. Click a couple of buttons to reveal the precise CMYK formulation of each. BAM!
Trust me, those colors will work fabulously well together.
No, don’t trust me. Trust the giants.

Lee Iacocca was chosen as one of Ford Motor Company’s ten “Whiz Kids” in 1946. But every time young Lee would go to his boss with a suggestion, his boss would say, “Show me where it has worked.”

Your first impression of this man is that he was a follower, a lemming, a conformist with no courage or imagination, right? But Iacocca credits that boss as being the man responsible for all his later successes. Iacocca learned from him a pivotal lesson: if an idea is truly brilliant, you’ll find examples of its successful implementation scattered throughout history.

The road to bankruptcy court is flanked on both sides by bright-eyed “creative people” dripping with enthusiasm. Ask any one of them for directions. They’ll make sure you get there.

The secret of guaranteed success is to import a tested and reliable methodology into a business category where it has never been used.

Repurpose the proven.

They’ll call you a brilliant creative innovator. You might even be able to patent your breakthrough.
But you and I know the truth. You’re merely an insightful historian.