apple computerOpinions of the value of advertising are probably as varied as the types of ads we encounter daily.  A recent trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, found me in front of the former location of the Advertising Museum. Statements displayed on the windows, like this one, “Without advertising, apple is just another fruit”, offered some intriguing validation.

I’ll be honest, it made me feel proud of what we do for a living. So, here’s a shout-out to all the creatives out there who make advertising meaningful and worthwhile!

clydesdales capitalone absolut


NFL-Super-Bowl-2014FBAd Age magazine shared its annual review of the Superbowl ads last week. The critic’s comments are relegated to the level of craft of the marketing messages and execution, not really about what will be the most profitable or beneficial to the client. They rated Radio Shack as #1 – will be interesting to see how that translates to increases in their sales over the next year.

But who was really the best marketer on Sunday? I would have to say, it was the Super Bowl itself. You can’t argue with their brilliant strategy to reach a vast and incredibly diverse audience. If marketing is about selecting your target audiences and giving them what they want, then the Super Bowl has positioned itself as the ultimate “Sports-vertising” event, bringing in viewers not traditionally interested in football who watch, share, retweet, like, and discuss the commercials for weeks after the broadcast of a single 30-second, million dollar TV ad paid for by someone else, and to constantly refer to it in all media as “the SUPER BOWL ad”. Not a bad return on investment.


Human learning is summarized by a few simple styles – Visual, Auditory, Tactile. Sometimes we may be a mix of these, but I am willing to wager that MOST creative people in the marketing industry are in fact, Visual Learners.

So, that leads to a question: is the rise in popularity of infographics due to our own homogenous learning style, (creative people LOVE visuals!!!), or because consumers really like consuming information this way? Or maybe all humans prefer Visual Learning?

According to blogger Jeff Bulas, Google shared that searches for infographics increased 800% from 2010 to 2012. And that doesn’t even reflect any data from 2013.

Personally, I love infographics. And I hope they are here to stay. In fact here you can see examples of the best infographics of 2013. Definitely worth a look

P.S. – Just in case you were wondering if there is an infographic about how great infographics are … of course!

Happy visualizing!


Check out these simple tips from HOW’s Design blog, posted by Scott Kirkwood that can help you make the most of that calendar full of meetings this year!

For a deeper look at his advice, see more at:

When you bring all those talented, motivated people into a meeting, try to design effective meetings by…

1) Sticking to the agenda!
2) Use the right people.
3) Get started on Time.
4) Keep it short and simple.
5) Always stay on track.
6) Set next steps!


I receive daily insight from Josh Hinds and had to share his message from yesterday! It’s good stuff!


Perhaps an encouraging word means so much because we’re
surrounded by so much of the opposite. Sadly, negativity
runs amok. We hear it in the news, in the conversations we
overhear, and unfortunately, all too often, in the ones we
are participating in. That being the case it only makes
sense that when we get a glimpse of the opposite — a bit of
positivity — we naturally want more of it.

We want to experience more of the positive things in life.
It is only natural, and the cool thing about it is it tends
to expand in our personal world as we give it away to

Encouragement is unique in that it has far reaching benefits
on both the beneficiary and its giver. I have seen
strategically applied encouragement turn people who were
riddled with self esteem issues, and self doubt transformed,
over time into incredibly competent leaders, and achievers
on par excellence.

People are attracted to those who pass along genuine
encouragement to others. These folks are appreciated and
valued to the point that people want to seek out and
surround themselves with them. It can pay off greatly if you
can become the type of person who is known for encouraging
those around you.

Three steps for powerfully encouraging people …

1. Be intentional in giving encouragement. Being intentional
simply means, to do a thing on purpose, that is to plan it,
rather than allowing it to unfold randomly. It’s that
simple. The difference in how great you’ll feel when you’ve
planned some opportunities to give positive encouragement
can’t be fully explained. Take my word for it, it is just so
much more impactful than just hoping such opportunities
appear by chance.

Notice that I’m not saying the former is ineffective. I’m
just saying that you will feel a greater sense of
fulfillment, and reduce the chances that you’ll
inadvertently neglect the opportunity to share the
encouragement you might otherwise had you simply planned it
out ahead of time.

While I am fully confident the idea above will make a
difference don’t simply take my word for it. Try planning
the day ahead, strategically deciding where you’ll impart
your words of encouragement, and see what a difference it
will have on you, and those who benefit from the empowering
words you will be sewing.

2. Write it down, don’t rely on memory alone. In keeping
with the ideas above, you want to write down the outcome you
hope for. It may not guarantee you the end result you want,
but it will always get you closer to it than if you chose to
slip and slide through your day without one. That being the
case, the little bit of extra time planning takes is more
than worth the effort. Plus, reducing your “plan” to a
checklist makes it as easy as simply following the next

3. Specific things you can do to encourage and show
appreciation in a BIG way. There are an infinite number of
things I could include here. Instead I will share a few
especially impactful things that you can do on an ongoing
basis. If you will make them a regular practice you will be
astounded by the difference it makes not only in the lives
of others, but your own.

Encouragement Strategies:

A. Send thank you cards and notes of appreciation. Digital
is great, but there’s just something about receiving a note,
written in a person’s handwriting. I’ve got letters and
cards saved that I received years ago. Just recently I ran
across a saved note written on a piece of scratch paper –
the kind hotels give you to take notes on. Written on it was
just one word, “Love.” There’s something incredibly powerful
about receiving written words. And their unique ability to
cause the wonderful memories associated with the person who
wrote them to come flowing back to mind. Written words can
last as long as the ink on the paper they are written.

B. Digital isn’t all bad. While I stressed the long lasting
impact a note or card can have, don’t assume I’m discounting
sending emails, or a well timed Facebook message. Often, the
message is far more important than the particular medium.
The main thing is that you’re coming from a genuine place
with the words you impart on others.

In keeping with the theme of intentionality, make a point to
regularly look through your contact list (I.e. email address
book) and choose people who you’ll drop a quick note to.
Just let them know you were thinking about them and wanted
to reach out and say hi. Pick something kind to share with
them. You don’t have to over do it. Just be genuine. Ask
them what they’re working towards at the moment, and when
they tell you, wish them the best. Wish them well in their
efforts. Be a source of encouragement. It’s as simple as
you’re willing to let it be. Give it a try, and notice how
others are affected in a positive way as a result.

C. Plan in advance. Take about 10 minutes each night, before
heading to bed, while you’re planning the next days actions
to identify a few people in your life who are working
through challenges. Maybe extreme challenges for some, and
for others more mundane, but challenges in their mind just
the same. Write down their name, along with the specific
thing you’ll do to encourage them. When you act on what
you’ve written down you won’t believe how empowered you
feel. It truly is an instance where you get to share in the
gift you’re giving that person.

Use the ideas above and make them a regular part of your
routine. Friend, you can’t imagine how much doing so can
shape your world in a truly positive way. The world is in
need of those who commit to encouraging others to be the
best they can be. Become that person and you will be well on
your way to unlocking your BIG life, and all that goes along
with being an encourager of others.

It’s your life, LIVE BIG,
Josh Hinds

PS. Introducing my ‘Why Perfect Timing is a Myth’ audio
program. It’s designed to take you from “need to do” to “got
it done!” — you’ll find it to be great “motivational fuel”
to keep you on track as you pursue your success journey! Get
your copy of Why Perfect Timing is a Myth here <==

It's Your Life, Live BIG by Josh Hinds

Laura's Bra

"My Girls" by Laura Nestler

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we’re proud to boast that our very own BFF, Laura Nestler, has a creative and custom designed bra on display at the BJ Grand Salon & Spa 5th Annual Beautiful Bras fundraiser.

The annual event was developed to increase breast cancer awareness while all proceeds benefit “Look Good Feel Better,” a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.

The reality is, “IT” [Breast Cancer] can happen to anyone at any time. It is imperative to take the steps required to understand, detect, prevent and/or treat the disease – NOW! There’s no time like the present!

Many or most people are aware of the ‘existence’ of breast cancer; however, sadly, the ‘reality’ of it’s wrath may only hit when the disease impacts you personally. And in many cases, by that time, it’s already too late.

When our “boss” was diagnosed in 2012, the reality was super real and it was a life changer. We’re all thankful that Jill ‘lives by the rules’ and attends her annual mammogram appointments. Therefore, the cancer was found “early” however it was aggressive and it had to come out immediately.

Today, almost a year since her last treatment, Jill is cancer free and doing quite well. (Not to mention she has a snazzy new do). For those of us with the pleasure of knowing Jill, we are thankful she went to that appointment and we are so grateful to have her in our lives! So today we want others to realize breast cancer can happen to you, too, so protect yourself!

Laura participated in the event and dedicated her design titled “My Girls” to Jill. Laura and Omni want to encourage men and women to protect their health and to help spread the word about the importance of early detection, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer and to help find a cure!

Several area residents and businesses participated in the Bj Grand Salon event, and we encourage you to participate by voting for your favorite design today!

View and vote for your favorite entries online NOW, or stop into any of the participating BJ Grand Salon & Spa locations.

Hint, Hint...Laura’s bra #179 is located at the West Springfield location at 3300 Robbins Road.

Make a difference!

Each vote is $5.

Or, make a BIG difference with lots of votes and spread the word!!


With what some days seems like hundreds of e-mags and marketing news emails going into my inbox in the morning, I admit this headline really caught my eye. Probably the mention of coffee while sorting through emails at 8:10 am, but that’s not really the point.

These are some seriously SIMPLE BUT CREATIVE ideas! Ideas that cross over all media from social, to outdoor, to guerrilla marketing. What makes them so compelling is the true simplicity of the concepts and delivery of the ideas. Check these out, and see if they inspire you to “K.I.S.S.” as much as they have me! And enjoy that first cup of coffee…


One of the best ways to come up with new creative advertising is to take a walk down memory lane. Memorable design work never goes out of style. Taking a good look at some of these great pieces of art can put new ideas into the mind of a designer – opening up their creativity to new takes on the classics. Here are a few of my personal all time favorites – and what I feel are the key successful tips that can be drawn from them.

  1. West Side Story movie poster

    Way before the iPod commercials with dancing silhouettes, there was this beautiful movie poster. The silhouettes in white stand out bold yet artistic on a deep red background while the black of the title in a large grungy font are constructed to appear strong, like a building in the city – the setting for the movie.
    1961 :: Saul Bass, designer
    Read more about Saul Bass’s legacy at

    TIP: You don’t need 4-color to make a piece stand out. Simply using 2 colors effectively can create an eye-catching design.

  2. Bud Light Real American Heroes Ads

    Listen to one of the ads!

    One-minute radio spots don’t get much better than this. The quick humor in these commercials had you turning up the radio. The solemn voice with the hair band in the background had the audience hanging on every word, avoiding laughing so that we could hear the rest of the ad. Very rarely does a radio spot accomplish that – and help its product stay in the audience’s mind long after the radio spot is finished.
    Starting in 1998 :: DDB Chicago
    The ads changed names to Real Men of Genius in 2001 but the approach stayed the same. Listen to the majority of these ads at this link:

    Playing with contrast can make a piece unforgettable. Imagine these ads without the play of the narrator’s serious voice or the rock band lyrics in the background. The ad doesn’t work. Only through the contrast of the two voices does the ad make us laugh and listen at the same time.

  3. Volkswagen Bug ad campaign

    The original Volkswagen Bug advertising campaign is a favorite of designers everywhere. The designs were simple – image and text – but were catchy and memorable. I can imagine if I had been around when the ads were originally published; they would have been cut out and displayed on my walls – as great pieces of art should be.
    1960 :: Doyle Dane Bernbach
    For more on the history of the Volkswagon campaigns visit this link:

    Simplicity. An ad doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes the use of white space and a basic message make a loud impression.

  4. Absolut Vodka Ad Campaign

    Place a picture of your product smack in the center of the page and dress it up with accessories and a clever short tag line. Seems easy enough. But the designs of the Absolut Vodka ads of the 80’s and 90’s made the idea into a work of art. I will bet an entire generation of young designers scoured the pages of magazines looking for the newest ads each month. I know I did.
    Starting in 1980 :: TBWA ad agency
    There are dozens of Absolut ads to view – check out this gallery:

    TIP: Constant repetition can lead to memorable moments. The ads didn’t need to change drastically each month. They simply needed to keep relaying the same overall message of the beauty of the bottle and the name of the product. Simple adaption’s made the ads perfect and clever.

  5. To Kill A Mocking Bird movie Title sequence

    Click to View the Title Sequence

    Those close to me know that this movie and book top my list of favorites – and have been since I was very young. But what most don’t know is that the title sequence was one of my first big design inspirations. Again, another piece of art simplicity – but this time in motion. The title lines move onto the page with grace and ease as the child’s view of the little items move slightly. And I can’t forget the sound: the mix of music and child sound effects pull the entire thing together. I always rewind to the sequence and watch multiple times before beginning to watch this movie treasure.
    1962 :: Stephen Frankfurt
    This is a great read on the development and thought that went into this classic:

  6. TIP: Changing a perspective can be powerful. The entire title is in the view of a child’s eye – although the audience is typically much older. This sets you up for the entire movie as well as introduces a new way of looking at basic objects.


Public speaking.

It’s actually #2 of our top 10 fears. If you are in any type of leadership position, or want to be someday, you have to move through that fear and become tolerant, if not entirely comfortable, with speaking to a group.  Here are some tips gleaned from a lot of experts who train managers and company leaders everyday on developing successful presentation skills.

  1. Know how to start strong. People respond to what is real and accessible about you. Tell a story about everyday matters that are interesting, even just a funny “Guess what happened on my way here” story. Even talking about a quote that ties into your theme works.
  2. Know how to get focused. Nothing will help your confidence level more than creating and reviewing an outline. Choose your message, know why your audience wants to hear it, and then list out how you will reinforce the message. Then simply organize your thoughts into bite-sized pieces in an order that makes sense.  For a 30-minute presentation, having 4-5 key points is best.
  3. Know your audience. Be sure you really have a grasp on who you are talking to – know their needs, and what will be of importance to them as a takeaway.
  4. Know your material. Don’t skimp on research – you have to know your topic and points are solid so you can respond intelligently during and after the presentation. Even experienced extemporaneous speakers don’t talk about what they don’t know!
  5. Know how to bring real-life examples into your talk. Having examples of your key points helps to tie your presentation together. Your audience wants to know what has and hasn’t worked.
  6. Know your points so you don’t read them. It is assumed that most people you will present to can read, so don’t do it for them. It’s boring.  Have only your key points listed, and tell them the rest. Your job is to inform and illuminate your audience about your topic.
  7. Know what will be your Plan B. You should always be able to do your presentation sans technology so when the computer connections go awry, you don’t miss a beat. Keep extra digital and printed copies of your presentation, a spare microphone, an extra pair of clothing, batteries, even some duct tape so you don’t trip on a cord. (Really. I speak from experience.)
  8. BREATHE. Just relaxing and breathing in and out slowly will calm your body and your nerves. And remember, a 15 minute talk only requires 900 seconds of bravery.

Laura Nestler

The demands placed on young business leaders often come with long hours, extensive travel and last-minute schedule changes – a lifestyle that can take time away from the personal relationships that matter most.

We are proud to announce that our very own, Laura Nestler of Springfield, IL, recently joined the Young Presidents’ Organization, Inc. (YPO) Illini Chapter Board as their Youth and Family Officer to help our local chapter’s members alleviate some of those stresses.

As a 2013-2014 YPO Illini Chapter Board Member, Laura will work to coordinate programs for YPO Illini Chapter members, spouses/partners, and children with an understanding that strengthening families is integral to building better leaders. Laura will also coordinate programs that are focused on bringing YPO parents and children (ages 6-18) together to become encouraged to strengthen their relationships and improve their interpersonal communication skills, team-building and listening skills.

Her first event, Becoming Your Best / A Flight Plan For Life, is tentatively scheduled for December 7, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. More information is to follow.

YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) connects you with successful young chief executives in a global network unlike any other. Founded in 1950 in New York City by a young president named Ray Hickok, the organization unites approximately 20,000 business leaders in more than 120 countries around a shared mission: Better Leaders Through Education and Idea Exchange™.



« Older entries § Newer entries »