Category: Learnings

Why people hate you

Hate is a strong word. My grandmother, Etolia Saringer, taught me to never use it unless I really, really, really detested something. Otherwise, I was told to say, “I don’t care for” it. Nevertheless, it’s never been so easy to voice your opinion in a public forum due to the rise of social communities, social …

The Spasm of Passion

I spent the weekend of April 3rd through the 5th in New Haven, CT attending the first Love 146 Advocate Summit. Brains on Fire has been fortunate to get to know the staff at Love 146 and learn about their mission, as we helped them change their identity from Justice for Children International to Love …

5 Sailing Tips for Weathering the Storm

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Len Sweet give a talk yesterday and here are some of the take-aways that I’m applying to the business world. There’s an old African proverb that says: You’re either leaving a storm, heading into a storm or in the midst of a storm. And there’s no doubt that …

Happy Tenth Anniversary to us

Okay. Warning. Sappy post ahead. These days I seem to think a lot. About crazy things. Like how on earth did I find myself in Greenville, South Carolina alongside of some of the most talented people on the planet? I am no leadership expert, so you can take my opinion for what it’s worth. Over …

Don't Discount the Doodling

I feel exposed without a pen and paper in a meeting. I guess its hard to take the student out of me because for one thing I take notes on everything. But they’re guaranteed to have doodles all over them. I doodle all the time. Now I should clarify what I mean by “doodle” right …

Being Timeless

I just finished my faculty homework for the upcoming WOMMA WOMM-U in Miami. My subject: Year 3-5 of your WOMM Program. As a faculty member, I was required to submit my 5 Takeaways to be used as a handout for attendees. I hate writing scripts early and then having to follow them (one of my …

Don't Deny Your DNA

That’s the phrase that Alison emailed me last week, which she heard on a cooking program she was watching. What a great set of words: “Don’t deny your DNA.” Before we start any project, we mine for inspiration. And that usually starts at home base for that particular company. It’s immersion. It’s one-on-one conversations where …

Word of Mouth Movements need Strong Identities

Almost a year ago, I touched on how and why Identity Development and Word of Mouth belong together. This isn’t going to be a repeat of that post, but instead it’s going to be a different angle. In a forthcoming manifesto, we’re going to reveal the 8 Lessons Learned in Creating Word of Mouth Movements. …

Relationships are a commodity

At least that’s how I feel sometimes when I’m on (fill in the blank with the most popular social media do-dad today). Because as much as I believe that there’s an educational curve to simply learning how to use these new tools, there’s also an educational curve on the philosophies of why and how you …

Five random things I have learned in this crummy economy


1. Karma is real. If you do the right thing, it will come back to you. Everyone is uptight about budgets and losing jobs. Back in October, when the markets started dropping, I had plans to re-sod my front and back yard. The back was a “have to” – we have two dogs and had …

Who's in Charge of Your Company Culture?

There’s a lot of attention surrounding company cultures these days and how important it is in creating a thriving, successful business. You can see it in the Zappos and Patagoinas of the world. It’s those tight-knit communities that are almost cult-like. It’s also one the keys to creating a sustainable word of mouth movement. Some …

Follow-up to Abolishment of Time Sheets – Two Months Later

Our Princess of Particulars, Brandy Amidon, is back to report what’s happened in the two months since we abolished time sheets at Brains on Fire. One would think our employees went crazy, tore their clothes in mourning, and flew over the cuckoo’s nest when they no longer blocked out their day into 30 min increments …

Helping college-bound students find their kindred spirits

My son is a sophomore in college. My youngest daughter is about to leave home in a year and-a-half. So finding that “just right” college has been at topic at our house for quite some time now. We actually hired an educational adviser for my daughter, who is working with her to create a list …

Tidbit: The New Co-op Marketing

Just a little thought starter for today: Remember Co-op marketing? Look back through the ancient scrolls of Advertising and you’ll find “Co-op Marketing.” A good example would be Ore-Ida french fries partnering with Heinz Catchup for a promotion. Make sense? But today the co-op is not brand + brand. It’s brand + person.

Marketing in a Recession – is it really that different?

Holy moly. Every other link in that noise channel of a Twitter feed are links to blog posts and articles about “How to Market in a Recession.” And as I was confined to my home this weekend due to rain and snow, it struck me – what’s so different about marketing in a recession vs. …

This one's for the underdogs

Why do we pull for the underdogs? Is it because of that Cinderella story that gets ingrained in us from our childhood? I dunno. But I do know that we love underdogs. I guess it’s about the potential story. Or that underdogs know they have to work twice as hard and be twice as smart …

Zits and Imperfections

Maybe I’m getting way too personal, but I recently had a HUGE zit on my forehead. Yeah, 35 and I still get them – yea! And while I don’t think I’m narcissistic, I do like to look good (or at least what I think is “good”). So like anyone who cares about their appearance, I …

Competition, positioning and blazing your own trail

I’m gonna open up the Brains on Fire heart and soul here for a moment and talk about something that we struggle with: it’s how we talk about what we do as a company. Here’s the dilemma: If you use your own language, then you have to explain harder what you do. But if you …

Where do you get your best ideas?

Before you say “The shower,” I should explain this a bit more. My question is really aimed at corporations and organizations. Heather Hough, our Account Maestro, asked me a brilliant question the other day: “What are the three most important questions you ask someone looking to hire Brains on Fire?” I do ask a lot …

Social networks are not what you think they are

There’s a fascinating report that came out this month (thanks Eric Dodds) by Noshir Contractor, the Jane S. and William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University. Contractor and his collaborators are studying nearly 60 terabytes of data from EverQuest II and interviewed 7,000 …