12/21–The Interview: One-on-One with Kim Jong-un
8/3–VIDEO: Has time run out for Laskin?
3/16–VIDEO: G-rated list of 5 reasons to hire older workers
1/30–VIDEO: I'm Scheduled to Die August 1, 2014
11/19–VIDEO: In which Mr. Laskin takes on Mr. Lincoln
11/2–VIDEO: Rapp Story redux -- an explanation of sorts
10/21–VIDEO: The Rapp Story
9/12–VIDEO: The scariest profession in the world. Really?
7/4–VIDEO: Finally, a movie review without ever seeing the movie
4/18–VIDEO: The 7 words George Carlin would never have used
2/28–VIDEO: Sequester that credit card!
1/16–VIDEO: Don gets the word
10/31–The day social media died
8/6–VIDEO: The secret to viral videos
5/31–We all agree on this, right?
4/5–What's stealing? Really? Me? Shirley, you jest
1/19–VIDEO: The other Goldilocks story
12/11–VIDEO: Accomplishments? Or credentials?
11/7–VIDEO: A few minutes with Don Laskin on Andy Rooney
9/11–VIDEO: The hidden meaning of printer ink expiration dates
8/3–VIDEO: I am a Negro
5/24–VIDEO: It’s the end of the world as we know it
4/11–VIDEO: Return of the Avatar – with handy tips for finding a job
2/28–VIDEO: Laskin names names
2/10–VIDEO: Return of blower man
2/8–VIDEO: The threat of hippos -- and leaf blowers
1/11–VIDEO: Don as you've never seen him before
11/8–AUDIO: Hating the rich. Well, some of them, at least
10/17–VIDEO: He's not sleeping, he's making an important decision
10/1–What Amelia Earhart has to do with marketing management
8/25–AUDIO: The Mosque Ox
8/23–AUDIO: Why Meg Whitman needs to talk with Don en espanol
7/12–VIDEO: Don Laskin gets a spokes-thing
6/21–VIDEO: Why webinars are a waste of time
6/1–VIDEO: Has Don sold his soul to the Devil?
5/23–VIDEO: A message to, well, you know who you are
5/14–VIDEO: Twit, Tweet, Twitter?
5/5–Don unloads on Google
2/24–The sweatsuit answer to Kaiser, or Medicare Part The Deux
2/16–What's wrong with Kaiser?
12/4–What’s as rare as a Raiders touchdown? Laskin knows
10/19–Why Dave prefers vanilla
10/1–God's will -- and other reasons
8/17–AUDIO: Hierarchy of stupid
5/25–AUDIO: Some calm words about a world in PANIC!!
4/28–AUDIO: Why CEOs can ignore everything – except Facebook
4/6–With friends like these…
1/19–When perception is reality -- except when it isn't
12/9–AUDIO: Chased by the devil
10/29–AUDIO: Sine qua non a rant it would not be Don
10/20–AUDIO: Joe the writer, er, Don
10/2–AUDIO: Perp Walk Inc.
2/25–AUDIO: Why people put up with crummy jobs
2/10–AUDIO: Making clients money with advertising
1/2–Tiny weiners on toothpicks
12/19–AUDIO: Don improves with age, he says
12/6–AUDIO: Why telecommuting gardeners are needed
10/1–Don Laskin – Almost human?
7/8–Counting, if not connecting, the dots
5/3–Is your advertising stuck in a silo? So is Don
2/5–It's deja vu all over again for Don
9/10–Observations: Laskin faced end with courage
7/14–Observations Why Don Laskin’s ex-boss hiked up her skirt
6/16–Observations They're baaaack! And don't say you weren't warned
4/28–Be careful what you wish for
4/17–Did somebody just say something?
3/8–Laskin makes his first annual “Moron of the Month” Award*
2/15–Our man Laskin reports from a UFO
1/30–Laskin pioneers podcast idea
1/11–Veteran podcaster Don Laskin offers advice
1/3–The Logic of Illogic (Part 2)
11/15–An easy death
7/14–Making a Better Than Human Human
7/4–A tool of capitalism
6/26–Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding
6/25–Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team
5/15–A $1,000 fine and five days in jail
4/23–Is spending money on advertising a waste?
LETTERS FROM LASKIN
Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team
by Don Laskin
June 25, 2005
I wondered how they got away with it. I didn’t just wonder. I fulminated. I fumed. I freaked. I erupted in righteous fury. I bought a pit bull. (I wanted to be able to kick a dog and not feel guilty.)
Was I the only one who saw it? Who sees it? It seems that way sometimes, but a lot of others must know. They must. It’s been going on a long time. A very, VERY long time. Why, if it’s been going on for so long, am I bringing it up now? My daughter’s middle school graduation.
The graduation ceremony featured three student speakers. But, it was the last kid who set me off. According to the program, she was a 4.0 student. And, according to her spot anchoring the other speakers (she was last and longest), the faculty must’ve considered her their prize graduate.
Okay, it’s not like I was expecting the Gettysburg Address or a Miss America candidate explaining how to bring peace and fight world hunger. And, it’s not like I never heard kids speak at graduations. When my older daughter was graduated from the same school a couple of years ago, a thirteen-year-old speaker outlined how we as a society should be living our lives, what was expected of us and what we could expect in return for living the type of life she laid out. Obviously, she’d gained considerable knowledge and wisdom in her thirteen years. When I was thirteen, I was proud to simply have mastered the formula for ice. What do I know? Maybe this kid was another incarnation of the Dalai Lama or maybe she ate a lot of llama from the deli. Anyway, I shrugged off the speech like it was from a twelve-year-old and never considered its presumptuousness from that moment to this.
But, the speech the girl at this recent graduation gave was in another league altogether. It was worse tha presumptuous, worse than boring, worse than being jam-packed with inside, arcane references to inside, arcane teachers. It began, “School is like a box of chocolates.” It did not begin, “To paraphrase Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name, school is like ‘a box of chocolates.’” Maybe the idea ain’t Plato and the language ain’t Shakespeare, but she took credit for the line and the thought. Then she built the entire speech around that box of chocolates. Well, there was one digression. That was when she explained, “There is no “i” in team.” No, she did not say, “To coin a cliché, there is ‘no “i” in team.’”
When the speech was finally over, there were huge cheers. She got more applause and more cheers than any other kid in the entire school. The second most popular wasn’t even close. This kid was not only the best scholar, she was also the most popular kid on campus! And, all this was done without a glimmer of creativity – if the speech were any indication.
Now, I don’t want you to think I go around picking on eighth grade girls. I used to be one you know. Not a girl, an eighth grader (three of the best years of my life – bum, bum, bum). No, the reason I was so struck by the speech was it was a paradigm. Well not exactly a paradigm. It was more like a symptom. Well not exactly a symptom. It was more like a disease. Well not exactly a disease. Okay, it was like a disease. It’s one any number of companies (and others) manifest.
How many organizations have you seen milking the American Dairy Association’s “Got milk?” slogan to create such memorable lines as — “Got ICs?” “Got hunger?”; even “Got Jesus?” And they “got” away with it. Or, how about the tried and tried and tried again, “We’ve got the missing piece to your [insert problem] puzzle” with a visual of a jigsaw puzzle with one piece missing.
Of course, taking the beaten path is a good way to get beaten. Hey, look who’s preaching. Sorry. What do I know anyway again? Microsoft uses the puzzle thing almost as another logo. Also, I’ve seen any number of TV commercials and online and print ads for companies other than IBM bordered by broad bands at the top and bottom, i.e., letterboxed. Of course, the ads don’t use blue for the border color. And, of course, when I see those ads I think of IBM and not…. Can’t think of the other companies. Anyway, when a company uses a concept that’s already been done by others, do you look at that company as cutting edge or creative?
To paraphrase the late President Reagan, “there I go again.” If I’m going to preach, the least you can do is send donations. Got God?
Perhaps I’m overstating the case. Maybe creativity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Has anybody come up with a better wheel? And, is there a faster way to get a thought “down on paper” than with a pencil and paper? Besides, what if everybody had to be original all the time? Where would that leave us? What would happen with locker room interviews after the Super Bowl or World Series? How would they fill the silence if the winning manager were not allowed to say, “That’s a great ball team we played. Don’t take anything away from those guys in the other locker room. With a few breaks, they could’ve been doing the celebrating. Our victory was a team effort. It was all twenty-five guys. Everybody contributed. With our guys, there’s no ‘i’ in team.”
Don Laskin is a veteran of the advertising and public relations jungle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give him a call at (408) 406-3574.