Hey! Wanna hear more NInja ramblings? Visit us at our new blog!
See ya there!
Hey! Wanna hear more NInja ramblings? Visit us at our new blog!
See ya there!
So I think I may have to be admitted into rehab. I have a serious, serious addiction and I don’t think I can kick it on my own. What is it, you may ask? Alcohol? Gambling? Online social media? Networking? Working too much? No, no, no! My addiction is something that I am not even shameful of….I am addicted to shoes.
What is it about shoes? Why are they so amazing? How is it that they can take me from feeling so very average to feeling on top of the world with one tiny slip of my insole into a Manolo Blahnik? Why is it when I am in an outfit from Old Navy and I put on a pair of Dolce & Gabanas and rock the Main Street sidewalk I feel as though I can CONQUER THE WORLD? Hmmmm……
I pondered this very question as I shoe shopped the other day. I walked into Nieman Marcus in St. Louis and did the “dance”. I slowly go up the escalator, and make my way to the amazing shoe department. I have this strange ritual where, as I walk up to the shoe department, I will not allow myself to actually LOOK at the shoes – as though there is an eclipse! – I will no allow direct eye contact until I am there, firmly in front of the shoes staring squarely upon the Christian Louboutins.
My crazy “Nieman’s Shoe Department Approach” is reminiscent of when I would go to church with my grandparents – the old Vatican I days in the Catholic Church – where you would go up to the communion railing, slip your hands under the starched white cloth, and wait for the priest to lay the body of Christ upon your tongue. It is with the exact same fanatical ritual in which I approach the shoe department of Nieman Marcus. Perhaps too many years of Catholic schooling? Perhaps I SHOULDN’T have gone to a Catholic college? Anyway… back to the shoes…
As I approached the shoe department, like a girl with a crush on a boy who won’t look directly at him, I smell the familiar smell of leather. Mmmmmmmm…..I inhale deeply and then lay my eyes upon my prey. I look at each individual shoe on it’s own, pondering it for seconds before looking at the next. I appraise each one – the height (first and foremost for this vertically challenged Ninja), I appraise the design, the aesthetic, the materials, the brand, the buckles, EVERYTHING. Nothing goes by unnoticed by my keen, addicted eyes. I appraise it like a raging alcoholic appraises top shelf vodka. With skepticism, with respect, with lust.
I refuse to make a selection without first giving each individual shoe a once-over. After the initial dance is done, I then make my selections. Sometimes it is only 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, sometimes it is 15. It depends on the season, the designers, the thirst in which I feel I NEED the shoes. Then the fun begins…
I place my newly pedicured feet into the finest of designer shoes. I walk around Nieman’s imagining how my life will change simply by WEARING each pair of shoes in my everyday life. One by one, I try on the shoes – walking fast, walking slowly, sashaying around the department like the addict I have become, until I find my perfect mate.
With complete reverence I place the shoes that have not made the “cut” back into their cloth bags, and then firmly back into their beautifully designed boxes. Goodbye Prada, goodbye Manolo, until next time Christian… I have found my fix for the time being.
I walk up to the cash register, giddy from the anticipation of taking my shoes home. I am already thinking of all the different events in which I can wear them. I imagine how, with these shoes on my feet, I am going to change the world. I will go from regular Ninja Trish to Superhero Ninja Trish with the simple slip of the shoe onto my foot. No superhero cape needed. I have Dolce. Dolce and I can change the world!
After my day of shoe shopping I come home spent – tired but exhilarated – and I start to think about what it is about these shoes that make me feel so enamored. I mean, I am the kind of Ninja who will wear Old Navy clothes, Target jewelry, Forever 21 accessories, and Walgreens nail polish. What IS IT about designer shoes that send me into such a state of euphoria?
Or…better yet….how can I REPLICATE this sentiment and incorporate it into my own marketing? How can I get my clients products to have this same amazing, salivating, orgasmic effect that designer shoes have on me? I feel as though it is the secret of the Holy Grail. If only I can answer the questions right at the gate…
Until then, I guess I will have to keep going back to Nieman’s for Market Research. After all, a Ninja has a right to designer superhero shoes…
So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the word “passion” lately. Webster’s Dictionary defines passion as “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction” as well as “ardent love”. Hmmm….ardent love? I’m starting to think of a Harlequin Romance novel…me in a flowing dress, some hunky guy holding me in his enormous arms, the back drop of some surreal vista, a gentle breeze blowing, a passionate kiss…(snap out of Trish, snap out of it!)
So, after my …ahem….diversion, I came back to reality and started to think about what I am passionate about. Many of you may not know that this Ninja started out as a classical musician – and that music was my driving passion for many years. I was always convinced I would be a great Maestro on a huge stage, conducting the world’s finest symphonies. (Hey, am I talking about a Harlequin Romance novel again? Me in a flowing dress, the New York Philharmonic my backdrop, as I wave my diamond-encrusted baton in fevered passion at them.) It is strange, the paths we Ninjas take, but I am glad my path wove through the amazing world of music and taught me passion, dedication, and teamwork.
Anyway, I digress! Today I decided to take a last minute outing to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (www.slso.org). I wanted to see their rendition of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major and Elgar’s Enigma (Op. 36). I watched enraptured as the conductor led this talented group of musicians through movement after movement. The way he conducted, his body movement, they way he lead them with such conviction and fervor through each piece was undeniably awe-inspiring.
There I sat, hunched over – watching intensely – forgetting to breathe. My mind was drifting off to far away places. I was so in the moment. Afterwards, I walked in a daze from the gorgeous Powell Symphony Hall and I started to think about passion and what it meant to me. Yes, I am incredibly, INCREDIBLY passionate. (YES! Ninjas can be passionate, let me assure you!)
What am I passionate about? I am deeply, deeply passionate about music. (Don’t even get me started on the new U2 album – No Line On The Horizon – that was released and how THAT makes me feel!) I am passionate about helping others (www.edglenhabitat.org) and making the world a better place to live, I am passionate about life, and kindness, and going through this life sucking the nectar out of it. I am passionate about my company, and I am most passionate about my clients and helping their companies grow.
I have a zest for life – I see passion and feel passion everywhere. I am the kind of Ninja who rolls all the windows down in her car on the first warm day of Spring and sings at the top of her lungs, hair furiously blowing, devil-may-care attitude toward passersby.
I started thinking about the people I surround myself with – my friends, employees, colleagues, clients – and I noticed there is a common theme among all of them. We are ALL passionate about SOMETHING in our lives. I tend to gravitate toward people who are extremely passionate, and passion seems to drive our projects to take on a life of their own.
I started thinking back over my favorite clients over this past year – and my very, very favorite are the ones who walk in like a whirlwind. They know what they want, they have a specific vision, and they aren’t gonna stop until they get it. You listen to them and you believe – you believe in their product, in them, in the world – hell, you’d believe in Communism if they told you to because they are so damn convincing.
These are the people – these passionate, amazing people – who are going to change the world. They are the ones who dream up innovative products or ideas; they are the ones who step up to the plate and enact positive change in the world; they are the ones who dare to dream, who never see failure as an option, who will rise to any occasion when asked.
I love these people – my friends, colleagues, employees, and co-workers. They are the symphony, the soundtrack of my life. And when I am riding around in my convertible, hair blowing into a 1980’s Tawny Kitaen-like rendition, these amazing people make up the symphony of my life.
Let me leave you with this thought. Go forth, and BE PASSIONATE!!!
I know this got your attention! What? A new strategy? How could One Lone Ninja come up with the solution to the eternal problem of war? Is the ninja available for strategizing how to reduce my tax bill as well? Maybe a strategy on winning the lottery? Has she found the fountain of youth? Perhaps has figured out how to get the entire world to “go green”?
Well, I hate to disappoint, but I have only solved ONE of the world’s problems – not all of them! Wanna hear my secret? Here goes…you might want to sit down. It’s gonna be a while.
So here goes…I have recently become friendly with all of the other creatives in my community. All of the other marketing gurus, design geniuses, and PR dynamos. They are an amazing bunch! These people, all uniquely talented, are all incredibly relevant in not only our community, but around the United States and even the world. They all have scores of awards, accolades, and raves piled up in their messy (but design-chic) offices. And not one of them will be quick to point those awards out (under this pile or that pile). Not a braggart among ’em!
So, as I have become friendly with this group (admittedly, a little gun-shy at first) I started to see a common theme. Well, okay, several common themes. They are all brilliant. They are all funny, wise, and a little crazy. They all care about their community and keeping business local whenever possible. They all are in some way involved in charitable works. And most importantly (and surprisingly!) they care about their competition being successful. They really do.
In the Creative Community of this town there is an unspoken rule, an oath to not only not HARM or STEAL from a competitor, but to do what you can to HELP your competition and talk kindly about them to clients. What? What? What is this weird utopia in which I have found myself? Are they cyborgs? What is it, EXACTLY, that they want? Hmmmmm……I think I need to investigate further.
So, after many (cough, cough) painful lunches, horrid (cough, cough) glasses of wine, and excruciating (cough, cough) cups of coffee at the coffee shop I have come to the conclusion that – you know what???? – they are just nice people! They genuinely care about the growth of our community. They know that there is plenty of business to go around. They see the bigger picture, the greater good. Oh, and they don’t like to drink alone.
I started to think to myself (as I was feeling all warm and fuzzy, singing “kumbaya” in the shower before I headed into the office in the morning) that I have discovered the greatest secret in the world. (Oh, and why haven’t all of the high-powered government focus groups figured this out? How did I, a lonely blonde Ninja, stumble upon the Holy Grail like a character in a Monty Python movie?) It is simple, I tell you, simple. Here goes. Are you ready?…..
All of the Creatives need to…..RULE…….THE…….WORLD. (Yes, I understand this is a little Dr. Evil-ish from Austin Powers. Oh darn, did you see my pinky up at the corner of my mouth? That was just a mere figment of your imagination!) BUT….if Creatives were allowed to rule the world the world would be amazing. First of all, it would be beautifully designed. It would certainly be well thought out and aesthetically pleasing (albeit, after many revisions and threats from their constituents about deadlines).
Secondly, there would be more fun. The arts and music would be important again. A new Renaissance, of sorts. All would be encouraged to take their camera everywhere and snap pictures, coffee would be handed out on street corners for free, and music would waft through the air from every open window on Main Street USA.
Third, the world would go green. Greenhouse gasses would be a thing of the past, everyone would whiz around in their Prius or other cool hybrid, and recycle bins would dot the land where SUV’s once ruled. They would come up with ways to reuse our trash and make it into beautiful, useful things and they would find a way to renew what other resources we needed. Green “Think Tanks” would pop up everywhere with people brainstorming constantly about new ways for things to go green. There would no longer be the Oscars, there would be the Green Oscars – where the award would go to the person who thought up the coolest, hippest, most useful and earth friendly product of the year.
Fourth, there would be governmental agencies whose focus would entirely be on the design and implementation of cool frames for eye glasses. Everyone would wear these funky glasses, even if they have 20/20 vision. Why? Because they don’t want to look like a dork! (Um, hello!)
Fifth, and most importantly (and seriously), there would be no war. President Creative, Prime Minister Creative, and even Dictator Creative would all work together to help each other succeed. Famine would end. Diseases would be cured. Wars would cease to exist. Can you imagine?
Sure, President Creative would sometimes think that his country was WAY BETTER than Prime Minister Creative’s country (because, after all, he has that coveted award under this pile or that pile on his desk), but he wouldn’t say it. Instead, he (or she!) would ask Prime Minister Creative to coffee, they would browse the New York Times together, and they would revel in how amazing the world they live in is. Oh, and they would laugh. And make stupid jokes. And complain a little about Dictator Creative. But, in the end, they would link arms and be stronger for it.
Okay, so the strangest thing happened to me tonight. After a long day at the office (which consisted of a couple very fun logo designs and networking with other awesome local creatives at the coffee shop), I decided to rest my weary bones at the neighborhood Applebee’s. (No, this isn’t the strange part….I can hear your snide comments! Control yourself!) Anyway back to my story…
I come to the conclusion that after my clearly arduous day I needed to unwind with a draft beer. (Purely for medicinal purposes…) I order your average domestic 16 ounce, and when it comes to my table – travesty! – there is at least an inch of NO BEER in my glass. Thinking that this must simply be the case of an unseasoned bartender, I begrudgingly start drinking my brew. Cold, delicious, just what I was looking for after such a taxing day, I decide to order another one…and this is where the story starts to unfold.
The second beer, equally as frosty and satisfying, comes to my table with another large gap between the beer and the top of the glass. Having lived in England for a year where this sort of behavior is (seriously) illegal, I decide to make a joke with my server about the ineptitude of the bartender’s pour. I even offered to step back behind the bar and show ’em how it’s done! (Hey, I was a waitress in college…not to mention all the college keg parties where I was a young “entrepreneur” selling red cups at a…cough…reasonable price.) Sorry, I digress…
The bartender then informs me of the most horrific, vile, obscene edict in corporate restaurant policy I’ve ever heard of…. The TWO FINGER RULE. (What? What? Two finger rule? What is this terrible sounding policy?) Apparently, Applebee’s has just instituted a Two Finger Rule in which the beer must be “two fingers width” from the top of the glass. Are you kidding me? Not only have they instituted this ridiculous policy, but they have spent money on installing an apparatus which only ALLOWS the bartender to pour this much. HUH? SAY WHAT?
So, being the amazing (okay, I realize this is totally a matter of opinion) Marketing Ninja that I am, I decide to brainstorm – and quickly. “So…” I say, “how about the bartender just fill my beer and then go back and top it off?” Well, the server goes onto explain to me that they now WEIGH the kegs at the end of the night to make sure the bartender is not giving away free beer. Okay, am I in the Twillight Zone? An episode of Seinfeld? Have I entered into Bizzaro World? The server assures me this is not the case, that I am indeed firmly rooted in the Edwardsville, Illinois Applebee’s and that this is INDEED the case. (The ridiculous case, I mumble under my breath.)
Now, I have to ask….it begs the question, after all….how much money is Applebee’s REALLY saving on shorting me two fingers width worth of beer? (Say that three times fast!) They have had to re-tool their taps, they have to waste man hours weighing the kegs, and they are annoying their customers who just want a full beer. It is reminiscent of all the automated drink machines recently installed at fast food restaurants now, where upon reaching for your medium coke, you realize IT is not full either. Sigh.
America, I ask you, are there really THAT many dollars saved by shorting me the least expensive thing that a restaurant provides – fountain soda and draft beer? Wouldn’t you be better served, you penny pinching restaurants you, by making the PORTION SIZES smaller on my plate? After all, I don’t need 3 cups of fries with my low-cal chicken sandwich. One cup (or, hell, even 2!) would suffice. Just give me my beer. Full. Please.
Otherwise, I have a “two finger” rule of my own I’d like to show ya – and it consists of one, key, prominent finger on each hand, thank you very much! And let’s face it, what does IHOP (owner of Applebee’s) know about beer anyway? Maybe they need to take a trip to England. They’ll tell ’em a thing or two about the Two Finger Rule. Blimey!
So, only a few short months ago I received this phone call, “Yo, Trish. I have this idea. I want to franchise a restaurant. I want to create it from scratch. I wanna call it Wang Gang.” After admittedly giggling uncontrollably for a few seconds, I then realized that my client – who, by the way, is crazy like a fox, was absolutely DEAD SERIOUS. We scheduled a meeting for the next day.
What then started was an absolute whirlwind. It started with a logo, and then turned into a complete branding process. It was the first time a client reminded me of myself – and I held on for dear life and enjoyed the ride.
After months of work, revisions, thinking outside the box, menu tastings, commercial development, and blood, sweat and tears; Wang Gang Asian Cuisine was born. Watching people walk into this sleek, hip, funky, P.F. Chang-esque establishment this past weekend literally took my Ninja breath away. The music was rockin’, the decor was rockin’, and I’ve gotta tell ya – the food was ESPECIALLY ROCKIN’!!!
I sat there, like a proud parent watching her child SLAY the “popular kid” in a piano recital, and nearly choked up with emotion. It is amazing what can happen when someone has vision and puts the right people by their side. My client picked an amazing chef, an amazing business model, and an amazing positive attitude. I couldn’t be more proud to have myself and my Ninjas as part of his team.
I also don’t think I have ever eaten more in my entire life.
I also don’t think I have celebrated more at the “after party” either.
This all was a lesson to me. Where There’s a Wang – There’s a Way. What might seem, at first, a silly or even unattainable idea might just turn out to be the best thing that has come your way in a long, long while. I can tell you this – my taste buds can DEFINITELY say that Wang Gang is the best thing that has come their way in years!
So, if you are in the Metro St. Louis area and you want some of the best food your mouth has tasted in eons, make sure you stop by Wang Gang. (www.wanggangasian.com) Tell ’em Trish sent ya. Oh, and don’t you DARE leave without having the Crab Rangoon and the chocolate rolls. And then write me in profuse thanks. I can take it.
“I’m just a ninja-lo, and everywhere I go, people always talk to me about marketing…” (sang to the tune “Just a Gigolo” by David Lee Roth) Oh yeah, I did – oh yes I DID! Don’t even get me started, I’ll start making up my own silly rhyming lyrics. You know I’ve always wanted to be a rapper. (This shows you how old I am.) Okay, I’ll stop now….
So, I was inspired to start this blog by my friend and colleague, the esteemed Steve Hartman – founder of Creativille. (www.creativille.net) He was up in my office on Mardi Gras, adorned in beads, laughing his fool head off with me and the Think Tank Ninjas and he said (through his tears), “I should’ve brought my computer so I could blog about this!” And….then….BING! A light bulb moment for ol’ Trishie here.
Do you know how many times I am walking (or attempting to walk in my enormously tall shoes) when I think, “MY GOD! I need to tell someone about this! Now, THAT is marketing!” And, I don’t know why, but all the IM’ing on Facebook in the world just won’t cut it or translate exactly what I am talking about. Well, now I have an outlet. What can I say? WATCH OUT WORLD!!!! Waaaahaaaaaahaaaaahaaaaaa! (That was my evil laugh there, in case you didn’t know.)
Who knows if anyone will ever really read this fool thing – but you know what? I’ll feel a whole heck of a lot better getting this stuff out of my head and off of my chest and into YOUR head. After all, isn’t THAT marketing????
Check back, and check back often. This Ninja dressed (nearly always) in pink, tottering around in her big shoes, has LOTS to say!