Monday, October 30, 2006

Thank You Starbucks

My mother had a tendency to be a hypochondriac. Every six months it was a new ailment that she would see on TV or read in the paper. We couldn’t keep up. So when she complained of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome we kind of laughed, after all, she never worked on a computer or used her wrists like that in any way. Unfortunately her warnings this time turned into something very real.

She went into Hershey Medical Center in May of this year to endure a biopsy. It turns out her mysterious wrist problem was caused by a tumor in the right hemisphere of her brain. This operation would determine if it was benign or malignant.

As my mother was recovering from surgery, I carted my father around in a wheelchair so he wouldn’t have to walk the long corridors. Actually I did it to keep him calm, after all my mother was his entire life.

At one point I wheeled him over to the main entrance and there, in all it’s glory, was a Starbucks concession. For a moment I thought I heard a choir as the sunlight illuminated the counter. I hadn’t realized that my need for a Vanilla Latté had grown while I had been taking care of my parents. It had become so great, I ordered a Venti.

My Dad is famous. He is the model they used for the father on
Every Body Loves Raymond, (I’m serious). So when I told him I would give him a taste of my latté if he waited patiently, I was hit with his old-fashioned logic –

“Why the hell would I want a Starbuck’s coffee? I never had one yet, why should I start?”
“Dad, just relax, It’ll only take a minute.”
“Four dollars for coffee, I never heard of such a thing. It’s crap. You kids have been brainwashed…”

He kept going. I asked the female barista if she would be so kind as to give me a tall cup to share with my father. She looked over my shoulder to see my father in his wheel chair, smiled and handed me a cup, a lid and a cup sleeve.

“You gotta be kidding me. What’s the big deal…?”
I handed him his cup and he shut-up for a minute. The cup went to his mouth as I unlocked his chair, and there it was…that look. The wondrous taste began to work it’s magic, and then he just sat there, dumbfounded. Then he spoke…“Wow, that’s not bad.” He was happy. Finally.

When we returned to my mother’s room, she was awake and had that impatient quality I know so well – she wanted to go home.
“Where did you boys go?” She always called us boys. “Starbucks.”
Before it was all said and done I was pouring some Vanilla Latté into her hospital cup. She took a sip through her straw. And once again, Starbuck’s worked it’s magic.

I looked down and it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t had anymore than a couple of sips from my cup. But something different filled the room. It was that quiet that comes after dessert. In the silence, they weren’t scared that my mother would pass, or that my father’s health was fading or that they were in a strange place. They were happy and content. And then my father looked up from his empty Starbuck’s cup and broke the moment…
“Hey, is there anymore left?”

My mother died at the very end of August. Her funeral was on the very last day of summer. She loved the summer. But I don’t want this to be a sad moment on my blog. I just want to thank Starbucks for bringing some joy into my parent’s life.

A great brand and some great memories.
Thanks again for reading,


Brad Szollose

Who The Hell is Dane Cook?

I realized I was getting older when I didn’t know half of the celebrities in the American Express ads. That’s right I said it, “I’m getting older.” Most of my life I tried to stay in touch with what the youth were up to, but getting up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, checking out Soul Train, Comedy Central and paying very close attention to who is advertising, can make a grown man tired.

Some of you were probably wondering who the hell that guy is with Jessica Alba in the movie Good Luck Chuck? That my friends is Dane Cook, a young up-and-coming comedian who seems to have arrived. His fans knew it was him, us old farts who are hip to what you youngsters are up to…well, some of us knew too.

How did he get so popular? Well the Web has given us a control we consumers never had. As a group mind, we can determine what, where and when we wish to buy. Partake or not to partake. It also works in the opposite direction as well. It gives entertainers the ability to reach a targeted list of their fans. Dane Cook took control of his career by using the Internet – While performing at colleges over the past 6 years, Dane amassed emails from college fans from all around the country. When it was time to be booked at a certain college, he emailed his list for that area and voila, a packed audience.

It looked like magic. Most managers and bookers were amazed believing it was some sort of phenomenon, when in fact it was hard work and old-fashioned brand building. He just happened to use the Internet. Dane eventually began to have a marketing machine in place when he took it to another level: Playing to sold-out crowds in stadiums and arenas. What made it easy was he already had a database of names to hand over to his marketing firm. As an individual or start-up brand you can do the same. Build your data from already existing customers. If a comedian can do it at a grassroots level, so can you.

I recently attended my 25th high school class reunion. One of my classmates approached me and blurted out…“I did a Google search on you and Dude, you’re like famous!” I started laughing but a voice in the back of my head was like, “How old do you have to be before you stop using the word ‘dude’?”

Email Dane Directly for his upcoming show dates...

The World Wide Web can make you famous. Use your powers for good. But remember, it’s old-fashioned branding that is actually at work. With MySpace, WordPress, Squidoo, Flickr and other free sites, it makes an individual’s marketing campaign extremely economical. The best part is when you have a list of already existing customers, your campaign becomes very targeted. No more shotgun marketing.

Richard Carey and I teach seminars on how to build your personal online brand. Individual brands are becoming hot dude! And Dane Cook proves it.

Thanks again for reading,

Brad Szollose

Check out these up and coming comedians:

Johnny Watson

Rodney Laney

Andrew Kennedy

Brad Szollose Bio:


Who Is Brad Szollose?: 

Cofounder of Another Big Production. Host of Awakened Nation™. Award-Winning Author. Creative Director. Leader. Visionary. TEDxSpeaker. Web Pioneer. C-Level Executive.

First things, first. How do you say Szollose?
It’s pronounced zol-us.

From founding partner and CMO of K2 Design, Inc. the first Digital Agency to go public on NASDAQ to international leadership development expert, Brad Szollose has worked with household names like MasterCard, American Management Association and Tony Robbins, to create leadership training programs for a new generation.

As an award-winning creative director, he has been the creative force behind hundreds of high-end corporate events, personal and consumer brands, and website launches. Brad is the recipient of the Corporate Identity Design Award and the Axiom Business Book Award along with various awards for website and print design.

As a C-Level executive at K2, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen New York Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (Workforce Culture).

Today, the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on next-generation leadership development, branding and modern Management Strategies, and he has been featured (both print and online versions) in Forbes, Inc., Advertising Age, USA Today, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche (France), and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CGTN America, CBS, Roku Network and other media outlets.

Brad continues to challenge the status quo with his new book, Liquid Leadership 2.0, and his new podcast, Awakened Nation.

After 35 years in New York City, he now calls Las Vegas home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, working Star Trek and Dune quotes into everyday conversation, and painting and drawing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest.