Jul 31

NYC’s bad boys need to man up

Anthony_Weiner_4aaaaa80x270_ked4727i_9oumlpmhIt strikes me that New York’s bad boys are like two peas in a pod.

Anthony Weiner, serial sexting superstar (and NYC mayoral candidate) just distributed a laughably bad video announcing once again that he’s refusing to end his scandal-plagued run for the city’s top job.

In one memorable line, Weiner defiantly snapped, “Quit isn’t the way we roll in New York City.” Well, that’s not altogether true (a subject I’ll address in a moment).

Simultaneously, New Yorkers are dealing with Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees overpriced, juiced-up bad boy, who’s refusing to accept Major League Baseball’s punishment for his steroid use. A-Rod has said he’ll fight the decision in court. Talk about conduct unbecoming a Bronx Bomber. Ouch!

I think both bad boys are big cowards.

Both should man up and step down.

REAL New Yorkers possess the raw courage and street savvy to know when enough is enough. They know when to say when.

They recognize that, because of a statement or behavior, they themselves have become the story instead of the team, the campaign or the business.

So, try as they might to play the tough, Francis Albert Sinatra, “I’ve got to be me” card,  Weiner and Rodriguez are just delaying the inevitable, prolonging the agony and hurting New York’s image and reputation.

I’ve been on a few trips of late, and when I tell people I work in the Big Apple, they always ask my opinion of Weiner and A-Rod.

Both are an embarrassment.

Weiner needs to end his candidacy. Now.

A-Rod needs to accept Major League Baseball’s punishment for his serial juicing, and retire. Now.

And, both bad boys should roll towards the nearest rehabilitation center and deal with their respective issues. Because it’s not just their image that’s at stake here, it’s the long-term reputation of the greatest city on earth.

New York should be remembered as the city that produced LaGuardia and DiMaggio. Not Weiner and Rodriguez.

Jul 30

Big data’s big problem

ib2Ok77bigdc03oNow that it’s crystal clear the Omnicom Publicis ‘merger of equals’ is all about competing with Google and becoming a Big Data powerhouse, we should stop any discussions about enhanced client service, strategic advantages or creative couplings.

This is a power play, pure and simple. And, it’s intended to accomplish one goal: enable the new super, duper holding company to collect, and sell, consumer data a la Google.

But Big Data, as the market segment is called, has one very big problem: there’s simply too much of it. As a result, the clients Maurice Levy and John Wren say their merger will help will, in fact, be hurt since chief marketing and chief communications officers will tell you they are positively paralyzed by too much data.

But, don’t take my word for it. A few years back, IBM’s Global Consulting Group surveyed some 1,700 CMOs in 64 countries and representing 16 different industries. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed Big Data is as much of a hindrance as a help. And a report Peppercomm did with Emily Yellin talked to several marketing and communications executives who echoed this sentiment. For instance, one automobile executive said, “It’s not that there isn’t good data. It’s that we can’t use it. We don’t have time to use it.”

The sheer volume alone makes it impossible to determine what’s important and what isn’t. So the already beleaguered CMO is left to sort through the debris field and fashion a program to generate sales and preserve her job.

The big hole in Big Data is what I call the why question. Big Data can tell you all you could possibly want to know about, say, a mother of two, who holds three part-time jobs and is absolutely time starved. But, it doesn’t take the deep qualitative dive into why she makes the emotional and intellectual buying decisions that she does. And, without an answer to the why question, real insight will be absent from any output provided by the Omnicom-Publicis coupling.

The IBM survey said CMOs know they need rich, qualitative insights to supplement the mounds of big data sitting on their desks. CMOs also know they themselves need to experience their brands from the outside in, and walk in their customer’s shoes. But, like the mother of two holding down three, part-time jobs, the average CMO or CCO is way too time-starved to get the job done.

And, that’s where PR firms can shine. The best of us DO walk in our client’s target audiences’ shoes. We DO identify the good, the bad and the ugly of the customer experience. And, we do repeatedly ask that poor mother why she makes the decisions she does.

Armed with the why, CMOs and CCOs can pinpoint the needle in the haystack of data. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a shopper’s surprise at finding a great bargain in a retail outlet. Other times, it’s the purr of an engine that convinces a first-time driver to pick one roadster over another. And, on other occasions, it may not be the consumer at all. It may be the channel sales force that, incentivized by a competitor, is actively dissing a client’s product. Those sorts of insights never, ever come from big data. They come from pounding the pavement, and asking the why question again and again and again.

I hope the new Google competitor otherwise known as Omnicom/Publicis succeeds. But, I caution their executives NOT to buy into the myth that big data is a panacea. It isn’t. In fact, it’s a commodity. A mound of stuff.

That’s why I think it’s never been a better time to be a midsized, independent communications firm that specializes in qualitative listening. Let the big guys do battle with Google. We’ll be there to help CMOs and CCOs make sense of the hot mess they just paid big bucks to have dumped on their desks.

Jul 29

There’s no such thing as a merger of equals

20005857_b480hhhhh_625x1000I stifled a chuckle as I read yesterday’s New York Times coverage of the proposed merger between global holding companies, Omnicom and Publicis.

Reporter Tanzina Vega said the “…deal is being billed as a merger of equals.” To which I respond, “Ha!”

As a refugee of WPP, and first-hand witness to countless, so-called mergers of equals at that global holding company as well as client organizations, I can tell you three facts:

– There is a clear winner and a clear loser in every merger of equals (Think: Daimler/Chrysler)

– Clients hate mergers because conflicts abound. As a result, many treasured, longstanding relationships will come to a screeching halt

– To quote strategy guru, Gary Hamel, large mergers and acquisitions are “…poor substitutes for strategy and vision, and almost always indicate neither company has either.” Despite what the press releases might say, this was a pure power move by both holding companies to add size. Period.

I can also tell you a tsunami of fear and anxiety is sweeping the hallways of every single Publicis and Omnicom agency. Why? That dreaded word: redundancy. That’s why.

Back office jobs in one group will be eliminated entirely. Several well-known firms in each holding company will disappear, or be absorbed into a former competitor’s folds (Think: GCI and Cohn & Wolfe), AND Madison Avenue will be awash in resumes.

One final note about the Times article (and this one is aimed squarely at our self-congratulatory PR trade media): there wasn’t a single mention of the PR arms of Omnicom or Publicis in the text. Further, reports Vega, the merger of equals was consummated to “…better capture profits from digital media and emerging markets.” PR wasn’t even an after-thought.

So, note to my peers at such legendary PR firms as MSL, FH, Ketchum and their various conflict brands: not only do you need to start thinking about your career paths, you should also start wondering about the importance of PR within your new, super- duper holding company.

Jul 26

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

poppopppjpegMy soon-to-be 93-year-old dad is a handful, to say the least.

He not only retains all his mental faculties, but swims laps for a full hour seven days a week.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Pop-Pop (as everyone calls him) told me he wanted to tag along with my son, Chris, and me the next time we climbed New Hampshire’s rugged Mt. Washington.

Pop-Pop suggested he, and my older brother, Russ, ride the so-called Cog Railway to the top of Mt. Washington and then rendezvous with Chris, me and our superb guide, Art Mooney. Once we were all standing atop the 6,288-foot peak, Pop-Pop promised he’d raise his arms and repeat Julius Caesar’s famous line, ‘Veni. Vidi. Vici.’ (I came. I saw. I conquered.)

Well, Mother Nature had plans of her own.

We were forced to postpone the first day thanks to a torrential rain of biblical proportions.

Despite an equally gloomy forecast for our second, and final, day, we set out to make Pop-Pop’s dream a reality.

Art’s blog and photographs provide a moving account of our experience.

Suffice it to say that, despite driving rain, winds of 40 miles per hour and temperatures of 35 degrees, Pop-Pop ended up throwing his arms around Russ, Chris and me, and shouting, ‘Vini. Vidi. Vici!

Three generations of Cody men had, indeed, fulfilled Pop-Pop’s dream and stood astride the summit of New England’s highest (and most treacherous) peak.

Jul 25

Four Steps to Successful Telecommuting

Today’s guest post is by Carl Foster, who telecommutes for Peppercomm from the great state of Wyoming

MAs a full-time telecommuter, I have watched the debate about working from home with interest. Sparked by Marissa Mayer’s diktat that all Yahoo employees must physically be together in the office, the debate has generated endless column inches on the pros and cons of working from home. Recently, I have seen pitches for webinars, seminars and other training sessions that promise ways to make remote workers more productive and more engaged. For anyone tempted to take one of these, let me save you some money. The success of telecommuting does not rest on the state of your technology or your management technique; it rests on a state of mind, both of the employer and employee.

Of course, the state of mind that enables telecommuting to thrive cannot be adopted overnight. Like good customer service, it’s not something that can be switched on and off like a tap.

So what elements make up this state of mind? I believe there are four key elements:

1.       Trust-based relationships – Trust is central to successful telecommuting, both for the company and the employee. Trust is built over time. The most successful telecommuters I know have worked for their employer for years. Working in the office and then becoming a telecommuter helps shortcut the relationship and trust-building, but it’s not a prerequisite.

2.       Small-group cohesion – In “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell noted the Rule of 150, the general idea being that once a group – whether it be a company division or an army division – has more than 150 individuals, people no longer know everyone in the group. More importantly, they don’t know what everyone else knows. At Peppercomm, I know everyone and everyone knows me. Sure, I work with some people more closely than others, but I know who to go to if I need something, and people know what I know and can come to me for my expertise and experience. If Peppercomm were to grow to more than 150 employees, telecommuting might become an obstacle for building and maintaining these relationships, but, for now, we are the perfect size.

3.       Availability – For the employee, when you are working from home you are working – the “from home” bit is irrelevant. In the office, people email, IM and call, and you respond appropriately. It’s the same at home. The working day is one big multifaceted conversation. Between email, IM and phone calls, you’re not just a part of that conversation, you can be leading it.

4.       Quality work shines through – At the end of the day, it’s all about the product. If the employee produces quality work and delivers value to the firm, it doesn’t matter where it was produced. (As an aside, this is what strikes me as the most surprising part of the Yahoo ruling. If people were performing well and delivering value then why get rid of them simply because of their location? If they were not performing well and delivering value they should have been laid off a long time ago, regardless of their location.)

No commentary on telecommuting would be complete without mentioning two key parts of the debate: Productivity and collaboration. I believe these two arguments are redundant if the four elements above are achieved. I am undoubtedly more productive at home than when I visit the office in New York, or when I worked full-time in our London office. I know many people who agree. But really, with even the most basic levels of management, it is clear if someone is being productive. It’s not a question of whether people in general are more or less productive at home, but whether individuals are productive – see point 4. As for in-person collaboration, some of the best brainstorms I have contributed to have been via phone or Skype. I know everyone on the call and I’ll butt in when I want to – see point 1 and 2. Also, in many ways, in-person collaboration means creativity and idea generation. While there can be no replacement for all physically getting in a room, some of the best ideas need time and space to develop. I have had some good ideas while walking across London Bridge or down Fifth Avenue, but some of my best ideas have fallen straight out of the big, empty Wyoming sky.

My final thought on this: why is this even a debate? First, telecommuting enables companies to hire and retain talented employees, making them happier and more loyal. Second, evermore congested cities coupled with technological advances mean that telecommuting is a trend that will grow exponentially. Banning it is akin to King Canute trying holding back the tide. Finally, aren’t we all remote workers these days? Even if you sit in an office in a major metropolitan area, your boss can be in another part of town, your colleague in another part of the country, and your client in another part of the world. To make this increasingly common situation work, people could do a lot worse than adopt the four points above.

Jul 24

We Laughed, We Cried, We Networked: An Intern’s Review of InternFest

Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm intern Taylor Hatch.

internfestLast week, all seven Peppercomm New York interns (or, as we like to call ourselves, the PeppSquad) had the opportunity to attend InternFest, an annual event hosted by the Council of Public Relations Firms. InternFest gives NYC’s interns the chance to learn more about public relations and network with industry all-stars. To put it simply, the event was fantastic.

The presenters included Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications, Renee Wilson, President of MSL Group North America, and Jim Joseph, President of Cohn & Wolfe. In addition, the event featured a panel discussion lead by entry-level PR professionals that covered strategies to stand out in a mass of eager interns.

While I’m no expert on intern events, I’ve attended enough of them to know that InternFest is special. Rather than advice on fluffing our resumes and schmoozing our way through interviews, InternFest deemed us worthy of real industry insight. The three hour event emphasized where public relations is headed and how we can jump onboard. Read on for three points that stuck with me—and one tiny criticism.

Takeaway 1: PR is a 10-Way Street
Ms. Wilson’s presentation answered the question that should be on everyone’s mind at these events: Where will this career take me? With her 10 potential paths leading from public relations, she completely shattered my perception that a PR career requires a certain type of person (i.e. outgoing, persistent…). Not so, it turns out, as Ms. Wilson’s list included “Creative Guru” for those who prefer to create content, direct videos, etc. and “Insight Creator” for those who enjoy breaking down and applying big data.

Takeaway 2: High Risk, High Return (or Disaster)
Mr. Joseph welcomed us interns onto an emotional rollercoaster of marketing strategy. When I say we laughed and we cried, I mean it literally. In his discussion on emerging trends in Public Relations, Mr. Joseph gave examples of huge marketing risks—including companies who cashed in on their unconventional branding as well as those who paid for it. Examples included Bodyform’s hilarious and snarky video and the incredibly moving Jeep “Whole Again” commercial (FYI: Peppercomm’s interns weren’t the only ones tearing up)

Takeaway 3: Privacy? LOL
In a world with social media, public relations has transformed dramatically—so, too, has the landscape for PR professionals and applicants. Mr. Joseph explained how, as a result of increased transparency, brands are often expected to take a public stand on political issues, for better or worse.

Likewise, in a reality where interviewers check your Facebook page before they shake your hand, hyper-strict privacy settings are no longer the best strategy. Hiding your online presence does nothing for you as an applicant, whereas promoting a positive online presence does everything. As PR professionals, if we can’t manage our personal brands, why would we be hired to manage a client’s brand?
Room for improvement? Perhaps the networking session

After two and a half hours of inspiring and motivating us, InternFest dropped that ominous word: Networking. While this final half-hour was perfectly fine, it could have used more organization to lessen the inherent awkwardness of networking. The non-interns stood in the back of the room and a table of water bottles and candy stood near the exit. Not to be picky when it comes to mingling, but the environment was less natural and more “Ready, Set, Network!”, with interns scrambling to get business cards before everyone mingled their way out the door. In addition, with some professionals missing a nametag, we were left to distinguish Junior Account Executives from interns, which can essentially come down to who looks more nervous.

All in all, I was extremely impressed by InternFest and the meaningful insight that we took with us. Thank you to the Council of Public Relations Firms for putting on such a fabulous event, and I hope to see you again—as panelist rather than nervous intern.

Jul 23

Tales from the dark side

vlcsnap-2011-10-17-21h48m30s20I was recently tossing back a few, cold ones with a well-known PR reporter when the subject of hard-hitting trade coverage came up.

We agreed the advertising trades don’t pull any punches, and balance their content with an equal mix of good, bad and just plain ugly accounts of misbehaving clients and agencies alike.

We also agreed the exact opposite was true of PR journals.

The latter continually celebrate our industry’s having already won a coveted seat at the C-suite table (a half-truth at best, that never fails to remind me of W’s ill-advised ‘mission accomplished’ speech in the weeks following the fall of Baghdad).

The PR trades also lionize Fortune 500 CCOs and the CEOs of global holding companies (one need only read the recent ‘Power 50′ of one publication to see what I mean).

So, in the interests of providing balance to an otherwise, Stepford Wives-like approach to coverage, here are three recent tales from the PR dark side: prospective clients whose atrocious behavior would never see the light of day in our utopian trade media:

1.) Prospect number one reached out to Peppercomm, and expressed significant interest in an employee communications program that would be driven by our Comedy Experience training. Encouraged and emboldened by such talk, this blogger hopped on a five-hour flight. The next day, I showed up at the prospect’s headquarters only to be told the lead executive had gone home early due to an adverse reaction to meds. “Would I be interested in a tour instead?” the receptionist asked. I would not, I responded. Mortified, I asked that the meeting be re-scheduled while I remained in town. There was no response to said request. Nor was there ever an apology from the meds-challenged prospect. And, there’s been deafening silence ever since.

2.) A midwestern law firm told us we were one of three finalists for what would be a significant, multi-year relationship. Our team re-arranged their schedules, jetted to the prospect’s offices and nailed the presentation. But, alas, one or two lead partners had missed the meeting. So, the prospect asked us to jump on another plane ASAP and brief the missing executives. We did so (again dropping everything else in the process). Now, some five years later, we’re still in the dark as to how that second meeting went.

3.) It was a true horse race. The prospect said they simply couldn’t decide between my favorite firm and an investor relations challenger. Say what? IR? Isn’t this a PR assignment, we asked? Well, yes, but the IR firm had been in place for some time, and had done a nice job in the pitch. Would both agencies be willing to undertake a speculative project to break the logjam? Sure, we said. Months later, a ‘Dear agency’ note informed us that investor relations was a top priority at the moment, but that the prospect would be in touch at a later date.

Yeah, sure. And, the meds-challenged lady will call me tomorrow, and the Midwest law firm wants to sign an LOA this afternoon.

So, there you have it. Three tales from the dark side.

Actually, it’s not the dark side at all.

My anecdotes are part, and parcel, of every day life in our industry that, unfortunately, goes unreported by the Fourth Estate.

Jul 22

Bringing Glory to Terror

Few journalistic issues have been more divisive than that of Rolling Stone Magazine’s choice to feature the lone surviving Boston bomber on its upcoming cover.

What’s your view?

Peppercomm’s Laura “Bedrock” Bedrossian, who wrote today’s guest post, has a most definite POV on the subject. Let her know whether you agree, disagree or, like Whitey Bulger, decide to take the Fifth.

Rolling-Stone-Tsarnaev-Cover-ThumbnailUnless you live under a “stone” (pun intended), you know that the latest—or soon to be latest—cover of Rolling Stone magazine has created a firestorm in the media, online and, really, just everywhere.

From the comments I’ve read and the major brands that have come out against the cover going so far as to ban the issue from being sold in their stores, there is no bigger “eff you” to the victims of the bombing than immortalizing the Boston bomber’s image on the cover of a popular consumer magazine.

I’m not saying the article doesn’t deserve to be written and his side of the story shouldn’t be heard, but this is an interesting creative choice. There were certainly other artistic directions to go in rather than linking his image to the feature.  So why did the editors choose that one? My guess? Sales and exactly what’s happening now—the widespread conversation about the magazine.  

I don’t think it was much of a stretch for the editors to find it ethically appropriate to put the bomber’s image on the cover. Despite not being a hard news outlet, the precedent for glorifying horrific crimes in this culture has been set long ago. Case in point? The Mafia.

It may sound silly, but how many movies, shows, books, etc. have you read/seen on the subject? Even on specific mobsters? The crimes of this organization have been horrific and very high in frequency and are still happening. Yet, the public can’t get enough of it.

While we know these crime rings still exist (thank you reality TV for confirming that, residents of states like New Jersey and Rhode Island see that these families are still a part of society), it’s not quite as scary to encounter someone in this group —mainly because the police and public aren’t intimidated/terrified anymore.  But when did we reach this point where glorifying these types of criminals and crimes as acceptable? Did the first movie or magazine story about the mafia reach the same level of anger from the public as this issue of Rolling Stone?

I don’t know the answer, but I do wonder if the type of notoriety for criminals accused of terrorism is heading toward this same type of ‘immortalization’ status.

Right now, everyone is talking about the latest Rolling Stone issue, clicking through to the website and thinking about Rolling Stone. Links to the now-live online issue can be found in multiple stories across the internet, as well as social media.  All of the major news outlets are covering the controversy and putting Rolling Stone front and center. Some are positive remarks, some negative, but all are discussing the subject of the Boston bomber’s image and Rolling Stone.

As more outlets cover the story, the magazine will get more people talking about it, get more people clicking through to the website and then people will most likely be more apt to buy the print version to see what the article is about (not to mention those sales from the people who will see the name Rolling Stone wonder why it’s trending and then pick it up).

A Poynter Institute article on the matter has some interesting information that is hard to ignore:

“Rolling Stone has not publicly acknowledged its critics but did talk briefly with USA Today:

Rolling Stone declined to comment to USA TODAY on the controversial cover, except to note that the outcry is reminiscent of another polarizing cover, more than 40 years ago, on cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson.

 

 That cover, in June 1970, including a prison interview with Manson, became one of Rolling Stone’s biggest selling issues and won a National Magazine award.”

Whether this will become a best-selling issue for the magazine remains to be seen, but they certainly seem to be treading familiar water. Is it at the cost of immortalizing terrorists?

It seems that Ii it’s OK to immortalize murderers and criminals like the mafia (and Charles Manson, to name a few), I see nothing wrong with putting a picture of an alleged bomber on the cover of a magazine. It would have been a more tasteful editorial choice for there to be a different cover (and it would have shown that the magazine stands by its fellow Americans), but, hey, that doesn’t sell and get people talking does it?

 

Jul 19

Peppercomm’s marathon man

Ray Carroll is far more than Peppercomm’s administrative coordinator. He’s also a member of PepperRunners, our very own running team. Unlike most other PepperRunners, though, Ray is something of a rookie. But, oh my, what a rookie.

color runIn just a year, Ray (pictured strutting his stuff with other PepperRunners) has gone from being a non-runner to a serious competitor, who has finished a 5K and two half marathons. In an effort to find out what makes Ray run (and how his approach might help other late-adopters), I slowed down our resident Marathon Man long enough to ask how he does that thing he does so well.  Check out his answers. There’s some great advice here.

1.) You’ve run a number of races in the past few months and seem to be getting more and involved in fitness.  What initially prompted your decision?  
My motivation is the desire to live a long, healthy life. So I signed up for my first organized run – NYC Half Marathon – with a group of coworkers. We helped each other and raised money for a good cause.  Immediately after I finished the race, I signed up for the San Francisco Half and booked vacation around that.

2.) Have you also changed your diet? If not, do you intend to?
Diet is half the battle of weigh control, so I discussed my eating habits with a nutritionist. I’ve always known which foods I should be eating, and consultation showed that my portion control as well as dietary inconsistency could be improved… A strict regimen is what I need and, honestly, that’s still a work in progress.

3.) What was the most difficult thing about starting a long-distance running regimen? What was the easiest?
Getting started is the most difficult part especially when you can’t run very far.  I never enjoyed running, so I planned ways to keep interest – scenic runs are always good – and found ways to overcome psychological aspects.  The races were goals that I set and I needed to keep myself going, so I’d drive to a friend’s house – about 12 miles away – and I’d run/jog/walk my way home.  There’s no skipping laps that way.  Also, watching others run with ease tapped into my competitive nature.  I’d try my best to keep up with them and eventually become a better runner.

4.) What has running taught you about yourself?
Completing any race provides a great sense of accomplishment and I cannot explain the wave of emotions that rushed over me after completing an organized long-distance run.  I always knew I could do whatever I set my mind to, but I had a hard time picturing myself run a half marathon.  It feels great mentally and physically, and has boosted my ego in so many ways.

5.) What are your personal fitness goals for the future? And, are there other fitness activities (i.e. swimming, cycling, etc.) that you might add to your overall routine?
I hope to defy nature and keep getting healthier as I grow older.  I was riding my bike to work last year, and will start that up again soon.  It’s a great cardiovascular exercise, and I even saved some money while sparing myself a stressful subway ride.  I think it’s best to incorporate exercise into your daily routine whenever possible.

6.) Any advice for readers who may have been hesitant to start a running program like yours?
Running is an uphill battle when you first start out and it’s easy to give up, but stick with it and you’ll build confidence and stamina. Concentrate on improving your form and finding cadence, and avoid overexerting yourself.  You need to push yourself but do so without risking injury.  Watching faster runners and not being able to keep pace can also be defeating, just keep in mind that cutting time and increasing speeds will come at the next level. Try to find fun physical activities so that exercise becomes a pleasure and not a chore.

Jul 18

The Del Boca Vista Death Sentence

del-boca-vistaA just-released study of half a million people in France shows that those who delayed retirement, or never retired at all, had less risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

That HAS to be bad news to the gaggle of middle and senior-level executives at my firm who pine for the day when I’ll put the Repman blog (and Repman himself) out to pasture. Based on this study (and my own desires), that simply isn’t going to happen.

The French study is the largest of its kind and, says researchers, makes sense “…since working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally-challenged, all of which are known to prevent mental decline.” Amen, brother.

I’ve never understood the Del Boca Vista (a venue made famous by “Seinfeld”) mentality, which I’d describe as follows: “Marge: Let’s bag it, buy a condominium in Florida and waste away our remaining days playing golf, bridge, and inhaling early bird specials.” To me, that’s akin to a death sentence.

That said, I do NOT want to overstay my welcome at Peppercomm. I don’t want to be the septagenarian or octogenarian who hobbles into a client meeting, bores everyone with tales of the good, old days and promptly nods off in the middle of an important discussion.

I want to be the Barry Sanders or Sandy Koufax of PR. I’d like to hang up my spikes while I’m still at the top of my game. But, and this is a big but, I’m not going to disengage and hang out in Hollywood, Florida, listening to a dinner table full of acquaintances discuss Sidney’s latest bypass procedure. Not this blogger.

I foresee consulting, lecturing, climbing and comedy filling up my golden years. And, when I do go, I don’t want to go gracefully. I intend to die with my boots on, banging out one last blog, scaling one last peak or boring one last classroom of Millennials.

Aside from Lafayette and the Statue of Liberty, there really haven’t been too many things for which we can thank the French. This study, though, deserves a hearty, ‘.merci beaucoup et formidable, mes amis!’

The French have confirmed what I’ve always known: if I pull the plug on work and settle in Sanibel, I’ll go insane.