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April 28, 2008


James Hipkin

B. Mus. (Music Composition and Theory) with a minor in Calculus.

I've never played it safe. This has resulted in a career that spans producing rock concerts, advertising, direct marketing, and now interactive marketing. The US is the fourth country and third continent I've lived in / on in the past 20 years. I don't have as much money as I probably would have if I had played it safe but boy, do I have some stories :-)


well said! If what you do pleases everyone, it must be boring as hell.

I was re-reading some of my older posts yesterday and noticed a definite dulling around the edges lately. Once I realized my 'audience' included old friends, work colleagues and my aunts and cousins, significant watering down began.

That needs to change. Thanks for the reminder!


Oh yeah. BSc. Computer Science.

Vijayendra Mohanty

Man is born to live and not to prepare to live. -- Boris Pasternak

Often, all we need to do to realise that is ask "what are we here for"

Even from a non-marketing POV, this post makes a lot of sense.


A BA in French, getting my MBA in entrepreneurship, married to a History/Poli Sci major!

Janice C Cartier

Actionable idiosyncratic advice...love it.
Fine Arts (visual), with minors in French, Eng lit and Zone System photography.
All best, Jan

Sonia Simone

Amen, Mark. It's one thing when your audience/community are a bunch of nice pixels you only know through the Internet, and another when your family & friends show up, or when Internet friends become folks whose opinions matter to you. No remedy, I think, except to keep an eye on it.

Some Francophones here, excellent! I suppose I should have added that I was a history major, did my senior thesis on the use of etiquette as a social valve in Heian Japan. Now that I think about it, I could probably actually use that in my professional life. :)

Brian Clark

Psychology major, sociology minor, juris doctorate.

And no matter what my mom says, I'm using every one of them to this day. :-)


Oh, that human tendency to bend towards comfort. Since I write about great adaptations, I've been mulling over what to call the adaptations that lead us down the wrong path, so I can give awards for those too. Like Darwin awards, only bloggier. How about "boner adaptations?" Ew! That might offend! Well put, Sonia, another great post. Note to self: Must interview Sonia. Oh - your question. Yes, something about high IQs and over education CAN be a limitation. I'm surviving my 176 but it has taken a long time. Keep the good stuff coming.
Suzanna Stinnett



Double major English and Spanish, double minor theatre and linguistics—abandoned (because I'm also an idiot), after three years on acad. scholarship (people don't value Free).

A few long years later, BFA (Bach. of Fine Arts) in interior design, minors in graphic design and sculpture (since it related not one bit to what I'd done before, I had to start over, and pay through the nose, too...). My senior thesis was on Kiki Smith and feminist art.

I've yet to get much brawling going on at my blog, just a flare now and then. I do get some silliness, which I see as a good sign. I do my best to avoid boring.

Unless it's strictly necessary, I don't stop giggling and joking in "real" life, so I like to see that in my online world, too. I wasn't the class clown. I'm not much for broad jokes. I was the one who whispered an aside that got six kids falling out of their seats, with me sitting angelically in the center of it all. It's a little hard to whisper an aside online, but I do my best. My favorite off-topic compliment is probably "coffee almost came out my nose." :)

Another book up the Funky Business aisle, if you haven't read it, is Freakonomics. Maybe not as much practical application, but a great, thoughtful, funny read on modern mad money times.



Evan Hadkins

Not convinced, sorry. (Does this piss you off?)

There was a drink company which changed it's taste. It was called Coke it cost them, big time! Pepsi was happy though.

Aggression can be useful to get attention which may be important when entering the market.

We live in a world of rapid change. This makes reliability more valuable - witness the growth of franchises.

Comfort is just fine. It's OK to stretch yourself but success is more likely when you know what you're doing than trusting to dumb luck (which is what stretching yourself can amount to).

If you love what you do you will want to get better at it anyway.

If you get in a rut let your anger out - don't post it, but let it out, move on and post that.

As for me. Two bachelors (one in, mostly, English Literatur, the other in Adult and Vocational Education. The one in English was worthwhile - the other simplify for the qualification.) Also various other Diplomas and such. My learning has largely been self-directed I've found the courses largely worthless - though I have made some good friends from some of them.

Sonia Simone

@Suzanna, you made me laugh! Yes, that one might need a rewrite.

@Even, I just threw a chair across the room. :) I happen to have the great fortune to have worked with a guy who was a major marketing exec at Coke. You make a good point--Coke was comfortable for people, and they moved out of that comfort zone and got slammed for it. I'll counter, though, with two arguments--1) they've done a lot of sharp, memorable, interesting ads over the years, even if they're not actually making anyone angry, and 2) you and I should both be so lucky as to have to solve the particular marketing issues coke does. Their product is a strongly-ingrained habit with people--and once you reach that point, yes, I agree, you're playing a different game. But they still need to win new customers just like you & I do, and they do that by trying to put communication out that's vivid and fresh. That kind of mainstream brand really does want to be all things to all people, and I confess that's not something I know much about.

Sonia Simone

Evan made a great point I forgot to mention last night--pissing people off by being unreliable is a terrible idea. I agree completely that reliability is one of the most important qualities for any business today.

Pissing people off, alienating them, or just letting them go because you stand for something, though--because you refuse to be all things to all people--is (I would argue) a smart thing to do, in addition to making you feel 100% better about yourself as a human.

Jean Gogolin

Great post as always, Sonia. I find myself playing it safe (which means boring) when I talk a little bit down to my audience, who are mostly young corporate communicators. BAD mistake, for them and for me.

Major: Poli Sci and English, back when I thought I was going to be a lawyer instead of marrying an engineer.

Selina Nisanyan

Inspiring post..Brings to mind Hardy's definition of "interesting" - an uncertain mix of danger and possibility. I guess this is the reason some people prefer convention.

Degree- Bachelor of Commerce Majoring in Marketing & Management.


Bringt den Sinn Hardy's Definition von "interessant" - eine unsichere Mischung aus Gefahr und Möglichkeit. Ich denke, dies ist der Grund, warum einige Leute bevorzugen Konvention.


This has to sink in for awhile with me. I think it's smart to watch, observe, use both ears. Makes sense.
Market responsiveness, how can that be bad?
There is that slight creepiness factor if someone had ill intent.
Or now that you all have me thinking, would I want someone to hear the things I say in conversation? Would we self censor more knowing a Papa Bear is in the room?

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