Nike’s “Enabling Technology” Camp Victory

Nike shows us, if used the right way, all technology can be interactive. They’re at it again with some over-the-top OOH installations, what they call Camp Victory.

Sounds like some of the components of this installation will be put in their retail stores, which is only taking them one step closer to a completely technology-based interactive retail environment. It might take some time, but they are leading the way. And this is the future.

More than that, though, they’re just great at using (enabling) technology as a way to demonstrate to the public their own technology. And the thing about it is, they use whatever technology is best to show it off, regardless of how 1.0 or 2.0 it is.

This makes me believe that consumers might not be as intimidated by technology as I think, particularly as more and more people adopt smartphones. In a lot of ways, these types of installations are just bigger, badder smartphone applications. If people know how to work those, they’ll know how to work something(s) as enormous as this. And besides, that’s what I would call “2.0” enabling technology. You can see just as many examples of simpler technology, but just as interactive. And that’s what I think is brilliant.


Not Easy

At the halfway point in the year, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more challenging half of a year. It has been one filled with great transition, great sacrifice, great opportunity, and great fulfillment. Funny how all of those are typically always entwined. Nothing is easy, at least when you want something so bad. I’m not talking about a client, or a particular job, or a title. I’m talking about being your best self.

In the face of so much transition, so much adversity, so much overwhelmingness, it’s easy to lose perspective. It’s easy to lose who you are. That’s the challenge. Not the work, not the responsibilities, not anything like that. It’s resisting the urge to cut corners, to do what’s easiest or most well-received, to be guided by the wrong things, to compromise your core.

This is not easy.

But it is the way it must be done. If you want it bad enough.

Amazing Technology + “On Brand” + Outdoor = Awesome Experience

When you pair super creative minds with super technology, you get something like this:

This was this year’s Cannes Outdoor Grand Prix winner, just announced yesterday.

This is not just cool for cool’s sake. This Mercedes car runs of F-cell technology, which produces 0 emissions. Basically, producing an “invisible” impact to the environment. This is a creative expression of that benefit.

Completely on brand.

Very cool.

Self Serve vs. Human Connection

self-serve food kiosk

I spend a lot of time in the Detroit airport nowadays and last week, I encountered something interesting and little bit frustrating – a self-serve only kiosk to order your food.

In theory, this is more interesting than frustrating, but when you have 3 people – employees of the establishment – standing right behind the kiosks and no one else in line to order the food, it tipped the scale to frustrating.

There I was, in a hurry, trying to catch my flight, and within the span of 30 seconds, I could have given my order to one of the employees. And within a couple of minutes, could have gotten my meal and jet-setted to my jet. Rather, I had to spend a good 1.5-2 minutes going through the kiosk to place my order. Wait another couple of minutes to get it and viola, an experience that should have taken less than 5 minutes, suddenly took at least 5 minutes.

I’m all one for self-serve, interactive ordering and ticketing and the like. But the balance with this sort of technology, out in the real world like this, is how much is takes away from or supplements customer service. That’s right, good, old fashioned customer service.

See, I want to take care of my business quickly and efficiently. Technology like this can help. But I also have a need for some sort of human interaction, particularly if it helps me take care of my business more quickly and efficiently. When we replace one with the other, we are shifting the balance of what technology can really do for us. We are deeming it just as good, just as quick, just as efficient – if not more – than what we as humans can provide. This is scary. It’s not a complete replacement. It should be a comprehensive supplement.

The voice, the smile, the service. That’s something that a Siri-like device can give us now and in the future. It will likely be even more real. But it’s not. And it never will be. And that’s the point. Human interaction, at our core, is a consistent point of connection and that will never go away. Even when we have more and more technology and kiosks and computers and Siris.

Right now, a complete substitute is just frustrating. In the future, well….I just hope that we can hold on to that human connection.

Teenagers’ Simple Thoughts About OOH Technology

Coke's touch screen fountain

Remember this machine? You’ve probably seen them more and more in restaurants.

Last night, I was out and here’s what I overheard from 2 girls, probably 14-16 years old.

Girl 1: “This is weird.”

Girl 2: “Ahhh. Awesome.”

Then, they both promptly figured it out, got their sodas, and continued on with 14-16 year-old conversation.

Technology like this is not disruptive for this group. It is expected. And it doesn’t phase them at all.

People, Organization, Work – Pick 2?

One of the first anecdotes my mentor told me when I started my career was, “Time, Money, Quality – pick 2.” For those of you in the business, I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before. And probably made jokes about it. Because, while the point is – you can’t have it all, more often than not, the push for delivery is to bring it all. It’s a never-ending challenge in the business of making and delivering stuff. But in the end, really, there is always a sacrifice.

I’m leading a huge transition at work right now and I’m finding the same sort of challenge. But it’s a different set of 3. I’m finding that the pillars of any group/organization/team are:

“People, Organization, Work”

People being the actual talent that makes up the team. There is an inherent dynamic that you must be aware of because it directly affects – positively or negatively – the culture of your team/organization.

Organization is actually the workflow, the process, the how things get done.

And the work is the work. It’s the stuff that you make.

In huge periods of transition, I feel like the struggle is the same as it is in delivery. Maybe even moreso. You know you have to reasonably focus on all of the 3, but at the end of the day, at any given time, something is sacrificed. Might just be for a day, might be for a week, might even be for a month. But which is it?

I’ll tell you which one I always try for it NOT to be.

Always, always – people. People are the key. If we get that right, everything else will be right. Just takes longer to do it, which is really where the challenge comes in. And, of course, you don’t want to overburden your existing people, because presumably, they are the right people.

So, the pick 2 thing – I’m still figuring it out. It’s a dance that changes on a daily basis. But the 1 I’m grounded in and try to always pick and not sacrifice is the people.

Do you find the same challenge out there? Would love to hear your stories, if so.

Quiet Giants

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

As I watched my daughter ‘graduate’ from first grade last week, I was amazed by a number of things –

1) despite trying to ignore the cliché, time really does fly and just like that, my daughter is going to be in the 2nd grade

2) the genuine love that the teachers and the students have for each other was palpable

3) each of the children is so different, and while all there for the same thing, the teacher had to find how each student learns and adapt accordingly

4) a simple mantra that might have been over some of the students’ heads, but it wasn’t over mine – “Quite Giants”

The teacher talked about “Quite Giants” – those who can do anything they put their mind to, but don’t beat their chest and brag and boast and say look at me. They quietly go about their business and accomplish deeds of giant proportion.

Quiet Giants. I love it.

I don’t know about you, but I have met my fair share of people who yearn for the spotlight, who want everyone to know that they’re the smartest person in the room, that they deserve all the credit, etc, etc. Regardless of the work they do. That is way overshadowed by the need to say, ‘look at me’ in all situations.

Then, there are those who plug away each day, focus on the challenge that is right in front of them, get resourceful, make things happen, and could ultimately care less about whether or not everyone knows or sees what they did.

I am not talking about wallflowers. You have to be active, you have to be communicative, you have to make an active contribution to the team. I’m talking about people focused on the right things – giving it their all, addressing what they’re dealt, and coming out with the best work product. Not with the best me product.

When building or leading or working on a team, my experience has been that these Quiet Giants are the X factor. They need to be active participants and need to compliment each other so that when the spotlight is shining, someone (or ones) can step in. Or speak up. Or lead.

In the end though, it’s the giant work and giant contribution that speaks louder than any words can.

Ten Minute Trials

I just read a post by one of my favorites, Seth Godin. In it, he talks about leaving behind artifacts. Most of the time, when we’re busy meeting, tweeting, emailing, there is hardly anything tangible to show for it. Certainly not something that can be looked back upon to record how you were, what you said, what you thought, what you actually made. But what if, just in 10 minutes, you had a place to record what you found, what you thought, what was on your mind?

This is one of the powers of a blog. Thoughts. Words. Opinions. Rants. Joys. Artifacts. A record.

The only problem is time. Darn time. It takes time to formulate thoughts into coherent sentences that someone can actually take something from. Not to mention the time it takes to decipher whether or not it is worth writing about in the first place.

But I love the idea of 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes to leave behind an artifact. And just 1 thought. That’s all it really needs.

So, I’m going to try it out. I don’t know how frequently I’ll actually be able to keep it up, but looking at it in this way enables me to feel a little less pressure. It’s almost freeing in these terms. We’ll see.


What’s really “King”?

Some say big ideas are king.

Others say content is king. This is a popular one.

Know what I really believe is king?


It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are over and over again. And/or how good your content, and even more, how good your work is over and over again. And/or how good you do a particular thing.

If your relationship is not strong and you do not nurture it and grow it, all of the work and all of the big ideas and all of the content can go away in an instant. Literally.

It’s just so important to take the time to create important relationships and then to cultivate them and grow them. It takes time. It’s not a flash in the pan. This is what makes it hard.

But this is what also makes it sustainable.

This is what makes it king.

Keep the Flame Burning

Passion is like a flame that burns inside you.

That flame is the thing that can keep you going, despite whatever else is going on. Too much this or that.

As long as the flame is still going, you can rely on it to rejuvenate you.

Recognize what this flame is inside you, what keeps you going.

And whatever you do, never let it get extinguished. If it does, it will be incredibly hard – maybe even impossible – to re-ignite.

Flames allow us to do what we do and more than that, to be our best selves.

Do whatever you can do to always keep your flame burning.