Archives for posts with tag: inspiration

The Future is Ours from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.


You can’t imitate your way to innovation. Here’s a good example of a brand that imitates the strategies and tactics of one its biggest competitor. On my way to an Apple store, I walked by a Microsoft store. It was stunning how similar both stores looked. The one big difference: the Microsoft store was completely empty.

Microsoft copied the concept. Apple stole it.

Steve Jobs mentioned the famous Picasso quote (“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”) many times because its at the core of Apple’s philosophy: Don’t just copy: steal and make it your own. Computer stores used to be messy and fairly uninviting. The inspiration for Apple stores didn’t come from those chaotic experiences, it came from the world of luxury boutiques: expensive materials, inviting street presence, bright lights and friendly employees. They stole and imitated; but not from their competitors.

There are scenarios where it makes sense to plainly imitate: Ask Zara, a low price imitator par excellence. When you have an expensive product and can deliver a comparable experience for a disruptively low price: That’s a winning strategy because you’re opening up new markets.

Generally, mindlessly mimicking the direct competition is a race to the bottom. Making ideas your own and transforming your industry can turn you into the most valuable company in the world.


I had the worst history teacher in 5th and 6th grade.

For 2 years we were supposed to learn everything about the Greek and Roman history.

Every week, he asked us to read 5 pages of dry facts.

He picked one student per week and questioned that person for 35 minutes.

Whatever you did in those 35 minutes determined the grade for the semester.

When you were picked early in the year, you were done for the rest of the semester.

I was picked early each semester.

Because of my above average short-term memory, I scored an A each time.

And I learned nothing about Greek or Roman history.



I hated history.

Until I met Mr. Buckmann.

He became our history teacher in 7th grade.

Within 5 minutes he transformed the whole classroom from history haters into history lovers.

He brought history to life.

Suddenly, I could see life through the eyes of a farmer in the 13th century.

I understood how decisions by the monarchy changed their lives.

Suddenly, facts turned into real-life experiences.

Ever since that day, I never lost my love for history.

The power of one

It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence.

We think: “What can I do?”

“I’m just one person.”

Even when you’re high up in the food chain, you often feel this way.

The truth is that each of us has much more power than we could possibly imagine.

I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook a few weeks ago.

He wrote: “I’m glad to share with you how you changed my life. That advice you gave me changed my life forever.”

I remember that conversation.

For me, it was just another conversation.

For my friend, it had a powerful impact.

Each of us has the power to change the world.

You may think you’re powerless, but you are not..

You may think you don’t have the resources, but you do.

Resources are never the issue.

As long as you have a voice (amplified by all these amazing tools), you have enough resources.

I can think of quite a few people that changed my life for the better.

The intimate talk with a friend.

The mentorship of an executive.

The passion of a teacher.

You were put in this world to make it a better place.

You have amazing tools at your hand to amplify your voice.

You have a lot of power.

Use it wisely.

2 days ago, McDonalds announced the development of its biggest restaurant in London, covering 30,000 square feet.

On the same day, the Shuttle program came to an end.

We tend to blame the government for everything and look for corporations to provide solutions.

The shuttle program was one of the most complicated programs ever conceived. And it was done by a government agency. They envisioned it. They built it. They made it work. For 135 missions.

In our daily existence, we’re so focused on results. Metrics. Measuring sticks.

The human experience requires more.

We need to be inspired.

We want to be touched by human aspiration.

We want to see the human spirit in motion.

I will miss this amazing technology that turned into poetry.

We lost a lot this week. And we might have to wait for a while to admire human ingenuity again.

In the meantime, there’s always the world’s largest McDonald’s.

STS requiem from Small Mammal on Vimeo.

I leave the safety of the cab by exiting at the Mahim railway station, surrounded by the typical craziness of Mumbai traffic: thousand of honks and near misses. The tour guide meets me at the ticket counter and we head down to the Dharavi Slum, the largest slum in Asia with more than 1 million inhabitants. We walk across a filthy, trash-filled creek. Little kids taking a shower in the middle of rubbish, people digging through dirt.


Before we enter the lively, residential area I take this shot. Out of respect for the inhabitants, the tour guide requests of me not to take pictures inside. We walk into the slum, maneuvering carefully to ensure we do not step in anything nasty. We learn that of the 1 million legal residents (about 1.4 million if you include illegals) 100% have electricity and running water, 90% have a television and 15% own a computer. 1 toilet is shared with 2,000 others.

We see the remains of our lifestyle: plastic cups, plastic spoons, plastic bottles. And we experience how the slum residents use these remains to make a living. Our first stop is the plastic recycling district, where discarded plastics are sorted by color, crushed, melted and then dried.

Slums Roof

We go deep inside a small shop, climb up three flights to end up on the roof of this shop. That’s the place where huge mounds of plastic are being dried for hours, dragged back down and then cut into tiny pellets. Just to transform into toys your children might play with every day. In the middle of this picture (Ok, I took one picture from inside.) you can see the cell phone tower, one of many that helps people stay connected to the world. On the left is one of the numerous apartment buildings of the luxurious suburb of Bandra, bordering the slum, with a price tag of $50,000-$150,000 for a studio.

The next few hours touring Dharavi slum are upsetting and make me feel uncomfortable in my white, affluent skin. But they are also the most inspirational moments of my life.

I expected misery and destitute people. Instead, I experience a community filled with entrepreneurs and small business industries not accepting the odds or destiny. They didn’t give up or went the route of begging, being dependent on others. They took life by the horns and thrive against all odds.

Slums Street2

(The following pictures were taken at the outskirts of the Dharavi slum.)

We crouch through corridor-like pathways between houses made from reclaimed trash as the blue sky turns into darkness inside the tight living quarters. We see houses where women weave baskets while their babies sleep on dirty mattresses. Little kids touch me, say “Hi” and “Bye”, trying to connect with me. Nobody asks for money. We just look at each other: curious, two worlds colliding. Everybody is busy working, washing, cleaning, getting on with their lives. We see bakeries that make snacks for the outside world. We see the pottery district where thick smoke covers a whole block, turning everything in its path black.

photo (25)

Here is the final product, diligently cleaned by this women to sell to the outside world.

The majority of this work is dangerous, there are no rules or regulations. And, it’s incredibly dirty. Filthy. But it’s a living, an income. That counts for a lot in a city of 14 million where half of its residents live in a slum, many of them just surviving by begging on the street. Dharavi is home to around 15,000 small businesses (ranging from recycling, pottery, and embroidery to bakeries, soap factories, and leather tanning) and generates some $700 million each year.

Slums Street

Reality Tours offers various options to explore the amazing world of the Dharavi Slum. 80% of the proftis from the tours are put into a slum kindergarten and education center through Reality Cares, a non-governmental organization. Residents can acquire basic computer skills (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, etc.) for free in a 15-week course. The company also offers bike tours, overnight stays in villages and combos of sightseeing/slum tour.

This might not be for everyone. It’s heart-breaking, inspirational, upsetting and invigorating. It will change all your perceptions about slums and poverty. Most importantly, you will leave a changed person.


When I think about Martin Luther King Junior, two words come to mind: boldness and inspiration.

Boldness: He didn’t settle for a manageable dream. He set an inspiring goal. A lofty goal we never fully achieved in our society. A goal that goes way beyond the civil rights movement he lead. A spiritual goal.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

That goal might seem out reach, it might seem even crazy to go after it but, as a born leader, Martin Luther King Junior felt he had no choice. He saw no reason to settle:

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Inspiration: Only a bold dream can be inspiring. Nobody gets inspired by mediocrity. But there’s more to inspiration than pure boldness. Great leaders inspire the heart.

“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”

While logic may compel the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart. That’s an important part of Martin Luther King Juniors story and anyone aspiring to be a leader: Often in our zeal for truth and facts, we forget how to communicate them. Being right without being heard benefits no one.

Martin Luther King Junior was 34 years old when he delivered his monumental “I have a dream” speech. We lost him way too early. But his dream is still alive.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


“When we are narcissistic, we are not on solid ground (earth) or thinking clearly (air) or cought up in passion (fire).  Somehow if we follow the myth, we are dreamlike, fluid, not clearly formed, more immersed in a stream of fantasy than secure in a firm identity.” – Thomas Moore

Mediocre brands love to talk about themselves. Just like the dull dinner companion or date that can only talk about him or herself. It’s hard to escape a dinner date, it’s easy to escape mediocre brands. I just tune them out, throw their stuff in the garbage, don’t even see them.

Great brands talk about what they believe in. What they are passionate about. What they love. They take a stand and tell you what they’re standing against. Sharing with the world what your really believe in is inspiring. Sharing a passion with the world makes people want to connect with a brand. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you share your real identity with the world.

What is your brand passionate about?


This post appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site.

These writers put their heart and soul into their book. And changed the way I look at the world, how I see myself and transformed the way I work. As a thank you, please see my recommendations below. (No affiliate links)

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity

Richard Florida reminds us to consider the current recession as a moment of transformative upheaval (like the Great Depression) “when new technologies and technological systems arise, when the economy is recast and society remade, and when the places where we live and work change to suit new needs” While I find, Richard Florida often doesn’t go deep enough in his analysis (based also on the fact we’re in the middle of another Great Reset), it’s a great reminder that this current crisis is not just another recession. It’s a paradigm shift of global proportions.

Empowered: Unleash Your Employee, Energize Your Customer, and Transform Your Business

As a follow-up to the Social Media bible Groundswell, Empowered discusses how employees with great ideas should be encouraged to innovate and transform your business to better serve customers. Josh Bernoff bases his book on the idea that service is the new marketing and asks managers to work with employee innovators (called HEROs by the author) to spread the positive word about your business through their own channels. A great introduction for people to move their organization from using Social Media as a media channel to transforming your enterprise to a Social business.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Did you know you’re an artist? You better believe it, work like an artist and stop being a cog in an organization or you will become obsolete. Linchpin is by far Seth Godin’s most passionate and mature book, encouraging people to become emotional workers. This book will make you look at yourself and the work you are doing. And it will challenge you to finally make the leap to become a linchpin yourself. Come on, take the leap. Buy the book. Become an artist. Do the sacrifice and create emotional work. It’s your choice. It’s hard work. It can be a burden. And it will be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how advertising has to become more inspirational. Calling it coincidence or luck, I encountered above inspiring example last night.

Visiting Amsterdam for a few days, I’ve seen a lot of print/display ads and billboards announcing the new H&M flagship store in Amsterdam. Nothing made me stop and consider visiting the store. But above video installation just made everybody stop in their tracks and look. Muse created such an amazing video experience, it wasn’t clear for a while if we’re looking at art or advertising as art. In the end, it doesn’t matter. H&M and Muse put a smile on my face and made Amsterdam even more magic. If you think advertising can’t be inspirational, just watch the video.