Seeing the Miracles in Life

Original post November 24, 2015

Be grateful for all the miracles in your life.

Sometimes the miracles in our lives are more obvious than at other times. While the world is always miraculous, sometimes we see the miracle and sometimes we don’t.

Babies, kittens, flowers, stars, the moon, the ocean, mountains, trees, falling in love together, family, friendships — these are among the more obvious miracles.

We’re often unaware of the improbability of certain events that occur in our lives. Not being statisticians, we don’t realize how long the odds are of these events happening and we just go along, taking it all for granted, feeling that if it is happening it can’t be miraculous, it must all be mundane.

By tuning out our appreciation for experiencing all that is life, we may be radiating very little gratitude for all of the miracles in our lives. The Universe may respond by turning the dial on the lesson machine so that it bumps us a bit more roughly to get our attention, since we seem to be missing the polite subtle hints.

How can we feel gratitude at times that are trying us to the breaking point? By comparing the situation to one even worse. What if we had never existed at all? The Universe has created us, we are alive — is this not justification for gratitude?

All mystery schools and religions teach acquiescence, trust and gratitude as three sides to the same coin — the acceptance of what is. In Islam, it is called the Will of Allah. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe. The word religion itself comes from the Latin religare, meaning to link up. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit, meaning to yoke up, like yoking an ox to a cart.

Let’s all practice replacing negative emotion with positive emotion — which means remembering what we have to be grateful for and what we have to look forward to and be excited about. There may be challenging (even heartbreaking) trials ahead but we need to welcome them as opportunities to show what we’re really made of and how we can rise to the challenges individually and together.

If you don’t already do this every day, take some time to count your blessings.

Wishing you much personal experiencing of the miracle you
are
in, and much personal experiencing of the miracle you are.


Grateful written by John Bucchino, performed
by Ann Hampton Callaway and John Bucchino.


My Best to All,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-11-24 12:16:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Releasing Negativity

Release Negativity

Any time you notice you are not in your best self — making mistakes, losing your temper, feeling lousy or scared, whatever it is — re-set your mind by erasing everything. “Clear the mechanism” as Kevin Costner’s character says to himself in the movie “Love of the Game” (a film that shows what Flow state feels like to a baseball pitcher, as good friend Bob DeSena points out).

Assume that any sense of dilemma is a lack of clarity, that if you were thinking straight you would be accepting what is and dealing with it effectively, without negative emotion. The one thing you want is to take whatever life hands you and deal with it as best you can, and anything short of that is rejected out of your mind and body instantly.

At first you will find yourself re-setting again and again as you slip back into the old time-worn ways of mental hand-wringing, but over time your mental muscles will get stronger. Just stick with it and your positivity will become indomitable.

Best to all,
Bill

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Originally posted 2015-12-15 10:56:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Spirit of America: A Dream

Original post August 14, 2014

I am seemingly on my back looking up. There are people all around me looking down at me. Are they doctors and nurses? Am I on an operating table? Am I all right?

They are talking to each other and I am trying to make out what they are saying. I’m also trying to form a clearer picture.

I can see what looks like clouds in the sky above their heads. Are we outside? Wait — are those clouds — or are they starclouds — clouds of stars in the night?

“The baby’s all right,” I hear a woman’s voice say. Suddenly I can see them — George Washington — Thomas Jefferson — Ben Franklin — Abigail Adams — Abe Lincoln… what is Abe doing there, part of me asks but I am too out of it and don’t understand what the problem is

The Founders — and Abe — looking down at me or at us, the baby they created — seem happy, not concerned, like they are playing a game — perhaps it is like a board game to them, which is why they are looking down as if at a table — perhaps a map is spread upon that table — from their perspective — a map on a board game?

Now they are actors and actresses after a show — talking, joking, softly laughing — still up there and me down here looking up — I see them taking off their makeup — underneath their “real” faces are being revealed. It’s hard for me to see — I see Abe Lincoln taking off his makeup but he doesn’t look that much different underneath, yet I know right away somehow that he is Abraham — the original Abraham.

What is the meaning, I wonder. Now I know I am dreaming — I stretch out my mind in their direction — up — the picture gets more diffuse but I am picking up words, meanings, intentions.

“We thought up checks and balances,” a male voice says, “we were so clever and creative — inspired —”

“It still went to central power, again, every time. It always goes there. It has to go there.”

“Why?”

“Physical superiority. Organized and armed groups will always dominate individuals.”

“Even if the organized and armed groups are us?”

“Yes. Even if they mean well.”

“What happens to individuals then? And the freedom of the individual? Isn’t that the whole point? Are we wasting our time?”

“Might as well. It goes on forever anyway.”

“I see the next move,” Washington says and I can see them again crowding him to see what he is doing on the board. “Let’s see if this does it — early 1990s —”

I get it that he is doing something that will result in a military weapons system being converted into a public utility — apparently intended to change the course of history on the planet — to somehow be an ultimate check and balance to allow the individual to stand up to the whole on an equal footing of respect, dignity, and freedom.

The ancient alarm goes off, taking me out of the dream straight into the usual reaction of seeing how quickly I can make the horrible klaxon stop. I am still half asleep but the dream is gone — I am remembering traces of it, fast fading. A red cardinal is on the railing of the upstairs side deck looking in at me, cocking his head inquisitively. I float downstairs to make coffee and while it is brewing I escape the din of bean grinding and go to my office to check in on my Internet emails.

The Internet. In the early 80s, consulting for the U.S. military on human effectiveness, I was invited to be on the ring, as it was called. The ring was Darpanet, brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Not so much a weapons system as a military communication, command and control system, although even then the uses for computer warfare were well understood. Darpanet would become the Internet. Tim Berners-Lee (a Brit) would make it the Internet we recognize today by inventing the World Wide Web. In the early 90s at the first meeting of W3C, Tim’s WWW Consortium, I was the one person invited from the ad industry, and promptly soiled the rug with my idea of anonymized privacy-protected ID numbers for each user and device to make targeting and measurement easier for advertisers. By the end of the meeting I was forgiven although it would take years to convince the majority that advertising had a place on the Web. Now Google, Apple, and Microsoft all are working on their own versions of what I proposed that day.

Nor is the Internet yet a public utility. Its status is still unique and not in an existing pigeonhole, hence the concerns over the erosion of net neutrality — in other words, not making equal speed available on the Internet to all users (pending their ability to afford highspeed service). Conferring public utility status officially, even if country by country, would protect net neutrality. Maybe someday someone will write a Bill Of Rights in which Internet access is a natural birthright.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

 

Originally posted 2014-08-14 11:49:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rising Above Negativity

Original post November 17, 2015

Most of us assume there is nothing we can do about negative emotions — they come as they will, and we must just suffer through them. However, we all know someone we’ve seen rise above these feelings. With the world facing so many unprecedented challenges, it is vital that we increase our ability to rise to the occasion and surmount negative feelings.

Rise Above Negative Feelings

It’s difficult if not impossible to overcome negative feelings while remaining in our everyday “waking” state of consciousness. We can say, “I am going to put those emotions aside and get down to the business at hand”, but many of us don’t seem to have the willpower to do it. The trick is to rise out of the “waking” state of consciousness and move into the Observer state, where we are able to more easily turn off unproductive feelings.

The first step is to turn down all distractions. Create an alone space where you can’t be interrupted, where you can’t hear voices in the next room, where there isn’t a TV or some other device playing, where you’re not under time pressure. Have writing tools handy, or a sound recorder. Begin to try to understand why you are in a negative state. Be patient and wait. Once your mind knows you are focused on just one thing, which is to diagnose why you feel the way you do, it will soon start to give up answers to the question. They may be obvious or not-so-obvious. You may find yourself writing down the not-so-obvious aspects or simple phrases that are now suddenly more revealing and meaningful than you expected, which cast new light or simply state things you already knew but in much sharper and more useful language than you had access to before.

What you are doing is called contemplation.  You are flying higher, getting above the weather, so whatever weather disturbance or turbulence you experience must be rejected. Put aside whatever feeling or thought is familiar, like you have been there before. Reject ordinary thinking and feeling. Say to yourself, “That’s not constructive, it’s not getting me anywhere, and it doesn’t lead to a solution. I need something NEW.”

Strip it away as it arises and see what is underneath.

Where is it coming from?

Where did the whole pattern start?

What did I want that led me to this negative mindset?

What is really happening?

What is IT trying to teach me?

How can this situation possibly be something that can make me better and stronger?

Get creative. Generate out-of-the-box ideas. Visualize what someone you look up to would do. Come up with ideas that will not engender resistance, where you go with the flow and not against it. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-11-17 10:06:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Future Evolution of Marketing/Media Research – Revisited 2017

Original post April 19, 2011

What will happen next in the advertising industry’s important research wing? Where is it all going? What will be the face of advertising/media/BI (Business Intelligence) research/data science?

First, the drivers:

  • Decision makers want speed
  • They want answers to burning questions that specify the recommended decision with compelling rationale – so their job of taking that position and defending it will involve as little personal risk as possible;
  • They want all the variables and types of evidence reduced to utter simplicity – as in a well-designed graphic dashboard;
  • If they have a dashboard, they love to be able to play what-ifs with the recommended solution and see what happens to the graph, so that they truly do have a key role in the decision that gets made;
  • They need to be able to get their heads above all the weeds and up to where they can actually have a master vision – but the weeds are growing like hydra – the weeds being the excess of nearly-relevant information.

In other words, as compared to when I started in the business and we were looking desperately for any scrap of information, and beating the heck out of it in terms of a high bar for validation, today all too often there is much too much information. One can have an assistant compile it all so one can scan it but that’s about it. No way to actually absorb the ever-growing heap.

This new reality engenders a new way of functioning that is always high risk (as evidenced by CMOs being replaced every 23 months on average) and in which one has to operate like the Hollywood gunslingers – on gut intuition. Or as in the Hollywood story, where Columbia Pictures co-founder and head Harry Cohn could read the quality of a film based on watching butts twitch in seats.

So in other capitals across the country and around the world we have all joined that methodology, except we compile even more quantitative information as back up and proof of whatever it is our butts twitch to.

So the drivers have led so far to a relatively undesirable condition of rationalized guesswork. The researcher tries to work within this environment and tries to uplift it. Given relative rank in organizations, the researcher usually fails in this nowadays (if absolute success is the bar) except it is relatively better than if the researcher was not pushing that envelope.

The job going forward is to achieve absolute success by overturning the current rationalized guesswork mode and bringing in scientific decision making. What we already pretend to be doing.

Next, the needs:

  • Creative people need the kind of information conducive to generating Big Ideas;
  • Creative pre-tests need to be fast, highly predictive of actual cash register ROI, diagnostically rich and appropriate to being able to make quick fixes that will drive up ROI;
  • On-air cash register measurements of Creative, without use of black box attribution methods, used to reallocate so as to run the most sales-effective Creative executions most if not all of the time;
  • Programming content needs the exact same kinds of pre-testing, except instead of brand advertiser ROI, the success metric is audience size weighted by the marketable CPM – once again devolving to a financial ROI equation;
  • Media (including in-store, CRM, place-based, social, and everything else) need to be measured in terms of how well they reach types of purchasers (heavy, disloyal, etc.) and how well they influence purchase behavior (this is even more important than measuring their reach overlaps since each one has to be bought separately);
  • Crossmedia reach overlaps and synergies need to be measured and validated, their changes tracked, and these information types baked in with all the other information so as to give the decision maker a simple integrated dashboard where real (empirical) unmodeled validated information has ultimate weight. And the modeling (marketing mix and all other forms) needed to fuse together everything for the decision maker is as validated and transparent (not black box) as possible, with so as to give modelling almost no weight in terms of which media vehicles to buy – whereas crossmedia overlaps and dollar ROI synergies are the most important factors in making the big planning allocations to media types. This unavoidable leaning of our weight on the modeling crutch is a soft spot to be studied and overcome;
  • All data and data fusion methods need to be validated against actual cash register ROI;
  • Data (and proposed decision) delivery from research to the line must be in the form of utter simplicity via dashboard where exec can play what-ifs and see how ROI forecast changes.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? That was a joke of course.

Finally, the prognostications:

I hate to disappoint, but these really are more like prescriptions. The industry has taken some of my prescriptions in the past, but mixed with a heavy dose of countervailing competitive marketplace forces, which tends to change the outcome a bit away from the admittedly utopian picture I had painted of what could be done. So how can I accurately prognosticate what really will happen?

Here’s instead what I think should happen.

Creatives

Researchers need to do a much better job stoking the fires of the big minds to produce Big Ideas. The advertising business is about producing Big Ideas for money. The rest is just implementation.

By the Creatives I don’t just mean writers and art directors. Everyone is a Creative, to the extent that they are allowed to come up with and share Big Ideas. In some organizations, people are disempowered by not having their Big Ideas taken seriously – but these organizations are becoming more and more rare. Thank God.

Research presentation to Creatives – the people who need to make big planning decisions – has been, well, wanting – that’s probably the kindest word I can use.

People who make planning level decisions need all the information they can get about the people at the other end of the communications process whom we are trying to influence. Right now they do get quite a bit. It does generate more insight than probably at any time in the past, including the phase of Motivational research. But it’s not yet enough, and it’s not absorbable and stimulating enough to the writers and art directors.

Instead of dashboards for the writers and artists, something like a ripomatic is used nowadays – both in selling new business and in pumping the Creative people. A ripomatic (or feelomatic, etc.) is a succession of clips – mostly video, a few still, with music – that tell the Creative about the target audience. One thing that could be added is the ability to drill down on one image or idea and get more information in the same emotive form on that facet of the picture – as in some of the early branching video CD-ROMs that IBM, BBC, British Telecom and others produced to show where video could go someday. There might be a dial where the Creative can slow down or speed up the images. And touchscreen or voice command to indicate what to drill down on.

Neuroscience should be able to show a picture of the target audience that is even more conducive to Big Ideas. Findings from neuroscience could be presented in the same video format to inspire the Creative – all findings can be pumped in through the Creative form of the same dashboard idea. Just to have a name I call it the Clashboard – the dashboard for Creative, which is branching video rather than Flash pages that remain static until one plays what-ifs.

The underlying historical reason for both the dashboard and the Clashboard is information overload. People in the advertising industry are no exception – we get even more information than the average person, and the average person is deluged. My book Freeing Creative Effectiveness is all about breaking out of EOP (Emergency Oversimplfication Procedure), the condition that sets in when there is too much information – desperate shortcutting such as rationalized guesswork.

By focusing the eyes on a dashboard or Clashboard that is comprehensive and yet utterly simple, the mind can also begin to focus. All the information is in one place. No distraction thinking of where can I get this piece of missing information – it is all there.

My best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village, Myers new site. Here is the link to my latest post.

Three Books with the Same Name

In April, 2014 my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That was published, but I held back from marketing it, awaiting a feeling of the right time. The Universe obviously saw no reason to wait to have Its coming-out party, thus stimulating the re-recognition among its many self-parts of Its One-Selfness.You Are the Universe by Bill Harvey

So this year the dean of positive nonfiction writers Deepak Chopra and leading light in physics Menas Kafatos published their version: You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters.

I discovered that Masami Saionji also published You Are the Universe in print in 2004 and as an ebook in 2014. (For that matter, my You Are The Universe came out to friends as The Theory of the Conscious Universe in 1976.)

These are three great books about exactly the same point. The same point that is made by all the original source books (e.g. the Vedas, Torah, I Ching, et al) from which modern religious texts have drawn. Underlying the material appearances is one consciousness at play. When a being becomes established in this perspective he or she enjoys life to the fullest, and is a fount of constructive encouragement to others. Helping as many people as possible to get into this headspace is what motivates writers such as ourselves to write and disseminate books like these.

It’s of course personally fascinating to me, to compare what my esteemed colleagues (what an honor to feel like in some way I’m in this group!) and I did differently in approaching delivery of the same message.

My friend the genius Chuck Young, inspired by Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking: Fast and Slow, analyzes and measures advertising based on its ability to get into three different long-term memory systems: thinking, feeling, and procedural. Thinking and feeling are processed in the cortex while procedural is processed in the cerebellum. The body can go through its motions by second nature even without a cortex.

Chuck might see my version of You Are The Universe (especially with its companion volume Mind Magic) as more procedural than the other two. Both of my nonfiction books are aimed at getting people to try things themselves and observe what happens, in their actual lives.

In a workshop with top officers of the U.S. military, I guided a meditation aimed at erasing all assumptions and using the senses to focus on what the individual was actually experiencing, for many minutes of silence. Trying to come at that experience as if for the first time, with no prejudgments, and observing without interpretation or naming. This is the shift one must make from the subconsciously-assumed materialism that is baked into us, in order to begin to realize that all we know exists for certain is our own consciousness. Making that shift based only on spiritual advice, or scientific theory/experimental findings, is very difficult. That’s why my version of YATU has mind experiments (and the companion volume is all mind experiments).

Another thing is different about my version. It explains in the lens of science exactly how conscious experience relates to the world of matter, in a way that anyone can understand and picture without the need for understanding advanced mathematics.

I recommend reading all three books, each comes at it from a different pov, and that itself is interesting. Also these three books with the same name are talking about the most important thing in life: What does it all mean?

When mainstream science gets the point of what we are saying in these books, it will be a bigger scientific renaissance than the world has seen.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village, Myers new site. Here is the link to my latest post.