Monthly Archives: March 2008

Personality Not Included

personality-not-included.jpg pni_interviewseries.jpg I’ve had the great pleasure of virtually interviewing a good blogging friend and great marketer, Rohit Bhargava.

He launched his book “Personality Not Included” this past weekend and came up with a interesting way to promote it… and I, as a blogger, couldn’t be left out of it. So, I sent him my 5 interview questions that I wanted to know about the book and he answered. This is also a mini-contest, as the best interview will get the book and a $100 gift certificate from If you want to vote for my questions, which by the way are posted here below, you can go to his blog, Influential Marketing Blog. Please do!!!

I haven’t read the book yet, but know what it’s about and find the subject very compelling, especially since we’re undergoing a major change in how businesses do marketing and deal with consumers – it’s a whole new dynamics now with this “new” very savvy and informed consumer group. I hope you will enjoy my set of questions, and as usual, I always try to focus on transcultural issues to get a new perspective on things.

My 5 Interview Questions:

  1. What are the common characteristics of a company doomed to lose authenticity?

The most common characteristic is something that I talked about in the book called “the employee silencing policy.” It’s rarely called this, but lots of companies have a similar policy that essentially forbids employees from talking to anyone about anything relating to their brand. How can you have an authentic company if everyone who works for it is forbidden to talk about your brand. That’s the most common characteristic.

  1. In my view, brand/company personality resembles corporate culture, which means, it comes from the top. How much can the consumer influence a company’s personality, if at all? I’d assume management needs to be open to it.

There are actually two pieces to this question – one is how much consumers can influence a brand’s personality, and the other is how much “common” employees can do this. In both cases, one of the things I note in the book is that often this personality does come from the people in the middle of an organization or customers. The thing that smart companies need to do is be open to hearing these messages and act on them.

  1. Will the process described above – top down from management to company to product to consumer – be reversed? Why or why not, and what are the implications?

I think it is already being reversed, and that is part of the necessity for a book like this. The type of control of defining a message and pushing it down through channels is an old school method, but is already being reinvented. Part of the power of the idea of personality is that for organizations that focus on using some of the lessons in the book, it can help them to flatten their organizations just enough to bring more authenticity to how their brand interacts with others.

  1. What’s your suggestion for companies that face different brand perceptions in different markets? This is applicable for both domestic (regional markets) and international markets. Very few companies can maintain one set of standardized or “globalized” “likeness” attributes.

This is true and an important point that you bring up. Having a personality doesn’t mean trying to apply the same belief system to different regions around the world. For companies that face different perceptions in different markets, the best advice is to allow their brand to take on a local character and embrace the changes that need to happen. Often, the toughest thing that a global brand can do is to get away from their silos between different groups and resist the temptation to try and use globalize with the same message. The real advice is to remain flexible – and allow different markets to customize a message. The most successful global brands are the ones that understand how to do this.

  1. What are the companies that do it right? And why?

There are lots of companies, actually – and many different lessons you can get from how they do business. Since you’re at 1800flowers now and probably interested in a few online ecommerce examples, I would point to Threadless,, and as all good examples. The main thing they all manage to do is have a team of individuals rather than a faceless group of people servicing their customers.

If you’d like to see the other interviews, go here pni_interviewseries.jpg


I want to be frugal!

mrs_frugal.gif I’m SOOOO happy about what I did the other day…

Ever since I came to NY (a far more expensive place than where I was before) and as part of my new year’s resolution, I decided to cut down on frivolous “fashion” spending, meaning spending on clothes, shoes, handbags, etc. I also decided to do that because I need to get my finances in order. After a while, I realized that I pretty much have everything I like to wear and that most of the things out for sale are not my taste. I like everything I have and REALLY wear them; and the reason I emphasize it is because I used to have a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories which I did not wear… some, not even once. How stupid and unclassy is that?

When I first arrived in the US, there was an enormous amount of temptation to go shopping, from the media to the people around me. How can one resist? Everything is so readily available in so many shapes and colors, full or discounted prices, sales left and right, catalogs, coupons… and on top of that, you must keep up with the trends… it almost feels like an obligation. Well, I was in heaven back then. I could have everything I wanted. It’s a good feeling to be able to possess things. I early on decided that quality is much better than quantity and always bought designer clothes at full price because the quality was much better. I was enjoying myself… spending, spending, spending…

But then something happen… I got bored of shopping and couldn’t stand (and still can’t) going to the mall. I started to consciously ask myself “Why am I shopping?”, “Do I really need or want this?” and the answer was always “I don’t know why I’m shopping… I don’t need or want this.” I was seeking the thrill of buying, not something that I genuinely needed. It almost describes an addictive behavior, but I was not a shoppaholic, just someone with too much time in my hands and driven by the consumerism mentality of my new-found home.

It’s undeniable that this society is a buying machine; people are conditioned to buy, have bought into buying as a means to solve all their problems. If you happy, you buy; if you sad, you also buy. People probably don’t even know why they’re buying, but their favorite pastime is shopping. I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but one thing I know is that I have broken away from shopping for the sake of shopping. I want to be frugal now! Frugal is in! I’m frugalicious! I want to save my money for something better and bigger than a pair of shoes.

Oh…. and what I did the other day that made me very happy was to cancel an order that I placed online. I felt as good or better canceling the order as I did when I was buying things for no reason.