retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

In mid-August, I was reading a story in Fast Company about why it is important for companies to have mantras. According to the story, mantras are different from mission statements, which are designed to give companies a road map; a mantra, the story suggested, can serve as a guiding star. (One of the best examples: Apple's "Think different.")

It was about 5:30 am when I read this story and turned it into an MNB Eye-Opener. And, I wrote that this got me pondering:

While MNB always has been built around the phrase, "news in context, analysis with attitude," it sounds like the folks at Fast Company would define that as a mission statement. Not a mantra.

Which makes me think it is time for a contest...

Come up with an original mantra for MNB, and if you create the winner, you get an MNB goodie box, which includes a t-shirt with that mantra printed on it, an autographed copy of "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," and an MNB canvas shopping bag and an MNB canvas wine bag.


Well, it never occurred to me that in less than a month, we'd get some 400 entries.

The thing about all these entries is that they did not just tell me what you thought MNB's mantras should be. They also told me what MNB means to you. I did not intend this to be a form of market research; it was just a whimsical thing to do on a warm summer morning. But the words you used, and the sentiments you expressed, were vivid and specific.

I am, to be honest, humbled.

It has taken me a bit of time to sort through all the entries, to give them serious thought and consideration. I turned to a crack team of advisors to help me do this - Michael Sansolo and Kate McMahon, both of whom contribute regular columns to MNB; Luci Sheehan, who does so much to find and nurture the family of sponsors that keeps MNB going; Jim Roxbury, who runs Roxbury Strategic Directions and has long advised me on marketing issues; Marv Imus, a good friend and former independent retailer who continues to contribute to the industry in a variety of ways (including through his work at Western Michigan University); and, of course, Mrs. Content Guy.

And, we have a winner - John Rand of Kantar Retail Market Insights, who came up with the words and format that I think make this an ideal mantra for MNB:

Think.  Provoke.  Laugh.  Repeat.

That's what we try to do here every day - to be smart and contextual about the stories we report, to be provocative about the commentaries we offer, to never take ourselves too seriously, and to do it every day, always trying to learn and get better each day. And I think those four words pretty much capture it.

Plus, they'll look good in white typeface on the back of a black t-shirt.

(My second favorite, by the way, was "Life is too short to read crappy blogs." Except that he didn't say "crappy." He used another word. But it made me laugh out loud.)

So, thanks to all of you who submitted entries, and congrats to John Rand, who immediately will get an autographed copy of "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," an MNB canvas shopping bag and an MNB canvas wine bag. He'll also shortly get a goodie bag from Wholesome Sweeteners, one of MNB's regular sponsors, which wanted to get in on the fun. (The t-shirt will take a little longer...I have to get them made up.)

Now it is time to get back to work. And to...

Think.  Provoke.  Laugh.  Repeat.

A quick side note ... For the next few days, I'll be posting MNB from California. I am stranded after all flights to the east coast were cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy, which at the moment looks like it is going to be moving directly up my driveway. Unfortunately, Mrs. Content Guy and a couple of the Content Kids were not as lucky ... and will be there to keep the hatches battened down. But even if power goes out there, I'll be here, putting out MNB each morning. I just hope I get out before I have to register to vote and make a decision about Proposition 37...
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