VOICES is about listening. It is easy to hear but difficult to acknowledge the voices around us. We can experience the sounds but not always the meanings. This blog hopes to adjust our collective filters, stimulating questions and promoting conversation about ideas both professional and personal.

Brands Are Relationships

Brands Are Relationships

Branding is not about pressing white-hot, twisted metal into the hide of young cattle, marking them for ownership. Nor is it about a trademark, a logo or a symbol — these are linking devices that promote continuity and connection between entities. Real branding is about defining, establishing and maintaining a relationship between institutions and individuals.

Branding is like any relationship between human beings, the good ones are symbiotic and supportive, bound by promises made and kept, loyalty earned and sustained over time and trust that is nurtured and occasionally rejuvenated. 

Begin at the Very Beginning

Begin at the Very Beginning

As our sons begin to think about college and careers, we thought this would be an opportunity to provide some advice to all recent graduates, in particular design grads. This is the time for them to ask themselves some difficult questions, the answers to which quite possibly could change the direction of their lives. At the same time this advice may be valuable to potential employers and their clients.

Graduates, like a key fitting a lock that opens a specific door, your answers to these questions will tell potential employers why they should hire you. Remember, in the beginning you are an unknown and inexperienced commodity. Even your good grades and competent portfolio only represent a student working for teachers, not an employee working for clients.

Managing Creative People

Managing Creative People

While managing creative people is a challenge to be embraced with courage, the concept is akin to the contemporary definition of an oxymoron, ideas working at cross purposes.

Part of that challenge is to recognize that creativity is just as much a natural resource as oil, gold and sunlight. Businesses that embrace this concept and learn how best to protect and strengthen this resource can stimulate exponential growth and initiate a culture of innovation throughout their entire organization.

Content without Context?*

Content without Context?*

Premise: Think of content as a noun and context as a verb, one an object, the other the action. They are dependent on one another for meaning and direction. Position: There is no real, measurable or meaningful content without a complete appreciation and understanding of its context.

An Unexpected Gift

An Unexpected Gift

Control is an illusion.
Plans are intrinsically flawed.
Perfection is unattainable.

These are facts that become more acceptable as we age. Not acceptable to the point that we stop attempting to pursue them, but we do come to accept their inevitability. So why does anyone seek to control events, implement detailed plans and strive for perfection?

Common Knowledge

Common Knowledge

England and America are two countries separated by a common language. When Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw put his finger on our unique cultural paradox he identified a symptom, not a virus.

The same condition can be seen among individuals. While there are no absolutes, some tend to see things as they are and others tend see things as they wish them to be. Half of the time one is surprised, the other disappointed and vice-versa. Another symptom of the same virus is not consumption but assumption.

Easy to Say No

Easy to Say No

Lawyers will often “protect” their clients by telling them to say NO to risk. You can’t fail, lose your shirt or your job if you say NO and don’t do anything.

Who knows what will happen if you say YES? Nobody. Who knows what will happen if you say NO? Everybody, because nothing different will happen. Every opportunity, new concept or big idea has been dismissed with several NOs before it found a home with a single YES. Someone didn’t listen to their lawyer, the pundits, the odds markers, the focus groups or the actuarial tables. They listened to their heads and hearts.

I Own Design. Me!

I Own Design. Me!

Design belongs to me. When LensCrafters advertises a sale on the newest trends in designer eye wear, they are taking from me. Every time Time magazine runs its column about design issues, they are challenging my ownership and usurping my authority. MINE.


Perception is the ability to develop ideas on command is impossible if not downright ridiculous. Can ideas be hatched like so many eggs in a nest? Creativity and imagination are not always just the product of talent or inspiration. Big ideas are grown, nurtured, protected, funded and fully explored before they are born. Creativity is not just a province of artists. We have helped our clients develop and engage their own creativity to work in collaboration with us and others with positive results.

Noted & Notable

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

By Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink, the working man’s Malcolm Gladwell, has written a new book called DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Like his first book A Whole New Mind, Pink points out connections between the obscure and the obvious. His book pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink packages ideas into applications providing employers and employees with the methods and the means to get more of what they want, the way they want it. Don’t let the cover design scare you off. This is career-changing stuff.

Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days

By Dr. Kevin Leman

In Dr. Kevin Leman’s book Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days, he insists that the only way to correct bad behavior in children is to change your reactions to their behavior. Anyone who has dealt with a strong-willed child knows that it is no easy task to turn bad behavior around. Bestselling author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman can help to make a difference. With his signature wit and encouragement, Dr. Leman offers hope and real, practical, doable strategies for regaining control and becoming the parents our children need. Not to say that badly behaved adults are like children but the application of Dr. Leman’s ideas to adult relationships with similar issues is a bonus.

Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy

By Jane Leavy

You don’t need to be a fan of professional baseball to appreciate to a true professional. Jane Leavy’s book Sandy Koufax, A Lefty’s Legacy has more to do with the man and his choices that any game. Professional sports are all about the numbers. In his last four seasons Sandy Koufax’s numbers were the best ever. With a career half as long as the average pitcher, Koufax set a standard for performance that was twice as successful as any pitcher of his era. However, Koufax the person transcends the player by keeping the game he loved in perspective with who he was.
One example: In 1965, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game One of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day. Koufax’s decision and his pitching brilliance remain a source of pride among devout American Jews, even those who aren’t baseball fans. Unable to sustain that same level of performance for health reasons, Sandy retired one year later at the peak of his career. He became the youngest player ever to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Sandy Koufax defined success on his own terms, using is own standards.

Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

By Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim

Much of what goes on in sports can be explained by incentives, fears and a desire for approval. You just have to know where to look. Scorecasting is the sports equivalent of Freakonomics. Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim have written the most important and fascinating sports book in years. Athletes and coaches are encouraged to challenge conventional strategies with calculated risks, producing unconventional results. Just like in life, a little risk is usually a very worthwhile thing.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

By Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, explains for the novice and explores for the devotee the mysteries behind the black robes. It articulates the rise of the conservative movement through the legal world and its acceleration in 2005 with the death of Justice Rehnquist and resignation of Justice O’Connor within a few months of each other. This is a fascinating story about complex and brilliant jurists who are equally spoiled and elevated by the human condition.

All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge

By Kee Malesky

What is plastic soup? How long is a New York minute? What building did Elvis leave last? Who were the Olmecs, and the Eight Immortals? Get the answers to these and many other vexing questions in NPR librarian Kee Malesky’s compendium of fascinating facts on subjects ranging from history to science to the arts. It’s the ideal gift for every inquiring mind that wants to know.

The Art of the Idea: And How it Can Change Your Life.

By John Hunt

John Hunt’s unassuming book is all about how to see, the art of observation and what we gain by taking the time to experience the everyday in new and unexpected ways. This is not a “feel good” book, something left over from the 60s, but a beautifully written and illustrated owner’s manual for our own senses. Instructive? Yes. Inventive and imaginative? For sure. Chapters like Lemmings Have Plans Too and Expediency is Not an Idea are but a few subjects worthy of your time.

A Fine Line: How design strategies are shaping the future of business

By Hartmut Esslinger / founder of Frog Design

After getting past Hartmut Esslinger's (Frog Design) sometimes condescending-sounding manner, he has a great deal to say worth hearing. Filled with process-driven strategies that are almost clairvoyant, reading the book is like hanging on to a bucking bronco. Sony, Apple and Lufthansa did and gained financially and culturally.



By Malcolm Gladwell

The latest book from Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink is the best of the three. Outliers focuses on identifying success and failure in all of their forms and conditions. His book is smart, fun and disturbing. Readers will discover that the distance between winners and losers is about 10,000 hours of work plus the luck of circumstances and your birthday. There are several Aha! moments that if applied might change your life.

A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind

by Daniel H Pink

Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future is worth your time. Left-brain skills (logical, analytical, sequential), while still necessary, are becoming a commodity, Pink argues, while right-brain talents (artistic, empathic, more about context than content) will be at a premium in the future. Pink writes with charm and humor about subjects that heretofore were rarely, if ever, charming or funny.