DesignWise Studios in Door County…

Buckminster Fuller defined a concept known as synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more people. organizations or other elements to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual parts.

DesignWise synergy relates to personal interaction and teamwork…. the interaction of multiple individuals in a campaign working together to create an effect much greater than the sum of their individual efforts working apart. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia συνέργια from synergos, συνεργός, meaning “working together.” As a collaborative consulting firm, our team must include you …in whatever role(s) you wish to take on.


The days of the Webmaster are as outdated as the typewriter and much like revealing the true identity of the Wizard of Oz, we work with you to pull back the curtain, sharing knowledge, advice and any top “secrets” that will make your business rise to the forefront.

Our goal is to empower you…

Your Business Story, a Map to the Goldmine

David BabouleneWriting is like mining for gold hidden in the hillsides of your mind.”David Baboulene

Everyone knows the stories of their favorite brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Kashi, Tom’s of Maine, or Burt’s Bees. We have fallen in love with Colonel Sanders and Aunt Jemimah, not to mention Walt Disney. Not everyone chooses to see successful businesses as the money-making corporate engines that they really are. Especially when our favorite small companies are bought and absorbed by major corporations like Unilevel, Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, or Clorox while retraining the same, familiar, public face.

In the case of Milwaukee’s own Alterra Coffee the founders, Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller simply sold their “story” to the beverage division of Mars, Inc., a corporate giant with $33 billion in annual sales and 72,000 employees. The three friends started roasting coffee in 1993 and opened their first Alterra café in 1994. In 2010, they made a deal with Mars.

“Fundamentally, we sold the seven letters that make up the name Alterra,” says co-owner Lincoln Fowler. “They are going to use our brand, coupled with our expertise and intellectual property.” And they will continue to own the Milwaukee roasting facility and nine local cafés, but with a new name.

Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel reports:

But in buying the Alterra name, Mars can say, that its coffee was born in Milwaukee in 1993 when three friends, “working nights while keeping their daytime businesses afloat,” needed a strong brew. “In order to get it,” the Website declares, next to a thumbnail photo of the popular and historic lakefront cafe Fowler and his partners opened in 2002, “they decided that they had to roast their own — and ALTERRA™ was born!”

That’s the sort of yarn you can’t simply invent and feed to consumers.

But it was a yarn that could be sold to a bigger concern seeking to acquire something soulful.

Have you ever considered the value of your own business story? Trader Joe’s started out as a small chain of convenience stores back in the 1950’s. Nowadays, if you visit any of their stores or their Website, that story is displayed prominently in wall murals and as a timeline tale that celebrates their heritage.  

Are you ready to discover and tell your own authentic story… with more than just words?

Almost every small business has a rich tale to tell. These stories are what make them unique and distinctive. Stories are why most people find small businesses more attractive than big, faceless corporations.

Myrna CohnBusiness Management Consultant Myrna Cohn spent more than 3 decades advising major corporate clients on marketing tactics and strategies. Several years ago, she retired from her career in Chicago to a more relaxed agenda in Baileys Harbor where she paints and teaches memoir writing.

“Each and every successful business has a rich and engaging story to tell.” explains Myrna. “With the shift toward a social interactive landscape, advertising now becomes all about sharing that warm and friendly personal identity. What better way than to tell the story of how you got here?”

Contact me to begin mapping out your story and sharing it with the world…

3rd Wednesday Monthly Social Media Breakfasts in Door County #SMBDC at Glas, Oct 16

“Mapping and Connecting the Nodes in a Social Blueprint” is the topic slated for the first monthly meeting of this season’s Social Media Breakfast Door County (SMBDC), a community learning concept spearheaded in the “off-season” by DesignWise Studios marketing consultant, Stephen Kastner.

Stephen Kastner
Stephen Kastner

“We’ll meet in the upstairs conference room at Glas, the Green Coffeehouse in Sturgeon Bay from 9 – 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 16,” says Kastner “…and we shall begin the process of selecting, creating and then connecting the “dots” from Websites through all of the various channels we can use to communicate with a public fan base online. I call it a Social Blueprint.”

Glas features a variety of bakery and breakfast menu items as well as coffee beverages and tea that may be purchased downstairs and brought up to the 2nd floor conference room. Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops and wireless devices in order to join in the dialogue as DesignWise will project a live Twitterstream comment display as the meeting takes place. Slides and Website examples will also be projected on a large backdrop screen.

Door County’s monthly Social Media Breakfasts take place at different locations around the Peninsula on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 9 – 10:30 am. The events are free and reservations are not necessary.


Glas, the Green Coffeehouse
67 East Maple St.
Suite B (2nd floor conference room)
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin


Steve Jobs’ Memorable Three Stories Speech at Stanford University in 2005

Steve Jobs, who never graduated from college, died at 56 years of age on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Here he reflects on that part of his life, his career and his own mortality in a well-known commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

So many people including myself, have such a huge debt of gratitude to this singular man.

Steve Jobs helped to shape this world by believing, “that you can’t connect the dots by looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Here is that memorable 15-minute speech courtesy of Stanford, and a transcript that you might like to follow posted below:

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then, I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. And so at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. And, don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about Death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully, I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It’s Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the Bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Harvard Business Review Asks ‘What Is Your Brand Against?’

I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) email “Management Tip of the Day” because it generally delivers small pearls of knowledge like the following:

Most brand experts will tell you that your brand needs to stand for something, whether it’s efficiency, quality, or service. But many companies use similar approaches, which can lead to your attempt sounding generic. You can put a stronger stake in the ground by telling customers what it is you are against. Politics have shown that it’s far easier to rally people in opposition to a cause than for one. Being opposed to something — excess, bad design, mean people — helps people find something meaningful in your brand. Don’t create a gripe-fest, however: once you have people on board, show them your alternative ideas and visions.

You can track the rest of this story, ‘What Is Your Brand Against?” in HBR’s blog, The Conversation.

Harvard Business Review began in 1922 as an editorial project of Harvard Business School’s faculty and students. HBR began switching its editorial focus toward general management after World War II, as a growing number of executives became interested in the management techniques pioneered at General Motors and other large companies. HBR has since 1993 been published by Harvard Business School Publishing, a non-profit subsidiary of Harvard that also publishes cases, books (through the HBS Press), newsletters, and corporate learning programs and materials. In 2001, the magazine increased its frequency from bimonthly to monthly.


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LinkedIn Graphs Your Social Connections with InMaps

I have been putting off my LinkedIn research, knowing full well that the LinkedIn team has not been holding back at all in their full-tilt campaign to challenge Facebook.

In the past few months they have expanded LinkedIn’s Facebook emulation to include: status updates, activity streams, company pages, open social apps and Twitter integration. LinkedIn’s latest addition, InMaps demands a closer look.

NOTE: You must have 50 connections and 75 percent of your profile completed to access your InMap.

I like charts and graphs, anything that helps me to visualize lists of data. The threads and connections generated by InMaps create relational groups out of my LinkedIn network and color-codes them in some manner that I am still trying to figure out. People with bigger dots and with names in larger fonts, have more connections in specific clusters. I can label these groups and work within the application. The cool part I discovered, is that by zooming in… all of the dots become real names of people in my network.

A recent post in the LinkedIn Blog explains more:

Your map is actually a view into how your professional world has been created over time. To get a sense of how that’s true, label each cluster (color) and explore your connections to see who are the major bridges on your map. You can use those insights to measure your own impact or influence, or create opportunities for someone else. So, you might see two distinct groups that you could introduce to become one. Or, you might leverage one person to connect them to someone else. See an area that doesn’t look like it is representative of your professional world? Fix it by adding the necessary connections.

InMaps is similar to Mind Maps that I make to organize social media campaigns. I use to build them from scratch. It’s a free cloud service and there are others like it. Perhaps InMaps will eventually allow me to make the groups and associations but for now, it is a great start.

Tim Berners-Lee and Peter Thiel: Differing Views on the Future of the Internet

The very first Web page ever, was posted on the world’s first Web server at around Christmas, 1990 by the Web’s creator, Tim Berners-Lee.

Tim Berners-Lee

He also created the world’s first Web browser (designed to run on the NeXTStep operating system). By 1993 he had already created an interface not that much different than what we expect to see today. But today, Tim Berners-Lee is concerned about the possible death of the Internet as we know it. David Cooper reports that there are three major threats outlined in Berners-Lee’s essay which appeared in a recent issue of Scientific American entitled, Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality.

  1. The commercial, self-contained “walled gardens” created by social media sites like Facebook, iTunes and their mobile-phone apps that are not provided in an “open marketplace.”
  2. The growing threats to a Net-neutral open environment: “Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals,” and “cable television companies that sell Internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company’s mix of entertainment.”
  3. Cyberterrorism as defined by governments and the respective controls that each may put into place to guard against it. “Governments – totalitarian and democratic alike – are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.”

“The Web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles,” explains Berners-Lee. “…because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles. If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want.”

The BBC describes Peter Thiel as an “Internet entrepreneur and a libertarian who wants to encourage free thinking.” Co-founder of PayPal and a primary investor in Facebook, he has obviously done well in building some of the very walled gardens that Berners-Lee warns against. Here, he tells reporter BBC reporter Mike Williams about how his venture capital fund and philanthropy are aimed at encouraging just the kind of technological innovation that the West needs in order to survive. Listen to Peter Theil on the BBC and please let me know in the comments what you think…

Why Does the Old Spice Manly Man Commercial Win Friends (Awards) but Fail to Influence People?

You have probably already seen “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like,” along with more than 15 million other YouTube viewers and countless traditional TV Superbowl fans.

The 30-second Old Spice commercial that features actor and former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa is wildy successful in the ranks of viral social media campaigns and within the ad industry itself, winning awards like the Film Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival and Best in Show single commercial at the AICP Show.

On July 16, 2010 Shoot published Emmy Valued As Barometer of Entertainment, Representing A Perspective Outside The Traditional Ad Industry Awards Circle. Ad agency executives continued patting each other on the back:

“The Emmy nomination, though, quipped W+K creative directors Jason Bagley and Eric Baldwin, offers an extra dimension. “It’s the only award our parents know,” said Bagley. Baldwin added, “This was the first time my mom said she was proud of something I did professionally and really meant it.  She knows what an Emmy is.”

While the recognition from awards competitions has been a kick, Baldwin said that nothing beats “the excitement of doing work that people are enjoying and talking about. I can’t imagine any award being more exciting than that buzz and bringing the brand into everyday discussion. I’m much more interested in that.”
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Bagley countered that by contrast he is “much more interested in the awards.”

In a more serious vein, Bagley and Baldwin credited the core creative W+K team of Craig Allen and Eric Kallman for coming up with the concept and the character in response to a brief containing a goal of talking to and connecting with women about their men’s body wash. “They both [Allen and Kallman] deserve major props,” said Baldwin.

But today’s news reports another side of this glowing success story, Old Spice sales drop 7%, despite hot ads. Speculation on why, is all over the charts from appealing to the wrong gender, to the simple fact that Old Spice is, well… old – “something grandpa used to wear.”

Image consulting needs to accompany a marketing degree online for overall success.

Watch the ad and then tell me the name of the product that you should be left with an irresistible craving to go out and buy. I had to do some key research to discover that the Old Spice product being advertised is called Red Zone After Hours Body Wash. If this 30-second tale is truly worthy of recognition as an advertising vehicle, then what does it successfully market?

The Primetime Commercial Emmy award winner will be announced at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Creative Arts Emmy ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.