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Corporate bureaucracy that blocks innovation — and small thinking in general — needs to be squashed in order for organizations to thrive and overcome what Dan Gilbert dubs "horizontal gravity."
Gilbert used a speech this morning to leaders from 72 Gilbert/Rock Ventures/Detroit Venture Partners companies as a platform to talk about thinking big, not getting lost in the weeds of spreadsheets and the benefits of making decisions quickly.
About 200 employees listened to Gilbert's remarks, which served as the opening session to a company meeting of the Gilbert companies, called Family Reunion IV.
Gilbert, describing himself as a science and history buff, said the forces at work in corporate organizations should fight for small gains and big thinking simultaneously. While it's important to sweat the details, like correct spelling and functional details of a website, it's just as important to experiment, allow employees the chance to fail and put investment dollars toward promising ideas.
Spreadsheets, for example, are a way to track data but morale and innovation aren't found there, he said.
"Spreadsheets measure, but they don't create," he said.
"Nobody I know who is successful is a small thinker. Big thinking overcomes horizontal gravity."
While some decisions require due diligence and heavy research before final sign-off, other kinds of decisions can be made quickly so a team can move forward, Gilbert said. Recalling a recent meeting with business magnate Warren Buffett, Gilbert said a big takeaway was that there is no proof that taking longer to make decisions in business life leads to better decisions.
It's also important, Gilbert told the crowd at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, not to forget the value of relationship-building, the threads that become the basis for success.
The Digital Dilemma: How to Convert the Non-Believers
Business used to be an even playing field. With a good product or service, an owner could grow a company through networking, prospecting, advertising and marketing. Everything was tracked manually, and though it was painstakingly slow at times, this allowed for the entrepreneurs and the local mom-and-pop stores to compete with the conglomerates of the world. The distance one could effectively do business over was limited by communication and the time it took. Imagine having to deal with suppliers and clients before the advent of the internet or the telephone- distance was everything and companies had to physically be present wherever they were trying to sell.
As technology started to evolve faster, the nature of the game changed completely. Through mail-order subscriptions, telemarketing and online advertising, the ability to find new customers at a distance became easier and easier. There started to be “winning ways” for companies to get the attention of the masses and from Sears to Amazon, the companies that were best adapted to the times flourished. The companies that weren’t agile and didn’t anticipate changes folded. Though some have successfully navigated the changing tides, many were stuck in their habits and stayed with the status quo because it was working. They saw ways and means to utilize new tools, yet there was an underlying assumption that all was well and there was no need. Why is that one of the cardinal sins of business? In the words of a wise entrepreneur and businessman,
“The people who resist change will be confronted by the growing number of people who see that better ways are available; thanks to technology.” – Bill Gates (Co-Founder of Microsoft)
Today’s customers are online and they’re in control. Why are online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine result pages (SERPS), review websites, blogs and social media important? Because they will determine who the online customers see first and what they hear when they get there. The web is alive and talking about your industry, products, wants, wishes and complaints. According to Forrester Research, the web in influences over 50% of retail sales, and you better believe that the growing trend applies to all industries. Take a look at the chart below and think what it means for your business.
How can you start competing in this digital landscape? You can start using the talking points in this article to get the people in charge to want the changes. Google your own company, products and services and see what your prospects see. What is being said about your competition and are you showing up in the SERPs as they are, or are you withering away? Market share in the real world is becoming directly related to positive market share in the social world. Check out what Google has had to say about it if you’re still unsure.
Now it can’t all be created or improved in one day, but in order to survive, it will have to be done. Otherwise you’ll be left behind a faster and more adept competitor in your industry. Trust that if you don’t start competing online now, you’ll wish you had by the time it’s too late. There are many great companies out there to help you with SEO, online marketing, social media, email marketing and CRM, but that can quickly become a costly, reoccurring expense. Not to mention, there will always be communication lag time between the internal and external marketing team. You’d be better off using online software and creating and tracking the results yourself. I’ve always felt that learning how to fish was better than being bought a fish, which in this case means training or hiring someone who can orchestrate the changes from within. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing vs. internal sourcing, so make an informed decision- network with others in your industry who have been in the same situation, speak with salespeople, and take apart everything your competitors are doing to see how you can do it better.
How is your marketing working for you right now and how can you make it more adapted to the digital environment? Communication these ideas throughout your company and determine if you’re going to thrive or be left behind.
Blog Originally Posted at http://mrryanconnors.com/2012/09/07/the-digital-dilemma-how-to-convert-the-non-believers/
Student, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism
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The New Detroit
Posted: 06/12/2012 1:13 pm
As a native Detroiter, being back in the city for the summer is like encountering an old elementary school friend. You remember their name and why you got along for all those years, but they have been altered in nearly imperceptible ways. The person you used to greet with a hug now requires a polite handshake and a relationship that was once second nature has become foreign.
My maternal grandmother came to Detroit from Choctaw County, Alabama in 1962 in search of employment in the thriving automotive industry since General Motors had just hired her two brothers. Around this time, Hudson's was still on Woodward and the Bob-Lo boat could still be seen floating on the Detroit River on a leisurely summer day. My paternal grandmother has lived and worked in Detroit for her entire life. Our clan has been inextricably linked to the city, but these bonds have recently been uprooted with the decline of the housing market, troubled public school system and limited employment opportunities.
The city that once nourished our well-being and daily lives seems to have retracted its welcoming arms, forcing us to move elsewhere. My mother worked in the city for many years as an educator and transferred to a southern suburb in 2001 for work, while still living 45 minutes away in Detroit. My paternal grandmother was one of the many casualties of the cutbacks in the Detroit Public School System, resigning from her executive position after 35 years. A few years ago, my aunt lost her UAW job that she had acquired right out of high school. My maternal grandmother ended up working for GM for 30 years, but soon after retiring she realized that her neighborhood was no longer a safe place for a single woman, so she moved. My family moved out of the city last year, automatically making me an onlooker instead of the self-proclaimed city girl that I once was. A series of circumstances and life choices have left us only faintly involved with the city that shaped so much of our lives.
I'm a die hard East Sider, with the tiny bruises from Belle Isle's Giant Slide to prove it, but my beloved city is now a shell of what it used to mean to me. The people that once breathed life into its already vibrant atmosphere are relocating. Many lifelong Detroiters are now simply "born and raised" or "from the D," but not actually current residents.
My boyfriend, a lifelong suburban boy who has developed a fascination with the city, recently moved to downtown Detroit with a friend to be closer to his summer job. He's discovering Hart Plaza, Chene Park, Campus Martius, Belle Isle and many of the city's other jewels that were the ever-present background of my upbringing. I've taken the role of an unofficial tour guide, recommending local restaurants and sharing anecdotes of times passed. As much as I enjoy seeing people discover a newfound appreciation for the city, it becomes palpably clear that the city is undergoing an undeniable change.
On any given day, downtown Detroit looks like a perfectly sculpted movie set, complete with large buildings and a picturesque landscape, but it seems as if all of the actors and crew have taken an extended lunch break. There is a sense of idleness in the air. The same features that initially enticed my grandmother in the 1960s and supported my family's daily life is attracting a whole new demographic to the city. We are entering a peculiar era as a new group of Detroiters are moving in while many of the lifelong city dwellers are seeking lives elsewhere, oftentimes due to uncontrollable situations. This city is definitely on the brink of something, but will the people that have been there all along be incorporated into this new Detroit? All I hope is that it transforms back into the city that I've grown to know and love.
Essay/Analysis: Political Commentator
A Detroit native, Jack recognized that he wanted to become a journalist during his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. (He had previously set out to be a historian.) Now, he boasts thirty years of eclectic journalism experience. Jack has worked as a foreign correspondent and executive national editor of The Detroit News, and he has written for many national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Oakland Press.
Currently, he is a professor of journalism at Wayne State University and a contributing editor and columnist for The Metro Times, The Traverse-City Record Eagle, and The ToledoBlade...in addition to his work at Michigan Radio.
Throughout his years of journalism experience, his favorite memories are of interviewing Gerald Ford about Watergate in 1995 and winning a national Emmy for a documentary about Jack Kevorkian in 1994.
On a personal note, Jack stopped watching TV -- except for documentaries -- when Mr. Ed was canceled.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing couldn't have enjoyed reading his city's newspapers when he woke up on Mackinac Island yesterday morning. The Detroit Free Press splashed a story across its front page saying the business community wanted longtime Wayne County political fixer Mike Duggan as the city's next mayor.
The Detroit News's editorial page editor said the business community had decided that it is time for the mayor to go, and then called on the mayor to, quote "use the excuse of advancing age and poor health" to not run again next year.
Yesterday morning the mayor came out to face the press, and naturally, was asked about his own future. Standing on the Grand Hotel's magnificent porch, all the mayor would tell us reporters was that he had eighteen months left in his current term (it's actually nineteen), and he felt the need to "get as many things done as I possibly can." Now, I don't have an opinion on whether the mayor ought to run. He previously has said he was going to.
Frankly, if you know anything about how government works, the worst thing Bing could do would be to announce early that he isn't running. The moment he does that, he becomes a lame duck, and immediately loses much of his power and influence.
But beyond that, I am astonished at the business community's chutzpah in attempting to say who ought to be Detroit's mayor. Do they think our memories are that short?
Seven years ago, the business community was highly decisive in a Detroit mayoral race. Freman Hendrix was one of the final two candidates. He was a decent man with a finance background who had served as deputy mayor in the Archer administration.
Hendrix had grown up in a working class neighborhood. He had joined the Navy, and had put himself through college. I thought he had the potential to be a good mayor who had the ability to relate to average citizens. But the business community wanted the incumbent: Kwame Kilpatrick.
Jack Lessenberry Commentary: Film Tax Credits
Well, we are heading into the holiday weekend, and if the weather holds up, many of us will be barbecuing or going out on the water. But some of us will be going to the movies.
And your odds of seeing a major motion picture made in Michigan are a lot smaller than they were a few years ago.
That’s because the film incentive established by the Granholm Administration ended when Rick Snyder became governor and Republicans took over both houses of the legislature.
The governor doesn’t believe special exemptions and tax credit deals are good policy, and you can see logic in that. But there is always an exemption that proved the rule, and the film industry credit was one of those.
Frankly, I can’t tell you whether the generous breaks we granted the film industry were a net economic plus or minus for Michigan. I have seen studies that came to opposite conclusions.
My guess is that it probably cost the state a little more than it gained financially in the short run, but had the potential to be a huge economic plus in the not-very-long run. But analyzing this from a purely financial perspective misses something.
I’ve been in this state a long time, and I can’t ever remember anything that got people as excited. They went to see films being made, and volunteered as extras. People got an extraordinary kick out of seeing Clint Eastwood on the street or Jack Nicholson in a restaurant. When a film was released that was shot partly in your neighborhood, you went to see it regardless. This was a big deal.
Well, what was an open-ended tax credit was slashed to $25 million in incentives under the new governor. Hollywood promptly pulled up stakes and left, in the process hurting a lot of Michigan businesses who serviced the film industry.
Now, there is vague recognition in the legislature that we’ve lost something. The state senate wanted to boost the amount available for the film industry to $100 million; eventually, they compromised at $50 million. Some people were excited about this yesterday, and spoke as though this meant that the filmmakers will be back.
But I’ve got news for them: They won’t be. Oh, a few more independent small films may be made here. But don’t expect Meryl Streep to show up, or another Gran Torino to be made.
And here’s why. Republicans should remember an important principle they knew when they reformed the corporate tax structure. Businesses like lower taxes. But they really value stability. They have to know their fixed costs, and be able to expect they’ll remain consistent. You can’t do business in a place where you constantly worry the legislature may pull the rug out from under you.
If we are serious about bringing the film industry back, we need to restore some kind of open-ended tax break and guarantee it would stay in place for a decade. Then, they might think we meant business. If there’s anything this state needs, it is an exciting new industry that gives young people some incentive to stay here.
Even if the film industry itself turned out to be a long-term loss leader, my guess is that restoring its credits would be well worth it.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst. Views expressed by Jack Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, the University of Michigan.
Internet Radio On The Rise
Internet radio listening is surging, according to new data unveiled this week by TargetSpot, which operates a digital audio ad network, and Pandora, the leading online audio platform.
The TargetSpot data is drawn from the Digital Audio Benchmark and Trend Study, based on a survey of adult U.S. broadband households conducted from January 7-17 of this year by Park Associates. The survey showed that Internet radio has penetrated to 42% of adult U.S. broadband households, up 8% from 33% in 2011. Within this cohort, 42% are households with children, 64% own their own homes, and 22% have a household income of $100,000 per year or more -- up 29% from 2011.
Digital audio listeners also display significant engagement with the medium, with 80% listening from one to three hours per day. Increased listening is facilitated in part by the proliferation of mobile devices with Internet connectivity: among Internet radio listeners, tablet ownership increased 87% from 2011-2012 and 48% are spending more time listening on their tablets, while smartphone ownership increased 22% and 38% are spending more time listening on their phones. In-car listening is also increasing, with 14% of digital audio listeners using an Internet radio player in their automobiles.
The TargetSpot-Park study also showed substantial recall and response rates for online audio advertising. Here, 58% of digital audio listeners said they recalled having seen or heard an Internet radio ad in the last month, up from 52% in 2011. Among listeners who recalled ads, 44% said they responded to an Internet radio ad, up from 40% in 2011. Ad support is clearly important to Internet radio’s viability, as 86% of listeners say they do not pay for digital audio content.
Meanwhile, Pandora released data showing that its online audio service now constitutes 6% of all radio listening, with 1.06 billion listener hours in April 2012, up 87% from 566 million hours in April 2011. Active listeners numbered 51.9 million at the end of April 2012, up 52% from 34 million in April 2011.
Separate data released by Arbitron in March of this year shows that broadcast radio reaches 241 million listeners per week, representing 93% of the total U.S. population, while Arbitron data from January suggests average total listening of about 14.6 billion hours per month.
Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/174321/internet-radio-on-the-rise.html?edition=46659#ixzz1ucTSX91b
The Blog Is reviews Eliza Neals’ award-winning CD, ‘Messin’ With A Fool’
Messin’ With A Fool is Detroit music through and through, and Eliza Neals is a vocal powerhouse. The album is blues. It’s rock and more. It’s also a full spectrum of emotion with a decidedly modern, yet sparing production style driven by the ever present low volume percussive Telecaster sound of producer Martin “Tino” Gross. Tino has once again outdone himself on every track. What you get is a wildly successful collection of soulful songs that capture the essence of traditional and contemporary American music.
Terms like diva and chanteuse are often thrown around when her name comes up, but after a very close look at this album I cautiously think of her as the female Delbert McClinton, though such comparisons rarely do an artist in her league justice. Although this work is a thoroughly contemporary treatment of what is traditional, the subtext that unifies the material is blues and bluesy rock in the broad sense. Intertwined are elements of urban- and down-home soul, a trace of jazz, even traces of punk rock here and there, an occasional exuberant homage to the Rolling Stones in places, and even a flirtation with the “field holler” music that preceded the blues.
But wait, that’s not all. There is also New Orleans gris-gris, deconstructed Motown, mid-’60s rock ‘n’ roll (think Mitch Ryder), white Southern gospel, Holly Springs-style Mississippi hill country blues (think R. L. Burnside), one or two nods to modern dance music-style scratchy LP slips and slides, funky jazz, and playful absurdest avant gardeelements all designed to entertain. And there is the magic potion of Eliza Neals’ voice.
Good God, where to begin. “Can’t Stop” is the title track, so to speak, since the phrase “messin’ with a fool” actually takes place there. This is a Delbert McClinton-style song. It also contains swamp guitar licks with lead guitar pleasingly right on top of the vocals. It flows right into to the avant garde barn yard absurdity of “Pig.” Are all men pigs? I hope not, but what about the current discourse on the right? Oink, oink, dance music touches, too, the way Tino did R. L. Burnside’s very last record. Driving blues. Nice. That recording blended hip hop with hill country blues and it was ingenious. “Pig” is right out of the church, too, ironically enough. The song is good natured, but experienced, the persona Neals puts across throughout the entire album.
“I like pigs,” she declares at the start of the song. “I like me a cute old pig.” What’s not to like. They are the mainline smart critters of the bucolic landscape, the barnyard scene that is country blues. “I don’t care what you all says, I’m singing about a pig,” declares a voice at the start of the song, in spoken word fashion, that I think is most certainly Barrett Strong talking. He’s a famously affable critter, himself, a true Motown giant. I say he walks on water. “Barrett, do you like pigs?” she asks. This is funny stuff, “Pig.” It may be my favorite one.
But there are so many good ones. Take the Johnny Bee-authored song, “Rather Go To Jail,” that so supremely puts across his brilliant drum work formerly heard with Mitch Ryder back in the day, and now featured in both the Howling Diablos, fronted by Tino Gross, and the Rockets with Jim McCarty. This song starts off with a Latin rhythm and then breaks into a declarative horn, a trumpet. Wow. The horn punctuates throughout. And Eliza burns up the street. There’s a touch of gris-gris here, too, but not as much as track 4 and 5.
“ESP” will be a natural to vintage Dr. John fans the way the chorus starts out. “People, people,” they sing in several part dissonant harmony. It all takes you to a place you don’t know. Tino’s harp is a nice touch, too. The occasional modulation is also very nice. The mind transcendence thing has to have some voodoo to it, and some id. “It’s not about what’s real, it’s about the feel.” “In Charge” goes down the voodoo road even further. Holy gris-gris! Hot and cold running gris-gris. This is the anthem for an in-charge woman. “I’m in charge, I’m in charge,” repeat. Note the wha wha, too, this is a nice touch. And so is both is the overdubbing of Neals’ voice, and her percussive acoustic guitar.
That almost Stones feel is a Martin Gross hallmark. Consider Car Wash, for example. I want to do another review of that, a retrospective perhaps, with the last two Howling Diablos records combined in it. Are you listening Tino? Back to the review at hand. This is where “Shame” comes in. Detroit as rust belt is a constant here, with some of that Tino-style almost Rolling Stones thing anchoring it down. It’s kind of a Shame. “So I’m doin’ five years for robbing someone, ” Neals sings. “It’s kind of a shame, people got to do what they got to do.” You see the factory has closed down, it’s a Detroit thing. “He’s A Man’s Man” is great straight ahead rock. I like it. And there are songs “Misery” and “Love Hurts More,” too. So true.
“Rainin’ In Detroit” is a neo-Motown/blues song. Yes! But it also reminds me of that John Hiatt song that Buddy Guy recorded so well. The one about that big lake in New Orleans. It has lot’s of rain, too. Except this one is in Detroit City. “It’s rainin’ in my heart,” so it goes. Back to breakin’ a few rules. “Can’t Stop” is loaded with that Louisiana swamp content. Got to love it. “Every time I ask you a question all you do is put me down,” the singer laments. “I know when enough is enough.” Can’t get enough of that swamp, that progression. Crusin’ for a bruisin’. She goes though a lot. “Livin’ With Yo Mama” has that horn sound again. Bravo. I like the organ.
There’s a lot more here, but that’s all I have time for right now. What about “Money” and “Been a Long Time?” But who knows, after all, this is a blog. I might still get to it later on. All I can say is get your hands on the album. Twitter Eliza Neals @Eliza NealsRocks, call the executive producer, H. J Neals, at 646-522-0285, or visit The Detroit Diva on Facebook.
Naturally it’s an all-Detroit crew headed up by producer-collaborator Martin “Tino” Gross, who performs on guitar, and a mix of bass, some backup vocals and more on every track. As the producer, his masterful fingerprints are everywhere.
On piano are Leonard Moon and Jimmie Bones. Barrett Strong Jr. does some organ, Kenny Robinson is the trumpet man, and in addition to Tino, guitar parts are shared by Don Duprie and Mike Smith, as well as some acoustic guitar by lead vocalist Eliza Neals.
Backup vocals are provided by Barrett Strong Jr., Jimmie Bones, Carley Hartwell, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek and Gross. Bassists Mo Hollis and Don Duprie also contribute. It’s all about collaboration.
The team of producer Martin ‘Tino” Gross, and co-producers Barrett Strong Jr. and Eliza Neals have brought some really winning stuff to this fine indie CD. It is sparring, authentic and innovative with lots of cross-genre activity going on, but the entire package rocks on with the the blues tradition as a centerpiece. Gross is a much-in-demand producer and the front man for the Howling Diabos. Strong is a Motown legend. Neals is the diva. The CD was recorded at Martin “Tino” Gross’ recording crib, Funky D Studio, by Tino Gross, Detroit, Michigan, for E+ H Records, Detroit, Executive Producer, H. J. Neals, who can be reached at 646-522-0285.
The album cover photos and album design were conceived by HJN Consulting.com. The CD photo was taken by John Gnotek. It comes in a nice cardboard fold-over design with lot’s of valuable information, and with no jewel case to crack and break. There are also music videos of “Misery,” “Love Hurts More” and “Man’s Man” at Eliza Neals.com and posted on Youtube.com. Dig in, people, this is a good one.
1. “Misery” (D. Manchua) 2:47 seconds
2. “Man’s Man” (E. Neals / M. Gross) 3:07 seconds
3. “Shame” (M. Gross / D. Duprie) 3:19 seconds
4. “ESP” (E. Neals / M. Gross / B. Strong) 3:12 seconds
5. “In Charge” (E. Neals / M. Gross / B. Strong) 3:54 seconds
6. “Rather Go To Jail” (J. Badanjek) 4:03 seconds
7. “Rainin In Detroit” (M. Gross / E. Neals) 3:40 Seconds
8. “Livin’ With Yo Mama” (E. Neals / H. Neals) 2:28 seconds
9. “Been A Long Time” (M. Gross / E. Neals) 2:30 seconds
10. “Money” (B. Gordy / J. Branford) 3:08 seconds
11. “Can’t Stop” (E. Neals / M. Gross) 3:42 seconds
12. “PiG” (E. Neals / M. Gross) 2:33 seconds
13. “Love Hurts More” (E. Neals / M. Gross) 3:27 seconds
I first met Eliza Neals and co-producer Barrett Strong Jr. when they visited my radio show, City Arts & Sounds, in the late ’90s. Somehow I knew at the time that my acquaintance with them would prove fortuitous. It was 20 years after I first started doing radio (Art in Detroit, on WCAR-AM), and while I was a blues columnist at the Michigan Chronicleunder the late Sam Logan’s generous guidance, a blues writer at Big City Rhythm & Blues, and a Saturday night blues reporter for Dave Dixon (WXYT-AM). I renewed my friendship with Eliza Neals only last year at the most recent Detroit Music Awards. I was there with my cohorts from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Lawyer Show (WCXI-AM) at the invitation of entertainment lawyer Sheldon Kay.
It was great seeing her again. Next thing I knew she and Martin Gross were cooking up a new album, and she was kind enough to send me an advance copy of it to be reviewed. That’s when I decided to re-configure my just-started blog into an Arts & Entertainment Review, from what was an existentially absurdest running commentary, which was too obscure to really take hold outside of Paris. “If is, is, is not is not, isn’t?”
For that I am eternally grateful because I would not have made that format change without her kind presence. That is when I decided I would end a five year hiatus from music writing. It was time to come back from obscurity, myself, and this is my first in a series of CD reviews, and what I hope will become a burgeoning online Arts & Entertainment Review. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome at theblogis.wordpress.com. Artists that wish to submit their CDs for review can contact me at Facebook, or at 248-652-4759, and send their discs to me at The Blog Is, 911 Medford Court, Rochester Hills, Michigan 48307-3089, Attn. George Seedorff, Editor. Keep those cards and letters–and CDs–coming in, folks. And now I must return to the joyful grind of a one-man band.
–George Seedorff, Copright 2012
Ultra Sonic Gas Can is a brilliant piece of work. Why? Tino Gross and the men and women at Funky D Studios hold the Detroit sound in the palm of their hands. The Detroit sound is formidable, but how amorphous is it, how multifaceted? The Motor City certainly has its jazz, blues, Gospel, soul, rock , doo-wop, rap, punk, techno and country heritage. It’s not much of a folk music town, you have to go to Boston for that.
In Detroit there is a cultural aura where one can imagine a Baptist preacher looking down from the pulpit at the music’s blue collar pageantry, giving it his tacit approval. This man of the cloth is permissive when it comes to compassion in the the great social struggles. But is about old time religion when the word of the Lord is about socioeconomic justice. The struggle between good and evil. The struggle of the common man.
At root there is a Southern connection in the Motor City that follows the route taken in the Great American Migration of the 20th century, from South to North, from injustice to justice, from poor to less poor. The music also follows this path. From the Delta to the factory. Now what if somebody in the here and now came alone and made the Detroit sound even more eclectic by adding to all of the above-named genres, plus some decisive elements of California surf, California slide, house music, hip hop, and even a trace circus music, the big top, the big time, and the big town, stepped on by an apocalyptic industrial free fall. Isn’t surf music a kind of a circus sound with the sun beaming down on the the waves to light up all the performers?
Amid that Motown morality tale, what if the music still stood taller than ever after the fall, as a sort of conscience statement for all that has taken place, like a preacher might do. What do you call this phenomenon? Try urban Gothic. Southern Gothic going North, from rural to more urbane. In Ultra Sonic Gas Can there is dark humor, secular existentialism, and a motive for social justice along with a pretty progressive brand of religiosity. Now consider Gas Can as an example of urban Gothic music, like Southern Gothic, but urban and more Northerly. The city is different, it is radioactive and funky.
The music of the Howling Diablos is on the same trajectory as the New Orleans sound, but the frigid cold of the Detroit winter, the big panoramic rust belt flavor, disintegrating housing, burned out storefronts, and abandoned skyscrapers all serve to give the Detroit sound a blizzard-like Northern polarity, except in the summer. Detroit feels like the South in the throes of July and August, with all the gritty humidity and almost unbearable, stifling heat. Most of the year a gray overcast rules Detroit’s weather. The people of Detroit climb inside of the music to turn these meteorological disparities into a great, smooth ride, with AC, super suspension, a super smooth transmission, even on a half rusted out old hoopty cruising the inner city streets, east and west, south of Eight Mile Road.
Ultra Sonic Gas Can captures all of this with 13 tracks that define the modern Detroit sound. It may be about struggle, but it’s also about a great rewards. If it was light and airy, the sound would be from somewhere else. Tino Gross, the Howling Diablos band leader, guitarist, lead singer, producer and either author or co-writer of each song on the album as gone all the way here. Funky D Studios seems to have coalesced as the successor to Motown and is the new gold standard for the Detroit sound. The “people talent” on board is like an artist colony.
Before there was Motown Records, there was Fortune Records, its precursor. That was in the days of old school R&B, doo-wop, Detroit blues, rock-a-billy and more. At the center of it all was Devora Brown. The second track onUltra Sonic Gas Can is devoted to her. It starts with some novel guitar distortion punctuated by some tight wha wha, and driving harmonica. Then the lyric, I was so alone, didn’t know which way to go, spent the whole day by the pay phone, I never heard nobody except myself. Self reflective in a way that the Detroit street was about to have a voice. That is followed by the chorus, Devora, Devora Brown, she’s the one makes the deal go down, Devora Devora Brown, she pushing that Detroit sound…I never heard nobody, except my self. Then reference is drawn to never having to go back to the Detroit House of Corrections, or DeHoCo, as it was commonly called during the Fortune era. Is this not a statement about musical emancipation?
It was late one night, I was so uptight, I didn’t know wrong from right, everywhere I looked the sky was on fire, those needles on the record, and needles in my arm, somebody went and pulled the fire alarm, the bums in the street wanna know why… Fortune was located along Third Avenue in the Cass Corridor, known for its junkies, whores and derelicts. Out of this forlorn footprint was born the Detroit Sound. Track seven, “Detroit On My Mind,” takes the storyline further. In a funky blues rock fashion, it suddenly occurs to this listener that Funky D Records is the new Motown, and that’s quite a statement.
The proof of that is encapsulated in track 12, “Sold Out,” an exquisite rap. Here among the foreclosures and mean streets, it seems apparent that Detroit is like a battlefield. Spoken word. Sold us out, no doubt, livin’ on the front lines, hah, it’s like a war zone out here, man we just the soldiers. And then the rap. Times got tough in the land of plenty… hookin’ up cheap meat, tryin’ to make ends meet, living in your car, startin’ to [draw the] heat, East side to West side where the Mustangs roam it’s foreclosed homes, you know they sold us out, no doubt. With these images, the only place to go is back to Marvin Gaye’s immortal words, makes ya’ wanna holler, makes ya’ wanna shout. This becomes the refrain. A choice like this, no accident, joins this effort to the very best that Motown Records produced when it was thriving and still in Detroit. Selling these ideas, persuasively, calls for a rap, and Tino Gross, and a rap artist who goes by the name of Hush get it done. Detroit’s a strong rap town, and this is a strong rap tune.
That sound and sentiment feeds directly into track five, “House Party,” where it’s house music and party time, brilliantly constructed. That along with some driving funky rock seems to harken back to Hastings Street in the Black Bottom section that once stood as a testament to black music in the 1940s and ’50s. It is gone but not forgotten today, nor are the house parties forgotten that helped the locals make ends meet. John Lee Hooker was part of this scene. The dance music turntables are well oiled and screeching here. There are strong raging Gospel elements as well, thanks to the incredible backup singers, which is also pervasive throughout the entire record. “Hook-Up,” track three, hooks into this grove as well, but in more of an R&B, almost comic way. It is the hook-up that puts an end to misery, after all.
“Funky Parade” is all about New Orleans. Here Louisiana is the promised land. Professor Longhair, Fats—it’s all there. Johnny Evan’s R&B-style sax rules here. Take me down to New Orleans to the parade, I gotta let my mind unwind in the shade. There are also a couple of country-based tunes, too, with that poignancy that only a pedal steel guitar can produce. One is a real heart breaker. If “You Make Me Good” is sweet, moving and sentimental, with a note of spirituality to it (and a lot like the past 15 years of Bob Dylan’s current muse), then “Too Broke To Break Up” is pure hilarity and so true when you are at the bottom. It’s hard to move into the post matrimonial state and go “splitsville” when you just plain don’t have the cash to make it a clean break. Hello Heartbreak, I guess it’s just me and you, I got the blues ’cause I just got the news, my baby said that we are through, now wait a minute darlin’, ain’t no need for you to cry, we ain’t got no money, we’re kinda broke, can’t afford to say good bye. This is reality for a lot of people
My favorite songs on the CD ironically travel to the West Coast in more than just spirit. One in particular, “Blues King,” speaks of a supreme blues man who once reigned over East LA in the glory days, in the era that also witnessed Diz and Bird at their creative height under the bright lights of Hollywood. It’s not about Walt Disney, here. It’s a then and now story, too. These days this king of the blues is elderly, has diabetes, and has a grandson who is into rap. One spectacular element of the song is its brilliantly executed California-style slide guitar–it has to be a Les Paul. It is a driving and horn-like force just like it ought to be. And there is “Surfin’ In Detroit,” what is to Detroit what the song about surfin’ in Rockaway was to the Ramones. It features lots of classic surf guitar, but somehow this morphs into something akin to circus music. This song is satire. Now, on to hard driving rock. That would be track 11, “Wiskey River, which is also a hangin’ judge song where the protagonist does not want to go back to the penitentiary, or even more likely, wants to avoid to being hung from an apple tree. Here a hard-driving Duane Eddy-like style guitar steps right out front.
That just leaves the album’s signature songs, track one, “Mr. Right Now,” and the final track , “After Party Re-Mix” of the same basic tune. Both tunes share the same lyric line. I may not be Mr. Right, right, but I’m, Mr Right Now, right now. First time through it is done as a rap tune with a deep R&B shadow voice, and the track 13 is another take on rap, but more sinister. No romantic ballad is this. What ya’ say you and me and that body head back to the crib for and after party that’s right. Outrageous, funny, bold and sexist, what more can be said. As I previously stated, Super Sonic Gas Can is a brilliant piece of work. It has to be owned from coast to coast.
The Production and Personnel
Back to the innovative cross-genre nature of the album. It’s all there, and integrated with the taste of a musical sheriff that has come to town to make the town safe for things to come. It is without precedent. All the tools are used to create a masterwork and, Tino Gross has done the City of Detroit proper. The spine of the recording is the Gospel-style collection of amazing backup singers. They are Kymberli Wright, Eliza Neals, Carley Hartwell, Valerie Taylor, Chris McCall, Pat Baron, Uncle Kracker and Hush.
The core of the Howling Diablos are Tino Gross on vocals and guitar, Erik Gustafson on guitar, Mo Hollis on bass, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek on drums and tambourine, Johnny Evans on sax, flute and harp, and Jimmie Bones on Keyboards. Additional musicians include Jim McCarty on guitar, Kenny Robinson on trumpet, Jim Morris on pedal steel, Mike Smith on guitar, Gary Indiana on guitar, Tim Diaz on guitar and B-3 organ, and Shannon Boon on drums.
All tunes were produced at Detroit’s own Funky D Records by Tino Gross, and engineered by Nigel Burnside. The assistant engineer was Dave Linden. Additional studios include Mike E. Clark’s Fun House, Steve King’s 54 Sound Studios, and the Tim Diaz’ Soupcan Studio. Mastering was done by Jeffrey Reed at Tap Root in Oxford, Mississippi. The superb artwork and cover design was provided by Bette Chapelle. Ultra Sonic Gas Can was recorded in 2011.
1. “Mr. Right Now” (M. Gross/Zwara) 3:05
2. “Devora Brown (ooh mow mow)” (M. Gross) 3:23
3. “Hook Up” (M. Gross) 3:22
4. “Blues King” (M. Gross) 4:20
5. “House Party (M.Gross/Clark) 3:30
6. “You Make Me Good” (Based on a poem by C. Mayo) 3:36
7. “Detroit On My Mind” (featuring Uncle Kraker and the Detroit Wheels) (M. Gross/Shafer) 3:33
8. “Too Broke To Break Up” (M. Gross) 3:23
9. “Surfin’ In Detroit” (M. Gross) 3:46
10. “Funky Parade” (M. Gross) 3:41
11. “Whiskey River” (M. Gross) 3:59
12. “Sold Out” (featuring Hush) (Gross/Carlisle) 4:26
13. “After-Party Remix” (featuring Robert Bateman) (M. Gross) 3:40
This review is the second in a three-part series of all Funky D material that has already included Eliza Neals’ album called Messin’ With A Fool. The final CD for consideration is Hart County by the Horse Cave Trio, which will be posted on theblogis.wordpress.com in the very near future.
I first met band leader and producer Tino Gross in the early to mid 1990s sitting at a table at the old Sully’s music hall, at the time truly Detroit’s home of the blues. It was located in Dearborn, Michigan, where the Mustangs roam. The Howling Diablos was already an established cross-genre star band out of Detroit with a following well past the city limits.
This is a band that steadily just keeps on keepin’ on with constant growth and a superlative record of achievement. The Howling Diablos has gone on to achieve a world-class place in American music with the last several string of monster albums. Tino has always been most kind to me and a very approachable cat. His Funky D Records is jointly operated by Gross and his partner, Linda Lexy.
I wish to thank Tino, Linda and all the folks at Funky D for making it possible for me to review this extraordinary album. As I said twice in the review, I believe that Funky D Records in its current form is the logical successor to Detroit’s legendary Motown Records of 50 years ago. It is been a while since we have had something quite like this in the Motor City.
— George Seedorff, copyright 2012
Detroit, Michigan, USA
George Seedorff is Editor-in-chief at "The Blog Is" (theblogis.wordpress.com), an Arts, Entertainment & Music Review Blog.
Detroit Red Wings: It’s Not Time to Panic Yet in Hockeytown
The inevitable has happened yet again: the Detroit Red Wings have entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As hockey fans in Detroit, we bleed red and white. We hang on every moment of every game and we wait with bated breath to get our opportunity to heave octopi towards the ice. We have been spoiled by success, much like baseball fans in New York, or basketball fans in L.A. Yet, whether we like to admit it or not, we are hated and envied by all other hockey fans throughout North America. You see, we have it easy. Its easy to call yourself a Red Wings fan when it seems like all they do is win. Winning is standard in Hockeytown, but now sitting here in April, it seems like wide spread panic is taking over in Detroit. What if this is our last hurrah? What if we can’t knock off the Nashville Predators? Is this the end of an era for the Wings? Has our reign at the top of the NHL come to an end?
Before you hit the panic button, lets remember that we have been here before. Now, I am not saying that the Wings are going to defeat Nashville, although I did pick them in six games. The greater point here is that we have been written off before. During the first of our cup runs during the 96-97 season, it seemed as if these same questions popped up. It was now or never, for a team that seemed to be aging at a rapid pace. Scotty Bowman was nearing retirement, and Steve Yzerman was finishing out his hall of fame career as the longest tenured Captain of an NHL team…and he had nothing yet to show for it…yet. But as we all know the Red Wings did bring home the Stanley cup that year, and even after tragedy struck and some key pieces of that years team were no longer in the mix, we went on to win the Cup again the following season. It seemed as if it was a fairytale ending, but little did we know the story wasn’t finished being written. Sure some key players departed, but as we have learned over the years the Red Wings never thought they were rebuilding, simply retooling. Preparing to make another run at the Stanley Cup… And they did, winning the cup again in 2002. Now many of us thought, for sure, that it was finally the end at that point. We had seen some of the greats come and go, surely we had gotten lucky with what seemed like an average goalie, in Chris Osgood and an aging Defense. But the Wings were at it again and just 6 seasons later were able to hoist the Stanley Cup for the 4th time in 12 seasons.
You see, there is a pattern here. Maybe its been great coaching? But we have changed coaches. Maybe its great goaltending? But its been more than one goalie. Maybe its great defense or scoring, but who can even remember all the defensive pairings from those teams? One certain thing these teams have all had in common is ownership and a GM who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “Rebuilding”. The Red Wings are poised to make a run every year. The names and faces may be different, but the results are the same. When you put that Red Wing sweater on, you become a winner. You become part of our tradition and you are met with undying support. Its hard as sports fans to relax, but today I plead with you to be calm. This is not the last hurrah for this team. Its true that Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, and Johan Franzen won’t be around forever. But we have seen this before. Never count the Red Wings out. The Illitch family doesn’t. So don’t treat the 2012 playoffs as a life or death situation. We will retool and be ready to make another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup. Because that’s what we do in Hockeytown. Its all we know, whether everyone else likes it or not.
Online Radio Moving Up The Charts
Online radio is the fastest-growing music-listening category among U.S. consumers, according to new findings from NPD Group.
The market research firm found that 43% of U.S. Web users in 2011 chose to listen to music via Pandora, Slacker, Yahoo Music and other online radio services -- up nine percentage points from 2010.
At the same time, music-listening on AM/FM radio and CDs remained relatively steady, at 84% and 74%, respectively.
NPD’s annual music study found the number of online radio listeners grew by 18 million last year. The format is most popular among people in the 18-25 age bracket. But strong growth was also seen among people ages 36 to 50, which suggests that young listeners may be turning their parents onto digital radio.
While demand for free online radio is increasing, the appetite for paid options remains low.
Some 42% of Web users listened to free radio in 2011 compared to just 3% who paid for online radio. Sites like Pandora have benefited directly from the growing audience for online radio. Despite lower-than-expected revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter, the company still saw ad sales climb 74% to $72.1 million from a year ago.
Privately held Spotify likewise made a successful entrance into the U.S. market last year. The U.K-based company, however, recently extended a promotion that allows U.S. users to continue to stream music for free, underscoring the challenge of converting people to paying subscribers. Outside the U.S., it also lifted a restriction imposing a five-song limit on free users.
The NPD research indicated Facebook doesn’t play an influential role when it comes to online music. Only 12% of Web users listened to music integrated into Facebook or other social networks by services including Spotify and MOG. Spotify, for instance, has only about a dozen apps on its platform to date.
“There’s no doubt that Facebook has helped drive music listening and discovery,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “But what is not yet clear is the platform’s importance, in terms of ongoing music usage and purchasing.” Facebook has long been rumored to start its own music service, but so far has relied on outside partners to supply music offerings through the site.
The NPD study results were based on online surveys of 5,799 U.S. consumers age 13 and up, between December 14, 2011 and January 3, 2012.
Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/171672/online-radio-moving-up-the-charts.html?edition=45326#ixzz1rMFTd5nd
From the blog of Josh Linkner
April 2, 2012
Angry Birds, the incredibly popular game, was software maker Rovio's 52nd attempt. They spent eight years and nearly went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit.
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history, but struggled for a long time. Pinterest's CEO recently said that they had "catastrophically small numbers" in their first year after launch and that if he had listened to popular startup advice he probably would have quit.
James Dyson "failed" in over 5100 experiments before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Groupon was put on life support and nearly shut down at one point in its meteoric rise.
When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks.
We often celebrate companies and individuals once they've achieved undeniable success, but shun their disruptive thinking before reaching such a pinnacle. Before Oprah was Oprah, before Jobs was Jobs, they were labeled as misguided dreamers rather than future captains of industry.
In your life, you've probably had a setback or two. When you stumble, it's tempting the throw in the towel and accept defeat. There's always an attractive excuse waiting eagerly, hoping you'll take the easy way out. But the most successful people forge ahead. They realize that mistakes are simply data, providing new information to adjust your approach going forward.
The ubiquitous WD-40 lubricant got its name because the first 39 experiments failed. WD-40 literally stands for "Water Displacement - 40th Attempt." If they gave up early on like most of us do, we'd sure have a lot more squeaky things in the world.
You have a mission to accomplish and an enormous impact to make on the world. You will inevitably endure some "failures" along your journey but you must realize that persistence and determination have always been primary ingredients in accomplishment.
Don't cave to your mistakes, embrace them. In fact, mistakes are simply to the portals of discovery. There's an old saying that "every bull's-eye is the result of a hundred misses." So the next time you feel the sting of failure, just realize you're likely one shot closer to hitting your target.
And who knows? Maybe after a few dozen failures and months or years of hard work, you might just be that next "overnight" success.
From the blog of Josh Linkner
March 26, 2012
If you have a burning headache, you'll do whatever it takes to subdue it. If it's 3:00 am on a cold, snowy night and you are out of pain killers, you'll bundle up, drive to a 24-hour pharmacy, and desperately pay nearly any cost to alleviate your pain.
Vitamins are a different story. They are a nice-to-have, not a gotta-have-right-now. You certainly won't race out in the middle of the night for them. You'll think twice about the cost, get to them when convenient, and likely forget them altogether on a semi-regular basis.
As a marketer, entrepreneur, or business leader, ask yourself... are you selling aspirin or vitamins?
It turns out that selling vitamins is roughly ten times more difficult since you are marketing an "optional" product. Vitamin purchases lack urgency, are frequently price-sensitive, and offer the customer the viable alternative to doing absolutely nothing.
It's obvious that fixing a broken furnace, diabetes meds, and basic food are in the "aspirin" category. It's also obvious that glamor magazines, luxury vacations, and diamond bracelets are "vitamins." But it's likely the product you or your company sells is somewhere in the middle.
The difference is often how the product is positioned and marketed. Savvy brands fork over millions to their agencies to advertise their latest gear as "must haves." You can skip the agencies by tapping into your own creativity and making sure you are standing out from the pack with a truly compelling offering.
As a venture capitalist, one of the first questions I ask myself when evaluating a startup for possible investment: Are they selling aspirin or vitamins? Businesses that service burning demand and visceral human needs tend to accelerate faster and require far less marketing push than those that offer stuff customers can easily live without.
Whether you're launching a new product line, starting a business, or expanding into a new geographic territory, give a deep look in the mirror to figure out which you are selling. If it turns out you're selling vitamins, it may be time to go back to the drawing board to sell something different or at a minimum to position your product/service/solution with more urgency.
The more you can solve a real consumer pain, the more success you'll enjoy. Just what the doctor ordered.
© 2012, The Institute for Applied Creativity, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
From the blog of Josh Linkner
March 19, 2012
In an age when the pressures of the world can overwhelm the best of us, it can feel like the window of opportunity has become smaller than a tic tac. Many entrepreneurs look back in time and long for the days when there were oodles of products not yet invented. It's one thing if you are a Zuckerberg-like tech geek, but innovating in more mature industries can feel more daunting than a swim across the Atlantic.
So how do you take on a big, established industry? One recipe includes humor, web marketing, a borrowed business model, and a heaping dose of creativity.
DollarShaveClub.com launched last week and in their first seven days they snagged over 17,000 paid subscribers. Their hilarious marketing video - produced for under $4500 - has been now seen by over three million people:
Founder Michael Dubin did a number of things to make this one of the most successful launches in history. Dubin's first insight was that he didn't have to manufacture and market the razors; he could sell the blades directly. He "borrowed" a low-cost subscription model from Netflix and now offers his monthly razor blade subscription service for as low as $1 per month.
Naturally, you'll probably prefer their $9 per month plan with better blades. But by the time you reach that order page, he's already got you. Never run out, blades shipped right to you, save up to $300 per year. Brilliant!
Next, he used humor and the power of the web to market his product to consumers at a fraction of the price that Gillette or Schick spend on TV and in-store campaigns. And with his subscription model, he only has to market to a customer once and then they are on auto-renew.
If Dubin only keeps his current pace (which will likely increase as word spreads), he'll have nearly one million subscribers at the end of his first year. Assuming $5 per month as an average, this Santa Monica-based entrepreneur will have a $60 million business in 12 months. In an old-school, mature, commodity business. With no marketing budget. No salespeople, distributors, retail stores, trade promotion, supermodels, or TV commercials.
Dubin came out of nowhere and is now enjoying incredible success. Whether you're launching your own business, seeking that big promotion, or improving your community, you can do the same thing. Focus on disruptive thinking. Let your creativity shine, and bring your most potent and differentiated ideas to the forefront. Communicate in a way that simply can't be ignored.
Do something remarkable. Unleash the never-been-done-before. It's time to take your game to the razor's edge.
Radio is not “Just About Radio”
Posted on: Mar 14, 2012 in Digital Strategy, Insights, Internet Radio
Mark Kassof wrote about some interesting research where he concluded that Pandora “is not just about radio.”
Of course Pandora “isn’t just about radio,” but nor is radio “just about radio.”
Is it “about radio” when your station monetizes a daily deals platform? Is it “about radio” when local events turn a profit for your brand? Is it “about radio” when you are monetizing your streams or videos or other digital content elements that live in on a platform other than “radio.”
In fact, it’s never “about radio.” It’s always about consumers and your clients and how to gather them in each other’s presence and in the presence of your brand.
The notion that, as Kassof explains, “Pandora listening is not all at terrestrial radio’s expense! It could be time listening to iPods, CDs, Sirius/XM, etc.” should surprise no one, but nor should it cheer you. Since – unlike iPods and CDs and SiriusXM – your local clients can advertise on Pandora, thus it is competitive with your brands in ways that iPods and CD’s and SiriusXM are not.
How much of the usage Pandora steals from radio consumers is enough? How much is too much? And how much should you sigh in relief when you hear that Pandora users might consider a CD as a second choice when presented with the extraordinarily hypothetical scenario that “the site is down,” when radio consumers are very likely to do the same thing under a similar far-out scenario?
Kassof goes on:
What piqued my curiosity about Pandora is the fact it doesn’t show up as a radio station in our research. When we ask listeners which stations they’ve listened to in the past week, they never mention Pandora! In contrast, many mention Sirius/XM as a “radio station.”
It’s all about how you ask the question. Indeed, Pandora absolutely, positively shows up in my research alongside radio stations – althoughnot as often as SiriusXM. And this is particularly true in the larger markets, as my clients have seen firsthand. And if you have any doubts just ask your consumers.
Besides, what constitutes a “radio station” is irrelevant. What matters is where consumers go for content that substitutes for the time they would otherwise spend with “radio,” what the scale of that usage is, and whether or not that destination may be supported by advertisers, locally and/or nationally. Pandora scores on all three measures.
We need to always remember that while Pandora and others can encroach on radio’s turf, radio can likewise creep onto the turf of every other media company in every other corner of our markets. That is radio’s long-term advantage – using the power of our megaphone to link consumers and clients throughout our markets no matter what platform they want to play together on.
And it all begins with seeing the world as it is, not as it used to be.
From the blog of Josh Linkner
March 5, 2012
My friend Les Gold, star of the hit TV series Hardcore Pawn, gave a dynamic speech this week that left the audience memorized. His opening line really struck me: "How bad do you want it?"
As products of a consumer-driven society, we want just about everything. We want fancy cars, palatial homes, and exotic travel. We also want perfectly toned bodies, extraordinary athletic abilities, a big circle of friends, dozens of hobbies, and a close-knit family. Our wants are limitless.
The challenge becomes prioritization and sacrifice. As the sage childhood advice proclaims, "You can have anything you want but you can't have everything you want." Knowing that human desire surpasses the 24-hour-a-day limit, choosing what's most important is critical. Without that focus, your energies become defuse and you end up accomplishing very little.
"How bad do you want it?" Les gets in the audience's face with his trademark intensity. He's referring to your commitment to reaching your goals and questioning the sacrifices you're willing to make in order to win. The most successful people do what other won't, not what others can't. If you want something but refuse to do whatever it takes to get there, it's merely fanciful dreaming. Those that truly commit to their goals and will walk through fire to achieve them are the ones that win in good times and bad.
Les works out seven-days-a-week at 5am. I'm sure there are days he'd rather stay in his warm bed, but he's willing to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment. Dealing with tough customers at his pawnshop empire can be difficult and often dangerous. But he shows up every day. Fearless. Driven. Committed.
It's so easy to cast blame when we fall short. Between the economy, governmental regulation, fierce competition, and "not enough time in the day", there's no shortage of excuses. But when you're busy moaning, someone else is busy winning. They're willing to own personal responsibility for their results. Willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how distasteful, to achieve. Are you?
When you combine intense focus with unbendable grit and determination, nearly anything is possible. As you set out to make your biggest mark, you will undoubtedly need to make some tough sacrifices along the way. If it were easy, everyone would be a champion.
Are you ready to fight through rain, sleet, and snow? Are you ready to exert discipline and focus? Are you ready to be relentless?
How bad do you want it?
© 2012, The Institute for Applied Creativity, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
While there’s plenty of nostalgia for bringing competitive baseball back to the historic Tiger Stadium site, the numbers don’t add up.
BY R.J. KING
Nostalgia in the sporting world is a funny thing. Sports businesses are built on it — we proudly wear jackets, jerseys, and hats from teams long gone. Yet despite our yearnings for yesteryear, no one has figured out what to do with our beloved, but aging, stadiums.
While our professional sports teams have a combined history of being active over three centuries, does anyone recall where the Tigers played their inaugural season in 1894? Answer: Boulevard Park, near Belle Isle (roughly at East Lafayette and East Grand Boulevard). If new revenue had sustained Boulevard Park, we’d be attending minor league and youth games there today.
Cobo Arena, once home to the Detroit Pistons, long since disappeared as a viable sports venue and today is being transformed into a conference and banquet center as part of a larger renovation of Cobo Center.
Olympia Stadium, demolished in 1987, succumbed to old age and a provision in the Red Wings’ lease that prevented the venue from competing with city-owned Joe Louis and Cobo arenas. The Wings also stipulated that the city couldn’t sell Olympia to a competitor.
Down the road, a new use for Joe Louis Arena may be considered (perhaps as an expansion of Cobo Center). The Red Wings are weighing whether to build a stadium in an area bounded by I-75, Woodward, Temple, and Grand River. If the deal is consummated, parking will be a key component in completing the transaction. The Palace of Auburn Hills can offer major recording acts competitive contracts because it drives plenty of revenue from parking and concessions sales — Olympia Entertainment will surely want to take advantage of similar opportunities; Joe Louis Arena, due to its position along the Detroit River, does not have that luxury.
While there’s plenty of nostalgia for bringing competitive baseball back to the historic Tiger Stadium site, the numbers don’t add up. The Tigers left the city-owned complex 12 years ago. Since that time, the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has raised $150,000. It was far short of covering a $15.5 million plan to preserve a portion of the stadium while operating a museum and a ballpark.
So what happens next to the Tiger Stadium site? Until an entity meets Detroit Economic Growth Corp.’s (DEGC) mixed-use development goal of “highest and best use,” the 9.5-acre parcel at Michigan and Trumbull will remain as is. But baseball nostalgia isn’t completely dead; dreams for the future are alive and well — even more so now that DEGC, Detroit’s Recreation Department, Think Detroit PAL (Police Athletic League), and Chevrolet are restoring Jayne Field, a complex of 11 baseball diamonds near McNichols and Conant on the city’s east side.
Think Detroit PAL, which serves 1,400 youth and sponsors nearly 100 teams each year, operates baseball fields in other parts of the city, as well. “Chevrolet’s support is a grand slam for Think Detroit PAL and our youth,” says George Jackson, DEGC’s president and CEO. “If that money had been poured into the Tiger Stadium site, you’d be looking at one ball field instead of 11 ball fields. If businesses, nonprofits, and individuals would like to support youth baseball in Detroit, we encourage them to embrace existing parks and recreation facilities. It offers the biggest bang for the buck.” db
Weekly fishing guide report from Michigan DNR
Weekly fishing guide report from Michigan DNR...Looks like the Steelheaders in the rivers are getting the best of it...Ice? PFSSSST!
Southeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Lake Erie: Has open water fishing. The occasional jumbo perch and some bluegills were caught off the docks at the Metro Park Marina. The bait of choice was minnows or wax worms, depending on the day.
Huron River: Has open water and was producing some bigger steelhead.
Detroit River: Has open water with minimal ice coming downriver. Few anglers were out except for those fishing the canals around Gibraltar.
Maceday Lake: In Oakland County was giving up good numbers of lake trout in 5 to 10 feet of water however ice conditions will be unpredictable with the warm weather.
Lexington: Watch the edges where the ice is thin. Catch rates were not as good as last week but those putting in some time were catching steelhead, the odd brown trout and some perch when using wax worms, spikes, minnows or a bare hook.
Port Sanilac: Ice conditions are poor and not fishable.
Harbor Beach: Ice fishing activity is confined to about half of the City Marina and Offshore Marina where anglers are sorting through perch. Detroit Edison apparently went online and blew the ice out of the discharge channel.
Saginaw Bay: Ice conditions remain marginal to poor throughout the bay and the ports on the outside of the Thumb. Windy conditions blew out some of the ice in various locations so anglers will have to be flexible in picking a place to fish. Warm weather this week will not help, so be careful out there! Wear waders and possibly a floatation jacket or float coat if you go out. Most are fishing in 2 to 5 feet of water with soft colored beads on jack hooks. Perch ranging 8 to 14 inches were caught off Newman, Townline 16 and Cody-Estey Road but some of the ice blew out so be careful. Perch anglers inside the Linwood Marina were also sorting out a few keepers. Some were fishing off the Bay City State Park, but success rates were unknown. Near Quanicassee, perch success was hit-or-miss at Vanderbilt Park. Lots of small perch and the odd pike were caught in the marina basin at Sebewaing. Ice conditions between Sebewaing and Bay Port were not consistent. Some quads have gone through the ice in this area. The ice in Wildfowl Bay is in poor condition. An air-boat went out to the Slot off Geiger Road for walleye but they broke the ice most of the way out there. They did report seeing lots of dead and dying gizzard shad, so the chance that a walleye will hit your spoon is pretty slim. Poor ice conditions have stopped anglers from fishing along the breakwall at Caseville. Ice shanties were out at Port Austin for those spearing pike.
Saginaw River: The Shiver on the River Walleye Tournament kicked off last weekend, and it looks like boat fishing will be the way to go. Ice has been pushed out of the Rust Avenue ramp and a dock has been put in. The Zilwaukee ramp has been cleared and boats should have access from the ramp on Cass Avenue which is on the south end of Bay City. In all cases, anglers should bring along a spud and a bag of salt to deal with unforeseen ice conditions. The ramps were still iced in at the Veterans Ramp in Bay City and Essexville. At the mouth, the Patterson ramp had too much ice to launch a boat.
Tittabawassee River: Some boats have been launching at Gordonville Road and going up to fish below the Dow Dam, but success rates were poor because there are not a lot of walleye up that far. Floating ice can be an issue. Not much activity elsewhere because of ice at the launch ramps.
Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
St. Joseph River: Has fair to good steelhead fishing. Try spawn or jigs with wax worms below the dams.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has boat and shore anglers catching steelhead and walleye. For steelhead, try chartreuse spawn bags, wobble glows with a 5 foot leader, or white jigs with 3 or 4 wax worms. Those back bouncing are using spawn with a 2 foot leader between the dam and the lake. Those trolling caught steelhead and walleye on Hot-n-Tots. Good colors were black and gold, orange and gold or blue with red lips. Walleye were caught off the Fulton Street Bridge when using white twister tails or bucktail jigs.
Grand River at Lansing: Most of the action continues to be for steelhead at the Webber Dam and Prairie Creek near Ionia. No word on walleye fishing.
Lake Lansing: Had ice however conditions will deteriorate rapidly with the warm weather. Stay safe and fish in shallow waters only for right now.
Lake Ovid: Had ice however conditions will most likely not hold after the current warm spell.
Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Grand Lake: Has ice for walleye and perch fishing though anglers may want to consider foot traffic only.
Long Lake: Has ice but anglers will need to use caution near the areas that had open water. This lake is usually good for bluegill, rock bass, walleye, and pike.
Thunder Bay River: There was ice on the turning basin. Anglers are catching small perch there and at the boat harbor.
Hubbard Lake: Has ice but anglers will need to use caution as there are thin spots.
Au Sable River: Has very good steelhead fishing.
Lake St. Helen: Is still producing fish for ice anglers using wax worms, mousies or wigglers. Walleye were better in the early morning or late evening.
Higgins Lake: Is producing perch and pike off Sam-O-Set Park but there is pack ice in the area. Smelt were taken off the launch on the west side in 30 feet of water. On the south end, anglers caught pike, perch and lake trout off the State Park and Lincoln Avenue. Lake trout were caught on tip-ups. For pike, anglers did well on tip-ups and while spearing. Rainbow trout were caught near the Conference Center and Big Creek by those using wigglers. Early morning and late evening were best.
Houghton Lake: Still has some open water along the west shore. Travel conditions were listed as slippery so you might want to wear some cleats. Walleye were caught along the north shore, the East Bay and near the Cut River in the early morning or late evening. Pike were hitting on tip-ups with sucker minnows. Look for crappie along the north shore. Perch were hitting on blue shiners along the south shore.
Tawas: Ice fishing activity is confined to Jerry's Marina and inside the state harbor. In the marina, they are spearing a few pike and sorting through perch and sub-legal walleye. Most are fishing in 15 feet of water. Anglers should not be venturing out near the edge of the ice. No walleye is worth risking your life for. Inside the State Harbor, perch were caught however you will need to sort out the small ones. Some nice fish were seen but no one caught any.
Au Gres River: Most of the fishing activity has been concentrated in the lower river, although a few anglers were venturing out onto the bay just south of the breakwalls. The river is producing sub-legal walleyes and lots of small perch.
Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Small lakes in the area have ice however some of the large lakes are not safe.
Lake Charlevoix: The main basin does not have safe ice.
Torch Lake: Does not have safe ice.
Elk Lake: Does not have safe ice.
Lake Cadillac: Ice fishing is going strong with sporadic catches of crappie, perch, and walleye. Pike are hitting on tip-ups with sucker minnows.
Lake Mitchell: Has ice fishing as well. Try the Big Cove for pike and crappie.
Lake Missaukee: Is another good lake for ice fishing however the panfish action was just fair.
Manistee River: Has very good steelhead fishing. Anglers have caught some nice fish including some fresh fish that have moved up into the river.
Pere Marquette River: Still has steelhead for the taking. Try flies, spawn or wax worms under a bobber.
Hamlin Lake: Has ice but anglers need to use caution and avoid the deep waters. For bluegill and crappie, try the shallow waters of Indian Pete's, the Middle or the South Bayou.
Upper Peninsula Fishing Report
Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions improved however there are still areas throughout the bay that are dangerous. A couple vehicles fell through the ice on the northern end of Butler Island. This area is always dangerous and should be avoided at all times. Anglers are ice fishing in the northern bay and off Gladstone however any ice south of Gladstone should be considered dangerous. Pressure cracks have been a real problem this year as they seem to be moving around on a daily basis. Use extreme caution when crossing them! Walleye reports were good and the Gladstone area produced the best for those jigging rapalas 6 to 8 feet off the bottom in 25 to 30 feet of water. Some caught fish from the Center Reef when jigging rapalas or using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 18 to 28 feet of water. Several large walleye and good numbers of pike were reported in this area. The best walleye catches are early morning or between dusk and an hour after dark. For those looking for whitefish, the ice was just starting to form off Sand Point, so the ice is not safe yet. Catch rates for perch were still fair to good around Kipling. Try jigging minnows, wigglers or spikes in 5 to 17 feet of water.
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Schwartz talks Lions from Super Bowl site
Lions coach Jim Jim Schwartz was in Indianapolis in advance of Sunday’s game and reviewed the highlights of the season in a national interview. (US PRESSWIRE)
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Mike O'Hara joined the Detroit News in 1966 and covered the Detroit Lions for that paper from 1977-2008. He's covered every sport during his 40-plus years in the business.
February 2, 2012
The Lions didn’t make it to Super Bowl XLVI, but head coach Jim Schwartz was in Indianapolis in advance of Sunday’s game and reviewed the highlights of the season in a national interview.
The Lions had a turnaround season in 2011, with a 10-6 record that put them in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
In an interview on ESPN’s popular "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show Thursday morning, Schwartz answered questions on a variety of issues.
They included the team’s upward trend after a decade of losing, the performance of Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson, and Schwartz’s expectation of running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure returning from injuries.
Schwartz’s prognosis for Leshoure and Best had a slight bit of news value.
Leshoure missed all of his rookie season because of a torn Achilles sustained in training camp. Best went out in the sixth game with a concussion and did not return.
There has been speculation that Best might not play again because of a history of concussions.
Schwartz spoke of having both available in the upcoming season.
“We get those guys back on the field, you’ll see more pieces in place in our offense, and we’re going to be very difficult to handle,” Schwartz said.
The controversy surrounding Suh -- magnified by a stomping incident on Thanksgiving Day that resulted in the NFL suspending Suh for two games -- arose midway through the interview.
Schwartz was asked if Suh will learn from his negative experiences.
“I think he’s already done it,” Schwartz said.
The Lions have been characterized by many as being undisciplined because of personal-foul penalties. That image was heightened by the Suh incident and a rash of penalties incurred in a loss at New Orleans the next week in a Sunday night game that was televised nationally on NBC.
Schwartz reiterated what he said often during the season -- that he wants his defense to be physical and is most concerned about penalties that happen after the whistle, as opposed to penalties incurred during the course of action.
“When you’re a team that rushes the passer and is around the quarterback a lot, that’s (penalties) life in the NFL,” Schwartz said. “The referees are going to protect the quarterback. There’s a very fine line between getting a great play and a hit on the quarterback and drawing that penalty.
“It’s different to lose your composure after the whistle. I think we put that behind us as we continued on throughout the year.
“There are a lot of steps we’ve taken as a franchise. Dealing with success was a big, big part of that, learning how to be able to get through that.
“That stuff flies below the radar when you’re 0-16. Nobody sees that. When you’re in national television games, when you’re fighting for division championships, fighting for playoffs -- that stuff becomes a lot more scrutinized.
“That’s something you have to learn to deal with. I think we did.”
Schwartz compared Stafford’s development to that of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- a three-time Super Bowl champion.
Stafford played all 16 games for the first time in his three seasons with the Lions and passed for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. He turns 24 next month.
“You think about all the different things,” Schwartz said. “He threw for 5,000 yards, led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. He’s experienced so much in the NFL at this age.
“I think when Tom Brady was 24, he’d never thrown a pass in the NFL. Stafford’s thrown for 5,000 yards and led a team to the playoffs.
“He’s also dealt with a lot of the adversity of being injured and dealing with that kind of scrutiny. That will make him better in the future and make us better in the future.”
Schwartz stressed the impact that Johnson has on defenses and his teammates.
“Being a defensive coordinator for a decade, I know how difficult it is to defend against a guy like that,” Schwartz said. “There are no good calls against Calvin Johnson. He can be doubled, and he still makes the play.
“It gives the quarterback a place to be able to go with the ball, but it also frees everybody else up.”