Had a chance to visit Miami this week – one of my favorite places for countless reasons and I don’t get there enough.  Met with a cruise line looking to develop a music strategy which will prove to be an awesome, challenging-in-a-good-way assignment.  It’s one of the more modern, progressive lines, which is killer.  Imagine figuring out an approach to music that impacts everything from the music you hear when you turn on the television in your cabin, to the sounds you hear in the halls, decks, etc. to the DJs you may encounter in a nightclub or the band in the performance hall.  It all has to ladder up to something meaningful, so I am pumped to work on it.

Then I visited one of those weird places that only the music industry could produce – the Circle House Studios facilities, nestled in a neighborhood in North Miami.  Some interesting familiar faces wandering around.

The New American Dream Will be Redefined Back Home

The American Dream is being redefined right in front us. Not by the media. Not by schools. And certainly not by the financial institutions seeking to maintain the status quo.    Marketers give them names like GenY or Millennials, but make no mistake, the American Dream is being redefined by the young people who have inherited an obsolete idea. This is the generation weaned on digital and their dreams have no physical borders.    The new American Dream is largely global and fluid. The need to own a home will be replaced by the desire to live abroad – multiple times. The need to lay down roots will be replaced by the need to remain mobile. This impacts everything from transportation, to dwellings, to the pursuit of higher education.

Personal experiences are the new assets. Individuality is the new wealth.

Working on (or as my UK friends may charmingly say ‘looking after’) a number of brands that serve the younger generations of Americans, more often than not, you are presented rather alarming data about kids of the future.  Things like:  The kids being born today will be the first generation of kids that do not have it as good as their parents.   Or:  The recession is forcing entire graduating college classes to sit out of employment, and be passed up by younger grads once the economy turns around.  A lost class if of you will.

Photo of Taj Reid, of WeJetSet.

As dismal as it may seem, I also think that as a society and marketers, we are looking at these kids through the lense of the now antiquated American Dream.   People are resilient.  If the passion is there, or a drop of ambition, I am confident that these kids will redefine the American Dream – make it a global one, relevant – and make it work for them.

I have had the very fortunate situation, in my opinion, to have had a taste of the old American Dream, and now what may be a new one.   I went to school.  Got a job.  Bought a house.   Dogs.   Marriage.  And it really did not even suck.  It was all I knew.  Most of my friends are living that very dream right now.   Many probably assume that some day they’ll sell their house at a great profit, or better yet, simply strike it rich.  Either by the hands of some benevolent corporation, or by the equally likely winged horse that will fly from the sky to deliver them that big pay day.   Somewhere along the way, probably as a Texan living in New York during a time our country divided down the middle politically and rationally, I realized it was time to adjust the mirrors and clean the windshield.  I have found myself in this somewhat migratory/nomadic lifestyle that I personally find pretty goddamn amazing.   I am not rich.  I don’t even own a car.  But I am free in every imaginable way – a feeling I don’t ever recall as an adult.   A blank canvas.  A GPS waiting for an address.

There is a statistic that measures the number of kids that have moved back in with their parents in their late 20’s.  The number is high.   People who read the stat sit back in their conference room chair and chuckle at the prospects.  I actually think of that scenario – the act of moving back with you parents – as the ultimate gesture or better yet, middle finger to the old American Dream.  It is not a bad a thing… those 20-somethings will emerge poised to take on the world from a new perspective.   The biggest mistake they could make would be trying to jump back into the old rat race.  It is the ultimate opportunity  to rethink your place in the world.   Read books.  Dream big.  Volunteer.  Start over.  It is a beautiful thing.   People that move home now will be the pioneers of the new dream.  Embrace it.  Marketers should not write these people off, but instead seek to understand the great potential of these individuals.  They are the ones starting revolutions in food.  Social entrepreneurs.  They are highly educated with nothing to lose – a powerful dynamic that I don’t recall in my lifetime.

When I wrote the quoted text above for a project I was working on, it was rooted in the observations of the young people I meet, or their blogs that I read.  Perhaps not their actions, but certainly their aspirations.   I am beyond confident they will figure it out.  I hope they let an old man in on what they have cookin’.

Favorite Campaigns of the 1990s

Hands down, my favorite ad campaign from the 90s, somewhat ironically featuring Drew Barrymore.  Followed closely by the CK One ads with Kate Moss.  The CK One launch was considered one of the most innovative, successful fragrance launches of all time, still talked about today.

138 Words on Digital Marketing

It happened.   The one thing that I’ve built my career on thus far, digital marketing, annoys the hell out of me.  I say that as I’m blogging while refreshing Facebook and Twitter – the axis of digital marketing evil as far as I’m concerned.  I was once obsessed with figuring out how to be the first to put certain technology to work to solve marketing challenges. Let’s enable consumers to upload videos.  Let’s prove that CPG brand can leverage Myspace, then Facebook. Notice the problems with those statements?  As I matured professionally, I started to lose interest in the latest technology and capabilities, instead obsessing over the basic human needs that technology and content were fulfilling (or in some cases exploiting).  But people like the old version me are very important – I know a few that are invaluable.

Steve Berra On the Skateboarding Ecosystem

I love getting into conversations with my skater friends that border on the same topic and others like it.  Aside from my parents and a few key individuals in my life, I believe I can attribute a substantial amount of ‘who I am‘ to my time spent skateboarding – both on the board and observing – since 1991.   I would put teaching ‘Skate Philosophy 101’ at a university at dream job status.  I often say that one of my hobbies is tracing the influence of skateboarding throughout pop culture and society, from fashion trends, to art, to attitudes.   Pathetic hobby, I know.

I frequently see pop culture icons labeled trendsetters and style icons, when in reality they are taking their lead from the quiet (in relative terms) skateboarders who for the most part, could care less.   Style has always been an essential element of skateboarding, but progression and overall enjoyment should always remain most important.   Obsessing over a nollie flip – a skater.  Obsessing over the way your jeans fall onto your P-Rods – a misled skater.

I highly recommend reading Steve’s post.  It is long, but a great read.  It is begging for some David Armano-style graphic treatment to articulate the symbiotic relationship between the parties that call skateboarding theirs.

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