Cardborgami - Innovation in Temporary Shelter

OK, I don't know if this actually relates to building product marketing, but it's too cool not to share.

Seen at Alt Build 2012:

Cardborgami ( is a fold-up temporary shelter made of plain ordinary corrugated cardboard.  It was invented by Tina Hovsepian, a native of Los Angeles (where there are more than 30,000 homeless people who do not have access to shelter) while she was an architecture student at the University of Southern California.  

Cardborgami is portable (it can be folded open or closed in less than a minute), it's treated to be waterproof and flame retardant, and it's fully recyclable.

Hovsepian, in addition to designing sustainable homes at Duvivier Architects in Santa Monica, CA, has also founded a non-profit to distribute Cardborgami shelters.  Her program includes volunteers who teach their homeless clients how to build the shelters (once built, it folds and unfolds without additional assembly).  She also wants recipients of the shelters to bring in recyclable cardboard to the same centers where they receive their shelters.

This kind of thinking should be encouraged and applauded.   Loudly.  This kind of action should be supported, too, so let me repeat:

Find the right questions

Replace the words in brackets with marketing/marketeer, design/designer, or with almost any other profession, and the quote below will be just as applicable.
"The best [petrographic] examination is the one that finds the right questions and answers them with maximum economy in minimum time, with a demonstration clear to all concerned that the right questions were answered with all necessary and no superfluous detail. In practices the approach to the ideal varies depending on the problem, the skill with which the questions were asked, and the skill of the [petrographer]. One measure of the [petrographer]'s skill is knowing when to stop, either because the problem is adequately solved, or, in some cases, because it has been shown to be insoluble under the circumstances."
Katherine Mather, 1966, Petrographic Examination. Significance of Tests and Properties of Concrete and Concrete Making Materials, ASTM Special Technical Publication No. 169-A

Underestimating our Future

Michael Chusid will be a keynote speaker at the CSI West Region Conference to be held in Spring 2012. His presentation will be during a Vendor Appreciation Luncheon. With both design professionals and sales reps in attendance, any guess who picks up the bar bill?

Here is the write-up on announcing the event:

Underestimating our Future

It's been said, "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten." (Bill Gates) With that in mind, Michael Chusid, RA, FCSI, CCS, ACI, CWA, SCIP, EIEIO*, fearlessly prognosticates a decade into the future to help us reimagine the next few years. He interprets auguries about building design and construction, material science and product trends, and whether sales reps and specifiers will, at last, find true love and commitment with each other.

Michael is author or ghost writer of over two hundred published articles about architecture, building products and marketing, and publisher of As president of Chusid Associates (, the leading marketing and technical consultant to the building product industry, he has seen untold numbers of innovations crash and burn, yet is adamant that his predictions will be just as wrong as those of anyone else. 
While the tone is lighthearted, the topic is crucial for construction industry professionals in a changing market.

* For those uninitiated, the author is parodying the CSI practice of making liberal use of professional credentials following names. EIEIO is a group for individuals with more than five sets of initials after their name.

Flying Concrete

In the 90's there was an underground comic called Concrete. The character got his name because, like concrete, he was strong, tough, heavy, and unattractive.  This has traditionally been the common conception of concrete, which is why it's been so amazing to see concrete change over the past decade into a decorative, fluid, lightweight medium.

Flying Concrete demonstrates how far concrete has come. The site is run by Steve Kornher, a designer/builder currently working in Mexico, who loves pushing the boundaries of what he can do with concrete.
Concrete is a plastic medium and has incredible potential for creating fluid, sculptural forms. I will admit that some of the dullest structures around are made of concrete but dullness isn't a limitation inherent in the material. As the accompanying photographs demonstrate, the builder's imagination may be the greatest limitation of its use as a sculptural medium.
His site is worth checking out, especially the Projects section. Many of the slideshows contain a good deal of process shots in addition to completed projects; watching him develop the forms and structures is fascinating.

Steve points out on his site that he is not a registered architect, and needs to work with one on all his projects. I wonder how much of his creativity stems from that lack of certification. Is it his lack of formal training that allows him to visualize novel forms, or is he just getting clients more willing to take the risks?

As of this writing, the site seems to have gone dormant; the last update was in 2010, and no new workshops have been scheduled in over a year. Hopefully that just means he's been too busy working to post new material, and we will see more soon.

Zero-Landfill Manufacturer

Here's an example of a building product manufacturer going an extra step to make their products greener:
Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing’s Toronto, Ontario facility has achieved a major milestone: zero landfill. The facility reached its goal through a reduction of waste, recycling of waste and reuse as fuel feedstock. The facility is being monitored for the next 12 months to ensure there is no waste going to landfill. Initiated in 2008, this is part of a five-year project designed to eliminate Tremco’s landfill waste in its North American Sealant and Waterproofing facilities. In the program’s first year, the organization reduced its ratio of landfill waste to materials shipped by 40 percent. (March 31, 2011)
 The press release goes on to describe other green initiatives the firm is undertaking.

More Plant Design Inspiration

In addition to my previous post, "Vegitecture", I've recently come across several other plants incorporated into architecture that will hopefully inspire you and your future product designs.

Designers Claesson Koivisto Rune, Front, Jean-Marie Massaud and Luca Nichetto presented furniture for incorporating plants into office spaces for Swedish brand Offecct at the Stockholm Furniture Fair this year.

French designer Patrick Nadeau has created an installation for Italian brand Boffi, consisting of hanging domes covered in living plants that create an interior "rainforest" illusion.

Design collective Pour les Alpes presented multi-faceted wooden plant pots at the DMY International Design Festival in Berlin.

Union Street Urban Orchard by Heather Ring

Ivy Building by Geneto

Architect Anne Holtrop has collaborated with green technology firm Studio Noach and botanist Patrick Blanc to propose an artificial floating island containing gardens and a spa.

Sky Garden House by Guz Architects

Architect Vincent Callebaut has designed a conceptual transport system, Hydrogenase, that would involve airships powered by seaweed.
This salon uses hanging vines as dividers

The Lighter Side of Concrete - an occasional series


Concrete is the most heavily used building material in the world.  In many applications, there seem to be no practical alternatives.  But concrete, like every other material, is being re-evaluated in terms of its environmental impact.  The concrete industry is working on ways to green its products.

In the meantime, I would like to suggest a widely available, rapidly-renewable-resource-based concrete alternative: oatmeal

The possibilities of this product were suggested to me late one night during World of Concrete, in the bar of one of the lesser-known Vegas hotels. I awoke the next morning with the question pounding in my head: Could it really be as simple as adding a heating element into the mixer of a concrete truck?

The purpose of this article, then, is to examine the feasibility of converting the North American readymix industry to construction-grade oatmeal.

The Material
Construction grade oatmeal should not be confused with the more common, wimpy "rolled oats" materials such as Quaker Oats (which are only acceptable for stucco and other non-loadbearing applications), nor Instant Oats, which are more suitable as a drywall-mud substitute.  Only steel-cut oats, frequently sold as "Irish Oatmeal," achieve sufficient structural properties to be considered a true concrete alternative.

The similarities are obvious.  Both materials are mixed into a viscous slurry that can be placed with a shovel, poured, or pumped (although pumping requires very high pressure equipment in the case of Irish Oatmeal).  Both contain a combination of a cementitious material and hard aggregate (if you've ever chewed Irish Oatmeal, you know about the aggregate.)  Both harden into an artificial stone within a few hours, and keep hardening for weeks or even years.

Vive La Difference!
To the casual observer, they seem like almost identical materials.  The differences are significant, however, and should not be overlooked.

First and foremost, portland cement concrete is a setting-type material, whereas oatmeal is a drying-type material, achieving hardness as its internal moisture evaporates.  This means that, as long as a cover is placed on the ready-mix truck to prevent evaporation, the oatmeal mix never gets too old to be used, no matter how bad traffic delays get.  In fact, due to the normal cooking time of oatmeal, any mix younger than 45 minutes is probably not ready for placement.  In some of our more congested cities, oatmeal may soon be the only viable readymix product.

Water can be added freely at the jobsite to keep the oatmeal workable without compromising ultimate strength.  This is in stark contrast to concrete jobs, where adding water is sometimes the stuff that lawsuits are made of.  In hot, dry regions, where concrete is often negatively affected by high placement temperatures and premature drying, oatmeal just becomes a rapid-hardening material at a bargain price.
Admixtures are sometimes used with concrete to accelerate or retard set-times, or to make the mix more workable; none of these are necessary (or useful) with oatmeal.  A common oatmeal admixture is CSH (cinnamon, sugar and homogenized milk), which actually functions both as integral pigmenting and additional cementitious material.  All three constituents are rapidly renewable resources, so that while the admixture is making the product more brown, it's also making it more green.
Fiber is sometimes added to concrete to enhance tensile strength and control cracking. Fiber is already naturally present in oatmeal, not only improving strength but, according to some studies, possibly lowering cholesterol.

Another important difference is mix design.  The strength of concrete is determined by controlling the ratio of water, cementitious materials, fine and coarse aggregate.  A high cement ratio yields stronger concrete, but cement is also the most expensive ingredient.  This gives both contractor and producer an economic incentive to use the lowest-strength mix acceptable, to save on cement costs.  Oatmeal includes both cementitious material and aggregate premixed, and all excess water evaporates, so the only strength-determining factor is how long it's cooked.  Any strength-related economic incentive, therefore, revolves around cooking-energy consumption.  Undercooked oatmeal releases an inadequate amount of cementitious material, so the mix lacks strength.  However, overcooked oatmeal breaks down the aggregate, also compromising strength.  As The Three Bears told you long ago, medium cooking is optimal.  It could be standardized throughout the industry, allowing equally high strength for every batch, with no financial disadvantage.

It is worth noting another difference.  Cement hydration in concrete releases heat, which increases after placement, sometimes creating cracking problems.  With oatmeal, the heat is put into the material during mixing, and gradually drops from then on. 

Oatmeal does undergo considerable drying shrinkage.  However, it is less of a problem than with concrete, since additional wet oatmeal can be added subsequently, and it will bond fully with previous pours.

Supply is an issue.  North America has vast amounts of land suitable for oatmeal agriculture.  However, in many regions, suitable aggregate for concrete is becoming more scarce, and price is on the rise.

It can be readily seen that oatmeal offers numerous advantages over conventional portland cement concrete.  Probably, the slowness of adoption is only due to the industry's notorious suspicion of new technologies, and the general tendency towards caution among the institutions that promulgate building codes.

The one possible downside to oatmeal is that it can be vulnerable to moisture.  Large quantities of water will tend to soften it (although, if you've ever left the pot to dry overnight and then tried to clean it, you may doubt this claim).  This means that oatmeal may be unsuitable for some extremely moist environments such as the Pacific Northwest, the ocean floor, or along the Gulf Coast.  In some of those places, however, it may offer an unexpected plus: a homeowner wiped out by flooding won't starve, since his family can always eat the foundation.

For the previous installment of this column, click here.

Fire Safety is now a Green Issue

My associate, Aaron Chusid, is fond of saying: "The green building movement is over; it won. We don't talk about a 'fire-safe building movement' anymore because fire-resistive design has become a regular part of construction. We have to start discussing sustainable design in the same way."

Aaron's insights may be a bit premature, because a new report by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) makes it clear that fire safety is also a green building issue.

Their report, titled Fire Safety and Green Buildings - Bridging the Gap is a free download. I recommend it as required reading for all building product marketing executives during their midwinter break. It is chock-full of issues and challenges to inspire fresh marketing strategies for the new year.

It points out that a single-attribute approach to sustainable product selection can produce unintended fire hazards. For example:
  • Engineered wood systems may make efficient use of forest resources, but they may not provide the same fire safety.
  • Photovoltaic panels on a roof provide renewable energy, but they can be a hazard to fire fighters.
  • Some insulations with excellent thermal resistance also generate smoke that  hinders fire fighting.
  • Vegetative roofs have lots of environmental advantages, but shouldn't prevent fire department access.
Reading this report may help you identify threats or opportunities in the changing marketplace. One of Chusid Associates' clients, for example, is launching a new marketing initiative stimulated by the report. Their door opener is that the NASFM has raised concerns about the fire safety of products in its niche. This prepares the way for demonstrating that the firm has already solved the problem, allowing its customers to be both green and fire safe.

Cement Emissions and Social Justice

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing final rules that will protect Americans' health by cutting emissions of mercury, particle pollution and other harmful pollutants from Portland cement manufacturing, the third-largest source of mercury air emissions in the United States. The rules are expected to yield $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in costs. Mercury can damage children's developing brains, and particle pollution is linked to a wide variety of serious health effects, including aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease.
I have a personal connection to this news item:

A friend of mine did her Ph.D. dissertation monitoring emissions from cement plants to document their pollution. Plant operators were not cooperative with her research. They would ban her from access to their sites and, if they discovered her setting up monitoring stations downwind, would temporarily modify production to artificially reduce emissions.

Understanding and reducing pollution was only one aspect of her research. Social justice was another. Cement plants, she explained, are usually located in "economically disadvantaged" neighborhoods that lacked the resources to oppose the pollution. The children with the least access to medical care, she observed, were the ones bearing the brunt of the toxic emissions from cement plants.

Social justice is fundamental to sustainable construction.  The Hannover Principles, a set of succinct guideposts to sustainable construction puts "human rights" at the top of its list of criteria for green construction.

I am sure the EPA's new guidelines do not satisfy my friend. Still, I salute her work for helping make the EPA's efforts possible.

Her research is published in the following (emphasis added):

"Wet deposition of mercury within the vicinity of a cement plant before and during cement plant maintenance, Atmospheric Environment (March 2010)

Abstract: Hg species (total mercury, methylmercury, reactive mercury) in precipitation were investigated in the vicinity of the Lehigh Hanson Permanente Cement Plant in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA., USA. Precipitation was collected weekly between November 29, 2007 and March 20, 2008, which included the period in February and March 2008 when cement production was minimized during annual plant maintenance. When the cement plant was operational, the volume weighted mean (VWM) and wet depositional flux for total Hg (HgT) were 6.7 and 5.8 times higher, respectively, compared to a control site located 3.5 km east of the cement plant. In February and March, when cement plant operations were minimized, levels were approximately equal at both sites (the ratio for both parameters was 1.1). Due to the close proximity between the two sites, meteorological conditions (e.g., precipitation levels, wind direction) were similar, and therefore higher VWM HgT levels and HgT deposition likely reflected increased Hg emissions from the cement plant. Methylmercury (MeHg) and reactive Hg (Hg(II)) were also measured; compared to the control site, the VWM for MeHg was lower at the cement plant (the ratio ¼ 0.75) and the VWM for Hg(II) was slightly higher (ratio ¼ 1.2), which indicated the cement plant was not likely a significant source of these Hg species to the watershed.

"Evidence for short-range transport of atmospheric mercury to a rural, inland site," Atmospheric Environment (March 2010)

Abstract: Atmospheric mercury (Hg) species, including gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) and particulate-bound mercury (Hgp), were monitored near three sites, including a cement plant (monitored in 2007 and 2008), an urban site and a rural site (both monitored in 2005 and 2008). Although the cement plant was a significant source of Hg emissions (for 2008, GEM: 2.20 =/- 1.39 ng m-3, RGM: 25.2 =/- 52.8 pg m-3, Hgp 80.8 =/- 283 pg m-3), average GEM levels and daytime average dry depositional RGM flux were highest at the rural site, when all three sites were monitored sequentially in 2008 (rural site, GEM: 2.37 =/- 1.26 ng m-3, daytime RGM flux: 29 =/- 40 ng m-2 day-1). Photochemical conversion of GEM was not the primary RGM source, as highest net RGM gains (75.9 pg m-3, 99.0 pg m-3, 149 m-3) occurred within 3.0-5.3 h, while the theoretical time required was 14e23 h. Instead, simultaneous peaks in RGM, Hgp, ozone (O3), nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide in the late afternoon suggested short-range transport of RGM from the urban center to the rural site. The rural site was located more inland, where the average water vapor mixing ratio was lower compared to the other two sites (in 2008, rural: 5.6 =/- 1.4 g kg-1, urban: 9.0 =/- 1.1 g kg-1, cement plant: 8.3 =/- 2.2 g kg-1). Together, these findings suggested short-range transport of O3 from an urban area contributed to higher RGM deposition at the rural site, while drier conditions helped sustain elevated RGM levels. Results suggested less urbanized environments may be equally or perhaps more impacted by industrial atmospheric Hg emissions, compared to the urban areas from where Hg emissions originated.

Products Built to Last

Where will you get inspiration for your next building product innovation? Scanning the horizon to see what new products other manufacturers are introducing can stimulate ideas and help you recognize market trends.

Here's a look at some of the best building products from 15 years ago.  See which of these products are still in use and become inspired to see what you can do to make your products last the next 15 years and beyond.

A new curve
A standard tactic in consumer product marketing is to create a brand extension by introducing, for example, a lemon-scented version of a product. Often construction materials makers similarly add a new twist to an existing product. During the past few years, many manufacturers have introduced flexible, bendable, or curved versions of their flat or straight building materials.

Nominees in this category include:

  • a new grade of gypsum board specifically designed to bend around curved walls;
  • plastic substitutes for lumber that provide flexible wood-like moldings, which can be bent around arched windows;
  • Corian’s sheet product, formerly promoted as a flat counter top material, which can now be thermal-formed to create radii;
  • and a special crimping process that can put bends in corrugated metal building panels.

And the winner is … concrete blocks for curved walls. The concrete masonry units have the familiar 8"x16" face on one side to match conventional units in adjacent flat walls. But instead of perpendicular ends, the blocks have interlocking male and female joints that can be splayed to form curved walls without having to cut every block. Trenwyth Industries Inc., Emigsville, Pa., manufactures the concrete masonry units with a variety of decorative surface textures and colors. If the concept catches on, additional producers are probably just around the bend.

UPDATE:  This successful ad campaing introduced curved washroom accessories, circa 1993

Use this or weep
When an architect designs a brick cavity wall, lines are always straight, mortar joints neatly trimmed, and the assembly clearly drawn to show the path water is to take to reach weep holes and drain out of the cavity. Just one problem: It is exceedingly difficult to build a cavity wall without mortar dropping to the bottom of the cavity and plugging the weep holes. Water is then trapped inside the wall, where it can cause damage.

Traditional methods of improving drainage, such as placing pea gravel in the base of the cavity to create a drainage channel, do not always work because mortar droppings can collect on top of the gravel and create a dam. Mortar Net USA Ltd., Highland, Ind., has developed the first product I have seen that addresses this problem in a way that recognizes how masonry walls are really built. The new Mortar Net is made from a plastic mesh that is cut in a dovetail pattern. The pattern collects mortar droppings on its high faces so that its lower faces remain open for drainage.

The invention is simple and elegant in concept, inexpensive, easy to install, and addresses a critical construction need. To my mind, it changes the standard of care required by building designers and contractors. There are no more excuses for clogged weep holes; designing a cavity wall without specifying this or a similar product borders on negligence.

I like the tenor of this

While light from the sun is the environmentally correct choice, an electric lamp is nice to have when the sun doesn’t shine.

Fluorescent lamps consume significantly less energy than most incandescent bulbs, but pose their own environmental risks due to potentially toxic chemicals used in manufacturing. This tradeoff has become easier since last year, when Philips Lighting Co., Somerset, N.J., introduced its Alto lamp technology, which uses less than half of the mercury in average fluorescent lamps.

The technology also offers user benefits. Because of the potential for mercury to leach into the environment, most used fluorescent lamps must be treated as hazardous waste. Alto lamps, however, fall below the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for toxic leachate and can be disposed with regular garbage. While the marketing advantage of this is obvious, the driving force behind this new technology was not marketing, but manufacturing’s desire to reduce costs and liability by decreasing the amount of mercury handled in the plant.

I am concerned, however, that this improvement may actually result in an increased potential for mercury poisoning. Is there any threshold of mercury that is “safe” to dump into the environment? I hereby challenge Philips (and competitors) to halve again the level of mercury in its products before the end of the century.

They should have listened to me

Here’s one invention that I let slip away from me. Nearly 35 years ago I worked in the product development department of a metal panel manufacturer. One chilly day, I brushed against the south wall of our research lab and discovered that the dark-painted metal wall panels were warm from the sun.

Inspired, I realized that the south walls of many metal-clad buildings could function as giant solar heat collectors. Air could be circulated through the corrugations in the panel and used to transfer heat from the metal surface to the building ventilation system. I sketched out the concept and showed it to the firm’s marketing manager. He appreciated the concept but predicted, quite rightly, that the energy crisis of the 1970s would not last long.

It was a great surprise, then, when I opened a recent mailing from Conserval Systems Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., and found it promoting my idea. Conserval’s Solarwall is patented, trademarked, and developed far beyond my seminal sketches, but is nevertheless my invention.

Do I hear the sound of nervous product managers anxiously dialing their patent attorneys? Or is it just me kicking myself for not commercializing the concept myself?

Have a question you'd like us to answer?
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By Michael Chusid
Originally published in Construction Marketing Today, Copyright © 1996

Product Inspiration from Neocon

I salute the spirit of innovation that moves the building product industry forward. Here are just a few of the things I saw at Neocon that suggest new opportunities and may inspire innovations in your product line.

Chairs from TMC Furniture with digitally printed graphics remind us that new options are available for decorated surfaces.

White LED light continues to be improved, more affordable, and more practical. Look at how even and brilliant these cove lights from Tempo Industries are. Watch for LEDs to be inserted into all sorts of building products.

The design of this table lamp is not what interests me, it is the design process. This was stereolithically printed by the designer, Kevin Willmorth, as part of his campaign to design and produce a lamp a week for 52 weeks.

In addition to LEDs, there are other new ways to play with lighting. I think you have to see these Sensitile panels in person to appreciate how they play with light and create the illusion of motion.

New installation methods abound. For example, ceramic tile with an interlocking, floating installation to keep tiles aligned, reduce installation time, and protect against cracks in a concrete slab from telegraphing through the tile.

I have written before about the trendy use of tessellations, and they were very evident at the show. This product, Clouds from Kradrat, is composed of stiffened fabric tessellations of triangles joined together by elastic bands. It can be used as an acoustical wall or ceiling covering, or just for fun.

Also see my earlier post about the growing variety of dry erase marker boards.


The core of marketing is communication. The following quotes inspire me to be a better communicator, and offer fresh ways to think about the dynamic of marketing:

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

I quote others only in order the better to express myself.
- Michel deMontaigne

If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.
- Woodrow Wilson

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
- Rudyard Kipling

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey

Argument is the worst sort of conversation.
- Jonathan Swift

Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing.
- John Dewey

In describing today's accelerating changes, the media fire blips of unrelated information at us. Experts bury us under mountains of narrowly specialized monographs. Popular forecasters present lists of unrelated trends, without any model to show us their interconnections or the forces likely to reverse them. As a result, change itself comes to be seen as anarchic, even lunatic.
- Alvin Toffler

Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.
- Dan Quayle

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
- Tony Robbins

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
- Robert McCloskey

To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.
- John Marshall

People change and forget to tell each other.
- Lillian Hellman

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
- Plato

The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
- George Bernard Shaw

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Stephen Covey

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
- Robert Greenleaf

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.
- Edwin H. Friedman

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
- Ernest Hemingway

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
- Edward R. Murrow

One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk.
- Margaret Chase Smith

Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right.
- Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
- Joseph Priestley

Lying is done with words and also with silence.
- Adrienne Rich

Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?
- Clarence Darrow

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.
- Mitchell Kapor

Communication is the real work of leadership.
- Nitin Nohria 

Worst Marketing Communication of the Week

Messaging - the noun - is a popular term in marketing. It is, indeed, important to "get your messaging right," but this includes more than just the words you choose. It's not just what you say, it's the way that you say it. Everything you offer in a marketing communication becomes part of your messaging, like it or not.

Case in Point:

This sign - freehanded in magic marker on a piece of corrugated plastic - was stuck among the weeds alongside a freeway entrance ramp that serves two of the most upscale neighborhoods in Los Angeles. During my first, brief impression of it, I was not filled with confidence that the advertiser knew anything about making big money. Even if I had been able to stop laughing before the car behind me started honking, I would not have written down the phone number.

The advertiser chose the right audience: plenty of people using that entrance ramp have money to invest.

However, a crucial piece of his messaging goes counter to his message.

Getting all the pieces right requires both insight and wide vision. It's easy to get wrapped up in crafting the message and get seduced into any of a number of pitfalls: publicity articles that strike the wrong tone because they're selling too hard; ads that try to be clever for a product that really needs to convey honesty and transparency; and websites so carefully designed to control User experience that they make access to information difficult or irritating.

Professional marketing people have to develop the ability to stand outside the work occasionally and see how it looks to the target. Unless they know how to make Big Money In Real Estate.

How to Build a Business: Lessons from Architectural History

As an architect consulting to building product manufacturers, I often draw upon the rich legacy of architectural history for inspiration.

For example, when faced with a large, complex, and daunting project, such as launching a new building product, I remember Daniel Burnham (b. 1846 – d. 1912), an architect responsible for some of the first skyscrapers, major projects like the World's Columbian Exposition, and the planning document that played a major role in shaping Chicago.

Befitting his large and ambitious projects, he is remembered for his exhortation:

"Make no little plans.
They have no magic to stir men's blood
and probably will not themselves
be realized."

An earlier exponent of this philosophy was Abbot Suger, who initiated the 12th Century rebuilding of the great Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, in France, one of the first great Gothic buildings. He dared dream on a scale beyond his means to realize.
After the west facade and narthex was constructed, he skipped the nave that runs most of the length of the building, and moved on to the construction of the chancel at the eastern end of the projected building.

There was a considerable distance between the two ends, and the infill construction was not completed for another hundred years. Yet he had the vision that inspired the project, and has continued to inspire worshipers for over eight hundred years.

While building a business requires attention to a myriad of small details, it is the big audacious goal is also essential to the success of an enterprise.