Who's Keeping You Warm This Weekend?

>> Friday, January 28, 2011

As we head into another cold winter weekend, it seems especially timely to ask who you want to cuddle up with: Your partner? Or -wait for it --your dog?

It was big news this week when a national survey (done for the Associated Press and Petside.com) revealed that about 1 in 7 Americans -- if they really, really had to choose -- would choose the pup (that’s 14% for you math geeks out there, and we mean that fondly).

The good folks at Petside saw that as bad news for pets ... but on the plus side for bipeds, 84% said they’d stick with their (human) better half.

Here at SSW, we found that pets are still pretty popular.

When we asked people in our 2010 Wellness Survey if they’d rather have a new pet or a new partner, 71% said they’d rather have a new pet …which might mean they were pretty happy with their current partner, right? But 29% said they’d rather have a new partner (no pets required). So... maybe they're single.

71% also said they’d rather have a new pet than another child. Which makes sense in these economic times, since pets don’t generally go to college or take years of piano lessons.

I have a sneaking suspicion that for most of us, wellness means filling our homes with all the love we can -- whether it's with pets, partners, kids -- or at least 2 out of 3!

What about you?

Hope this finds you well… and staying warm!



On Relationships

>> Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Advertising agencies are at heart service organizations. Our shops are stuffed with wicked smart and creative people, with people who love solving puzzles and working out what makes others tick. But ultimately the ideas and work developed at advertising agencies are for naught if they aren’t funded by a client in the service of selling their product.

So the relationship between the folks who have the products – and the money – and the creative teams who are hired to sell those products becomes a big part of whether or not we get great work into the marketplace. A brilliant idea that isn’t embraced by the client is a useless idea, and a creative team that pursues their own agenda and loses sight of their job to sell product is just as worthless.

Which makes a recent experiment by Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick super interesting to anyone working in the advertising industry – and I would guess anyone in a service industry.

It's about something called the approacher bias.

The researchers were out to test the commonly accepted idea that men were less selective than women when it came to choosing someone to date . Their hypothesis was that this lower standard actually had nothing to do with whether you were a man or a woman, it had to do with who was the approacher and who was the approachee.

You’ve probably guessed by now, but I’ll go ahead and confirm that the researchers proved out their hypothesis. It didn’t matter whether you were a man or a woman, if you were the one doing the approaching, you tended to be significantly less selective and to find the person you were approaching more attractive. However, if you were the one being approached you tended to be much more…judgmental.

All of this happens unconsciously without us even knowing that it is happening. But now that you do know that it happens, whether you are the approacher or the approachee, you can take some steps to neutralize this unconscious bias.

What I like to do to is to make myself at home. I hang my coat in the closet instead of bringing it into the meeting room. I put my bag out of sight. And for those of you who know me, yes, I take my shoes off (don’t worry; I’m wearing a nice clean pair of socks).

These might seem like little things, but they make a big difference in setting the right tone for collaboration that allows great work to flourish. Remember, it’s not just how good your idea is, it’s whether or not you can help everyone to get behind it. Removing the approacher bias is a good step in the right direction.

Hope this finds you well,

Jacob Braude

VP, Strategist


Why We Don’t Work at Work -And How We Can Do Better

>> Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have you ever had this experience? You are busy at work all day, and by closing time you’re wrung out and ready to head home, but you realize that – despite all the energy you put out – you didn’t actually get much of anything done.

It happens to me all the time, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. It makes me mad. I like my job, but I hate days when I go home feeling like I just blew nine hours I could have been spending with my kids, and I didn’t even get any good work done.

So I was thrilled when I stumbled on Jason Fried’s talk at TED. Fried is the cofounder of 37signals, and he’s spent years thinking about why it is that we don’t get work done when we are actually at work.
Fried says work is like sleep. When you sleep, you actually progress through three different stages -- and it’s the last stage of really deep sleep when all of the healing and recovery happens that gives you energy for the next day. If your sleep is interrupted before you get to that last stage, then you have to start all over from the beginning. People with infants will tell you that short bursts of sleep here and there, even if it adds up to 6 or 7 hours, wiare not refreshing.

Work is the same way. We progress through stages of focus, and it’s only in that last deep stage when you are in the “flow” that you get your best work done. If you get interrupted, you have to start over from the beginning.

Which makes the modern office pretty much the worst place ever to get work done. Between people wanting to chat, your boss checking in on you, and the endless meetings, solid blocks of uninterrupted time to get work done are few and far between.

Since watching Jason's talk, I stated paying attention to how many times people wander into my office while I’m in the middle of trying to get something done. It happens a lot. And half the time it doesn’t even have anything to do with work. A ten minute talk about your weekend here, fifteen minutes to talk about something cute your kids did there, and before I know it the time I had staked out to get something done has evaporated.

Fried has some pretty out there suggestions to fix the problem – my favorite one is that every Thursday afternoon no one is allowed to talk to anyone else.

I took a simpler approach: I close my door. I have to say, it’s awesome. Sure, sometimes people will knock, but I can choose to answer, or to keep working. It has been so satisfying to go home everyday knowing I produced something, that I find myself closing the door more and more.
If you’re like me, and you get pleasure and a sense of self worth from actually making stuff, I urge you to try the door. If you don’t have a door, then leave. Go to a coffee shop, put your ear buds in, and just focus for 90 minutes. It is a fantastic feeling.

Now if I can just get rid of those dang meetings.

Hope this finds you well,

Jacob Braude
VP, Strategic Planner


Seeing Wellness Through New Eyes in 2011

>> Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy new year!

Americans are starting the new year with a lot of good thoughts and optimism about the months to come: According to our friends at Gallup, 58% say 2011 will be better than 2010 – only 20% say it will be worse.

Of course, New Year’s is traditionally an optimistic time – that’s why we feel emboldened to make all those resolutions (or even for resolving not to make any more resolutions!). With a fresh new take on the year, our efforts seem fated to succeed …. at least this week, while the year is still young!

Marketers are right there with us. If you were watching any TV at all this past weekend, you saw lots of invitations to amp up your wellness, from starting a new love life with dating sites like Match and eharmony, to the latest way to soften your hands while you do the dishes, with the new Dawn dish liquid/Olay Beauty collaboration.

Weight loss helpers were out in force, with a newly svelte Jennifer Hudson belting out the virtues of Weight Watchers new Points-Plus program, and Nutrisystem showcased “real people” who’ve achieved slimming success. Even yogurt made a big showing, with brands like Activia pushing both its “feel good inside” benefit and its new line of dessert-like flavors, for smarter sweet-tooth satisfaction.

There were also plenty of spots for products that help you smoke less, snore less, sleep better, smooth away wrinkles and under-eye bags, strengthen and slenderize, and in general, be a better you.

But there’s something else about the new year’s new take on wellness – more and more, it’s something we want for ourselves. It’s not about being selfish – it’s about being mindful and motivated to achieve your own hopes and dreams for this coming year, whether your wellness goal is physical, social, emotional, financial -- or just to keep your hands feeling soft after you wash the dishes.

It’s all part of what we’ve been calling the Me-Covery, and we’ll be sharing more about it in the weeks to come.

Hope this finds you well!