Category Archives: Uncategorized

The best coach is a blend of Mr. T, Nelson Mandela and Tom Hanks

Coaching is like being Mr. T, Nelson Mandela and Tom Hanks. How does this seemingly random collection of people form a coaching genius?

For me, coaching means leading my daughter’s soccer team; it could, however, mean you are leading human resources for a huge telecom company or a VP for a small software shop.

Let’s start with the mohawk man (aka Clubber Lang).

“I pity the fool, “ Mr. T famously said. Mr. T was tough; he gave no excuses; he delivered results no matter what was happening in his life. If Mr. T had ‘issues’, he kept those away from impacting his performance.

No matter the stage -- always fight for what you believe.

No matter the stage — always fight for what you believe.

Being a coach, especially in my case, as a leader of young girls, requires occasionally being tough, demonstrative and brutally honest. Some of my best bosses/coaches always brought a little Mr. T to the job (usually without the trademark Mohawk).

Thinking of the late Nelson Mandela brings two words to the surface: calm and patient. If you know Nelson Mandela’s past challenges, one can easily assume that he would be bitter, angry, and frustrated. Mandela transcended his past and found ample reasons to be joyful. Any coach or leader should possess a serenity; an ability to steady the ship when others are frantic, emotional, or haphazard.

When I have a challenging day at work, and then I aim to motivate and persuade a group of excitable young girls to pass, trap, and shoot the soccer ball, I must always channel Nelson Mandela’s calm and levity. The best coaches and leaders never get too high or too low.

Lastly, Tom Hanks completes our ‘recipe’. He’s one of America’s finest, most talented actors. Tom is always cited as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Does Tom ever have a bad day? Does a fellow actor ever just frustrate him to the point of exhaustion? If so, we never hear about it. As a coach or leader, you should assume that others are watching you, looking for a sign to get motivated or aligned.

Being like Tom Hanks as a coach can’t hurt your chances for success. People generally work harder and smarter for people they like. I am not expecting you to mimic Forrest Gump or dance expertly on a grand piano as Tom did in the movie ‘Big’, but you can control your smile (make it freely available) and how you treat others (respect and love).

When a young girl just can’t figure out how to shoot the soccer ball (it’s with the shoe laces or the foot’s instep), or a manager is struggling to understand the nature of a competitive threat to the business, think how Tom Hanks would handle it; he’d smile, take a deep breath, laugh, and make finding a solution fun and stress-free.

Mr. T, Nelson Mandela and Tom Hanks might be a strange grouping, yet you can learn volumes from their individual styles, gifts and aptitude with people. Bringing a little of each of these men to your coaching or leadership lives will catapult you from the mundane to the magnificent.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Papa Murphy’s: They Make It Fresh, You Bake It Good

Living in Austin has its many perks: weather, music, technology, creative culture, and who can forget the legendary Tex Mex food.

The town is just bursting at the seams. If you’ve lived here 10+ years ago, you almost feel that the Austin of 2014 is a completely different city compared to 2004.

As a marketer, I love the fact that many retailers/shops/restaurants see Austin’s growth as an opportunity to test drive new concepts, ideas, and market expansions.

My wife recently discovered Papa Murphy’s (@papamurphyspizza) on a drive through the neighborhood. Tucked away in a small shopping mall, its exterior doesn’t really draw attention to itself.

Papa Murphy's: A surprisingly good, fresh, and convenient pizza option.

Papa Murphy’s: A surprisingly good, fresh, and convenient pizza option.

Shortly after its arrival in this Austin location, the geo-targeted couponing began for Papa Murphy’s, and we were drawn to a compelling deal. We hadn’t heard of the place before, so we decided to give it a try.

With coupon in hand, I walked into the store and was mesmerized by the open, airy, fresh feel. The staff greeted me with a smile while my son was immediately drawn to the ‘pizza artists’ who were making a hand-crafted pizza before his eyes.

After placing an order, I admired the clean, sharp interior: a large C R E A T E wall inspired all who stepped foot in the store; a cleverly placed in-wall oven planted ‘fresh’ in the mind of the visitor. Papa’s motto: Love at 425 degrees. I was smitten before I even knew what the pizza tasted like.

Within 120 seconds, my pizzas were being handed to me with a smile.

My son remarked: “It’s already time to go? That was fast. Are those our pizzas?”

“Yes,” I responded, knowing the two of us wanted a few more minutes to soak in the ambiance.

Being a Chicago native, and a bit of a deep dish pizza snob (read this Malnati’s love fest), I can’t say it’s in that category of pizza paradise, but the quality is solid for the time, money and attention investment. These joints are all about value; the cost-conscious, value-seeking folks in this zip code will be raving fans.

So what are the secrets? And how can your business/product/service learn from this brilliant blueprint?

                1. Simplicity: The people that routinely will come into these stores will be busy, harried, spent. Papa Murphy’s does nothing to bombard you when you first arrive at the store. Your first thought upon seeing the pizzas being freshly made: how can I get one of those? That has to be good for business. It’s about the pizza, not in-store promotional blitzes or shameless signage.
                2. Stay on brand: From the in-store oven and easy sightlines of fresh ingredients to the expansive, open kitchen feel, Papa Murphy’s makes you feel right at home – in their kitchen. As you stare at the C R E A T E letters on the wall, you marvel at watching your pizza take shape before your eyes. This is remarkably different than most pizza chains.
                3. Conveniently quick: We are always rushing to the next place, and Papa Murphy’s recognizes this by keeping your time from order to pizza in-hand to under five minutes. Busy Moms and Dads will appreciate that there’s not even enough time to check your smartphone.

Thanks Papa Murphy for testing your new store design concept here in Austin, Texas. IMHO: It’s a big hit!!

Until next time,

Dan Naden

When your team grows, check your attitude – Part 2

In Part 1, we shadowed Bill as he struggled with the expansion of his marketing team. Two new hires joined the team and added value right from Day One. Bill’s behavior, however, was selfish and harmful to him and his team.

Are you Bill? Or are you a teammate who welcomes new mates with a smile and helping hand?

With the economy improving, your company might be expanding. If so, here are a few tips to help new teammates get up to speed faster.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

  1. See the addition of teammates as an opportunity:

New people aren’t out to steal your job. They were hired to help the company grow. Ask how you can help them. Remember how nervous and unsure you felt during your 1st few weeks at a new job. The new teammates will appreciate that you’ll help them through the new job transition.

2.   Leverage the fresh eyes and perspectives:

If you’ve been with a company for a few years, you may know ‘too much’. This isn’t a bad thing to have deep domain expertise and a solid understanding of the company’s processes and paths to success, but you lose the ability to see things with fresh eyes and open minds.

When new employees join the team, ask them for their views on your market segment, messaging, promotional strategies – whatever initiatives where you feel stuck. Most likely, they’ll have some unique perspectives that will unlock higher levels of efficiency for the entire team.

Don’t be a ‘Bill’ who is short-sighted, selfish about new team members. Stretch for a ‘Bill’ who is eager for the new perspectives and experiences brought by new colleagues.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Part 2: M is for Marketing on the Internet in the mid-90s


In our first installment back into the time machine with Internet Marketing in the 90s, we cruised through letters A-M. Why stop the fun there? Here’s the rest of the alphabet.

Got a memory that you’d like to share? Make a comment.


The Web wouldn’t be what it is today without the work of some intrepid 90s trailblazers.

N is for Netscape – the first graphical browser. Life was much easier when you had to design for just one browser. The pulsating ‘N’ brings me back to a slower time.

O is for OMG: Not sure when this abbreviation became one of the most texted phrases/acronyms on the planet, but it must have started in the 90s!

P is for Prodigy – Can you fathom that we actually used to pay to belong to an online dial up content service? In the 90s, Prodigy was a big deal before AOL arrived on the scene.

Q is for Quicktime: Apple first released this multimedia framework in 1991. The company’s been a little busy since then with other things.

R is for Real Video – The quality wasn’t quite there, but it was amazing to think you could watch a streaming video on your computer. Today, it’s like turning on a light switch.

S is for Splash Pages – The annoying persistent interruption that is the Splash Page started taking over computer screens in the 90s. Where’s the ‘Close’ button when you need it?

T is for the Prior to Facebook, my space, Twitter becoming the glue of our lives, there was, an IPO high flier that never scaled audience or profits.

U is for Under Construction. Before the Web became the iterative, fluid, dynamic, organic community that it is today, we felt compelled to post hideously ugly ‘Under Construction’ graphics.

V is for Video. Yes, you could watch Web videos in the mid-90s. The quality though was mediocre at best. A 28.8 modem could only do so much; it was like trying to suck an elephant through a straw.

W is for What’s New at Yahoo: In 1994, I was able to review every new Web site that launched. Today, I’d have to hire hundreds of people to keep up with the volume.

X is for Text. Hey, there an ‘x’ in the word. The Web in the mid-90s was highly text-based because bandwidth was very scarce.

Y is for Young. The Web was VERY young in the mid-90s; a toddler just working to find his way. Today’s Web is mature, confident, and many-layered. It’s hard to picture the Internet of 2023.

Z is for Zine: Webzines were HUGE in the 90s, and we started to see niches. Webzines have now morphed into blogs, communities, and sites on anything and everything your heart desires.

Have a favorite 90’s digital memory that isn’t listed here? Let me know and I’ll gladly share it.

Until next time,

Dan Naden