Is Donald Trump Finally Changing His Brand?

trump-facebook-statement-video-dallasBy now, you’ve probably read Donald Trump’s statement on the Dallas shootings that killed five police officers and wounded a half-dozen more. My analysis isn’t about the horrific attack, nor the recent shootings or the protests. I have definite opinions on politics, race relations and gun violence, but I’m going to try, very hard, to keep them out of this missive.

A lot of the respondents to his statement on Facebook point out that he obviously didn’t write it. An alternative response points out that no typical politician writes his or her own material in events like this, and in fact shouldn’t. Well, no kidding.

But Donald Trump is no typical politician, or at least he hasn’t been until now. It is very clear to most readers that the statement is not his, not because he couldn’t write something so lucid and balanced, but because he wouldn’t.

As a nation, we were all wondering when Trump would finally shift to a ‘presidential’ mode, and start saying and publishing things that made a bit more sense than the statements he’s tended to produce during the primary season. It seems that the Dallas shooting has become his moment.

Putting aside the insidiousness of any politician using a tragedy as an opportunistic pretense to score political points, a few questions come to mind:

  1. Is this a deliberate attempt to shift from his off-the-cuff approach?
  2. Can he keep it up?
  3. How does it differentiate his vision from his opponent’s?
  4. What will his opponent do in response?

It seems that Trump’s brand, throughout his life as well as his presidential campaign, has been to ‘tell it like it is’. Clearly, that has worked up to a point, but his poll numbers have stalled in the past two weeks. Like a company’s stock values or quarterly sales numbers, the polls are the most immediate evidence that a political brand strategy is no longer working. For him to let somebody else write the copy for once must have been a very difficult decision for him: to let someone else in his organization handle anything major. That alone underscores that this was a monumental shift in Trump’s, and his campaign’s approach.

As for keeping up his new act, I suppose when building casinos or hotels, he usually had the upper hand in any deal, and was used to calling the shots. Most of us can’t simply ‘tell it like it is’ or we’d lose our jobs. Donald Trump has never been in that kind of situation, and his natural tendency is very likely to re-occur the second he gets behind a podium again. If I had to guess, I’d predict it will be three days before his new approach lapses into something more like his usual behavior. So no, I do not believe he will be able to keep this up.

As for differentiation, a brand in any genre can never be ‘Hey, we’re just like the other guy’. Despite the New York Times article stating the contrary, the two politicians made very similar statements after Dallas. They were both sensible, balanced, serious, and called for prayer, love, and a peaceful solution.

Does that sound at all like Donald Trump?

His statement on Dallas could have been pulled out of an archive of speeches made by any politician after any tragic event, going back fifty years. It is not the sort of thing that would have given him much separation from his primary opponents, and while refreshing, it isn’t going to separate him from Clinton. He has to produce statements that not only appear sane, but also match his typical forceful, hubristic brand, while establishing a vision that presents an alternative to his opponent. I think that’s a tall order.

(You may notice I’m ignoring other candidates like Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. While I think their bid is of course Quixotic, the threat of splitting the conservative vote is also a very likely factor in Trump’s new approach.)

Finally, what will Clinton do in response? Trump’s new look may present a threat to her apparent advantage in the race, but to me, her strategy should be easy: attack something about Trump or his policies, and just watch. He will revert to his usual tirades fairly quickly, shifting the focus back to what most people perceive as his obvious shortcomings in leadership and coherence.

Donald Trump has my respect for his statement on Dallas, and for the saner political strategy he may be attempting to jumpstart. It’s not too late for him, but this is only the first step in a very long climb toward being seen as a reasonable candidate by a skeptical nation.

The Blind Americana Syndrome

Last July 3, we took the kids to a fireworks show in Swampscott. They played with some friends, and soon enough their excitement overflowed. It became one of those evenings where they were particularly off the rails. A loud wolf pack running, yelling and laughing with wild abandon. You know, being kids, only more so.

There were some in the crowd that didn’t like this. At the ice cream shop, the kids ran circles around me, and the gent in line in front of us turned and worked his eyebrows into a thick black line of consternation, which I ignored.

An older couple on the lawn weren’t too happy about our choice of location, too near their chairs. The man even applauded sarcastically when I picked Riley up and took her away from them.

When I think back on these events, my regrets are not that I didn’t exert more control over the kids, but that I didn’t look these people square in the eye with a dark look that clearly and pointedly said “bite me”. I wish I had explained to my fellow ice cream customer that if he couldn’t tolerate noise, he should be aware there was a fireworks show about to begin. I wish I had looked right at the clapping man, then put my daughter down and told her to continue playing.

I consider it a duty of all parents to stand up for each other against ignorant judgment. We often share memes about how cool it was to ride your bigwheel across busy highways while listening to Zeppelin, and how we all spent hours away from the prying eyes of parents and neighbors, and how there were no electronics, no tethers, no medicines. Just belts and paddles. And how exhibits at the zoo, freshly built in 1978, were dismal concrete boxes where animals dwelled, if not lived, in deplorable conditions that could easily be breached by any kid who felt like pushing through a fence rail.

Well 1978, and everything that was cool about it, just came back to bite us in the ass. So we have to decide: Is it cool to build stuff that lets kids, if allowed to be kids, imperil themselves within seconds? Is it cool to take videos and photos of kids being kids so we can share them online? Is it totally rad to bitch about parents who happen to look the other way, at another child, or to rummage through their bags to get candy, a camera phone, a set of jingling toy keys or medicine while their kids happen to get in our way? Is it cool to think we’re completely reliable and superior to literally everyone else in the universe, while at the same time believing we grew up in some kind of golden era where monkey cages, bigwheels, seat-belt-less automobiles and acid rock were all part of a great big world where kids could easily die, or survive, depending on how drunk our parents were?

If you’re judging a mom harshly for believing she had shelled out $25 per person to bring her kids to a place that had been upgraded since those days, and for daring to ‘hover’ over one of her children while another was able to fall into this 1978 concrete box without needing a ladder and blowtorch, then you suffer from this disease. Blind Americana.

It’s probably not unique to Americans, but we sure corner the market in it.

We Can’t Wait for President Trump

the-lion-guard-logoHere it is, folks, the beginning of the end of our democratic experiment. Trump’s militia is forming. In real time. It’s so new the ‘About’ page is still WordPress boilerplate:

It is happening here. We’re witnessing a pivotal moment in history that hasn’t been matched for 90 years.

Let’s say you’re a Trump voter. Let’s say you’re joining the Lion Guard. I’m aligning myself right here, right now, as your mortal enemy. No, you don’t have points to make, and no, we aren’t even going to try to convince each other. The line is drawn. From now on, you’re going to win, and I’m going to lose.


You have Trump as your savior. He’s certainly not mine, but that’s okay with you. He’s only going to wreck things for me, my life, and that of my family. Not yours.

And I know you love that. After all, I’m a latte-sipping liberal. I’ve known joblessness and poverty, and I’ve needed the support of others through entitlement programs. I’ve made use of unemployment benefits, health insurance programs, Sallie Mae, SNAP, FHA, SBA, and the public school system. My financial situation teeters one wrong move from disaster, like that careening truck on the road sign.

I doubt I’ll ever feel secure in my future as it is, never mind with President Trump in charge.

But that’s cool with you, right? Trump wants that to continue. He’ll make life in America tough for many people, especially those in need of some help. If you’re sick, he’ll kick you to the curb. Unemployed? Poor? Get a job, loser. No more handouts. Attacks against blacks and anyone else who doesn’t look exactly like Trump’s supporters are already rising because of his voice. Women? Gays? Transgender people? Latinos? Muslims? Forget about it. 

His mission isn’t just to become President. It’s to become President so he can drive the national dialogue, along with policy, to marginalize anyone who’s ever been politically correct for even a minute. And his supporters, as well as members of his chosen political party, will cheer him along. And maybe even kick some ass.

Or, will they?

You might be a Trump supporter, or just a conservative willing to hitch a ride. After all, you’re safe. He’s not going to ruin the country for you. The country you love. The country you ‘want back’. No, he’s going to give it back to you. Cleansed of people like me. No poverty, no sickness, no pansy liberals, no lattes or Priuses. No common core. No anti-bullying campaigns. No craft beer. No organic or gluten-free foods. No yoga. No pilates. No vaccinations. No community organizers. No high speed trains. No scientists. No abortions. No wind farms. No holiday trees. No anti-war movements. Nobody to gripe about school shootings. And certainly none of this paternity-leave bullshit.

Your country. Back. Whiter and shinier than ever.

Is that really how it works?

Who will fight his wars? Without us around, that will fall to your children, won’t it? And not everybody can be the intrepid entrepreneurs out to beat the world. Someone has to be the customer. Someone has to work in their factories. Someone has to build your seawalls higher (whether you believe that or not). And what are you going to eat? Of course a hero like you doesn’t eat vegetables, but doesn’t someone have to slaughter those cows? Who’s going to drive the trucks to get stuff to market and work the checkouts? You? Are you going to earn your millions doing that?

And that heart bypass you’ll need, who’s going to do it? Dr. Ben Carson? If he’s not been kicked out, he’ll probably be pretty busy.

Or maybe we’ll all still be here, just poorer, sicker, and more in need of assistance programs than ever. More people in your way at the grocery store. More homeless at your feet while you walk to work. More tent cities and anti-war protests. More people in line for medicine. More addiction. More pandemics. More rolling blackouts.

Maybe he’ll never get around to wrecking things for you. Maybe you’re in the clear. If someone’s going to be on the winning team financially, somebody has to be the sucker. It’ll be me before it has to be you, right? Or maybe not.

So when you fill in that bubble for Trump, and he takes the oath and goes into overdrive destroying me and all enemies of your chosen social order, do you really think he’ll stop before he gets to you? Are you sure you’ll be safe? Or maybe there’s a little doubt there.

We can’t wait for President Trump to find out.

A New History of NFL Rule Changes Caused by Patriots’ Cheating

A New History of NFL Rule Changes Caused by Patriots' Cheating By TOM BISHOP

Instigative Reporter | 03.25.2048 | 7:17 AM

BOSTON, PREFECTURE 18 – The oft-beseiged-by-scandal New England Patriots are at it again, if you take the latest report from the MSESPNBCNN Sports Network at face value. The first day of the Inter-National Football League’s annual meeting has opened with a torrent of acrimony and vitriol from the league’s 63 team owners not named Kraft. This time, the owners have forwarded a proposal to prohibit the use of cryogenic reanimation of past coaches, which the Patriots have now gotten away with for three seasons.

The twenty-two-time World Super Bowl Champions most recently took home the Belichick Trophy in Tokyo, allegedly with the help of the eponymous coach himself, despite his ‘official’ passing four years ago. This latest outrage comes in the wake of last year’s scandal involving anti-gravity skeletal insertions used by several players. Though it wasn’t technically outlawed, the INFL ruled out the insertions after the Patriots went 24-0 and took home their twenty-first INFL Championship in Amsterdam.

Like white-hat cyber-hackers, the Patriots have been the INFL’s “Rule Viability Testers” for several decades. Because of this, the pall of derision and ire against the team has spread around the world. In Moscow, they’ve popularized chess pawns with shoulder pads, helmet and a carved #12. Fans of the Paris “Escargot Thunder” spit into napkins bearing the Flying Elvis. In the Middle East, they burn Patriots flags instead of the Stars & Stripes. Fans of other legendary sports rivalries have turned their mutual hatred toward the Pats instead.

Let’s look at the litany of INFL rule changes made in the wake of the Patriots’ rule-bending strategies since the days of the sideline videocamera:

  • 2046/47 INFL Season: Float-Gate. Anti-Gravity Skeletal Insertions specifically prohibited by any player after the Pats allegedly covered the helio-silica surgical implants, originally designed for use in aeronautics, for 17 players over the previous five years.
  • 2044/45: Invisi-Gate. Invisibility cloaking apparel and apparatus outlawed by the league after the Patriots won three games using up to six invisible players, mostly on defense, to disrupt or assist the visible players.
  • 2038/39: Tase-Gate. Electrically-charged uniforms no longer allowed after the Patriots won seven straight victories without any of their players being tackled.
  • 2030/31: Psycho-Gate. Use of sideline psychics to read opposing coaches’ minds was considered for prohibition after the Pats were caught using them for the previous four seasons, but ultimately revised to allow each team one certified psychic registered with IMPART, NAMI, or the AFCPM (but not IAPLT – that one’s bullshit).
  • 2028/29 NFL Season: Glove-Gate. The NFL bans the use of adhesive pads in gloves worn by quarterbacks. It is alleged that QBs for at least 22 teams used these Stanford-engineered enhancements, and not even Tom Brady, though by this time he and the Pats are considered the embodiment of this sort of contrivance.
  • 2020/21: “Compression-Gate” results in rule changes for extreme compression gear worn by Patriots players to reduce their body composition profile, decreasing their wind resistance and making them more difficult to tackle. The new rules limit the tensile strength and flexibility of synthetic fabrics for NFL teams, and other sports leagues make similar changes, causing Under Armour to lose 67% of its stock value.
  • 2021/22: Gate-Gate. Because you know there had to be one. The Pats secretly test subliminal message delivery to fans during the security wand procedure at the stadium gate. Originally meant to spike concession revenues, the league has to specify metal detection equipment for every team after the Pats use RFID wands to influence fan loyalty.
  • 2018/19: Tweet-Gate causes the NFL to ban cell phones from the press box and sidelines after the Patriots are caught “crowd-sourcing” game strategy from observant fans sending Tweets and texts to team coaches during the game.
  • 2014/15: Deflate-Gate. Patriots and Tom Brady punished after equipment staff were caught tampering with game balls, because they knew their nephews playing in Pop Warner and PeeWee leagues preferred the balls to be slightly deflated. Or they had read about it in a science book, or something. It had nothing to do with any request from Tom Brady, of course.
  • 2014/15: The NFL changed the rules on receiver eligibility declarations after the Patriots skirted the spirit of lineman eligibility rules in at least two games.
  • 2012/13: After eleven years, the NFL finally changes the “Tuck Rule” that started Tom Brady and the Patriots even being a thing.
  • 2007/08: NFL charges largest fine ever after Pats caught videotaping opposing coaches from the sidelines in a scandal called “Spy-Gate”. The issue narrowly avoids becoming a US Senate Hearing.

At this year’s meeting, the INFL is also said to be considering banning Tom Brady from continuing to play and earn the highest QB ratings in the league at age 70, by outlawing “whatever the hell he’s doing” according to league commissioner Maxwell Gauthier.

Tom Bishop can be reached on Twitter at @myleftone

Make The Connection: Enable Sales With Online Presentations

Show Your Face: Enable Sales With Online Presentations | KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas BlogSales is about making connections. When you reach out to people with a solution, whether it’s analytics software, a carpet-cleaning service, or a new brand of vegetable juice, it’s the connection that matters first.

And that connection is made with a smile, a “hello”, and a handshake. Something you can’t do when making connections online.

Until now. Online presentations are a tool that puts your face right in front of people. Stephanie Grant uses online presentations to help Abel-Womack’s sales executives make connections with people, ultimately to increase sales.

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Learning in a Global Business: How Waters Corporation Uses Online Presentations

Learning in a Global Business: How Waters Corporation Uses Online PresentationsRemember science class? That’s where, as kids, we got to mix chemicals, dissect frogs, and burn stuff. What fun!

Yes, we also had to memorize the periodic table and calculate equations, and yes, we’d sometimes wonder when we were ever going to use these scientific concepts.

Waters Corporation has been putting science to good use for more than fifty years. They’re a leading maker of analytical instruments for measuring fluids and substances used in healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety, and water quality.

So it’s a good thing the people at Waters paid attention in science class. If you eat food, fuel your car, or use medicine, equipment from Waters probably had a role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the products you use.

Would you guess that their internal learning programs are a little, shall we say, involved?

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What’s Next For Content Creation? Four Technologies To Watch

What's Next For Content Creation? Four Technologies To Watch | KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas BlogCall me crazy. I’m always thinking of a solution to problems.

I’m not sure this even qualifies as a problem. Maybe it’s a “First-world problem”, but here it is: How can we create great content without sitting at a computer?

What kind of innovations exist out there to help us multi-task? Can we use voice-to-text, mobile tablets, or specialized headgear to develop content that people will love?

Turning Thoughts Into Words

Here are some of the technologies that, believe it or not, we’ll all be using in the near future to create content:

stock-blog-text-driverVoice to Text Apps: You’ve heard of voice notes, where you make a recording of your random thoughts when you’re not in a position to type, like when you’re out on a morning jog. The idea is that those thoughts are going to be worthwhile enough to transcribe later (provided these aren’t thoughts recorded at two in the morning while watching the Cartoon Network).

And of course, why transcribe? Isn’t word-recognition technology able to record directly to text? For phones and tablets, there are numerous voice-to-text applications. Maybe that guy in the car next to you isn’t ranting at the radio or muttering conspiracy theories, but writing a post for his sports blog. You can even have Apple’s Siri Eyes Free installed in your car.

One major glitch: Voice to Text apps don’t make driving any safer, according to a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. It turns out that looking away from the road isn’t the only distraction; it’s thinking.

stock-blog-virtual-realityVR-Style Headgear: Remember when Virtual Reality was the coolest thing ever? The problem was that these funky headworn devices only played back content. They could not create it. Something like Google Glass will let you record your voice and snapshot everything you see with no effort. Even Robert Scoble is now a believer in Google Glass.

But Glass and devices like it (like Vuzix) still have some obstacles to overcome, such as pricing and concerns over privacy. Store and restaurant owners are already deciding whether to allow the headworn futuristic things into their establishments, and there’s no doubt some litigation and legislation to follow. I believe that, like tablets and smartphones, they’ll attract a limited stratum of superuser. Then once someone discovers the killer application, we’ll all wonder how we survived without them.

stock-blog-tablet-heldMobile Tablets: Naturally, the iPad, Android, Kindle (oh, and Microsoft Surface) tablets have changed the way people view content. First, they’re now more likely to browse while watching television, as well as carry the things into restaurants to amuse their fidgety children (guilty!). But there’s no reason they can’t be considered tremendous content-creation tools as well.

Tablets are fine for writing, but because of the tablet’s touchscreen, they lend themselves readily to graphics production and editing. Specialized tablet apps like Adobe’s Photoshop Touch, and something like Sketchbook Express let you edit photos and create graphics. And of course there’s a phalanx of apps that let you share them on the web pretty easily, even from a phone.

stock-blog-power-gloveDon’t Leave Without Your Gloves: By now you’ve seen Minority Report, and while, like me, you probably can’t remember the story, I’ll bet you remember Tom Cruise’s computerized gloves. They were simply the interface for a gee-whiz transparent display, but they captured the imagination of tech geeks everywhere.

Shouldn’t it be possible, someday, to use gloves like this to interface with a computer or other type of screen, to create all kinds of content? You could type away at thin air and see the results directly on your Google Glass display while sitting on a beach.

People who create content are always looking for that spark, an inspiration, and that often happens to us while sitting at the ballgame, hiking a mountain peak, or using a playground slide. These technological marvels will let us continue to search for inspiration, and take advantage of it immediately.

It’s The Thought That Counts

So these devices may make it easier to multitask and create on the fly. But if thinking is the problem, as the Texas A&M study reveals, can you create great content while using a treadmill? Anyone can ingest news and other content on the overhead televisions at the gym, and many people read books on Kindles and (gasp) paper while working out, riding the train, walking the dog, and doing all sorts of other activities.

Can it work the other way around? Can you create compelling content while crushing calories? Or is mental focus as critical to creativity as it is to driving? Arguably, most people will probably create higher-quality content when they are sitting quietly and undisturbed.

But what about those brain flashes that hit you while you’re inspecting avocados in the produce aisle? For instance, I’ve written entire blog posts while strolling through a mall. That doesn’t change the essential rules about identifying an audience, using research, and calling for action. For that, whatever futuristic device I’m using better be connected to the internet.

But no matter how easy it is to create content on these awesome tools, let’s just keep them out of the car.

Originally published on The KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas Blog.