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Angels Broken. Foreclosure. Compassion. ReInvention. Resurrection.

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Bright Black Press Shot By Gary BirnieAngels Broken

Sometimes angels wings get broken. Foreclosure, bankruptcy, job loss, dinged health, divorce —  it hurts.  We don’t like it and we can’t control it, but we can learn from it.

Thankfully, broken wings can heal and angels can reinvent and resurrect.  If they want too.

Do you believe we’re all angels?

Me-Ether Immersion

I’m into me.  That’s fine sometimes, and normal, I suppose.  But, I don’t think “normal” is valuable.

Hour by hour, day by day, we all fly our race.  I flap Away-From and I fly frantic In-Chase-Of.  How often do you and I simply “ground” ourselves?  How often do we peacefully unflutter our feathers…pause, breathe, consider, appreciate…?

Mostly, I focus on me.  My goals.  My agenda.  My fears. My should’s and should not’s.  My if-only’s and what-if’s.

Me, Myself and I, telling myself, “it’s not about me, it’s about others.”  Really Ken?

I fly, immersed in me-ether.

Wake Up

Does it really matter what wakes you?

Matt’s FORECLOSURE CONFESSION woke me. More accurately, Matt’s FORECLOSURE story is a hardship chapter in his unfinished epic of confession and compassion, passion and reinvention, resurrection and shared triumph.  If you haven’t, please take a moment and read it now.

Similar stories are being lived out all across the country. Because hardship is common, slipping into “business as usual mode” is a danger to be guarded against.

We Immersion

Moving from Me-Ether Immersion to We Immersion is what Matt’s story moves me to pursue.

Hardship. Tragedy.  Triumph.

Everyone experiences hardship, tragedy and triumph, how it’s expressed varies.  How I respond should not. Matt’s story reminds me of this.

Compassion

“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” ~ George Washington Carver

Compassion is a powerful force.  It soothes, it supports, it comforts.  Compassion is an X-Factor.  Compassion is appreciated and correct. Compassion is valuable.  Matt’s story reminds me of this.

Passion

Passion will get you into and out of trouble.  A Passion for service and listening and understanding and sharing and compassion is an X-Factor, and never leads to trouble.  Matt’s story reminds me of this.

Resolve, ReInvention and Resurrection.

Life.  It’s no cake walk.  We wrestle and dance with good and bad, ourselves and others.  How can we best help ourselves and others?

I resolve to pause, listen, ponder and consider.  What is really being said and felt and expressed?  How can I respond with Compassion and Passion? How can I glide from Me-Ether Immersion to We Immersion?

Compassion, passion and resolve, it’s not fool proof.  But for me, Matt’s story is a welcome wake up call.  It’s not all about Me and business, it’s about We and Us. If I can remember it and live it, broken wings will heal, reinvention is possible and resurrection is inevitable.

Thanks Matt for sharing your story.  God bless America and Planet Earth.

Cheers

Photo Credit

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Norman Frenk

    January 18, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Ken,
    you’re a great writer & leader. How long have you worn the “writer” badge? I love copying your work and calling it my own. I still can’t imagine you moving from Aspen to Houston – but glad you did. Too many people suffer from “me-immersion”. If we can only redirect them towards Norman. Dang, I just did it there too.

    • Ken Brand

      January 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

      Norman, thanks for the support and I think, the compliment. If you’re using my “wild style” on line and your real life persona in person, I must caution you, people will be bumfuzzeled and think you’re bi-polar. Ha, ha. Hey, you going to Convention? Austin super cool and if you are, you can pay me my royalties in beer. Cheers Norman.

  2. MIssy Caulk

    January 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Compassion, empathy, all connect us to one another. Over the years I have gone on appointments pre-judging ie…I don’t want to list this….too far away…yada, yada, yada.

    But, if I listen to them, really listen I end up doing it.

    • Ken Brand

      January 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

      Good point Missy, I do the same thing and you’re right – if I LISTEN to them, instead of myself, better things happen. Cheers.

  3. Lani Rosales

    January 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    For those that don’t know Ken, he really does practice what he preaches and Ken, you are the LAST person I would accuse of floating in a me-ether, you are one of the kindest, most selfless people I know in this world. Thank you for writing such a wonderful piece and for reminding people to keep their nose to the grind but to remember to look up at those around you.

    Karma or whatever you choose to call it is real.

    • Ken Brand

      January 18, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks Lani. I believe Karma IS real and the first thing that popped into my head when reading your comment was how sometimes I feel if Karma is real, why does life sometimes pimp-slap me, poke me in the eye and swift-kick me in the balls? Then I realize, intellectually, as long as the slapping, kicking and poking don’t kill me, I keep my head up and I help others, then my lessons are learned and my curiously bizarre and sometimes painful experiences help me grow and understand what it’s like for others. The same goes for appreciating all the beautiful things we can be grateful for.

      Cheers Lani, thanks for you kind words.

  4. Susie Blackmon

    January 19, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Ken, if you want to get involved in something else, you should check out all the #RTB discussions. I know you would add (in a big way) to the discussions.

    I’m passionate and compassionate, but feel free to spank me if and when I need a wake-up call. 😉

  5. Matt Stigliano

    January 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Ken – Wake up my friend, wake up. I don’t think you’re someone who needs some great wake up calls, but I’ll take the compliment and move on. Your article expresses in the grand-Brand style what I could only hint at with the need to explain the back story. We all have stories, we all have things that aren’t so pretty – call ’em skeletons if you wish, but they’re not the things we want to trumpet across the world wide web.

    You can ask Lani and Benn about my inner-debate on what to do with this post. I have another post that I once debated and didn’t post. I plan on using it this summer (a year after I wrote it). Opening yourself to the prying eyes of internet users everywhere is a weird feeling, but as I said, I promised myself an openness to my readers. I was paid back a million fold in stories from friends, strangers, and agents all over the map. Hearing those stories made me more hopefully than I may have been on my own, only to reinforce the idea that opening up is never a bad idea.

    Mr. Brand, I wish you the best at being you. I know you are one of those people that is consistently reinventing themselves in the slightest of ways – tweaking and perfected everyday. That attitude is one I look up to.

    • Ken Brand

      January 21, 2010 at 8:50 am

      Matt, I wish it was true, but, from time to time, I slip into myself, and like yourself, the stories I could tell, and the stories that others could tell. Loved your latest. I believe that sharing your story was cathartic, I think writing can be that. It is for me.

      In my mind, I picture you two fun flying in a plane, flying across a choppy sea. A sudden wicked storm kicks up, you’re low on fuel and overweight, you’re losing altitude and you think you’re going to crash into the deep sea. The situation has nothing to do with you the pilot or the plane, it’s the weather. Naturally you’re concerned and tight and almost frozen with fear. Then you realize, you can lighten your load and regain altitude if you throw all the things you thought were important, but really don’t need, out the door. You do. Your plane skims the white caps and suddenly rips skyward. You glide home. You’re safe again, you replace your jettisoned stuff later.

      No regrets, and now, when stories are told and challenges present, you’re not a tourist, you’re a veteran. People turn to and are attracted to veterans. You just upped your value.

      Cheers Matt – Rock ON.

      • Matt Stigliano

        January 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

        Ken – No doubt it was cathartic. I think that’s part of why I wrote it – for myself. I didn’t write with that focus, but when I hit the “publish” button and went and checked the post to make sure it was fine, I read it back to myself and realized that in some ways, I was writing a letter to myself. Buck up camper – you’ll be ok.

        Love your visual and think it’s appropriate. I’ll load that one into the memory banks and call on it when I need it.

        Thanks Ken.

  6. Brandie Young

    January 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Oh, my God. Thanks for the slap in the face. Great reminder. Shame on me, that it takes earthquakes and more to get me out of me … I don’t want my footprint to be the work I did. You rock. And, I’m borrowing the quote. Most apt.

    GIANT hugs!!!

    • Ken Brand

      January 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

      Life is awesome, I slap you and you, being you, HUG me. Brandie, I’m thinking next time I see you, I’m gonna slug you, what will that get me? Ha, ha, thanks;-)

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Business Marketing

Restaurant chains are using COVID to masquerade as indie food pop ups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese appear on delivery apps under aliases. Is this a shifty marketing scheme or a legitimate practice?

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chuck e cheese pizza

Restaurants have pivoted hard to stay alive during dine-in shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are selling grocery items like eggs, flour, and yeast (check out the pantry section at the Brewtorium!) while others have created meal kits so families can cook up their restaurant favorites at home.

Meanwhile, a few large chains have been busted for re-branding their kitchens to sell more meals. A reddit user in Philadelphia reported that they ordered pizza from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings thinking it was a local business they had yet to try, only to learn it shared a kitchen with Chuck E. Cheese. As it turns out, Pasqually is a member of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the terrifying mascot band led by murine bad body Chuck E. Cheese. Pasqually is the confusingly human drummer (and Italian pizza chef?), joined by lead canine guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, sweetheart chicken Helen Henny on the tambourine and vocals, and the dinosaur? Closet monster? D-list muppet? Mr. Munch on the keys.

Though this inter-species band should be disturbing enough for us all to rethink our childhood memories of Chuck E. Cheese (let’s be honest, Disney World should be the only place allowed to have adults parading around in giant mouse costumes) what’s more upsetting is the competition it creates with locally owned restaurants. In West Philadelphia, there is another restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza.

Chuck E. Cheese is not the only restaurant re-branding to save their hides. Applebee’s has launched a “brand extension” called Neighborhood Wings. Customers can order larger quantities of wings (up to 60!) from Neighborhood Wings, but not Applebee’s. You know, for all of the large parties people have been hosting lately (thanks COVID-19).

This restaurant run-around is further evidence of the noise created by third party delivery apps. GrubHub, Postmates, and others have been criticized for taking huge commissions from already low-margin restaurants, and providing little added value to profitability and industry worker wages. Using these platforms as a means to build shell restaurants for large national chains is just another example of third party apps doing a disservice to both its clients and customers.

Of course, Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese are franchises. If one wanted to go out on a limb for these brands, it could be argued that they are indeed ‘local’ businesses if their owners are local franchisees. The third party apps are simply another platform for businesses to gain a competitive edge against one another within a specific customer segment. Furthermore, consumers should hold themselves accountable for their patronage choices and doing their due diligence when investigating new pizza and wings options.

Nonetheless, it behooves all of us in this pandemic to get to know our neighbors, and build relationships with the small businesses that are the lifeblood of a community. Restaurants exist thanks to local customers. Try placing your order directly on their website, or give them a call. I am a restaurant worker, and I truly am happy to take your order.

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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grubhub site

If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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Business Marketing

TikToks new augmented reality ads seeks new audiences

(BUSINESS MARKETING) TikTok product developers hustle to roll out a new augmented reality brand effect to compete with Snapchat and Instagram.

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augmented TikTok

TikTok is getting ready to launch a new ad feature to level the playing field with Snapchat and Instagram. The unofficially named “AR brand effect” will allow TikTok users to incorporate augmented reality brand advertisements in their videos. The ads will create visual effects that interact with the filmmakers’ physical environment as if it exists in real life. The ads will include music that can be played over the film.

TikTok also offers an ad product called Brand Effect, a 2D advertisement filter that users can add to their videos. The in-house product development team at TikTok created this feature for a reported cost of $100,000 according to Digiday.

Snapchat already has its AR brand experiences called the Sponsored Lens and Word Lens, which allow brands to create augmented reality filters to advertise via Snapchat’s users and their interactions with friends.

Snapchat charges anywhere from $50 to $500,000 for augmented reality advertisements. The lower tier starts with a 10-second ad between videos that users can choose to “swipe up” and interact with. The higher tiers get advertisers a day-long spot with a Sponsored Lens.

Though the efficacy of this advertising strategy appears to be hit-or-miss, the creative opportunities for advertising to a wide audience is attractive enough to keep this product development relevant. TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin clocked in two billion downloads in the month of March. Its users skew young with 41% between the ages of 16 and 24, and its global following boasts 800 million users worldwide.

TikTok is moving with adept agility to roll out new products to keep its increasingly large user base engaged. “They are doing it a lot quicker [than competitor social media platforms],” media agency Starcom told Digiday. “Their ability to scale and move forward is frightening, really. If they get it right they’re going to be a huge player in the next six months to a year.”

TikTok is also working on new ad products that allow advertisers to connect with prominent influencers. With the future of stay-at-home orders looking to turn into an interminable cycle, it will be telling to understand how these advertising strategies will effect e-commerce and digital brand experiences.

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