Summer Reading List, Detroit, Alibaba v. Tencent, Robot Belt

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Summer Reading List, Detroit, Alibaba v. Tencent, Robot Belt 

The Weekly | Brigadoon
June 24, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Brigadoon is Education + Events + Engagement for Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders.

Subscribe here:



Detroit has long been at the forefront of innovation and responsible capitalism

Detroit has been at the cutting edge of engineering and manufacturing innovation for over 100 years. In 1903, Henry Ford famously founded the Ford Motor Company and made exceptional use of the assembly line, unlike anything the world had seen before. In addition to other automotive pioneers such as William Durant, the Dodge Brothers, Henry Joy, and Walter Chrysler, Detroit was established as the clear global automotive capital. The growth of the auto industry was felt far beyond Detroit. Businesses around the nation created garages to service vehicles and gas stations to fuel up cars, as well as the building numerous factories to make auto parts, glass windows, and rubber tires. Furthermore, this multi-state, multi-plant ecosystem was a precursor to the complex global supply chains that we all benefit from today. Without the innovations created in Detroit over a century ago, raw commodity products sourced anywhere in the world could not be efficiently designed into user-friendly jackets, automobiles, smartphones, or jumbo-jets. It is not a stretch to say without Detroit our modern wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be as efficient.

With Detroit’s success as an innovate engineering and manufacturing city, companies were able to take advantage of their economic windfalls and be responsible capitalists. In 1914, Ford announced that it would pay its factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day. The news shocked many in the auto industry as $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made. In 1926 the company went a step further, as the company adopted a five-day, 40-hour work week for workers in its automotive factories. Henry Ford said of the decision: “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” Both moves were brilliant management as productivity immediately boosted. These two steps of fair wages and more time off have become ubiquitous globally and now impact every sector of the economy.

As the fourth-largest city in the American Midwest and the largest city on the United States–Canada border, Detroit is positioned well for the future. As a standalone economy, Detroit’s economy is more extensive than Chile and would easily be one of the world’s largest economies.

Today there are over 100 technology startups who call Detroit home. As Recode reports, in 2014, for the first time, there was more venture capital activity in Detroit than Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan. According to national education data analyzed by Anderson Economic Group, 10,000 STEM degrees are awarded annually around the Detroit region, which is more than Silicon Valley and nearly 15 percent of Metro Detroit jobs are already in technology.

The city of Detroit is built to succeed in the new post-employment environment because of the city’s history of maximizing cultures and geography as well as building upon its innovation and responsible capitalism leadership.

It is not a stretch to say without Detroit our modern world wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be as efficient. So the next time someone tells you Detroit isn’t working, say Detroit is succeeding and impacting their life positively daily.

Also, look back to the Detroit flag and note the two Latin mottos. One which reads Speramus Meliora and the other Resurget Cineribus, meaning “We hope for better things” and “It will rise from the ashes.”

With these mottos powering the city, I believe Detroit is well positioned to resume its claim as one of the world’s great cities. No one should underestimate the energy and the drive which has been unleashed just four years after declaring bankruptcy. Not only is this remarkable, but Detroit should be inspiring to other cities who can see a path on how to adjust to new global competitive challenges and opportunities.

I owe a lot to the city of Detroit. It is my birthplace and it is the city I call home.

It provided employment for my grandfathers so they could build a better life for me generations later.

It is gritty. It is sprawled. It is down. It is up. It is bold.

Detroit is entering a new stage of passion and growth to support future generations

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders. 


Here's your summer reading list: 21 suggestions from the Brigadoon community

Shakespeare, Jesus, Gucci, Marco Polo, and Mao to name a few of the subjects suggested.

Happy reading.

1. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare - Stephen Greenblatt

2. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth - Reza Aslan

3. Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy - Douglas Irwin

4. Talking to the Dead: A Novel Paperback – Harry Bingham

5. In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir Hardcover – Patricia Gucci

6. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

7. Enlightenment Now - Steven Pinker

8. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done Hardcover – Laura Vanderkam

9. The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life - Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace

10. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics - Carlo Rovelli

11. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries - Kory Stamper

12. Never Lose A Customer Again - Joey Coleman

13. The Richest Man in Babylon - George Samuel Clason

14. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - Mark Manson

15. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk - Peter L. Bernstein

16. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation - Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

17. The Archipelago: Italy Since 1945 - John Foot

18. Antifragile - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

19. The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century - Robert D. Kaplan

20. A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age – William Manchester

21. Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 – Frank Dikötter


Alibaba v. Tencent: The battle for supremacy in China: Jack Ma of Alibaba and Pony Ma of Tencent have built tech titans that dominate China's digital economy. Is the world big enough for both of them?

Take a look at him now: The many lives of Phil Collins: After an extended hiatus that found him becoming more beloved, the crown prince of middle-of-the-road Top 40 has embarked on a farewell tour. Should he be celebrated as a pop icon or vilified as a grouchy opportunist?

Looking for the best links in Scotland? This man played 111 rounds: In A Course Called Scotland, Tom Coyne goes on a two-month-long adventure and comes to grips with a game that’s less than perfect.

From rust belt to robot belt: Turning AI into jobs in the US heartland: Artificial intelligence is offering an amazing opportunity to increase prosperity, but whether or not we will seize it is our choice.

How Europe’s opera houses won over millennials: With an escape game and networking events, La Scala and the Paris Opera are attracting under-30 audiences


Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018

Brigadoon Detroit | Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018

Brigadoon Cincinnati | Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018

Brigadoon Scotland 2018 = November 11-13, 2018

Brigadoon Sundance 2019 = February 24-26, 2019

More details and ticket information @


@HarvardBiz: You might do your best strategic thinking while taking a short walk

Michael E. Porter+ Nitin Nohria: How CEOs manage time

Where and how CEOs are involved determines what gets done. It signals priorities.

CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. The leaders in our study worked 9.7 hours per weekday, on average. They also conducted business on 79% of weekend days, putting in an average of 3.9 hours daily, and on 70% of vacation days, averaging 2.4 hours daily. 

Seth Godin: The two simple secrets to good ideas

Secret #1 is the biggest one: More bad ideas. The more bad ideas the better. If you work really hard on coming up with bad ideas, sooner or later, some good ideas are going to slip through. This is much easier than the opposite approach.

Secret #2 is more important: Generosity. It's much easier and more effective to come up with good ideas for someone else. Much easier to bring a posture of insight and care on behalf of someone else. It lets you off the hook, too.


European technology worker population growth, 2017:

Ireland: 5.3%
Netherlands: 4.6%
Germany: 4.2%
France: 3.6%
UK: 3.2%
Austria: 2.8%
Norway: 2.8%
Portugal: 2.7%

HT: The State of European Tech

Share of global car market, 2017:

Toyota: 9.2%
Volkswagen: 7.2%
Ford: 6.5%
Honda: 5.4%
Nissan: 5.4%
Hyundai: 4.7%
Chevrolet: 4.4%
Kia: 3%
Renault: 2.8%
Mercedes: 2.7%
Peugeot: 2.2%
BMW: 2.2%
Audi: 2%
Maruti: 1.7%
Mazda: 1.7%
Fiat: 1.7%
Suzuki: 1.6%
Buick: 1.5%
Jeep: 1.5%

HT @spectatorindex

US Census Bureau data:

- America is less white, getting older, and more urban.

- By 2035, Americans age 65 and older are forecast to outnumber kids for the first time.

- Over a million people have left New York since April 1, 2010.

- Columbus is now bigger than Cleveland.

- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona is the 11th largest metro area.

- California has the largest Hispanic population at 15.5 million.

- The Asian population, the fastest-growing racial group in the nation, increased 3.1 percent to 22.2 million

The Presence Deficit, Cities, Walkable Streets, HyperNormalisation, YouTube

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The Presence Deficit, Cities, Walkable Streets, HyperNormalisation, YouTube

The Weekly | Brigadoon
June 10, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Brigadoon is Education + Events + Engagement for Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders.

Subscribe here:


Continuous partial attention and the presence deficit

The art of staying focused in a distracting world.

That is the title of an article I dumped into to my Evernote "Must Read" folder five years ago.

Five years ago.

Someone sure is distracted.

This article from The Atlantic is actually an interview between James Fallows and a longtime tech executive Linda Stone.

Stone has been working on technology longer than many of us reading this were even cognizant of activities beyond our neighborhood, and our only escape was playing floor hockey, reading the latest issue of National Geographic or mastering the foreign lands of Dungeons and Dragons.

She began working on emerging technologies for Apple and then Microsoft in the 80s. 

In the early years of this century, she coined the term "continuous partial attention" to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything. 

Stone isn't critical of this paradigm stating that "continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad. The important thing for us as humans is to have the capacity to tap the attention strategy that will best serve us in any given moment."

This ability to execute an attention strategy is within all of us.

Most of us learned this skill in our childhood when engaging in sports or crafts or performing arts. However, some of us might need additional training that involves managing our breath and emotions—what Stone calls "bringing one’s body and mind to the same place at the same time."

She reminds us self-directed play allows both children and adults to develop a powerful attention strategy, a strategy she calls "relaxed presence."

As a kid, you developed a capacity for attention and for a type of curiosity and experimentation that can happen when you play. You were in the moment, and the moment was unfolding naturally.

Stone says" when we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. My hunch is that when you’re flying, you’re aware of everything around you, and yet you’re also relaxed. When you’re water-skiing, you’re paying attention, and if you’re too tense, you’ll fall. All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time."

Maybe this is why I long for a black diamond ski run on a daily basis?

I find propelling my middle-aged body down a deep, steep, heart pounding, and knee grinding ski run to be the ultimate state of relaxation - it's just so darn fulfilling.

Descending a ski hill is by far when I am at peak relaxed presence.

How do you get into peak relaxed presence? 

For me to find this state, I must put it on my calendar. I put this relaxed presence time there today, this week, this month, and this year.

I find being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything hurts my performance, my relationships, and my health.

Making relaxed presence a habit you'll find getting offline for a spell is fine. All the noise from a distracting world you left behind will be there when you get back.

I promise.

No need for FOMO.

But there is a need for peak relaxed presence.



Report: Cities generated nearly all of US job growth in 2017: AP reports, American cities accounted for about 96 percent of the country’s job growth in 2017 as they added nearly 2 million new jobs, according to the latest annual report from a bipartisan coalition of mayors. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is gathering in Boston starting on Friday, says in its latest “Metro Economies” report that 10 metropolitan areas alone generated $6.8 trillion in economic value in 2017, surpassing the output of most states. Those metro regions included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta.

50 reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets: From making you live longer to making cities more resilient: If you want a reason to make your city more walkable, it’s in here.

The midlife tuneup: Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, the Well midlife tuneup will put you on a healthier path to improving your body, mind, and relationships.

How Reese Witherspoon is flipping the script on Hollywood: The Hello Sunshine founder is channeling women’s voices into top-tier entertainment–and altering the dynamics of the entire industry along the way.

The Atlantic: Why no one answers their phone anymore


What are you reading this summer?

I am putting together a summer reading list and would love to know what books the Brigadoon community is digging into.

I heard from a dozen of you yesterday and the list is diverse and insightful, as one would expect from such a talented community. 

If you haven't, please drop me an email so I can add to this collection.



Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018

Brigadoon Detroit | Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018

Brigadoon Cincinnati | Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018

Brigadoon Scotland 2018 = November 11-13, 2018

Brigadoon Sundance 2019 = February 24-26, 2019

More details and ticket information @


75 apps that will save you time as a busy professional


HyperNormalisation: A 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. In this doc, Curtis explains we live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Global events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralyzed - they have no idea what to do. This film is an epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.


Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out


Hotel Iroquois (Mackinac Island, MI)


Rose's Luxury (Washington, DC)


Own goal: The inside story of how the USMNT missed the 2018 World Cup: The Ringer reports, in October, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed their fate, but according to players, coaches, commentators, and executives across American soccer, the disaster doesn’t come down to just one unfortunate result. No, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure.

CEOs, Michael Cohen, AT&T, Annapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett

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CEOs, Michael Cohen, AT&T, Annapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett

The Weekly | Brigadoon
May 13, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


What CEOs need to learn from Michael Cohen and AT&T

One of my all-time favorite political campaign books is The Selling of the President.

Written by Joe McGinnis, the book covers the story of how Richard Nixon was repackaged and reshaped for the American public as a candidate for president in 1968. Eight years after Nixon’s losing presidential campaign and his lackluster television performance at the Nixon-Kennedy debate, he faced all the old image problems.

Nixon hired then 28-year old Roger Ailes to remake his image. An image that would win at the ballot box, and more importantly, on television. Ailes created television moments that made Nixon, not smart, not knowledgeable, but well-liked. Ailes created television moments that engaged numerous constituents on their terms.

1968 was no time for policy, it was a time for charismatic personality and shared values.

McGinnis’ book makes clear, presidential candidates can be rebranded and remarketed. Television does not expose and demystify the powerful. Instead, it makes personality stronger. Television ensures style is substance.

David Miller, of the legendary political consultancy Sawyer Miller, saw how television and mass communications would change not only candidates but commerce. He wrote in an article for the Yale School of Organization and Management that just like candidates, if done correctly, corporations could use the tools of television and campaign management to ensure market size and good paying consumers.

Miller wrote: “Corporations must recognize that it is now in their long-term self-interest to develop much more democratic relationships with all of their shareholders, community members, and the public at large.”

Miller foresaw how the corporate world was quickly resembling a politician’s world and how a politician relates to constituents. 

As information channels increase, multiply, focus on niches and distinct tastes and thoughts, corporations need to forge an emotional bond with their various constituents - just like a politician.

The only sensible and meaningful way to do is - establish a relationship and commercial transaction based on shared values.

Today’s masters of the universe CEO is poor decision away from disrupting a relationship based on shared values. Corporations can no longer control the flow of information and can lose control of the narrative within hours.

Corporations are under assault from government regulators, reporters, shareholders, and employees all demanding style that supersedes substance. 

CEOs today need to woo their customers, engage regulators, listen to shareholders, reinforce employees, and make their case daily. CEOs need to communicate more often, on more platforms, and more broadly. Sawyer believed CEOs needed to define themselves before someone else set them - just like a candidate who works like they are up for reelection daily.

As all significant institutions continue to lose sway and influence, the pressure on corporations and CEOs to fill this void increases daily.

For AT&T it wasn’t the paying for access, advice, and public affairs expertise which was a bad idea, it was that they paid an individual (Michael Cohen) who was out of step and not in line with the shared values of AT&T’s numerous constituents.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said as much in a memo distributed to employees last week.

“Our reputation has been damaged,” Stephenson wrote. “There is no other way to say it—AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”

Companies need to sell worthwhile goods and services - this for sure will continue to matter. But the transaction now has an emotional connection as well.

As pointed out in Edelman's 2018 Trust Barometer: "A good reputation may get me to try a product—but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.

63% of those surveyed agreed with this statement.

The Edelman Trust Barometer provided a clear directive for today’s CEOs - building trust is job one.

Winning commerce of the future will happen when a company is trusted, provides high-quality services and products, and where business decisions reflect shared values.

AT&T hiring Michael Cohen is losing commerce.

It is not essential to much to be smart and knowledgeable, but it is necessary to be well-liked.


HBR: A 40-year debate over corporate strategy gets revived by Elon Musk and Warren Buffett

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that “moats are lame” during the company’s earnings call last week, he was calling out Warren Buffett, the chair of Berkshire Hathaway, who uses “moat” to describe barriers to imitation that stave off competition. “If your only defense against invading armies is a moat, you will not last long,” Musk continued. “What matters is the pace of innovation — that is the fundamental determinant of competitiveness.

‘We don’t take cash’: is this the future of money? Tougher for criminals, easier for hackers: what life is really like in a cashless society.

HBR: Having your smartphone nearby takes a toll on your thinking

"In recent research, we investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity."

The 13 best Warren Buffett quotes from the Berkshire Hathaway meeting

One goal of Amazon’s HQ2: Learn the lessons of Seattle. Amazon has surprised officials in cities vying for the company’s new headquarters by asking how to avoid soaring housing costs and paralyzing traffic. 


Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018

Brigadoon Detroit | Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018

Brigadoon Cincinnati | Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018

Briagdoon Scotland 2018 = November 11-13, 2018

Brigadoon Sundance 2019 = February 24-26, 2019

More details and ticket information @


“Bots won’t be better at being human, just as humans aren’t “better at” being chimpanzees.” -- Damien Patrick Williams, PhD researcher at Virginia Tech, on how robots will experience the world in a way completely different from humans. 


Adventures in Branding: Melanie Spring (Brigadoon Sundance 2018): Over the last 9 years, Melanie has been asked "Can I buy you a cup of coffee & pick your brain?" at least once a week. To celebrate her 9 year anniversary, she dumped 9 years worth of entrepreneurial experience into a 1-hour podcast episode.


She covers why she started her business, when she hired her first employee, how many times she pivoted, why profitability matters, and understanding your core values.

She also provides her three top books to read for entrepreneurs - all of which I promptly ordered. 

It is a good and authentic session. You can listen here:


BBC: Wayne Rooney: Everton forward agrees 'deal in principle' to join MLS side DC United

FIFA pitches multibillion-dollar ‘Project Trophy’ to seven top clubs: NYT reports,  Representatives of seven of the world’s richest soccer teams, including Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, visited FIFA on Wednesday for a private meeting aimed at winning the clubs in the increasingly fractious battle to set up a new multibillion-dollar world club championship. The group also included the English champion Manchester City, Italy’s Juventus, France’s Paris Saint-Germain and the perennial German champion Bayern Munich. The seven clubs invited to the meeting had combined revenues of more than $4 billion in 2017, and they command a massive global fan base that would be critical to making FIFA’s secretive discussions about the new tournament, code-named “Project Trophy,” a success.

Formula One will attempt to hold a race in Miami next year.

A baseball season with too many awful teams: WSJ reports, only one club has had a 100-loss season in the past four years. This season, six teams are on pace for at least 100 losses.

Towns, Tech Companies, Blockchain, Nir Eyal, Mohamed Salah

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Towns, Tech Companies, Blockchain, Nir Eyal, Mohamed Salah

The Weekly | Brigadoon
May 6, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from West Hollywood, California

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


Being connected to your town is a blessing

I have no idea who the mayor of Alexandria is.

I couldn't tell you who represents me in the state house in either chamber in Richmond.

I know more about what is happening in Theresa May's Number 10 cabinet meetings that I do with my local school board, city council, and planning commission meetings.

Maybe it is because I cover, engage, and care about global politics and its intersection with global business.

Maybe it is because I have more allegiance and affinity for Michigan than Virginia.

Maybe it is because I don't have children that I don't have a vested interest in my city.

Regardless, it is a generally an odd way to move through life. Especially for someone who is so passionate about democracy and the American experience. I am sensing I am missing out on something powerful.

Recently, James Fallows in The Atlantic penned "The Reinvention of America." You can (and should) read it here: He suggests something powerful is happening with America.

Yes, the problems facing our nation are serious and the challenges real, but in fact, more Americans are hopeful then the national news coverage would suggest. Pollsters have reported this disparity for a long time. The Atlantic with the Aspen Institute commissioned a polling which showed that two-thirds of Americans were satisfied with their financial situation, and 85 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their general position in life and their ability to pursue the American dream. Other polls in the past half-dozen years have found that most Americans believe the country to be on the wrong course—but that their own communities are improving.

Fallows writes: "America is becoming more like itself again. More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware. Even as the country is becoming worse in obvious ways—angrier, more divided, less able to do the basic business of governing itself—it is becoming distinctly better on a range of other indicators that are harder to perceive. The pattern these efforts create also remains hidden. Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself."

I saw this type of local civic engagement Fallows is speaking about for myself this week.

Chris Keldorf (Brigadoon Sundance 2017) has launched Dads on the Rise where he has engaged his fellow citizens of El Segundo, California to be part of a platform to share stories of success, failure, and daily gratitude. The idea of the grassroots group is to empower and the enlighten the next generation of fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons through conversation, engagement, and reflection.

So on this past Thursday night, I found myself sitting on a folding chair surrounded by 40 guys in the back of exercise gym listening to a highly trained and highly serious entrepreneur and special operations Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps sharing with us how to be better in business and in relationships.

The presentation and ideas shared were impactful, but what was more impactful for me was the fact that a good friend of mine launched this dynamic platform and his fellow citizens responded. 

It was refreshing to know beyond the noise and craziness of America’s national political and intense foreign affairs, local citizens are gathering to share in brotherhood and to share in conversation with a simple commitment to be a better person and to take steps to make their community better.

It was a blessing to be reminded that America is moving toward becoming a better version of itself one folding chair at a time.


18 of the top 20 tech companies are in the Western US and Eastern China. Can anywhere else catch up?

Why Karl Marx is more relevant than ever: An upbeat biography places the great thinker in his 19th-century context.

Now emoting in the corner office: The oversharing CEO: WSJ reports, leaders open up about hopes, fears and arguments with mom; uncomfortable for some, but builds trust.

The world’s first neighborhood built “from the internet up”: The Economist reports, Toronto’s run-down Quayside area will have snow-melting pavements, package-delivery robots, and self-driving shuttles.

Blockchain insiders tell us why we don't need blockchain: FT reports, we've written before about how blockchain is a belief system, complete with prophets, disciples, traitors, rituals, and schisms. But recently, faith in the technology appears to be ebbing.

“Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us.” -- Grigory Marshalko, head of the Russian Delegation to the meeting of the International Standards Organization last year. 


Inside Intercom - Nir Eyal: The products with the best technology aren’t always the ones that win. Often, it’s the products that are first to mind. The products that create habits. Some habits, however, are much healthier than others, so what’s the secret to designing healthy patterns of behavior? As author Nir Eyal has learned, it requires a rigorous commitment to ethics – and empathetically questioning even your best intentions. Nir’s studies sit at the intersection of technology, business, and psychology. A veteran of the advertising and video gaming industries, he has started (and sold) two technology companies and has taught at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His best-selling book Hooked explores how to design habit-forming products, and you can keep up with his writing and research at This podcast covers the need for designing healthy habits – and the psychology behind them. 


Pretty Lights - Only Yesterday


Meet Mohamed Salah, the breakout star of European soccer this season. NYT reports, the Egyptian player for Liverpool has scored 43 goals in 48 games in his first season and helped the team reach its first Champions League final in more than a decade. And after each goal, he kneels and prays on the field. At a time when Britain is fighting rising Islamophobia, he is a North African and a Muslim who is not just accepted in Britain but adored.

John Wanamaker, Warby Parker, Bike to Work, Streaming, Business School

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John Wanamaker, Warby Parker, Bike to Work, Streaming, Business School

The Weekly | Brigadoon
April 29, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


Brand marketing in a direct marketing world

Pop quiz: What was the top Super Bowl 2018 ad according to USA Today’s Ad Meter?

Heck, if you can name one of the top ten, I will give you bonus points.

The reason you can’t remember the best ad or any ads from the big game, it’s not the best tool.

It’s not the best tool because it doesn’t connect, make an impact, or leave a mark. 

You see brand marketing doesn't work in the direct marketing world.

Brand marketing is from a different age. A different business environment. A different communication era.

Brand marketing was created when John Wanamaker’s statement “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half” worked because it could work. 

It could work because advertisers created a mass broadcast communications environment to serve its needs.

Radio was created to sell ads.

Television was created to sell ads.

Brian Millar, co-founder of the Emotional Intelligence Agency, writes "traditional advertising went after ‘share of mind’–the idea was to get you to associate a brand with a single idea, a single emotion. Volvo: safety. Jaguar: speed. Coke: happiness. The Economist: success. Bang, bang, bang, went the ads, hammering the same idea into your mind every time you saw one.

"Advertising briefs evolved to focus the creatives on a single unique selling position and a single message. Tell them we’re the Ultimate Driving Machine. Tell them in a thrilling way. It worked when you saw ads infrequently on television, in a Sunday magazine, or on a billboard on your morning commute."

This type of advertising worked because it was a communications environment of one to many with only a handful of vehicles to reach an audience.

But that is not today.

Today we are living in a direct marketing world powered by the WWW.

Now we have micro-media and personalized broadcast communications environment which serves the needs of the end user.

The internet was not created for ads.

The internet is not mass media.

To better understand this new communications environment the Emotional Intelligence Agency conducted a study to understand what kind of content works. The firm found communications which used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring content delivers the best results. Not surprising the most successful brands do all four.

Also not surprising these are the adjectives used by any top storyteller. She knows they are best words when executing micro and personalized communications.

Yet most of us communicate using only one type of emotionally compelling content - if at all - employing brand marketing techniques that are closer to the days of Mad Men them to the present day of Laundry Service.

We still communicate like once a day, or worse just a few times a month. Instead of using tools that follow and engage our most active supporters in their media diet.

When it comes to the WWW and the direct marketing communications environment, being multidimensional beats being single-minded. 

Surprise beats consistency. 

Emotion beats fact.

Funny beats dour.

Useful beats sales. 

Beautiful beats boring. 

Inspirational beats directional.

The best communicators have always understood this instinctively.

By the way, USA Today’s Ad Meter ranked Amazon's "Alexa Loses Her Voice" as the best 2018 ad.

I don't remember the ad either. But I do remember my friends telling me a story or two about Alexa that used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring words to describe their experiences.


Over 400 startups are trying to become the next Warby Parker. Inside the wild race to overthrow every consumer category: Wharton professors, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs are fueling an entire generation of Warby Parkers. Now there are more than 400 startups tackling products from toothbrushes to bras. What could go wrong?

Hit-and-run fatalities soar as more people walk or bike to work: Hit-and-run crash deaths are rising nationwide, and pedestrians and bicyclists account for close to 70% of the victims, according to a new report, as more people cycle to work and motor-vehicle fatalities are at a near-decade-high level.

How streaming will continue to change everything in the music business: The next revolution in the music business will not be a new consumer-facing format or a visionary product. The next revolution is financial and multifaceted with wide implications, and it’s already started.

Why we should bulldoze the business school: There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. Guardian - Martin Parker

Who creates a nation’s economic value? A challenging analysis that forces us to reconsider how our economies work — and who it works for.

"Among other things, we need to re-think the relationship between markets and governments; make a clear distinction between creators of wealth and those who merely extract it; embrace bolder collective ambitions, notably a shift to a greener economy; and spend on the future, instead of embracing a sterile and counterproductive austerity." 


Hey, you reading this.

Fill in this space.


Is technology hurting productivity? It is possible that new technologies are not just doing less to boost productivity than past innovations. They may actually have negative side effects that undermine productivity growth, and that reduce our wellbeing in other ways as well. 
Project Syndicate - Jeffrey Frankel


My favorite books on politics and campaigns:

Selling of the President 1968

What It Takes: The Way to the White House

Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns

Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics

Bad Boy: The Life And Politics Of Lee Atwater

All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class


Nothing But Thieves - Amsterdam

Choice, Tastebuds, Milk Bottle Deliveries, Maestro, Tony Rock

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Choice, Tastebuds, Milk Bottle Deliveries, Maestro, Tony Rock

The Weekly | Brigadoon
April 22, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


Make the choice

Desiree Linden is an American marathoner and could be the most inspiring runner I have ever known.

In 2017 it appeared she might have peaked.

Instead, in 2018 she became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years, finishing the race in 2 hours 39 minutes 54 seconds.

Linden, a two-time Olympian, placed fourth at the 2017 Boston Marathon and was burned out on the sport. And tired. After three marathons in the previous 14 months: the Olympic Trials (second place), the Olympics (seventh place), and then that fourth at Boston. She didn’t feel like running again until the end of September. Five months off, during which, she said, “I hated everything about running.”

But she wanted to win the Boston Marathon, and she made no secret of that goal.

Her desire to run the course in Boston was the reason she started running marathons in the first place. She has a golden retriever named Boston and had another named Miles who died last year.

So last Monday, she was back on the course in Boston attempting to complete her goal.

But before the race more hurdles, as Linden thought about dropping out as she wasn’t drinking enough fluids and was afraid of getting cramps in her legs. Add a weather report of strong winds and the coldest temperatures in 30 years, this year's Boston Marathon would be even more challenging than usual for her and the rest of the field.

Linden now lives and trains in Northern Michigan and resides closer to the North Pole than the Equator. So the NorEaster that bore down on the course in Boston with its horizontal rain and freezing temperatures is ordinary training weather for many months in the Great Lakes state, but many runners found this climate to be the worst running weather in decades.

Linden's ability to persevere and succeed in exceptionally miserable physical circumstances is remarkable. 

Linden's ability to persevere and succeed in exceptionally challenging mental circumstances is remarkable. 

To succeed in 2018, Linden had to find a deeper gear to compete.

Her pinned Tweet displays where she finds this deeper gear:

"Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better.

My advice: keep showing up.

#MondayMotivaton #TogetherForward"

I don't think any advice can be more profound.

Make a choice to show up and keep showing up.

You might just achieve your goal.


The world's 50 greatest leaders: Fortune's annual list of the thinkers, speakers, and doers who are stepping up to meet today’s challenges.

Earbuds and tastebudsDoes chocolate taste better if you're listening to Pavarotti? Ad Age looks at how marketers are pairing music and sounds with different tastes.

The 11 keys to keeping the band together: On the occasion of their 12th album and 27th year together, Sloan shares their wisdom on how to make musical matrimony last.

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles: Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

Why glass milk bottle deliveries are back: As concern over plastic pollution rises, a pint-sized revolution is taking place on doorsteps across the UK.


Maestro: The documentary is an intimate, unprecedented glimpse into the life of a renowned conductor and a vibrant, contemporary portrait of the world of classical music.  For a period spanning two years, a film crew follows Grammy award-winning conductor Paavo Järvi and an array of brilliant musicians across the globe.  The resulting footage captures the pressures of self-expression, the rush of performance, and above all, the power of a universal language. Järvi studied at the famed Curtis Institute of Music with Max Rudolf and Otto-Werner Mueller, and at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute with Leonard Bernstein. Järvi was music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 2001 to 2011.


James Altucher Podcast - Tony Rock: Tony always wanted to be a comedian. From the moment he listened to Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Bill Cosby, he was inspired. But he didn’t know them. When his brother started doing stand up, it changed everything for him. “The guy in the next room is doing it. Now it’s real,” Tony said. Because those other guys (the ones Tony grew up admiring) were just ideas to him. He was inspired by Chris. And because of him, he became immersed in the comedy scene. Now, 24 years later Tony’s made this “idea” of comedy into a reality. And a career. On this podcast, Tony share his process and explains how these same techniques can be applied to your own project or side hustle. How you take an idea from the drawing board and put it in action.

Walkabout, Homaro Cantu, WIP, Steal, Zen

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Walkabout, Homaro Cantu, WIP, Steal, Zen

The Weekly | Brigadoon
April 7, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


Make that walkabout a priority; your imagination will thank you

Made famous in the United States by famed Australian philosopher Crocodile Dundee, a walkabout is a journey through the wilderness of one's choosing to satisfy an itch, a desire to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, or to engage the space over the horizon.

A walkabout can be a simple bike ride to your local art museum or possibly a more adventurous cross-continental journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. A walkabout can be joining the local historical society or taking a gap year to teach economics in Canada.

Regardless of the distance traveled or the actions taken, your imagination will thank you for the change of scenery. The brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. Same morning routine. Same office commute. Same weekly meetings. Same quarterly reports. Same yearly industry conference. Sameness overload. 

This sameness can suppress your ability to generate new ideas.

Without generating new ideas, you become a manager and not a leader.

Changing up the pace, the people, the poetry can have profound results. From developing new skills and insights, but more importantly, your ability to generate new ideas.

You are a mashup of what you let into your life - friends, meals, music, books, art, lectures, movies, experiences, etc.

Every new idea is a mashup of one or more previous ideas. Without developing new ideas, the mashup process stalls.

So make time for that walkabout. Big or small, your imagination will thank you.

“I have stared long enough at the glowing flat rectangles of computer screens. Let us give more time for doing things in the real world . . . plant a plant, walk the dogs, read a real book, go to the opera.” -- Edward R. Tufte


Making sense of non-public Blockchains

NASA is trying to build a supersonic aircraft without the boom

The life and death of Homaro Cantu, the genius chef who wanted to change the world: Guardian reports, how a homeless child grew up to become the most inventive chef in history.

Double double trouble? Tim Hortons plummets in ranking of Canadian brands: CBC reports, a public spat with some of its franchisees and outrage over its response to minimum wage hikes seems to have made a dent in Canadians' much-publicized love for Tim Hortons this year, as the iconic coffee and doughnut chain has plummeted on an annual ranking of brands by market research firm Leger.

Four key lessons in entrepreneurship from hip-hop

1. They just start
2. The tools are practically free
3. Make language your leverage
4. Everything’s a WIP (work in progress) 


You know you got something to say: Looking for a place to share ideas, comment on business, tell a funny story, or provide expertise?

This is the place.

Send The Weekly 500 - 750 words on any topic that would benefit the Brigadoon community.

Please note, I do my best copy editing after I hit send. So, whatever you send me, I suggest you do a bang-up job on the spelling, grammar, and editing before you send it over. 


@ThisIsSethsBlog: Words on slides


Far Ride magazine: A quarterly advertisement-free publication printed in Seoul, South Korea focused on the exploration of cycling related journeys around the world aimed at putting you on your saddle more. 


Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative: One of my go-to books for inspiration, innovation, and imagination. 

Written by Austin Kleon, a great reminder to all of us, you don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. Written as a manifesto for the digital age, the book is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.


The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling: HBO is running this four-and-a-half-hour documentary about the iconic comedian. Developed by Judd Apatow, the documentary features conversations with more than 40 of Shandling’s family and friends, and four decades’ worth of TV appearances, along with personal journals, private letters and candid home audio and video footage that reveal his brilliant mind and restless soul. Apatow’s documentary not only chronicles one man’s ability to survive the ups and downs of a life in show business but also offers a profound investigation into the power of comedy to elevate the human spirit.


Brigadoon Sundance playlist on Google Music. You can listen here.


Sebastian Steudtner big wave surfing at Nazare, Portugal: Watch this

How to survive in the Premier League: FT reports, a season tracking the highs and lows of Swansea City as they battle to avoid relegation.

WSJ - Jason Gay: My Masters is Paris-Roubaix. Golf is fun, but on Sunday morning, cycling offers a rock fight for the ages

Fifty Mission Cap, War on Clutter, Social Media, Growth Marketing

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Fifty Mission Cap, War on Clutter, Social Media, Growth Marketing

The Weekly | Brigadoon
March 31, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here:


Take the time to get your 50 mission cap

A fifty mission cap was a stiff cloth cap with a visor issued to Allied bomber pilots in World War II when they had completed fifty missions. 

After fifty missions, the pilots were known to weather and beat their cap into a more rugged and worn look. Cheating death and pushing the envelope makes one want to display a roughness and not wear a stiffer and newly issued flight cap.  

These worn and personalized hats obviously made these pilots more identifiable and therefore more respected by the rookies. 

The cap was thus a status symbol.

A symbol that you had the knowledge.

A symbol that you had the experience.

A symbol that you had the professionalism.

Junior pilots were known to work in their caps to look like a fifty mission cap. They too wanted to appear that they had more than they did.

Sure you may have the cap, you can work it in to look like that, but that doesn't mean you have the knowledge, experience, and professionalism.

Not all us can have a fifty mission cap for the simple reason such a cap requires, time, experience, and commitment.

Most of us want the cap as soon as possible.

But why?

The journey is needed. 

Most overnight successes take decades. Most artistry is gained by failure. Most skills are gathered by doing the reps.

Sure the journey has stress. Sure the journey has unknowns. Sure the journey has complications.

But at the end, you're a different person. You get the fifty mission cap. You earned it.

The journey takes you beyond, propels you to achieve more, and contribute to others along the way. 

The journey is needed.

The challenge as entrepreneurs and thought leaders is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.

That's when you want to put the cap on.


40 years into the war on clutter, and we’re still overwhelmed by stuff. What’s going on? It’s hard to put a start date on America’s War on Clutter, but you could trace it to 1978, when the first Container Store opened in a 1,600-square-foot space in Dallas, or to 1985, when a few professional organizers from California saw gold in people’s junk and started a trade association that today counts about 3,400 members. But despite an industry that’s grown so massive it’s become its own form of clutter — with books, and experts, and storage containers, and apps, and YouTube videos — we’ve made so little progress that even the professional organizers aren’t pretending the problem has been solved — or even that it’s solvable.

Can social media be saved? Kevin Rose opines in the NYT, they exploit our data and make us unhappy. They spread misinformation and undermine democracy. Our columnist asks if salvation is possible for social networks.

Fast Company: The future of parking garages doesn’t involve cars at all: In London, a disused garage is being partially converted into studios, restaurants, and more.

This is old news - This was discussed at Brigadoon Sundance 2018!

HBR: How being a workaholic differs from working long hours — and why that matters for your health

WP: Mindfulness meditation is huge, but science isn’t sure how, or whether, it works


You know you got something to say: Looking for a place to share ideas, comment on business, tell a funny story, or provide expertise?

This is the place.

Send The Weekly 500 - 750 words on any topic that would benefit the Brigadoon community.

Please note, I do my best copy editing after I hit send. So, whatever you send me, I suggest you do a bang-up job on the spelling, grammar, and editing before you send it over. 


Business name generator: Namelix will generate a short, brandable business name using artificial intelligence.


This Week in Startups - Rachel Hepworth: Rachel is the head of growth marketing at Slack. In this podcast, she breaks down how startups should “go to market and grow”  and speaks with participants at Founder University.


The Tragically Hip - Fifty-Mission Cap


The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company (Philadelphia)


The origins of all 30 MLB team names

How Loyola used information and skill — not luck — to reach the Final Four