Classes have been out for a week or so now, and I still have a couple weeks before I start my account planning internship at a wonderful agency, Firehouse. Let me tell you, time could not move fast enough!
I’m packing up and moving to my *last* college apartment at the end of this week, and then I know I’ll keep myself busy decorating. But until then, I’m keep myself busy with whatever I can get my hands on: DIY projects, thrift store shopping, cooking, reading (all the books!!) and trying to not spend all my decorating money on a new wardrobe. Continue reading
Man, the holidays are crazy. I would like to know whose idea it was to cram so many things into a week. Family visits, cooking, gift-buying, cat-transporting… But now they’re over. And I even managed to finish two books. Two!
One, a classic — Tess of the D’Urbervilles. SO GOOD.
If you’re into classic lit at all, read it. I gobbled the whole thing in about three days — all 450-odd pages of it.
The other is a perfect candidate for an advertising book review, so I’ll probably write up a post when I get bored in the next couple of weeks (probably).
Awhile back I read a book that made me realize that commerce doesn’t have to be about making money. It doesn’t have to be about profits or sales or annual reports or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong, those things are necessary to maintain a thriving business, but they’re not what’s really important. People are what’s important. I’ve always believed that, but until I read this book, I wasn’t sure if anyone else did, too.
The Lovemarks Effect by Kevin Roberts is the second book about Lovemarks. The first book, Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, was a smash hit. Most smash hits get rave reviews in the Times. Lovemarks got such enthusiastic feedback that author Kevin Roberts published a book, this book, dedicated entirely to how much people love his awesome idea.
I read this book thoroughly and glossed over the first. I like this one much better because it’s better written, better designed, and its interviews have a lot more impact.
But let’s get right to it. What the heck’s a Lovemark?
One of my nearest and dearest mentors recommended this book to me a few semesters ago, but the title sounded weird so I didn’t read it. What the hell’s a Whipple anyway? If I had only picked up a copy and read the first paragraph I would have known, but to save you from falling victim to the same stigma, I’m going to educate you.
Mr. Whipple was the star in Charmin’s “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign that began in 1964 and ran for TWENTY ONE YEARS. That campaign was old enough to drink. Most, like our good friend Luke Sullivan, thought the commercials were absolutely horrid, but Charmin was makin’ money so the Whipple ads kept runnin’ until 1985. And then, according to Mr. Whipple’s own personal Wikipedia article, he came back in 1999 before finally surrendering to the cuddly, still-annoying-but-less-intrusive Charmin bears.
The first (and long-overdue) installment in my series of book reports is an ingenious marketing book by prolific author Seth Godin. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve read all of his books, but I’ll certainly say I intend to. His writing is conversational, memorable, and easy to understand. He’s one of those rare writers who can be irreverent without being tacky.
This book is based on the idea that the easiest way to make a product (or service) more interesting is to provide a free prize. What’s a free prize? Godin equates the free prize to the cheap-o toy in the cereal box (the first edition of his book was even packaged in a cereal box). The free prize is that little bit of something that makes your product/service better than all the others.
In case you guys haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a student, and, like most of my peers, I’ve been a student for the last 15 years of my life. I still have three semesters left before graduation, but this summer I was lucky enough to take my first step into “the real world,” for lack of a better term.
A favorite professor (and awesome mentor) of mine found out that the former owner of a national photography representing firm (e.g. HUGE STUFF HERE) was looking for an assistant for the summer to help her get her visual consulting business organized, and he tossed out my name. Melanie called me up and, well, I guess she liked me ’cause here we are, two months later and about three years wiser (at least on my part, that is).
Organizing photo shoots, talking to clients, going through Melanie’s old invoices, learning what it takes to run your own business, and frankly, just being around Melanie herself has taught me that I know next to nothing about the industry I’m going in to. Sure, I know some techniques and terms and I have good time management skills, but when it comes down to it, I understand why employers hesitate to hire kids fresh out of college. Sadly, that phrase used to be “fresh out of high school,” but that’s another can of worms entirely.
If you’ve ever read any of my posts about books, you can probably tell that I’m rarely a fan of contemporary fiction. I can’t help it; when compared to Shakespeare or Fitzgerald, many modern books seem to be little more than novelized movies. You know the type: The Devil Wears Prada was originally a crappy book but the movie was fabulous, and the same goes for Julie and Julia. They’re everywhere these days, so I am very pleased to say that The Elegance of the Hedgehog proved to me that there are still authors who respect and can expertly handle their chosen medium.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is written from two points of view and features three extremely intelligent characters. Renée, an aging concierge at a posh apartment complex in Paris, is a chronic recluse. She spends a lot of energy trying to hide her intelligence and fool the residents into believing she is a low-class, idiot concierge, like she believes they expect. She rarely interacts with anyone as her true self. Paloma is a young girl who, in only 12 short years, has decided there is nothing in life worth living for. Paloma, who lives in the apartments, is disgusted and appalled by the behavior of the upper class, and, like Renée, spends most of her time alone. The story is told through alternating journal entries written by Renée and Paloma, and the two characters seem to hardly have noticed each other until an elderly Japanese man named Kakuro moves into one of the apartments. Kakuro is elegant and intriguing and he sees both Renée and Paloma for who they are. Paloma is grateful for his insight, but Renée is frightened, and it takes the encouragement of both Kakuro and Paloma to help her from her shell.
The beginning of the novel has very little plot, but I enjoyed it. Barbery expertly constructed the novel so the reader continually makes discoveries about the characters and life along with Renée and Paloma. At the end of the novel, I was surprised to find out how emotionally attached I was to the characters. Throughout the discussion of tea, Anna Karenina, and camelias, Barbery quietly tied my sentiments to her leading ladies and I found myself cheering and begging with Renée when she is trying to muster the nerve to see Kakuro and jeering with Paloma at her older sister. And although Barbery does and excellent job of interweaving the lives of her characters, I especially appreciated how each character comes away with their own unique lessons learned in the end of the book. Barbery shows that there are many ways to comprehend meaning behind one event, equally important meanings that are often overlooked.
If you haven’t read this book, you should. I managed to read it at the very end of a college semester, sneaking chapters in between finals and after studying at nights. It’s a wonderfully penned book and a life-changing event.