Posted by: yogmoney | December 2, 2010

Almost Home


Home – is there a better place on earth?

I do a fair bit of moving around these days. It seems that most of my time lately has been spent between places. Rarely settled. I find myself on a plane today, a Saturday, flying over the Atlantic Ocean heading back to beautiful New England from the even more beautiful original one. Between there and home, 30,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, craving the sweet smell of my wife Allie’s neck.

Home. That’s where I want to be right now. The place where my two little girls, getting bigger and bigger everyday, are growing up while I spend my time in between where i have been and where i need to be. I want to see their bright smiles, hear their laughter as they chase our dog Tucker around the house. These are the things i miss when i am stuck in the in-between places. These empty places.

Home. That’s where i need to be right now. The place where i feel safe, loved, and grounded. The place where i remind myself whats important in life. Things like laughter, connection, touch, family, and most of all love.

Home. The place where my three favorite people in the world always are while I’m in between here and there.

Home. I’m almost there.

Posted by: yogmoney | October 23, 2010

NYT


http://nyti.ms/9OdLHm

Posted by: yogmoney | August 8, 2010

My Bosses…


My Bosses along the way……

I was just doing the math. I graduated from college 25 years ago. I always said that I was never going to be one of those guys who talked about how long ago I graduated from college. So, I won’t do it here.

If you’ve read any of my previous pieces you know that I hate voicemail, don’t drink coffee anymore, and have the love affair with music (excluding Coldplay).

You’ll also know that I consider myself to be pretty lucky. I have a great life, a fun job, and lots of friends around the world. Some would define my career as a success.

I have gotten to where I am today for a few reasons. A positive attitude (I try anyway), working hard, the support of my wife and daughters, a little luck, and a number of people who have all had a profound impact on my life – my bosses.

I have had a few bosses along the way. I liked some of them better than others. A few of them were not very nice people. But, all of them taught me something. The things they taught me about life, work, leadership, teamwork, and friendship have all contributed to the person I am today – the husband, the father, the friend, the marketer, the writer.

Jim Dinkins – my first boss out of college, at Procter & Gamble. Jim and I have been friends for 25 years now. He stood at the alter with me when I married my wife Allie.

Jim taught me how to work and play hard. He also taught me how to sell, something I find myself doing every single day of my life. Whether its creating a TV commercial or getting a budget approved you have to know how to sell. Jim is the master at this. Jim also taught me that I wasn’t in college anymore and that work started at 7.30am. That was one of the tougher lessons I had to learn. I’d like to think that maybe I taught Jim a thing or two along the way as well but it isn’t anywhere close to the things he’s given me.

Steve Koonin – a truly creative genius. He used to run a department at Coke that to this day is still talked about. He assembled a team of smart, creative people and he let us run. Coming to Coke from P&G was quite an adjustment. P&G is all about structure, process, and method. They are the best at it. Coke is much more image driven and is constantly refreshing itself as it works to maintain relevancy to its consumer base. Steve understood how to creatively connect our brands to consumers. I was often in awe of him and his ability to create things from thin air. He once told me that there were only 8-10 original ideas in marketing and that everything that every single successful program is just some sort of adaptation or combination of those few ideas. I asked him to tell me what they were. He just laughed and shook his head. He let me figure it out for myself. Steve opened a side of my brain that I didn’t realize I had. Eleven years of process and method will convince you you’re not creative. Steve threw that out of the window my first week on the job. I sat in a meeting with about 7 people. They were talking about Coke and the NFL. Ideas were thrown around. I sat there, fresh out of P&G, and didn’t contribute any ideas. I was studying the room, trying to figure out how to survive in the new place. The meeting ended and as I was walking back to my office I said to Steve, “hey, I have an idea about the NFL….”. He turned on his heels, fire in his eyes, and asked me id I was not just in that meeting about the NFL with him. I said, of course I was in there. I sat right next to you. He then started yelling at me – literally yelling – that I wasn’t at P&G anymore and that if I had an idea that I better share it DURING the meeting, not after the fact. He said (and I will never forget these words) – “if you have a f’ing idea Geoff, come to me, tell me. If it’s a good one I will give you the money and you will make it happen…..that’s how we do things here!”  In the end, Steve taught me that I had two sides of my brain….and he really helped to open up the creative side. I wouldn’t be here today had it not been for Steve. That was the only time he ever yelled at me. I could probably fill an entire book on all that Steve taught me. He had a big impact on me and I will never forget him.

Chuck Fruit – I became the head of Coke’s Entertainment Marketing team while working for Chuck. In fact, we created it. He was the ultimate senior statesman. A truly class act, one of a kind. One day I was in his office talking about music and the entertainment business. It was a personal interest of mine as I always wanted to run a record label. After talking to him he asked me to come back to his office after lunch. I walked in at 1pm sharp. He walked me from his office all the way across the Coke campus and up to the 25th floor executive offices. We walked into the CMO’s office (Steve Jones). Chuck then looked at me and said, “Geoff, talk to Steve about the things you were telling me earlier”. I started, a little confused. After 2 minutes he looked at Steve and smiled. Steve nodded his head. Chuck then said we let Steve get back to his meeting. As I got up Chuck patted me on the back and said “congratulations Geoff, you’re the new head of entertainment marketing at The Coca-Cola Company”.  Chuck did nice things for me. He was a good man. When I heard the news that he passed away I cried. I have a tear in my eye as I type this right now. He gave me a big opportunity and it helped me on my journey. Chuck taught me to treat people with respect, to build relationships with people. He encouraged me along the way. He treated every single person he met exactly the same way – with dignity and respect. I try to live up to his legacy every single day. I miss Chuck.

Darryl Cobbin – DC taught me how to build a brand. Darryl is the guy who is known for building the Sprite brand to the global brand it is today. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work for DC. He always encouraged me no matter what I was doing. He taught me how to market but he also taught me how to be a better man. DC is a natural born leader. People lined up behind him and ran through walls to get the job done. DC cared equally for the “what” and the “how”. He taught me that you don’t need to be mean to people along the way to get what you want. We were surrounded by people who would stab you in the chest (yeah, more direct than in the back) to get what they wanted. DC never carried a knife or a iron fist. He built consensus, enrolled people along the way, and stood back and watched his people do great things. His leadership example is something that I have always tried to live up to. DC is also responsible for the name of my blog – yogmoney. He used to always walk into my office and say, “YO G-MONEY, what’s up?” He always made me smile when he did that. I miss hearing my old friend saying that as he walked down the hall. I recently saw him at an event we put on. He yelled it across the gym. It was a special moment for me.

Katie J. Bayne – KJB, as she is known by many, is one of the smartest marketers I have ever known. She used to be the CMO of Coke North America. She is on her way to even bigger and better things at Coke and will someday probably run it. Katie taught me how to hold my own in a room of people far more senior than I was at the time. She was always prepared. She knew her business well and had a point of view on things. She was actively engaged in every meeting she was in. Although I often fail to be as prepared or detailed oriented as KJB, I strive to be. KJB taught me how to survive and thrive in a major corporation. KJB was the first person I met at Coke when I joined the company. She was always a supporter of mine and helped me move along through the world of Coca-Cola in a productive way while I was there. Katie should be considered a role model to young women everywhere. We need more leaders like KJB.

Ken Lombard – well, this is a tough one for me. I had an unusual relationship with Ken. He was a hard driving boss – always pushing for perfection. Some looked at Ken as a bully. AT 6’6” (I think that is his height, lets just call him tall, ok?) he can be a little bit intimidating. He knew it and used it to his advantage when necessary. When I left Starbucks I was kind of angry; disappointed in the working experience I had while I was there. I never felt like I really fit into the culture there. Ken’s management style was different than mine and we had our battles. One day during my performance review (where I was fully expecting to get my tail handed to me) Ken gave me the highest rating you could get – Exceptional. He said, “I’ve been tough on you because you have talent and I want you to succeed….i’m pushing you because I know you can take it”. I was floored because he had been so tough on me all year. I never really got to thank Ken when I left Starbucks. He was living in LA when I decided to leave Seattle. We exchanged notes but I never got to say goodbye in person. I regret that. As painful as some of those days were – it was the single best professional experience of my life. I grew up. If I had not had Ken pushing me as hard as he did I am sure that I would not have enjoyed the success I have to date at Converse. I have a lot to thank Ken for.

Howard Schultz – while I never reported directly to Howard, I did have the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with him. Howard is the boss at Starbucks. Never have I met a person who cares as deeply about his business as Howard. He is the most passionate, motivating person I have ever met – bar none. He can walk into a room and spin your head with his inspiring presentation. He has a presence about him that is Obama-like.

Howard taught me about passion, about caring, about having soul.  Howard is a perfectionist when it comes to Starbucks. Everything needs to be right for the consumers. When a store isn’t right he addresses it right away. He lives in the moment and he fixes things. He can get pretty upset when things aren’t right. I think that sometimes he can be a little too hard on folks but I now understand why he is the way he is. He cares, deeply. That’s a pretty special quality to have – to truly care (in your soul) about what you’re doing. I am in a position now where I truly love what I do. I have a lot to thank Howard for. As a result of my time at Starbucks I am a better leader of people. Instead of using fear, I try to inspire people to be the best they can be. I learned that from Howard Schultz.

So, if someday you find yourself reading another piece like this from some other professional and I am lucky enough to be mentioned as someone who had a positive impact on them you will know why. It is because of these people – Jim Dinkins, Steve Koonin, Chuck Fruit, Darryl Cobbin, Katie Bayne, Ken Lombard, and Howard Schultz. They lifted me up to where I am today. I officially thank each and every one of them for all they taught me along the way.

G

NOTE : I decided it wasn’t appropriate to comment on my boss at Converse. He’s amazing though.

Posted by: yogmoney | December 24, 2009

Music in 2009 – My 10 Favorite Things


Music in 2009 – My 10 Favorite Things

It’s the end of December at the end of 2009. This year few by faster than I’d like to admit. I grew another year older, we lost our old dog Piedmont, we got a new puppy named Tucker, and my oldest daughter became a teenager. All in all it was a great year.

Along the way, I fell in love with some new music. In no particular order, here are 10 of my favorite records of the year.

The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

These guys from North Carolina delivered a beautiful acoustic album filled with sadness and soul. The title track is my favorite on the record as it chronicles the break up and decision to leave a life behind in the hopes of finding a new one. This isn’t the most upbeat record of the year but it is certainly one of the best.

The XX (self-titled)

These guys get my vote for best new artist of the year. I was turned on to this record three or four months ago just before a trip to the UK. When I got there I found myself wandering through the world’s best record store, Rough Trade. As I walked the aisles I was completely taken by the music over head. It was this record. From that day on, I listened to it non-stop. The song “Crystalised” is magic.

Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Jeff Tweedy & crew deliver another great record. This one feels a little more upbeat than previous Wilco efforts, but still packs the intelligence you’ve come to expect from them. I have to say, I love the track “You and I” featuring Feist. One of my favorite songs of the year.

Silversun Pickups – Swoon

These guys have been hanging around for a few years, coming out of Silverlake in LA. Their song “Panic Room” knocked me off my feet earlier this year. These guys bring an edge and an energy you’d expect out of a band from Silverlake.

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night

The Kings of Leon’s break out album, according to iTunes, but these guys have been around for a while. This is their 4th studio record and each one gets better and better. These guys are keeping the flame of good old fashioned southern rock & roll alive and well.

Dead Confederate – Dirty Ammo

This band from Athens, Georgia brings a fresh take on grungy southern rock. This record was recorded live at The Earl in Atlanta (an old hang out of mine – greatest burger in Atlanta). I like this record because it reminds me of my time in the South. There’s nothing like a great southern rock band from Athens. This record is offered as a free download on their site. They are asking for a $1 donation to help raise money for the famous Georgia Theater which burned down in June of this year. This band hasn’t received the attention it deserved. My hope is that they’ll be around a while longer so that people outside of Athens have time to find them.

Them Crooked Vultures (self-titled)

A super-group made up of Dave Grohl, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin can’t be all that bad, now can they? This is exactly what you would expect, a straight up rock and roll record straight out of the garage.

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

This is Neko Cases’s 5th album. If you haven’t discovered her yet you need to check out this record. She’s built quite a following in the Northwest where I used to live. She is a rising star. This record is widely considered to be one of the top 10 records of the year.

Kid Cudi – Man on The Moon / End of Day

A solid debut record from the young hip-hop artist from Cleveland, Ohio. I had the opportunity to sit down with Cudi earlier this year. He’s a smart, grounded, intelligent, and talented young artist. Knowing that he was a protégé of Kanye West, I expected him to show up with a certain attitude. He brought none of that. This guy seems to have a bright future ahead of him. If his debut record is any indication, I think we have a lot to look forward to. He’s also set to star in the new Mark Wahlberg HBO show coming later this year.

Visqueen – Message To Garcia

This band calls Seattle, Washington its home. They’ve paid their dues playing in clubs all over town as well as other towns in the PNW. The band features a lead singer named Rachel Flotard, one of the coolest people I met while living in Seattle. The band also features a friend of mine named Tom Cummings. We worked together for a few years. He was the quietest, nicest, hard working guy on our team. You never would have guessed in a hundred years that at night he strapped on a guitar and jammed with the band. I would like to see good things happen in life for my old friend Tom.

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

OK, if you’re paying attention you would know that this record was released in September of 2008. I didn’t really discover it until early in 2009 so I am counting it. Jenny Lewis is an extremely talented artist. Her songs are intelligent and her voice is beautifully haunting and captivating. The title track “Acid Tongue” is my favorite.

“I’ve been down to Dixie and dropped acid on my tongue” pretty much says it all.

Ms. Lewis is my favorite female artist and deserves more attention than she gets.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimist

This Brooklyn based band’s breakout record is another that will undoubtedly show up on many of the year’s top 10 lists. These guys bring a lot of different things to their music. I don’t’ claim to be able to explain it. All I can say is that it works. Check it out.

Gomez – A New Tide

This isn’t the best Gomez album but the song Airstream Driver is one of my favorite tracks of the year. I’m not sure why but I just like it. I saw them earlier this year at Lollapalooza and was surprised by how good they were live. Check them out if  you get the chance.

OK – yeah, I know. That was 13 picks. Consider the extra three a bonus.

Now its your turn….what are your favorite albums or songs of the year??

Have a great 2010.

Peace.

G

Posted by: yogmoney | November 30, 2009

Billboard Magazine


WITH THE BRAND
What Converse Learned From Its “Love Noise Tour” In China

By Geoff Cottrill

Converse sees itself as an advocate and catalyst for creativity. It’s something that drives how we allocate all of our marketing resources. As a brand, our job is to support and celebrate the creative community around the world.
In China, we saw an opening to do just that by aligning ourselves with the country’s incredibly vibrant underground indie music scene.
There are great new bands, an energy and an edge that other cities lost long ago. What they lack is support. There is no touring infrastructure in China. There are no city-to-city caravans of tour buses and big rigs. Venues are few and far between.
Converse saw an opportunity to work with a few of these young bands. We didn’t ask them to star in commercials wearing our shoes. We didn’t ask them to write jingles for us. Instead, we got to know them and asked what kind of help they needed.
They told us they had always dreamed of going out on tour. They explained to us that they wanted to explore their own country and share their music with like-minded kids. So we bought a tour bus, hired a driver and hit the road with them in late 2008.
So many people in China refer to the music these artists create as “noise” that musicians embraced that tag and proudly declare that they “make noise.” We loved that idea so much that we named our bus trip the “Converse Love Noise” tour. We connected with two bands and created a five-city tour for them – and for us.
Our headliners, both from Beijing, were PK14, a respected pioneer of the underground scene, and Queen Sea Big Shark, a new-generation upstart. The bands didn’t play in big venues but along the way we stopped at small clubs and street corners in Nanjing, Hangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan and Xian. As we rolled into each city, we added a local band to the bill.  Each night these bands played to audiences of 200-300 people.
So, what happened along the way? Beyond buying the tour bus, and coordinating the tour dates, venues, and logistics, we sent a small camera crew on the road to capture the personal stories of each of the members of the bands. The bus itself went from a big white bus to an interactive canvas as the bands and the kids along the journey took it upon themselves to paint every inch of it. When it rolled back in Beijing it was covered in graffiti and other artistic expressions. It was a mess but it was one of the most beautiful things we had ever seen. It told a story.
During the tour, the bands blogged about their journey as well as gave personal, on-camera interviews. We learned that these kids have something to say and just want to be heard. As China opens up more and more, allowing its young to have a little bit more of a voice will free them up to be more creative.
As a result of the tour, we had more three million visits to our Web site in China from last December through the end of March. We’ve gotten more than 1.8 billion (yes, billion) impressions through our online partners and a print and outdoor campaign.  We edited the footage we shot and produced an hour-long documentary of the tour. Earlier this year, we gave away more than 100,000 DVDs of the documentary at retail stores throughout China with purchase of Converse merchandise..
Music, art and fashion are all colliding in China and what we found was inspiring and truly invigorating.  We saw our consumers everywhere — onstage, in mosh pits, and outside on the curb. The indie music culture and scene in China is incubating incredible talent, but it needs support and leverage for access to larger audiences.
In a society that views rock music as “noise,” we wanted to uncover the passion of these kids – in their own words and their own music. This was the premise of the Love Noise tour. By supporting creativity, specifically indie rock in China, we had the opportunity to grow together with the scene, to add value and to influence this new generation.
Something very special is happening in China. Brands interested in breaking into the market should find a way of contributing to the artist community and advancing their cause – to be heard, to be young and to have some fun along the way. Make it about them. Elevate and amplify what they are doing.

Geoff Cottrill is chief marketing officer of Converse and is also a member of the Grammy Foundation board of directors.

<a href=”http://alphainventions.com/rank?=http://www.yogmoney.wordpress.com&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”http://alphainventions.com/blog?=http://www.yogmoney.wordpress.com&#8221; border=”0″ title=”Site Ranking” alt=”Alpha Inventions Site Ranking”></a><BR><small><a href=”http://alphainventions.com”>Blog Networking in Real-time</a></small>

Posted by: yogmoney | November 22, 2009

Billboard Magazine (China, Music, & Converse)


The attached is due to run in BIllboard Magazine this week (or next).

Billboard Article – Converse Love Noise Tour
By Geoff Cottrill
November 20, 2009

Earlier this year I travelled to China. I arrived with my own thoughts on what I was going to experience as an American with all the answers. I left two weeks later with questions and excitement about the enormous opportunity in front of Converse.

Converse at our best, is an advocate and catalyst for creativity. Our job is to support and celebrate creativity. It drives how we allocate all of our marketing resources. In China we saw an exciting opportunity to do this. We are part of the music world and we’ve been fortunate to have our shoes worn by incredible artists. We appreciate this more than most people will ever know. We’re compelled to give back to the industry, especially the artist.

In China, we were drawn to the uncorrupted underground indie music scene. It’s thriving inside and outside the major cities and is filled with great bands, energy and an edge that other cities lost long ago. The bands have endless energy but what they lack is support. There is no touring infrastructure or city-to-city caravan of buses and rigs carrying amps and stages. Venues are lacking as are other basics of the industry that we take for granted.

Converse saw an opportunity to assist these bands. We didn’t ask them to star in commercials wearing our shoes or write jingles. We didn’t ask them to sell out. We got to know them and asked what they needed. They told us they had always dreamed on going out on tour to share their music with like-minded kids. Taking it all in, we bought a tour bus and hired a driver. In China, indie music is referred to by so many people as “noise,” that musicians embraced that and proudly say they “make noise.” We loved that idea — and named our venture the “Converse Love Noise” tour. We connected with two bands and created a five-city tour.

Our headliners were PK14, a respected pioneer of the underground scene, and Queen Sea Big Shark, a new generation upstart. Both fans and the curious filled small clubs and street corners and as we rolled into each city we added a local band.  Each night they played to audiences of 200-300 people.

So, what happened along the way? Beyond buying the bus and coordinating the tour, we sent a camera crew on the road to capture the personal stories of each band. The bus went from a blank white vehicle to a colorful mess as the bands and kids along the journey painted every inch. It was covered with art and graffiti and it told a beautiful story.

Our results: We’ve had over three million visits to our website in China; more than 1.8 billion impressions via digital partners, and a print and outdoor campaign.  We edited an hour long documentary that has found audiences worldwide. We increased traffic to our where we distributed more than 100,000 DVDs of the documentary for free. Beyond the business wins, we have learnings that we use daily.

Our team on the ground made friends with the bands. They built a trust and did all they could to provide them with support. They were excited by the magic of what they were involved in. Our Marketing Director in China deserves full credit. She saw the opportunity and persuaded the team to spend some money.

Indie music and originality is the soul of Converse and music is at the forefront of the growing creative youth culture in China where music, art and fashion are all colliding. We saw our consumers everywhere in the product — onstage, in mosh pits, and on the curb. The music scene in China is incubating incredible talent, but it needs support. In a society that views rock music as “noise”, we uncovered the passion of these kids – in their music, with performances that broadened their audience. This platform was the premise of Love Noise. Ultimately, by supporting creativity in China, we have the opportunity to grow together, to add value and influence to this generation of music culture.

If you have not been to China, get there right away. Something special is happening. Take time to get to know the people. Respect the cultural differences and celebrate our similarities. Don’t take anything from China – but do find a way to contribute to advancing the artist community and their cause. Have some fun along the way and make it about them. If you do this, you will build your brand.

Geoff Cottrill is the Chief Marketing Officer at Converse. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Grammy Foundation.

Posted by: yogmoney | November 20, 2009

Thanks Coach Bowden


Thanks Coach Bowden

by Geoff Cottrill

November 19, 2009

Today, as I fly across the country once again, I’ve spent the past hour (or so) thinking about days gone by. Some days have been great, some haven’t. That’s the way life is. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. You hope that at the end of the road you wind up with more wins than losses – but you accept the losses along the way. The losses are what make us better. They make us look deep inside ourselves. They help to define our character. Yeah, it’s a lot more fun to win. I know that. But it’s our lifetime record of wins and losses that defines who we are.

Many years ago (more than I’d like to admit) I went to college at Florida State University. I grew up always thinking I was going to be a Gator. As my senior year in high school ended, my hopes of playing division 1 soccer never really materialized. I applied to Florida. I applied to Florida State. I got accepted at both places. I decided to go to FSU because most of my friends were going to Florida. I wanted a new adventure. I also didn’t want to start college during the summer just after graduating from high school, which is what Florida wanted me to do. I wanted a summer to play before going away to college. So, FSU here I come. If it were today, I likely wouldn’t have gotten into either place. Both are great institutions and have over the years, significantly raised their academic standards. Both have a well-deserved reputation as a world-class party school. No one who has ever graduated (or temporarily attended before flunking out) from Florida State can’t hold their own at the neighborhood dinner party. Tallahassee was a fun place to go to school. This piece isn’t about that though. This piece is about something else.

This piece isn’t about college football.

In 1976, I turned 13 years old. That same year a man named Bobby Bowden became the head coach at Florida State. At the time FSU wasn’t considered to be a college football powerhouse. The guys down in Gainesville used to routinely embarrass the Seminoles. Beating FSU was an annual event. The Seminoles were made fun of , as the university that used to be a teaching college for women (there’s really nothing funny about that but the folks in Gator-town sure thought so). In order to build FSU’s program, Coach Bowden and the university decided to take their show on the road. They scheduled away games against powerhouse teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma, & Ohio State. During the early 80’s they needed to do this. They needed the money. A funny thing happened along the way. The Seminoles started getting better. They started beating these teams. I remember the second month of my freshman year, when we beat Nebraska on the road, and then a few weeks later The Ohio State University, we partied on Tennessee Street like we owned the world. Ken’s Tavern was overflowing with people celebrating. This was a lot for an 18 year old kid to take in. I joined the crowd and fell in love with the Florida State Seminoles. So did many, many other people.

We were an average team when I attended FSU. I managed to stretch my time there to 5 football seasons (my folks still kid me about this). We never beat the mighty Gators while I was there. Zero wins against my high school friends in Gainesville. 5 straight painful losses. We were still on the cusp of something great. In four and a half short years I went from thinking I was going to be a member of Gator-nation to absolutely hating everything blue and orange. I became a Seminole. I am still one today.

I sometimes joke about the fact that I was educated in the state of Florida – therefore I am not that good at math or spelling. Its an old joke and it always gets a chuckle. I got a decent education at FSU. Not a Harvard MBA by any means. I’m lucky though. I now have Harvard MBAs working for me. But, that’s not what this is about.

This is about the guy who brought Florida State from being known as The Florida State School for Women to a nationally respected university. Yeah, I know its kind of sad to use sports to raise your profile as a university but lets be honest – we’re not the only school.

This is about Coach Bobby Bowden.

After graduation I stayed loyal to my ‘Noles. I went back for games. I went to bowl games. I cheered and pulled for my team. We started to win a lot more games than we lost. Coach Bowden was considered a football genius. He wasn’t afraid to take chances. He inserted plays into his game plan that prior to running them had only been executed in the backyards and sand lots. He was also known as a devout Christian and a Southern gentleman. He carried himself with grace. He never looked down on anyone. He was approachable and real. His sense of humor has always made me laugh. There hasn’t been an interview I’ve seen over the years when he didn’t say something like “dag-gumit” with his Southern charm.

Bobby Bowden, the coach that toured the state relentlessly during the off-season recruiting and raising money from the boosters. He sacrificed time with his family for our fine school. He worked hard to land the top recruits and to add more Golden Chiefs to the FSU booster organization. He spoke at lunches, dinners, & played in golf tournaments. My Dad once had the opportunity to play golf with Coach Bowden. He recalls the day fondly, saying that Bobby was funny, talkative, and fully engaged. My Dad said he thought Coach Bowden must have forgotten his name because every time my Dad took a shot Coach yelled, “Good shot, boy!”. That’s a memory that my Dad will always have and one that I will also always cherish even though I wasn’t even there. That’s the kind of stuff Coach Bowden was known for.

Bobby Bowden, the coach that led the Seminoles to 14 straight years of 10 or more wins in a season. This has never been done and I’d venture to say may never happen again. During his time at FSU he delivered 2 national championships. Had it not been for a few kicks that flew wide to the right, we would have had 2 or 3 more. But hey, you can’t have everything. We suffered many tough losses to our friends in south Florida. The thugs in green and orange. The same guys that have a “U” on the side of their helmets. Yeah Miami, I am talking about you. University of MIAMI and you choose to put a “U” on the side of your helmet. That says a lot about you guys. Wait, this piece isn’t about that either.

Coach Bowden. The second highest winning coach in NCAA history behind another class act – Joe Paterno. Bobby won’t catch Joe. Somehow, as a Seminole, that makes sense to me. Too many wide rights. Congratulations Joe. We tip our hats to you and to Penn State.

A few months ago a man named Jim Smith made some public comments about Coach Bowden. I do not know Mr. Smith. He is a former secretary of state in Florida. He is also the former attorney general of the Sunshine State. Mr. Smith is also the chairman of Florida State’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Smith, a guy that not too many people in the state of Florida know that well, no matter what offices he’s held. Mr. Smith, who I am sure has done some nice things along his journey, came out and said it was time for Coach Bowden to retire. He wasn’t happy with the winning percentage. He wasn’t happy with the losses the ‘Noles were racking up. Mr. Smith, the Monday morning quarterback of college football, said it was time for Coach Bowden to move to a retirement home and to pass the torch to the “coach in waiting”.

Mr. Smith’s remarks came as a surprise to many, Coach Bowden included. Sure, there have been grumbling for a few years about whether or not it was time for Bobby to go. People wondered if the game had passed him by. Maybe Coach Bowden, the man that has dedicated his life to teaching young men the game of football, had suddenly lost touch with today’s player, they said about him. Coach Bowden, the same man that sat in the living rooms of so many young kids promising their parents that he would look after their boys. Coach Bowden, the man that helped to put Florida State on the national map. Coach Bowden, the guy that put so many great teams on the field, filled the stadium with crazed fans, and won national championships. The national championships that led to bigger TV deals for the university. The guy who helped build the school, a new stadium, and the reputation of our school.

Mr. Smith said it was time for Coach Bowden to go. Mr. Smith said we needed to win more games. Mr. Smith, the man who lost the plot somewhere along the way. Mr. Smith, the politician and chairman of the Board of Trustees, decided that the losses were not acceptable. Nope. We simply can’t lose. We need the money to keep flowing in. We need to sell tickets. We need to get to the BCS every year.

Mr. Smith, I have news for you.

You’re wrong.

Coach Bowden has given us so much more than wins and losses. He’s given us more than a few trophies that rest in the trophy case in the athletic center that he built.

Mr. Smith, who are you to judge a man who has always carried himself with dignity and grace…….win or lose. What qualifies you to say its time for him to step down? It’s your desire to win and not to lose. What kind of representative of a teaching institution are you?

A few days after Mr. Smith’s comments were made public I received an e-mail from the president of FSU, T.K. Wetherell. The letter said that no decisions had been made about the Coach’s future at FSU. It sounded to me like decisions had been made. And, this made me sad.

I love to win. We all do. But, we all lose sometimes. The losses make us better. They make us stronger. They shape us. They mold us into the people we are. They help us build character. I always thought that was what my university stood for.

Coach Bowden has given his life to Florida State University. We’ve all enjoyed the fruits of his life’s work. We never once thought about asking him to step down those 14 years when we won 10 or more games. Not once did it ever cross our minds.

We were with him when he was winning. Now, Mr. Smith and others (lots of friends of mine), are walking away from the man that has given them so much.

Florida State University. FSU, a university dedicated to teaching young men and women more than what’s in the text books they use in class. This university, my school, has disappointed me more than I could have ever dreamed they could.

Let Coach Bowden stand on the sidelines as long as he wants. He’s earned it. If we don’t win another game the entire time he stands there I, along with many others, will stand and cheer for our beloved “Noles. Yeah, we like to beat those lizards in Gainesville. It’s a lot of fun when we do. It’s also not the end of the world when we don’t.

You win some. You lose some.

You live. You learn.

Mr. Smith – you’ve lost the plot on why the university exists to begin with.

To teach, not to win football games.

Mr. Smith, maybe its time YOU retire. I am about as qualified to say that to you as you are to say it about Coach Bowden. Maybe we should come out publicly and say its time for you to move on. Would you be surprised if you read in the Tallahassee Democrat that you were being called out?

Coach Bowden – Thank you for everything. Thanks for the national championships, the wide rights, the joys of beating the Gators, the pain of losing to the guys who wear a “U” on their helmets, the great defenses, the Heisman winning quarterbacks. Thanks for teaching us how to carry ourselves with grace and dignity in the face of adversity, for teaching us how to win and more importantly how to lose. You’ve made us all better and we owe you a debt we’ll never be able to repay. All we can do is to try our best to teach our own kids that while its nice to win, that we always must remember that we’re going to lose along the way too.

Geoff Cottrill

Class of ‘85

Posted by: yogmoney | November 8, 2009

The Theory of Permanent Age


The Theory of Permanent Age

by Geoff Cottrill

October 2009

What is it about getting older that makes you want to be younger?

No, I am not having a mid-life crisis. I am not even sure what that means. I’ve seen friends go through it. I’ve seen them come out the other side of it happy with a new sports car. I’ve seen some come out of it miserable and without their family. I am not interested in that……although the car does sound kind of cool.

One day many, many years ago a woman said something to me that I will never forget. We woke up one Saturday morning and were chatting in bed. She said, “I have a theory. I think that all people are a certain age. And, I think that they are that age forever”.

I laid there and thought about what she had just said. I was 30 years old at the time. I had things figured out. I knew it all. Or, at least I thought I did.  I wasn’t married and was enjoying my days of being single. At this moment I didn’t want to buy into what this girl was telling me. I told her that I thought she was crazy. That was the end of the conversation.

Two years later I was laying in bed with that same woman. She was now my wife. In the past two years we had gotten engaged, moved to a new city in the midwest, gotten married, changed jobs, moved back to the city in the south where we met, and had our oldest daughter, and we had  our second on the way. We also got a dog in the midst of these crazy two years. I must admit it. I was feeling pretty old. I was feeling the responsibilities of life bearing down on me. I was happy. And, I was sad. And, I wasn’t ready for what I was facing. I guess maybe I had not yet grown up. I wasn’t acting my age. I was running away from it.

So, back to the real story at hand. After thinking about this “theory of  permanent age” for two years I decided it was time to finally tell this girl about the conclusion I had come to. So, I woke her up. She rubbed her eyes and looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and that little smile I fell in love with. I looked at her and said, “I’ve been thinking. I think you’re right. Your “theory of permanent age” is right, I think”. My wife looked at me as if I was a bit strange (which I am). She said, “have you been thinking about this for a long time?”. I said something to the effect that yes, I am sometimes slow to come to the right conclusions ( I went to Florida State for crying out loud – we’re not known for our thesis statements and theories on life…we’re not even known for a good football team anymore!) and in this case it had only taken me 2 years and a lot of craziness in my life to realize she was right.

So, think about it for a minute. How old are you? Are you as old as your true age? Are you younger? Are you an old person or a young kid? Close your eyes for a minute and think about it.

Me, I am a kid at heart, maybe 13 years old. My body and the lines on my face remind me every day that I am 46 years old. I can’t run as fast or jump as high. I have long ago given up one of my life’s passions – soccer. But in my mind and in my heart I am young. I am still the kid that stood there on my 13th birthday and watched the fireworks on the day of America’s bicentennial (1976). I became a teen on one our country’s biggest days and it’s a day when everyone around me – friend and foe – was happy, smiling, and seemingly united around the ideas our country was founded on. It was one of the four greatest days on my life. So, maybe that’s why, in my head, I am still a kid. Life was less complicated. There were fewer meetings. There were fewer business trips. There were more friends to hang out with.  There was a lot to do after school and before dinner. Bikes to ride, soccer games to play, friends to hang out with. But, as much as I remember that day as near perfect I wouldn’t go back there even if I could. I like where I am now….46 in years, 13 in my mind.

If I apply this theory to people I know I see them in a new light. I have friends that I have known along the way that were 65 when they were actually 21 and in college. I have friends who were 35 when they were 14. I have 40 year old friends who are still 11, or at least they still act 11. I have a friend who is 45 and will forever be single and 25. I have another friend who is 43 and acts 17. His behavior cost him his marriage. I have seen the grandparents of my friends who are still 30 years old in their hearts – as happy as they have ever been.

You see, to me there is a difference between “acting” a certain age and actually “being” an age in your heart and your soul. Those who go through the dreaded mid-life crisis are merely acting a certain age. They are reaching back for something that can’t be regained. Those who are 70 and feel 30 are the ones that fit with this theory. These are the people who have embraced who they are inside. They aren’t trying to run back to a time in their lives when they were younger and free from the things that bring them down today.

So, this is the “theory of permanent age” that my beautiful wife taught me all those years ago. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, to understand it and to embrace it. But, after all these years I know that it’s true. I guess I didn’t have it all figured out all those years ago. Thank God for that.

Now, close your eyes once again. How old are you acting and how old are you truly feeling? Stay young at heart but stop acting like a kid…..because the kids you have are counting on you to show them the way through this world we live in. Skip the mid life crisis for their sake, if not for yours.

Thanks for listening.

G

Posted by: yogmoney | November 6, 2009

What’s so funny ’bout……


Peace, Love, & Understanding

By Geoff Cottrill (with some borrowed lyrics from Elvis Costello)

November 5, 2009

Tonight I am flying back across the country. I use this time to catch up. I catch up on my reading. I catch up on my e-mails. I catch up on my music. Tonight, as I was writing another piece my iPod played. One of my favorite songs from long ago, a song I probably hadn’t listened to for several years, came on. The song Peace, Love, & Understanding by Elvis Costello. For some reason tonight the song seemed poignant. I am not sure what it is that I am thinking about as I listen to it but for some reason the song hit me in a way it hadn’t all those years ago when I liked it for its anger. What I heard tonight for the first time was its optimism. So, thank God for time to catch up.

The song was written years ago but somehow feels as if it was written yesterday afternoon.

Here are Mr. Costello’s lyrics (just in case you’ve forgotten)….. 3:31 of greatness

As I walk through

This wicked world

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity

I ask myself

Is all hope lost

Is there only pain and hatred, and misery

And each time I feel like this inside

There’s one thing I want to know

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

And as I walk on

Through troubled times

My spirit gets so down hearted sometimes

So where are the strong

And who are the trusted

And where is the harmony, sweet harmony

‘cuz each time I feel it slipping away

Just makes me want to cry

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

So where are the strong

And who are the trusted

And where is the harmony, sweet harmony

‘cuz each time I feel it slipping away

Just makes me want to cry

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, & understanding

(end)

 

Three simple words – peace, love, & understanding

Where is the harmony, sweet harmony?

So, ask yourself – is all hope lost?

I hope not.

 

Thanks for listening…

 

G

Posted by: yogmoney | November 4, 2009

Jacko the Whacko


Jacko the Whacko

By Geoff Cottrill

November 3, 2009

OK, my last few entries have been more on the softer side. This one is going to make a few of you mad……or at least question my understanding of music and its superstars that drive its business.

I’ll never fully understand the world of music. It’s a simple business. It’s a broken business. But, music itself remains a bit of a mystery. What makes one song a monster global hit and another song just track #7 on an album that will soon be completely forgotten about…….forcing that song to sit in its place on that record, never to be played again. Millions of songs have been written. Only thousands of them any good, or at least thought of as good by the people that seem to know about these things. There are plenty of lists. These lists will tell you about the great ones. These lists will never tell you about the bad ones.

I’ve kept my mouth shut (more or less) for the last several months as the world has mourned the death of a global superstar – Michael Jackson. I never had anything against Michael Jackson. I grew up with the Jackson 5 and the Osmond Brothers. I sided with the Jacksons all the way. Michael was a born entertainer and he captured the hearts and minds of many kids in a time when racial tensions were far worse (or at least much more visible) than they are today. Michael and his brothers helped to shape my musical taste. I am grateful for the Jackson 5.

Michael Jackson. Jacko as the UK press used to love to call him. As Michael became older he became more and more isolated from the real world most of us live in. The more that time marched on, the stranger he seems to be getting. He was on TV, shopping in a store, buying every tacky thing in there all while on camera. The audience watched and thought to themselves – “this guy is nuts”.

Michael Jackson. Jacko. The same guy that held his baby over the balcony. As the press hounded him, chased him, and snapped his every move, Michael fell further and further into solitary confinement. He thought it was ok to hold his baby over the railing in order to show the world. He held the baby over the railing because he probably was sick of being chased. He held his baby over the railing so the hounds could get their picture.

He retreated into his palace in California. Neverland. He had carnival rides, a merry-go-round, and animals. I guess some would say he was living the childhood he never had. He was accused of terrible things. He was accused of things that as a father make me sick to my stomach. He was never convicted for these accusations. He was never formally found to be guilty. If the common man had been accused of these crimes he would never be able to shake it from his reputation. Never – ever.

Michael Jackson. The King of Pop. I was a sophomore or a junior in high school when Thriller was released. It was a pinnacle moment in time. Music video was still in its early stages. The “event” album was still important to the business. The video is still relevant today. The album broke every record. Everyone knows this record. This record was released long before the crazy shopping spree, the Neverland ranch sleepovers, and the holding of the baby over the railing. This record was released long before that. Before Michael Jackson changed. Before he retreated. Before he started acting in unusual ways.

Michael Jackson. Crowned by the world as a king. Michael Jackson. The same guy that caught on fire during a Pepsi commercial shoot. Michael Jackson. The same artist who had one of his manager’s call me one day while I worked for another major soft drink company. The manager said to me, “Michael has always loved Coke. He’s always been a Coke guy”. When I asked him why he did a Pepsi commercial if he was a “Coke guy” he said he did it for the money. He then went on to say that Michael wanted to personally get involved with Coke. I told the guy, “no way. We don’t take Pepsi’s old celebrities”.

He then said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “So, what you’re telling me is that YOU are going to be the guy at Coke who says NO to Michael Jackson? Are you kidding me?”. True story. I said no to Michael Jackson. The manager went on to say, “when people find out YOU were the one at Coke who said NO to Michael Jackson when his next album drops, YOU are going to get fired”. No joke, this is all true. I said, “I appreciate your perspective but my guess is that when “they” find out that I was the guy who said NO to Michael Jackson, I will probably get promoted”. I then thanked him kindly and went on my way. The Company survived my mishap if you were wondering. Michael’s record came out and we somehow still managed to sell a billion drinks a day.

But, this isn’t what this story is about.

Michael Jackson. Jacko the Whacko.  The same superstar who, while on tour in Japan, had his manager call his lawyer in LA. He asked him to fly half way around the world to meet with Michael to discuss his new contract with his record label. Once the lawyer arrived he was asked to wait in the living room of Michael’s hotel suite for 4 hours while Michael did whatever he was doing. Michael then suddenly walked in, asked to see his new contract, flipped to a random section, underlined a meaningless sentence, asking the lawyer to explain it. Once the lawyer answered the question Michael abruptly stood up and walked out of the room without saying a word. The lawyer sat there for another hour before the manager came out and told him that Michael had asked him to come to Japan just to “remind you who you work for”. The lawyer flew home.

Michael Jackson. The freak show. Michael became a side show. He became fodder for the press. He helped to sell a lot of People magazines, a lot of Rolling Stone magazines, a bunch of newpapers. He helped to drive viewers to TV tabloid shows like ET, Extra! Extra!, and Inside Edition. People watched the local news to see Michael’s latest behavior. No matter what happened in the world, Jacko was always good for ratings. He did strange things and we loved to watch the freak show from the cheap seats.

Michael Jackson. The victim. Yeah, we turned him into the King of the Super-freak nation. We made him run away. We were the ones who took his childhood away. We were the ones who snapped the pictures. We were the ones who wanted to see that baby held over the railing.

Michael Jackson. The King of Pop. The same guy that wasn’t selling a lot of records the day before he died. Michael Jackson. The same superstar that most of us (if we’re really honest with ourselves) thought was a freak show. We weren’t thinking about Michael and what a wonderful humanitarian he was. We were involved with our own lives, our own problems, a broken economy, massive unemployment, government bail outs of banks, and Wall Street bankers still receiving massive bonus checks while the other 99.5% of the country is struggling. We were not thinking about Michael, his Neverland Ranch, his upcoming tour, his damaged reputation, or his obsession for privacy while at the same time a desire to be King of the world.

Nope. We weren’t thinking about any of this. The day before Michael passed away in his sleep, the day before his doctor allegedly injected him with something to help him sleep, we were not thinking about Michael. We weren’t driving in our cars listening to his music. We weren’t buying his posters or his catalog of music. We also weren’t buying his image as a humanitarian. We just weren’t buying anything he was selling.

But, then a simple twist of fate. The reclusive, obsessive, ego driven, morally questionable King of Pop sipped way from an overdose of something. Suddenly, we all cared. We dropped everything to cry for Michael. We lined the streets, filled the parks. We lit candles, left stuffed animals at make shift memorials, made signs, created thousands of Facebook tribute pages. The world stopped. The People Magazines started selling again, the people started watching programs like ET, Extra! Extra, and Inside Edition. We couldn’t get enough. Advertisers started buying time on these programs. And, for a minute, the death of  a King actually helped move the economy ahead. Businesses were selling trinkets. Record companies were actually SELLING music as anything by Michael Jackson rocketed to the top of the charts. iTunes broke download records. Newspapers sold extra copies. Special magazine tributes were printed. And, we bought it all.

A movie was released. A movie that showed the behind the scenes development of his tour that never happened. It showed the “softer side” of Michael. It showed intimate moments with his band and his friends. And, we lined up all around the block and down the street – all over the world – to catch one last glimpse of the King of Pop. We just couldn’t get enough of Michael. “We love you Michael!”, people cried all over the planet.

I’m no better or worse than anyone else. I am not above others. But, I do have opinions. And in this case my question is this:

Where the hell were all of you the day before Michael Jackson died? Michael Jackson. The King of Pop. Michael Jackson. Jacko the Whacko. I’ll bet that if you’re really honest with yourself you were not as in love with Michael Jackson and all of the “good he stood for” just before he died. If we would have been thinking about him. If we genuinely cared about this King, we wouldn’t have isolated him. We wouldn’t have sent him into exile. We wouldn’t have ostracized him for the terrible things he was accused of. We must not forget the things we thought about Michael the day before he died as we morn him the day after he died. Its just not right.

So, lets be honest with ourselves. We only really care about people like the King after they are dead and gone. Just like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, Michael Jackson will live forever. We live in a world where we worship the idea of what somebody stood for, not what the person they actually were. Its much easier to worship a dead star than a living recluse. It helps us forget abut our own problems for a while. It somehow gives us hope.

It’s a shame that Michael Jackson is gone from this world. He gave us some good music. But, I am not going to cry for him now because I must admit, I stopped caring about him long before he died. I watched from afar as he turned himself into a super freak. And, when I heard he died and stood back and watched the reaction I found myself terribly disappointed in this world we live in. Instead of focusing our energy on making this world a better place, we stood still and cried over the death of a person we didn’t care about the day before.

Its just sad….and it kind of makes me sick.

Thanks for listening…..

G

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