Nov 26, 2017

The Nag Knows.



Thank God for the Nag.

Has there ever been a more hated word than the word, “Nag?”

You see it and it makes you cringe. Someone does it to you and the hair on the back of your neck stands straight up. Side topic – why don’t we ever lose the hair on the back of our necks?

I’m here today to argue on behalf of the word “nag.” The smear of the Nag stops here today. The nag is not the problem. The issue is that all of us are all-too-human and we know that the nag is right. Who knows what shame lurks in the hearts, minds and souls of all of us human beans?

The Nag knows.

The Nag knows that the emperor wears no clothes. The nag knows the naked truth. About you. Me. Them. Everybody.

Think Blues Brothers:

Everybody…
needs somebody…
Everybody…
needs somebody…
to Nag.

The Nag isn’t the problem. The Nag is just the messenger. It delivers the painful jolt to your soul in the pit of your stomach that something has to be done. And it’s all up to you.

Instead of admitting that it’s all up to you, yourself, and you… you shoot daggers at the Nagger.

Fool.

Think of it this way. If the Nagger did not love or believe in the Nag-gee, they would give up. The nag would be reserved for someone who was worthy of their belief, their faith, and their love.

The next time someone nags you, smile and let them know who much you appreciate it. They care.

Here’s the (even more painful) internal twist – the Nagger and the Nag-ee are often one and the same person. Yes, you can nag yourself. If this happens to you, don’t take it as a sign of self-loathing. It’s a sign of self-loving. You still have hope for yourself.

Now, don’t waste the nag. Get off your ass and do something. Don’t just follow your dream… forge your dream.

Dream. Do. Done. Next.

Thanks Nag. I love you, too.

May 21, 2017

Steven Pressfield is a genius and I am a mother-f’n-art-trepreneur.



Steven Pressfield is a genius. He is an accomplished writer of fiction (The Legend of Bagger Vance) and non-fiction (The War of Art, Do the Work). He puts out a weekly e-newsletter called Writing Wednesdays. It comes out on, you got it, every Wednesday. On Friday there is a follow-up by one of his editing and/or publishing friends. If you don’t already get it, GET IT. Whether you think you are a writer or not, you are one. You are writing your own life story, one day/page at a time. Steven’s thoughtful advice and insights will help you produce the most of what you’ve got no matter what you do.

In his most recent post, Steve compares artists/entrepreneurs to mothers. He made me realize that I am an art-trepreneur.  The definition of art is:

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Some of these key words are worth repeating: Creative skill and imagination – appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

If you don’t connect with your target, you don’t sell. It doesn’t matter what product or service you provide, if you don’t connect emotionally, you won’t sell. People buy on emotion and then rationalize with fact.

That’s why at Henke or rallying cry is: Create. Resonate. Elevate. If you want help making your brand resonate so you can elevate your results, send me an email at jhenke@henkeinc.com.

Thanks Steve … and thanks Mom.

Feb 17, 2017

Get in Touch with Your Inner Brand




 In today’s hectic world, self-help coaches and spiritual guides have exhorted stressed-out individuals to breathe deeply, think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and to be kind to yourself.

We need to get in touch with our inner selves if we are to deal better with the world. It makes sense. How can you expect the world to understand you if you don’t even know your own self, well, yourself?

When we talk about people like this, it makes perfect sense. It also makes perfect sense for a brand, if you really understand what a brand is. A brand is not just a name, a logo, a website or a Facebook page. A brand is a living, breathing combination of core beliefs, a vision and the people who believe them.

A brand is a promise. It’s what people think when you, as a representative of a given brand, are not there to explain.

Think of a brand as an organism, with the cells being the people who make up the brand. To survive in this brand world, a brand needs consistency, from the inside out.

Think of your own brand. Does your team consistently represent the brand every day? It is practically impossible if your inside team, your brand’s inner self, does not understand what your brand stands for.

And if the inside team does not understand your brand, how in the wide, wide world of sports could your target understand, empathize with, believe in, love, and buy into your brand?

Companies spend millions of dollars each year researching target markets, demographics, buying habits, likes and dislikes. This is helpful, but the first step is skipped.

Start with your own internal research. Instead of a focus group of consumers, start with turning the focus inward. Find out if your people know and believe in your why. They may already know your brand better than you do.

Before you reach out, look within and get in touch with your inner brand. If you would like to discuss a strategic process that helps you take ownership of your brand, send me a note at jhenke@henkeinc.com. Good luck with your inner-branding-self-discovery.





Jan 20, 2017

Secretariat Lesson #2

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I am a sucker.


I know certain things to be true, yet I fall for the same mistakes time after time. I feel like Charlie Brown with Lucy, trying to kick the ball.

For example, I know that nobody has it easy. People who “have it made” don’t just fall into their current situation. They had to work hard, to gamble, to risk it all in order to be where they are. You don’t get extraordinary results by doing the ordinary.

You have to be obstinate. You can’t do only what’s expected of you, what everybody else is doing. You have to do the unexpected, the unasked for. You have to act up. The key word being “up.”

How in the heck does this relate to Secretariat? When I first heard that there was a movie about the famous horse and his owner, I thought what challenges could a rich horse owner face? What obstacles did a spoiled, wealthy brat have to overcome? Poor little rich girl.

As I’ve had to admit so many times in my life, “Boy, was I wrong?”

Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, was put into an uncomfortable position and had to risk everything – her father’s farm, her time with her kids, her relationship with her brother and sister, and her marriage – in order to succeed.

She was on the spot even before the horse was born, losing a coin flip but winning the horse she wanted, the one she believed in before his hooves hit the earth.

Even after Secretariat was named horse of the year, Penny didn’t have enough money to keep the farm and pay off the huge estate taxes. Everyone, including her husband and her brother, demanded that she sell Secretariat before he became Secretariat.

Yet, she didn’t. She stuck to her guns. She didn’t win it all by stubbornly refusing to change the way she did anything. She couldn’t win the game the way it has always been played. She didn’t have the money. So she adapted. She changed the game.

With help and expertise from a longtime family friend, Penny syndicated shares in the horse for breeding purposes. At first, they didn’t sell. They stuck with it. For the syndication to pay off, Secretariat would have to win the Triple Crown, which hadn’t been done in twenty-five years. Penny believed. She hustled. She sold the shares in the horse.

I was the sucker. Penny was not. She was not a spoiled rich kid at all. Penny was resourceful. And determined. And persistent. And tough. And she had faith. And in the end, she won.

The movie “Secretariat” is not perfect. Like any movie, some facts have been “Hollywooded” in the name of the story. That didn’t stop it from reeling me in like a huge chub.

Secretariat Lesson #2: Keep an open mind. Do your homework. Be resourceful. Be persistent. Have faith in what you believe and in yourself. Do all of this and you just might win.

Jan 17, 2017

Be the Secretariat of Offense.

This is Lesson #1 from a seven year-old movie.

Last night, I caught up in “Secretariat” a movie that I had already seen twice. It was on, egads, the Lifetime channel – don’t tell anyone. With the commercials (thank God for commercials), it was three hours long, which is much more time than I had to spend.

Yet I was sucked right in. The movie featured an attractive cast and had an uplifting soundtrack, but so do many overproduced box office bombs.

What “Secretariat” had was a story to which we can all relate. To win anything that matters, you have to risk something, usually more than something. Usually, you have to put yourself out there and risk everything. Everyone who loves you, and cares about you, tells you not to do it.

They look at you sadly and say, “ We love you, but …” You fill in the blank:

“but it’s too crazy.”
“but we can’t afford it.”
“but you’ll lose everything.”
“but this has never been done.”

I have news for you – you can’t afford to not do it. Eventually, you will wither away and lose everything anyway.

“But,” you say, “if everyone I know and trust is telling me it’s crazy, how will I know it’s the right thing?”

The answer is right out of the movie. The brilliant John Malkovich, who plays the trainer, asks Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), Secretariat’s owner, “How will we know if we’ve pushed him too hard?”

Penny answers, “He (Secretariat] will know.”

So will you. Only you. Here’s the catch – just like Penny and Secretariat in the movie, you will never know how far or how fast you are capable of going until you’ve been pushed past the limit of pain and endurance and risk that you thought were unconquerable.

You will only do it if you are forced so far past your comfort zone that it will be a disappearing blip in your rear-view mirror. You will find things inside of yourself that you never knew existed. And you never would have known unless they were squeezed out of you by the force of your belief and ideas.

There is no other way. It’s terrible, terrifying and beautiful.

Once I had the opportunity to ask the late Jim Harrison, my favorite author/hero, to write some words of inspiration into my copy of his latest book at a book signing. His eloquent words of encouragement?

“To Jack Write your ownself” Jim Harrison

In honor of Secretariat, I say, “To you – Race your Ownself.”

Good luck.

If you would like to discuss, please drop me an email at jhenke@henkeinc.com.

Next time, Secretariat Lesson #2


May 10, 2016

Internal Marketing – the True Core Strength

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Do you know what set of muscle groups affects every activity you do? Your core. Biking? Try lifting a pedal without your core. Golfing? Your core is at the heart of every swing.

It’s not just related to sports. Try standing up without using your core. Or sitting down. Getting in or out of a car? You can’t do it without your core.

Say it with me… “Your core.” It is so simple and so foundational that it’s often overlooked. The fact that it rhymes should help, yet so many of us forget it until we get back pain or other joint issues that can be directly attributed to an underdeveloped core.

Attributed? Underdeveloped? What the heck does that have to do with your brand? Everything. Too many brilliant ideas and branding campaigns are put together in the shrouded secrecy of marketing departments and then revealed to target markets without ever even being shared with the internal teams.

Are you surprised that this backfires every time? Think Kelly Ripa, people. An internal strategy revealed to the public before sharing it with the team produces the most incredible result imaginable – it made Kelly Ripa a sympathetic figure.  And it made everyone on their internal team look at best disorganized and at worst, dishonest.

No marketing or branding program will ever be successful unless the people behind the brand are aware of it and buy into it. These people are the key touchpoints of any brand. They are the living, breathing and customer-facing personification of any brand.

No matter how brilliant you are or how unbelievably fantastic your idea is, it is doomed to a spectacular demise unless your people learn it, know it, and live it. Couldn’t resist a Fast Times at Ridgemont High reference.

If you think that this only refers to consumer brands, think again. In fact, it is just the opposite for B2B. Since you have less paid media, you have an even stronger emphasis on your people.

How can you build your brand’s core muscles? Plan an internal marketing campaign to launch before the public ever gets wind of it. Unveil it to your team. Listen to what they say and what they don’t say. Don’t just pay them lip service. You are all in this together. Pay them ear service.

Remember your brand’s true core strength… your people.

Feb 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders is Brandie Senders.

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There is one candidate who gets branding – Bernie Sanders. Maybe we should call him a brandidate. No matter. Whether you like him, love him or hate him, you have to give the devil his due – he has established the Bernie brand.

It doesn’t matter how small or how insignificant the New Hampshire primary turns out to be, Bernie’s message has resonated. Why? Here’s the key. It is so obvious that even one of the political talking bobbleheads got it right – Bernie has made the message about you instead of about him. He tells the crowds, “This is all about you.” He has engaged people who have felt left out of the process.

And they love him for it.

Brand builders think they have to build a brand only about the brand. Successful brands know they have to build the brand about what it does for its audience.

Sound too simple? It isn’t. If you don’t believe me, look at the brands that resonate versus the wanna-brands that turn into resin.

In New Hampshire (where is Old Hampshire anyway?), Bernie, an older guy with rumpled pants, scored with every key demographic group. He outpolled Hillary with women.

Will Bernie be the next President?  There are businesspeople across the country that are shaking in their Oxford boots dreading the thought. Maybe they should not fear Brandie, uh, Bernie. He understands branding better than most businesses.

There’s a special place in heaven for our branding angel, Bernie.

 If you'd like to talk strategy about your brandidate, drop me an e-line at jhenke@henkeinc.com.

Jan 5, 2016

Brand Opera – Find Your Own Voice


Luciano Pavarotti was the ultimate brand manager and executer. He turned around a dying category (opera) despite warnings of its inevitable demise. Not only did Pavarotti make opera popular with opera lovers, he expanded the category of opera to an entire new universe – pop music lovers.

Classic critics dismissed him as not serious enough, about music nor keeping his weight down. It was true – Pavarotti grew larger than life and larger in life at the same time.

How did Pavarotti do it?

He stayed true to his voice. When he started singing in 1961, advisors told him to hurry up because opera would be dead within ten years. Critics had no idea what was about to hit them… a Pavarotti tsunami.

Steve Jobs once famously said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Pavarotti showed newbie opera fans and music critics alike the colors of opera. According to a New York Times obit after his death in 2007, Pavarotti was able to showcase his powerful voice in “elegant, brilliant colors.” His pristine sound was the voice for a new generation of pop-opera fans.

Of course, whenever you do something new, you are going to upset the establishment. And Pavarotti did. Critics were savage about his dedication, his ability to read music and his weight. He shrugged off critics who contended that he was not serious enough with charm and a smile. As Master P says, “Shake off them haters.”

Pavarotti was an unparalleled social media strategist – he did not sing at audiences. He engaged audiences. He did not just have fans. Through his talent and the warmth of his personality, he developed brand fanatics who loved him and defended him so he didn’t have to defend himself.

Do you have Pavarotti’s voice or talent? No. You have your own. So does your brand. Use it. If your brand is not authentic, you will know. If you know, your audience will know.

There will be a lotta drama in your brand opera. Stay true to your voice.

As Pavarotti said, “You couldn’t confuse my voice with another voice.”

Jul 31, 2015

Brands Trump Commodities.



Say what you will. Please.

That’s the lesson of Trump. He is the first politician in years to speak his mind instead of hiding behind fake patriotism and snore-inducing soundbites.

It doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong. You know what he’s thinking. He gives you a glimpse inside the person who wants to run this country. Mark Cuban recently said that Trump’s outspokenness has been the most important development for U.S. politics in years. Mark the Shark has it right.

Trump is a brand. The other 62 Republicans running for their party’s nomination are commodities. Trump’s bold moves have turned the also-runnings into also-rans. There is an old but true marketing maxim: if you don’t position yourself, your competition will do it for you.

Trump has positioned the other Republicans as commodities. He is bold. They are bland. He makes statements. They mutter tired clich├ęs.

A brand is a promise. Whether you like Trump’s offer or not is up to you. At least he has given, and will continue to give, you solid clues as to what makes him tick and what he believes. Like it or lump it. Donald will trumpet. You cannot please everybody.

How many times have you seen a cool ad or video and then had no idea what the message was or what they wanted you to do? Cool or not, it was a waste of money.

What does your target think of you? Have you clearly defined your positioning? Have you been positioned by your competition?

If you can positively answer these questions, good for you. You’re in the minority.

If you don’t know, you need help. Drop me a line at jhenke@henkeinc.com.

Have to leave you with a classic Trump quote: “If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity.” Ouch. That could leave a mark. Just ask the other Republican candidates.

Jul 30, 2015

Ben Franklin Biograffiti


The more you read about Ben Franklin, the more you realize that he was ahead of his time.

Ironically, even more than any of his inventions, he was a lightening rod. I’m reading Ben Franklin, An American Life by Walter Isaacson. I highly recommend it. Isaacson’s research is thorough and his comments on Franklin are thoroughly entertaining. Two of my favorite of Isaacson’s nuggets:

·      Ben Franklin is the founding father who winks at us.
·      But the most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself.

We always think our society is on the verge of ruin. How many times have you heard, “The founding fathers would be rolling in their graves.”

Well, Franklin was ahead of the good and the bad. While he invented bifocals, he was our first Dear Abby. He was the only man to have a hand in shaping the critical documents of our nation including the Declaration of Independence, and he created fictional characters to write in gossipy, salacious letters to his newspaper, which he then answered and published.

Biographies are entertaining to me. I think of them as biograffiti. We throw all these findings about the subject’s life on the wall and examine and judge every little fact and innuendo. I wonder if we’d all be proud of ourselves under the microscope. Would we like our own likeness?

Franklin’s critics contend that he cultivated his own likeness for prosperity and posterity. Today, our public servants and celebrities hire handlers to do this. Franklin wouldn’t be horrified by our present-day world. He would thrive on it.

Thrive on.

If you would like to discuss your personal or company’s brand story or perception, drop me a line at jhenke@henkeinc.com.

Thanks.