Larry Mannino's Blog

Branding | Creativity | Life

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How To Fix Everything

Ever interrogate a 4-year old? If you’re a parent, you probably have — and usually after something has mysteriously become broken while you weren’t there.  The routine is always the same: there’s a little watery-eyed shrug (which almost always effectively turns your heart into a puddle), and then the magic words:

“It just happened.”

The thing is, that wasn’t true then, and it’s equally never true for adults.

Which is to say, there’s a cause behind every effect, but we spend too much time reacting to the effect than we do unraveling the actual cause.

For example, let’s say I come up with a new tagline for a client’s brand.  Now, I don’t just reach into my magic bucket of words and crank these things out, hoping something will stick. Nope, instead coming up with a tagline is mid-stream in the process; I’ve already spent lots of time unearthing their USP, developing a strategy and we’ve worked through the process to come to an agreement on direction and how best to present their brand over the long term.  The tagline needs to capture and convey all of that, so once the initial legwork’s done, it’s my job to do just that.

So when, on those rare occasions, a client comes back post-presentation and says it doesn’t work for them, well, the 4-year old in my wants to stamp my foot and say ‘No! You’re wrong! I’m right! And I’m taking my toys and going home!”.

As a strategist, I’ll let you in on a little secret: That’s NOT a good strategy.

But as an experienced adult, I also know that it’s time for me to respond, rather than react. And also to recognize that this didn’t ‘just happen’. There was, somewhere during the process, a miscommunication, or misinterpretation, where something didn’t quite click.

In short, there’s a cause for the effect.

I know this seems like common sense but, again, often times we seem to try and fix the effect, rather than the cause.

If your car stalls, it didn’t just happen. 9/11 didn’t just happen. If the stock market tanks, it didn’t just happen. If you’re significant other packs up and leaves you nothing more than a hastily written note, it didn’t just happen.

The good thing is, if we can just remember to just take a single breath when whatever happens happens, and remember that we have a breadcrumb trail back to the source, we can fix pretty much everything.  Which makes life less scary and hopeless.

And one final thought: good things don’t just happen either, so try and unravel what’s going right, understand that cause, multiply as needed, and enjoy the effect.


Why Peas + Potatoes = Progress

When I was a kid, I hated peas. Absolutely hated them.  But when I was a kid, it was maybe a different time – at least in our household.  There was no “Well, what would little num num like instead?”.  Nope. If it was on your plate, you ate it. Period.

Which, for a pea-hater, was tricky.  Eventually, in order to actually leave the dinner table and get on with my life, I learned a trick: mix the dreaded peas into the mashed potatoes (which I happened to like), and maybe throw in a drop of ketchup on the tough days.

That way I could get my peas down without evening realizing it, because I liked what was around them. Plus I got to get up from my table, and my parents were, well, reasonably happy.

Everyone’s got both peas and potatoes in their life. For example, I don’t like the tedium of doing media plans for clients, but if I want to get their message in front of the right people, it’s a necessary evil. My peas, if you will.

But I do like strategy, and I love to write.  Those are my potatoes.

When I do a media plan, I do both, but focus on the parts I like more than the ones I don’t.  That way, the work gets done, my clients are happy and, in the long run, I get to choose what I want to eat.

Which is still, typically, not peas.

But they’re growing on me 😉

Ever Want to Start Over?

Sure you do.  Most people do — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when done for the right reasons, it can be a sign of growth.  Here’s the thing: if you think you’ve reached your limit in the old, and want to move on to the new, to that place where you can be the next best version of yourself, then starting over doesn’t always mean starting from scratch.  Sometimes it just means recognizing that you need to be a ruthless editor — of your life.  And editing starts with getting rid of some things so you can make room for better ones.  And maybe in the process, you also discover that some of those things you were holding on to so tightly were also holding on to you.

Maybe holding you back.  From the new. And the better.

All of which is to say if you’ve arrived here expecting to see my old blog, well, I dumped it.  All of it (though I did back it up – you know, just in case).

And if you’re seeing this message, know this: it’s temporary.  Like everything else, really. Change is always happening, but when you step back and take a look and realize it and then embrace it, well, that can be liberating.

Long story short-ish, I’m restarting the whole thing. Building out a new blog about 3 topics: Branding, Creativity and Life.

For me, that’s enough categories and pretty much capture everything I do as a writer, brand communications strategist, author, creative, human, husband and father.

Much of what I do is driven by a desire to help people.  These days, most of the work I do is by referral and usually involves figuring out what’s broken and finding ways to fix it.  I unearth brands and shape the way people understand and think about businesses. I write about things that matter and do my best to make a difference whether it’s profitable or not because, in the long run, people count a whole lot more than profit.

Which means if there’s something you need help with, feel free to reach out to me directly and I’ll do my best to help, because we need more of that these days.

About the blog? It’ll be a work in progress, pretty much like life. It’ll mostly stick to those three categories, and hopefully will provide you with some value and a little entertainment along the way.

And thanks for playing along 😉