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Brian Setzer concert at the Soundboard in Motor City Casino December 1st

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Last Thursday I had the great pleasure seeing Brian Setzer in concert, from the 3rd row!  Those who know me know that I absolutely love his music and think he’s one of the best guitarist in the world.  After this concert, my feelings were reinforced!  Given the time of year, I do miss his Christmas Extravaganza with his Orchestra, but this show made me forget all about that.

This was also the first show I’ve been to at the Soundboard, and I’ll absolutely go back for more.  Very intimate, easily accessible seats and beverages, and a great sound.  The location of the bathrooms for the lower level leave something to be desired, but that’s a small complaint on a great venue.

Here are a few pictures I took from the show.  Enjoy!

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Categories: Life Tags: , ,

Pearl Harbor Day…

December 7, 2009 2 comments

Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor Hawaii, December 7th, 1941

As a Navy Veteran and somewhat of a World War II buff, I take a few minutes every December 7th to remember what happened in 1941 and to reflect on what those servicemen who died that day, and those who served during the rest of WWII, gave to us.  They have been called ‘the Greatest Generation’, and I would agree.  Tens of millions of people served, both at home and abroad, in the military, the USO, arms plants, and countless other activities, and were glad to do so.  As I have read and seen in interviews, it was expected of this generation that you would serve, and unless you were unable to there was dishonor and disrespect in not doing so.  There doesn’t seem to be that feeling of want or obligation to serve our country today, whether it be in the military or in some other capacity, for all of the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy.

Today, I think a lot of Americans look at the military as a necessary evil, the campaigns we are involved in as useless, and the men and women who serve as just everyday people with an unsavory ‘job’.  But what I see is a proud and necessary force that protects and defends our freedom and interests around the world, and people who take years out of their lives to make our lives easier and safer.  I’m not saying I agree with every conflict we get involved with.  What I am saying is that the people in the military generally have no say in the matter and do what their country asks of them, no matter how difficult it is or where in the world it takes them, even if it means their lives are in danger.

I think that Americans want peace and view the world through rose colored glasses.  Having been around the world, I know that not everyone has the high opinion of the United States that we who live here do.  There are lots of people, and countries, that would love to see the U.S. in shambles.

Before World War I, Americans had no desire to get involved in ‘Europe’s’ problems, they didn’t directly involve us.  Let them figure it out themselves, we said.  But eventually our sense of goodness and obligation to the world took hold and we provided the manpower and equipment to tip the scales to victory and bring peace.  As Europe suffered through the first two years of WWII and Asia was being overrun, we again said that it didn’t involve us, let them figure it out, we don’t belong.  But after being attacked we again provided the manpower and equipment to tip the scales and after 4 years, the world was at peace again.  Prior to September 11th, we had the same military isolationist attitude, and I’m afraid we have it again now.  And before all of these events, we had allowed our military to become smaller and weaker due to our desire to not be involved and our optimistic view of the world.

As good and just nation, and the most powerful both militarily and economically, I believe we have an obligation to the world to help defend and protect the freedom of those who are unable to do it for themselves.  I would like to think that this will be our place in history, not as a conquesting nation like the Roman Empire, British Empire, and Germany did at the height of their power, but as a nation that used it’s power for the betterment of the world.

So on this day, please thank the veterans who have served to defend our amazing way of life, reflect on what your what your freedom means to you and the opportunity it brings, and what the military of the United States means to the freedom and security of the world.

Thanks for reading…

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Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

saturn logo

I’m sure most everyone who cares about it has heard, Penske has decided not to buy Saturn due to not being able to source cars after the initial agreement with GM. I am personally shocked by this. Until today, I was responsible for Social Media, Accessories, and Licensing for Saturn, but had decided to take the buyout that was offered to me and move on to other opportunities. The sale seemed like a done a deal. My former co-workers were tweeting about today being their last day with GM and looking forward to starting with Penske tomorrow. Yesterday the press was predicting the sale would close today. The General Manager of Saturn announced her retirement from GM earlier this week. Everything seemed to be in place.

I don’t think you can blame Penske, after all, he’s an incredibly successful business man who’s made billions on just this type of investment. If anyone could have made it work, it was probably him. I was, however, worried about whether he really ‘got’ the brand, due to the lack of Marketing and Advertising staff that were asked to join the new company. I looked like he was planning on advertising and marketing Saturn like he does Smart and the Auto Group, which appears to be non-existent. The A/M staff at Saturn was responsible for, along with mainstream advertising, all of the network wide touchy-feely initiatives that made Saturn the unique brand that it was.

Saturn has an almost cult like following of owners, and to some extent retailers, who often don’t act like other auto dealers despite being, well, auto dealers. The sales, and especially the customer satisfaction lessons learned by GM during the Saturn experiment should be put to use by GM, or any other auto brand that wants to create that kind of loyalty in their customers. After all, they weren’t the best looking or highest quality cars ever made, which seems to be what everyone says is what creates owner loyalty and produces sales. What they did have was a feeling by the customer that the brand and the retailers actually cared about them and really wanted to do the best by them. Saturn is proof that positive customer experience can trump almost any other attribute your brand has.

My thoughts go out to my former co-workers, and all of the loyal owners and retailers that stood by the brand during these difficult times. I sincerely hope everyone lands on their feet and that the lessons learned from this once great brand resurface in all GM brands in the very near future. Hey, I can hope…

Categories: Life Tags: , , , ,

Goodbye and Hello…

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t know if it’s fitting or fate or whatever that I post my first personal blog entry on the last day of  my 11 1/2 years of employment with GM. It was a pretty good day up until the end, when I said goodbye to people I have known both professionally and personally, some for the entire time I was with GM.  But as they say, it was time.  Time to move on to bigger and better things, time to move onward and upward, time to close my eyes and jump.

The first couple and the last couple of years have been the best, with the middle years having been spent doing jobs you are ‘supposed’ to do if you want to reach the heights of upper management.  For the record, none of those jobs got me there…

The first couple of years were spent with a group of the smartest finance people employed by GM doing a secret, at the time, initiative that was both fun and challenging (and the right thing to do).  But as often happens to great ideas at GM, senior executives (who approved the project, despite reports otherwise) buckled to dealer pressure and cancelled the initiative, blaming ‘rogue executives’ who went behind their backs to start it. ***(I’ll take this opportunity to say that it’s going to be nice, really nice, to express my honest opinions about GM, finally. But also to say I love GM, my Dad retired from GM, I wanted to work for GM so bad I could taste it, and I would put any new GM car head to head against the best in the world with confidence.  But it’s hard to see something you love do these things to itself, and I’m afraid it’s already on that course again, but that will be another post, or 5…).

The last few years were spent as the Marketing and Advertising representative for Genuine Corvette Accessories with Chevy, and the Social Media, Accessories and Licensing manager for Saturn in the Marketing and Advertising group.  The Corvette job allowed me to work with what is probably the most passionate product team at GM, or any other manufacturer I’m sure.  Those people love the Corvette and it’s customers and fight internally, almost on a daily basis, to make sure they get the car right.  It allowed me to hang with the Corvette Racing Team, the most successful team in ALMS history.  And it allowed me to get to know the most passionate customers in the car business.  This is really where I learned to appreciate the value of one on one communication, that brands creating personal relationships with it’s customers are most successful, that loud commercials are not the most effective way to market your product.

At Saturn, I had the privelege of doing Social Media during what was  the most difficult time in the brands history.  GM announced it would close the brand if a buyer wasn’t found, sales and confidence plummeted, Roger Penske emerged as the front runner for the brand, and GM filed for bankruptcy.  Saturn, like Corvette, has one of the most passionate customer bases in the business.  But despite running commercials that screamed ‘We are here!’ the public believed the brand was going away for good.  And again we discovered that if you engage your customers one on one, through facebook, Twitter, and all the way to their own personal blogs, you can change public perception and start rebuilding your brand.  The beauty of Social Media is that you can engage individual customers, establishing confidence and  rebuilding your brand, but the world is watching.  What you say to one person is viewed by 500, and they tell 2 more, who tell 2 more, and so on, and so on…  Not that I believe big commercials are dead, they serve a valuable purpose, but the humanizing of brands and individual focus on the customer is where it’s all headed.

So armed with that knowledge, I’m heading into the work search world again, hoping to take the hard fought lessons of GM and Saturn to help others move into the next era of marketing…