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posted by Apprentices Nov 30,2012 @ 02:30AM

On mustaches.

Who is your favorite mustachioed man?

~ a perfect ending to the mustache-growing month of Movember ~


Yanti Pepper
My dad :-}

Julie Turner
The Tick

Will Weatherly
Guy Williams as Zorro.

Kevin Smith
Magnum PI, hands down

Ryon Edwards

Kevin Archie
Ron Swanson

posted by Julie Turner Nov 29,2012 @ 07:55AM

Leadership, Leventis style.

You don’t often you find yourself face to face with a bona fide community icon. Even more interesting, I found myself at this particular community icon’s kitchen table. Invited.

This summer, I was given an interesting writing assignment. I was to do four interviews with Jim Leventis, one of the founders of First Community Bank, to fuel a blog series about leadership. As a mostly-native Columbian I knew of Jim, but I really didn’t know much about him. So, in the days leading up to the first interview, I absorbed a lot of information about the many, many career and community service accomplishments of Jim Leventis.

The son, political candidate, USC graduate, entrepreneur, Eagle Scout, fraternity brother and all around hard worker had a career that launched with the Brennen Elementary School Safety Patrol and actually never ended, even though he formally retired in 2009. By the time I learned about the blue bandana, his backyard farming aspirations and the stand-up desk, it was clear. I was delving into the memories and experiences of a Midlands legend. Not only that, I had to organize those hours of great stories, opinions and experiences, and then share them with the rest of the world.

I learned so much in those hours of interviewing this summer. I would often find myself swimming in his stories, listening rather than taking notes or formulating follow-up questions. I enjoyed getting to know him, his wife Laura and, in one later interview, their daughter Laurie, one of their four accomplished children. That I got to experience his earnest honesty, homespun pluck and mindful drive first hand are gifts I will forever cherish.

The series, called Lessons in Leadership, has much to offer whether you approach it as a manager, employer, dreamer, parent, activist or community volunteer. Six posts strong already, the series will continue on into the next year.

I now understand Jim Leventis is a rare breed, both a community and business leader. His methods of achieving success — both personally and professionally — are simple and effective. Listening intently. Working diligently. Caring for fellow community members. Inspiring others. Showing, not just saying.

These lessons aren’t being shared to glorify him or his legacy. It’s actually far simpler than that. Lessons in Leadership is for the up-and-coming generation of community volunteers, business people and community members that will work to leave Columbia better than they found it.

That single, noble goal is the purpose shared by generation after generation of Leventises. Isn’t it a goal we all could stand to embrace a little tighter?

posted by Cathy Monetti Nov 21,2012 @ 01:55AM

What I Learned About Branding from Katie Couric

After a million meetings about a thousand brands over a whole lot of years, I can virtually guarantee one truth.

A great brand cannot be created from the outside in.

That is to say, even the greatest minds in marketing cannot manufacture a brand when there is not the product, service or corporate culture to back it up. Instead, great brands are born of distinct points of difference, packaged in a way that demonstrates relevance.

Central to this process is authenticity. The external brand absolutely, positively must reflect a genuine truth. It's the only way a brand can stand the test of time.


This is what I thought about as I eagerly awaited the launch of Katie Couric's new television talk show, Katie. A fan for many years, I believed—if done well—this show could prove to be the perfect spot for the reporter/host.

I mourned the loss when she left The Today Show all those years ago. And I have to say I cheered her on as she took the reins at CBS Evening News. I believed it a great statement for Womankind, even as I knew it was not the right forum for her. The over-considered hair, the more severe makeup, the dark suit never seemed right, seeming to illustrate the fact she didn't fit the box into which she had been crammed.

Katie's new show is different because it makes the most of all things Brand Katie. A more effortless style. The ability to be light and playful, or deep and serious, or some combination, depending on the topic/guest. Most of all, the show is the perfect forum for Katie's brand of nice.

(It's interesting to see how she has blossomed in other media, including Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

Every time I watch it, Katie serves as a great reminder to me of the importance of knowing, and celebrating, Just Who You Are in this World, whether as an individual or a corporation or a nonprofit.

It's a good lesson for all of us.

posted by Apprentices Nov 16,2012 @ 02:30AM

On Thanksgiving side dishes.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Gluten-free caveman casserole

Julie Turner
Slices of canned, fully ridged cranberry goo. Mmm.

Kevin Smith
My mom's cornbread dressing

Maria Fabrizio

Tom Barr
Sweet potato casserole

Cathy Monetti
Bourbon Cranberries (recipe)

Will Weatherly
Sweet potato casserole

Ryon Edwards
Not creamed corn.

Yanti Pepper
MPG – mashed potatoes and gravy

Kevin Archie
Sweet potato casserole

posted by Kevin Archie Nov 14,2012 @ 06:59AM

New Work: St. Lawrence Place

St. Lawrence Place is a 30-home community where homeless families can find skills and shelter that foster independence and free them from the grip of poverty. We recently helped them update their brand with a new brand platform, an enhanced case for support, a new logo and identity package and the launch of an easy-to-use website that appropriately explains the "why" to donors and the "how" to those seeking assistance. Check out their new look below and then head over to to see the work they are doing to help break the cycle of poverty.


posted by Teresa Coles Nov 12,2012 @ 11:15AM

Altria and CreateAthon Connect for Good

So here’s what happened: One year ago last week, Peyton Rowe and I found ourselves in Washington, DC at the launch of A Billion + Change, a national movement to mobilize billions of dollars in pro bono service. We were there to talk about CreateAthon® as an example of what a small business can accomplish when it chooses to put its talents to work for social good. In between pinching ourselves, we had the opportunity to meet a great number of people with very impressive titles from very big companies.

The shocker? When one person after another came up to us and said “Oh, CreateAthon. I’ve heard of that.” At which point Peyton and I would not look at each other for fear of blowing our cover as global marketing sophisticates.

One of those friendly folks was Cynthia Cecil from Altria, a Fortune 500 company and parent of Phillip Morris USA, US Smokeless Tobacco, John Middleton and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. We stayed in touch, and to our delight got a call from her this summer, asking if we might be able to help their brand strategists organize a CreateAthon event. You can imagine the back flips we threw over the idea of bringing CreateAthon to a company like Altria. One, I might add, that just last Thursday was named to Bloomberg’s Civic Top 50 list.

Since that time, Peyton, Yanti and I have been working with the Altria teams, conducting workshops, organizing conference calls, and providing all manner of consulting on the secret sauce that is CreateAthon. We also had the pleasure of having Jamie Berkowitz and Alex Viscarra from Altria at the CreateAthon Mothership’s 15th annual event. (They lived to tell the tale, and were even more fired up after they had their own dousing of the CreateAthon spirit.)

All of which leads us up to this Thursday, November 15, at 8:00 am, when just over 40 employees and volunteers will gather at Altria’s first-ever CreateAthon to make marketing magic for four Richmond-area nonprofits. Special guest volunteers will be branding gods from none other than Landor Associates and the PR gurus at CRT/tanaka.

And in the glorious middle of it all will be Peyton, CreateAthon’s Chief Evangelical Officer. She’ll be throwing around the pixie dust and signing on more CreateAthon converts for life.

Are we surprised to see CreateAthon land in the Fortune 500? Not really. Because pro bono service isn’t about small business or big business. It’s about people with big hearts. And we’ve found plenty at Altria.

Stay tuned for some goodness.


posted by Kevin Smith Nov 05,2012 @ 02:30AM

Three Business Lessons from Nonprofits

Business success comes from finding an unmet need in the marketplace, and delivering on it better than anyone else. The best marketing simply makes consumers aware of their unmet needs and the product that exists to fill them. Who knew we all needed a fleece blanket with arms?

While this may seem simple, it is surprising how difficult it is for most businesses to even name the unmet need they fill, let alone how they do so better than their competition. My three CreateAThon clients reminded me that this is in no way the case for nonprofits. Here’s what for-profit businesses need to learn from them:

  1. Be specific. The people at Angel’s Hope didn’t just start a dog charity, they developed a way to get heart worm medicine to dogs in shelters.
  2. Keep score. The Arc of South Carolina ( increased their number of clients from 17 to 164 in three years. What a compelling story for fundraising efforts.
  3. Be bold. The Disability Action Center’s management team had completely revamped the organization over the past few years. They were willing to completely change their name, one that accurately reflected their mission of empowering people with disabilities. They even made their own temporary signage.




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