Friday, December 30, 2016


Four years ago this season, I had just finished my first of four chemo cycles--confused, weak, scrawny, itchy, nauseous, and bald, yet surrounded by amazing, uplifting humans who cared for me. 

Every Christmas, I keep in touch with the staff of the inpatient chemo floor where I stayed for the majority of my treatment. Their card this year reminds me once again that I was not just a patient. I wasn't just some pin cushion that needed his IV changed every few hours. I was a fellow human--a friend whom they genuinely cared for and cared about.

Treatment is more than the drug regimen; treatment is the caregivers and administrators that hold your hand and lift you up.

I had the best caregivers. They gave from their hearts ... and they're still giving.

#Survivor #Christmas #Caregivers #Chemo #GivingfromtheHeart #AskUncleMarty

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Don't Feed the Wolves

I've been doing yoga for the past few months. I started going late in the summer, figuring it would be a good outlet for tension and pent-up stress. And it has been!

Initially, I was just doing hot vinyasa yoga--sweating it out in a 105-degree room, trying to push myself to stay active for the whole 75 minutes without having a complete panic attack. But then I discovered yin yoga. Yin is a passive practice, holding positions for three minutes at a time to stretch connective tissue. It's amazing. And the class I try to go to is at night, done by candlelight, with an instructor who speaks softly and constantly reminds us how great we are for taking time for ourselves. It's the crunchiest, chillest, most wonderful experience. But I digress…

Last night, Linda the instructor kept repeating, "Don’t feed the wolves. Water the flowers instead." I've been thinking about that since, wondering what my wolves are and realizing just how much I encourage them.

We all have wolves in our lives. Some are external, threatening us and trying to tear us apart with aggressive attacks. These can be competitors, enemies, frenemies, injury, restriction, or even just negative people that bring us down and make us fret. And then some wolves are internal, eating us up from the inside out: worries, phobias, self-depreciating thoughts, disease, and addictions.

These wolves are bad news. In all logical thinking, we should avoid them and put up fences to keep them out because they're destructive and dangerous. Yet somehow we feed them! But how? And why?

Some ways we feed the wolves are easy to understand, like how we feed addiction … because we literally do feed addiction. "Just one more cookie; I'll eat a salad tomorrow." "Just one last puff; I'll quit when I'm not so stressed." "Just one last episode; I'll sleep better tomorrow night." Worries, phobias, and other obsessions are fed in much the same way. We focus on them--feeding them--which, instead of bringing resolution, just makes them stronger and allows them to take over more of our being.

Other ways we feed the wolves are harder to understand, like how we feed competition … because we don't think we actively feed competition. Isn't our intention to beat competition? Well, we do feed it--just like we feed other aggressors--by playing its game. We play price wars, insult, condescend, downplay, and degrade. We want to run negative ad campaigns, telling the world just how much they suck and we rule. But that behavior only makes us look petty, whiny, and on the defense. It makes us appear weaker, and consequently makes the competition stronger.

What if, instead of feeling all of these wolves, we put energy into building up those things inside of us and in our lives and businesses that are beautiful, strong, attractive, and distinguishing--watering our flowers. Let's stop throwing scraps to those wolves, and stop giving them the territory that they're creeping in on. Instead, let's plant new seeds, take back our property, and make it shine. Let's stop the damage, stop bringing ourselves and others down, and instead make healthy choices to build our world back up again.

A friend messaged a Simon Sinek quote to me today: "Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love." 

We have nothing but opportunity. Here's to a beautiful year ahead!

#DontFeedtheWolves #WatertheFlowers #Resolutions #AskUncleMarty


Also published on the AMBC blog on December 27, 2016.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Case for Holiday Cards

I got my first Christmas card yesterday. It was from my Aunt Bonnie, and it was spectacularly special.

I send cards out every year, both personally and from my business. It's quite a project! Though I must admit that I'm indeed exceptionally organized and have card crafting down to a science. 

I keep a spreadsheet going all year long with different contacts, then just do a simple mail merge to create my labels and I'm golden. Well that and designing, proofing, printing, cutting, gluing, cutting some more, writing an itty bitty note, enveloping, labeling, sealing, and stamping … then repeating those steps a few hundred times in an assembly-line fashion.
What's the point of this, you may ask? It seems like a lot of work for something kind of silly. It seems like other projects--especially for a business--should take priority over something like this. I mean, who cares about a little card anyway? Right?


People care. And it makes a huge difference.

It truly is a lot of work. But much more than that, it's a lot of fun. It keeps my favorite people top-of-mind. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients past--those who have moved away but still advocate for my business from afar. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients present--those who have been in my store this year and have been a joy to work with. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients future--those who may not be doing much business with me yet, but with whom I'm connected and for whom I'm hopeful. It's a direct, personal, seasonally appropriate way to reach out, express gratitude, and share warm fuzzy feelings.

I don't send cards to every single customer that has waltzed through my door this year. Goodness! Can you imagine?! No, I just send cards to my regulars--the loyal friends of my shop. Some spend thousands of dollars each year, and some spend just a few. Some are in multiple times per week, and some only occasionally. But each one is someone who I consider part of my team--an important part of the essential network that allows my business to organically grow.

If you're having trouble thinking about who to send holiday cards to or where to draw the line, think about it like this: If your business was a person, who would it want to say hello to? Who would it want to wish a happy holiday season to? Who would it want to keep in touch with? Who brings it joy? Send cards to those people: the ones who will appreciate the gesture.

I'm in the middle of my card project now. I should have done this in November; I usually do this in November before the holiday rush starts. But one thing led to another, projects piled up, and getting my business's holiday cards done simply just got put off. So now, as the busy season gears up, I'm furiously finishing my festive messages and sending them off to my friendly clients--past, present, and future--all around the world.

Someone said recently, "To be respected, you must first show respect." While I echo my "Amen" to that, I'll also state a new version: "To be thought of by others, you must first think of others."

Merry Christmas!

#HolidayCards #KeepInTouch #SpreadJoy #AskUncleMarty


Also published on the AMBC blog on December 6, 2016.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

Running a shipping store in a very diverse college town, I see a lot of absentee ballots being mailed, and a lot of first time voters--both young adults looking toward a future full of potential, excited to have their voice heard and recognized, and also a fair share of new citizens, grateful to be Americans and honored to perform their civic duty. It really is beautiful.

As deadlines approached, I saw more and more customers eager to overnight their ballots. Some have chosen to send them Priority Mail Express to their ultimate destination PO Box, but many of my student customers have gladly shipped them via FedEx Priority to their home addresses for a family member to hand deliver them on election day. The fact that no one has flinched to drop $30-60 to cast a last minute vote has starkly reminded me of what a profoundly great privilege we have, as Americans, to have a voice and a vote.

The future indeed is bright because America isn't made up of politics. America is made up of people--free, independent, and empowered people. And those people are voting. No matter what outcome today's votes determine, we'll all still be Americans at the end of the day; we'll all still be compatriots, neighbors, and friends.

Here's to the future!

#GodBlessAmerica #ElectionDay #AskUncleMarty


Also published on the AMBC blog on November 8, 2016.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Buddy Lewis

I want to take a minute to tell you about my buddy, Lewis Howes.

I discovered Lewis's The School of Greatness podcast about a year ago and I haven't missed an episode since. I've written about what he's shared before, and my good friend Fahim--fully aware of my dedication to Greatness--gifted me The School of Greatness book in hardcover when we were together a few months ago at the 2016 Retail Shippers Expo.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and some hosts are more genuine than others. You can tell by the intonation, intention, and intensity in someone's voice whether they believe what they're saying, and whether they're hosting just as an acting gig or because they genuinely have something they want to share with the world. And Lewis is unquestionably genuine.

Lewis interviews two different people each week--business leaders, health and wellness gurus, celebrities, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and regular folks like us--and digs deep to uncover their intentions and reasons for being. At the end of the week, Lewis shares a Five Minute Friday thought to give everyone a little boost.

The caliber of guests that Lewis welcomes is amazing. Many of the Greatness visitors are not (yet) household names, but what they bring and share is fascinating. And then many are indeed household names, and the depth of character that Lewis is able to uncover in their interviews sometimes shocks even them! Then occasionally--rarely--a guest will come on and share an attitude that may be a little uncomfortable to listen to, and Lewis shows amazing talent, grace, heart, and discretion in how he reacts to and treats those individuals. I always learn something--usually more about myself than the guest he's talking with.

Why is Lewis on my mind today? Because, of his 222,000+ Instagram followers, he stumbled upon my feed this afternoon, liked a few of my posts, and even took a minute to give me a ":)" comment. I am absolutely honored! (And I may have screen capped those notifications, excitedly texted Fahim, jumped up and down a bit, and squealed … just a little.)

I've set a goal: be on The School of Greatness podcast. This isn't going to happen right away, but it's not a pie-in-the-sky either. I'm just getting started gathering my portfolio of things I've shared over the years on different blogs and publications, and am excited to post that content--both new and from the archives--now on Ask Uncle Marty™. I have a lot to share, a lot to say, and a lot to discover; I know I'll be able to bring value through my quest to find awesomeness.

Now go subscribe to The School of Greatness … and enjoy!

#LewisHowes #SchoolofGreatness #Podcast #AskUncleMarty

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dress for Success

We're all familiar with the term dress for success. But what does that phrase really mean? 

Does it mean we need to wear a perfectly tailored power suit every day? In many industries, likely that's not the answer … and it's certainly not practical.

Dressing is much more than what we wear. Dressing is the total package--how we appear, how we present ourselves, and how we carry ourselves.

To dress for success, you must adorn yourself with professionalism. And you must hire and retain a staff that behaves professionally. This includes having a respectful demeanor, using respectful language, and being able to communicate clearly. It doesn't mean having all the answers, but it does mean that you're able and willing to find the answer.

My friend Annie reminds me often that, "You're never fully dressed without a smile." And Albert Schweitzer said, "Success isn't the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success." This is a profoundly simple truth! So another essential element of dressing for success is putting on a positive attitude every day.

Then, of course, what we physically wear is indeed a big part of dressing for success. In the corporate world, a common saying is, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." You need to carry yourself as if you're already successful … and part of that is not looking like a slouch. This is why we often harp on store uniforms. If you look at the top stores in our industry, they all have a uniformed, professional, and happy staff.

And what about how our business is dressed? How does it appear? Is it in uniform? Is it smiling? Yes, stores wear uniforms and give off happy vibes just as much as staff. Look at your four walls and see if they represent your brand in color, crispness, and cleanliness just as your staff's uniforms do. When someone walks through your door, are they greeted by a pleasant atmosphere--as if the store is smiling at them--or are they walking into a cloud of blah?

Everyone wants to be successful, yet the definition of that success varies between individuals. But everyone does want success in some form or another. In our industry, perhaps many of us interpret success as having a profitable business, caring for our family, and making a difference and positive impact in our community.

Dress yourself for success, and be an example to your staff. Then watch what happens.

#Aesthetics #DressforSuccess #AskUncleMarty


Originally published on the AMBC blog on June 21, 2016.

Getting Too Comfortable

Aah, comfort.

Comfort can be delightful. The highlight of my day is going home, putting on my jammies, and snuggling up with a big fluffy blanket … especially now, as nights are becoming crisper and autumn moves in to upstate New York. When we're comfortable, we can rest, relax, and recharge. Our minds and bodies need this, and I am indubitably a superfan. But sometimes comfort can go too far, and we get too comfortable.

The border between being comfortable and being too comfortable is vague and blurry. Sometimes we cross the line and don't realize it until we're deep into the wrong zone. When we become too comfortable, we become lethargic. Our energy levels decrease, and we start ignoring anything that's not essential. We procrastinate. We make no improvements. Our homes and health go downhill because we just don't have the umph to get things done. We start becoming blind to what's right in front of us. We choose to hit snooze instead of getting up and getting active. Our diets get junky and our looks get sloppy; we stop caring.

The struggle between comfortable and too comfortable is just as real in business it is in our personal lives. When we're too comfortable in business, we ignore what needs to be updated and changed to meet a changing market. We miss opportunities, either because we're not paying attention or because they seem like too much work. We become shortsighted, focusing on necessary daily survival but not taking the time to actively meet challenges that are just over the horizon. We become reactive, not proactive. We let our power naps turn into comas; we fall asleep, and the world passes us by.

So what do we do to break the spiral and get back on a forward track of growth? It's the same in our personal lives as well as in our businesses: we become active again. We make resolutions to not hit snooze, but rather get up, get active, and get our blood flowing every day. We find a buddy to keep us on track, encourage us, and kick us in the pants from time to time. We get out and get a change of scenery, so when we come back we can see things with fresh eyes. And we ask those we trust for their own fresh eyes on our situation, to make suggestions and give us a necessary shot of reality.

We must make a concerted effort to break the cycle of lethargy … especially in our businesses. We must force ourselves to make the uncomfortable changes that are necessary to move us forward. We must grow, and not get lost in the flow.

We must wake up.

#Growth #WakeUp #AskUncleMarty


Originally published on the AMBC blog on September 27, 2016.

Make a Little Change

I just moved my desk.

It wasn't an earth shaking, ground breaking, overwhelming undertaking. In fact, the total distance traveled for my Ikea stainless steel-topped buddy was less than 10 feet. But the move has made me very, very happy.

Before, my desk was facing a wall--stuck somewhere between my printing center and packing area. It was in the middle of my store, making it so I had to crane my neck to watch what was going on at the front door and front counter. When my eyes needed to take a break from my laptop screen, I'd look up and stare at the big FedEx calendar on the wall--lovely, but seeing those days flying by and deadlines approaching did little to help my anxiety levels.

But now my desk is in the back of my store, facing forward, giving me an uncraned all-seeing perspective on my shop. From my new perch, when I need a break from my screen I look up and see my whole store--my little kingdom--and it makes me proud. When I spin my wheels, as I often do, I can reset my mind by getting a glimpse of the big picture; I can analytically see things that I want to focus on, and realize a little better when my time has been tunneled into some fruitless endeavor.

This seemingly inconsequential desk move has gotten me a little bit unstuck. And so I want everyone to consider making a similar little change. In doing so, your perspective will shift, your vision will focus and refocus, and your intentions, productivity, and mood all just may improve.

Maybe your little change isn't a desk move. Maybe it's a moving your workstations. Maybe it's cleaning out that neglected corner of your shop, or that cubby that you avoid at all costs. Maybe it's switching roles with an employee for a few hours and seeing things from their vantage point, and they from yours. Or maybe it's simply taking five teeny minutes every couple of hours to walk outside, catch your breath, and reset.

Sometimes making a little change makes a big difference. Try it.

#Change #ShakeThingsUp #AskUncleMarty


Originally published on the AMBC blog on October 18, 2016.

Friday the 21st

Friday was "one of those days" at Uncle Marty’s.

One of my biggest printing customers—one of Cornell’s largest departments—submitted a nearly 3000-page color printing request on Thursday afternoon. It was a good job, involving different sizes of paper that needed to be folded, trimmed, and collated into packets. Their deadline was Friday at noon.

My main high speed printer was running continuously Thursday afternoon and evening. As the final section was finishing, I noticed that the prints looked like they were dirty; they looked like they were on a darker stock, even though they weren’t, and had progressively gotten darker. I called my printer service contractor right away, but had to leave a message because it was after hours. I couldn’t use about half of what we had printed.

Thursday night I tossed and turned, trying to figure out how I could fix this. Maybe the printer would be better in the morning and I could reprint the tainted, tinted pages. Maybe the printer contractor would get my message and show up early make it all better. Maybe my customer could extend their deadline a bit to give me time to reprint everything once the printer was fixed. Or maybe I'd have to comp my customer and present them with sub-standard quality. The latter choice seemed the most likely, though the thought of it nauseated my obsessive, perfectionist brain. I got to the shop early on Friday morning, hoping for a miracle. But instead I found … a flood.

I've had three other floods in the past five years, so this made flood number four. We had had considerable rain overnight, and those millions of raindrops must have decided that my store seemed like a nice place to hang out. The whole back of the store, from my desk to the back hallway, was soaked.

I've learned from my three previous floods to not keep anything important or irreplaceable on the floor. I now have risers, pallets, and slabs all throughout my storage area to keep things dry. Thankfully, all I lost this time was some coffee packs and scrap cardboard. But I had a soggy store … again.

After I left a message for the maintenance department at the company that I rent my space from, I called the printer contractor again to see when the technician would arrive. The company hadn't received my message the night before, but the person I spoke with assured me she'd send someone to my store as soon as possible.

Then the kids started showing up. I hadn't had a chance to check my calendar for the day yet, and totally forgot that I had scheduled a team of students to come in to help me with a focus group for my impending rebranding. I need strong millennial feedback and opinions on my new colors, logo, hashtag, and layout before I finalize them, and so here came a group of eager students, ready to talk branding with me. I felt horrible turning them away, trying to explain in my flustration that it just wouldn't be possible that morning. Many of the students offered to stay and help, but I decided that I just needed to be alone.

I decided to try printing again, wondering if cooling down overnight helped my printer any. And it did! The prints looked almost OK. So, I reprinted the last half of the job—in reverse, so in case the problem came back the worst pages from the night before would be replaced by the best pages of the reprint. And indeed, by the end of the reprint the pages were starting to darken again. Regardless, somehow—all alone, with wet feet, waiting on every customer—I managed to pull together a finished product that my customer was pleased with when they came to pick up a little before noon.

In the meantime, maintenance people started trudging through my store, splashing through the back as they went, and assessed the situation. It took them a while to find the source of the water, but they eventually determined that someone had put a bucket on a drain spout from my roof to collect rain water or something. But that filled up and the water all spilled down along the side of my building and started coming through my wall. So, maintenance got their big vacuums and spent the day sucking up water.

Then my credit card processor went down, and stayed down for most of the day. The company said it had to do with my local ISP conflicting with the processor's system or something. I'm still unclear on the details. Anyway, I figured out that I could work around the issue by switching networks, though when I did that it made my internal network of computers and printers not function properly. So, each time I had to run a card, I had to switch the network over and then switch back afterward. In itself, this would have been a huge pain. But somehow, on Friday, it seemed perfectly normal; it seemed to make sense that it would happen then.

At 3pm, the printer technician finally showed up. He wasn’t in a rush whatsoever. I told him I had a couple of emergency calls placed at this point, but he said he only received a standard request and didn't realize it was a priority. He replaced the drum, and got my printer back to normal in a jiffy.

Friday was tough. There were moments when all I wanted to was go into the bathroom, shut the door, and scream. But I couldn't do that because the bathroom had been completely torn up by the maintenance staff in their efforts to find the source of the water! The ceiling tiles were taken down, insulation bits strewn everywhere, and the floor covered in some sort of dusty, filmy, icky mud. Yuck.

Now it's Tuesday. The bathroom is still destroyed. The areas that maintenance didn't get to in the carpet on Friday are starting to become musty and stink. Someone’s here now to shampoo the carpet and do a special mildew treatment, which of course meant that we had to haul everything out of the back room and into the vacant store next door. I’m glad I wore boots today. I miss my new little office nook, now vacated just a week after I made it. But I’ll be back in it again soon, with clean and fresh smelling carpet.

So why am I telling you all of this? Maybe I just need to vent. Maybe I want you to understand, though I write a lot about looking at the bright side, staying upbeat, providing uncompromisingly stellar customer service, blah, blah, blah, that some days just totally suck. Sometimes it takes every ounce of your being to smile through the chaos and put the customer first. And sometimes we don’t always succeed at that. But when we do, it’s often possible to make more progress on rainy days than on any other.

There were moments on Friday when I just had to laugh at the situation. After all, I've had worse days. I've had much worse days. At times I took a step back and looked around my store—at the water, at the crew cleaning in the back, at the pile of 1500 scrapped color prints, at the cables all over the place for my network switcheroos, and at my disheveled reflection—and realized that I was doing my dang best; I was freakin’ rocking it!

As Dick Van Dyke often reminds us, sometimes you just have to put on a happy face. Sometimes you have to make your own sunshine.

#Flood #OneofThoseDays #RiseAbove #Flustration #AskUncleMarty


Originally published on the AMBC blog on October 25, 2016.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ask Uncle Marty™ Live

I had the privilege of doing a live version of Ask Uncle Marty™ during the speed rounds at the 2016 Retail Shippers Expo last week in Vegas.

The speed rounds are cool. Experts from across the retail shipping, mail, and business center industry host eight-minute round table discussions with Expo attendees on topics ranging from shipping freight, large format printing, and gift wrapping tips to small business accounting, maximizing point-of-sale software, and marketing with Pokémon Go. Speed rounds are billed as the "retail shippers' version of speed dating," and are a favorite part of the week's events.

My table, I'm honored and grateful to say, was full for most of the sessions. People had questions! And they were good ones! We tackled store design, maximizing traffic patterns with smart layouts, where to start with small business social media, how EDDM from the USPS works, and so much more!

I encouraged everyone to write to me. My favorite letters and responses get published bi-monthly in MBC Today, as they have been for a couple of years now, and others will soon be shared on my blog.

I'm seriously encouraged and profoundly grateful that people from all over the country are reading and enjoying Ask Uncle Marty. What started as a humble tongue-in-cheek Dear Abby-style industry advice column has grown to encompass marketing and image tips and consultations for businesses and organizations of all sizes (though the amazing small businesses in the retail shipping, mail, and business center industry will always be my BAE).

Here's to a fabulous future!

#AskUncleMarty #AMBC4ME #RetailShippersExpo2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Frog Got Toad, and Other Lessons from Delta


I got to McCarran Airport on time. 

I had checked in and checked my bag early this morning, so all I had to do when I got to the terminal was drop my extra suitcase at the baggage drop.

Rarely do I check a bag. But I had lots of stuff from the 2016 Retail Shippers Expo--supplies and swag for my Marketing with Marty™ seminar, samples and swag for a practical packing breakout session, signage and swag for my Ask Uncle Marty™ Live speed rounds, and of course a top hat and wig to make co-hosting Employees vs. Bosses: The Ultimate Showdown with my cohort Fahim, of the famous #FahimFix, as ridiculously fun as possible. But I digress…

I soon found myself in the baggage drop line. At a quick head count, there were 50ish passengers winding through a maze of ropes, just to drop off prepaid checked luggage with a single Delta employee at the counter. With each painfully slow interaction at the counter, exponentially more fliers poured into the accordioned line. There was little recognition or empathy for the winding throng of passengers and their anxious, panicked, astonished stares.

After about 20 minutes of barely moving, another agent came out and called the flights that were about to take off. She let passengers trying to catch them skip to the front of the line. She was treating a symptom, not the cause.

Meanwhile, someone a few dozen suitcases behind me realized that there was no line at the curbside check-in and sent his son to check it out.

When the curbside team realized the bottleneck inside, one of their agents came in and announced that, "If you're not paying cash and not flying internationally, come and drop your bags with us at the curb. We're much faster at processing them (throwing serious shade at the counter rep we were all frustrated with) and there's no line."

I ducked under the rope, out of the maze of annoyance, dropped my prepaid bag at the curb, and booked it up the escalator, down the hall, through security, down another hall, to the tram, and all the way down Terminal D  to my gate near the end. (Why is it always the gate near the end?)

The Frog Got Toad

I made it to gate D38 with five minutes to spare. As I plopped and sighed into a seat, the gate agent made an announcement.

"Today is National Tell a Joke  Day. If anyone would like to come up to the mic and share a joke, we'll give you two free drink vouchers. You'll probably need to get a little toasted on your flight to Detroit anyway."

Was this Delta!? Could this moment of
levity be from the same formal, traditional, scripted airline that I'm so used to?

One passenger felt inspired, stepped up to the podium and proclaimed, "A limerick, a play on words, and a riddle walked into a bar. No joke." A few people looked up and grinned.

Another gave it a shot with, "What happens when a frog's car breaks down? It gets toad." A collective chuckle rose from the impatient passengers. Smiles broke. Tensions eased.

Laffy Taffy

As I boarded, the gate agent gave out Laffy Taffy. Yes, Laffy Taffy in honor of National Tell a Joke Day!

The agent, while making my phone go "bloop" on the scanner, told me that her favorite flavor is banana. There was one banana taffy left, and we both spotted it at the same time. So I picked sour apple, leaving the banana for her.

As I sat in seat 18D--on the aisle as us tall, gangly folks tend to prefer--announcements came that one more passenger had to be taken off the flight to reduce the load for safety. Per usual, a $400 travel voucher was offered. No one bit.

Then my new gate agent friend came on board. She upped the ante to a $500 travel voucher "and a banana Laffy Taffy." We had a volunteer; the problem was solved.

Little Things Are Big Things

While some were just doing triage, consequently getting farther and farther behind, other Delta team members saw the root cause of the problems and did what they could to loosen bottlenecks, put the customers first, and brighten the collective mood.

I suspect that Delta marketing peeps had a hand in the taffy idea. But I know that their empowered, personality-driven curbside check-in and gate agents were the crucial make-or-break link that calmed frustrated passengers and brought a little humanity back to air travel.

Delta has taken little steps toward improving the customer experience and embracing the millennial mindset--valuing individuals and fostering a personal connection with clients. Here's to many more … and a couple more agents at the baggage drop counter.

#Delta #LaffyTaffy #NationalTellaJokeDay #AskUncleMarty

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Branding, Baltimore, and The Lifetime Millionaire

I had the privilege this past weekend to present a Marketing with Marty™ seminar at PC Synergy's PostalMate regional training event in Baltimore, Maryland. It was an honor to be asked to speak, and I was overjoyed to oblige!

The Marketing with Marty™ session I led was my newly revamped Inside Out Marketing 3.0. The class focuses on brand and image, and the essentialness of supporting your brand through the design, layout, atmosphere, and attitude of your brick and mortar store. We learn how to market our businesses from the inside out, getting it right at the core--inside our stores--so customers' experiences when they visit reinforce the positive feelings of the external marketing messages that they initially responded to. It's a fun class, and I love sharing it!

I drove to Baltimore, which gave me a few hours to catch up on my backlogged podcast queue. One of my favorite podcasts that I listen to faithfully and habitually is Lewis Howes' The School of Greatness. It's just plain inspiring.

I don't know how Lewis and his team vet his guests, but they have a knack for coming up with the most engaging, uplifting, and turn-your-life-upside-down-in-a-good-way humans that really make you think about your walk and expand your dreams of what could be … in business, relationships, health, wellness, and more.

One of Lewis's most recent episodes is a solo show titled "The Lifetime Millionaire," and it captivated me as I crept along the construction-laden stretch of I-81 called "Pennsylvania." The focus of the episode was branding.

Lewis shared how, on a recent trip to Buenos Aires, he noticed a pair of Coca-Cola branded shoes being sold alongside Reebok, Nike, and Adidas. He marveled at the intensity of the Coca-Cola brand that has such loyalty and power to put their logo on shoes--a place a soft drink brand should never be--and get a prime price for them!

Throughout the episode, Lewis mentioned brand and design as an investment with an invisible return. We can't measure the dollars we put into design with metrics, like we can with many other ventures. But the return is absolutely there, even if we can't wholly define it.

Branding is never final. Periodically, it needs to be revamped and recharged. Logos, slogans, and taglines don't last forever, and need to be updated to stay current and relevant. Websites and social media profiles need to be constantly tweaked, and completely overhauled from time to time. Each time we upgrade, we see more visits, more shares, more engagement, and more opportunity springing forth. Investment--both money and minutes--in photos and quality artwork will set us apart and above. As Lewis says, "The premium goes up when you invest in premium design."

As I idled through traffic, I listened, learned, and marveled at the simple, sensible, salient message that gave me a clearer understanding of branding--both for the necessary work I need to do on my own and for helping others with theirs. I strongly encourage you to listen to The Lifetime Millionaire episode, and subscribe to The School of Greatness podcast on iTunes. You'll be glad you did!

I had a blast in Baltimore, networking with others in our unique industry, learning, growing, taking stock of what we have, imagining what could be next, and thinking in new directions. Thank you, PC Synergy and attendees, for inviting me to be part of such a worthwhile weekend!

I look forward to presenting Inside Out Marketing 3.0 again in a few weeks at the Retail Shippers Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. I hope to see you there!

#SchoolofGreatness #Branding #LifetimeMillionaire #LewisHowes #AskUncleMarty


To listen to The Lifetime Millionaire and learn more about Lewis Howes and The School of Greatness, please visit


Originally published on the AMBC blog on July 19, 2016.