Be Inspired

The Wolfe Weekly Musings

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Wolfe Weekly 9/10/12: No Fear

Hola Familia,

Are you afraid?

We all have our fears.

Maybe it’s a fear of heights.

Maybe it’s a fear of public speaking.

Maybe it’s a fear of failure.

Along with joy, sadness and anger, fear is one of the most basic human emotions.

These days, it feels like fear is always on public display.

There is fear about the economy.

Whether it’s a global focus or a more U.S.-centric view, most economic headlines today are comprised of GDP figures being revised downward, continued unemployment and the need for more stimulus.

Perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that we are now looking at structural unemployment in many economies. 

Although the U.S. unemployment rate may have dipped to 8.1% in August, it masks what’s really happening in the country – people have stopped looking for work because they can’t find it…and those folks aren’t included in the unemployment numbers anymore, hence the perceived decline (

That’s legitimately something to be afraid of.

There is fear about leadership.

With both political parties having wrapped up their highly orchestrated convention stagecraft (which included both the over-the-top to the bizarre speakers), one can’t help but notice all of the talk about fear, uncertainty and doubt.

While our politicians bicker and point fingers at what we should be afraid of, the real fear should be about the issues of substance – our declining educational competitiveness, our deteriorating infrastructure and our eroding institutions.

And whether it’s on public display or not, I’m sure there is probably fear about your career….and life in general.

Now more than ever, you need to be at the top of your game.

With the twin forces of technology and globalization, we’re in the “always on” age.

If we wish to remain competitive, we must commit to lifelong learning.

As Thomas Friedman reminds us with a great quote from futurist Alvin Toffler, “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” (

Learning how to do things differently.

Learning how to think about things differently.

Learning how to have “no fear”.

That means taking the calculated risk.

That means making the leap of faith.

That means going with your gut.

All too often, fear is what will hold us back from taking that step forward.

It’s our defense mechanism.

It’s our armor.

It’s our way to protect ourselves from a perceived threat.

Yet, what if we can’t see the real threat?

What if the real threat is missing that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

What if the real threat is not trying something that was going to make you happy?

What if the real threat is your fear?

Well, that ends today.

Whatever the situation, embrace it.

Take the step forward.

Make yourself uncomfortable.

Push yourself into unfamiliar territory.

Life is too short.

Make the most with your time.

No fear.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 8/20/12: The Illusion of Success

Hola Familia,

Are you successful?

Most people, of course, think they are successful.

The real question is what “kind” of success are we talking about.

For politicians, success can be anything from winning the 24-hour news cycle (whatever “winning” really means) to picking a policy issue or running mate that can energize a ticket.

For Corporate America, success can be anything from beating Wall Street estimates (who cares if you’re investing for the long-term, as long as you beat consensus you’re good, right) to making that transformative merger or acquisition (of which over 2/3’s typically fail – but that’s a topic for another Wolfe Weekly).

For careers, success can be anything from getting the right job title (although loving the right job vs. loving the right title is a bit different) to getting to the top of your field.

Success is indeed multi-dimensional.

Success is also an illusion.

The tragic suicide of Tony Scott, one of the most successful Hollywood directors, certainly puts success in perspective (

Here was someone who from the outside looking in had it all.

Professional success.

Financial success.

Yet who knows what it looked like from the inside looking out.

So what does your success look like?

Are you viewing your success from multiple dimensions?

Are you measuring your success through what you’re learning instead of what you’re making?

Are you defining your success through relationships instead of titles?

Are you creating your own metrics of success instead of having others define success for you?

Prioritize the people and things that matter.

Prioritize the people and things that you love.

Only then can you truly answer the question, “Are you successful?”

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 8/6/12: You Get What You Give

Hola Familia,

How much are you giving?

With the Olympics in full swing (and with record ratings across multiple screens - who cares about tape delays!, it’s hard not to think about how much training, sacrifice and effort the athletes have made to prepare for this moment.

Whether they medal or not, just to be able to compete in the Olympics must be an incredible feeling.

They give their all.

To their sport.

To their team.

To their country.

They are “Givers”.

Not everyone is a Giver, though.

There are those that are “takers”.

You know them.

You might work with some of them.

You may have even dated one of them.

Takers come in many forms – the hog, the diva, the egomaniac.

They are the ones that only care about themselves.

Of course, Takers can be found in any industry.

And Takers can be companies, too.

The financial institutions that are embroiled in the LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate – one of the most important financial benchmarks in the world of finance linked to approximately $800 trillion of securities and loans ranging from your credit card interest rate to sophisticated financial derivatives ) scandal were certainly Takers – and greedy ones (

The same can be said of the companies that binged during the housing and mortgage bubble that led to the “Great Recession” of 2008/2009 that we’re still reeling from today.

Givers have a different drive.

A different motivation.

Givers want to help.

They help the people on their team (whether that’s friends & family or work & society) – because if they give a hand, things can get done better, faster, smarter.

They help the people beyond their team – because if they give to others and “pay it forward” perhaps others will be willing to help as well.

They help themselves – because if they can be at their best, then they can make a difference…all those around them can benefit, too.

Givers are on the court.

They’re not in the bleachers being the armchair quarterback.

They’re in the game.

They’re on the journey.

They’re giving their all.

No matter if they’re an Olympic athlete or someone just starting to train (please watch this GREAT new ad from Nike’s new campaign “Find Your Greatness” and read about it here and

And when you give, you eventually get.

Whether it’s the achievement.

Whether it’s the promotion.

Whether it’s the win.

Whatever the success metric, if you are giving your all - it will pay off.

So be a Giver.

Commit to being the best there is at whatever you are doing.

Do the training.

Make the sacrifice.

Put in the effort.

Give to yourself and give to others.

For you get what you give.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 7/30/12: Nothing Lasts Forever

Hola Familia,

How long will it last?

It’s the question that’s often asked – either by you or about you.

It’s the question that many asked about Michael Phelps going into this summer’s London Olympics.

The reigning king of the Olympic pool with 16-of-16 when it came to winning medals (14 golds and two bronzes), Phelps and his many fans (and sponsors) were looking to continue the success in 2012.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever.

The winning streak was broken this past weekend by fellow USA teammate Ryan Lochte (—oly.html).

For Phelps, a new set of questions are now asked - is it a changing of the guard at the pool or a wake-up call for one of the most decorated Olympians ever?

And for Lochte, after reveling in the media glare (with his diamond studded grillz mouth jewelry, really – was that necessary?) the attention will soon shift to…”how long will it last”?

Our culture certainly has an obsession with streaks.

From sports team wins to stock market rallies, it seems we’re predisposed to want things to only go in one direction - up.

The same can be said for countries.

America has been on a winning streak for a long time, essentially from the end of WWII to 9/11.

In the past few years, though, something has shifted.

There is concern that the American Dream is out of reach for many.

The social commentary comes in many forms.

It can be a Time Magazine cover article (,28804,2117662_2117682_2117680,00.html).

It can be a Hollywood superhero movie like The Dark Knight Rises (

Whatever the form, the concern is real.

So is the nostalgia.

With so much being written about the “American Century”, there is a longing for the way things were.

That things were better before.

That we were better before.

In this week’s New York Magazine, Frank Rich addresses this head on with his essay entitled “Is America Dead?” (

Spoiler alert – it’s not.

While one can certainly debate the depth and breadth of American exceptionalism in the 20th century, the truth is that the United States faces a harder road ahead that it has in the past.

Whether its foreign policy decisions like “can we continue policing the world”? (probably not) to domestic policy decisions like “can we continue supporting Social Security”? (probably not), the United States seems to be following the classic rise and fall of great powers like the Roman Empire and the British Empire (

Hegemony – be it political, economic or cultural - isn’t a constant (

It wasn’t the end of the world for these powers - the Romans and the British are doing fine relatively speaking.

As we head into this Fall’s election season, we will need to make tough choices moving forward.

Nothing lasts forever.

The same can be said for careers.

There are people that have been fortunate enough to have lengthy careers, perhaps even working for years in the same place.

Those that went up the corporate ladder and stayed there.

Yet, these corporate ladders increasingly look like props from an episode of Mad Men.

Many ladders don’t exist anymore (

As the combined forces of technology and competition continually raise the bar, you need to be constantly evolving your skill set and add value to everything you do and everyone you work with.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes the streak will last years.

Sometimes the streak will last months.

Yet, the realization that nothing lasts forever is extremely liberating and empowering.

You can’t take things for granted.

You can’t rest on your laurels.

You must move.




And you recognize that the team in place has a unique opportunity to make an impact.

That this particular collection of people can do something that no other team can do.

That this is your time to make a mark.

Not tomorrow.

Not a week or a month from now.


You never know how long it will last.

So make every moment matter.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 7/23/12: Focus on Impact

Hola Familia,

What’s your impact?

This Friday the city of London will kick off the Games of the XXX Olympiad (

We’re bound to see amazing feats of athleticism juxtaposed with amazing displays of human emotion.

While I like the individual sports, I can’t wait to see the team sport events.

For me, those are the events with the real excitement.

Those are the events where we get to see people come together or come apart.

Those are the events where we get to see the impact players.

How one individual can make the difference between a win and a loss.

How one individual can make the difference between something good and something great.

We all know people that make (or have made) a positive impact – at home or at the office, in society or in the world.

In the business world, smart companies are increasingly focused on making investments that will have not just a positive impact but also a differentiating impact.

That’s why Yahoo! surprised the tech and business community with the hiring of Marissa Mayer to be its next CEO…they wanted a technology leader that would make an impact (  

That’s why Univision surprised the media and advertising community with the winning of the rights to Mexico’s biggest sports franchise the soccer team Chivas de Guadalajara (the equivalent of the NY Yankees in Mexico)…they wanted content that would make an impact

Impact is a powerful double-edge sword.

Unfortunately, we also know people that have a negative impact.

Horrific events, whether it’s something international like the Syrian massacres ( or something closer to home like the Colorado movie theatre shooting (, end up having an impact on multiple levels that can reverberate for years.

Impact cannot be taken for granted.

You make an impact every day.

Your words – what you say or don’t say.

Your actions – what you do or don’t do.

Maybe you’re cognizant of the impact.

Maybe not.

Either way, the impact is still there.

So why not harness the impact.

No matter what area of your life – be it personal or professional, it’s time to focus on impact.

Focus on the things that are going to make a difference.

Focus on the things that are going to move the needle.

Focus on the things that really matter.

Focus on impact.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 7/16/12: Growth Hacking

Hola Familia,

Are you a “Growth Hacker”?

It seems everyone is looking for growth.

Europe certainly is.

Given the recent $37 billion bank bailout, Spain is only the latest EU country that’s hitting the reset button and is on the quest for growth.

Yet, growth will remain a huge challenge for Spain given its 24% unemployment rate (

Even more frightening is the youth unemployment rate – over 51%!

And Spain is not alone.

The youth unemployment rate is nearly 53% in Greece and 35% in Italy.

In fact, in the 17 countries that use the euro currency, youth unemployment (ages 15 - 24) is a record 22%, twice the eurozone’s overall unemployment rate of 11%, which is itself the highest since the euro was created in 1999 (

There have been scores of studies documenting the negative impact of youth unemployment on an economy (1990s Japan is a sobering case study) - the longer young adults stay unemployed, the longer they contribute nothing to economic growth, consume government aid and increase the risk of social unrest.

Relative to Europe, I guess the United States is doing better with youth unemployment (ages 16 - 24) at 16.5%, while the national unemployment stubbornly holds steady at 8.2%.

And as we gear up for the November elections, both candidates are already spinning economic statistics with GDP & employment growth being their favorite ping-pong balls.

Everyone wants growth.

Even those that have growth want more growth.

The news that China’s GDP growth was “only” 7.6% sent the markets into a tailspin (

Businesses are no different.

Whether it’s a public company feeding the beast of Wall Street’s quarterly earnings machine or a start-up looking to reach escape velocity, growth is the common thread.

That responsibility typically falls on the shoulders of marketing.

Marketing is truly the only real lever companies have for growth.

You’ve never heard of a company that’s cut their way to greatness.

You can only cut COGS and SG&A so much.

At some point, you have to invest in marketing to grow.

However, in a world being transformed by “SoLoMo” – the hyperconnectedness of Social + Localization + Mobility – the way to do marketing is changing.

Just look to the one area that is in perpetual growth – Silicon Valley (

In an industry that thrives on growth, the tech sector has once again taken the analog version of something (marketing) and is creating its own digital interpretation of it.

Some are starting to call it “Growth Hacking”.

One part gathering data, one part exploring data, and one part exploiting insights from the data – the Growth Hacker is someone who is technical that can understand marketing.

Someone who is a Marketing Developer.

Someone who is a Marketing Technologist.

Someone who is a Marketing Engineer. 

This hybrid marketer/coder is indeed a new breed (

In a world of “superplatforms” like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google & Microsoft, reaching 10 million users – even 100 million users – can now be measured in months rather than years.

This is even more important as the Internet continues to be rebuilt around people vs. data and functionality (

Those that are savvy enough to employ growth hacking will be able to reap the rewards – with some rewards much, much larger than others (just ask Instagram -

As Darwin keenly noted, all things evolve or die.

National economies must evolve.

Marketers must evolve.

And so must you.

So what’s your growth story?

How are you identifying the next phase of your own growth – both personally and professionally?

How are you leveraging the “superplatforms” of your family, friends, work and industry in a SoLoMo world?

Never stop looking for growth.

Start being a Growth Hacker.

Be Inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 7/9/12: Filling the Void

Hola Familia,

How will you fill the void?

Fresh from celebrations of Independence, it’s time to for independence of
thought as we begin the back half of the year.

Being present so you can look back to see forward.

The looking back is the easy part.

From economic, political to personal, you can assess what’s already

Who knew what would be newsworthy now, though?

Surely you may have guessed that a combination of 2012 Olympics,
presidential elections (Egyptian, French, Greek, Mexican and soon American)
and summer heatwaves would be top of mind.

Yet, I wouldn’t have been able to predict the disturbing scandal of LIBOR
price fixing (sadly, I will predict this is just the beginning).

Nor would I have guessed that the physicists at the world’s largest
particle-physics lab CERN would have discovered (so soon) the long elusive
“God particle” - the Higgs Boson, which gives all things its mass - from
atoms to planets.

As the Economist wisely noted, “Crises, political and financial, can be
seen for the blips on the path of progress that they usually are. The laws
of physics, though, are eternal and universal. Elucidating them is one of
the triumphs of mankind”.

These are the things that are unexpected.

These are the things that are unknown.

These are the things that are undiscovered.

This is the blank canvas.

So how do you create?

You need to move beyond the perimeter of ignorance.

You need to see what’s missing.

Look deep enough and you find plenty of things that are missing.

With your clients’ business.

With your own business.

In your industry.

In your professional life.

In your personal life.

Once you see what’s missing, that’s when you need to step up.

To not be on the sidelines, but to be on the court and in the game.

You need to fill the void.

This is what it’s all about.

This is what counts.

Titles and tenure don’t matter.

The leadership, focus and courage does matter.

These are the ingredients that will empower you.

To start something that will be meaningful.

To be the light that will illuminate.

For who better than you to make the difference.

So take a look.

See what’s missing.



And fill the void.

Be Inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 6/25/12: Do Better

Hola Familia,

Can you do better?

With the Cannes Lions over, the ones that did better won the awards (with Starcom MediaVest Group having its best year ever!).

With the European fútbol (aka “soccer”) championship UEFA Euro 2012 in full swing, the teams that are doing better are now advancing to the semi-finals (with Germany playing Italy and Spain playing Portugal - I wonder if Germany will dominate the UEFA cup just like it dominates the European Union).

And with the 2012 Summer Olympics about to start on July 27, the athletes that do better will take home the medals – even if better is measured in milliseconds.

There’s a reason that business executives and politicians like making sports analogies.

People can visualize what winning looks like.

People can relate to the collaborative efforts of a team.

People can understand the benefits of doing better.

However, analogies aren’t enough.

There’s a need for leadership.

To frame the debate.

To distill what’s important.

To provide a sense of purpose.

To answer the “why”.

So why are so few leaders capable of inspiring their people to meet the challenges of our day?

Perhaps the explanation is part technological (the rise of hyper-connected, real-time participation) and part generational (the rise of short-term gratification).

Despite all the benefits we’ve experienced over the years, the downside is an erosion of leadership.

Spending our time constantly following every poll, post and tweet leaves little time to think, create and lead.

Sometimes we need to have our own POV.

It’s not always about a focus group.

We need to be brave enough to carve out and walk on our own path. 

Steve Jobs would certainly agree.

As Thomas Friedman notes, “When you have technologies that promote quick short-term responses and judgments, and when you have a generation that has grown used to short-term gratification — but you have problems whose solutions require long, hard journeys, like today’s global credit crisis or jobs shortage or the need to rebuild Arab countries from the ground up — you have a real mismatch and leadership challenge (”

Now is the time to do better.

To rise to the challenge.

To harness the power of doing something together.

To realize that there is something bigger than yourself.

It can be anything.

Your work.

Your product.

Your clients.

Your friends.

Your family.

It should be everything.

You can do better.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 6/18/12: Support System

Hola Familia,

What’s your support system?

With the Euro hanging in the balance, Greek voters went to the polls yesterday and voted for a pro-Euro coalition (albeit barely).

Despite the protests and the anti-Euro rhetoric, Greece ultimately understands that it can’t go it alone…they need a support system - namely the European Union.

The same can be said for France.

Although newly elected French President François Hollande’s Socialist Party has secured the parliamentary majority necessary to push through his policies, Hollande needs to focus not just on internal domestic support but external foreign support (read: Germany and Angela Merkel). 

Speaking of France, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity just kicked off.

With a global cocktail of brands, agencies, media and technology companies, it truly is a diverse community.

It’s also a community that is facing unprecedented change and historic opportunity.

Change that makes ideas viral and whole companies obsolete.

Opportunity that rewards inspiration, initiative and ingenuity.

And Cannes has come to embody the support system for the creative/media/marketing community.

A place to see great work, to connect with great people and to find great support for what you love to do.

Life is hard enough.

We can’t do it alone.

We all need support.

And we need to design the system to help make the support scale over time.

So what does your support system look like?

Do you have all the right ingredients?

The family. 

The friends. 

The job.

The clients. 

The partners.

The industry.

Having the support system will make all the difference in empowering you to do what you want to do.

So take the time to build your support system.

Work on it every day.

And take the time to be a part of someone else’s support system.

For you never know when you’ll need the support…until you do.

Be inspired,


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Wolfe Weekly 6/11/12: The Window of Opportunity

Hola Familia,

What is your window of opportunity?

Many people miscalculate the space and time of the window.

With pivotal elections taking place this year in Egypt, Mexico and the United States, voters will need to get the window right. 

For the decisions made within the window will not only impact policy but also lives.

The lives of Egyptians - who now must choose between, as Thomas Friedman put it, “a candidate anchored in 1952, when Egypt’s military seized power, and a candidate anchored in 622, when the Prophet Muhammad gave birth to Islam (”

The lives of Mexicans – who will be impacted by the candidates’ decision to eventually withdraw the Mexican Army from the drug wars in the aftermath of over 50,000 people killed, effectively turning a blind eye and ceding Mexico to the cartels (

The lives of Americans – who still have not realized that the debilitating cocktail of increasing income inequality, eroding education with escalating expenses and systemic structural unemployment will lead to years of downsizing the American Dream.

Getting the window right isn’t only the responsibility of voters.

It’s also the responsibility of investors and financial markets.

One could say that Facebook timed the window perfectly with its IPO (at least for the company and its primary investors…not so much for the secondary market investors).

Too bad the same can’t be said for other companies – it looks like the window to go public has closed for the time being with the IPO market having gone three weeks without an offering, the longest drought in five months (see and

With the economic decline of the European Union, markets have continued to gyrate over the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) and investors have flocked like vultures from one country to another to see if it will survive within the window…more like a window of survival than opportunity.

As Greece is mostly written off and Italy is in a holding pattern, attention has now turned to Spain and its sickly banks.  With Spain accepting a €100 billion ($125 billion) bailout from the EU for its banks, many wonder if the window has already closed on Spain and if the next step is for the country itself to receive a bailout.

With financial markets focused on Europe, it’ll only be a matter of time before they are reminded that the United States still has to deal its own baggage such as its debt ceiling and the tax cut extensions that will expire this year.

One can only wish that all of the political posturing that will inevitably come in an election year were simply reality television…sadly, it’s only too real…and the stakes are only too high.

Being able to truly understand the space and time of your window is perhaps one of the most important skills you need – both professionally and personally.

So where does that leave you?

How are you assessing your window?

We celebrate a birthday, but we conveniently ignore the thought of our deathday.

We take for granted the environment we’re in, not realizing that the environment has an expiration date.

We have the same job or position, until we don’t.

We are surrounded by the same people, until we’re not.

We have relationships, until we won’t.

We are blessed with family and friends, until the window closes.

We certainly don’t control the window.

But we do have power to maximize the opportunity.

To appreciate those we’re with.

To make the most of the environment.

To bring your all each and every day.

To stand for something.

To have purpose.

To share your voice.

Wherever you are on your journey, now is the time to recognize the opportunity.

Lay the foundation of your legacy.

Commit to something.

To excellence. 

To accountability.

To candor.

To someone.

The window will only be open for so long.

Be inspired,