Expert Network - April 2012
At the beginning of last night's "Mad Men" episode, Megan Draper comes up with a big idea. After whipping up a bowl of spaghetti for Sally, who doesn't like fish, Don's new wife has a thought: She's making the spaghetti as her mom did before her, and her grandmother did before that. The scene could go back to the years of the cavemen, she says excitedly, or be adapted for a family scene on the moon.
This could work for the Heinz ad campaign, she thinks. And Don agrees. Multiple generations passing down a simple family ritual. It's a pretty picture. But all is not as it seems.
Sally's mother is nowhere to be found. Megan's mother is terribly unhappy. And Peggy's mother is horrified by a daughter who is about to embark on a life of sin.
Peggy and Joan aren't that different after all. Peggy had a child out of wedlock and hid the evidence. Joan is raising a child born from one frantic night on the street.
When Nora Delf, a sophomore at Bard High School Early College in New York City, doesn't like a T-shirt, she'll cut it. If a necklace seems like it needs an extra something, she'll swap a few charms from another piece of jewelry.
"I don't hesitate to fix something myself if it isn't working," the 16-year-old said, peering into her closet. "Maybe I like what a T-shirt says on it, but it's too big. So I think, 'How can I make it more flattering?'"
Delf's recent buys? A Boy Scouts tee and $10 Timberland boots she found at a thrift store in Brooklyn. "I've kind of worn the boots every day since."
Like Delf, teens throughout the country are finding new ways to make clothes their own -- whether it's applying rhinestones, cutting a shirt or creating an entire handbag from scratch. Forging an identity through fashion is nothing new, but teen branding experts say that the recession prompted high schoolers to find additional ways to save money. The beneficiary? Do-it-yourself companies.
Things are changing faster than ever.
Technology is transforming every aspect of how we communicate and now more than ever; change is really the only constant. But with so many new technologies and ways to connect, it's easier to lose sight of the fact that we are still all human at the core, and all with the same basic needs.
Business has always been about these human needs, and it has always been social. Relationships were, and will continue to be, at the center of every successful business.
So why do we tend to focus so much on followers in social media? In reality, they don't mean anything.
Yes, you do need to build your network, but at the end of the day, it's all about the actual relationships built through positive interactions based on context. Social media allows you to take customer relationships that used to take months and years to develop and not only shorten that time, but also scale it.
Now you can have dozens of positive interactions with customers and potential customers on a daily basis. A lot of people are starting to get that. What most people are still not conscious about is context and, today, context is king.
On a quest to see what all the hype was about Copenhagen, I took an impromptu long weekend to check out the latest food crazes and trendiest cocktail lounges. (Living in Europe allows for such excursions.) Silly me, thinking I could get into Noma at the last minute just because I was dining alone on a holiday weekend. For those of you who don't know, it's arguably the top restaurant in the world. Their Web site allows you to sign up in case a table becomes available, as do many of the other top restaurants in Copenhagen. But, unfortunately, I never made it off the waitlist.
Despite the lack of a reservation, I still hoped I could find a spot at Noma's bar. Nope. It didn't exist, at least for eating purposes. Fortunately, they were gracious enough to recommend Fiskebaren -- aka Kodbyens Fiskebar -- in the meatpacking district.
When stylist Keylee Sanders asked one of her wealthier clients what was on top of her Christmas list, her client showed her a photograph of a fur coat by Michael Kors. It was $32,000.
The problem was the coat wasn't the right color, and she really wanted something practical she could wear every day. So Sanders suggested they have a custom coat made instead.
"We picked up the pelts and had them dyed," Sanders recalled. "By January, we had a knee-length, trench-style white mink with a hood. The best part? It was only $22,000, $10,000 less than the original coat.
Luxury is back, but there's a hitch this time. Customers have become savvier during the recession, designers and retailers say. They're willing to spend, but they want added value, which means little duplication of items they already have in their closets. And if they can supplement with discounted items from flash-sale sites like Gilt or stylish lower-end stores like Zara, all the better.