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Marc Stryker

Marc Stryker

Marc Stryker is the Director of Media at Penna Powers. A New Jersey native and New York advertising alum, Marc is proud to call Utah his adopted home.

Two decades. Twenty years. Penna Powers just marked another major milestone, celebrating the twentieth year that our dedicated VP of Project Management, Christine Menges, has been in the building. Not only has she been in the building, she’s been rocking the very foundation of this place with elevated account service, polished professionalism and an unmatched penchant for brand policing.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Chris headed for the Beehive State after graduating from Portland State University’s School of Business. She arrived at Penna Powers after various gigs, from selling ads in the daily newspaper, to getting an ad agency education wearing multiple hats and kicking various asses all across town.

At Penna Powers, Chris blossomed into the plaid-hating, don’t-touch-her-lamp juggernaut she is today. Employees and clients alike have benefitted from Chris’s unique combination of Portlandia counter-culture personality and air-tight, borderline OCD commitment to organization and detail. Chris will always give you her best effort and marshal the agency’s forces in the most efficient and effective manner. And, always right on strategy and right on schedule.

So we congratulate Chris on her double decade derring-do. And welcome many more years of her grit and intelligence in taking our clients to the next level. But always remember this – at Penna Powers, dead men actually do wear plaid, if you happen to cross paths with the formidable Christine Menges.

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In a fragmented media world with no M.A.S.H. or Cheers finale to be found, the Super Bowl has become our national TV holiday. It wasn’t until 2010 when the Super Bowl’s audience finally surpassed that legendary M.A.S.H. finale (106 million viewers back in 1983). Now, it’s unlikely any other program will ever be able to challenge it as the most watched.

Besides being an overhyped contest between two NFL football teams, the Super Bowl is the only program that inspires viewers to say they often enjoy the ads just as much, if not more than, the game. There is a ton of pressure for each advertiser to entertain, innovate and perhaps, sell something.

So we’re shining the spotlight on some brands who will be going beyond the 30-second spot this year. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:

Snickers – The Mars brand will be airing the first LIVE Super Bowl spot. We don’t know much, but we do know it will be Western-themed and star Adam Driver (or at least his cardboard cut-out). Snickers has been teasing it on TV, Facebook and YouTube:

Hyundai – The Korean car brand is teaming up with NFL legends and director, Peter Berg (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) to shoot its 90-second commercial in real time during the Super Bowl. Apparently, they’re going to mix in some actual game footage, as well as shots from service men and women enjoying the game. The spot will air right after the final whistle blows. Can’t wait to see how they pull this off.

84 Lumber – While some brands use their Super Bowl spot to generally increase public opinion of the company, this supply materials brand will be the first Super Bowl advertiser to run a pure recruitment message. The company will be launching a massive hiring spree, and is perfectly fine spending $5 million to do it. Its first try at a spot was rejected by Fox, who evidently thought it too political, with its images of walls and ladders.

T-Mobile – Every Super Bowl has to have a celebrity redemption story. This year’s prize goes to T-Mobile using the much maligned Justin Bieber as it’s MC for the history of the Touchdown Dance. Will you Beliebe?

Zero Fatalities – In the spirit of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, UDOT’s Zero Fatalities traffic safety education program will be showcasing the winner of its #ZeroBowl contest. Teens all across the state submitted their best 30-second spot focused on a safe driving message. Look for this spot at the end of the third quarter. We are super impressed with the talent on display. While we can’t show you the winning spot  yet, here’s one of the finalists:

So sit back, grab a snack and enjoy the ads, er, the game!

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It was hard to pick our top 10 movie selections – but the quality of television made it difficult to even leave our couches. So many shows (e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock) now deliver mini-movie episodes every week that look like big budget, big screen spectacles. And now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon just dump entire seasons on us to ignite rampant binge watching. OTT services and cable networks have become crack dealers and we are either addicted junkies or compulsive hoarders with overflowing DVRs and instant queues.

So here’s what we hoarded or became addicted to in 2016:

Game of Thrones (HBO) – Let’s get this out of the way. GoT is like that professional athlete that delivers so many great performances night in and night out that it becomes boring. The show doesn’t carry as much buzz as it used to (typical when you get to six seasons), but it still brings the goods and prompts plenty of water cooler chatter week after week at the office. With dragons, zombies, flesh-eating dogs and uppity bastards, this show is TV’s most epic.

Preacher (AMC) – During the lunch hour on any given summer weekday, you would find at Penna Powers a gaggle of gamers and geeks enthralled by the latest episode of this gonzo AMC series. Yet another comic adapted to the small screen, this one goes pretty far off the rails from any normal TV show. That’s a good thing according to our creative department. If you share a love of Preacher, they might kiss you on the Arseface.

This is Us (NBC) – Because we need to have a least one broadcast network show on our list. This is the perfect Parenthood replacement that will make you cry, laugh and get mad at yourself for laughing and crying.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix) – Netflix is pretty good at resurrecting old beloved shows. They didn’t do so well with Fuller House (despite big audiences, at least according to Netflix) but nailed it with this one. Cue more laughing and crying.

Daredevil (Netflix) – Another favorite for the Penna Powers’ creative department. Daredevil’s Season 2 was certainly no sophomore slump, despite what people have said. We’re glad Shane from Walking Dead got resurrected to keep his unbridled rage-flame burning as the Punisher.

The Crown (Netflix) – Seriously, stop making such great shows Netflix – it might go to your head and then you’ll start making really crappy stuff. But in the meantime, Penna Powers dug The Crown, which explores the rise of Queen Elizabeth II, when she first took the crown at the age of 25. If you’re having Downton Abbey withdrawals, this may be the costume drama for you.

Atlanta (FX) – If you enjoyed Donald Glover and the meta-comedy of Community, you might like this one. FX pretty much gave Glover the keys to the car to drive wherever he wanted. The road had lots of curves and rest stops, but it took us to a place TV’s never been. Never has a series created such a unique sense of place and time – it’s like he mixed Coen brothers absurdist humor with Spike Lee, Kanye West and Samuel Beckett. Now go watch it.

Black Mirror (Netflix) – The Twilight Zone for the new generation – this anthology series focuses on the scary side of technology and extrapolates the terrifying conclusion of what may happen as a result of our “progress”.  Season 3 dropped a healthy dose of six episodes. You’ll want to permanently tape up your laptop camera or go off the grid entirely after watching (with the exception of the unusually positive “San Junipero” episode). Warning: trailer video has some salty language – those bloody Brits.

Westworld (HBO) – HBO’s hoping Westworld will be it’s next Game of Thrones. The ratings have been good and the show has stirred up online discussion forums debating and conjecturing each episode. The series has certainly begged more questions than delivered answers, but the intrigue is contagious and addictive. And Anthony Hopkins is at his best, delivering a calm yet mad scientist version of his Hannibal Lecter character.

Stranger Things (Netflix) – We saved the best for last. The overwhelming favorite for the Penna Powers staff was this eight-part series that dropped out of nowhere over the summer.  If you were to mix the eighties versions of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, all the while keeping the rating at an usual and somewhat family-friendly TV-14 (OTT services and premium cable seem to relish the TV-MA rating), you would get Stranger Things. Take 11 by the hand for a trip to the Upside Down world and witness outstanding performances from Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine and the best kids cast assembled since Super 8. And please keep a candle lit for our beloved Barb and her puffy jeans.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Robot, Billions, Shamless, New Girl, Madame Secretary, Luke Cage, Silicon Valley, Veep, Insecure, Atlanta, Narcos, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Last Week Tonight, Broad City, The Good Wife, Scandal, The Great Indoors, Ray Donovan, Goliath, The Path, Catastrophe, How to Get Away With Murder, Candle Cove

What did you watch in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2016 movie selections and keep refreshing for more end of year selections from the Penna Powers staff.

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Movies are struggling to stay relevant these days, what with the quality of TV and with so many other things grabbing the headlines this year. Here’s a list of films that got noticed by the Penna Powers staff. As you’ll see, many got the attention they deserved and some quietly came and went:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – JK Rowling keeps the checks coming with this first installment of a planned five-film series. Of course, we would be breaking our pattern of picking the movie that inspires our annual holiday card if we didn’t include this one. This was a worthy first film, although it certainly coasts on its Harry Potter credentials for a bit. Once things start moving along, this film becomes something entirely different than what the trailers would have you believe. And considerably darker as well. Oh Colin Farrel, you’re so creepy.

Deadpool – The fan boys finally get the Deadpool movie they’ve been drooling for. Ryan Reynolds actually stars as the titular anti-hero for the second time (anyone remember the much reviled first attempt of the same character in X Men Origins: Wolverine?). Noted for being Marvel’s first major R-rated film and also noted for Stan Lee’s cameo as a dirty old man in a strip club, the movie proved that comic-book films no longer need to stay in the safe PG-13 realm and still make money. Funny, irreverent and self-referential (Deadpool often breaks the fourth-wall with snarky comments, making fun of X-Men movies and Hugh Jackman), it was an unexpected box office sensation, especially for one released on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  – The first stand-alone Star Wars film without the likes of Han, Luke, Leia or even Lando, the installment explains how the Rebels acquired and relayed knowledge of the Death Star’s fatal flaw. If you didn’t care about that little plot point, the film still works, introducing new characters that you do care about and makes Star Wars: A New Hope so much better in context. Plus, there’s a Vader sighting, and he’s not a happy camper. Plus plus, the movie actually delivers on the potent power of the original teaser trailer, despite not including many of those scenes.

Zootopia – The spot for best animated feature usually goes to the annual Pixar offering, but darn it if Disney Animation isn’t giving them a run for their money. Currently suffering from sequelitis, Pixar dropped Finding Dory and not one of our staffers listed it as a favorite (although Moana didn’t get any either). Last year’s outstanding Inside Out was sandwiched between uninspired outings like The Good Dinosaur and a sequel no one asked for, Monsters University. Incredibly but not surprisingly, three of the next four Pixar releases will be sequels. So that leaves room for this little original gem that no one saw coming. Everyone loves an unexpected hit with a theme that challenges our own temptation to buy into stereotypes. And it has the best ever comedic use of sloths.

 

Dr. Strange – Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched in 2016 with this and another film we’ll talk about later. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect choice for the egotistical surgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme of New York. What could have been completely hokey was actually a smart, fun and visually arresting spectacle. And a bald Tilda Swinton is never a bad thing, right?

Captain America: Civil War – This was basically The Avengers 3, but I guess it can’t be if we’re missing Hulk and Thor? Doesn’t quite make sense. The other part of Marvel’s Phase 3 was this release. It was expected to be a big hit and it delivered. With the Russo brothers at the helm (they did the last Captain America film), the movie aptly juggled all of the characters and their struggles, introduced new ones and culminated in a bruising battle between the good guys. That darn Bucky is causing so many problems.

Eddie the Eagle – Our official inspirational sports movie of the year award went to Eddie the Eagle, about the unlikely popularity of the frumpy British ski jumper who managed to steal the hearts of the 1988 Olympics fans despite not actually being very good at ski jumping. It hit all of the usual sports movie cliches but was so charming and fun, we were even okay with Hugh Jackman as the grizzled, reluctant coach with a complicated past. And Christopher Walken also stops by to pick up his paycheck.

OJ: Made in America – Officially a movie and not a TV show, so we’re putting it on this list. This five-part ESPN-produced masterpiece on the OJ story revealed how his story is also the story of contemporary American society and its complicated race relations. If you think you know enough because you saw The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story on FX, you don’t know the half of it.

Various Horror Movies – Following 2015’s hypnotic It Follows, this year turned out to be quite a good one for the horror genre. Are you looking for a horror movie that is so scary that it’s rated R not for language, nudity or violence, but for just being plain creepy? Check out The Conjuring 2, continuing an impressive run for the Catholic Horror genre. The Puritan Horror genre got its first installment this year with The Witch, which will make you afraid of goats and people who speak Old English. And finally, there’s the Skinhead Horror genre, which gave us The Green Room, a tense little film featuring an outstanding, creepy and subdued performance by Patrick Stewart, chief executive skinhead of a dingy punk rock club in rural Oregon.

La La Land – We still go to the movies to have fun, right? Well, La La Land burns fun right into the celluloid and doesn’t apologize for it. If 2016 has proved too unsettling to spend it watching depressing, serious, mean, ironic and provocative films, then this movie musical is your antidote to all that. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling light up the screen with their chemistry and unbridled exuberance. If you saw director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, this film is as joyful as that movie was intense.

Honorable Mentions: Moonlight, Arrival, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hunt for Wilderpeople, Sing Street, The Accountant, Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty, The Magnificent Seven, Kubo & the Two Strings, Race, Weiner

What do you think we missed? Let us know what you liked in 2016 in the comments below. And be sure to check out the Penna Powers Picks: Best Movies of 2015.

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What does “Digital” even mean?

That’s a question that industry trade publisher, Advertising Age asked itself when planning for its annual Digital Conference held last week. They toyed with the idea of removing the word “digital”, but ultimately kept it because otherwise “no one would come”, said editor Ken Wheaton, only half-jokingly.

Yet, this semantic confusion over “digital” has most marketers shrugging their shoulders. It’s now a post-digital world, where a 728×90 “digital” banner ad is as traditional, if not more so, than the ancient 30-second spot. Penna Powers was at the conference and came away with these top insights from the proceedings:

  1. Traditional Digital is Dead – Marketers need to move beyond the traditional online elements of banner ads and other push methods. If you’re just going to do that, you might as well tell a story on television. A digital presence has less to do with the “ad unit”. It has more to do with what kind of experiences you’re allowing your customers to have and what kind of relationships you’re building with them. The traditional elements still have their place, but they cannot take center stage.
  2. The Power of Place – Twitter co-founder and Medium CEO, Evan Williams, discussed how the dramatic increase of migration to cities is similar to how people behave online. Traffic to the top 10 websites makes up 75% of all online traffic. While the average person visits 25 apps per month, 80% of the time is spent on his or her top 3 apps. People plug themselves into established communities on the web and stay there. Just as people need city life for better networking, so too do brands need to establish a community for their customers. And Evan Williams’s solution, of course, is his online publishing platform, Medium. Check it out.
  3. Popular Culture is the New Competition – Think about it. Your marketing is competing for the attention of the customer. What else is competing for that attention? Everything else the customer consumes, from the latest cat video to the newest Netflix or Hulu series. We’re now in the Age of the Customer and the customer is very much in control of what he or she chooses to watch.  Will they choose you?
  4. Stop Being a Perfectionist – Advertisers are used to being in control of everything that happens within that 30-second spot, which can take many weeks and months to get right and presentable for the masses. But that’s too long, and by the time you’ve created your awesome piece of marketing, it may no longer be relevant to the world the customer is now living in. According to Frank Cooper, CMO of BuzzFeed, “content needs to match the rate at which pop culture changes”. This requires us to trade long-gestating perfection for speedy, and sometimes raw, relevancy. It also requires much patience and courage to do.
  5. Try it, Nail it, Scale it – Change doesn’t happen all at once, it occurs in bite-sized chunks. That was the message from AT&T’s Valerie Vargas, who showcased the brand’s foray into original content series like Summer Break and Snapper Hero. Ms. Vargas’s bosses weren’t going to sign off on a huge investment in something so unproven, so she needed to take baby steps in setting aside some budget for experimenting and incubating new platforms. Once she saw success in something small, she could justify larger investments and scaling those small successes to larger ones.
  6. Digital and Traditional Work Together – Cruise ship brand Royal Caribbean and its shop MullenLowe set out to convince jaded New Yorkers that going on a cruise could be exciting and unique. So they streamed the Periscope feeds of over twenty key social influencers having Royal Carribean vacations into out-of-home bus shelters and kiosks all across the city to prove that cruises weren’t touristy and boring. They also re-purposed much of the footage and incorporated it into TV campaigns.
  7. Using Influencers? Let Them Do What They Do – As more brands and agencies use social media influencers to be more relevant to consumers, they often try to dictate the terms of how the brands will be showcased. For example, a sunglass brand wanted Snapchat celebrity, Julz Goddard, to take pictures of herself donning the shades poolside. “Boring”, she said. When the brand allowed her to use the brand more naturally within her Miami partying lifestyle, it scored more authenticity points with her audience.
  8. Use Data to Create More Shareable Content – When we think of using data, we often think in terms of optimizing a digital campaign for better performance. That’s all well and good, but we’re missing a major opportunity to use data to craft better brand storytelling. Using the Facebook Audience Interest Index, Shareablee CEO, Tania Yuki, showed that factors like “usefulness”, “happiness” and “emotion” engaged more women than men and that men were more likely to share content that was “funny” and “exciting”.  For 18-24 year-olds, content that enabled them to be “in the know” was the most likely to be shared.

So will next year’s conference just be titled “Advertising Age’s 2017 Conference”? Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it? But what’s true is that buzzword value of the word “digital” will continue to diminish as we brands and agencies drop the semantics and just do what works.

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We knew 2015 was going to be an embarrassment of riches for movies. It’s pretty telling that the goods were still great even when one of the most hotly anticipated films turned out to be a thunderous dud (sorry, Avengers: Age of Ultron fans, you know it’s true). So if you couldn’t find anything to your tastes at either the local multiplex or art house theater, than maybe it’s time for you to grab your food storage and guns and go off the grid. Here’s what kept the folks at Penna Powers from running for the hills:

Inside Out – Pixar strikes again with this tale of the emotional world inside an emerging adolescent girl. As always, Pixar makes movies for both kids and adults, without having to drop annoying pop culture references to keep the parents engaged. This tale was sweet and entertaining on the surface while supplying the depth needed for satisfying repeat viewings. And Amy Poehler and Tina Fey seem to be in a see-saw match to win the movie-star-who-could-also-be-your-best-friend award.

 

The Martian – This could have been an over-the-top sci-fi action spectacular but surprisingly, director Ridley Scott went with a more low-key approach combined with spare, but amazing visuals. We liked the way the film economically showcases how a problem gets solved by a team of professionals – less flash, more problem-solving, which is typically how we work as well, though we’re not usually tasked with getting a stranded astronaut home from Mars.

 

Room – Based on the book of the same name, this film from director Lenny Abrahamson (who also helmed the very strange but interesting Frank), is simply sublime. Given the pitch black subject matter, that would seem a near-impossible task. But Room manages to transcend the lurid nature of its premise with very strong performances from little Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson.

 

Ex Machina – This is the year of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who seemed to star in everything.  And all her performances were memorable, especially this one, where she plays an artificial intelligence creation. Poe Dameron from Star Wars plays the arrogant creator and General Hux plays the audience stand-in who “wins” an opportunity to play the human component in a Turing test. And what a test this turns out to be.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road – We’re all familiar with the sub-genre of film known as the “road movie”, where a protagonist or two go on a road trip and through a series of often zany adventures, find something about themselves in the process. Well, take that concept and stir in an unholy concoction of cocaine, adrenaline and amphetamines and you get this insanely kinetic road trip across an apocalyptic wasteland brilliant enough to make us forget all about Tina Turner and the Thunderdome. Oh what a lovely day!

 

Jurassic World – We’re obligated to include a Chris Pratt movie in our year-end listings and this one just barely beat out Jem and the Holograms.  Jurassic World was on top of the world box office until a certain space movie came out. Ironically, this little film earned director Colin Trevorrow the right to helm Episode 9 in the Star Wars canon. See you in 2019!

 

What We Do in the Shadows – Hilarious faux-documentary/found footage of a secret vampire society.  Fortunately, they’re led by the always reliably funny Jermaine Clement.

 

Ant-Man – We were quite underwhelmed by the trailers for Marvel’s almost forgotten Avenger. Fortunately, the movie turned out to pretty dang good, with the best ever cinematic use of Thomas the Tank Engine.

 

The Hateful Eight – Like Chris Pratt, we are also under contract to sing the praises of Quentin Tarantino, because he doesn’t do that himself enough. Most of us haven’t seen this one, but of course, the universe wouldn’t be right if a Tarantino flick wasn’t on a top ten list.  We’ve heard Samuel L. Jackson is at his most Samuel L. Jacksonion in this one – not sure how he can top Pulp Fiction or Snakes on a Plane, but we’ll buy a ticket to find out.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Thanks for scrolling through this blog post to find out what you already know to be true.  Penna Powers loves Star Wars!  I mean, we almost have an unlawful infatuation with it. We’ve already made J.J. Abrams an honorary partner of the agency – he actually has a key and can stop by whenever he wants. Mr. Abrams now has the reputation of being the go-to franchise realignment specialist. Witness how he rescued the Mission Impossible franchise from John Woo’s slow-motion dove fetish, Star Trek from the clutches of film formaldehyde and Star Wars from George Lucas himself. Abrams made both a modern and nostalgic sequel that zings and swings and features real actors’ real faces that are actually connected to their real bodies.

Honorable Mentions: Beasts of No Nation, Cinderella, Spy, Black Mass, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, The Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Slow West, Infini, Advantageous, Chappie, Kingsmen: Secret Service, Vacation, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

What do you think we missed? Let us know what you liked in 2015 in the comments below. And be sure to check out the Penna Powers Picks: Best Movies of 2014.

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Alec ABC 800 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says, 1 in 9  Americans work in sales. And as Daniel Pink pointed out in his 2013 book To Sell is Human so do the other eight. We are all selling in some form or fashion regardless of our profession whether it be a product, an idea or a pitch to your husband to spend your next vacation at Sundance Mountain Resort instead of yet another cruise. [Full disclosure: Sundance is a Penna Powers client but I couldn’t resist the product placement. See? Always selling.]

So if we’re all in sales, shouldn’t we take it easy on salespeople?  Since advertising and PR aren’t too far away from used car salesman as among the most despised professions, I tend to have more empathy for what they go through. As a media director, much of my job involves working with salespeople. Oftentimes people think we’re supposed to be at odds with them, to protect ourselves and clients from their oily ways.  But as long as you know where you stand, a great salesperson can always make you stand taller. There are plenty of bad sellers out there so here’s a checklist to make sure you’re one of the good ones:

1) Know what you’re selling – This seems pretty straightforward but I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken with TV reps who hadn’t the slightest clue what programs ran on their station. And I often had to conclude that they never watched their own station. You should be living and breathing your product. I better not know your product better than you do.

2) Believe in what you’re selling – I love it when salespeople are passionate about their product and actually believe it will work for you. Take the below scene in the underrated movie In Good Company, where young buzzword-dropping tech upstart Topher Grace becomes veteran magazine account executive Dennis Quaid’s sales manager after a merger. I was working at a large New York agency when AOL bought Time Warner and remember the awkward sales calls where overly confident and snarky AOL reps lacked any kind of chemistry with their polished but old school magazine counterparts. It was fun to watch but painful for them. This clip shows Dennis Quaid making the big sale with his veteran know-how and his genuine belief and love for what he sells. There should always be honor and respect for what you do and what you represent.

3) You work for me, I don’t work for you – Sometimes we’ll get sales reps who believe that we are the ones who should be doing them the favors. They want to turn the tables on you and bully and guilt you into buying their product, knocking you off from where you stand if you let them. I actually had a rep call me after I placed an order, asking me to add $1000 more to the buy so he could win his sales contest and earn a trip to wherever.  Don’t ever ask, “How can I get more business from you?”. Instead you should be asking, “How can my product help you meet your goals?”.

4) Seek to understand before being understood – I may be stealing this from a Stephen Covey book, but it works especially in sales. If you open up your meeting and immediately launch into your sales pitch, the mood subconsciously becomes one about transactions instead of two sides coming together to make something great. Be flexible, understanding and solution-oriented rather than transaction-oriented.

5) Play the long game – Salespeople who only work in the short-term, wanting to get the business right away are practically telling me that they won’t be around for very long and need their commissions now. If you’re a short-termer, so is my relationship with you.

6) Always be closing – No article about sales would be complete without a Glengarry Glen Ross reference. While this line is uttered by a hideous human being played by Alec Baldwin, it’s mostly true. The best salespeople aren’t afraid to sell, to back up their product and be its biggest champion. Yes, there are pushy slimeballs (see #3), but there are probably more salespeople who are simply afraid to sell and shrink after the first objection. If you’re confident in what you’re representing and not an a-hole, then it’s worth listening to you.

7) Play to your strengths – You don’t have to have a yellow personality to be good at sales. I’ve worked with introverts and extroverts and both can be great salespeople. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you lack social skills or don’t like people – it actually can be more helpful. Introverts feel more comfortable when they are prepared and knowledgeable about a subject before engaging.  Extroverts can often forego preparation and over-rely on their ability to talk their way out of a problem, only to look like a fool.

 

 

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Here’s what the Penna Powers people were reading in 2014:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Read this as the companion piece to Tina Fey’s hilarious Bossypants. Yes, please, we want more of Amy Poehler.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Beautiful story about a blind French girl, set during Nazi-occupied France in World War II.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Hilarious novel about a brilliant genetics professor with Aspergers who sets out to find himself a wife in the most unusual, awkward and comedic way possible.

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero –  This is not the Twilight of plastic surgery adventures.  Nevertheless, we loved this clever and absorbing gothic ghost story/treasure hunt of a novel.

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull – Ever wonder how Pixar consistently pumps out brilliantly original (well, besides Cars 2) animated films? We took away several great ideas in our continual quest to stay creative and fresh.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley – We can never get enough of Bradley’s 11-year old chemist detective Flavia de Luce. She makes Encyclopedia Brown look like Elmo.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – If you’ve been captivated with Simon Sinek’s inspiring Ted talk launching the “Start with Why” business philosophy (and book – read that one first), you’ll love this one.

The Troop by Nick Cutter – If you like your boy scout literature mixed in with some gnarly horror, this book’s for you.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – It’s better that you don’t know much about this novel before reading. But trust us, it will grab you. Mr. Carey is a prolific comic book writer, having written for both DC and Marvel.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte – This should be required reading for all of us and our clients. Read this if you feel like you don’t have enough time to do your job, or at least do it well. Schulte compares time to a “rabid lunatic” running naked and screaming as your life flies past you. Give time the rabies shot it deserves and download this one to your phone so you can read it in between all of those emails.

What books did you enjoy this year? Please let us know in the comments. And be sure to read our past picks from 2013, 2012 and 2011. Also check out what movies, television and music we liked in 2014.

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Back in October, The Guardian wondered aloud whether 2014 would mark the death of the platinum album.  “Going platinum” used to be a normal thing. Now the prospect of selling one million albums is a near impossible feat.  So did anyone do it this year? Technically, only one did if you don’t count the Frozen soundtrack, which came out in 2013. Who was it? None other than Taylor Swift, who’s not only racked up the sales but also the YouTube views (now routinely going over 200 million views per song). Here’s what we think should have gone platinum, if it was still 1994:

Weezer, Everything Will be Alright in the End – Speaking of 1994, look who’s back! After so many fans writing them off over the past decade, they’ve dropped an epic album that many critics are calling their best since the Blue album.

 

AC/DC, Rock or Bust – We have a few Angus Young wannabes in our midst and they are all singing the praises of this geezer band’s new album, and not in an ironic way.  Maybe they made a Robert Johnson-like deal with the devil, but these guys recently returned from hell and wanted to tell us about it. They sound really really good.

 

The Black Keys, Turn Blue – Sensing a pattern with our love of rock? In reality, there are very few real rock albums being made, but whatever The Black Keys turn out, you know they got the bonafides to do it with the authenticity that real rock requires. Turn Blue was an amazing record.

 

Spoon, They Want My Soul – Frontman Britt Daniel could have had a decent career as a Mick Jagger sound double, but we’re happy that he chose to dedicate his life to impeccable song craft. After a 4-year hiatus, Spoon is back with an album that will seriously grow on you.  I could hit repeat on singles “Inside Out” and “Do You” forever and die happy.

 

Michael Jackson, Xscape – The second posthumous Michael Jackson album, this one brings back his early 80’s sound, with singles like “Love Never Felt So Good”, which sounds like something Diana Ross would have knocked out of the park. But Justin Timberlake makes a great Diana Ross stand-in.

 

Hozier, Hozier – This Irish crooner took us to church so many times this year, we’re getting honorary sainthood status. His video has been seen over 50 million times. Now that’s nowhere near Taylor Swift levels, but for an Irish Joe Cocker (RIP), this is as good as it’s gonna get.

 

Ed Sheeran, X – The hardest working red-headed Englishman in show business today, Ed Sheeran capitlized on his Taylor Swfit and One Direction guest appearances and made serious head way into the river that runs through popular culture.  He’s a pretty great singer-songwriter too.

 

Manchester Orchestra, COPE – These guys have been recording and playing great indie rock for years, but 2014’s release of COPE has finally brought them the attention and respect they deserve.

 

Taylor Swift, 1989 – Ms. Swift single-handedly saved 2014 from becoming the year without a platinum album release.  She’s almost sold 4 million albums in only two months time which makes her music’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.  Her pop chops are undeniable and 1989 is a testament to her ability to make anything she touches turn to gold (or platinum).

 

Honorable Mentions: A Great Big World, Is There Anybody Out There?; Pixies, Indie Cindy; Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour; Meghan Trainor, Title; Coldplay, Ghost Stories; U2, Songs of Innocence; FKA Twigs, LP1; Train, Cadillac, Cadillac; Maroon 5, V; Damien Rice, My Favourite Faded Fantasy; Lindsey Stirling, Shatter Me; Pentatonix, Vol. III & That’s Christmas To Me; Circa Survive, Descensus; Royal Blood, Royal Blood; Miniature Tigers, Cruel Runnings; Jenny Lewis, The Voyager; St. Vincent, St. Vincent

What music moved you in 2014? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to check out our picks from years past: 2013, 2012 and 2011.  Also read our picks for this year’s moviesTV and books.

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These days, whether you’re an up-and-coming actor or a seasoned actress, your best opportunities for critical acclaim and popularity is with television, not movies.  While the TV landscape is extremely fragmented across not only so many broadcast, cable, and satellite networks (a DirecTV channel?) but also streaming services (witness Community being picked up by Yahoo!) , it’s still the medium that is capturing all of the buzz, flash and glamour and luring actors with interesting and varied roles that can grow and expand over time.  In short, television is where the cool kids are. Movies? They might as well be wearing mom jeans.

So here’s what the Penna Powers people were watching on “TV” in 2014:

Sherlock (PBS) – Technically, each Sherlock episode could be considered a movie.  In 2014, they unleashed only three episodes in January and they all were amazing.  To sample its brilliance, just watch Sherlock’s epic wedding speech/investigation in the middle episode The Sign of Three.

 

Modern Family (ABC) – In a fragmented TV world, Modern Family is the country’s most popular non-CBS sitcom and rightly so.  The Pritchett family antics may be reaching near-absurd levels, but the laughs are still there.

 

Parenthood (NBC) – While not necessarily for families, this is the best show on TV about families, not counting Sons of Anarchy.

 

Walking Dead (AMC) – This is the best TV show about zombies and cannibalism, not counting Madame Secretary.

http://youtu.be/j4GAs9TJVjM

 

Sons of Anarchy (FX) – For an example of how a cable network show has blown the doors off what an hour-long TV show looks like, here is exhibit A. This is Dallas meets motorcycles, only not really. Now that it’s over – time to catch up on Netlfix!

 

Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – Introducing a new diabolical character and plenty of nail-biting moments in Season 2, it was hard to resist the sad fad of binge-watching.  Maybe Netflix can wait at least a couple days to drop episodes this year, but we’re not betting on it.

 

Parks & Recreation (NBC) – We don’t ever want this show to end.  It’s brought us Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson, Chris “Andy” Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and we’re not even getting to the comic genius Amy Poehler yet. Watch this show before it gets renewed by the Bing TV stream.

http://youtu.be/oJiqVXQGz70

 

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) – The network that brought us Scandal and Revenge scored with another addictive hour of retro 80’s television updated with cell phones. This one’s almost a precursor to NPR’s popular Serial podcast, with Viola Davis doing the whole world weary/agent of amorality thing that James Lipton would be so proud of.

 

Honorable Mentions: Scandal, Dr. Who, Nashville, House of Cards, Flash, Arrow, The Mindy Project, New Girl, Vikings, Homeland, The Newsroom, Castle, Ray Donovan, Blacklist, The Middle, Sillicon Valley,  Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Affair, Black Mirror, Amazing Race (won by Utahns this year)

What did you watch in 2014? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2014 movie, music and book selections, as well as TV selections from 2013, 2012 and 2011.

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