Re-branding the royals

Re-branding the royals

castle

The British royal family is a regular fixture in the headlines and Prince Harry and Megan symbolize the “new” monarchy evidence that it attempts to re-brand itself amid changing times and demographics. But re-branding isn’t a new thing. The royal family had undergone a re-branding in the early 20th century.

As the 20th century dawned the royal families of europe were all related through intermarriage. England’s King George IV was first cousins with the German Kaiser. But as the tumult of impending great war sweptthrough europe, the royal family was “Saxe-Coburg Gotha” as they were closely related to German monarchy. As anti-German sentiment rose, the people questioned the King’s loyalties and motivations due to the royal family’s blood kinship with German leaders.

Things worsened when air raids conducted by German Gotha aircraft dropped bombs striking a school. The Gotha bombers happened to bear the same name as the Royal family was a PR nightmare.

Royal family strategists deliberated and considered various options until they hit upon the idea of changing the royal name from “Saxe-Coburg Gotha” to the British-sounding “Windsor” after Windsor castle. Windsor castle had stood for a thousands years of British monarchy and the name was a s solid as the english stones of the castle itself. King George issued a proclamation on July 17 1917 relinquishing the use of all German titles and declaring the adoption of Windsor as the new royal family name. The proclamation also made clear that all German Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles, Honours and Appellations,” were to be ceased.

The change worked, and the people embraced their “British” royalty as their own and do so to this day.

–Selecting a strong brand that represents who they want to be and represent (“Windsor”)

–Strongly proclaiming the new brand as the new reality. (Authotritatively stated by the one who can speak to such matter, in this case the king.

–Backing it up with actions (from top to bottom british surnames to replace german names and titles).

–Carry it forward. Queen Elizabeth II is the fourth member of the House of Windsor. Since she is likely not going to be using “23 and Me” anytime soon her name, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, is British through and through.  And

Speaks to the power of re-branding and how performed successfully, it can manifest itself and becomes the new reality.

Peart on productivity

Peart on productivity

Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash

By the time the progressive rock band Rush called it quits in 2018, the Canadian power trio had been rocking for over 40 years, sold over 40 million albums, received a pile of awards and cultivated a devoted fan base that helped drive them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While all three band members — including guitarist Alex Lifeson and keyboardist/bassist/lead singer Geddy Lee — have enjoyed high regard for their musicianship and devotion to craft, drummer Neil Peart has served as captain of the ship, not only keeping time and dazzling the audience with a crescendo of drums, but writing the band’s eclectic lyrics. Peart died in January, and as musician, writer and adventure traveler, he left behind a body of work that includes 19 studio albums, dozens of compilations and nine books.

To mark his passing, what can be made from Peart’s prodigious output? Turns out there are a few takeaways you can benefit from even if you don’t bang on things with sticks for a living:

Commitment to craft. Known for his stamina and technical proficiency, Peart constantly ranks among the best rock drummers in the world. Fans and peers lauded his innovation and showmanship. Peart has said that he was never born with a talent for drumming, so he channeled his fierce determination for the instrument and coupled that with incessant practice. In the early years he took every opportunity to play and treated each opening act like it was his big break, until of course it eventually was when he joined Rush in 1974. There’s no magic to it, decide what area you want to improve upon and apply a consistent, disciplined cadence to your approach and you’ll hit your goals, too.

Stay restless! “When people talk about boredom I can honestly say I’ve never been bored for a second in my life — but I’ve always found a way not to be,” Peart said in an interview. He talked about thwarting boredom by “cultivating restlessness.” When he found himself with down time in between shows on tour he would ride his bike and check out new neighborhoods. Like everyone else, Peart found himself in doctor and dentist offices for appointments and always carried a book with him to use these blocks of time.

Take care. Peart referred to “care” as “an unfashionable word” but he used it to describe his perspective on everything he did. Approaching his song writing with care meant using a four words out of every five stanzas of draft lyrics. Deciding to write non-fiction meant riding a bicycle through Cameroon to live the experience he wanted to write about. Playing a show meant giving every audience his best and not just coasting through the show based on the band’s fame. “A performance will have as much care as I can give it, we never played a show where we didn’t give it 100%.” You don’t need to be rich or famous to impart care in all that you do, either, and doing so pays dividends.

Cultivate resilience. In 1997, Peart tragically lost both his wife and young daughter within the same year. He told his band mates that he was quitting Rush and he embarked on a 55,000 mile motorcycle road trip through North and Central America to deal with his grief. Along the way, he found a new voice as a writer and published Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. Eventually, he returned to the band to start anew and recorded three more albums and tours as well as a number of books. While life deals us a steady drumbeat of tragedies and setbacks, the key is to foster an ability to recover, adapt, grow and return to the stage with renewed vigor.

Always a student. By the early 1990’s Rush had made millions of dollars and was at the top of their game. It would be easy to sit back and relax and bask in the glory of being the best. But Peart thought differently. “What is a master but a master student? And if that’s true, then there’s a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.” Peart took his own advice and became the pupil of an acclaimed jazz drum teacher to further augment his skills and perspective. Whether you are at at a career high or low, you need to keep moving forward through learning and continuous improvement.

Fire it up! Rush’s Geddy Lee once remarked of Peart’s penchant for practice, “You’re the only guy I know who rehearses to rehearse.” When it came to living life Peart was all in. Instead of a standard five piece drum kit, he used a 360 degree set up with over 30 pieces. He didn’t just ride his BMW motorcycle on Sunday afternoon drives, he logged a hundred miles before breakfast on thousand-mile sojourns. Peart says it all comes down to passion. “The literal meaning of ‘enthusiasm’ is infect them with the gods,” Peart said. People can sense your enthusiasm—or lack of it— and respond accordingly.

As Rush cribbed from Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage and we are merely players,” so no matter what you’re role in this big show called life you can choose how to approach it, and choosing to do so with care, commitment, resilience and passion can lead to a memorable performance.

Key West Kingfish Quest

Key West Kingfish Quest

Photo by Mathieu Le Roux on Unsplash

When some anglers picture fishing the Florida Keys, they think of the big three: bonefish, permit and tarpon. Others envision battling a leaping marlin Old Man and the Sea-style or hoisting up a gleaming, fanged ‘cuda for the Instagram.

But if you’re looking for lots of action, look no further than the mighty kingfish. Also called king mackerel, these hook-chomping predators run between 10-40 lbs, and beasts pushing 100 lbs and 6′ in length are always a lurking possibility. No matter what their size, kingfish love a good fight, so on a trip to Key West we chartered a local guide to take us to them.

The March morning was warm and bright as Jake, our tanned, thirty-something captain met us with a wide smile on the dock. We hopped aboard his slick, 28-foot “Mean Green Machine” bristling with rod and reel rigs. Our spirits were rising with the early morning sun as I slapped on sunscreen and enjoyed the motivational sound of the outboard as we gunned our way to the first stop. We cut the engines and drifted among the mangroves. These hardy trees are adapted to survive in saline, swampy water and their massive, intertwined root systems offer an excellent hiding place for various species of fish.

A cormorant resting on a branch eyed us curiously as Jake flung a wide net into the water. A half hour later we had our live bait, a live well full of googly-eyed menhaden. “Look at ’em,” Jake observed as dozens of bait fish darted about the well. “Just a few minutes ago they were happily swimming around, eating tiny organisms for breakfast. But now they’re in for it. Circle of life, man”

Jake showed us what he meant, and opened the throttle on his twin 200 horsepower Mercury outboards. The Mean Green Machine knifed through the blue water like a fiberglass blade and banked toward open ocean. It was good to be at the top of the food chain and in a boat like this you felt in command of the seas, like you were Poseidon’s kid with special dispensation. But all that could change with 25 mph winds and a solid six on the Beaufort scale when they start flying the small craft advisory red pennant. We didn’t have that concern right now, and on the high seas, “right now” was the only thing you could count on.

Eyeing his GPS Jake eased back the throttle and as we slowed I could feel the hull settle into its full displacement. We came to a stop at an unassuming location in 40 feet of water about a mile offshore. There were no other boats in sight. “Here it is,” Jake said, as if recognizing some pattern to these particular waves. “One of my top secret spots. Years ago I dropped a bunch of concrete slabs out here and the fish love it.”

That sounded like a plan as good as any, so we got busy baiting hooks rigged to stout wire leaders. Then we dropped our offerings over the side and watched as their smooth silvery scales flashed aquatic desperation to any predatory things that might be skulking beneath.

Bam! We had a fighter on the third cast. The king mackerel hit, one after another, solid 40 inchers. Jake wielded his gaff and hauled them aboard, pure muscle beneath a seemingly scale-less silvery skin. “Careful of those teeth,” Jake warned as each kingfish brought aboard gnashed and snapped. They reminded me of the business end of bluefish off cape cod. Into the fish box they went. That night we would take them to a local restaurant where the nice white fillets would be blackened to perfection and served up with a side of rice and a local lager.

When fishing for kingfish there is always the opportunity for variety. Grouper can be found lurking amid the structure along with the bait fish that attract the kings. We caught several including a pretty spotted grouper, plump and just right for the grill. But Jake, intervened, apparently recognizing this particular pattern of spots. “Would you mind putting that one back? I’ve caught him several times before, he’s a friend of mine.” I was happy to oblige and with a swish of his tail the cute fella vanished back down to whatever shadowy crevice he called home.

A sharp tug on my rod and another fish was on–I saw the slash of white mackerel against blue water. My forearms and back ached from reeliong these beasts in and as I negotiated this latest fish to the gunwhale Jake reached out with the gaff. In a flash the water boiled and a huge form rose up like a giant log and my fish vanished as the line went slack. Total silence as we stared in disbelief.

“Did you see that?” we all said. Was it a shark? A barracuda? Some Lovecraftian horror oozing up from the depths? “That was a huge king,” Jake said, his eyes scanning the water like Ahab looking for a glimpse of Moby Dick. Kingfish it turns out, have no qualms eating their own.

As I reeled in the line it seemed heavier than it should be and I lifted a mackerel head out of the water — hooked in the jaw and severed behind the gills — for all to see. It’s eyes bore the look of something who’s day went from bad to worse.

“Drop the head back in!” Jake said. I obliged, releasing the bail and letting my macabre offering plummet to the bottom. We stood on the deck in silence and watched, there was nary a ripple on the water. Suddenly there was a bump on the line…then another. Then the rod seemingly of its own accord slammed down on the gunwhale and I struggled against something powerful before the line again went slack. This time I reeled in nothing but a frayed line…the head was gone.

“There’s something down there, man,” Jake said as we peered into the deep blue depths. “And it sure ain’t nice.”

Writing tips from the experts

Writing tips from the experts

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Need some inspiration? Here are selected quotes that can help you put pen to paper.

Cut the boring parts

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” — Elmore Leonard

More than ever, you need to fight for the attention of your readers. There’s no point in publishing content that isn’t useful and interesting.

Eliminate unnecessary words

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete itand the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

Write with passion.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” — William Wordsworth

The pro-tip here is that if you’re not excited about what you are writing no one else will be, either.

Paint a picture

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” — Anton Chekhov

This dude gets it. Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using similes, metaphors and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful emotional response.

Squash your inner critic

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath

Regardless of your endeavor, you’ll face criticism, so why do it to yourself? Create your best work and put it out there.

Keep it simple

“Vigorous writing is concise.” — William Strunk Jr.

Maybe it was all of those late nights, struggling to fill out mandatory 10 page papers, but many people still seem to think that worthwhile writing is long and drawn out. It’s more difficult (and effective) to express yourself in the simplest possible manner.

Do it for love

“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” — Mark Twain

When you’re just starting out it’s hard to decide where to begin. So don’t. Just start writing. A blog is a good place to start. The most valuable benefit is the feedback.

Learn to thrive on criticism

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” — Ray Bradbury

Writing means putting yourself at the mercy of hecklers, sycophants and haters. Learn to make the most of the insults and be skeptical of the praise.

Write all the time

“The way you’ll define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.” — John Irving

Write what you know…or what you want to know

“Learn as much by writing as by reading.” — Lord Acton

Successful writing is all about trust and authority. It makes sense to write about your area of expertise. If you don’t have a particular expertise, reading and writing is the best way to develop one and put it on display.

The power of persistence

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” — Octavia E. Butler

Nothing good comes easy, perseverance and consistency makes it look easy. Everyone watches the Olympics, but no one is at the skating rink at 5AM seeing the work that gets put into the performance.

Be unique and unpredictable

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” — Oscar Wilde

Following what works will only get you so far. Experiment with new styles, even if it means taking criticism. Without moving forward, you’ll be left behind.

Practicing positive politics

Practicing positive politics

Here’s how you can keep political discord from sabotaging your mood, ruining relationships and sinking business prospects.

Everyone knows that talking about politics can be instantly polarizing. It’s one of those subjects we’re told to avoid, particularly when it comes to professional situations. But dodging these discussions can be difficult, especially when we’ve got Facebook, Twitter and 24 hour news and “everyone” is talking about it. So when clients, colleagues or friends start talking politics, try these approaches to deftly sidestep the temptation of confrontation.

People live in different worlds. As this WSJ article shows, people actually construct and live within different political realities. Their social media connections, media outlets, networks, family and friends and personal experiences all support these core political beliefs. Such beliefs are extremely difficult to dismantle. You won’t “convince” a person that they didn’t enjoy going to a rally and hearing “their” candidate speak. And why would you want to try? Instead, ask what the experience was like and compliment them on their activism and involvement. You don’t have to believe the rhetoric or switch parties.

Be curious. Instead of feeling angry that someone could support a view you find distasteful, look to understand it by asking open-ended questions.  Maybe it turns out that their family business is taking a hit because of a particular policy. Why would you expect them to vote against their own interests? For example, if you believe a particular environmental policy is good for the world as a whole, try to understand how a particular individual would be affected. Some people don’t want a wind farm in front of their house. Instead of engaging in a debate, try a simple, “I understand why you would think that way,” and move on. 

The Sports Analogy. For many people, their political affiliation is as powerful as their allegiance to a sports team. They may have invested years of time, donations and energy into their beliefs. Some take pride in coming from a long family history and root for their party just like their home team and want their candidate to “win.” Think you can talk someone out of their partisan views during your lunch break? Even with facts? Try talking a die-hard Boston Red Sox or Green Bay Packers fan out of their respective teams. Show them all the stats you like, but they won’t throw away their jersey or favorite hat. Remember the sage words of Dale Carnegie in his 1937 classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

Put it in perspective. The parties create a cult of personality around the candidates and pit them against each other in an epic showdown of “good vs evil.” It’s standard operating procedure. But the reality is usually not like the playbook. John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were good friends in the Senate.  Abraham Lincoln was longtime buds with Alexander Stephens, vice president of the confederacy. George W. Bush and John Kerry were both members of the same “Skull and Bones” secret club. There are plenty of politicians who do battle in public but on weekends play golf together and have mutual interests. If political figures can get on well behind the scenes, there’s no reason the rest of us can’t, right? 

Avoid the negative noise. There’s a whole industry around political outrage. Writers get late night TV gigs and entrepreneurs hawk T-shirts, mugs and bobble heads. The big networks shovel cash at “experts” to bloviate and donations pour into coffers. Political social media hobbyists sink their time and effort into it. Because politics arouse such passions, people feel compelled to have an opinion and join the fray. People who are outrageous or larger than life tend to get noticed. But it doesn’t mean you have to play into it. The only person you can control is yourself. Turn it off.

None of this is really new. These days you will hear people say that “we’ve hit a new low” whether it’s the way campaigns are waged or the “qualities” of the candidates themselves. But this isn’t the case. Look up the election of 1828 that pitted Andrew Jackson against John Quincy Adams or the 1884 contest with Grover Cleveland vs. James Blaine. Read about the fiery words between Hamilton and Burr that resulted in their duel to the death. With some historical perspective you might think how folks from that time might consider our current environment to be quite civil by comparison. 

Take action. It’s easy to criticize our leaders from the couch. It’s easier to complain than to do something. It is likely that most of the people who try to engage you in political debate have never run for any office, not even their local school board. Many don’t even bother to vote. So the next time you feel compelled to criticize a candidate, consider Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

You don’t have to share an opinion. Instead of trying to inject your opinion into a discussion you can choose to adopt an air of mystery and focus on the other person. Pose questions like a journalist trying to understand their story. People are attracted to people who are interested in them. Talk to others with an open mind and a measure of respect, and you’ll win regardless of how any election turns out. 

Edward Klink

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Edward Klink

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