For me, it truly is the happiest time of the year! Why? I am in the midst of Stealth Creative’s planning cycle for 2020! Wow! New year, new decade, new moleskine! New clients with new needs! Our tried-and-true clients are looking for new ideas! The new year is invigorating. And oh, yes… I love the holidays, and how they give me energy to launch into the new year with vigor!


Many years ago, when I began my first leadership marketing job, I was still doing most of the work myself. I was the marketing leader for the organization, but for sure I was a lone ranger.

I, alone, thought of new ideas to execute. I alone did all the work! So ideas were limited to what I could dream up – and accomplish. And I didn’t have many tools, but to be honest, there weren’t a lot of tools available. (Marketing has come a long way since the 80s for sure.)

Taking a leap of faith

So, rather than continuing to go it alone, I hired an ad agency! After hobbling along for a year a so, I thought: Why not leverage the things an ad agency could bring to the table to help enhance my marketing efforts?

When you’re a sole contributor in the role of marketing it’s very lonely. Who do you ask to verify an idea is valid? The finance guy? How expensive is it? The boss? How soon can you do it? An ad agency can offer rational collaboration and immense help with preparation and planning to help you succeed:

1. Fresh ideas and perspective.

After asking one of my agencies for a ‘bubbling cauldron of ideas,’ they took a picture of the entire agency in a hot tub! I got that and much more from this agency. They were super creative and always bringing fresh perspective to my business.

2. Tools they had that I didn't

…even back then, such as media-buying software to ensure we didn’t have to accept for granted whatever the media outlets were telling us. Direct mail assistance with years of expertise in this specific tactic to offer best practices, A/B tests and more. And that’s just scratching the surface.

3. Hands and feet to help accomplish the work!

Often, you and your team know what you’re doing, have the expertise to do it – but just don’t have the time or resources available to execute. That’s where the right ad agency can serve as a seamless extension of your marketing team.

4. Saving time.

You can accomplish so much more to move the needle if you’re not always focused on the details. You can do more to move the bigger needle if you’re passing off the smaller ones. Take advantage of the effectiveness and efficiency an ad agency can bring to the table to free you up to focus on the things you need to.

5. Brand development from a longer-view perspective.

Most of us love our companies, and that can often mean our perspective may be a little myopic. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to see our brand from the customer’s perspective. There are many tools available today to help us see ourselves as our customers see us. Take advantage of those – and of your ad agency’s expertise to help bridge that divide.

6. Professionals to execute across all media.

Copywriters, media buyers, graphic designers, social media experts, videographers, website designers, PR professionals, and more. No training needed. Your marketing team may include several of these, but maybe not all. Using an agency for those areas of expertise you may not have on staff is a great way to expand your marketing team – without actually expanding your marketing team.

7. See results.

Ad agencies are all about achieving results for you, your team and your company. That’s their job. Why not take advantage of all they have to offer?

So what happened after I took that leap of faith and hired that ad agency?

  • Our performance increased dramatically, and it really helped my career as well as those around me.
  • We suddenly were being realistic and on point with our customers’ perspective.
  • The right message was being sent at the right time to the right people.
  • We grew our customer base dramatically.

I always feel extremely thankful for those agencies from my early days. The people I reported to took a chance – and bought into the vision I had of leveraging an agency to enhance our existing marketing efforts. And it truly paid off.

Interested in learning how an agency may help enhance your marketing initiatives or serve as an extension of your marketing team? Reach out. We’d love to chat. And check out the second part of the Puddle Jumping With Mindy series: How Do I Hire the Perfect Ad Agency?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is one of my favorite quotes for several reasons. First of all, I know this is tough to do, but I also know it’s the bedrock of critical-thinking skills. Holding two opposing thoughts simultaneously also makes us grow and explore, which leads to self-learning – and makes us balanced in our thinking.

Ah, balance. The much-prized, must-sought-after balance. Something that seems to be a dwindling commodity in our world. Politics or religion – or pick your favorite controversial issue – somewhere in my study of life someone advised me to always study both sides of the issue.

If you read a conservative article on a subject, what does the liberal press say about the same issue? If you watch a conservative TV station, also balance your thinking by watching a more liberal one. One can almost discern a person’s politics by where they get their news today! It’s hard to open your mind to both sides of the topic, but crucial to growing and polishing those critical-thinking skills.

Positivity is an important quality

Which brings us to critical thinking in a positive world. To me, being positive is very important. In fact, on Strengthfinders, it’s one of my top skills. And while I truly believe it takes more than attitude to get a job done, a positive attitude is probably the most important ingredient we bring to any job.

We can do this! With the proper training and guidance, we can figure this out! However, we want to be realistic! Whoa, that sounds a lot like balance. What are the expectations? How long do we have? What are the key issues?

Putting conflicting thoughts to work

One of the earliest teachings of critical thinking was Socrates, recorded by Plato. He indicated that we cannot depend on those in “authority” to have sound knowledge and insight. This one principle can be applied in the workplace for amazing results: Hold two conflicting thoughts at the same time. Let’s use an example. Your company wants to launch a new product, and we’ll call that product Widget New. Conflicting thoughts might be: Maybe there will be a market, and maybe there will not be a market. How can I determine that? Curiosity! Let’s employ research, and ask more critical questions of the target market. But, it’s important to remain impartial in that research – even if it’s the CEO’s pet product, right? Here’s how I play that out:
  • Step 1: I’m going to have data, and analyze that data, and present that data to either show it’s a good idea or it isn’t.
  • Step 2: I’m going to then employ my creative brain cells to understand how to tweak the idea to make it work better.
  • Step 3: Finally I’ll go back to the CEO with a way to solve his/her problem. Wait; when we started, he/she didn’t even realize there was a problem!
Hence, the importance of applying critical thinking to the task at hand. Because now, either way, the CEO is going to grow in respect for me, and see me as:
  • Analytical
  • Curious
  • Open-minded
  • Creative
  • A problem-solver
Critical-thinking skills can be assessed and strengthened. The top five critical-thinking skills are the ones I mentioned above. Thought leaders of all kinds employ these to make themselves better. And often, it’s when trouble is on the horizon that your passion or enthusiasm, or your positive thinking gets ahead on the critical thinking. It takes both to make a project or new product launch successful. Want to talk more about applying positivity and critical-thinking skills to your business and marketing efforts? I’d be happy to chat with you. Shoot me an email or give me a call at 314.480.3606 today.

So this is the conundrum: The age-old question of risk-taking vs. more confidence in decision making. I’m an intuitive marketer, but I’ve done a lot of research along the way, too. I’m intuitive in that I usually know where to start a project and the direction to take, but I love conducting research along the way to inform the decision-making process.


As the sun set on 2018, 2019 quickly brought us an exciting opportunity! Stealth acquired a new client in Joplin, MO – Freeman Health System. We are so excited to welcome Freeman Health as a Stealth client; they are a wonderful hospital that has been operating since 1925, with a health network that extends into outlying areas.


Dear Santa,

I’ve decided to ask for something a little different this year. In some ways it may be easier to carry. But it many other ways, it will be harder, and may require a lot of your Christmas magic.

As usual, I ask for a lot, but whatever you can spare will be more than we could ever imagine!

Santa, I wish you could put magic in everyone’s heart.

I want them all to believe for as long as it lasts…believe in you and the hope you offer. Put it in their hearts to spread the magic to one other.

The Seven Cs of Christmas

What I want this Christmas is not a train set or the finest new doll. I want the seven Cs of Christmas for one and for all! 

  1. Contentedness. Be happy. We all are so caught up in what we want; let us be content with what we have, and be grateful for all that is around us.
  2. Connectedness. Help us remember we are all connected – no matter how different we may be! Help us to look at others with love and kindness in all that we do!
  3. Cheer. Look for the good things that happen during the next few weeks, and help us all remember the magic of Christmas might be behind the good cheer!
  4. Courage. Help us to help others! Help us have the courage to find at least one person (or maybe 10) on whom to focus our own Christmas magic; so they, too, can believe!
  5. Charitable. Help us to be generous in some way beyond what we normally do! Generous of our time, our resources or our money!
  6. Cheerfulness. Help us smile a little more! Help us find little ways to cheer up someone’s day – perhaps a child who would otherwise never see magic or an elderly person who’s lost a little of theirs.
  7. Compassion. Give us the compassion to reach out and hug someone who needs a hug or needs a shoulder!

Santa, my sincere wish is that you would share a little Christmas charm in every conversation we have between now and January 1 – that we may show respect for others, and focus on our common ground. I wish this Christmas season we could order up some peace on earth and good will to all – regardless of our differences.

My promise to you is that from now until January 1, I will shut off the news! I will go on a vacation from politics, while still wishing for positivity in our government and offer a sincere wish for better solutions to our problems for all of the good of all mankind.

Santa, I wish everyone would watch those old Christmas favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol or even A Christmas Story. And Santa, I wish everyone would sing at least once this Christmas season! Put on their hearts those songs that make them feel like they are eight years old again!

Now Santa, all this will take a dose of creativity.

Of all the Christmas Cs above, ‘courage’ is the biggest. Because it will take that courage to spread happiness and kindness and love and generosity! We need to know that with a sprinkling of North Pole Magic…miracles happen. Help us spot them! 

Thank you, Santa! And, Merry Christmas to one and all.

Recently I packed up my yoga mat and hiking shoes and headed southwest to the sleepy mountain town of Eureka Springs, AR. I’d signed up for the Women’s Full Moon Retreat for a weekend of introspection and relaxation. I will have to say, any retreat revolving around moon cycles seems a bit out there for me – spoiler alert: There were snakes, topless women and a few ticks – but, I was looking forward to peace, quiet and some yoga.


Recently, someone confided in me that their company was a hard place to work. “Why?” I asked innocently – maybe – or maybe not!

I love to accumulate these stories because it reaffirms my conviction about my days in corporate America. It was so bloody hard…to quote our friends across the pond!

Why was it so hard? Everyone in the company constantly second-guesses every decision. That’s not only stressful, but also rapidly starts to get into office politics – managing up and managing peers and managing a team and managing the work!

Is that enough managing for you? It sounds ineffective – not to mention exhausting – to me.

Let Me Tell You A Story…

In one of my first jobs as a manager I had a great boss, Bob (name changed to protect the innocent), who was analytical and finance based. Come to think of it, every boss I’ve had was analytical and financed based, which is wrong, but that’s fodder for another blog.

So, here I was barely out of college, and this guy’s expression often brought to mind a cartoon bubble over his head, reading, “Are you sure?” Why? He didn’t want to make a mistake. He was barely out of MBA school, and he really didn’t want me to make a mistake either.

I think as an employee, I tried even the best person’s nerves. Why? I was constantly offering tons of ideas and different (non-analytical) ways to look at problems. I was the opposite of a linear thinker. In fact, they once sent me to a training program about how to communicate in a straight line. It was quite effective, but I ended up with a tick.

Back to the story…so I said: Bob, this isn’t going to work for me. I am about to launch this campaign, media buy, mail piece, big event, fill in another project, and you are just now asking: Are you sure?

No. No one can ever be 100% sure! But, I’m relatively confident in the campaign approach, yes – otherwise, I wouldn’t be launching it. Instead, what if we debrief after the campaign vs. second-guessing right before launch and causing delays? We shook on that deal quickly and never looked back.

The reason I’m sharing this story is to illustrate that you cannot be a very good marketer if you can’t get the campaign launched because of internal roadblocks – or politics!

So let’s look at some ideas that worked for me in a far off time and crazy land called Corporate America!

Rule 1: Don’t Stop A Project On The Start Line; Instead, Rehash And Debrief On The Finish Line.

This makes for a good partnership between analytical types and high performers because both love metric-driven campaigns.

Pro tip: To be able to debrief, you must set up metrics before your campaign launches.

Rule 2: Set Up Time To Keep Your Boss Informed!

I preferred one-on-one meetings weekly with a standing agenda. I would print it out/email it to the boss ahead of time, which allowed him to add anything he wanted to talk about as well. This organized approach helps drive connection and seek input into performance without the second-guessing or input coming at the wrong time. Pro tip: Here’s a sample agenda you could use:


    1. Staff challenges/concerns
    2. Project/campaign discussion
    3. Ideas I have!
    4. Boss’ pain points? (Remember, your boss most likely has a boss, too!)
    5. Metrics from last projects/campaigns
    6. Agree on top priorities until the next meeting

Rule 3: Keep The Boss Informed And In The Loop To Avoid Surprises Or Confusion That Cause Internal Roadblocks.

There are some widely held beliefs that managing your boss or ‘managing up’ into the organization is negative. It’s implied that people who manage up well are horrible at managing everything else; they are just politicking up.

While, each situation is different, and this may be the case in some instances, what I’m talking about here is dispelling this belief. Your position, as a manager, is to keep everyone informed, but most importantly, to keep the boss informed.

Pro tip: One way to avoid being painted with the ‘managing up’ swath is to make sure you don’t go around bragging about how well you manage up or how well you manage your boss. Just do it, and call it keeping everyone in the loop to stay on the same page throughout the project/campaign. Bosses can be very insecure; so be sensitive to the optics, while ensuring you get your job done – and done well.

Rule 4: Assessments Are Your Friend.

I am an advocate of assessments. The first thing I do on my first day at a new job – and still to some extent in the entrepreneurial world – is talk with my new boss to give him or her insight into my strengths/weaknesses. I offer an assessment that explains how the boss can best manage and motivate me.

This can be a great way to not only share how you’d like your boss to manage and motivate you, but also what you’d rather a boss not do. For example:

    • I don’t respond well to micromanaging. I will keep you in the loop throughout projects/campaigns so there’s never a reason for second-guessing that can delay a project or campaign launch.
    • I have had great success analyzing a project/campaign after when we have results, which enables us to adjust for the next one.
    • Let’s set a plan now for continuous improvement.

Add your own spin to this list to set the stage from the get-go as to what will work and what you know won’t to ensure your boss and company get the most out of your performance. My superiors loved this approach and so did my subordinates.

Pro tip: There are a lot of assessment tools out there, such as CliftonStrengths or RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT), and you can do this very easily. Try it for yourself to see how insightful it can be. And then, get to the point you can talk about it: “These are my operating instructions. This is how you get the most performance out of me!” Who would say no?

 Rule 5: Get A Mentor!

People love to help one another. Please let the universe confirm this! Peace, love and apple pie – I do believe that. Find someone you admire or someone that has done it before. Someone like that can really give you a roadmap.

Pro tip: The truth of the matter is: You have to work for quite a few frogs before you find someone who is brilliant to learn from and work with through the end of your career.

In general, I think the higher you go in an organization, the better the boss. There are several reasons for this: First, lack of widespread managerial training. Second, I think management is a skill some people have and others learn, but everyone is not a good manager. Some of my most valuable lessons came from working for really bad examples. The good news is people like that can make subordinates look fantastic!

The Bottom Line

While there’s no one right way to navigate the politics of the business world, these five rules should help put you on the right path. I wish you luck in working the internal maze of corporate America!

Want to chat more? Reach out today.

I am a goal-oriented person. I set goals in every area of my life.


I spent 26 years in an extremely linear world. What is a linear world, you ask? Oh my, the places I will take you! Financial places, engineering places, hospital places, insurance places.

Linear places.

In these linear places, I was coached – yes, coached – on how to think and communicate linearly. Thinking back on that now, it seems so crazy to me. It’s like shutting down one of my basic senses.

People who think linearly may say things like:

• That’s the way we’ve always done it.
• Don’t ask me why; just do it!

Nowadays, more people are being coached about how to think in a non-linear fashion. Want to go non-linear for awhile? Follow around a two-year old for a day!

Defining linear thinking

Linear thinking put things in order as experienced and then expresses thoughts the same way. This type of thinking proceeds in a sequential manner, like a straight line. After all, a straight line between two points is the most efficient way to get from one place to another, right?

The challenge with that is that life – and work – doesn’t follow a straight line.

Working in linear places made me realize how different creative people and marketing people can be, and both sides know it right away. Getting quickly to the issue: It’s why manufacturers find it hard to market their products. The two types of thinkers find it hard to communicate because they view things completely differently and think very differently. They speak different ‘thinking’ languages.

Non-linear thinking is much more fun

Ok, my bias, granted, but here’s how non-linear thinking is defined:

Human thought characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction. Non-linear thinking is based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to a problem.

For example, here’s how to approach a problem thinking non-linearly:

1. Define the problem as many ways as you can! How can you think about the problem differently? How would an engineer look at the problem? How would a mother look at the problem?

2. Think of all the ways you could tackle the problem. Think of it from as many perspectives as possible.

3. Read articles you find about your problem.

4. Talk about it with others over coffee. This allows you to network and hear others’ viewpoints, which may spark something you hadn’t thought about yet, while building relationships.

5. Ask questions. Research who else is talking about this problem? What are they thinking?

6. Start to link and make connections between all the diverse information you are accumulating.

Non-linear thinking extends to many different areas as well. How many books do you read at once? How many ideas can you come up with before settling on one concrete concept?

Creativity lives in a non-linear world

I don’t like the sameness, the predictability. I LOVE to mix it up! How can we break out of the linear? How can we throw people out of their comfort zones?

I believe this makes people explore new thoughts, new ideas, maybe invent something that has never been done before! Most linears I’ve met begin to see how this can be beneficial – and maybe even fun – even if it is outside of their comfort zones.

It’s important to embrace the differences between the two types of thinkers. Linear people like order and process, and for roles that need that (think accounting and project managers), this is a critical skill set.

Conversely, if you want to invent something new, try something new or sell something new, we non-linears are the ones to bring to the party. Sometimes we might be difficult to follow, but we will take your business to new heights.

The key is being open to the other’s way of thinking, appreciate the differences and find the common ground so we can speak the same language. Let’s explore this together to see what we can accomplish.

Now, go forth, and be creative.

When brainstorming a blog name, there are thousands of ideas that come to mind. The most important aspect to remember is staying true to your brand. Yes, even blogs have a brand image.


Skateboarding, believe it or not, is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m known as the Tony Hawk of the office. In fact, when I’m not working, you can find me outside Stealth Creative gliding through the city streets on my board, the wind flowing through my hair, the adrenaline rushing through my bloodstream. Yes, I am that cool.


I once worked for a brilliant leader who had a saying: A’s are good in high school but bad in business. This was something he said often and was meant to be thought provoking.


Stop marketing like it’s 1999! I know we all miss the microscopic unemployment rate and the soaring stock market of that time, but things have changed – especially in the marketing world.


With back-to-school season upon us, I can’t help but flash back to the days of backpacks, sharp pencils and the first-day-of-school jitters. When I reflect on having young children, I can’t help but feel there is a critical person who gets lost in these annual weeks of stress: The working parent.