Lois Kelly: Foghound Lifts the Fog on Marketing Heaven, Alpha Fraidy Cats, Jerk-O-Meters, Seeing Patterns and More
Susan Bratton

Episode 10 - Lois Kelly: Foghound Lifts the Fog on Marketing Heaven, Alpha Fraidy Cats, Jerk-O-Meters, Seeing Patterns and More

This interview will restore your confidence that their are sophisticated communications professionals with maturity and elegance who understand how to tell a company or product story that gets absorbed. Learn how to communicate your company's proposition with more powerful outcomes. From deep in the cerebral cortex to the limbic nervous system - humans are wired to take in information through stories with an emotional hook. "Emotions are the most powerful ingredient for understanding," says Lois. You can leverage the subconscious social-signaling that happens at the beginning of interactions to make more of your connections positive. And you'll lean why big ears vs. big mouths are what matter.



Lois Kelly: Foghound Lifts the Fog on Marketing Heaven, Alpha Fraidy Cats, Jerk-O-Meters, Seeing Patterns and More

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com.


Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Thanks you so much for tuning in to the show today. I have dug up yet another fabulous person from the Internet marketing space for your listening pleasure. Today you’re going to meet Lois Kelly. She’s the co-founder of a strategic communications firm called Foghound. But Lois is best known as an author of a hot book in the market today, called Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word of Mouth Marketing. It turns out of writing a really well done book, she’s one cool chick. We’re going to talk all about Lois, find out what motivates her and drives her, what it’s like to write a book. We’re going to talk about obedience and favorite getaways. We’re gong to talk about her penchant for index cards. We’re going to talk about ‘The Name Chick’ and flip video. We’re talk about rep feeder. We’re going to find out more about seeing patterns, and what is ‘meaning’, not ‘buzz’. We’re going to discover some things about bravery. And never leave out Maxi Pads; we’re going to talk about Maxi Pads today, whoo-hoo! You’ll find it all on Dishy Mix.


Lois Kelly: Why don’t people get it? Why is it so hard to communicate and why do people not understand… And I think it’s really interesting with how we all still learn in business. I think it’s why we really like sharing in online communities and we like networking with people at conferences, because it’s just sort of the way we’re hard-wired. We like learning by talking to people… You know, emotion is ‘it’. That’s like the superhighway to understanding… And they even have a little tool out of the same research group; it’s called the ‘jerk-o-meter’. And the jerk-o-meter, they’re trying to have some commercial applications. You can put it on your phone, and then if you’re, you know if you’re talking to your spouse or if you’re talking to someone at work, you can tell whether they’re really paying attention and interested in what you’re saying [laughs]… I think that so many of us who have dogs, and you know when you talk to your dog and if you say, “Now go down the stairs, and over to the tray, and get the bone, and bring it back,” your dog sort of looks up at you like, “What are you talking about?” And if you say to the dog, “Fetch,” they go fetch and they bring it back. That’s their language. And I think so many of us in marketing, we use like the long version, and our customers sort of look at us like, “What are you talking about?” when all they really want you to say is, “Fetch.”…

[music ends]

Susan Bratton: Welcome, Lois. Are you there?

Lois Kelly: Hi, Susan.

Susan Bratton: It’s great to have you on. You know I have been hearing… you and I have never met in person, but your name, your persona precede you because I have heard about you form so many places and in so many ways, and then who would have thought that good old Nettie Hartsock in Austin, Texas would have connected the two of us?

Lois Kelly: It’s a great way of how we all get connected.

Susan Bratton: It was inevitable, I think.

Lois Kelly: I think so!

Susan Bratton: So, I was finishing up your book this morning in bed. I woke up early because I knew I wanted to get to the end of your book. And I want to talk about it. But just before we set the tone for how you got to write the book about buzz, you’re running the strategic communications firm called Foghound. Before that you were the founder and president of Thunder House, which was a digital marketing agency. You were senior vice president of the Webber Group, which is a high-tech PR firm, and basically if I have to strip it all away, you’re a writer. You’re a great writer. You’ve written for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Brand Week, Ad Age, and Ad Week. So you’ve done a lot of that work in your life and it seems like that’s what’s driven your career. Tell us a little bit about Foghound and what the kind of the root of the book was. Did it come form your work at Foghound or how did you conceive of it all?

Lois Kelly: Well the book came from… I think it just came from years and years of frustrations, but even more now with Foghound, which, where CEO’s call and they say, “I don’t know, why don’t people get it? I spend all this time communicating, we have all these branding experts, and no one can understand what we do or why it matters.”

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Lois Kelly: And so, I mean it’s a very simple question. It’s like, I kept thinking, well why? Why don’t people get it? Why is it so hard to communicate, and why do people not understand? And those were the two questions, and I sort of just took a step back and the problem seemed pretty obvious. I wish it were rocket science, but it’s really not. So what I really looked at is people… you know so many of us get excited about our ideas and our companies and what we’re doing, and we kind of forget the other person’s perspective. And really at the root of it is understanding how do you help people understand what matters to them?

Susan Bratton: So one of the things that was a little confusing to me, and I guess you said it in that… you used the word ”buzz” I the title of your book, but you call it ‘beyond buzz’. Your book is called Beyond Buzz. And your premise is that, unlike buzz marketing, which is someone recommending a good product or reviewing a disappointing experience, you focus on ‘conversations marketing’ that helps people make sense of ideas through two-way dialogs.

Lois Kelly: That’s right.

Susan Bratton: And so, what your point was, was you can’t just tell your story from your perspective. You have to understand the other person’s perspective. And the book is all about, to me, telling a good story, in the way that people want to hear a story. It’s almost like you’re tutoring us about human behaviors, human psychology, almost the DNA of the way we learn.

Lois Kelly: It’s exactly the way we learn. And all the… what I found is that as business people we could take some lessons from schoolteachers. So all the educational psychology is around ‘how do you get kids to learn and embrace ideas and make them their own?’ And that’s exactly what I try to share in the book. It’s n educational term; it’s called ‘meaning-making’. You know, so if you make meaning, not buzz, it tends to stay with people. And the other thing I think is interesting in learning is that learning is usually a social activity. And I think it’s really interesting with how we all still learn in business. I think it’s why we really like sharing in online communities, and we like networking with people at conferences, because it’s just sort of the way were hard-wired. We like learning by talking with people.

Susan Bratton: So you talked about ‘meaning-making’ as an educational psychology principle. I your book you say that educational psychologists have found four things. There are four ingredients that have to get… that you need to get people to actually pay attention. I thought this was really fascinating. So you listed them as: relevance, context, pattern making, and emotion. Saying emotion is actually the number one piece of the puzzle.

Lois Kelly: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: But describe those. Describe what do you mean really by it. I mean you can kind of guess ‘relevance’ and ‘context’, but tell us a little bit of the…

Lois Kelly: Well, I mean the context is just what’s someone’s frame of reference? How do they see their world? So if you’re marketing retirement savings to someone who’s 23, you know they have a certain frame of reference, which is that they have their whole life, and not to worry. And then if you’re talking to someone who’s 55, they have a different context to how they see the issue. And it’s framing it from theri perspective. So it’s as simple as that. ‘Relevance’ is “why should I pay attention to this right now? I have so much coming at me. Tell me why this is important.”

Susan Bratton: So that’s a key one crack.

Lois Kelly: Huge!

Susan Bratton: Give us some examples of how you can conduct relevance to someone.

Lois Kelly: Well I mean I think it’s understanding what are, what someone, what business problems or issues or worries are in their face right now?

Susan Bratton: So that’s the problem-solving one.

Lois Kelly: That’s…

Susan Bratton: It’s relevant if I have a problem to solve my problem.

Lois Kelly: Right.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Lois Kelly: I mean it’s as simple as that, but I think sometimes people get so tied up I how transformational and wonderful and everything their things are, and people are just sitting there saying, “But why should I care right now?”

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Lois Kelly: So that’s what that is. The ‘pattern making’ is really interesting I that people like to see how things fit together. So I think the reason why people love when you say, “Here are the ten best practices,” or “Here are the three big trends,” you begin taking all of this and making sense for them, so they can see how all the pieces connect. So we just sort of love how all those things connect, and people really like it when someone else puts it together for them, because it’s a shortcut for them.

Susan Bratton: You also mentioned the use of anecdotes, which I love. Actually, the most brilliant people in the world to me are the ones who can make beautiful anecdotes.

Lois Kelly: Mm hmm.

Susan Bratton: Or analogies, I guess is the word. I’m using the wrong word. Analogies, that’s the one I want.

Lois Kelly: Analogies and metaphors.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, thank you. So is that a pattern? Is an analogy like, “Oh well if this happened in this way in this situation and that’s what they’re saying it’ll do in this situation,” is that it?

Lois Kelly: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So pattern making can be a really solid analogy.

Lois Kelly: It’s very helpful and it taps back to people’s perspective. So if you give them an analogy based on their world, they say, “Oh, I see that how that connects now.”

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm, mm hmm. And now ‘emotion’… tell us about that.

Lois Kelly: You know emotion is it. That’s like the superhighway to understanding. It’s very interesting, there’s in the political world, there’s a new book out that’s sort of like the book for the political season. And the whole book is… the title of the book is The Political Brain, and it’s about the role of emotion in political elections, because duh, we make decisions based on how we feel about things, or if we’re scared about things. Emotion drives everything. And what’s interesting in business is how people are afraid of using it. Or they’re just timid and they keep everything very rational. And yet when you look at great… I mean I look at… I remember for a while watching Jack Welch, and every time he would speak I just loved watching his use of the word ‘love’. You know he was just passionate. He used the ‘love’ word, and when you really get people with that emotion, they’re like, “Okay! You know they care, now I’m going to pay attention.” But I don’t think we use it enough in business.

Susan Bratton: So one of the other things that I noticed, in going back to kind of the human behavior, the love, the emotion, you mentioned that there was an MIT research person, at the MIT Media Lab, Professor Alex Pentland, Sandy Pentland. He directs the Human Dynamics Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, and that he does something called ‘measuring social signaling’. And that apparently he can be 90% accurate with subconscious social signaling that occurs at the start of an interaction, and that that signaling can be more predictive to the outcome of a situation than anything that anybody says.

Lois Kelly: Right.

Susan Bratton: Give us an example of that.

Lois Kelly: In business and marketing we often… you know “what’s the right message?” And we get all into the messaging. But if the person delivering the messaging doesn’t really believe it, neither will the recipients. So we’re automatically picking up on the speaker’s… you know, how genuine they are, how much they believe it. So you see companies making all this messaging and training and sales training and people aren’t really… they don’t really believe it. They’re not really bought into it. It’s not very interesting. They don’t really see how it’s relevant. And they go deliver it, and it just falls flat.

Susan Bratton: So it’s the tone and the emotion. That’s what you saying your book.

Lois Kelly: That’s right.

Susan Bratton: It’s literally more about the delivery. If you… You could say something that was pretty half-baked from a content perspective, but if it was delivered in the right way in a believable credible, with conviction, intense, good intention, whatever, that that could be just as powerful.

Lois Kelly: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Huh, interesting.

Lois Kelly: And they even have a little tool, out of the same research group; it’s called the ‘jerk-o-meter’. And the ‘jerk-o-meter’, and they’re trying to have some commercial applications... you can put it on your phone, and then if you’re… if you’re talking to your spouse or if you’re talking to someone at work, you can tell whether they’re really paying attention and interested in what you’re saying [laughs]!

Susan Bratton: How does it work?

Lois Kelly: The way they do it is they have a number of different social signals that they measure, and they’re built some algorithms into… so it has to work with different telephone operating systems; they kind of baked that in. But you can tell based on kind of the intent and on the passion how much a person speaks, so when people tend to speak loudly and they speak fast, they’re usually much more engaged in a conversation.

Susan Bratton: Hmm. So all the kinds of ways again about delivery. There’s another; I want to switch to another one, “meaning making’, lessons for the five-year-old mind in all of us.” One of the things you say is to appeal to your five-year-old mind, not your rational adult mind, in your marketing messaging. Talk more about that.

Lois Kelly: Yeah, you know one of the most interesting books I ever read was, Howard Gardner is an educational psychologist at Harvard, and he wrote a book on leadership, which really rocked my world. I mean it was a very dense book and it was very academic, but he looked at all, you know many, many great leaders in history and analyzed what it was about their communication styles that made them so effective. And he brought it all down to that he believes that great leaders speak to the five-year-old I all of us. So it’s really interesting when you think of the five-year-old… you know we want to hear stories, and we like short sentences, and you know five-year-olds they sort of like those swear words that disrupt everything and get people’s attention. And he, based on all his studies, says we’re hard-wired with our five-year-old minds. And unless you’re, you know a doctor speaking to other doctors, and you can go deep into your subject matter, for most other things we’re tuning in and we’re communicating like five-year-olds. And so it’s remembering those basics of the five-year-old. And I think sometimes we forget. We over-complicate it.

Susan Bratton: Another good way to use the metaphor, right? It’s story telling.

Lois Kelly: It is.

Susan Bratton: Leveraging metaphors appeals to the five-year-old self.

Lois Kelly: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: Uh huh. So you have this other thing you call the ‘nine block conversation planner’. I actually think this is probably the essence of your book.

Lois Kelly: It is. It is.

Susan Bratton: Is it? Good.

Lois Kelly: And I wanted the book to be titled Something to Talk About, because I think when people have something to talk about it jumpstarts conversations and then it opens things up with people. And then you can take it wherever it goes. And you know over the years… in some ways I’m sort of a geek, and I started just collecting what people liked to hear and talk about. So I looked at, you know when there’d be major conferences, I’d ask the conference organizers for, "Who were the top-rated speakers? And what were the topics?” And you know when blogs were first coming on I started to look at what blogs really got passed around. And so anyway I kept collecting all of this data and I found that there were sort of nine themes…

Susan Bratton: Now hold the themes. We’re going to go to a commercial break. And when we come back I want to talk about every one of those themes and just give a top-level overview of them. Would that be okay?

Lois Kelly: Okay.

Susan Bratton: All right, good. So we’re going to come back in just a second. We’re talking to Lois Kelly. She’s the author of Beyond Buzz. And were going to learn about all of the different things that are the most important ways that humans want to have something to talk about, what humans like to talk about, so that you can craft your message into one of these themes, to give people a reason to talk about you, rather than to ignore you talking at them. So this is your host, Susan Bratton. I’m with Lois Kelly. We’re going to go to a commercial break to thank our sponsors. I love my sponsors! Stay tuned, and we’ll be right back.


Susan Bratton: We’re back, and I’m with Lois Kelly. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Before we left for the break we were talking about the essence of Lois’ book, the ‘nine-block conversation planner’. It sounds a little complex, but I think as soon as Lois starts explaining to us these nine areas of conversation that human love to connect with, you’ll really get and begin to see which one might be the one, or the combination, that could work for your brand. So Lois, will you just walk us through those nine?

Lois Kelly: Sure, great, sure. I think the first one is aspirations and beliefs. And I think it’s really interesting; I always say that there’s a reason why religion is probably the biggest topic that’s always talked about and has so much word of mouth, but… Because you know aspirations and beliefs, it really helps us… you know we want to believe in something, and it helps us connect emotionally to the speaker and to the company that he or she kind of represents. I mean I always… you know Scott McNealy’s a great guy and you admired him, but I sort of tuned him out when he was always sort of just bashing Bill Gates and Microsoft. But then when he started talking about his aspirations to end the digital divide, I thought, “Wow! That’s kind of interesting.” So you know the aspirations really help us connect with the persona and see a bigger picture.

The other one that’s evergreen are ‘David vs. Goliath’ stories. You know we always are rooting for that underdog, and it’s sort of, when you’re the underdog and you have a really good story, and a really good reason to want to fight off the big goliath, people are sort of automatically attracted and they’re like, “Okay, tell me more about that.” So I think that’s a really interesting way to kind of hook people in.

The third one would be what I call ‘an avalanche about to roll’. You know it’s sort of like the sun is getting warmer and the ice is melting and you know there’s something big coming down. And we all want to know what that is, so that we can be part of it, you know before it happens, sort of like being the insider. So I think when we can share with people and make them feel like they’re sort of insiders and we’re letting them in on a big trend before it happens, they just love hearing about that. So that’s the avalanche about to roll.

You know the third… you know another one… I guess it’s the fourth one, would be anxieties, where you know we’re sort of nervous. Like [indistinct], should our kids, you know will they score high enough on the SAT’s to get into college? Will we have enough money to retire? And I think that companies can use those successfully, and I would just say we need to be careful because I think that our politicians have used anxieties so much that people are beginning lately to tune them out a little bit.

My favorite things to talk about are sort of kissing cousins. They’re people who have contrarian beliefs, you know perspectives that sort of defy conventional wisdom or counter-intuitive ideas that kind of fight with what our gut says is the right thing, or just the third cousin is just downright challenging assumptions. So when people say… someone gets up and they say, “You know, we believe quality control and quality management is a complete waste of time and money,” and you say that to a bunch of engineers they’ll say, “What?! What are you talking about?” And then you get into your point of view that it is, if you really design things right, you don’t need quality management. But it really brings people in, and it… I kind of like smacking people in the face and challenging assumptions to get people to see a different point of view. So I think those are, really can be so, so brilliant.

Another thing people like talking about are personalities and personal stories. I mean, we all do. It’s just hearing about people and how they got to where they are, and what motivated them or how they failed and picked themselves up… there’s nothing better! There’s nothing better, and I don’t think we use them enough in business. And I really think they help us teach lessons. They help us remember people. They help us see how a company has the strength to get through difficult times. So personal stories I love.

People always love how-to. You know, “Here are ten then ways…” to do whatever. You know, ‘here are the ten way s to market your law firm.’ Here are the ten ways to do this… So ‘how-to’; it’s that practical advice that people really enjoy. So I think that’s sort of very common, but it works all the time.

The one that I like, and it’s harder to do but it’s really fun when you can pull it off is sort of the ‘glitz and glam’. Right? So we’re like the celebrity culture; we just feed off of this stuff. And it just attracts us. And I think when businesses can tie into some glitz and glam, and I don’t mean talking about a sponsorship of something but talking about how what you’re doing… again we’ll get back to ‘what’s the analogy or the metaphor?’ So for example, there was this great article I read one Sunday about how Sarah Jessica Parker manages her money. And it got into the personal story of how she was poor and so how she was being very conservative in managing her money and she never wanted to be poor again. And I thought to myself, “Why isn’t my financial advisor getting a bunch of us together and talking about how people like Sarah Jessica Parker manage their money and how she’s helping us manage our money like that?” I mean it would just be a really fun way for a financial advisor to get some of her clients together. So I think the glitz and glam can be really, really, really fun.

And the last one are things that are seasonal and event-related. One example of this, and it’s probably been done to death, but I think everybody in advertising and marketing around the Super Bowl talks about their views on trends in advertising and marketing and who’s going to be the most-watched commercial. But I think there are a lot of other ways at different times of the year where companies can kind of tap into what’s going on, what people are thinking about, because it’s during those seasonal times or during certain events, like April 15th and we have to put our taxes in, that if you’re talking about financial planning and getting back to how do you make it relevant, well that’s when that stuff is really relevant to me. Either I… I’m usually writing out a check that’s painful, and I’m really open to new ideas.

So those are, I think those are the nine, and I just… it’s so much fun when you’re brainstorming on ideas to talk about, to look at those nine blocks and say, “What’s that? What’s that point of view?” Or “How could we tap into those?”

Susan Bratton: So you’ve really just boiled this down to what people want to hear about. And you’re saying, “Wrap your message in a way that people like to hear information. Tie it up.” And one of the things that I know you wrote was that people want meaning, not buzz.

Lois Kelly: Right.

Susan Bratton: And that meaning is the thing that actually triggers the action for our customers.

Lois Kelly: Absolutely. You know buzz is a rush. Right? It’s a rush. But meaning is a reason to do something. And buzz is all about sort of transactional, but meaning helps us develop relationships with companies where we really get involved and we want to connect with them in some bigger way than just saying, “Oh, that was cool.”

Susan Bratton: And one of the things that you cite as companies that are out of touch with their customers and are not having conversations with their customers, you use the word ‘doglish’ and you talked about a Maxi Pad campaign. Will you tell us the story of that?

Lois Kelly: [laughs] I think that so many of us, you know we have dogs, and you know when you talk to your dog and if you say, “Now go down the stairs, and over to the tray, and get the bone, and bring it back,” your dog sort of looks up at you like, “What are you talking about?” And if you say to the dog, “Fetch,” they go fetch and they bring it back. Because that’s their language. And I think so many of us in marketing, we use like the long version, and our customers kind of look at us like, “What are you talking about?” when all they really want you to say is, “Fetch.”

Susan Bratton: It’s like the Gary Larson cartoon; you know ‘what you say, and what your dog hears’… “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…”

Lois Kelly: Yeah, exactly! Exactly! [laughs]

Susan Bratton: [laughs] I’ve often found my PR strategies to be doglish! Damn it all!

Lois Kelly: Right, right. And I mean if you really listened to your customers and how they talk and what they want to talk about it’s pretty obvious. But that gets us to Maxi Pad, because Maxi Pad has a whole new campaign, and it’s called ‘Have a happy period.” Now I don’t know about you, Susan, but I have never met a woman who’s had a happy period, or there’s anything good about it.

Susan Bratton: Right.

Lois Kelly: And so they’re having campaign called “Have a happy period.” Last week I was in Dallas and I met an agency and they said, “Oh, we do all of Proctor & Gamble’s products.” And I said, “Do you do Maxi Pad?” And they said, “Yes.” I said, “Tell me,” I said, “Have a happy period…” I said, “Is that serious or is that just a big joke?” And they said, “It’s serious.” And I said, “Is the brand manager a man or a woman?” And they said, “It’s a guy.” And I said, “Could I meet the account director, on your business?” And it was a guy. You know, they clearly don’t get it. You know, and they have little note cards where you can send to another woman a little online card about, “I know it’s that time. Have a happy period.” What are they talking about?! [laughs]

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I’m not spending my time doing that.

Lois Kelly: Noooo, noooo. I mean they so don’t get women. Period, you know.

Susan Bratton: Period.

Lois Kelly: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: So that ties into something that you… you made a bold statement. You said the three missing competencies I business today are bravery, empathy, and listening. I hear the listening! Tell me what you mean… and I think we all get the empathy, right? You really do nee dot get the right people on the job to understand the customer. But what’s the bravery?

Lois Kelly: I think the bravery is that we have to take chances and we have to take risks to connect with people, and to try out new ideas. And we have to be willing to fail. I think that three… I just see so many people who are afraid to fail, and they’re afraid to take risks and be brave and try new things. And because of that, so much of the marketing and so much of the communications are so sterile. And it’s so boring. And people are so afraid of, “Oh we might insult someone. Oh, it doesn’t tell the whole story.” And there are all these… You know I just view people… I think in companies we have these sorts of ‘alpha fraidy-cats’. You know they’re like really smart people, but they’re really afraid to do anything, and to kind of be brave. I’ve been, I was at … talking to some folks and I played one of Paul McCartney’s new songs, and it’s called A Fine Line, and he talks about… the song goes, “There’s a fine line between recklessness and courage.” And I think that not being brave and not trying new things, and not letting a little emotion into our communications is really reckless! And all it takes is like a little bit of bravery and the magic that can come from it is very inspiring and motivating.

Susan Bratton: So what’s your biggest failure? And what was the time when you were the most brave?

Lois Kelly: Oh I think my biggest failure was when I had started a digital marketing agency; I was commuting four hours a day; I had a newborn at home; I was trying to raise several million dollars in funding; and you know… I just couldn’t do it all. And I hated myself. I just… I wished I could do that over again. I thin I learned how to be a much better leader from failing that. And I think the bravery was to step off of working for McCann Erickson and making lots of money and being in with the in crowd, and one day deciding, “I’m just not going to do this.” And I’m not really sure what the next step is, but I know it will be okay. So it’s sort of just you’re jumping off a cliff, and you’re thinking, “I’ll figure it out before I land.”

Susan Bratton: So you’re married and you have one child?

Lois Kelly: Yes.

Susan Bratton: How old is your child now?

Lois Kelly: It’s a 12-year-old boy. He’s 12 going on 16.

Susan Bratton: Twelve-year-old boy, that’s great! What’s the hardest thing about having a 12-year-old boy?

Lois Kelly: I think that the hardest thing is knowing when a 12-year-old is still a child and needs all that childlike attentions and nurturing, and when the 12-year-old is wanting to be 16 and you just kind of have to hang back and give them the space and also set new kinds of rules as well.

Susan Bratton: That, I think that’s true. Noticing when they’re going through that range.

Lois Kelly: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Let’s see… I want to do… we just have a minute or two left in the show, and I wanted to just get a couple of little tidbits out about you. So I want to say a word or two and have you just give me like a one-sentence response to that. Does that sound okay?

Lois Kelly: That’s okay.

Susan Bratton: Okay… ‘Index cards’.

Lois Kelly: Can’t live without them.

Susan Bratton: [laughs] But why?!

Lois Kelly: Because there are so many ideas in the world. And every idea deserves a note card.

Susan Bratton: ‘The Name Chick’.

Lois Kelly: I had, when I jumped off the cliff, I had a naming business. And I was doing naming for companies. And the business was booming, but I hated it because it got to be so subjective with people. And people just couldn’t make good decisions. So I had to let her go.

Susan Bratton: Let the Name Chick… kill it, you killed the name chick?

Lois Kelly: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: ‘Flip Video’

Lois Kelly: Flip video is a little camcorder that is so cool, that let’s you create such interesting videos, except this is where I want to be a 12-year-old, because I see the 12-year-olds with their flip videos, creating amazing stories, no inhibitions, natural ability to tell a story, and that’s what I’m going to learn how to do next.

Susan Bratton: Nice. That’s s good one. Did you buy yourself one yet?

Lois Kelly: Not yet.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So, let me give you a little clip… that’s a business expense; go ahead and make that purchase today.

Lois Kelly: [laughs]

Susan Bratton: For your birthday we’re buying you jewelry. You go get that flip video and write it off.

Lois Kelly: Okay.

Susan Bratton: You have my approval! You have my official approval because I’m very, very financially… ah, I have a high acumen. So let’s see… one more… ‘Repertory theatre’.

Lois Kelly: I think that theatre is so good for us, individually for our souls, but I think it also helps us build community in fascinating ways. I’m on the board of Trinity Rep Theatre. And after every performance we have conversations where people can stay and talk about what they just saw. My life has been so enriched. I have learned so much from people from all walks of life about what the world means and how they’re rethinking the world. There was one play about the war in Iraq, and hearing people who had never been in a theater talk about not just losing their sons and daughters physically, but losing the essence of their children in war. It just completely rocked my world, and everybody in the community; the way we feel is changed. So I think conversation… I think great theatre opens us up to new ways of thinking, and it gets us talking about things that otherwise we would never talk about.

Susan Bratton: Very nice. Very, very great perspective on that.
Okay, here’s your joke: If marketing heaven exists, what would God say when a marketer arrives at the pearly gates?

Lois Kelly: [laughs] “Welcome! We don’t measure anything up here.”

Susan Bratton: Yay! I hope I make it to heaven!
All right, I’m going to read you a poem, and then I’m going to end the show today with a quote that you can’t get out of your head. So first I’m going to read you a poem. It’s called Self Portrait. And it’s written by David White, from Fire in the Earth.

It doesn’t interest me if there’s one God, or many gods.
I want to know if you belong, or feel abandoned,
If you know despair, or can see it in others.
I want to know if you’re prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you,
If you can look back with firm eyes, saying, “This is where I stand.”
I want to know if you now how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
Falling toward the center of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing to live day by day with the consequence of love,
And the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat?
I’ve been told in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.

Beautiful, huh?

Lois Kelly: It’s so beautiful. His work just is amazing.

Susan Bratton: So I hadn’t heard of David White before. You said he’s your favorite poet, and so I thought I would share him with you and our listeners today. How did you find out about David White? How long have you been reading his work?

Lois Kelly: Well, I heard about him from… he actually gives talks to leaders about what leaders can learn from poetry. And he uses poetry to teach leaders on how to be better leaders. So it was from that, and he wrote a book about that, and then I got to his poetry. And one of the things I love is that when talking to leaders about conversations, and they’re like, “Well what kind of conversations should we have, and how much?” And he said, “As leaders, conversations, they are the work. This is our work, is having those meaningful conversations with people and helping them see and make sense of the world.

Susan Bratton: Well I think you’ve helped a lot of my listeners today make sense of the world. And think more about how they’re going to have those conversations. I want to close our show today… you have a line from a book that you can’t get out of your head. Would you share that line with our listeners and tell us why that’s still reverberating for you?

Lois Kelly: Sure. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, her memoir, which is titled Eat, Play, Love. And the line in the book… she’s in an ashram in India, and she has all of a sudden realizes that ‘playing is talking to God.’ Meditating is ‘listening to God.’ And what I love about that line and why I can’t get it out of my head is that, you know when we really quiet down, and when we begin listening, we see all kinds of new things. And you know it’s listening, when you listen, you know what God or higher beings or even our own spirit, that’s when we find out what matters.

Susan Bratton: Nice. Well I love to find out what matters, and you’ve taught me many of those things today. It’s been great to talk to you, Lois. Thanks for coming on. You’re…

Lois Kelly: It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Susan Bratton: Articulate, erudite, you’ve dissected communication and conversation for us. Thank you for paving the way and one of the things also that I’ll mention about your book is that you give all your ‘cheat sheets’, checklists, work exercises, all kinds… in the back of your book, it’s all there. So anybody can bring this into their organization and begin to manifest these conversations throughout the organization, which is great. Kudos to you for that.

Lois Kelly: Thank you.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, all right, well… I’m your host, Susan Bratton. You’ve been listening to a conversation with Lois Kelly, co-founder of Foghound, and author of Beyond Buzz. I’ll look forward to talking to you next week, and please keep listening for just a second, because there’s a post-roll ad from our sponsor on this show. Have a great day, and I’ll see you next week.


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