Daina Middleton, HP Marketer, Shenanigans and Power Tools
Susan Bratton

Episode 28 - Daina Middleton, HP Marketer, Shenanigans and Power Tools

Meet Daina, HP's gobal advertising and interactive marketing director for their $28 billion dollar imaging and printing business. Hear about her impressive roster of cutting-edge marketing programs from "HP Uncut" to "Project Direct," an online film festival with Jason Reitman, director of "Thank You For Not Smoking" coordinated with YouTube to the "HP Community Mosaic" on Flickr.

On this show, be comforted by a marketer who "gets it" and who is harnessing all the creativity and connection that the web can bring to a brand when in the right hands, in this case Daina's. Hear her manifesto to be transparent in her company's engagement with customers and to create a continuous brand conversation. 

Daina and her husband, Rob, own One Spirit Ranch where they raise Andalusian and Lusitano horses together. A proponent of the "mom and pop shop" they've built their house together in addition to managing their ranch outside of Boise, Idaho.  Daina has nearly perfect recall of the names of virtually any tool in existence and she's used most of them, including both arc and acetylene welders.  Part of that she learned as a range-land firefighter for the BLM.

Susan asks her about her "no regrets" policy in life; about her love of languages and their applicability to the semantics of search marketing and her most difficult challenges in life. Daina is the perfect blend of bold woman, courageous marketer, sweet mother/wife and authentic woman that appeals to all. Tune in to hear her secrets for success.



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

Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix, I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show, you’re going to be get to meet Daina Middleton. Daina is the global advertising and Interactive Director for Hewlett-Packard’s Imaging and Printing group. She’s in control of a 28-billion dollar piece of business, and responsible for marketing camera and desktop printers, but also supplies, which I think is where all the money is, I’ve heard, to consumers all over the world. And she’s a 14-year veteran, working across HP’s Portfolio with a focus on interactive since 1995. She’s truly an interactive marketer, and someone who I’ve known for a while, but recently saw again in New York at AdTech and was blown away by her initiative, so I immediately invited her on to Dishy Mix so you could meet could meet Daina, who’s an interesting person, solo, and hear more about her work at Hewlett-Packard.

Daina Middleton: What do you have to say that ties in with our global brand campaign? There has to be some form of dialog in the movie. And then a person has to exchange a photograph or pass a photograph to someone else, in the movie, a character has to. In fact, you could call America’s Funniest Home Videos the first consumer-generated content, if you will, before its time. They are best known, they’re used in Hollywood a lot because they’re very romantic in nature, long, wavy manes and tails, eighty-five percent of them are white, so they’re born black and then they gradually turn grey and then white over their lifetime. There are some legends that go back to the island of Atlantis, and the connectedness of man and horse, in fact there were some creatures that were thought of as, the centaurs, they were though of to be half-man, half-horse, because the riders were thought to be so connected with the horse, that literally they could, you know, become one. He’s my best my friend, and that’s probably the most important thing to me, is, you know, I can share anything with him, and do-

Susan Bratton: Total honesty. That’s great.

Daina Middleton: Uh huh. We call it, I don’t know what we necessarily call it, it’s more than transparency, it’s just that freshness that feels like the newness of the relationship has never gone.

Susan Bratton: Welcome, Daina.

Daina Middleton: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Susan Bratton: It’s great to have you. So Daina’s live in the studio too, which is a real treat, both for you as a listener, I know it sounds better for you, so I always really like that, plus I love the interaction of having Daina here, in the studio.

Daina Middleton: Yes, it’s great. Nice and cozy environment.

Susan Bratton: [Laughs] It’s definitely cozy! That’s great. So, on today’s show, we’re going to talk about everything from Andalusian horses to shenanigans, to power tools, including arc welders. Apparently Daina knows quite a bit about different kinds of welders, and I’m dying to know about welding equipment. We’re going to talk about her “no regrets” policy, I really want to hear about that, and the relationship of linguistics to search. Daina is very involved in linguistics, specifically in French, and she’s also Hewlett-Packard’s main search expert, and so she’s been connecting those things in her head and I want to hear what the synapse results’ been. So it’s good to have you here.

Daina Middleton: Thank you, it’s very nice to be here.

Susan Bratton: So a couple of the things I want to talk about first are some of the initiatives I heard you describing at AdTech New York. I was really impressed with two, specifically, but I bet there are others. I’d like to talk about Project Direct first, and I know it’s just about to have the voting-

Daina Middleton: That’s right, the voting is just about to come in this week.

Susan Bratton: So, tell us about Project Direct.

Daina Middleton: So, Project Direct is a program we’re doing with YouTube, it’s actually an international film competition, the first of its kind, for both HP as well as for YouTube. So we’ve invited people around the world, actually, in a number of countries, you can’t do these programs in every country, there are legal restrictions, and there were some country people very upset about the fact that their people couldn’t participate, but that’s just the way these things work.

Susan Bratton: I saw you had Japan, Spain, Great Britain -

Daina Middleton: Brazil. UK.

Susan Bratton: Australia?

Daina Middleton: Australia would love to participate but they can’t. They can vote, but they couldn’t submit any entries.

Susan Bratton: What are the restrictions?

Daina Middleton: They’re all legal restrictions. So, as you can imagine, the legal restrictions are different for every country, so when you go to do a global program like this you have to take that into consideration. So we would love to include Australia, it’s just that we didn’t get there yet.

Susan Bratton: But you got a good lineup of countries.

Daina Middleton: We did, and we’re asking people to actually submit a short film. We had three requirements: People have to submit a plot that’s above their age genre, this is working with Jason Reitman, who did “Juno” that’s just coming out as well as “Thank You for Smoking.”

Susan Bratton: Now, I saw “Thank You for Smoking,” and I really liked that. Wasn’t that Christopher Buckley’s book?

Daina Middleton: I think so, yes.

Susan Bratton: What’s “Juno” about? I haven’t heard about it yet.

Daina Middleton: “Juno” I haven’t seen either. I think it’s actually going to be debuted at Sundance, which is great for us because we’re actually taking the winner to Sundance.

Susan Bratton: Ok. Is that where you’re taking them, because you never really mentioned what film festival it was.

Daina Middleton: Yes, that is where we’re taking them.

Susan Bratton: So Sundance is the one everyone wants to go to, I’m sure.

Daina Middleton: Yes.

Susan Bratton: And is that in January?

Daina Middleton: It is in January/

Susan Bratton: Ok, great. And do you to go?

Daina Middleton: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Is it your first time?

Daina Middleton: No, I’ve gone before.

Susan Bratton: Oh, that’s good -

Daina Middleton: As long as you have good public transportation, not the normal public transportation, Sundance is fabulous.

Susan Bratton: Got it.

Daina Middleton: I don’t know if you’ve ever been, but, five hundred million people on a bus.

Susan Bratton: I haven’t, I haven’t been to Sundance, but I have been to Park City a lot because I love to ski the Deer Valley snow.

Daina Middleton: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: All that powder is great.

Daina Middleton: Yeah. So Jason Reitman came in and not only set the criteria, but also helped to judge, pick some of the finalists. We ask for submissions, we actually got a phenomenal number of submissions, nearly a thousand, from seven different countries, which is great. Twenty were picked, and then the public is actually voting on which one will actually go on and we’ll take the winner to Sundance.

Susan Bratton: Now, I interrupted you, because you were going to say there were sort of three criteria. One was – It had to be over your age range.

Daina Middleton: That’s right. It had to be over your age range, you have to say which – what ties in with our global brand campaign -

Susan Bratton: What do you have to say, that has to be in the movie.

Daina Middleton: It has to be some form of dialog in the movie, and then a person has to exchange a photograph or pass a photograph to someone else, in the movie, a character has to.

Susan Bratton: And shenanigans!

Daina Middleton: And shenanigans, they have to -

Susan Bratton: Do you remember the line? Because I have it right here, do you have it memorized?

Daina Middleton: Yes, yes. So, I don’t know who came up with the word “shenanigan,” I’m not sure if that was a Jason Reitman idea or if was the YouTube folks who are also fun to work with, but that line is forever repeated in those film submissions.

Susan Bratton: So did you work with Suzy Rider on this? Did the two of you hatch this up?

Daina Middleton: No, it was just working directly with the YouTube folks along with our agency, Goodby Silverstein, and the HP team, we make this. And I have someone on my team, Donna Stokes, who does a fabulous job working on programs like this. In fact, she spawned her career with “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” so this is a perfect venue. In fact, you could call America’s Funniest Home Videos the first consumer-generated content, if you will, before its time. 

Susan Bratton: Sure, absolutely.

Daina Middleton: So this is a perfect fit for her. She’s actually managing both of the programs that we’ll talk about today.

Susan Bratton: Now, I met a guy from Goodby recently at a San Francisco/Bay Area interactive group presentation named Mike Parker. Does he work with you?

Daina Middleton: Yes, yes he does.

Susan Bratton: I was very impressed with him

Daina Middleton: Yes, he manages their digital programs, for Goodby.

Susan Bratton: And does he do a good job for you?

Daina Middleton: Yeah, I think all agencies are trying to figure out how to bring to life ideas, it sounds really good on paper, it’s a great idea, and then you think, well, can we actually pull it off? That’s the challenge.

Susan Bratton: Right, I mean, with any of these, you’re super-exposed, you could have thing up on YouTube and gotten three videos. It’s always scary. You’re a risk taker, though

Daina Middleton: Or the wrong type of videos, right? You’re going to get some that are edgy. And often those are the popular ones, so you risk – When we came to the top 20, we reviewed them over the Thanksgiving holiday, to see what we were ok with, to make sure we were one-hundred percent behind whatever one would be chosen. And there was one that was – It was a fine video, it was great, it was creative, but it had some edginess to it, and you risk one way or another. You risk whether you take it down, you risk if you don’t. And so, we opted to leave it, and we’ll see what gets voted. I don’t know if you’ve watched any of the videos.

Susan Bratton: I haven’t yet.

Daina Middleton: They’re phenomenal.

Susan Bratton: All right, I’m going to go watch them.

Daina Middleton: They’re phenomenal.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I looked at everything in preparation for you coming today, but I didn’t look specifically at the videos. I’ve been busy, as well. We had our elections announcement today, for the Association of Downloadable Media, that was the industry association that I started in May. And we spent the weekend, like you spent Thanksgiving looking at videos, I spent the weekend doing press releases and posting things and getting all the information out for the announcement of the election results. So yeah, it’s always hard to get everything, I can’t consume everything I want to consume.

Daina Middleton: I know, isn’t that true?

Susan Bratton: It makes me crazy. Although last night I watched the craziest movie. I watched, it’s called “300.”

Daina Middleton: Ah, yes.

Susan Bratton: It’s consumer – I mean CG-based, roto-scoped, story of the battle of Thermopylae -

Daina Middleton: Mmhmm, yes.

Susan Bratton: The Spartans, it’s about the Spartans. And it was fabulously done. There was a little bit too much -

Daina Middleton: Blood, yeah.

Susan Bratton: -“Here’s the knife in, the blood squirts out,” everything, you know, over and over and over again.

Daina Middleton: I was on a plane with someone watching it next to me, and he said “Ok, I’ve seen enough blood for the remainder of the flight.”

Susan Bratton: Exactly. But the fantasy, the historical fantasy, computer-generated stuff was amazing.

Daina Middleton: That’s great.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, so I highly recommend that. That was – It was not really a girl movie, but you’re not exactly the typical girl -

Daina Middleton: [Laughs] No.

Susan Bratton: - As everyone is going to find out in just a minute. So we talked about that, and another film, or video thing that you’re doing is more bringing the internal HP out, is HP Uncut, which I think is an interesting program. Where are you with that?

Daina Middleton: So HP Uncut is a program whereby we ask our employees, inside Hewlett-Packard, to produce videos, short videos, that are customer-relevant. So, of things they actually do with HP products and services, tell their story. And actually take those videos and use them externally. We are consuming or gathering videos, and have quite a few, that we’re just starting to syndicate externally. This was a great program in the sense that it also energizes your employee base, in that because it really helps them tell their story about a lot of pride and energy around HP products and services that we actually have. HP has a long of history, and a rich employee depth, and this a great opportunity to tap into that depth, and share it with the outside world. So, that’s very unique. I haven’t heard of companies doing this kind of thing, and I think it has opportunity to go even farther into areas of support, et cetera. We have a lot of very enthusiastic, even engineers who would like to tell even  more complicated stories. I actually did a story related to my horses out there, my small business. I use a lot of HP’s products and services to create my marketing materials for my horses, to market my horses. And so I did a video with that. But there are also many that are more technical, about the individual products and services that we have.

Susan Bratton: Well, you live in a horse range called One Spirit, which is beautiful.

Daina Middleton: Yes, One Spirit Ranch.

Susan Bratton: Love the name of One Spirit Ranch. I think I know where you got that, because you tell a beautiful story of the horses there, and I’m going to ask you to tell that when we get back from our break.

Daina Middleton: Great.

Susan Bratton: But before we do go to break, I’d like you to talk about the HP community on Flickr that you have, called Mosaic.

Daina Middleton: Yes.

Susan Bratton: I’ve, I’ve been visiting that, I’m a member of that group, it doesn’t have that many members yet.

Daina Middleton: Not yet.

Susan Bratton: I want to hear how you’re doing with that, because on first look, it’s been up for a while, and it hasn’t – Hasn’t it?

Daina Middleton: No, it’s been up for like a week.

Susan Bratton: That’s it?

Daina Middleton: We actually delayed our -

Susan Bratton: Oh.

Daina Middleton: Again, legal issues.

Susan Bratton: It’s the bane of your existence.

Daina Middleton: It is.

Susan Bratton: Ok, so then it’s fine for a week.

Daina Middleton: It is. It’s brand-new.

Susan Bratton: So I was hearing about it early when I heard you speak last month?

Daina Middleton: Yes, when I spoke in New York I thought we were a week away from launching, and we didn’t get it out the door until after Thanksgiving, so -

Susan Bratton: Ok, so you’re doing great. And so tell everyone  who’s listening, because the listeners of Dishy Mix are very likely to become members, so tell us what you want us to.

Daina Middleton: So, for Flickr, you go to Flickr and join our group. It is a great opportunity, it is HP Mosaic, if you type it into Flickr, you can find it that way.

Susan Bratton: Easy to find.

Daina Middleton: It is easy to find. You can also do a search and just -

Susan Bratton: Just Google it.

Daina Middleton: Yeah. Upload your photos and join the group. There’s a themed discussion, and that theme will change from time to time.

Susan Bratton: It’s nature right now, I think.

Daina Middleton: It’s nature right now, so I’ve actually joined as well, and uploaded my photos. I haven’t had the opportunity to actually go back and provide commentary, but the photo will actually get larger the more people view it, so when you when come to the page, there truly is a photo mosaic. And it’s an opportunity to really share and communicate on a certain theme. Now, over time, our hope is, because there is the geotagging capability on Flickr, that we can take this to out-of-home. So we could, for example, wrap a building, again, using HP’s technology, because we own the printers -

Susan Bratton: Those great, big, big, big, side-text.

Daina Middleton: And we have the opportunity to say, here’s the expression, map, if you will, in New York, around a specific theme. And we have some trade shows coming up in Europe, actually, in the Spring, around the large format business. Those people who are really into those building, wrapping printers. And our hope was to showcase, even for those events, some themes, using the Mosaic as a context for that. 

Susan Bratton: And where is that event?

Daina Middleton: It is in Germany.

Susan Bratton: In Germany. What’s the show called?

Daina Middleton: It is called DRUPA, and don’t even ask me the acronym for that name.

Susan Bratton: It’s all right.

Daina Middleton: It happens only every four years, which is why it’s such a big deal, it’s not something that happens every year, and so it’s hard to believe it’s already been four years since the last one. But our hope is with this one, it’s a great opportunity to not only take consumer-generated content, but also showcase in the format for those large print-service providers that are so passionate about that space.

Susan Bratton: So if we wanted to stack the deck in our favor and have one of our images chosen for you to wrap a building at the DRUPA convention, what do you think you’re looking for that we could upload that would it make it most likely to be chosen?

Daina Middleton: I don’t think it would be one image in particular, it would be a series. So in all likelihood, it will be the geographic location that would get the most-

Susan Bratton: So we should register as being from Germany? [Laughs]

Daina Middleton: Or from somewhere. Because we might not just do Germany, it depends on who is going to take advantage of the opportunity. If we get a ton of submissions from Palo Alto-

Susan Bratton: [Laughs]

Daina Middleton: Then I don’t know how we’d wrap a building in Palo Alto, but maybe San Francisco or something. So I think that’s the opportunity, it’s, where are we going to get a core volume of people? And you just never know, it’s like the Project Direct program. I mean, we had six, or I think maybe five finalists from Spain. You know, who would have known? We wouldn’t have known how many, and we had a fair number from Brazil.

Susan Bratton: Latin America’s very creative.

Daina Middleton: The whole Latinos, in general, some submissions from Italy were just amazing. So you just never know where those submissions are going to come from, which community is going to latch on to that idea and where it just spreads virally. And that’s part of the lesson of this, is learning, trying to figure out, “How does this work?” And “what does this – How does it ultimately benefit us?”

Susan Bratton: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think, in a way, what you’re doing is not philanthropic, but gratitude marketing. You’re letting your customers shine by using your products. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Daina Middleton: Thank you.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I really appreciate it. Let me see if I can get some good images up there for you.

Daina Middleton: That would be great. [Laughs] We’ll take them.

Susan Bratton: [Laughs] Good! Well, we’re going to go to break, and when we come back, I want to hear more about One Spirit Ranch and Andalusian ponies and all kinds of fun things, and of course, the power tools. [Laughs]

Daina Middleton: Great.

Susan Bratton: You’re my kind of woman, Daina. So we’ll be right back, stay tuned. You’re getting to know Daina Middleton. Daina is in global advertising and interactive marketing at Hewlett-Packard, and I’m your host, Susan Bratton. We’ll be right back.


Susan Bratton: All right, we’re back with Daina Middleton. Daina is from HP and we got to hear about some of her really interesting work projects at the beginning of the show, and now I want to move into your personal life, Daina. She’s like “Oh no!” [Laughs] You knew what you were getting into, didn’t you? [Laughs]

Daina Middleton: Yes, I did, unfortunately.

Susan Bratton: Oh, no, no, no. So, you live outside of Boise, Idaho, in a place called Sweet.

Daina Middleton: Yes, home sweet home.

Susan Bratton: Home sweet home. What a beautiful name for a town. I guess probably named after a man, some old man.

Daina Middleton: And it’s actually not much of a town, there’s a little tiny post office, and a bar – what town doesn’t have a bar? – and that’s pretty much it. Everything else is about 14 miles away, is the closest. If you need to go the grocery store or the gas station, you’re going to need to travel a bit.

Susan Bratton: And One Spirit Ranch, it’s your husband, you have three children, tell us about them.

Daina Middleton: Sure. I have three kids, wonderful kids. I have my oldest son is 20, and he’s actually majoring in marketing at the University of Idaho. Then I have an 18-year-old daughter who’s a senior in high school, and then a 14-year-old son.

Susan Bratton: So you’re living with three teenagers. How is that like?

Daina Middleton: Well, two now.

Susan Bratton: Two. How’s that going for you?

Daina Middleton: It’s actually been going really great. I’m blessed to have good kids, my daughter’s really heavily into sports, again, another non-typical blonde, probably, and then I guess we’ll be stuck with my youngest for a little while longer, but he’s also a great kid, so…

Susan Bratton: I’m sure. I’m sure you’d be happy to have him around for as long as you can probably keep him.

Daina Middleton: Yeah, well I’ve heard they move back these days.

Susan Bratton: Right, I’ve heard that too.

Daina Middleton: You never know.

Susan Bratton: And, so, did you grow up in Idaho?

Daina Middleton: I did not.

Susan Bratton: Where did you grow up?

Daina Middleton: I was born here in California, actually, I was born in San Luis Obispo.

Susan Bratton: Oh, beautiful there.

Daina Middleton: And then I moved to Oregon about when I was six, but my dad worked on big ranches, and so we moved from big ranch to big ranch. And when I say big ranch, I mean, like the ZX Ranch, which is owned by Campbell Soup Company. It’s literally millions of acres. And so, that’s where –

Susan Bratton: What do they do? Make their meat on it?

Daina Middleton: That’s pretty much. Because it’s just desert land, and so, when I was 14, I used to ride my horse 40 miles a day and never see a fence. I used to leave the house before light and not come home – You think about that today in the context of your kids and it’s kind of mind boggling.

Susan Bratton: It’s not for me. I’d want to let my kid have that kind of life.

Daina Middleton: The cell phone. I think there is a certain degree of freedom that’s necessary to allow kids to develop a sense of responsibility, and it’s very difficult to do that today…safety constraints.

Susan Bratton: Well, and I think it mostly just comes from the peer pressure of other parents, you know?

Daina Middleton: That’s true.

Susan Bratton: You start clamping down because you’re worried about what other parents will think of you, and I really try to go against that as much as I can and give my kid as much freedom as I think she can handle. It’s hard, that’s the hardest part of parenting, is actually parental peer pressure, not what your kids want, you know? And so, you moved there with Rob, your husband, when? How long ago did you get your ranch?

Daina Middleton: Well, let’s see, I owned my ranch before Rob, so Rob is my second husband.

Susan Bratton: Right, you lost your first husband.

Daina Middleton: I lost my first husband.

Susan Bratton: How old were you when you lost him?

Daina Middleton: Um, how old was I? In my early thirties, I guess, around 30.

Susan Bratton: And, what happened, how did he die?

Daina Middleton: He got a form of dementia.

Susan Bratton: Oh my God.

Daina Middleton: That, who knows, how or why, that ultimately ended up killing him over a series of years, but it was very quickly that he lost all faculties, so.

Susan Bratton: Holy cow. So he has some erratic behavior, you’re totally worried, and then all of a sudden you find out your husband has dementia. Wow. So you were a young woman.

Daina Middleton: Two little kids.

Susan Bratton: And you had to institutionalize your husband. Oh, that’s awful.

Daina Middleton: Just one of those things that you can’t predict in life, you know. Have to just take the new step.

Susan Bratton: And then is your third, your 14-year-old son, from Rob, your current husband?

Daina Middleton: Ah, no, we don’t have any. So the oldest is Rob’s, and the next two are mine. So we have his and mine but no ours.

Susan Bratton: Got it. Ok. I got you, so that’s his son from his first marriage. So how long have you been remarried?

Daina Middleton: I’ve been remarried almost ten years now.

Susan Bratton: And you’re very much in love with your husband, and you love to do everything and anything with him.

Daina Middleton: I’d love to. I’d do everything with him, if I could.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. And so, One Spirit, tell us the story of One Spirit, first of all you have to explain what Andulsians or Lusitano horses are. So tell the story of that, and how that feeds into one spirit.

Daina Middleton: So Andulusians and Lusitanos are one of the oldest breeds in the world, they come from the Costa del Sol region of Spain. Both from Portugal as well as Spain, so the Lusitano is really the Portuguese breed, the Andulsian is the Spanish breed. They really are one and the same in terms of-

Susan Bratton: Genetic pool?

Daina Middleton: Yeah, the genetic pool originally. It was not until the 1970’s that Portugal really wanted to reclaim their horse, and renamed it back into the Lusitano, before that it really was one breed. And today, other than what man breeds them for, or specific differences, they really are one and the same. Portugal, for example, still uses the horse for bull fighting in the ring. Spain does not. They are best known, they’re used in Hollywood a lot because they’re very romantic in nature, long, wavy manes and tails, eighty-five percent of them are white, so they’re born black and then they gradually turn grey and then white over their lifetime.

Susan Bratton: Wow, how long does that take?

Daina Middleton: It depends on the horse. Some of them grey faster than others, so everyone one is different. I have a filly who was born black, and she’s coming to this spring, and you can just see the little while flecking in her black hair, but gradually it’ll get more and more lighter as she goes. Um, they are quite large.

Susan Bratton: How large?

Daina Middleton: They can be sixteen hands.

Susan Bratton: So like a quarter horse.

Daina Middleton: Bigger than a quarterhorse.

Susan Bratton: Bigger than a quarterhorse, ok.

Daina Middleton: And the quarterhorse comes from the Andalusian, because if you think about it, there were no horses here in the Americas, they came with the Conquistadors from Spain.

Susan Bratton: Right.

Daina Middleton: So, the Morgan, the Appaloosa, the Mustang, the quarterhorse, most American horses came from the Andalusian originally.

Susan Bratton: I’ll be darned. Wow.

Daina Middleton: So it is a very old breed.

Susan Bratton: And one of the things that I read that I thought was funny was that they have a very good rear end, rear end impulsion.

Daina Middleton: Yes.

Susan Bratton: What the heck’s a rear end impulsion?

Daina Middleton: Just lots of strength in that rear end.

Susan Bratton: Ah.

Daina Middleton: So, if you think about it, the Lipizzaner horses are eighty-five percent Andalusian, and so they can do the phenomenal, you know, airs above the ground, where they leap with a rider on their back, which was a war technique at one point in time, where you would leap over your battle foe, if you will. They’re also very courageous, I notice this compared to my quarterhorses. You know, you’ll be mowing the lawn, and the quarterhorses run away from the lawn mower.

Susan Bratton: Right, a lot of flight.

Daina Middleton: The Andalusians come, become it’s going to blow grass at them, so then there’s some concrete processing that goes along with Andalusians, it’s a nice, grounded approach to horses.

Susan Bratton: And so, tell us the story of the One Spirit, because, that’s really tied to the story of that breed, too, right?

Daina Middleton: It is, it’s actually a blend of both, so the One Spirit comes from two places. One is our philosophy with the horse, which, if you look at the origins of the breed, there are some legends that go back to the island of Atlantis, and the connectedness of man and horse, in fact there were some creatures that were thought of as, the centaurs, they were though of to be half-man, half-horse, because the riders were so connected with the horse, that literally they could, you know, become one. And so there is a lot of history with that breed, and I actually can demonstrate that with the horse that I have, I can be in a full gallop, and if I think about stopping, he will actually start to stop, and I’m sure it has something to do with how my brain transmits a movement in my body, that he detects, that causes a reaction. So really, it’s about a philosophy of the horse, where the horse is a flight creature, we are a predator, and if you know that a horse doesn’t intend to hurt you, necessarily ever, they’re just reacting because of the flight fear. So, treating them with respect, treating them like one of our kids, as we tend to do, with mutual respect, and truly getting to that one spirit, and it’s quite a challenge. I don’t ride as much as I’d like to these days. I’m just too busy, but it takes a lot of work to truly become one with the horse. And then the secondary philosophy having to do with One Spirit was having to do with Rob and I. Because you know, we feel very connected, always, in many different ways. And so, it was just that blend of let’s raise a horse that really commands that philosophy along with, you know, the strength, and the spirit of the love that hopefully surrounds our entire family, and the horses being an extension of that.

Susan Bratton: What are your two favorite things about your husband? What do you love about him the most?

Daina Middleton: Um, probably that he can span the diversity of who I am, because I love to get dressed up and go to a play in New York, at the same time, I love to -

Susan Bratton: You love pink champagne and chocolate, and you like arc welding.

Daina Middleton: Travel internationally, as well as roll up my sleeves and mix up a batch of grout and lay some tile with him. And, you know, there aren’t a lot of people who span that spectrum, and I like spanning that spectrum, it’s part of who I am, and it’s hard finding someone who can truly do that with you.

Susan Bratton: That’s what makes you so appealing to me, as well. I like that about you, and it’s the think that draws me to people in general. And I think you’ll find on Dishy Mix, in almost everybody that comes on, I’ve found them to be, to have a breadth of interest, and I think that’s a really admirable trait in people. I think you and I share an admiring of that -

Daina Middleton: Depth.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. That’s great. So that’s the first thing you love.

Daina Middleton: That’s the first, and the second is, he’s my best friend. And that’s probably the most important thing to me, is that, you know, I can share anything with him, and do-

Susan Bratton: Total honesty. That’s great.

Daina Middleton: We call it, I don’t know what we necessarily call it, it’s more than transparency, it’s just that freshness that feels like the newness of the relationship has never gone.

Susan Bratton: And tell me, I think this feeds well into your “no regrets” policy. I admire that you have that. I don’t have a “no regrets” policy; I wish I did. A lot of times, I take action, and it feels like the right thing, but then I worry about what other people will think of it. I’m always worried about what other people think and it sounds like with your “no regrets” policy, you’ve somehow overcome that.

Daina Middleton: Well, I don’t know that I ever really had it, that sounds bad.

Susan Bratton: No, that’s good! That’s really good

Daina Middleton: I can remember as a kid, just feeling really different. And not really fitting in, I never fit, I wasn’t a popular kid. And I didn’t really care. There were painful moments, I think there always are growing up because kids can be really brutal, especially girls, I think, to others.

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah. Definitely

Daina Middleton: But I honestly don’t think I care about what people think. I care more about is it true to what my core values of what I believe in.

Susan Bratton: Nice.

Daina Middleton: And same thing with “no regrets.” It’s just a waste of energy. Not that I don’t think about mistakes that I’ve made, because certainly I think you have to, you have to go back and say “Ok,” but in the context of “what did I learn from this?” Rather than replaying everything I could have done different.

Susan Bratton: You don’t beat yourself up. You have a “No beat myself up” policy.

Daina Middleton: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: I like that.

Daina Middleton: It’s just not worth it.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, yeah, that’s great. I want to talk about power tools. I need to understand the difference between an arc welder and a settling welder. First of all, what’s the difference, how do you use?

Daina Middleton: One is wire-feed, the other one’s gas.

Susan Bratton: So what’s that mean, wire-feed?

Daina Middleton: Meaning if you’re adding a solution to whatever, let’s say you’re joining two pieces of metal together, depending on the type of application you might use a gas to blend them together, or you might use a wire-feed welder that adds a piece of metal that adds-

Susan Bratton: Like soldering.

Daina Middleton: Like soldering. That’s exactly right.

Susan Bratton: Wire-feed. Ok. And do you have both of these types of welders at your house?

Daina Middleton: I don’t have a settling, because we don’t use it as often, but I definitely have an arc welder.

Susan Bratton: And what kind of things do you arc weld around the place?

Daina Middleton: So, we have a metal fence and occasionally that comes apart or that might be an example of what we would use an arc welder for.

Susan Bratton: And you pride yourself on knowing what every tool is. Like, you could identify every tool.

Daina Middleton: Yeah, unfortunately, when I was in high school, I didn’t take Home Ec, I was involved in FFA, Future Farmers of America.

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah.

Daina Middleton: Yeah, and I actually won a prize for tool definition and recognition.

Susan Bratton: That’s great. You must have a great visual acuity too.

Daina Middleton: I guess so.

Susan Bratton: I love it.

Daina Middleton: But in general, I think we tend to do everything, or a lot of things, ourselves. There are some things we don’t tend to do, roofing is one of those, that I just don’t enjoy. Concrete’s another one. Electricity, we usually get an electrician because it involves code, so it’s good to have an expert, but pretty much everything else. We added 800 square feet onto our house.

Susan Bratton: Well, and you built your house from the frame up, right?

Daina Middleton: Just the addition. It’s an old house that we totally re-did, we’re continually re-doing it, and then we added 800 square feet, and someone poured the slab, framed it, and we took it from there, all the rest.

Susan Bratton: Nice. You did the drywall and the insulation -

Daina Middleton: Everything.

Susan Bratton: And the everything. Very good. That sounds like a lot of fun, and one of the other things I wanted to ask you about was the time you were a firefighter. Was it for the BLM, I forget?

Daina Middleton: It was, the BLM.

Susan Bratton: So how did you get that job? And you were young!

Daina Middleton: Yeah, I was. I was right out of high school. That’s how I put myself through college, during the summers, was fought fire for the BLM. I think it was more about who you knew, so I worked for the BLM on work study my senior year of high school, and built a relationship with the team, and the person who brought people in for that program would often just choose individuals because it is dangerous, you need to understand the person, I think before you bring them into that situation, because it’s tough. It’s a tough job. But that is how I put myself through college.

Susan Bratton: You’re a very solid person. And I don’t think much ruffles you. Does it?

Daina Middleton: No, probably not anymore. Honestly.

Susan Bratton: And when you fought fires, what was the scariest moment?

Daina Middleton: The scariest moment was definitely, we were on a controlled burn that got away, and we quickly realized, I was on the ground, running hose next to the truck, so BLM uses initial attack. They actually have a vehicle that can move while you’re running the hose, and it was very clear that that fire was going to overtake us. And you always wear a fire shelter on your back, just in case, for certain situations.

Susan Bratton: It’s like a pup tent you get in, right?

Daina Middleton: It is, but you have to get it unzipped and out and I can remember thinking, “I don’t have time to get that on me.” And so I ran next to it and literally threw myself on the truck, and we ran, you know, floored the truck to get out of the way. That was probably the scariest moment I can remember.

Susan Bratton: And did you go back and fight more fires?

Daina Middleton: Yeah, I mean, that was my job.

Susan Bratton: And are you afraid of fire?

Daina Middleton: I’m not anymore.

Susan Bratton: You feel like you can control it, for the most part?

Daina Middleton: I respect fire. There are some situations, like what we just saw in Southern California, that those people, to put firefighters in that situation, I can not imagine, with the amount of winds. But I do not fear it, I just have a huge amount of respect for it.

Susan Bratton: Well, I want to end on the note about the search marketing. That’s been a big part of what you’ve done at Hewlett-Packard, is SEO and SEM, and one of the things you talk about is the relationship of linguistics to search. Tell us what you’re thinking on that.

Daina Middleton: It’s just fascinating to me. I just think there’s a whole new realm we haven’t thought of. So first of all, linguistics, I think it’s fascinating and often has not been linked to marketing. George Lakoff has done a lot of work at Berkeley, in fact, he’s published a lot of books around the importance of linguistics related to the political campaigns, actually, and how the Republicans have done a really good job of taking advantage of tuning in on certain audiences and words that evoke a certain emotional reaction to them.

Susan Bratton: Like what, do you know?

Daina Middleton: Like “No child left behind,” or there are specific words that, if you listen to speeches that the President has delivered over a number of years, to which audiences, and the words he chooses, it’s very calculated, it’s very smart, and there haven’t been a lot of academic thought put into combing marketing with linguistics. But now that we are a global economy, and now if you look how search is impacting that marketing world. I think there’s a really interesting opportunity to do some exploration in that space. And whether it’s, instead of organizing your marketing around geography, looking at, you know, cultural linguistics similarities and differences, I just think there’s a huge opportunity to be explored there. And I don’t know what the right answer is, I think time will tell and people will start to dive in and do experiments related to linguistics. Great example is, if you think about our keywords, that we focus on, for the US, digital camera is a very poplar term. In the UK, digicam is the popular term in the same category, in Australia, it’s Snappy.

Susan Bratton: Snappy! That’s a cute little name.

Daina Middleton: All English speaking countries, there are clearly linguistic difference in how people relate to those terms, so it’s not just about language, it’s deeper than that, it’s the cultural relationship with the language in that geography. And search, being its infancy, I think, the sky’s the limit to what we could do in the future.

Susan Bratton: And who does your search for you? Do you do paid search?

Daina Middleton: Paid search, we have a different partner in each region. So Performix does it for the US, in Europe it’s Zed, part of Zed Media, in Asia, there are two partners, there is Performix and Blue, because no one spans all the different countries.

Susan Bratton: Got it. And what about for SEO? How do you handle that?

Daina Middleton: SEO is an interesting proposition for somebody who has about 750,000 pages on HP.com. 

Susan Bratton: Is it all HP.com, and then there are different versions of the language, or -

Daina Middleton: It’s really all country-based, that’s the problem, it’s not built on a global platform. Of course, I would love to be start over and be a small company with search in mind, but many of our pages weren’t built with search in mind, they were built way before that.

Susan Bratton: Of course.

Daina Middleton: So it is an ongoing process. What we tend to do, we started about a year-and-a-half ago in the US, we mapped what keywords we think are the most valuable to us, and also the most searched terms most valuable to our customers in our category, then we’re going back and mapping them to our pages, so Web Mom is helping us with that in the US.

Susan Bratton: Barbara Call?

Daina Middleton: Yes, Barbara Call. As well as in Europe, we have a different partner. Asia has pretty much determined that at this point, paid search is more valuable to them than organic search, so that’s a decision that we’ve made. But we’re looking at the two programs working together, obviously, making a big investment on paid search first, knowing that we have tons of work to do on organic search and knowing it’s a proposition that’s probably going to take us a while. And then if we succeed in a category, for organic search, then, you know, we’ll look at the two opportunities working together closer. That’s been our approach.

Susan Bratton: You have a big job.

Daina Middleton: It is a big job. It’s not often you have a 28-billion dollar business that spans the number the audience that we span, the product breadth that we span, as well the 128 countries, it’s a big business, which is why I’ve stayed around for a long time.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’ve been there more than 14 years.

Daina Middleton: I’ve been there, actually, I think close to 16 years.

Susan Bratton: 16 years.

Daina Middleton: I left, actually, for a short period of time, following the first dot.com boom, and then I came back.

Susan Bratton: Oh you did, where’d you go?

Daina Middleton: I went up to a start-up called Avenue Me, for a short period of time, and managed their marketing programs for a while.

Susan Bratton: And they’re long gone?

Daina Middleton: I think, actually, they’re still around in kind of a very odd niche form, they’ve morphed, it’s amazing, actually, that they’ve stayed, given the context of, that was a long time ago, that was in 1999.

Susan Bratton: Right. Eight years ago already. Well, it sounds like you have a lot of responsibility to do a lot of the infrastructure work that it takes to be a success in helping your customers find what they need from you. I think that’s probably how you would say it, because you’re so customer-focused.

Daina Middleton: Totally customer-focused. And especially, in today’s world, you’ve got to be. So my goal is to look at the customer and where they are trying to make an engagement with us, not just presale, because I think a mistake a lot of companies make is just focusing on the presale, whereas it’s really the full life cycle, from an engagement, it’s an ongoing brand conversation with the customer we need to have.

Susan Bratton: Upcoming, I think, the next show after yours is going to be with Dov Seidman, and he wrote a book called “How,” and I think you might like it, it’s like “How we do anything is more important than why we do it” or something along those lines. It’s a tough thing to remember, a tough title to remember. But his whole focus is on transparency and integrity and that it permeates your entire business, and I think you are a walking embodiment of transparency in the world of marketing. I’m sure there are other marketers who do as good a job as you, but I don’t know of anyone who does a better job at focusing on that for their customer, so thank you.

Daina Middleton: Thanks. It’s very tough, I think, because big companies aren’t accustomed to being transparent. I think that’s very uncomfortable for them.

Susan Bratton: Well, we’ll see how HP Uncut does for you. I’m interested to see -

Daina Middleton: Thanks for the help.

Susan Bratton: Well, it’s been great to have you on the show today. Thank you so much for sharing all of your time with us. It was a pleasure. All right, well, you’ve just gotten an opportunity to meet with Daina Middleton of Hewlett-Packard, I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and I want to let you know that we always do a transcript for the show, in case you want to download and print that, if you want to read instead of listen, you can go to personallifemedia.com. You can also always send an email to me about anything you’re thinking at susan@ personallifemedia.com. Thanks for tuning in today, and I hope I see you, or, I hope you’ll hear us, next week. Take care.

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