PepperMill December 2014

Tim’s Followin’ the Puck

This is always a hard column to write. What happened in 2014? What was exciting (rafting in Tennessee), outstanding (meeting many new people with great stories), scary (a certain bear encounter comes to mind) or life-changing (surviving 20 years in business)? Too much to list. It was a darn good year.

But not so good for Chicago sports, except for one team—our boys on the ice. Back in June they gave us some thrills in the playoffs and now that baseball and football are basically seasons we’ll come to forget, they are again playing exceptional hockey to kick off this season.

We’re headed to Nashville this weekend and meeting up with some college friends to see the Hawks play the Predators. If you haven’t done it yet, it’s the best venue in sports—since the stadium is one block from the downtown strip. See a great game, take in some honky-tonk. What’s not to like?

One of our Core Values at Pepper Group is Be Smarter Tomorrow. So I share with you today a little back pocket information that you can use throughout the season to amaze your family and friends.

Let’s start with two amazing homies:

  • Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita is most often credited with the creation of the curved stick blade in the 1960s—all blades were previously straight.
  • The fastest slapshot on record is Bobby Hull’s, which registered 118 miles per hour.

A couple of “must knows:”

  • Wayne Gretzky holds 61 NHL records, the most by far of any player.
  • The 1956 Montreal Canadiens team featured 12 future Hall of Famers.

And a few tidbits:

  • In 1930, a goalie named Abie Goldberry caught fire during a game when a puck hit a pack of matches he was carrying in his pocket. He was badly burned before his teammates put out the fire.
  • Clint Malarchuk, while playing for Buffalo Sabres in 1989 had his throat slit open (jugular vein) during a game. The only reason he was able to survive was because of his trainer, a former Army medic. His trainer reached into his neck and pinched off the bleeding until the doctors arrived.
  • The Slovakian women’s hockey team qualified for the 2010 Olympics by beating Bulgaria 82-0. They later lost to team Canada in Vancouver 18-0.
  • Doctors in British Columbia are banned from talking about hockey during surgery.
  • At the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, NHL pro Jarome Iginla struck up a conversation with four fans sitting next to his table and found out that they were sleeping in their car. He excused himself from the conversation and booked them at his own expense at the hotel his family was staying in.

Ending on a very giving note, have a wonderful holiday season.

Tim Padgett

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
—Wayne Gretzke
All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”
—Gordie Howe


Client Spotlight: Follett School Solutions

Follett has been a trusted partner to PreK-12 schools, districts, and college campuses for more than 140 years, taking care of the critical details that make it easier for schools to run, teachers to teach and students to learn. Throughout its history, Follett has succeeded by anticipating and adapting to an ever-changing educational environment.

Recently, Follett merged four business units into one under the new name Follett School Solutions. Although the company was best known in school libraries, it offers much more—integrated content, technology and services that extend across the school and beyond. Pepper Group helped develop the new brand for Follett School Solutions, using the theme “Empower educators. Inspire learningTM.” Tactics included brand messaging and strategy, trade show materials, an advertising campaign, a new company brochure and extensive sales materials.

To learn more about Follett School Solutions, visit

Three Ways to Encourage Creativity With New Ideas and Perspective

According to Inc. magazine, creativity and innovation are key components to success—in life and in business. One of the measures of an individual’s success is how innovative he or she is. Likewise, the creativity it takes to be truly innovative is what separates successful businesses from the rest. The good news is that anyone can be creative. It’s a skill, not necessarily a talent, and it can be encouraged, nurtured and developed. 

Want some inspiration for how to encourage creativity with new ideas and perspective?

Here are three ways others have nailed it:

Red Bull, in its brilliant effort to appeal to vast audiences, recently drew me in via its “Red Bull Art of Can” exhibition at Millennium Park. In a nationwide hunt for creativity, artists (or anyone with a creative flair) were asked to conceptualize and create pieces of art using only Red Bull cans as their primary material. As I walked through a kaleidoscope of silver, blue and red, I was amazed by the stories, inspiration, interpretations and artistic ability. Not to mention, the effort it took to collect the cans required, along with the associated word-of-mouth advertising. A sculpture that made an impression on me was created by Courtney Zingler of Park Ridge, Illinois. She took inspiration for “Face the Bull Within” from the toy known as the Pinpression (you know—the toy that leaves a pin impression of your hand or face which became popular in the mid-nineties). Watch as Courtney explains her approach to the piece. What I admire most, though, is Red Bull’s vision to create works of art out of aluminum cans in the first place. Because of that creative thought to make something totally different out of an ordinary item, a myriad of ideas were born. Go ahead. Come up with radical ideas and see what happens. 

We did something similar here at Pepper Group. Cindy, our Creative Director, brought Legos to one of our quarterly meetings. Because our brand essence is “We Move People,” she challenged each group to build a letter from the word “move.” The result was permanent art for our Scoville Suite, plus team building, laughter and pride.  Creative people understand that to play like a child is to remain creative like a child, and find creative ways to be playful at work and home. How can you incorporate more play into your professional or daily life? 

Another unique example of a new perspective yielding ideas and innovation is Patricia Moore’s empathic approach to design. Talk about leaving your comfort zone behind … while in her twenties from 1979-1982, she faced the world as an eighty-year-old. The result of her immersion? She took industrial design in a radically new direction. Read and view more about her fascinating story and “empathic model” of design. How can you bring true empathy to your work (customers, potential customers, vendors, coworkers …) to boost your relationships and creativity? 

Pepper Group brings creativity and innovation to our clients every day. Let’s talk about how you can use our expertise and creative approaches to move people from a different perspective.

Lise Renne

Double Take: Appy December

Really, you don’t need to lift a finger any more, because there’s an app for everything. And if there isn’t one for something you want to do, play or know, it’s probably in development.

Join Joe and Sharla as they discuss apps you may not know about, and the ones they can’t live without.

You Tubin’: Thanks, I’ll Just Watch

I am not a squeamish person, but this month’s video pick had me watching through my fingers. As an avid cyclist, I can’t even imagine having the balance and control that Danny Macaskill has. As a human being, I can’t even imagine having the intestinal fortitude that he showed in climbing the Cuillin Ridgeline on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Breathtaking imagery and it left my jaw wide open.

Got some YouTube videos of your own you’d like to share? Just send them my way!

Todd Underwood