PepperMill December 2016

Tim’s Looking Forward

As we close out another year, it’s amazing all the things that have happened in 2016.

A few highlights come to mind immediately: the Olympics, the Cubbies and a surprising election. These were all plastered across the media, shared at the water cooler and in bars, and sometimes spilling out into the streets across America.

Each of my examples featured heroics and drama that we never could have written beforehand. They had to be dreamed, practiced and performed on the biggest stages in the world. Each had their heroes and goats, joy and sadness. Each were the result of resolution and devotion.

I was recently turned on to a book called Real Heroes by Lawrence W. Reed. As the cover reveals, these are the “Inspiring true stories of courage, character and conviction.” I’m only about a third through, but it has inspired me to consider how extraordinary individuals changed the course of history, not by playing games (can I temporarily take the liberty to categorize the election as a game?), but with great vision and oftentimes at extraordinary personal sacrifice.

Unlike athletes and politicians, the 40 featured heroes in this book found themselves in situations where they witnessed great injustices that needed to be addressed, or the opportunity to create original dynamic changes in the world, often not well received at the time because they required us to accept great change from a comfortable status quo.

As we look toward 2017, I’m not expecting any of you to be front page heroes, but you’ll likely have a chance, when your character is challenged, to bring exceptional courage to the situation. It could be a vulnerable moment with your child, a confrontation with an enflamed protagonist, an opportunity to help when it would be more convenient to look the other way, or to persevere where others would fold.

A few of us will be called to change the world. But all of us will have the occasion to seize the day and make a difference. Best of luck in 2017!

Tim Padgett

From a few of the heroes featured in the book…

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
—Marie Curie

“I was free, and they should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all there.”
—Harriet Tubman

“If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.”

Through the Eyes of a Rookie: Scraped Knees Teach us to Dance

Out of every core value Pepper Group has, Scraped Knees Teach Us To Dance just about tops the list as my favorite.

August 13th, 2016 is a day I will always remember. The ceremony was flawless, family and friends were all around, singing filled the air and feet were flying on the dance floor. It was the day I married my bride and it easily became the greatest day in history (of our lives, at least).

Weddings have become some of my favorite events to attend. Everything happening seems to remove itself from time, as two people become one loving entity. But there are always two sides to every story. Weddings seem to be a glimpse of perfection, but as we all know, life is not perfect. And here is my perspective of why.

Easily put: People mess up. I’ve never met a perfect human, and if you know one, please introduce me! The reality about imperfect people, is we let one another down.

We all mess up, but our response to the mess is what defines the path ahead. We have the option to learn and grow, or to ignore the mess and live in it.

I don’t know about you, but I want to dance like nobody’s watching. Just like a wedding celebration! Getting to that point is to learn from the messes we so often create. So no matter what happens, get back up, put a Band-Aid® on it and continue to dance!   

Corey Garrity

Keeping Hearts Warm—and Safe

Pepper Group had the opportunity to partner with our client, home healthcare agency Best Home Healthcare Network, to support its pneumonia awareness drive. Our office collected warm, winter apparel (hats, gloves, scarves, socks and jackets) and developed education materials to spread awareness and smart tips to help prevent pneumonia. Because of this opportunity, more than 310 toes, 150 fingers, 122 arms and hundreds of hearts will be a little warmer this winter.

We were overjoyed to hand off several boxes full of winter necessities that will be distributed to women and children in shelters and highly populated homeless locations in the Chicagoland area. And beyond our donations, other BHHN partners collected, spread awareness and shared safety tips to ensure everyone stays warm and smart.

As the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall, make sure to follow these tips and download our prevention flyer to spread the word. 

Three Obstacles to Naming Success

Recently we published 6 Keys for Naming a Product, Service or Company, and after a run of great naming projects in the past few months we thought some additional insights would be helpful. Here are three obstacles to success that you should also keep in mind.

Obstacle #1: Trying to get 100% consensus from a large group of people

The primary thing to keep in mind is that the real strength lies not in the word itself, but in what you do with it—your brand. That’s what makes a name truly great. Names never jump off the page and shine right off the bat. You’re only looking at works on paper. There’s no logo, no history and no brand attached (yet). Plus, everyone has their own biases—these could be personal or professional—but they are their own biases and not necessarily your audience's. Plus, names need time to grow on you.

Obstacle #2: Using a project code word until you have the name

Yes, names will grow on you. Even if they’re not good, people will start to like them. We have one smart client who always used ridiculous code names on purpose because she’s witnessed too many situations where the company made up a code name that just by virtue of people saying it over and over, started to stick. As a result, the company was left with a very mediocre name.

Obstacle #3: Over-thinking the word itself

No matter what names make the short list, there will be people who say that it won’t work for one reason or another. Case in point, here’s a handy list of “great” names that if you looked at them cold—again with no history, no branding and no identity—one could make an argument why they are all terrible names. Strip away everything you know about these companies and focus on the word itself… What might you say?

  • Uber: “What does that mean? Plus it sounds too German anyway.”
  • Cisco: “You mean like the Cisco Kid? I just keep picturing a sombrero.”
  • Oracle: “Is it a magic 8-ball thing or some kind of tarot-card set?”
  • Amazon: “What does a huge rainforest have to do with selling books? And isn’t that going to bring up negative thoughts about deforestation every time a customer buys a book?”
  • Salesforce: “That’s way too obvious. And it doesn’t say what we do.”
  • Twitter: “Sounds like someone is having a seizure.”
  • Google: “That’s like a baby would say. It’s fine for a baby products company maybe.”
  • Apple: “Huh? Is this a fruit company?” (Yes, Forrest, it is.)

Go ahead, take any company name, strip away the brand and you can play along too.

Names are tough, but as we continue to see, the new name usually starts off relatively unexciting, but then it takes a remarkably short time for everyone to fall in love with it.

George Couris


Blazing Forward

Poor Energizer Bunny. Soon, he may have to drum up a new gig. Researchers at the University of Bristol Cabot Institute in the U.K. have figured out how to safely turn nuclear waste into nuclear diamond batteries that can provide electricity for at least the next 5,730 years.

These batteries solve several problems that impact us all. They put the world’s increasing stockpiles of nuclear waste to good use. They can provide nonstop power in places where it’s difficult or impractical to change batteries, like inside the human body or light years away. And they deliver clean, sustainable energy.

Think beyond your watch, phone, flashlight or TV remote control and see if you can come up with an application for diamond nuclear batteries. You can tweet your ideas using #diamondbattery.

To understand the science behind these gems, watch this video.

Sharla Davis