Prince Dead at 57

Dearly beloved

We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own
And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy

2016 continues to be a brutal year. First it was Lemmy. Then it was Bowie. Now the news that Prince has passed away at age 57 from unknown causes is breaking hearts across the country. According to multiple sources, and confirmed by the Associated Press, his body was discovered this morning in his Paisley Park home.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57,” the pop pioneer’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, said in a statement to the press. “There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.”

Last Friday, Prince’s private plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois as he was returning to the Twin Cities from two shows in Atlanta. Reportedly just sick from the flu, Prince showed off a new purple piano at a dance party at his home the following Saturday. He told the Star Tribune: “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”

“From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.”

One of the most iconic and influential musicians in pop, Prince produced 39 studio albums and sold more than 100 million copies, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

“He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the Eighties. Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative. His colorful image and revolutionary music made Prince a figure comparable in paradigm-shifting impact to Little Richard, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and George Clinton,” said the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 2004.

Since the news broke of his passing, there has been an outpouring of love and grief. Minnesota Public Radio reporter Andrea Swensson, who was among dozens who gathered at Prince’s estate after hearing of a death, remarked that “even the journalists are hugging each other,” and President Obama also weighed in.

“Today, the world lost a creative icon.,” the President said. “Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock ‘n’ roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer. ‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.”

After his sudden passing, fellow musicians have taken to Twitter to collectively mourn.


Prince Rogers Nelson was born and raised in Minneapolis. While he was just 19 when he released his first album For You in 1978, it was the release of 1999 in 1982 that made him a superstar.

But it was Purple Rain, along with Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, that defined a generation in the ‘80s.

The 1984 classic featured a string of hit singles including “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” and sold more than 13 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. It also won Prince an Oscar for Best Soundtrack for the movie “Purple Rain,” which was loosely based on his life in Minneapolis.

Prince played the lead role of “The Kid,” and the movie featured his band the Revolution, which included guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardists Matt Fink and Lisa Coleman, bassist Brown Mark and drummer Bobby Z.

Wendy and Lisa released this statement via Facebook:

“We are completely shocked and devastated by the sudden loss of our brother, artist and friend, Prince. Thank you to all the fans and supporters for your endless love, and for making such big dreams come true. We offer our love, support, and condolences to our extended family, friends and all fans of our sweet Prince.”

In addition to being known as one of the greatest musicians of all time, The Purple One also took on the music industry in the early ’90 during a contract dispute with his label Warner Bros. It was then that he became the “Love Symbol,” or, more commonly, “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Often appearing with the word “slave” written on his cheek, he gave the following statement at the time:

“The first step I have taken toward the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. . . I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros. . . I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about.”

After he was freed from his contract in 1999, he became Prince again in 2000.

Rest in Power, Prince.

Prince Dead at 57 originally published at Reverb on April 21, 2016

The Music of Nina Simone and Her Powerful, Beautiful Blackness

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Everybody is talking about High Priestess of Soul Nina Simone right now, but for all the wrong reasons.

Last month, the trailer for “Nina,” a biopic centered on a difficult part of the legend’s life, was released and all hell broke loose. Instead of honoring one of the most iconic black women musicians in American history, the film is instead mired in controversy over the casting of lightskinned actor Zoe Saldana as Simone.

“There are many Nina Simone fans and critics who have been looking for a public way to affirm her contribution to American culture and to the black freedom struggle because she’s been largely unrecognized,” says Daphne Brooks, a professor of African American Studies at Yale and a Nina Simone scholar. “To finally have that realized through this project seems to really disregard the politics of Nina’s very overt engagement with the politics of race and radical thinking around blackness.”

The trailer, featuring Saldana sporting a bad make-up job and a prosthetic nose, has Simone fans outraged. Not only have the filmmakers been accused of basically putting Saldana in blackface, Nina’s daughter Simone Kelly blames them for several inaccuracies. The biggest one, she says, is the misrepresentation of her mother’s relationship with her manager, Clifton Henderson.

“The project has been tainted from the very beginning,” she told CNN. “Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life, and everyone now knows that.”

However, the fury and frustration around “Nina,” which hits theaters this Friday, throws a spotlight on larger and more uncomfortable questions of race and gender in Hollywood and in American culture. In a way, having these high-profile conversations in the mainstream (even The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates penned a column) is a fitting tribute to a woman whose blackness and preoccupation with racial justice profoundly informed her career in both public and private ways.

Strong Enough to Take the Pain

Simone rose to popularity in the late ‘50s and ‘60s when “girl groups” reigned supreme. Nina Simone didn’t look like Diana Ross, the kind of black female singer white audiences were willing to embrace. Her dark skin, wide nose and full lips were features disparaged everywhere – including the black community.

“We all have a story. My mother suffered. We can go all the way back to when she was a child and people told her her nose was too big, her skin was too dark, her lips were too wide,” Simone Kelly told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s very important the world acknowledges my mother was a classical musician whose dreams were not realized because of racism.”

But Simone’s story does not end there. To fans and black women across generations, she is a hero, a goddess. Her avant-garde elegance and grace defied conventions of beauty and flipped a middle finger to those who didn’t recognize it.

The Education of Nina Simone

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone started playing piano when she was three years old. Her mother was a preacher, so she began to play at church revival meetings at an early age. By the time she was seven, white music teacher Muriel Mazzanovich, who had heard Simone play at church, took a special interest in the little black girl who lived across the tracks. Mazzanovich began giving her classical piano lessons and eventually established a fund, putting together recitals to showcase Simone’s astounding talent.

With money from the Eunice Waymon Fund, Simone attended Juilliard School of Music for a year and a half. When the money ran out, she applied to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. “I knew I was good enough, but they turned me down,” Simone later recalled. “And it took me about six months to realize that it was because I was black.”

It was then that Eunice Waymon became Nina Simone. To earn enough money to continue her classical piano education, she needed a side hustle. So Simone began playing at jazz clubs and changed her name so her pious mother wouldn’t find out.

Simone soon cultivated an impressive fan base and within a few years had a record deal. Her first major hit came in 1958 with an interpretation of “I Loves You Porgy” from George Gershwin’s musical Porgy and Bess. Simone used her voice to convey deep emotions – her distinctive, rich baritone sounded like no other – and her classical musical training was evident in hits like “Trouble in Mind” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

While she had explicitly avoided addressing the politics of race in her music, by the time the ‘60s rolled around, Simone felt compelled to take a stand. She had befriended members of the black intelligentsia, including Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin and Stokely Carmichael, who weren’t afraid to comment on the deep-rooted racism in Jim Crow-era America.

“Mississippi Goddam” was her response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four black girls. While the Supreme’s Diana Ross was asking “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964, Simone was boldly telling white audiences “Oh but this whole country is full of lies/ You’re all gonna die and die like flies/ I don’t trust you anymore.” The song was banned in several southern states, and radio stations across the country stopped playing her music, returning boxes of the records cracked in half.

Writer and activist Dick Gregory calls out Simone’s courage in the Netflix documentary “What Happened Miss Simone,” which was released last year. “There’s something about a woman. If you look at all the suffering that black folks went through, not one black man would dare say, ‘Mississippi, Goddam,’ and then to have someone with her stature talking about your problems, you know how happy they had to be,” he said.

Simone as Civil Rights Activist

Performing civil rights anthems like “Mississippi Goddam,” “Four Women,” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” gave Simone the reputation as the go-to for protest songs. She crossed police lines with black activists and performed “Mississippi Goddam” in front of 10,000 people at one of the Selma to Montgomery marches.

“It was very exhilarating to be a part of that movement at the time because I was needed,” she said in an interview featured in the Netflix documentary. “I could sing to help my people. And that became the mainstay of my life – not classical piano, not classical music and not even popular music, but civil rights music.”

Lord Have Mercy on this Land of Mine

But the inclusion of racial politics in her music took its toll. Soon Simone had trouble getting gigs in front of white audiences. Disillusioned, she fled to Barbados in 1970. Her career plunged into obscurity. It wasn’t until 1987 that she experienced somewhat of a resurgence with the re-release of her 1958 recording of “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” which was used in a British television commercial for Chanel No. 5 perfume.

What would Nina say about the controversy surrounding her biopic? After all, as Coates points out, “… there is something deeply shameful — and hurtful — in the fact that even today a young Nina Simone would have a hard time being cast in her own biopic.” We don’t know, but her daughter Simone Kelly, who is also an actor and singer, says Saldana shouldn’t be the recipient of disappointed fans’ anger.

“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” she recently told Time. “It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

She added: “There are many superb actresses of color who could more adequately represent my mother and could bring her to the screen with the proper script, the proper team and a sense of wanting to bring the truth of my mother’s journey to the masses. And ‘Nina,’ in my opinion, doesn’t do any of that.”

Yale’s Brooks says the controversy exemplifies the need to include more diverse perspectives in Hollywood. The team behind “Nina” is almost all white, according to Jezebel.

“We need to demand that filmmakers telling our stories are invested in and really well-versed in black history and black feminist theory,” she says. “And that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a woman of color filmmaker, although that’s absolutely necessary. But at the very least we need filmmakers who understand that study on these topics is necessary before even engaging in such a project.”

The Music of Nina Simone and Her Powerful, Beautiful Blackness was originally published at Reverb on April 18, 2016.

Our New Best Place

Before moving into Matt Carmichael’s former house earlier this month, my husband and I had lived in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood for almost 15 years; it was our perfect place. We bought our Logan Square two-bedroom, one-bath condo in 2006 at the height of the real-estate bubble, unfortunately. Like a lot of young Americans in their early 30s who had just bought their first piece of property, the housing bust caused us to lose the little wealth we had accumulated. But we loved where we lived, and that lessened the sting a great bit.

And what’s not to love? Our adorable condo was a mere three blocks from the Blue Line (public transit) station and just a 15-minute commute into downtown, where we both worked. I love to cook and eat good food, and in recent years, a burgeoning gourmet scene down the street is what Bon Appétit now calls Chicago’s new restaurant row. I value eating locally and organically, and the co-op at the end of my block and the Sunday farmers market made that not only possible but also easy to do. When we first bought our apartment, we weren’t married.

Then life changed. We got married in 2008 and shortly thereafter had a son. While our living quarters were more cramped, we still liked living in our little Logan Square gem. We strolled along the wide and beautiful boulevards with our baby in tow; there were at least three great parks in walking distance. We found a good home day care provider who was already taking care of my 1-year-old niece and was located just a hop, skip and a jump away. But now, when we had only driven our car on the weekends, in the interest of saving time we drove our son to day care every day even though it was only about six blocks away. We didn’t sweat it, though, because the other end of the Blue Line train station was across the street from the babysitter, and it was still a convenient commute.

However, that organic meat-share I picked up from the farmers market every other month just wasn’t cutting it, and the astronomical prices of the co-op were not an option. While the neighborhood had a mix of bodegas and chichi locavore co-ops, it didn’t have a big grocery store. So we drove to one every weekend. But we persevered – we were in our perfect place.   Then life changed again. Our daughter was born and our 3-year-old son was now ready to begin preschool. What’s more, I changed jobs and was now working from home. Our two-bedroom was no longer livable. Even though we loved it, we realized we needed more space.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

So we began the hunt for a house. The first decision we had to make was where to look. Immediately, we narrowed to Logan Square – we wanted to stay in our neighborhood. Like most well-heeled young parents in Chicago, though, the thought of navigating the lottery-based Chicago Public School system had us second-guessing our decision. Logan Square has one decent elementary school, and we did not live in its district. The school across the street from our apartment was rated as below-average, and we didn’t want to send our kids there. So we narrowed further to the area surrounding the one good school in the neighborhood. Only problem was the houses were crazy-expensive there and we just couldn’t afford it. We were being priced out of the neighborhood that we’d helped to gentrify.

We did the unthinkable and started considering the suburbs. We struck out the far-flung ones like Naperville and the like straightaway and landed on Evanston and Oak Park. There are many good reasons to live in those suburbs. They are more city-like and racially diverse than others, they have excellent schools and even the restaurants are pretty good. But as a born-and-bred Chicagoan, I couldn’t do it – those places just aren’t my city. Plus, as city-like as those suburbs are, they are still suburbs.

My husband, who grew up in multiple suburbs, hates them. The one he hates the most is Overland Park, Kan., where he spent his middle and high school years and is incidentally on’s list of best places to raise kids. He hated it because it wasn’t diverse – and not just in its racial makeup. It was, according to him, so homogenous that it made it hard for a kid like him who wasn’t a jock, who liked punk and ska, and whose family wasn’t conservative, to thrive.

We greatly value being able to raise our mixed-race kids in a city like Chicago, which has both urban culture AND urban diversity. But was our children’s education more important than our love of Chicago? I attended very good magnet schools here that were located about an hour’s drive away from my home. Would my kids test into schools like that and, most important, did I really want that for them? We thought long and hard and decided we wanted to invest in our city. Most middle-class people with kids our age flee to the suburbs, citing the poor academic performance of CPS.

For me, it’s more complicated. There are many examples of urban families here banding together to improve neighborhood schools both for their own children and disadvantaged neighborhood children. There are all kinds of communities to be had in a city, and we are in for the long haul. And then we found our perfect house, Matt’s former home. It is perfect for every reason he listed in his blog post. While he didn’t send his daughter to the neighborhood school, it is known for being a very good area school. And it’s in walking distance. And only 12 blocks away from our former hood. But best of all, it’s just a few blocks from my sister and her family. And now my children have a big backyard to play in with their cousins. We couldn’t be happier.

Our New Best Place was originally published at on June 24, 2014

B2B Buyer Personas Gain Positive Boost With Technology


While persona marketing is not a new concept, rapid advances in marketing technology are enabling B2B marketers to breathe new life into their persona marketing initiatives.

“I learned the importance of buyer personas in my career at Caterpillar back 15 years ago, but they were tough to implement,” said Peter Garza, VP of the Demand Generation Center of Excellence at MedAssets, a provider of healthcare services and products. “Back then it was hard to prove that persona marketing was the right thing to do. It was a lot harder to create content specific to your buyer personas, so it was really difficult to deliver a story where the benefit/cost ratio could be justified. With the technology we now have, we can definitely boost conversions and show ROI as a result of those efforts.”

Marketing technology from a variety of vendors gives B2B marketers the tools to make sense out of both internal and third-party data, as well as unite quantitative behavioral data with such qualitative data as first-person customer interviews. As a result, B2B marketers gain much deeper insights into their buyer personas and are able to deliver more personalized and relevant customer experiences.

“A lot of marketers see personas as a way to get a ‘holistic’ view of their customers, but it’s a little bit more discrete than that,” said Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute. “We’re building personas to get new insight into something that matters to the buyers during this buying decision.”

Technology also provides marketers the ability to “operationalize” personas by making it easier to keep them current and embed them into other systems to target the right buyers, according to Jeff Freund, CEO of Akoonu, which provides a platform that helps marketers create and maintain buyer personas, journey maps and content planning.“How do you bring them to life? How do you really activate them across the sales and marketing organization to get the value out of them,” Freund said. “This includes things like integrating your personas into your sales and marketing systems. Going into your CRM and identifying the persona match for the leads and the contacts there, having that be part of how you report on your marketing effectiveness and efficiency. Now, there’s a process around the maintenance of personas, keeping them up-to-date and keeping them current with emerging market trends.”

Bridging The Sales And Marketing Gap

MedAssets’ Garza said before the company decided last year to focus on buyer personas, and overhaul its marketing technology infrastructure, it was “doing everything wrong.” The marketing and sales teams were not aligned, giving MedAssets little visibility into prospects’ progress in their buying journey.

So with the help of The Pedowitz Group, the company took a multichannel approach, cleaned up its data, crafted multiple buyer personas and tapped Marketo to be the central platform hub to help manage its different campaigns and touch points.

The new plan led to the creation of more than 110 pieces of pain-point-driven content — including white papers, case studies, infographics, videos and executive briefs — tailored for targeted personas across three stages of the buyer’s journey.

“We tripled the amount of leads and opportunities because the quality of our content was so much better,” Garza said. “The nice thing about using a buyer persona with the right technology is that you’re not only engaging better, but you’re engaging with the right folks. How do we add value, how do we effectively communicate and how can we, as a company, meet our customers’ needs? That’s really what it boils down to.”

While creating and leveraging buyer personas is just one peg in MedAssets strategy, it has been a critical one. The company has been able to increase its top line revenue from demand generation by almost 700% in less than a year. With personas created, buyer journeys defined and corresponding content aligned, MedAssets went from delivering ongoing reactionary email blasts to a more strategic multichannel inbound/outbound approach.

“We’ve had phenomenal results with persona-based marketing,” Garza said. “Without it, quite frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The persona-based experience is the fuel for our demand-gen engine.”

Realizing Value Beyond The Marketing Department

Stephanie Fox, Senior Director of Marketing at Copyright Clearance Center, a provider of copyright licensing services, said working with persona marketing tech company Cintellenabled her to “break the personas out of the marketing department” with buy-in from top executives.

“Our CEO is really embracing it and saying as we transform our business to a tech company, let’s make sure that every person from top-to-bottom in the company knows and understands these personas,” Fox noted. “So we’re both expanding the number of personas that we need to communicate to as marketers and as sellers, but also we’re undertaking a company-wide transformation to bring personas to everybody.”

Persona marketing was not new at CCC. But previously, Fox said buyer personas “lived in these little Power Points that would get lost on our ancient fileserver,” which meant they were rarely updated and no one ever used them. But now, Cintell has updated those personas and embedded them in the company’s intranet to make them available to all CCC employees — everyone from marketing and sales to operations and engineering.

“While the product managers will continue to be the experts on the market and the customer and the customer needs, engineering is going to gain a better understanding of the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ Why is this a priority feature over that,” Fox said.

Fox is taking a three-phase approach with the Cintell integration. Now that employees have access to the new buyer personas, the next phase is integration with Salesforce and after that comes Pardot integration. While only the first phase is complete, the sales team has already boosted lead-gen efforts and is working much more collaboratively with marketing.

“Sales is providing a lot of really rich feedback and allowing us to update the personas on an ongoing basis,” she said. “Some of our newer sales reps are also much more successful than some traditional salespeople at CCC. Because they’re expanding the number of people they’re reaching with this new persona information, the legacy folks are starting to realize, ‘Huh. These guys might be on to something.’”

B2B Buyer Personas Gain Positive Boost With Technology was originally published at Demand Gen Report on April 13, 2016.

Mobile devices are attached to your customers, so where’s your app?

The video, “I Forgot My Phone,” created by actress comedienne Charlene deGuzman, has gone viral in the past week. The short film has garnered more than 12 million YouTube views, mentions in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Gawker and NPR and is also being picked up by global media outlets.

The two-minute video, which documents a day-in-the-life of deGuzman to illustrate how obsessive Americans have become about their cell phones, has clearly struck a chord with mobile users around the world. The video shows that while preparing for a run, having lunch with friends and even snuggling in bed with a partner, people are engaged with their mobile. The moral of this tale is that no matter what you’re doing, your smartphone is inevitably involved.

deGuzman’s video also demonstrates the urgency that B2B marketers should be feeling about crafting their brand’s mobile strategy. And we’re not talking about just the basics—the time for baby steps has passed. While optimizing brand websites for mobile is of paramount importance, we’re at the stage where B2B marketers should be moving into the realm of developing mobile apps.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a B2B or B2C environment, you need to take into consideration how mobile has changed our customers’ behavior,” said Paul Berney, CMO and managing director-EMEA at the Mobile Marketing Association. “Our expectation is that no matter where we are, we will be able to connect and engage with brands and organizations in real time via the mobile channel—and we expect there to be a two-way dialogue and a real-time interaction. As individuals, we can’t separate ourselves out into having a different persona or mindset at work or at home or with our friends or playing sports or while commuting. We’re the same person and we have an expectation of everything being able to be done via a mobile channel. B2B marketers need to switch themselves on to that.”

Working From Home

Recent research from the Harvard Business School bears this out. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, citing Harvard’s data showing that North Americans spend 88.5 hours a week working or “monitoring” work remotely, pointed to mobile’s influence. “Mobile technology has obliterated the very idea of a set-hour workweek,” he wrote.

Despite this, changing to a mobile-first mindset will be a challenge for B2B marketers. A recent Adobe survey found almost half of digital marketers (45 percent) said their organizations don’t have a mobile-optimized site or mobile application and rely on desktop sites only. Additionally, only 7 percent have built mobile apps and a fifth (21 percent) have implemented both a mobile-optimized site and a mobile app. Moreover, only 10 percent of B2B marketers have used mobile in the past year, according to BtoB Magazine.

Nonetheless, some B2B marketers have already begun to adapt—like Juniper Networks. The  networking technology company’s VP-CMO Brad Brooks said he believes that B2B marketers need to start responding to customers in a much more B2C-oriented way, and that necessitates prioritizing mobile.

“Too often B2B marketers think about their customers as businesses, not as individuals,” Brooks said. “The consumerization of IT—or what I like to call the Apple-ization of the IT—means that more and more individuals are making decisions around their IT choices at work. Everything is now about the user experience, and how it actually applies to me and my personal job. And as that becomes more and more the norm, that informs how our customers think about buying, and how they are making their buying decisions. So being connected to them in that way and understanding how that mobile experience relates to them becomes incredibly important.”

That’s why the company in July rolled out an app, which a company spokesperson said is “first of a series of major initiatives to make our digital properties optimized for the emerging mobile, social world in which our customers and partners live.”

Juniper 1on1 enables customers to explore Juniper’s products, network architectures, services and company pages; watch videos and access datasheets, case studies and customer references; interact with Juniper’s J-Net community as well as the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages; read the latest Juniper news; and learn about product updates.

“We’ve completely redone our Web experience for mobile application use so that we can have that consumer-oriented conversation with our customers,” Brooks said. “It’s not just a mobile app on the iTunes store; we’ve actually redone the entire Web experience that our customers come to and made it feel very mobile, and taken it to a very personal level around the individual user.”

The Customer Is Always Right

This type of service-oriented, utilitarian app is a perfect example of how B2B marketers can use mobile apps, according to MMA’s Berney. He pointed to the IHS Connect app as a prime case study of another B2B marketer that brought that full Web experience to an iPad app for its oil and gas industry customers.

“Our B2B customer needs are being influenced by B2C experiences,” said Kris Howery, director of product marketing IHS Connect. “So they want the elegance, the functionality that comes with a B2C app in their B2B app experience as well. So our No. 1 guiding criteria was to make this an elegant and easy-to-use system that could go head-to-head with any of the other apps being delivered in a B2C marketplace.”

IHS, a global information company, provides industry analytics, research, forecasts and other information to executives in a range of industries. The Connect iPad app, which was launched last April, delivers business intelligence, including industry analysis of energy markets, political, regulatory and geological information, global supply and demand trends, M&A trends and country risk information, to IHS’s global oil and gas customers. The app also enables IHS customers to browse IHS insights by topic of interest, create a customized dashboard to display information based on their own unique workflow, and access insights directly from industry experts on key events impacting the global business landscape.

Howery said understanding their customers’ journey was the first step in developing the app, which has been downloaded about 5,000 times.

“We thought about how our customers work,” she said. “What we’re finding is that the hours of nine-to-five are no longer applicable in a global marketplace. We know that customers want access to the kind of information they rely on to make their business decisions in real time at their convenience. We know that they are no longer just sitting at desks, so they need access to this information in the board meeting. You want to have real-time information when you’re sitting on a call with a customer or if you’re at a customer site and you need to know something. You want to have access to this information wherever you are or happen to be.”

Berney also emphasized the importance of establishing customer’s needs at the outset of creating a mobile app strategy. To develop an app, B2B marketers must first figure out how their target audience uses mobile, which mobile devices they use and when they use them.

“B2B marketers don’t know a lot about how their target audience uses mobile,” Berney said. “They don’t know what type of mobile device their audience is using. They don’t know the mindset of their customers. You want to be able to use mobile in a contextual way, you want to the able to hit the right person with the right message at the right time and the right place and that’s the best of what mobile does.”

Howery said it’s all about B2B marketers putting themselves in their clients’ position to determine how they engage and how they work. She also urged marketers to leave fear behind.

“This [reluctance to adopt mobile] is about not wanting to change,” she said. “If the goal is getting from point one to point two, why change? But as competitors come in and there is further development in the space, B2B marketers will be forced to change. We have to learn to adapt quicker.”

Howery is correct in her assessment. As deGuzman’s video illustrates, mobile is reshaping our workforce and changing how we all relate to one another, for better or worse. And B2B marketers have to grab hold of this fact if they want to continue to reach customers and prospects.

“Mobile has changed our behavior irrevocably,” Berney said. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Once people know it is possible to, for example, get their bank balance in real time, why can’t they access data in real time in a B2B environment? There’s simply no excuse.”

Mobile devices are attached to your customers, so where’s your app? was originally published at FierceCMO on Aug. 27, 2013

Country Music Legend Merle Haggard Dies at 79

Merle Haggard, one of the original country and western music outlaws, has died today, his birthday, at the age of 79.

Haggard’s more than 50-year career spawned almost 40 No. 1 hits and 70 albums. Along with Buck Owens, he is also one of the progenitors of the Bakersfield Sound, which merges Western swing, honky tonk, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll.

“Merle Ronald Haggard remains, with the arguable exception of Hank Williams, the single most influential singer-songwriter in country music history,” said the Country Music Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1994.

Recently Haggard postponed his March tour after being hospitalized for pneumonia, which he had battled for months. The country star’s poor health had already led to several canceled concerts. Right before he nixed his February concert dates, Haggard told Rolling Stone about his fight with pneumonia:

“I had a pain that went all the way around from my belly button all the way around to my back. I asked the doctor, ‘What was that pain?’ He said it was death.”

Merle Haggard’s Early Years

Long known as a champion of the working man, Haggard’s music has almost always spoken up for the underdog – the convicts, drunks and losers of the world. “I sometimes feel like I’m standing up for the people that don’t have the nerve to stand up for themselves,” he told GQ in 2012. “I just enjoyed winning for the loser. I’d never been around anything except losers my whole life.”

Merle Haggard in 1975
Merle Haggard in 1975

Haggard was born on April 6, 1937, in Bakersfield, California. His parents, who moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression, raised him in an old train boxcar that had been converted into a home. When he was 12 years old, Haggard’s older brother gave him a guitar, which he taught himself to play by listening to records.

Even though country musicians inspired him as a teenager, particularly Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams, he just couldn’t stay out of trouble. Haggard’s criminal record was a mile long – including such offenses as truancy, passing phony checks and grand theft auto – and he was in and out of jail throughout his teen years. When he wasn’t in jail, he was busy playing in local bars and clubs.

Haggard’s Prison Years and Beyond

All that bad behavior caught up with Haggard and in 1958 he was sent to San Quentin prison after being convicted of burglary and an attempt to escape from county jail. While he was locked up, serving a 15-year term, he saw Johnny Cash perform on New Year’s Day.

Merle Haggard Performing in June 2009
Merle Haggard Performing in June 2009

“He had the right attitude,” Haggard said of Cash. “He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards — he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.”

Seeing Cash’s performance reportedly inspired Haggard to play country music and take high school equivalency courses. Haggard was later given a full pardon in 1972 by then-governor Ronald Reagan.

When he got out of prison in 1960, Haggard went back to Bakersfield and worked a day job digging ditches. At night he played lead guitar in a local band, and by 1962 he was on his way to Las Vegas – and a long and successful music career – to back singer Wynn Stewart. He signed with Tally Records and recorded his debut single “Sing a Sad Song,” which rose to No. 19 on the country charts. By 1965, Haggard had formed a band, The Strangers, and signed with Capitol Records. Later that year, the band released their debut self-titled album. In 1967 their single, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” hit the top of the country charts, followed by No. 1 “Branded Man.”

After a streak of No. 1 singles, Haggard released in 1969 his most famous – and controversial – song “Okie from Muskogee,” which celebrated patriotism and traditional values at a time when the Vietnam War was being vigorously protested by young people across the country.

“We were in a wonderful time in America and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak and what the hell did these kids have to complain about? These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free. I wrote the song to support those soldiers,” he once said.

Country Music Legend Merle Haggard Dies at 79 was originally published at Reverb on April 6, 2016.

Chronic Pain and the Working Musician


Severe chronic pain has left Joshua Trost, guitarist for The Feral Americans, unable to perform publicly. “My hand problem has prevented us from even doing much practicing,” Trost says. “We’re pretty much in limbo right now because of it.”

Trost, 41, has played guitar since he was 13 years old. Three years ago, with no blood or drama, he debilitated his hand while unscrewing a speaker from a cabinet. “I had an overuse injury I made worse,” Trost says. “I couldn’t even hold a toothbrush or turn a doorknob after it happened. I’m certain that had I not played guitar, I would not have experienced the degree of injury that I did.”

As many as 80% of musicians suffer from playing-related pain, according to research.

Trost has good reason to believe his chronic pain is related to guitar playing. As many as 80% of musicians suffer from playing-related pain, according to a survey of 330 incoming freshman at a school of music conducted by the medical journal “Medical Problems of Performing Artists,” in 2009. And playing-related pain can begin early for musicians of all stripes.

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich, orthopedic surgeon, blues musician and cofounder of One Patient Global Health Initiative, a nonprofit that has treated more than 100,000 uninsured or underinsured patients in Chicago, says musicians should be concerned about preventing repetitive strain injury in their hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and back.

“Our whole philosophy, at least in my practice, is prevention,” says Ivankovich, who was recently named a 2015 Top 10 CNN Hero for his nonprofit work. “Repetitive and chronic wear-and-tear can absolutely be prevented in younger musicians by them just using their brain and thinking about how to save and preserve their body.”

Find a Fit

Most guitars were designed and built with right-handed men in mind, which may cause problems for lefties and those with smaller hands, Ivankovich says. So the first step in preventing injury is to make sure your instrument is fitted properly.

As a musician, you don’t just need to know your music, you need to know your physical requirements and limitations.

“There used to be very few choices, but these days there are actually lines of guitars that have been more fitted for women, making a body that is a little smaller, making a neck that is a little thinner and a little easier to play for small hands,” Ivankovich says, so find a guitar that fits you well and don’t settle for less. “If you’re struggling to play a guitar that doesn’t fit your hands, it is a setup for motion repetitive strain and associated injuries,” Ivankovich says. “As a musician, you don’t just need to know your music, you need to know your physical requirements and limitations. You need to be able express yourself in the most effortless kind of way,” he says.

Know Your Limits

Many musicians give themselves back and shoulder problems with poor posture while standing or sitting for hours while on stage, lugging around heavy equipment and practicing without breaks, Ivankovich explains, so knowing your physical limitations is important for avoiding injury.

In addition to making sure you are in good physical condition, he suggests doing warm-up and cool-down stretches; strengthening core muscles; taking frequent breaks and not sitting slumped over guitars slung between your knees. But, most of all, stop playing if you are in pain, Ivankovich says.

Trost reported that even before he injured his hand with the screwdriver, he endured hand pain and tingling after long hours of session work. “I was playing bass in a country cover band and their guitarist left. We were in the middle of recording sessions, so I got bumped up to play guitar,” he says. “When I was doing double duty, sometimes I would be playing for four hours two or three times a week. After those sessions, my left hand in particular would just be so sore,” he says.

Serves You Right to Suffer

After Trost injured his hand, he wore a brace for a month and did not play on the advice of an emergency room physician. After that month was over, he started playing again and developed a localized pain in the center of his palm, between the middle and ring fingers and the ring and pinkie area. In a perfect world, he would have seen a doctor. But like many musicians, playing gigs did not pay all the bills and Trost did not have health insurance. However, he has had some relief due to coverage via the Affordable Care Act.

Some guitar players will not see a doctor because they automatically assume a physician will recommend surgery, Ivankovich says. However, most respond well to therapy, scheduling and wearing a simple brace or splint to mitigate pain and can avoid going under the knife.

“With any sort of a hand or wrist symptoms, what we’ll do is try activity modification,” Ivankovich says. “Stop playing guitar for eight hours straight. Maybe break it up and play one hour at a time. If that doesn’t work, take a couple of days off and give it a rest. What we try to do is create a temporal history of when things are made worse, how they’re made better and then we’ll adjust the treatment plan accordingly.”

Meanwhile, as Trost waits for a diagnosis, he has adjusted how he plays. He has moved to lighter gauge strings and guitars with shorter scale necks, and the band has tuned down to lower string tension. “The message I’d leave with young musicians is that you may manage to secure your ideal guitars, amps and equipment, but they are all absolutely meaningless unless you can play them,” he says.

Flashback Friday: Chronic Pain and the Working Musician originally published at Reverb on Oct. 26, 2015