Trump loves KFC. Me too. 17 things…

Here are 17 things I like about this photo: 1) KFC. 2) Knife and fork isn’t dishonest. It seems organic. This is probably the way 83% of very wealthy north-easterners eat KFC. 3) Silver spoon to eat the potatoes. I’m cool with that. 4) The potatoes have a lot of gravy. Delicious. 5) He’s not stopping with that one breast. There is an entire bucket. That’s relatable. 6) He’s smiling. He actually has a very nice smile. 7) American pin on lapel. 8) Limited, potentially no makeup. 9) Wall Street Journal with business section peeking out, 10) Not using the KFC salt and pepper. Prudent. 11) Hair is looking reasonably good. Actually, quite good. 12) Unidentified additional delicious treat under the mashed potatoes and gravy. Is it corn? Is it a parfait? I like the mystery. 13) The airplane is gorgeous and generationally fitting. It’s not the style for a young, hipster, but it’s also not the overly gaudy gold everything that one might assume. Just a touch of gold. 14) The photo opportunity is just a man and his chicken. 15) If it were staged, the colonel on the bucket would be facing camera. 16) The speech is loosely tucked away in his inner pocket. There is a vulnerability in that imperfection. 17) KFC is apolitical, not like some of those other absolutely delectable, lightly breaded, highly seasoned chicken joints. Although, if I’m being entirely honest, the colonel looks guilty about something, and no matter what Chick Fil’ A does or says those little nuggets are unsullied.

In fact, thinking about it further, this is my favorite photograph of the campaign. It’s a humanizing photo. It’s a man with a real hunger for a delicious bucket of chicken, potatoes and some mysterious additional treat. My slogan for all candidates in this campaign — More chicken. Less vitriol. (PS – Take this post for what it’s meant to be, a somewhat humorous break from the barrage of negativity, much of it earned. Idealistically, I hope we can be primarily issue focused at some point in this election cycle.)

Baby So Real – Cabbage Patch Kids

Dear Friends. Late last night on QVC, we launched what is certainly the most technologically advanced and most amazing item of our careers with Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real. She took so many people and so much hard work from a truly global team to bring to life in a spectacular way. It’s a game changer. We believe it could be the toy of the year.  Watch for this one at TRU, Walmart, Target, Kmart, Amazon and more!!

Father’s Day stories… and Family Feud s*cks.

Quick Father’s Day themed story. A few weeks ago, we were watching Family Feud. The question was, “Name a place where dad goes but doesn’t tell mom. Top-5 answers on the board.” My oldest daughter (9) was absolutely certain that she knew the answer and blurted “I know!!!” Four answers were given and only the top answer remained. Eden vibrated with excitement and certainty. The family huddled on screen and stated with similar certainty, “Strip Club, Steve!!” Ding. #1 answer. My daughter, clearly disappointed and bewildered, turned to my wife and said, “I was going to say donut shop” followed closely by “what’s a strip club?”

Donut shop. I can thank my own father for this. As a kid, I recall being at the grocery store with my father, and an item obviously scanned incorrectly (and lower than marked price). My dad went out of his way to demonstrate to the clerk that he was being undercharged. The grander point, however, was to show me (around my daughter’s age today) that you do the right thing even when you can get away with it… even when nobody else notices. You do the right thing. Mom had very little to worry about. No ladies on the side. No late nights out. No abuse of drugs or alcohol. No external shenanigans with one exception. There was no man in Memphis, Tennessee that was less reliable with a sleeve of Oreos, Hershey’s Kisses, a box of Vanilla Wafers, Ritz or anything sweet or savory. Sweets simply disappeared at our house during the evening hours with no sign of dad. None. He lurked in the shadows and indiscriminately ate. In the morning, you’d catch dad sitting at the table next to a healthy grapefruit with an unusual amount of sugar sprinkled on top. That was a clue. If you asked my dad if he knew what may have happened with the Oreos, he’d elude the question, avoid the question or even worse. The second clue, of course, was that dad was pushing 185. We’re not tall people. And, back to the donut shop…

I share my dad’s late-night sweet tooth. I’ve found myself starting a drive to Starbucks and ending it at a Dunkin Donuts. But, when I come home, there isn’t any cover. I own it. Watching my dad pay every dime at the grocery store paid off. Good job, pop. Happy Father’s Day. You are a funny man. You care deeply for mom after more than 60 years together (56 married). You’ve demonstrated traits that I share with you that have been very much worthwhile in business and in my personal life. I love you, and I hope that your health and mom’s health continues to flourish. After a long career where you worked so hard and put so much into providing, your job today is to stay healthy. There aren’t many pre-packaged sweets in your cupboards nowadays, but on Father’s Day my gift to you is as follows… Go buy yourself some Oreos, put them in the cupboard and see if you can finish them off without mom catching you. If she does, you pay her $100.

In addition, I thank my own family for the Father’s Day donuts. The best donut is a fully approved donut.

Love to all of you but especially my dad on this day,


We all think we’re right.

After spending a life weaving a diverse tapestry of friendships that span both conservative and liberal perspectives, I have come to a conclusion. Almost everyone believes they are either absolutely right or mostly right. Compromise is only possible when you enter the room knowing you aren’t the only one there. Oh, and when you do seek compromise, consider avoiding the absolutely right people. They are generally wrong. (Now say the last two sentences using a Yoda voice.)

Elvis Presley and my grandpa Joe

In August 1955, Elvis Presley and his manager Bob Neal approached my grandfather, Joe Padawer, to manage Elvis’s branded and promotional products. The catch was that Elvis needed credit and Joe (a striking, cool, universally likable 35 year old Memphis advertising executive) didn’t yet have the resources to give Elvis the credit he needed. Joe did have vision, and despite Elvis’s lack of commercial success to date, Elvis was working hard to secure his first nationally distributed album. On August 16, 1955, Joe Padawer received the letter below from the big agency for which he worked stating, “Elvis Presley who would be primarily responsible for payment of the merchandise is a minor, and it seems that the manager, Bob Neal, does not have too good a credit record. We also find that the future looks rather uncertain, and we will not be able to extend them credit.” In August 1955, to complicate things further Elvis appointed Colonel Tom Parker as his “special adviser.” The agency wrote “directly to the customer (Elvis)” offering less than advantageous terms. In November 1955, Elvis was signed to RCA. In January, 1956 Elvis took off to Nashville to record his first national album. “Heartbreak Hotel” was released as a single in late January, followed by “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender.” Bob Neal was fired. Parker took over. I’ve attached the original letter written to my grandfather from Brown & Bigelow’s Credit Department RE: Elvis Presley Enterprises over a $592.50 job that was rejected due to an “uncertain future.” Elvis Presley’s credit was never questioned again… and Joe Padawer was a King in his own right, of the Memphis advertising scene in the 1960’s and 1970’s at the Joe Padawer Company, a promotional advertising agency. And, if I’m being entirely truthful, Grandpa Joe ran that agency, but Grandma was the brains behind the operation. Joe lived to 90 and passed away in 2010… one of my best friends.

Inflation and Little House on the Prairie

My older daughter (9) explained to me the concept of inflation by relating the cost of wagons and houses from “Little House on the Prairie” versus our water bill today. This proves everything that I’ve always believed about the educational benefits of not supervising your children while they consume hundreds of hours of family television.

Yoda girl.

I asked my younger daughter (6), “Do you think daddy should be a vegetarian like you?” She responded, “I don’t care.”

I asked, “why?” She replied, “Because you are not me.”

Yoda-like qualities to that interaction. The force is strong…

That time I met Prince

My Prince run-in was as awkward and nerdy as you might expect. I was in law school. I overheard that Prince would be at a particular club after his concert. I stood exactly in the perfect place next to a cordoned off area with an unreasonably beautiful place setting. I gave it about 3 feet so that when Prince sat down, there would be airspace in-between my lurking, bordering-on-voyeuristic moment and Prince. Prince entered the room with a young woman and sat down. Within 3 seconds the crowd literally pushed me within 4 inches of Prince. I was immobile, both hands pinned under the rope, and facing Prince (and his friend) as if I were sitting at the table. I mustered the courage and maybe a little too enthusiastically said, “Hi!!” They said nothing. I mouthed, “I’m sorry. I’m stuck.” They said nothing. They got up after about 45 seconds and left the room. The crowd dispersed. I haven’t thought about that moment until today. That was a truly ridiculous moment, but for 45 seconds, and despite complete immobility, I held a one-way conversation with Prince. He later wrote no song about this occasion.

AOL and Blockbuster are STILL alive people.

Friday night fun consumer homework stats: 2.1 million people still pay $20 each month for dial-up AOL service; Almost 5 million subscribers still pay a monthly subscription for physical Neflix DVD rentals by mail; Blockbuster is dead right? Nope. 51 of over 9,000 original stores remain. All franchisees pay a license fee. 26 of the 51 Blockbusters are located in Alaska and Texas, owned by a guy with last name Payne, pronounced pain… makes sense; VHS is officially dead, shipping it’s last unit in 2008 and last major movie title “History of Violence” in 2006. However, VHS tapes are NOT dead as collectibles with high-end, rare mint in box tapes selling for up to thousands of dollars. Interestingly enough, the most valuable tapes tend to be 1) Disney titles, 2) Wrestling titles, 3) Japanese horror flicks and 4) Awful third rate titles. This is what I do on Friday night when even the dog is snoring.

The Gambler – Kenny Rogers got it right.

My oldest (8) asked me the difference between law school and business school. I replied, “I spent 3 years in law school learning all about the things can go wrong; I spent 2 years in business school learning all about the things that can go right.” That’s the reason the best lawyers are so risk averse and pragmatic and the best business people are super optimistic, idealistic and visionary. In that vein, for all you entrepreneurial-types, listen to Kenny Rogers and skip graduate school. Here’s 5 years of grad school in a song.


When you are a child, imagination and reality don’t just exist on the same plane but commingle and embrace manifesting certain emotions and reactions that simply can’t be matched by adults. For a moment in time, if you are fortunate enough to believe in a safe world where fairies gift, princesses charm, dinosaurs roam, baby-dolls want and vehicles morph, that good fortune fosters creativity, empathy and confidence. Being able to suspend reality as an adult, and step into the imagination of a child on almost a daily basis is one of the greatest gifts the toy industry has given me. It’s not, however, the greatest gift. The greatest gift has been the relatibility to my own children. Regardless of what my daughters’ choose to do with their life, we connect with our imagination today.