Aiming for Wow

“There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”

-Milton Glaser

I came across this quote yesterday by noted graphic designer, Milton Glaser, and it stopped me in my tracks. Aim for WOW! How many times in life or work do we seek a yes and not aim for WOW? We are all guilty at times. Yes is the easy course – WOW takes time, energy, and effort. In reality, many people often aim even lower and just hope for “not a no.”

That’s a shame.

Aiming for WOW is an interesting concept. At first hearing, it may sound like vanity – seeking the approval of men. But after some thought, I disagree. I feel it is an encouragement to match your talents, passions, and creativity to offer up your best work.

I turned the phrase over and over in my mind like a penny in my fingers. But it isn’t like a coin with just a head and tail – there are several sides to aiming for WOW. Here are a few that I came up with:

  1. WOW doesn’t just happen. It takes effort.
  2. What WOWs you may not WOW others – and that’s okay. Sometimes we have to WOW ourselves.
  3. We can’t WOW everyone every time. There will always be naysayers and we are fooling ourselves to think we can avoid them.
  4. Not everything you touch will turn to WOW. There will be a stinker or two along the way.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if you periodically lose your WOW – keep working.
  6. You can’t force WOW. It can take time to concoct the right formula.
  7. Check your ego at the door when you present your WOW or don’t present it if you can’t handle the bitter sting of rejection.
  8. Don’t get the big head about your WOW. Life is full of cycles – WOW today, gone tomorrow.
  9. Share your WOW with the world enough and someone will be WOW’ed with it. Don’t give up.

Those are just some of the thoughts that I had. But I’ve only been chewing on the quote for a day.

Any other thoughts?

Come on, WOW me!

Jack Frost Day

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Jack Frost Day. You likely assume this observance has something to do with the weather or fictional character. It does not. This day marks the sixth anniversary of the death of a silver-haired man I was honored to know, work for, love, and respect. If you are very lucky, you stumble upon a handful of people in your life who seep into your very soul. For me, that was Jack Frost and yes, he heard every name joke you can imagine.

imageWhen I first started with my company, Jack was leaving the Southeast to run our European division. Our paths only crossed for a couple of days and I honestly didn’t think he liked me very much. So, years later when it was announced that he was coming back to Atlanta, I was a little nervous. He had quite a reputation as a serious, no-nonsense professional and I was kind of the office screw-up.

imageThe reputation that preceded him was way off (as those things often tend to be) or maybe his wife and children mellowed him… who knows. The Jack Frost that became my boss was one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever known and quickly became my friend and mentor. I could write about him for many pages, but I’d like to share just a few things he taught me:

Family comes first – Jack found his beautiful wife, Juli a little later in his life. They were separated by years but together in everything that mattered. They had four children, but sadly one died very young. You didn’t have to know Jack long to know that his world revolved around those kids. When he would come to the office in the morning, he would plop down beside my desk to tell me stories about them. Sometimes it got to the point where I had to shoo my boss away so I could get some work done.

Listen more than you talk – Jack was a master conversationalist who always asked questions and then closed his mouth, showing genuine interest in the answers.

There is always room for kindness – a tender spirit, he loved others well and treated everyone with respect.

Lead with a smile – Jack’s smile and good humor were legendary to the point where he came to us with the nickname, “Champagne Jack.”

The truth is crucial – In all my years with him, I never saw Jack resort to anything even borderline deceptive and he always confronted problems head-on with integrity.

Faithful isn’t just for dogs – Jack didn’t just live his faith at church on Sunday, he carried it with him everywhere he went, seven days a week.

Fight to win – When cancer invaded his body for the second time, he fought with everything he had to the very end. I don’t think he ever imagined anything other than victory and healing. In fact, he often came to work when he shouldn’t have and never let on just how bad his health had gotten. I vividly remember the day Juli called me and said he had been transferred to hospice. I  felt such shock because he had emailed me not an hour before asking for sales projections.

When I visited him later, his body weak and failing, he hugged me and asked me about my girls. That was Jack. He listened while I told him whatever details I could think of as he drifted off to sleep. In tears, I kissed him on the forehead and left him there where he passed into eternity the following day.

I miss you, Jack Frost. I’m a better man because of you. Thank you for being my friend and investing in me.


Happy Jack Frost Day. If you think of it today, raise a glass for Champagne Jack, a wonderful gentleman I once knew.


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