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I’m a retail architect that studies human behavior, perception, and decision-making. I’m fascinated with the intersection of where commerce and community meet.

What the train wanderers taught me about waiting for the right opportunity to arrive

While it would be unheard of today, I walked to elementary school every day as a kid in the south. It was a long trek, about 25 minutes in total, through the old brick neighborhoods, then past the big steepled church, art deco post office, and the modern supermarket just beyond the edge of the main street.

The most exciting part of my journey was crossing the railroad tracks that split our town in half. If my pals and I got the timing right, we could catch the Northfolk Southern Railway freight train come roaring across our path.

The sheer…

To love your lover is to love their dreams.

“I can’t wait for you to get this childish hobby out of your system!” Marie shouted as Harry laid on the floor, wrestling with one of his students.

And with that, she stormed out of the gym in a huff.

Harry looked embarrassed…as if his mother just told him he was too old to be still playing with GI Joe’s.

As students, we weren’t used to seeing our action-hero smacked down like this. There was an awkward silence for a few breathless seconds. …

The three fences couples must get over to “make it”.

“So, what’d you think of my new girl?” Felix asked as if he were referring to a new convertible sports car he just leased.

“She seems like a wonderful human,” I said.

He was hoping for a more enthusiastic response from me. But I didn’t want to participate in this visual evaluation game with him like we were judges holding scorecards at a dog show.

Felix always had a new modelesque girl on his arm, but these relationships never went far beyond the first few dates.

My friend was a serial dater, and he had all the trappings of a…

Learning to outrun failure and redefine success

Ok, it’s time we admit it: most of us hear voices in our heads and have an ongoing dialog with ourselves.

One voice is a tough-love coach that pushes us to work harder, do better, and make something of our lives. And the other voice is a ferocious critic that tells us to stop trying so hard because we’ll never “make it.”

I call that second voice the Give Up Wolf.

My stalker talker

The Give Up Wolf stalks me every day and crawls into my insecurities at night. And he taunts me in a low, sly voice that says,

“You might have…

Every mature industry has a standard, recognizable form and shape that competitors have centered on as the best customer approach.

Startups have the daunting task of competing against industry giants. These Goliaths already have the best resources, capital, networks, and systems at their disposal. Whereas most startups only have ideas and ambition.

But most established companies in mature industries have a deadly flaw in their strategy: The standard “form and shape” of their product offering and experience is often predictable, leaving consumers disengaged.

Most competitors in mature industries go to the same conferences, read the same publications, hire the same industry experts, and learn the same best practices. …

How those closest to us can use guilt and manipulation to control us

Is it possible to love someone but not want to be around them?

Sure. It happens more than people like to admit.

Most of us have had someone in our lives that we care about deeply but dread seeing. Perhaps they’re verbally abusive. Or push all our psychological buttons. Or bend our antennas and distort the image of how we see ourselves.

These people are usually close to us — a mother, father, employer, business partner, friend, or even a lover or spouse. …

The techniques my 92-year-old mentor taught me to become a better leader

In 1992 my business partner and I quit our cushy jobs and started a business out of my hot, windowless attic space in my loft.

We had little money and no safety net. And if we failed, we’d have to file personal bankruptcy. Or worse, face the humiliation among our peers who said we were idealistic and naïve to think we could start a business in a town already full of stiff competition.

The first three jobs we counted on for startup revenue fell through, one by one. …

Insights from 30 years of watching men and women shop and manage retail companies.

Husband and wife grocery shopping together. Husband frustrated by all the items on wife’s list.
Husband and wife grocery shopping together. Husband frustrated by all the items on wife’s list.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I convince skeptical “businessmen” of the power of emotions involved in retail shopping. On average, 80%-90% of the executive leaders I work with at retail companies are male. As a consultant, these men see me as the “touchy-feely” guy who can help them understand the softer side of retail. It’s a role that reminds me of counseling my Clint Eastwood-esque dad to be more sensitive to how he tramples on mom’s home renovation plans.

Easier vs. Better

While my mom enjoys decorating each room in the house with a different…

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