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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.

The five forces that can transform average companies into industry champions

Have you ever wondered why some entrepreneurs “make it big” while others — who are just as bright and hardworking — don’t? This question is one I’ve studied for the last 30 years.

As an innovation design consultant, my colleagues and I have worked with over 600 business leaders and management teams from a wide variety of industries. And over the last three decades, I’ve encountered every type of organizational culture imaginable.

Just add any adjective you can think of — brilliant, bureaucratic, efficient, dysfunctional, corrupt, or visionary — and I’ve worked with them before. …


The invaluable business lesson I learned from one of Asia’s wealthiest entrepreneurs

As a consultant, I’m inside my clients’ corporate offices several times a month. And after doing this routine for over 35 years, I can tell what a company’s management philosophy will be about just by the looks of their lobby and conference rooms.

I’ve worked for some clients that haven’t made a profit in five years but still have deluxe conference rooms — with expensive furniture, flashy technology systems, and plenty of snacks and bottles of Perrier sparkling waters.

And I’ve also worked for some of the world’s wealthiest companies with conference rooms with old, musty carpet, beat-up tables, chairs…


How to build a bootstrap marketing approach with limited resources

Starting a business is akin to trying to build a utopian colony in the middle of the jungle. With no roads, electricity, plumbing, or running water, you spend the first year just getting the fundamentals of your base camp set up while trying to survive the harsh realities of the business wilderness.

When my business partner and I started our consulting firm in 1992, we had a mountain of issues to tackle every day. We’d work with staff and clients during the weekdays, do bookkeeping and accounting at night, and focus on marketing efforts on the weekends.

However, the most…


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…


The business world doesn’t need salespeople with big expense accounts anymore

My dad was a superhero to me, but I didn’t see him much as a kid. He’d come home for quick wardrobe changes — perhaps a tux, golf outfit, camouflage hunting gear, or a sharp-looking business suit — but was out the door in an Aqua Velva flash.

Where was this mysterious masked man off to in such a hurry? Civic functions, cocktail parties, and an endless array of ribbon-cutting events during the day. At night, you’d find him in smoke-filled steak houses, cocktail parties, or the theater.

And on weekends, he was off to deep-sea fishing trips, race tracks…


How “trying on” different places can transform your life

We are all like acorns, and buried within us is a seed that contains instructions — like a set of blueprints — for how our lives should unfold. While the instructions have an objective, the shape and direction of our life depends on the soil conditions we get planted in.

While most of us can grow in darn near any climate, that doesn’t mean where we’re at is the best environment for us to reach our ultimate growth potential, which leads me to a question for you:

Are you in the right soil to reach your ultimate growth potential?

Latent growth potential

There…


Becoming more aware of the five hidden survivor traits that push you into rescuer/counselor mode.

Adam never slept much on the nights his parents stayed out late. He knew from how his father put the key in the door — with ease or fumbled attempts — whether it’d be a calm night or a violent storm.

Although he was only 9, Adam learned to read people from watching his mother and father interact. He could spot “tells” — like the slight nostril flare, the micro-expressions of facial muscles, or the way someone tossed ice cubes in their glass — when things were about to explode.

Whenever the dark clouds of a violent storm came hailing…


Why businesses need to define their transformation potential

The most unexpected call my company ever received was from a church hoping to rebrand itself.

It’s an understatement to say it was out of our comfort zone. We deal with retail, food, and entertainment. I wasn’t sure we could deliver for them.

But I thought about how much our firm uses the religious dimensions of marketing, branding, and consumer behavior as part of our process. I also thought about our focus on reaching the “non-customer” or what a church might consider the “un-churched” or “non-believers.” And that challenge motivated me to take on the assignment.

During our first brand…


Dear Matthew,

What a refreshingly honest story!!!

One of the things I love about Medium is that I get to read the insides contours of what other people are thinking, feeling and pondering.

Although I'm obsessive reader of books, magazines and the news, I'd much rather read a story like yours, more than anything else. Why? Because it makes me feel like I'm connected to the human condition and plight of people everywhere.

We all want to find love, to be loved, and to give love. But it seems harder to do in this modern, data-rich, commitment-poor world.

At the…

Kevin Ervin Kelley, AIA

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