Eric Portelance

Planning Lead at Teehan+Lax by day. Pilot, brewer, photographer by night.
I occasionally blog about technology, photography, marketing, ideas, and creativity.
Follow me on: Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, Instagram, 500px.

8.22.2012 A Story About Two Paws

When I was growing up, our neighbours across the street had a dog. He was a beautiful, smart and loving collie. But he had a few behaviour issues.

When the owners were training him, they taught him to give a paw on command. “Give me your left paw,” they would say.

However, the dog was extremely apprehensive about this. When asked to give a paw, the dog would slowly raise the left, then the right, then the left… with incredible hesitation. He was looking for some type of visual or verbal cue that he was doing the right thing.

The problem was that, when he was first being trained, one of the owners would ask for the “right paw,” and that owner meant the dog’s right paw. When the other owner asked for the “right paw,” they meant the owner’s right paw.

Each owner would reward and punish different behaviours in different ways, leading to incredible confusion and a behaviour that was difficult for them to correct. Even if the dog was consistent and rewarded for what he was doing for one owner, the other owner would punish him for the same action.

This is a story about the importance of consistent behaviours and incentives. Think about your life, work, and the people in it. Are you inconsistently rewarding and punishing behaviours because of your lack of clarity?

behaviour ✳ reward ✳ behavior ✳ incentive ✳ dog ✳ training 




(via @JoeTierney)

innovation ✳ surface ✳ microsoft ✳ apple ✳ tablet ✳ tech 


Couldn’t agree more that the latest changes to line length and reduction of the margins in the Kindle iPad app have drastically worsened the reading experience. Who thought this was a good idea?

ipad ✳ ios ✳ amazon ✳ kindle 



(Source: eyeonspringfield, via merlin)

advertising ✳ ads ✳ submission 

6.5.2012 The rise of purpose-based marketing

In a recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog, Karen Freeman, Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird argued that our traditional thinking on customer engagement is dead. A study of more than 7000 consumers indicated that “companies often have dangerously wrong ideas about how best to engage with customers.” They attempt to debunk three marketing myths:

  1. Consumers don’t want to have relationships with your brand. Only 23% of those surveyed said they wanted to have a relationship with brands. Relationships, they said, are reserved for friends and family. So why do brands feel the need to act like a consumer’s best friend? I love this quote from Mike Arauz: “If I tell my Facebook friends about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but rather because I like my friends. I want to share something with them, in exchange for their attention and affection.”
  2. Frequent brand interactions over time won’t build relationships with consumers. The authors argue that relationships aren’t built on interactions, but rather on shared values and trust. Simply because a consumer uses a particular product doesn’t mean they’re looking to be bombarded with product offers. Instead, we care about the brands that stand for something that’s equally important to us. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
  3. More interaction isn’t always better. In marketing, increased interactions result in diminishing returns. There’s no correlation between the number of interactions and the likelihood a consumer will be loyal or more likely to recommend or purchase a product.

Instead, the authors make the case that consumer attention and trust are precious resources that must be cherished instead of abused. I want to take this a step further and argue that, as we are increasingly bombarded with media in every area of our life, that disruption marketing is dying.

It’s no longer good enough to tell customers about how great your product is and hope they will rush out and buy it. Especially in the digital space, consumers are increasingly looking for value and utility. Modern brands that truly get it and are succeeding in digital are those who have understood they need to stand for something meaningful and deliver on that purpose at every consumer touchpoint. They do so by creating compelling products, services and experiences that flow from that purpose.

Several years ago, Simon Sinek presented a simple idea called the Golden Circle in his TEDxPuget Sound talk ”How great leaders inspire action.” He argues that the traditional marketing model of What > How > Why is dead.

Golden Circle

Here’s how not to inspire: “This is our new widget. We make these widgets using cutting edge technology. They’ll increase your performance by 200% and make unicorns happy. Want to buy one?”

People buy why you do it, not what you do. It’s time to flip the model and change the way we interact with customers.

Reverse Golden Circle

Here’s how Simon presents Apple’s value proposition:

In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, easy to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

To truly embrace digital marketing, brands will need to understand that they need to start standing for something meaningful that consumers identify with, and create branded digital experiences that people care about – beyond a one-off contest or microsite. Some brands, like Nike, have shown that they understand this in the digital space far better than others. Brands who don’t get it are leaving themselves open to disruptive innovation from new or unexpected entrants.

marketing ✳ purpose ✳ brands ✳ innovation ✳ strategy 


Awesome! My 1ThingApp submission yesterday was beautifully illustrated.


Sleeping in. Wrapped in my blankets like a burrito. 


Horses. Göreme, Turkey. 2012.

turkey ✳ travel ✳ horses ✳ photography ✳ cappadocia 


Sad to hear that Handsome Furs have called it quits (as a band, and as a couple, it seems).

They put on a great show and I had the chance to see them four times over the past few years. The above shots were taken in Washington, D.C., where I saw them for the first time. It also happened to be their second wedding anniversary.

I’m looking forward to Divine Fits, the new band from Dan Boekner and Spoon’s Britt Daniel.

dan boeckner ✳ handsome furs ✳ alexei perry ✳ spoon ✳ britt daniel 


#57: Future Collages

Sean Howard & Eric Portelance

Attention Surplus

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Last week’s talk with Lisa Charleyboy inspired us to try an activity she mentioned: making a collage of images representing things we’d like to have or pursue in the future. We spent an hour or so before this week’s show with some good friends, some bristol board and a stack of magazines, cutting and pasting photos to produce a sort of mood board for our lives. On the episode, Sean and Eric discuss what they learned from the process and the end results.

We also mention:
  • 10Q, the online “question vault”

Download MP3 | Subscribe on iTunes

A very special and personal episode of my podcast, Attention Surplus, this week. We did a creative exercise about visually mapping out our goals and feelings about our lives over the next few years. It was incredibly powerful. In the show, we discuss how we approached it and what our initial feelings were.

podcast ✳ purpose ✳ mood ✳ plan ✳ meaning 


The Beekeeper. The third video in the excellent Made by Hand series is just as good as the first two. Worth a watch.