I read a headline this morning from columnist Patrick Hanlon that reminded me of my “Eye-Opening” adolescent experiences growing up “Full disclosure. I left my parent’s home when I was 15 years old…” What does that have to do with my Branding Lesson?


  1. Attract: Present yourself appropriately so they’ll at least stop to listen
  2. Engage: Keep their interest; tell your story
  3. Respect: Thank them and Respect their time and effort

Well, so did I, not when I was 15, but I ran away from home when I was 17. The memories of my rebellious adolescent youth still linger especially coming from a conservative Asian family.

What was I thinking = Easy answer, “My Sanity”

During this time, my 2 most utilized forms of transportation where my Schwinn Varsity 10-speed and Hitchhiking.

Bingo! As I read on… there are too many similarities between the “Process” of Hitchhiking and the Branding that we do today. Maybe this is why many techniques used today are intuitive for me because there so many similarities in techniques we use today.

Here’s What I Realized:

I learned early on that the “Moody/Brooding” too-cool-for-school look didn’t result in many rides, so I started smiling, but that’s never a sure thing, but hitching with a girl usually did the trick. Some people use signs, but I never did. Except for one time. I wasn’t getting anyone to pick me up in Colorado, so I wrote a sign that said “Denver.” I only did it because I thought that if everyone else did it, they must have been doing it because it worked, right? Wrong. It didn’t work. Kind of like going on Facebook, funding a golf sponsorship, or creating Super Bowl spots, just because that’s what everyone else is doing? So when I hitchhiked I just smiled and was myself, and let highway drivers draw their own conclusions. Today, we might call that being authentic. I covered thousands of miles just by smiling.

When the car stops, run to it. Why? Some people might change their minds and drive away. But that’s okay. They didn’t mean to stop, anyway. They were teasing you. When the moment comes, seize it. If it doesn’t, back to Step One. You’re In The Car Now what? It’s time to present yourself all over again. Smile. Be pleasant. Why? Because you want the ride to last for as long as possible.

Think of story of the maiden who entranced the sheik by telling a cliffhanger every night. Outcome: If you keep talking, they won’t kick you out of the car. Some might call this social media. Spread it wherever your customers can engage. Keep them interested. Keep them anticipating the next great thing from you. Like Apple; Like Nike; Like HBO, Keep telling your story. The more you keep talking and the more you engage them, the longer the ride. Don’t fall asleep. Maintain the engagement. Make it interesting. Exciting.

If something goes awry, immediately tell them you’re sorry. I’ll never forget the time a young woman scratched my leather car seat with your diamond studs from her jacket. She sincerely apologized and expressed how badly she felt and all was good after that.

When one of you has reached your destination, thank them for the ride. Life is filled with good moments, and this has been one of them. Thank your customers. Too often, we take them for granted.

Be alert to danger signals along the way. Have your antennae up. Anything can happen to change the course of your planned trajectory. You may have to detour. There could be rain or snow. If you’re hitchhiking, there could be real danger. And there are dangers in marketing, too. Products could go awry, or you might have a recall or mistakes.

No matter how good you’re getting at hitching that ride, understand that you’ll have to do it all over again. How do you make it better and more efficient? = Grow!, Improve!