We’re all looking for the right answer, and the better outlook after the challenging sequences of the last couple of years.
We’re looking for yes.

Anytime you have an answer, there was a question before.
And any question is a quest—
it’s a journey, from one place of comprehension,
into the grip of knowing, to the pathway in
a stride of insight.

And in that
you see

I was in a conversation with a brand team, and we, together, ponder the tactical answer “yes,” which is change, new, uplift to the next stride in knowing more. Talking anew, in an evolved way, to a disengaged community, a layering of brand constituents—people that know and embrace the brand. Or they did—now, in the transitioning of everything, it’s a matter of answering “yes,” to change, the embracement of the new, the next enchantment—brand song; it’s the way forward.

That’s a “yes,” it’s not
the query answered in the negative retort: “no.”

Yes is change.
No is static.


My mother, an extraordinary person, an artist, a painter—she showed me a folding Asian type of screen and asked, “what could you do with this?
Could you do something on this screen?
“Yes,” my answer. And drawn with a monster brush—
actually, a car radiator cleaning brush,
it’s about about 5 feet long.

In my work with people,
it’s interesting to note the yes
the no people.

And the yes
and no
There are brands that seem to be perpetually shifting, yes-answering in their transitioning to new horizons, new innovations and next moves in the market. Thinking about brands in the human construct,
this relates bilaterally to brands that are people.

In nearly five decades of working with people, brand owners and founders,
what I call “human brands”—
a proposition of an enterprise that is formed around a person—it’s their leadership, it’s their visioning, could be their name as an eponymous brand statement—like our legacy relationship with the Nordstrom family, and Nordstrom brand;
This would be contrasted with another alternative branded commerce,
another form of enterprise, where the brand is inherently circled with people that drive the brand, as an offering to a community.

Human brands, represents a more closely-held and managed modeling, perhaps celebrity or personality-based, while still coherent, commerce-centered enterprises.

For our history, that would relate to Art Wolfe and his photographic legacy or Colette Courtion and her start-up body care system or Jamie Kern’s innovation—IT Cosmetics, working hands-on with the Wachowski siblings on The Matrix, Richard Gere’s compassion network, or Premchit Na Thalang’s Thai wellness brand grouping, amongst others.

They’re different, but there are alignments,
since both of them have a living presence,
even a presumption of soulfulness,
given their interweaving of meaningfulness—and built fabrications
around the principled character of serving humanity.

Every brand is human in a manner of thinking —
originated by a human and more often than not,
tends to offer to humankind.

Thinking of pathways, for humans and brands —
what path is “no” and what pathway is “yes”?
No is closed.
Yes is open.


To a path lain,
that’s an answer.
Yes to next.


In my work with people, and their brands, that leadership
summit of strategic inquiry is a soulful one.


The point to the soulfulness of a brand, or a human soul is invariably about journey.
Tracing word origins—a frequent exploration for me since Middle School—soul is derived from the ancient Old High German seula and the Proto Germanic saiwaz — word seeds of “sea.”

And the sea, to journey,
is open.

Not no.

When you think about this inquiry and response, it goes further—the yes, or no, and how that relates to you—your answers, which is your work, it’s an ideological challenge.

Yes is uplift—it’s open to the opening.
No voices closure and no-thing.

Yes would be a brand stance, an attitudinal condition of openness—an eye open to customer and community opportunity, new markets, evolved storytelling, which is a refreshed yes, while no would imply the contrary.

Like last week’s blog observation on journey, the journal of a day, the diurnal venture — it’s an accounting. That could be you, your personal adventuring.


Person+brand=brand scrapbook, community groupings and product enthusiasts,
personalized stylistic voicing.


Imagining yes:
openness in that journey,
for you, who you are, where and what you work at,
and the offerings that you relay
to others in the commerce of engagement.





GIRVIN’s cover design for Wired Magazine, at TED featuring Chris Anderson’s “Free.”