Sunday, June 29, 2008

Co-Branding: Third Party Endorsement

The Third Party Endorsement is the most powerful sanction and form of approval available: this is true in both business and our personal lives. For example, there is a significant difference between your mother saying "you are smart" and Albert Einstein saying so. Things like objectivity, background, and independence influence the value judgement: "who" says "what" matters. You can spend all day telling someone how great you are, but they probably won't listen until someone credible says it once. This is the essence and value of the Third Party Endorsement.

Tobacconist University Certification is the ultimate Third Party Endorsement because:

  • Certification cannot be purchased, it must be earned.

  • TU does not allow any advertising because we must control the quality of our content and standards.

  • We have a Code of Ethics & Standards to articulate, promote, and project our values.

  • Our academic curriculum is thoroughly researched and available for public scrutiny.

  • We have an open-source academic curriculum where credible Tobacconists are welcome to contribute.

  • All of our revenue streams are publicly declared; including certifications, product placements, and sponsorships.

  • TU is independent institution and unaffiliated with any product sales.

Other examples of Third Party Endorsements include: newspaper articles, being quoted in the media, 'word of mouth', web-links & listings, and "best of" lists. Each endorsement comes with its own gravitas, but they can all add up to priceless promotional value.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

University In A Box: Certified Crate

Somehow, more than a decade's worth of work, computers, cameras, curriculum, promotional materials, and our Academic Administrator Kate, fit inside this crate. This humble wooden box and our internet sites are the heart, soul, and appendages of Tobacconist University (TU). I feel exhausted and relieved knowing that TU is well on its way: this Certified Crate is destined for Las Vegas where we will be available to serve and certify retail Tobacconists. Who knew you could fit a University in a box?.... and yes, in case you were wondering, that is Spanish Cedar trim.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Fishmonger: Hecho A Mano series

As I wrote in the Butcher's Hecho A Mano series, " they labor away to honor their product, their consumer, and their time. Always staying true to an idea or ideal: this is art. Ultimately, they have lives with real value which I feel fortunate to share in".

While this entry is titled The Fishmonger, that is an understated misnomer because the specialists at Metropolitan Seafood Co. (MSC) are far more than vendors; in fact they elevate the concept of Local Merchant to high art. Calling these gentlemen fishmongers is like calling a Sommelier a 'booze merchant' or a Certified Tobacconist a 'tobacco peddler'. The passion and commitment to their product at MSC is unparallelled and inspirational. It is only surpassed by their attentiveness and dedication to their customers. The owner, Mr. Mark Drabich has a twinkle in his eye the moment a customer comes in and the entire staff shares his enthusiasm for service. When there are no customers, Mr. Drabich has what I like to call the "eye of the tiger" - he is Product & Operations Focused. He walks around with a fervor for quality and perfection!

The first time I stepped into MSC I was enthusiastically greeted by the manager Colin Sears, who had just returned from a vacation; a fishing vacation. It was my sense then, as it has been every other time I have visited, that nothing was more important to these professionals than my satisfaction and enhanced appreciation. I'm talking about service so good that you feel like you are at the center of the universe; like the only thing that matters is your taste and fulfillment. Nothing could be more rare in today's fast paced, mass produced, commoditized and homogenized world. But thankfully, there are still places and people who care about quality; quality of product, quality of service, and quality of life. If Leonardo DaVinci was a fishmonger, he would have worked for Metropolitan Seafood Co.

* Just to list a few of the things I have learned: yes they will clean, scale, and prepare any kind of fish, shellfish, and/or shrimp exactly the way you want, at no extra charge - grill fish, soft shelled crab, and scallops on a medium heat (unlike meat) - when you clean a soft shell crab, you start by cutting off the face and then pull out the guts - fresh dry scallops can be eaten raw and they melt in your mouth - you can create a pseudo fish grilling basket with aluminum foil - don't be afraid to use cumin and garlic on your fish - Chilean Sea Bass is a fancy marketing term for Padagonian Rock Fish (and there is a price premium for fancy names) - there are organic farm raised fish - and sooo much more.

** I'm sure I will be writing more about MSC since the lessons I have learned about service are too numerable to mention here... so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cigar Mold: content preview

While Plume (or Bloom) can be a positive symptom of cigar aging, it is very different from Cigar Mold. Cigar Mold, like any other type of mold, is a fungus which appears as a woolly growth found on damp and/or decaying organic matter. Moldy cigars are not to be smoked.

Overly humidified cigars are the most susceptible to growing mold. Mold can begin growing before a cigar ever leaves the factory; if they are kept too moist or not de-humidified properly (see Marrying).

Cigar Mold can also result from over humidification and "wet spots" in personal humidors. Cigars which are kept directly under humidifiers and other wet spots can easily become over humidified. To inhibit Cigar Mold, regularly rotate your cigars and inspect for mold growth. While Plume/Bloom will easily wipe off, Cigar Mold will not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

If It Saves One Life....

"If It Saves One Life, It's Worth It" - this is a quote from a 15 year old high school student in California whose class was notified by state troopers and the administration that several students were killed in drunk driving accidents (Allison Hoffman, AP). Apparently, most of the children were crying, screaming and understandably traumatized. Several hours after being told this the officials notified them it was not true: they were just trying to teach them a lesson! What a sick, sick world we are living in now. And I am not surprised that this is happening in California, land of usurped freedoms, health zealots, and all-knowing government.

Abraham Lincoln said "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves". Thank you Mr. Lincoln, but what in the world are our small-minded leaders doing?

The notion of "If it saves one life..." is the most intellectually bankrupt idea of our modern age. Aged cheese, meat, peanuts, driving, and life in general can be deadly. Human life is cheap and priceless all at once. In places like Darfur it seems like people have no value, yet we all know life is precious. But the value of one life cannot be exchanged for another's. Preserving freedom and the right to pursue happiness is what makes life precious; without that, we are all just someone else's sheep. Government should focus on empowering our lives, not saving, shaping, limiting, or scaring us into submission. Empower us through Education....

* The painting shown here is insane, just like the "if it saves one life" notion.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

IPCPR & TU 2008 Las Vegas Convention

It's official!
Sign up for our newsletter now, if you haven't already: we have an action packed email going out on Monday.