What do Your Thanksgiving Eating Habits Say
About Your Branding Efforts?

Now that November is here and the ghosts and goblins have gotten their treats, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. In many ways Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays, not only because it celebrates the Pilgrims who helped settle several of the original colonies, but because it is totally dedicated to overindulgence. What could be more American than gorging yourself on delicious food in the name of people who devoted themselves to hard work, sacrifice and austere living?

Different people follow different eating habits on Thanksgiving Day. Believe it or not, how you eat your Thanksgiving feast can say a lot about how you approach your branding effort. Some people start with the appetizers (such as cranberry sauce or rolls), move on to hearty slices of turkey with maybe a little gravy and plentiful sides of stuffing and vegetables, and then save room for a piece of pumpkin pie.

However, some people have a tendency to skip right over the main course to the sugary stuff, rather than work their way through the nutritious part of the meal. Not satisfied simply with the prospect of a enjoying a giant meal with family and friends, many people ignore the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. and jump right into the pumpkin pie. Some folks will even stuff themselves on candy and nuts before the meal starts (but they probably still have room for dessert even though they are “too full” for the mashed potatoes and green beans).

Which style of Thanksgiving eating best reflects your brand-building efforts? Do you dig in heartily and with joy, without skimping on the meat and potatoes (i.e., networking, skill development, education, taking on extra work, researching your marketplace)? Do you immediately indulge in the sweet stuff that follows (taking a long vacation, buying expensive things, celebrating your success with a night on the town)? Or do you skim through the meat and potatoes of your meal (and your effort) in an attempt to obtain instant gratification that you have not really earned?

Drinking beer and eating fried chicken…

To further illustrate my point, let’s look at the recent collapse of the Boston Red Sox. After a poor start in April, the Red Sox buckled down and went on an impressive run that gave them the best record in baseball for most of the 2011 season. However, when September rolled around, the Red Sox suddenly lost focus, stopped giving their best effort, and quickly faded away, not even reaching the playoffs.

There were numerous reasons for the historic collapse (which are still being deciphered), but one fact that came up was that several members of the Red Sox pitching staff were drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games. Even though these were games they weren’t scheduled to play, this dietary choice clearly shows a lack of preparation and focus on what should have been the players’ main goal: building a brand as a championship-caliber baseball team. Having a cold one and a chicken wing may have provided some short-term instant gratification during games, but in the long term it contributed to poor physical conditioning, mental distraction, low morale and generally bad teamwork.

Don’t be tempted by the “fried chicken and beer” in your daily life! Save them for the occasional treat after a hard day’s work of brand-building is over. Maintain the physical and mental conditioning, morale and teamwork you will need to make it to the top.

So have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember that pumpkin pie doesn’t count as a vegetable!