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Last week, one of my dearest friends passed away. Her name was Rita O'Sullivan. She was in her 90s.
Rita was always a special person to me. She was a close family friend who gave me my first summer job when I was 16. I sold books in her bookstore. She taught me how to play Scrabble. She always won. Rita also gave me my first sip of cognac. I'll never forget that day. I was 11 years old and it was New Year's Eve. To quote Rita, "we'll separate the men from the boys tonight." I toasted with the men (my dad included) and my throat burned like hell from a drop of the stuff. I learned to respect hard alcohol the hard way.
There is something that Rita had in her heart that separated her from almost everybody else I ever met and is why her legacy is so much more than jobs, board games, and a fun times. Rita loved people- all people- no matter skin color, heritage, faith, abilities, or origins. She was the best teacher of humanity, respect, and human love because of the way she lived. Anyone who followed Rita's approach learned from her just how amazing each person really is. This is a key part of her legacy that lives on...
Every New Year's Eve, my family would go to Rita's legendary New Year's Eve parties. There, Rita would have a full complement of United Nations to celebrate with. There were Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. There were Vietnamese, Sinhales, and Irish; Indians, Latinos, Ukrainians and Poles. Her guests had names like "James", "Nang", "Dabadaba", and those names that need a deep click in the throat to pronounce. Rita, who herself was a devout Catholic, lived diversity. Her mantra was "God made all people to love one another." Gandhi might not have made his famous statement, "I love your Christ. [But I don't like Christians because]so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ" had he had a chance to hang around with Rita.
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So what does all this have to do with brands and marketing? When you think about it, people from different geographies develop expertises. Companies and brands, then have the opportunity to leverage geographies of origin when marketing their products (e.g. think how Chanel is linked to Paris). So, in a tribute to Rita - and in a celebration of human diversity, I've created a back-of-the-envelope of geography-of-origin expertise directory. These geographies of origins are countries, cities, and places from around the world that have become identified as leading sources which can be leveraged for brand building. When you look down the list, think how much more exciting and interesting our world is, because of people from all over our world. Join me in this toast to Rita- with a sip of cognac in hand.
The Geography-of-Origin Alphabet:
Brazilian bathing suits and models
British academics / fish n'chips /rock n' roll
Canadian hockey /maple syrup
Californian clean technology
Chinese tea / jade /martial arts /fireworks
Danish children's stories and toys
Egyptian cotton / dates
Ethiopian long distance runners
French fragrances/ beauty products /champagnes
German engineering / automobiles /beer
Greek olives / feta / ship-making
Indian computer programming / spices
Iranian caviar, Persian carpets
Israeli technology /skin muds & salts
Italian fashion / design / wines
Japanese electronics /automobiles
Korean electronics and ginseng
Lithuanian thermal energy
Mexican tequila / silver
Moroccan beauty oils
Orlando theme parks
Polish vodka / kielbasa
Russian vodka / satellites
Saudi Arabian dates
Spanish wines / (Iberian) ham
Swiss watches / chocolate
Thai silk /sticky rice / rubber