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The ongoing population and business declines in rural America are undeniable, but they need not be inevitable. Those who say that rural America is destined for perpetual decline forget that this was the prediction for large urban centers in the 1970s.
— Neil A. Belson,
Promoting Rural Entrepreneurship and Rural Economic Development, Third Way (Jan. 7, 2020).

For those that live amongst the farms and ranches of the rural United States, the fact that there are challenges uniquely faced by small businesses is no surprise. However, we benefit from learning more about the source of these challenges. …


  • Bill Weld
  • Bill Nye
  • Gary Johnson
  • Jill Stein
  • Andrew Cuomo, current governor of New York
  • Chris Cuomo, television personality
  • Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer
  • ADM McRaven (US Navy, ret.)
  • GEN Mattis (USMC, ret.)
  • GEN McCrystal (US Army, ret.)
  • Colonel Potter (US Army, fictional)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) (admittedly, this is just because I like the name “Dick Durbin” almost as much as I like the name “Dirk Diggler”)
  • Sen. John McCain (deceased)
  • Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI, ret.)
  • Emmanual Macron (even though he’s president of another country)
  • Angela Merkel (ditto)
  • Betty White
  • the current leader of the Sinaloa…


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The Unbearable Silence of God

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” the man began. “It has been… six years, I think, since my last confession.”

“Go ahead, son,” Monsignor Rybeck responded. The confessional was little more than a woven fabric screen on wooden legs between two metal folding chairs in an alcove of the chapel. As the man shifted in his chair, it squeaked under his weight. Monsignor Rybeck pursed his lips and waited for the man to confess.

“I gave up, Father,” the man said. “I gave up my faith. I despaired. I…”

“What do you mean, ‘you gave up’?” …


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“Harry, you know as well as I do that the Representative needs this money or he will not be able to compete on the television market.”

The Tune Inn was a staple in Southeast Capital Hill. Harry had been coming here since his law school days, wandering home drunk and alone to his basement apartment on A Street, just down the hill from the Library of Congress. On the walls of the bar were dusty hunting trophies, signs requesting that patrons pay in advance if they are drinking to forget, stolen roadsigns from past inauguration parades, and flat screen TVs, tuned to various 24-hour news channels. …


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Sunrise over Prague, by Jaromir Kavan

… the world is a world of tears and the burdens of mortality touch the heart.
Virgil, The Aenied, Book 1 (Robert Fagles translation)

On August 21, 1875, in the (then) Austro-Hungarian city of Prague, 35 year old composer Antonin Dvorak (1) looked down into the crib of his two-day old daughter Josefa Dvorakova and discovered her dead. Dvorak, newly successful for his Third and Fourth Symphonies, was a devoted Catholic and family man. While more modern thinkers look back at infant mortality rates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and may assume that the inhabitants were accustomed to the loss of a child, this was not the case for Dvorak, or, likely, for the many, many others that lost children then. To lose his second child just two days after her birth was agony for Dvorak, and he turned to his faith for solace. …


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Peace In The Desert

I spent last week visiting the Desert Southwest, a place near and dear to my heart. I don’t normally talk about my personal life here, but the trip itself was beautiful. The desert in May is in full bloom, not desolate like many assume. The peaceful scenery of Mesa Verde National Park, of the ruins of the Anasazi civilization dating back millennia, worked like meditation to clear my mind.


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I try to avoid cross-posting from my blog these days. I tend to think that the blog is for business, and Medium is for stuff that I can’t claim is related to work (or wouldn’t want clients looking at and saying, “Is he touched in the head?”). However, reading is a subject that applies in both my creative/personal life and business life. Don’t worry; despite this coming from a marketing blog, there will be no call to action, no pop-ups, and no invitations to subscribe to something.

At the end of each year, I like to take a moment and take a look at everything I read that year. I’m an inveterate reader, but I am also a fan of lateral thinking. I find that I am most successful at solving problems for myself and for my clients when I think about something outside the fields of marketing and copywriting. This has been true since my Army days, when reading about mathematics inspired my approach to interrogating terrorists (specifically, Mark Buchanan’s Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks). At the end of each year, I like to look at the books and articles I’ve read, and draw themes from them. Sometimes, this allows me to identify topics in which a scattering of articles read in a year indicate I should do further research. Other times, it just helps me identify the common threads across what I have been reading. These common threads can help identify compelling marketing themes. …


Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness — all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. …


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KKK Rally, 1915, courtesy of the Library of Congress

I was researching small network theory (AKA the Watts-Strogatz model) today for work on social media (because I am definitely the worst person to talk to at cocktail parties), and came across an article by Stanley Milgram from 1969 promoting the “six degrees” theory. While I knew that the six degrees theory predated Watts and Strogatz, I never knew Milgram had a hand in it. Milgram, for those not familiar with him, is famous for his studies at Yale University of obedience and persuasion, particularly one study in which he was able to show people were willing to behave in a way they believed hurt others when told to do so by an authority figure. …

About

Todd Brogowski

I'm a writer and photographer. I'm also a combat vet (Iraq), and former investigator. I should drink less coffee.

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