Category: Speaking

The Power of Unhappiness at TEDx


Our nation’s founding fathers may have been inspired by unhappiness – they wrote it into Declaration of Independence. Seriously. Don’t remember it? Right after “Life, Liberty”… we have “and the PURSUIT of happiness.” See what they did there? We get life and liberty from our first breath, but if we want to be happy? We gotta buy some sneakers, a nice track suit, and then try to chase down happiness. 

Don’t like exercise? Prepare to be disappointed. And even if you do like it, you’re still screwed, because the moment you stop pursuing and start having… you’ll find that our founders didn’t tell us we could actually keep happiness, or how to know it when we see it. 

Traditional wisdom says that the value of unhappiness lies in making the good times feel that much better. We’re not advocating that you practice masochism on Tuesdays so that your Wednesdays feel better, but being unhappy does provide with us with super powers that disappear once happiness creeps in. 

Unhappiness and happiness aren’t as hard to pin down as we think they are – there are specific conditions that lead to one or the other and once you know what to look for you’ll know what to change.

Tate Linden, Stokefire’s President and Chief Strategic Consultant, has been invited to present at the inaugural TEDx Herndon event this Saturday, March 14th (Pi Day). He’ll be sharing the secret sauce on to how unhappiness can be used as a tool to find happiness easier and more often. And we promise he won’t be chopping anyone’s toes off to make the next speaker sound better.

TEDx Herndon

Learning the Lingo While Teaching

Posted By:
Tate Linden

Quick update!

Last week I spoke to a great group of coaches and organizational developers about my developing book applying Gandhi’s wisdom to branding. His quote, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” seemed to make sense to everyone, but when I used it in practice to reference the thinking, saying and doing of an organization’s leadership everyone was left scratching their heads.

What I learned from the experience is that there’s too much awkwardness and wiggle room in explaining someone’s reason for doing or saying something as “their thinking”, or worse, “their THINK”. I spent half the session doing verbal gymnastics to make “think” stay within the model I was discussing instead of using the Think/Say/Do model as way to introduce the conceptual and them immediately applying more business- or brand-appropriate language.

Leaders speak of their intent or motivation, and since that’s who I’m speaking with and about there’s no reason to make them try to learn some buzz-wordy “my THINK is X” phrasing when all we’re talking about is what gets us out of bed in the morning. What really surprised me, though, was that until now I’d been so absorbed in the development and application of the philosophy that I’d completely ignored how awkward it was to discuss.

Many thanks to the ASTD and CBODN members who helped me discover the problem and watched me work through it in real time. Both cool and humbling to experience.

(And if you want to buy the post image on a tee? Gandhi just might approve.)

EVENT: “Branding? Meet Gandhi.” with Tate Linden


Be a part of Tate’s first-ever public discussion on the topic of kickass Gandhian brands. One day you might even tell your grand-kids you were there. (Note: said telling is far more likely to occur if you already have grand-kids, and if they just so happen to be visiting around October 4th.)


Topic: Gandhi’s Secrets to a Successful Brand
Presenter: Tate Linden, President & Chief Creative of Stokefire Branding and Advertising
Sponsors: The DC chapter of ASTD and the Chesapeake Bay Organization Development Network.
Cost: Free! (Thanks sponsors!)
Date: October 4, 2011, 7 to 9 PM
Location: Bethesda Regional Library – 7400 Arlington Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814.


Only about ten seats remaining.
Call Peggy Linden, Coaching SIG Leader at 301-424-0860 or send her an email.

About The Session:

Organizational brands large and small struggle and fail every day. Many chalk this up to bad luck or poor timing, but that’s a cop-out. In most cases the situations leading to failure can be recognized and turned around before it’s too late. In this session you’ll learn to recognize and decode the warning signs, and to understand the steps needed to fix the problems. Tate Linden may be conveying the information, but it’s Gandhi’s words on alignment and perception that are the foundation of the session.

By the end of his 1 hour interactive session you will:

  1. Understand what a brand identity is and why it matters to the success of every organization, be it a sole proprietorship or industry titan.
  2. Easily recognize the three signs of brand misalignment and three indicators of weak brand elements – and the negative consequences of each.
  3. Learn why a critical ingredient in brand success is provided by the audience, not the branded organization.
  4. Know where and how to effectively focus your efforts to build a solid foundation for your own brand’s success.
Tate’s discussion starts after brief introductions from the attendees, and following his discussion there will be Q&A and networking.

About the Presenter:

Tate has over 15 years experience advising, managing and developing brands for the likes of Discovery Communications, Heinz, Charles Schwab, ADP, and the US Department of Defense. He’s also an in-demand speaker for audiences from 10 to 1500, with recent appearances for the US Congress, HOW Design Conference, ASAE Great Ideas, and the ACCE annual conference. He’s in the midst of writing a book and developing workshops that show in detail how and why to incorporate Gandhian philosophies into organizational identities.

About Time You Pull Over And Ask For Directions:

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Hello from Sunny San Diego.

It’s been about three years since I’ve been in San Diego… I’d forgotten how great it was.  Sure, I’m still a little jet-lagged from my flight in, and my deep-discount hotel room has me with a great view of a cement wall and perhaps a 10 degree slice of sky that hypothetically gives my room sunlight from 3:14 PM to 4:25 PM in the afternoon…  those aren’t so great – especially since the guy above me can see the ocean, and talks about it loudly from his balcony…  (I, too, have a balcony, but mine gives me a view of the reception desk, the wall, and a disturbingly verdant hot tub.)

But I’m not in my room except to sleep so it doesn’t bother me.


Anyhow, I’m here for a presentation on branding and am having a great time catching up with old friends and business contacts from my bi-coastal life.  If you’re attending the ASAE annual event and want to say hello just send me a note or give me a call (you can do so via the CONTACT US link at the bottom right of this page) and we can catch up over coffee at one of the 74 vendors inside the beautiful conference center.

(I suggested that I meet up with someone “at the coffee vendor near registration” today and found out that there are five of ’em within throwing distance.  Evidently we association types have issues maintaining energy.)

Also – my session is entitled “Rebranding Midflight” and I’d love to see lots of you folks there.  It’ll be a fun session with three of my clients talking about their own rebranding experiences (all with Stokefire) and the stuff they learned from it.  This isn’t a party in Stokefire’s honor – it’ll be a candid discussion about the sorts of struggles involved with redifining who we are as organizations.

I’m hoping my firm comes through without too many bruises.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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