i am not always great with change.

sometimes it really hurts.

especially when you mess with my favorite comfort foods.

example 1: my blue box kraft mac and cheese

let’s get right to the brass tax.  i think they have shrunk the noodles.

i was so shattered at the prospect that i took this picture with the fork in the bowl (albeit a large bowl that maybe holds the entire box of mac and cheese) so i could create some context for future reference.  i know it doesn’t help.



chicago, illinois 7.2014

this is…errr was one of my favorite treats on the planet.  i will spare you the rant that i did write and delete because we are focusing on the potential of smaller noodles and not my rocky relationship with kraft blue box as i work towards a healthier lifestyle.  i have not purchased or consumed any blue box since this discovery because A) healthier lifestyle dictates i steer very clear and B) the fact that they might have changed it is just too much for me to bear….

anyone else noticed this? was this a one time bit of personal confusion?

that is what i thought with example 2…but the scenario has repeated itself.

example 2: my stouffer’s french bread pizzas – deluxe

why ohh why would you stop cutting the pepperoni into quarters?  now i have to hand shred them.  sure i was always interacting with the pepperoni making sure that they were evenly distributed across the pizza but that doesn’t make your hands greasy.  shredding the pepperoni does.  it happened a few weeks ago and i prayed it was just a random mistake but then it happened again this week and i think this might be the way of the future… (candidly, i did get better pepperoni coverage but too much work.  please see an au’ natural look beside a hand shredded option…


opelika, alabama 12.2014

example 3: mcdonald’s egg mcmuffin muffin

(okay, so i get that my choices of comfort foods might qualify me for a food intervention but please note that i am working to train myself to really like fruits and vegetables….very slow road…and feeling a bit of food shame right now.)

at this point i suspect that they have only switched the mcmuffin in the alabama market.  “research tastings” in airports across the country and on ashland avenue in chicago appear to still match the original recipe but we might have a switch-a-roo on our hands.  in alabama i have experienced a less bread like mcmuffin that does not really toast as well and doesn’t seem to have the same binding characteristics as

am i alone on these?  have you noticed these changes or others in the products you buy and eat?  please share them in the comment section below…

love (is in) the details

my brother teaches special needs kids ages 10 to 12 in the mansfield, ohio city schools.  he has been making a difference in the lives of those amazing kids for over 21 years.  i am super proud of him.  he is an inspiration.

for the last two years i have had the honor of spending the day sharing with them the magic and fun of qualitative research.  i take them through a variety of exercises that i actually use for clients and then help understand the strategic learnings that come from the many exercises.  needless to say, it is a blast.

beyond the fun of spending time with such curious and energetic kids, i always seem to walk away so impressed with the insights they have and how observant they are.  to help illustrate this i have included pictures from our unaided drawing exercises from the last two years:

heinz ketchup (12.2012)


two of the kids even recalled the little detail of the tomato and vine at the base of the package (see the green on the one in the top row?)!  what?!  holy impressed!!

coca cola and pepsi (12.2013)


red is an equity – check.  it says coca cola on the package – check.  and did you see the polar bears?!  top row #1 (“you only gave me a white crayon”), bottom row #1 & 2.  genius.


looks like the classroom has a bit more to say about pepsi!  note the logo, emphasis on blue, and the 12-pack box of cans, individual cans, and even the plastic bottle.

these kids make my heart smile.

TRY THIS AT HOME!  make it a family activity or even something to do with friends.  grab a 12 or 16 pack of crayons (one box for each person), a 11×8 piece of paper (and do not hesitate to use the WHOLE piece of paper), pick a brand, and start drawing!  it is fun seeing the details that stand out for some and not for others.  and if you do it, please PLEASE please send me the pics privately or post them in the comments section!


and the winner is…..

…the humane society!

please meet ella.  super cute right? she was adopted from this local humane society by our lucky drawing winner michele.  ella is michele’s second cat from this humane society, first one named cali, and she has been so impressed by the work they do that she chose them as the beneficiary of the $500 prize money!


further, michele has earmarked the donation money to be used to purchase the Stretch and Scratch cat scratchers on their shelter wish list with the remaining money going to the purchase of cat food, cat toys, and other supplies purchased to care for the cats and kittens they bring into the shelter.

great choice michele!

happy friday to all!

not sure what this is all about?  check out this previous post to gather the details: where would you donate $500?

where would you donate $500?

if you have been following the blog then you are aware i love packaging, branding, fishing, and travel, but there is more.  one element that has always been a cornerstone to my business and my life philosophy is giving back.  kcw global research annually makes donations to organizations in its backyard, nationally, and internationally while also making small donations for every project executed and donating my time to a variety of amazing organizations when i can.  sharing this is not intended to be a “toot my own horn” moment, but rather an opportunity to share a little of my back story on the topic so you can understand the impetus behind this initiative.

anyone can start a blog but i needed to figure out how to build this spirit of giving into this construct.  and so our story begins… back in february i held a drawing for a $1000 donation to the 501c3 of the winner’s choice.  this drawing included the 60ish of you that had subscribed to my blog within its first few months.  the beneficiary of this initial drawing was:

blog pic for alz

but kate this donation was made in march, why are you telling us about it now?

i love these questions!  i am telling this to you now because we just hit the 100 followers milestone which means we have drawing for $500 to the 501c3 of the winner’s choice coming up this week.  this time and moving forward, at every 100 follower milestone i will host a drawing and the winner will get $500 for the 501c3 of their choice!*

the intention is to give back to those of you that are supporting me in a meaningful way but also hoping to get folks thinking about where and how they can give back in their own lives.  these instances of giving back do not have to be grand or even monetary but my hope is that this might open you up a little to the many opportunities to give of yourself that are all around you.

where would YOU choose to donate your $500 if you won?  and even if you aren’t picked this time, i bet you have an idea of where you would donate it, don’t you?  regardless of whether i pick your name, take this opportunity to find a little way to give back today or this week.  this is my little challenge for all of you.

you might recall from a previous post keep calm and summer on, how my girl summer started a simple and beautiful movement to pass on love through random acts of kindness.  i dedicate this initiative to her beautiful memory.  we miss you summer!

please invite your friends, family, and colleagues to join this campaign!  imagine the impact we can make… and feel free to share your acts of goodness in the comment section below.

this drawing will be held THIS week so watch your email to see if you are the LUCKY winner!  good luck!


*fine-ish print:  this is limited to $5,000 a calendar year – but for this year that would mean 700 more followers and in a regular year 1000 followers.  if we get there i might even reconsider… but ultimately let’s not leave a single dollar on the table.  i am ready for the challenge if you are.  keep calm and summer on!


nod to an innovator

when was the last time you experienced something and felt that it was true amazing mind blowing innovation?sadly, i am not sure it happens too often which makes it all the more inspiring when it inevitably consumes you in its awesomeness!

why is it so hard to find?  well, i think there are varying degrees of innovation.  innovation can be something small like copa’s single serving wine product that comes in a cute glass for immediate consumption or it can be like netflix changing the way we watch a show like house of cards by releasing the whole season in one swoop.  or it can be big, really really big, and this is where i want to focus for today.

this july my company, kcw global research, is so very proud and appreciative to be celebrating 8 years of helping companies sculpt brands and ideas across the world.  insane.  so excited.

to celebrate this milestone i treated myself to a fundraiser for the frontera farmer foundation which happened to be hosted by rick bayless and his wife deann in their garden at their house.

what does this have to do with innovation?

so glad you asked.

rick bayless is an innovator, of the hard core upper echelon variety.  he believes in utilizing local food in his restaurants and supporting those local farms with his frontera farm foundation.

local food kate?  really?  that says innovation to you?

ummm… you check out a fontera tortas restaurant in o’hare or the philadelphia airport where they serve locally sourced high-quality ingredients IN THE AIRPORT.  and they did not open last week.  and the food is delicious.  yep, there is a guac bar….and fresh margaritas if that is how you roll.

i really respect rick for his ability to push boundaries of what is possible, like serving “real food” in airports, and for his many efforts to actually help farmers be more effective and successful through the grants given by his foundation.

so all of the above it true but i am building up to where he blew my mind.


cascabel with rick bayless

cascabel, lookingglass theater, chicago 3.2012

they call it a play but it is really an experience like no other.  you sit in the audience and you watch the performers, including rick bayless, sing, act, and perform beautiful flamenco dancing and insane physical feats you would expect in a circus act all tied into a beautiful love story…but there is more!

imagine watching rick bayless cooking food on stage that so intricately links into the story line and then see him serving the characters the food he has prepared…and then having someone serve you the SAME food so you are eating it with the cast.  brilliant!  and rather delicious i might add.

he took something we are all familiar with in some capacity, theater, and made it his own.  he made it 1,000,000% rick bayless.  and this is why on my 8th anniversary i would like to share this experience with you and to challenge you to add a little more innovation into what you do and to open yourself to seeing and experiencing the spectacular innovation that is lurking around…


can you think of something you have experienced that felt innovative to you?  maybe an experience?  a bite of food?  a product?  a package?  please share in the comment section below.


interested in learning more about cascabel?  if you are in chicago or will be this month then you might be able to!  due to popular demand it is back on the stage for a second run at the lookingglass theater:


keep calm and summer on!

summer's selfies!now that i have your attention, let me tell you a little about my girl summer.  may 15th she posted this picture on facebook with the following caption:

“Well in princess crazy world, when you brush your newly grown back hair and it comes our in large chunks you have 2 choices you can let it ruin your day or turn yourself into a human potato head and try facial hair selfies.  I chose the latter.”

she epitomizes beauty and love and has been fighting breast cancer with inspiring grace and unbelievable humor.

have you known someone who has fought an epic battle?  do you recall feeling a sense of helplessness?  it seems that we are not alone.

so what does one do when they feel helpless?  well, in the teachings of my girl princess crazy, we work hard to put more love and kindness into the world.

i challenge all of you to do two things…

  • start looking for occasions when you can practice a random act of kindness and DO IT!  offer someone else who looks exhausted your seat on the train/bus, pay for the person in line after you in the drive through, give a stranger a card wishing them a most spectacular day or even just say it and mean it!  the options are endless…
  • pass this on.  encourage others to take a moment in this crazy fast paced world to step back and share a smile or jump on an opportunity to do something unexpected and nice for someone else.

there is no real way for me to properly convey the strength and awesomeness of summer.  she lives in bloomingdale, il and the city has designated this friday, june 6th as “Keep Calm and Summer On” Random Act of Kindness Day.

to learn more about our tenacious summer and to join the facebook movement for this event this friday, click on summer’s RAOK event !  feel free to share your random acts of kindness with me or with summer as we are working to compile a book for summer that includes the myriad of gestures made in her honor across the globe.  be a part of the magic!

i think amy said it best…

“Please join the movement of random acts of kindness for my dear friend Summer. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of knowing her, think of the best person you know and that’s her. It would mean so much to her if all over the country and world people were doing nice things for other people in honor of her life. Keep Calm and Summer On.”

keep calm and summer on princess crazy!  with boundless love….


oui s’il vous plaît

picture it.rainy day in paris and you stop into a cute little cafe to have a bit of a nosh with some heart healthy wine.

you settle into your chair and start perusing the menu and see this as an option….

IMG_2540paris 5.2012

i must say it wasn’t quite what i was expecting.  oddly, this was the only item on the menu that brought the core ingredient back to its roots.

beyond their choice to include a LIVE pig, i found their actual choice of pig visual a bit disturbing.  sort of glad there is no eye contact but he looks as if he is asking for you to please not order the grilled pork through his prison bars.

i obliged.  the steak was delicious.



doggone tenacity

my family escapes once a year for a long weekend camping extravaganza at shangri-la.shangri-la is in the middle of nowhere and is located a half a mile from the “parking area” (read field) – then down the hill, over the creek, through the woods, to the camp site we hike…

with no electricity, plumbing or other creature comforts, we spend our time catching up, fighting about politics, and being the most functional dysfunctional family around!

two years ago, i went on a hike with my dad and stepmom’s dog axelle.  you hear stories of dogs that think they are bigger than they are when they interact with other dogs.  yes, cute.  but this dog takes it to another level.

she brought me a stick, that was more like a railroad tie, and wanted me to throw it for fetch.  of course i obliged (and almost threw out my shoulder) but was most impressed with how she handled the railroad tie.  yes, it was large and cumbersome, but its size and waterlogged weight (about 20+ pounds) did not seem to slow her down….in the creek or on the long walk back to the camp site.



i think we all have times in our life when something comes up for us, or someone we love, or even a challenge at work, and it just feels insurmountable.  well, this sweet tenacious dog demonstrated to me how to just keep moving and forget the odds because they just do not matter.


camera 1… camera 2… camera 1… camera 2…

so i love to fish.  as in, it might be a problem how much i love to fish.  it is up there with packaging.i document everything that i can within a reasonable sense of reason (this “reason” statement might be refuted by other postings).

while i was reviewing my pictures from one day out fishing with the folks from martin pescador in chile (3.2011), one particular fish gave me a bit of a chuckle and made me question the idea of perspective.

first, enjoy camera one…


looks pretty big right?  respectable fish by many accounts.

but now, let’s check out camera two….


somehow not quite so big.

these pictures perfectly illustrate the power of perspective.

now here they are together…


the implications of perspective is so far reaching in every facet of our personal and professional lives.  just a little something to gnaw on…

OF NOTE:  i would like to point out that this size and perspective thing related to fish size only happened once.  all of my other fish pictures are totally as big or little as they appear.  just saying….

the pigeon chronicles: an introduction



historically, i never thought much of pigeons but over the past few years i have found myself oddly intrigued by them and the roles they have played in various cultures and civilizations around the world.

you know i am making you curious.

so welcome to the pigeon chronicles!  here you will be able to enjoy some of the little facts i have learned about pigeons and maybe even acquire a new found appreciation for our feathery friends!

as well, i talk a lot about perspective and while today we created our perspective of pigeons based on our own context, historically they were seen very differently and brought so much more to the table.   i hope that as you read these pigeon chronicles they help you consider the unseen potential all around us and in places we never even thought to look.

seem like a possible over promise on my part?  fair.  but you check back with me after volume 5 and let me know….