Five Things an Executive Can't Do Without

Must-Haves: No, Not Just the AmEx Card or Razr or BlackBerry

Published on .

When today's executives gird for the marketing wars, the indispensable ordnance of choice ranges from a famous view for inspiration to the ultimate house band. Reporter Kate MacArthur asked key decisionmakers for their must-have business accoutrements. Some you'll want. Others will surprise in their duh-factor. All provide an unexpected glimpse into the mental cogs of their owners.

1.
New Yorker

Andrew Robertson
New Yorker



Andrew Robertson, chairman-CEO of BBDO Worldwide


He's packing: Saul Steinberg's "View of the World from 9th Avenue" New Yorker cover illustration.

Why: The famous New Yorker cover, which shows the world map starting at 9th Avenue and skipping from New Jersey to California as the horizon creeps up on Japan and China, has been on a shelf that he sees from his chair. "I keep it there as a constant reminder that, for everyone, the world looks like it does from the seat you are in at the time," he said. "This isn't just about seeing things from the perspective of people in other cities and countries," he said. "It's a metaphor for the importance of seeing things from the other person's point of view and of constantly changing perspective."

If it were taken away: I don't know if I would always remember it if I didn't have it," Mr. Robertson said, adding, "but it's a brilliant and much more interesting way of constantly reminding myself of that."



2.
DVR

Mary Dillon
New Yorker



Mary Dillon, exec VP-global chief marketing officer for McDonald's Corp.


She's packing: Digital video recorder

Why: "I like to know what people are watching," said the multitasking mother of four, whose professional charge includes moving the Golden Arches marketing into the Digital Age.

While the head of marketing for the Golden Arches admittedly couldn't conjure the make or model -- "whatever, it works" -- her DVR is her advertising version of CliffsNotes. Besides the obvious advertising placed by her rival fast-feeder marketers, Ms. Dillon said that she pays special attention to spots that compel her not to skip, but stop and go back to watch again. "I want that to be the standard for us as well," she said.

If it were taken away: "I would not know what's popular in terms of viewing habits," she said.



3.
John Varvatos shoes

Jim Adams
New Yorker



Jim Adams, director-marketing and bon vivant for Chipotle


He's packing: John Varvatos shoes

Why: With its debut on the stock market in 2006, Chipotle hit the ground running and became one of the most successful public offerings of the year. It's fitting, then, that Mr. Adams was wearing shoes marketed as "utilitarian luxury," much the way his gourmet street-fare brand is positioned. "Good footwear is essential to being comfortable with your own humanness," he said. "I think it's vastly underestimated." He has six pairs of the line that range from $100 court shoes to $600 boots. "That just shows how shallow I am," he said with a laugh. "But for people that have difficult feet, they're so comfortable. There's no breaking-in period." Kinda like the burgeoning burrito joint.

If it were taken away: "There are worse things to be hung up on," he said. "I'd have to find a replacement shoe. So far I haven't."





4.
Bose headphones

Mike Linton
Bose headphones



Mike Linton, senior VP-marketplace adjacencies for eBay


He's packing: Bose acoustic noise-reducing headphones

Why: While still the marketing honcho at Best Buy, he racked up a half-million airline miles. Given to him as a gift in 2003, the headphones have been a constant carry-on ever since. Mr. Linton got hooked on the ability to patch it into his iPod, PC and DVD player (he's a rabid fan of Fox's "24") or go into noise-canceling mode when trapped next to a noisy or nosy seatmate.

"Reading for seven hours, even a great book, is a lot of hours," he said. "Between music, '24' and books, I'm going to arrive less irritated and feel at least that I'm doing something other than sitting there stewing. When I started at Procter & Gamble [in 1984], I hardly was able to do anything on a plane."

If it were taken away: "I would have to find something else to put in my ears," he said.



5.
Live music

Andrew Feltenstein
Bose headphones



Andrew Feltenstein, co-founder and principal for Beacon Street Studios


He's packing: Living, breathing musicians

Why: As the go-to original-music studio for the creative hot ad shops such as Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Beacon Street has a practical reason for eschewing the use of digital music samples.

"Musicians make music, not computers," said Mr. Feltenstein, insisting that his motives are more practical than sentimental. Computers are great for manipulating sound, the executive conceded, but he argued it often sounds canned. With live recordings, "nine out of 10 times you record something and then mistakes happen. Those mistakes lead to humanity."

If they were taken away: "[Recorded music] just doesn't translate," he said. "It doesn't inspire."
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