Horcrux Brands

A school’s football team; your political party or candidate; an @Apple product; the list goes on. They all have something in common. They engender a tremendous passion among their followers.

Their school’s football team scores an unexpected win – there are fans who hug each other and openly cry in the stands. These fans die a thousand deaths with each critical moment in the brands life as something untoward seems to happen. Say something that sounds like an attack on the favored brand, and the deeply devoted fan is more than offended.

These loyal, die-hard fans are  all over the product, service, entertainment,.. spectrum.  They range from your quintessential European Soccer hooligan, to the Technology Enthusiast who waits all night in line even in freezing rain to get his/her hands on the latest product release. These are people who wear their deeply entrenched passion proudly as a Nationalists wears a flag on their sleeves or have it emblazoned in their heart. If the brand is attacked they feel personally violated; if the brand or political candidate fails they sink to depths of despair!  If the brand receives kudos they feel personally chuffed – they are enveloped in sunshine and they experience a high that is other worldly. You can name them.

However, for one in any industry or domain, most other brands never get to this exalted status.

This is a term that I was searching for many years to describe these consumers. The well-known author J.K. Rowling of the famous Harry Potter series coined the word “Horcrux”.  She, of course, meant it to capture an entirely sinister phenomenon.

This is my nomenclature for brands into which consumers and people have poured their heart and souls. These are veritably “Horcrux” Brands.

George B. Rathmann A Tribute – @UWBothell Connection

I am sure that you have by now read about the passing of George B. Rathmann. He will be credited by the world’s press for his bio-tech success. In our region he will be known as the person behind ICOS.

What is less well known is the pivotal role that he played in the short history of the UWB School of Business. As some of you have heard me say over the years, it was thanks in part to his support that we have a graduate program. He was instrumental in having us design the original program – the MMGT (more on that later). He wanted his bench chemists to have a place that they could go to get management education. His support was critical at a time when there a feeling that UW Seattle might never agree to us getting into graduate education. His employees were some of our first students. In the early years, our undergraduates used to trade his stocks hoping to get rich quick!

We owe him a debt of gratitude. Here is a link to the story.

George B. Rathmann dies at 84; co-founder of biotech giant Amgen

chief executive of a small Seattle biotech firm, Icos Corp.


Postscript: Dr. Ken Walters the first Dean of the UW Bothell School of Business writes this to say:

George Rathmann was a visionary business leader who also was an unusually enthusiastic supporter of higher education and especially research universities. His energies on our behalf were open and enthusiastic, including lobbying and advocating for greater recognition of the link between Seattle’s high-tech "knowledge-based" economy and a world-class research university.

George and his wife were guests in our home in Bellevue, where his keen mind was always strategizing on how the public and our public officials could develop a deeper appreciation of the role of research and education for our nation’s future. He saw entrepreneurial business and first-rate science and technology as natural allies and mutually dependent on each other.

Rathmann never turned down an opportunity to lecture to students. Even when he did not have time, he made time. Whenever I would call, his secretary would tell me how busy he was, but that he would get back to me soon — which he always did. And his lectures were substantive, cutting-edge, full of theory and examples, and even humorous.

He was an amazing resource for the nascent high-tech economy in our region, a gifted scientist equally at home in new product development in a large corporate culture and in the entrepreneurial environment.

Jennifer Olsen: 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award

Jennifer Olsen: Citation 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award


Prof. P.V. (Sundar) Balakrishnan

Jennifer Olsen has over a decade of human resource experience. Jennifer has worked in manufacturing, biotechnology and consulting with organizations such as OMAX, Immunex, CEPTYR and Mercer Human Resource Consulting. She holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification, a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) certification and is trained in AIRS recruiting methodologies. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Bothell, where she earned her MBA.

What makes this a truly stupendous honor is that Jennifer Olsen is a member of the class of 2005.  For those of you who are new to UWB, let me say, that quite simply, the class of 2005 was one of the most exemplary classes in our history.  This was a class that graduated among others Tom Dason the COO of Ondine BioPharma, Luis Navarro – the man who is responsible for a Nobel Peace prize winner to speak at graduation tomorrow; and, Eric Blackstone who slept throughout most of my class just so that he could in the following month announce a breakthrough discovery that put him on the front page of every major publication in the world including the WSJ!  In that cauldron of talent Jennifer Olson survived, nay thrived. It taught her the value of never giving up even when competition gets tough. Jennifer I still have a copy of your exemplary break even analysis HW on the marketing simulation!

Why am I not surprised? Here is an example:

There was a science fair at her school when she was in the fifth grade.  She wasn’t much interested in science and didn’t plan to enter the fair but her closest friends were entering and it was all they could talk about.  Feeling left out, she entered on the very last day you could.  She put together a simple experiment that illustrates how a steel boat can float.  She ended up bringing home a blue ribbon and went onto the city science fair where she won a superior medal.  Her friends didn’t come in as high and needless to say were mad as they had slaved over theirs for several weeks and here Jennifer comes in at the last minute with basically a bucket of water and some tin foil and placed higher than they did.  What Jennifer learned from that experience was threefold: 1) To be careful with relationships; 2) that simple may be a better way to go.  You don’t have to make something complex to make it good; 3) It taught her the value of never giving up even when competition gets tough.

In Business nomenclature there are two types of work.  The ones that most of do – To increase the efficiency of current Marketing Exchanges. And the  Star Trek aspect that few get to do: To create New Products for New Markets. To go Boldly where no one has gone before.

Into this Darkness in steps our own Star Trek Jennifer. And Of course, it is natural that she Created and Founded her company Resourceful HR during the economic downturn of 2008.  Of course, she is among the few, the brave who survived the economic blood-bath of the Great Recession and is now standing tall with 25 employees. Of course, She is the shining light, who serves as Board President of AHOPE for Children, a non-profit organization focused on assistance programs for vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

She is a team builder and strategic planner with the ability to attract key individuals and builds lasting relationships. Jennifer is a decisive leader with a proven ability to face challenges head-on and execute sound decisions. She has hosts the NW HR Best Practices Roundtable, co-chairs the HR Group for the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA), and serves on the Board of Directors and as Program Development Chair for Seraph Capital Forum. In 2012 she was honored by the Puget Sound Business Journal with the ’40 Under 40’ award, which recognizes influential Seattle-area business leaders who demonstrate dynamic leadership and excel in their industry and in their community.

When Jennifer is not working or volunteering she enjoys hiking, playing guitar and running.

We are honored to present Jennifer Olsen, class of 2005, the UW Bothell 2013 Distinguished MBA Alumni award.

Montana Vacation

We had a great vacation in the summer of 2007…We recently took a brief vacation to the Glacier national Park located in the western part of Montana.  There were wild fires everywhere in the western part of the state where we were…got to see helicopters fighting the fires.  The air quality was pretty bad and the haze rendered the visibility to three miles on the days we were there.  We took the back roads for large parts of the route driving there and back (over 1600 miles all told of driving).  We got to do whitewater rafting (8 miles) down the middle fork of the Flathead River – a wilderness protected river.  Due to the drought the water level in the river was at half its typical volume.  We also did some boating and kayaking in Lake McDonald, which was restful and fabulous, as the kids pushed off in the kayaks and seemed to disappear from view for quite a while.  On the way back, we got drive by the shores of the Flathead Lake in the Blackfoot Indian reservation – it is I am told the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.   On the drive home on the last day, we also stopped on the Wenatchee river and got to climb down and wash our feet in the icy cold waters.  Realized that WA is perhaps even more spectacular!

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