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Maybe we didn't learn about the intricacies of metrics, subtleties of qualitative research or sensitivities of branding in high school. And we certainly didn't hone our marketing skills in the classroom.

But somewhere among high school's cliques, fads, teams, clubs, parties and camps, we lived and learned the basics of marketing in ways that apply now, more than ever, in our cluttered, time-starved lives.

What three things did we learn?

1. Everybody wants to be cool

At least in their own mind. From the concert T-shirts and hair styles we donned to the cars we chose (or were humiliated) to drive… we bought and did things that made us feel and look cool around our friends.

"Cool" and its slang derivatives continue to escape definition while remaining universally understood. It is a broad term, supported by numerous unrelated and contradictory translations.

It's a state of mind. It's a look and feel. Most importantly, it's internal more than it is external. As long as I felt cool, regardless how I actually looked from other perspectives, I was happy.

Remember how one certain individual in the school could launch a new cool trend? Had anyone else tried, he or she would have failed miserably. But the right product in the hands of the right person at the right time created magic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Jennings is director of planning and marketing for Hamilton Health Care System in Dalton, Georgia. He can be reached at kjennings@hhcs.org.