Welcome to the Monkey Shack!

Welcome to the growing community inside the Monkey Shack. The business and marketing landscape is changing dramatically each and everyday, and this is where we come to discuss anything and everything related to business and marketing trends, observations, and strategy.

If you have any thoughts or comments, send me an email.

Follow Me on Twitter!

You know you can't get enough of me, so follow me on twitter!



Since this blog has become is focused more on my thoughts and insights into the business and marketing world, Facebook has become my outlet for sharing what is going on with my life outside of work. Stop on by and check it out!

Thomas' facebook profile

Nehren Family Blog

Have to admit, my wife is the one who does a better job keeping the family blog updated. Want to know which child drew on the walls or emptied the cereal onto the floor? Then check out the Nehren Family blog. Its private, but send us a request on the main page and if you're worthy, we'll let you in!

Nehren Blog


I currently work as the Director of Strategic Planning and Research at Richter7, the most creative and decorated agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Sep 28, 2008


One of the most important jobs at an ad agency is trafficking, which essentially is the process of making sure the right ads are running in the right places at the right times. When I used to work at Y&R in New York City, I sat next to our traffickers who were constantly on the phone tallying to the different TV networks, telling them when to start and when to stop airing certain commercials for our clients.

Apparently when John McCain suspended his campaign last week so he could return to Washington DC to participate in negotiations about the economic bailout plan, that meant suspending the work of his campaign's online ad trafficker.

On Friday morning, before the first presidential debate took place later that evening, before McCain even announced he was going to participate, an online ad appeared on the Wall Street Journal announcing McCain had already won the debate. (See the ad here) Another ad apparently was posted elsewhere featuring a quote from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declaring: "McCain won the debate-- hands down."

Leia Mais…
Sep 26, 2008

Words of Wisdom

"We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. . . . If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts."

—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances, Feb. 2007, 1

Latter-day Saints have been counseled for as long as I can remember to use their financial resources wisely. Sadly, Utah of all places has not listened and has had one of the highest bankruptcy rates in the nation (see here). Religious leaders and economists have both warned and at times scolded, but few have listened. As a result, our free-spending ways that have left consumers and financial institutions alike struggling under an enormous debt burden so extraordinary it has brought the likes of Washington Mutual, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and insurance giant AIG to their knees.

Now, as our country spirals deeper into a state of economic panic, you have to wonder how much better off we would be if all of us, individuals, businesses, and government alike, were to listen to those who have consistently warned us of the dangers of our "buy-now pay-later" mentality. We can't change the past, but we can learn from it. Hopefully this economic meltdown will awaken all of us, myself included, to a greater sense of provident living.

Leia Mais…
Sep 25, 2008

The Credit Crisis: How on Earth did We Get Here?

An article published by the LA Times in May of 1999 has resurfaced in light of the economic crisis now staring this country in the face. In the article, the LA Times heaped praise onto the Clinton administration and the Democratic congress for their solution to the housing problem. And what was it exactly they found so noteworthy of Democrats' policies?

A mandate that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increase their purchases of mortgages for low income and medium-income borrowers. YIKES!

Nine years later, this LA Times piece should go down as one of the biggest "swing-and-a-miss" political commentaries in history. Somehow, I get the feeling the LA Times wishes this is one it could retract.

Here's some of the highlights. But if you want to read the entire article, which I highly recommend, you can view it here.

It’s one of the hidden success stories of the Clinton era. In the great housing boom of the 1990s, black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded. The number of African Americans owning their own home is now increasing nearly three times as fast as the number of whites; the number of Latino homeowners is growing nearly five times as fast as that of whites.

In 1992, [a majority Democratic] Congress mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains. It has aimed extensive advertising campaigns at minorities that explain how to buy a home and opened three dozen local offices to encourage lenders to serve these markets.

Most importantly, Fannie Mae has agreed to buy more loans with very low down payments–or with mortgage payments that represent an unusually high percentage of a buyer’s income. That’s made banks willing to lend to lower-income families they once might have rejected.

The top priority may be to ask more of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two companies are now required to devote 42% of their portfolios to loans for low- and moderate-income borrowers; HUD, which has the authority to set the targets, is poised to propose an increase this summer. Although Fannie Mae actually has exceeded its target since 1994, it is resisting any hike. It argues that a higher target would only produce more loan defaults by pressuring banks to accept unsafe borrowers.

Leia Mais…
Sep 18, 2008

How long could you survive chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor?

I could survive for 1 minute, 9 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Leia Mais…

Bronco Mendenhall's Interview with Jim Rome

BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall went into the "Jungle" and appeared on the nationally syndicated Jim Rome Show on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. He discussed the Cougars 59-0 victory over UCLA, the Quest for Perfection, BYU recruiting and a variety of other subjects.

I thought it was a cool interview and thought he represented the program and the institution very well. To listen to the complete interview CLICK HERE.

Leia Mais…
Sep 7, 2008

BYU vs. UW

Everyone involved with the celebration penalty against Jake Locker (the official that made the call, the crew chief, the head of officials in the Pac-10, and whoever that was on ESPN College GameDay Final) in the Washington – BYU game on Saturday just needs to admit the obvious:

“It was stupid to make that celebration call against Jake Locker.”

I don’t care what the rule book says about “throwing the ball high in the air,” only a fool would make that celebration call against Jake Locker in that situation. Our Creator gave us a brain, and it is everyone’s responsibility to use their brain in an appropriate manner, and that celebration call against Jake Locker was a totally inappropriate application of the celebration rule. No supervisor of officials is going to admit the truth that it was asinine to throw that celebration flag, because it would take real guts to just stand up and be honest.

This was a game I have looked forward to for two years. I made a t-shirt that said "Born a Husky, Graduated a Cougar." Torn between my two favorite teams, I just wanted a close game, a great game decided at the end. And I got a great game, but regardless of whether or not UW would have missed a normal PAT or not, it's a shame that it had to end like that. The conversation should have been about two teams going back and forth and looking to head into overtime. Instead, I am posting about a referee losing his yellow hankie in the endzone.

But why should we be surprised? The entire game of college football starts and ends with a fraud that the BCS crowns a legitimate national champion, and officials that defend that celebration flag against Locker, are just part and parcel of what is becoming a game that is more and more out of the hands of the players and coaches on the field of play. We all know what the celebration penalty is supposed to be used against, and what Jake Locker did should not have been anywhere close to drawing a penalty flag.

Washington came out playing with a lot of passion and fire against a very good BYU team, and Willingham must be given credit for having his team ready to play. Probably the most distressing thing for the Huskies is that it doesn’t look like Jake Locker has developed very much with his passing and decision-making skills in offseason. Jake Locker is a freaking warrior, but he has to learn to stand in a pocket and find open receivers and not always take off running when he starts to feel some pressure. Locker will never be able to sustain the number of hits he is getting if they keep up at this rate, and Washington would be in deep trouble if they didn’t have Locker’s play-making and leadership skills on the field in each game.

With all that being said, the University of Washington football team should always be able to make a 35 yard extra point or field goal every time when they really need it. There is just no excuse for the Washington PAT/field-goal team to break down as much as it did. Yet that is what happened and it's just another example of the Husky football team executing poorly in a very critical situation. Poor execution is something that has become painfully characteristic of the team in the Willingham era, and an anecdote that has certainly not been lost on Husky fans.

With Oklahoma coming to town, Jake Locker and Washington are going to have to find a way to get the ball into other playmakers, or the Sooners will hit Locker so many times he won’t know what city he is in come next Saturday night. Can Washington beat Oklahoma next Saturday? If the Sooners show up and play their game, the Huskies cannot beat OU. A 0-3 start at Washington, even with an incredibly tough schedule, is just not going to make things very pleasant for Willingham and the Huskies on the shores of Lake Washington.

Leia Mais…