Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Son and Cheerleaders…

HEB Parade 2008 B104T.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

Jokkanen is 5 years old. Going into kindergarten.

The other day, we were flipping through the local Jewish community paper and there was an article about a woman who is a med student and is also believed to be the first Jewish cheerleader for the Houston Texans.

Accompanying the article, was a picture of her wearing her cheerleader outfit.

When I flipped the page, I didn’t even notice it (really!) and Jokkanen said to me, “why is her tummy showing?”

I told him that it was part of her outfit and made no further mention of it.

Then, I turned a few pages beyond it.

A few minutes later, I came back and he had flipped the paper back to her picture.

“Why are you looking at the picture?” I asked.

“Because,” he said.

“Because isn’t a reason,” I explained.

And then he said, “I don’t know why I want to look at it.”

But, he just did.

I just found that very curious.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The “Pick Your Brain” Conundrum

I’m a little bit stuck right now.

On the one hand, I LOVE talking with people about their marketing/career challenges.

I also have, in some respect, built the brand by a desire/willingness to invest in others.

On the other, I am extremely filled up with projects for paying clients right now…all the way through the end of 2010. Which is great.

Well, except for the fact that I will get 3-5 emails per week saying “hey, I’d like to pick your brain/have a call on topic X.”

Say each call is 20 minutes…that’s 1-2 hours of time. Which, when you factor in work obligations and all of the other stuff I want to do, is actually a lot.

Now, I don’t want to respond and say “sorry, I’ve no time for you.”

And I don’t want to just do a pithy 1 sentence response, like “good luck with that.”

Sometimes I’ll say “hey, I’ve blogged on this, did you search for it?” Or “hey, that could be a good blog topic.”

But, I don’t want people, those who believe in me and are willing to be my advocates to walk away and say “hey, he doesn’t really care about me.”

And, worst of all, I don’t want to appear arrogant.

I’m open to suggestions.

(Note: judging from Jason Falls’ post, there are others who have this issue)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

DC: View from Above


IMAG0029It wasn’t surprising when the Park Ranger at the entrance to the monument said, in response to the statement, “I bet you meet people from all over world,”:

“Well, I can tell you where I don’t meet people from. Right here. Washington, DC”

But it was a bit sad.

And, that is precisely why we continue to make it a priority to explore this incredible city.

I think I visited the top of the Washington Monument once, maybe 25 years ago, but doing so and taking in the vista made me appreciate just how fantastic the layout of it all is. Pierre L’Enfant, who designed it, really did some magnificent work.

IMAG0028The kids, who are very much into all things presidential at the moment, loved it as well.

Tickets are free and you can order them in advance. For a small free, they will send them to your house.

Totally worth it.

I’m pretty happy with these two pictures that I took on my phone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harley-Davidson’s Business History Lesson

I’m very excited about the evolution and growth of Never Stop Marketing and I hope it continues.

But, as a history major, I know that the reason we study history is so that we don’t repeat it.

Watching the Harley-Davidson biography from CNBC the other night, I was humbled and reminded by how things can go very well…and then, not so well.

A company that is over 100 years old and is, without a doubt, an American icon has seen its share of turmoil.

I think the lesson here is like the eternal lesson, be it the “7 years of feast, followed by 7 years of famine,” the “grasshopper and ant parable” or any other sage advice about preparing for lean times.

The good times don’t always last.

But I think there’s another lesson.

What HD did to survive and prosper was to not give up, keep innovating (dare I say ‘Never Stop Marketing’?) and to take smart risks when others were afraid.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The “Guru” BS detector

Disclosure: This post may cross the Self-Promotion/Arrogance line. If yes, please flame me.

When it comes to Web Analytics, few (maybe none) are better than Avinash Kaushik. That’s why he is one of the few folks I follow on Twitter.

I saw this tweet a while back and it got me thinking (actually a moment of self-doubt of being revealed as a fraud), since sometimes people do call me a “guru.”

I tend to shy away from the term (that’s why I like Marketing Navigator), but I think it’s important to do a self-check every once in a while.

imageIn fact, that’s why we have the Todd Newfield Award on this site, since his rule #1 was “Never believe your own BS!”

While there’s no doubt I talk about marketing, community, and technology a lot, I took a look at myself and said “do I really do it?”

Here’s what I came up with.

Whether this makes me a “Guru” or a Guru is up to you, but if marketing is about perception (and it is), then having people perceive you as a Guru (or thought leader) and you being able to substantiate those claims with stories, facts, and evidence would seem to me to be a competitive advantage.

So, the Lesson:

  1. Document your successes.
  2. Get credible sources to validate your successes.

One idea: The Flip Cam has been one of my great acquisitions and I’ve been able to populate my YouTube NSM channel with authentic videos.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Self-Promotion:Arrogance Line

Kelly Close

Image by TCOYD via Flickr

This is a tough one.

On the one hand, if you don’t tell people about what you can do and have done (we’ll leave out the HOW you do that for the moment), well, no one will ever want to hire you, buy from you, etc.?

On the other hand, if ALL you do is talk about how bleepin’ great you are…well, then no one will want to work with you because you are so damn arrogant.

It’s a fine line and, like many things, I am sure it differs for many people.

After my post, LinkedIn Recommendations as Art, Kelly Close of Close Concerns, a Raving Fan (dare I say?) sent me this note:

This is good.

I'm amazed at all the self-promotion you do and it always just stops short of arrogance and is nice and teaches us all something!

That meant a lot to me and I started to wonder:

What is the difference?

I may be oversimplifying, but perhaps it is embedded in Kelly’s note.

Does the self-promotion also teach and share?

Or is it JUST self-promotion?

If you talk about what you’ve done AND help others see a new opportunity, that may be the balance.

Now, take a look at this “Am I a guru?” post and let me know which side of the line I’m on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LEGO around the World: An Inspiration

IMAG0011In our latest family outing, we took the kids to a LEGO exhibit at the National Building Museum.

The exhibit entails replicas of world-famous structures all made out of Lego.

That’s for starters and, then, of course, the obligatory play area for the kids, followed by the LEGO gift shop…genius.

Reminds me of my tour of the Heineken brewery where they let you drink for 45 minutes for free…then opened up the gift shop, where you felt compelled to buy stuff you didn’t really need Lego Exhibit at National Building Museum05(and didn’t have the judgment to stop yourself).

Only in this case, your kids are what prevent you from saying no.

But, I digress…

The exhibit is around for a year and is definitely worth the visit. My kids really enjoyed it.



Monday, August 23, 2010

The way we work isn’t working…

Basic overview of energy and human life (See a...

Image via Wikipedia

If you have ever trained for a race, you know the value of interval training.

You know that you run a bit, take a rest, run some more, take a rest.

Even for longer distances, you vary.

So, when I listened to the podcast from HBR called “the way we work isn’t working,” (article link, since I couldn’t find the podcast one), I found myself nodding my head.

Basically, the author says that you should work for 90 minute intervals, aligned to the natural rhythms of your body, and then do something to renew your energy.

I have tried this for 2 days so far and I like it. I set up a timer on my computer and it counts down. During that time, I am mega-focused.

When it goes off, I take a break; go for a walk, make a phone call, do some exercise, whatever.

In the quality vs. quantity trade-off, I can definitely see an improvement here.

Worth checking out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

“Everyone has their shit”

The Lion King, Circle of Life

Image via Wikipedia

I hate to be crass, but it’s just such an accurate concept.

My cousin, Leonard, introduced me to this philosophy a few years back and, while I know it to be true, I still struggle with it.

No one goes through life without hassles (see Lion King “Circle of Life”), but it’s just so difficult to remember when you are going through your own challengs that, no matter what, you probably don’t want to trade places with someone else.

It’s easy to see the surface, but we don’t know what lies below.

Better to invest the energy in solving your problems than lamenting the fact that your fate isn’t different.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

On our recent family vacation to the beach, there were 3 iPads, two iPhones, and one iPod.

And these devices spanned 3 generations of users.

They were also present in many scenarios.

I had a laptop, but it stayed in one location.

One night, while seeing 4 people engaged in iPad reading (it’s about as anti-social as 4 people all reading the newspaper and occasionally sharing a tidbit or article), I thought about how the migration to touch screen devices was complete.

For serious work, for now, you need a keyboard. For everything else, the touchscreen will get the job done.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

abundance and scarcity

The 536,870,912 byte (512×2 20 ) capacity of t...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m in the middle of a movie called “Welcome to Macintosh.”

You can guess what it’s about.

One guy was interviewed and he pulled out a price list from the original Apple computer. 16K of RAM cost $500.

Now, you can get about 1,000,000 times as much RAM for $30.

From the perspective of the digital revolution, we’ve moved from scarcity to abundance and our behaviors should change as well.

I thought about this as I looked at the way Tonka takes pictures on her iPod Touch. She keeps taking them. Doesn’t even think about the fact that she could ever “run out of space.”

I, on the other hand, still delete unnecessary files, since I came of age when memory was precious, not plentiful.

How this mentality of unlimited digital abundance will play out will be something to watch.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recycle Your Cell Phone and Get Paid.

I just love when I see businesses that just MAKE SENSE all the way around.
And it’s no surprise that my longtime friend, Ben Gordon has done it again.
This time, with Eco-Squid.
What’s in it for you?
A way to recycle your old cell phones AND get paid for it.
Simple enough, right?
On opening day, they got a great write-up on the AOL Finance page and they created
  • 900 trade in referrals worth a total of $48,000
  • average trade in price- $55
Seems like everyone wins in this one.
Well done, Ben!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rejuvenating Oceans…

Beach scene

Image via Wikipedia

It had been a while since I visited the beach and while I had forgotten how sand gets EVERYWHERE, I had also forgotten another thing.

How rejuvenating it can be in only a matter of minutes.

Paco and Tonka joined me (and many of my family) for a few days and, in addition to feeling refreshed, I was given two types of perspective.

The perspective of the vastness of the ocean and my smallness by comparison.

The perspective of appreciating the pure joy of life’s little moments as my kids and their cousins squealed with delight in the waves.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Polish Anti-Semitism, Helen Thomas, and Soccer

Through the wonders of Facebook, I saw ar article about Anti-Semitism in Poland and how it may/may not play out in the Euro 2012 Football (that’s soccer) Championships.

Bottom line is that anti-Semitism seems to be alive and well in Poland at least during soccer matches with historically “Jewish” teams.

Given the fact that there are next to no Jews in Poland, it makes you wonder.

(It also makes you wonder if Helen Thomas knew that part of the equation when she said that Jews should go back to where they came from, “Poland and Germany,” but that’s a separate issue)

imageIntrigued by this article, I forwarded it to two friends, both of whom live in Poland.

Elysa wrote back:

Thank you for forwarding this article.

IT explains the graffiti that I became aware of last year.

As you know, I'm neither Polish nor Jewish but have lived in Krakow for 3 years.

My understanding is that the Jewish population is very small and mostly made up of elderly who remained after the war and had nowhere else to go.

I make a lot of photos at www.elysasicard.com. The website needs work but there are some photos in Borek Falencki which is where I live.  There is a woman selling blueberries and on the wall behind her is this anti jewish slogan.

As an American who speaks limited Polish the graffiti is not obvious.  But once you start to recognize it there is quite a lot which I could never understand as there is such a small Jewish population here.  Now that I've read your article I realize that the graffiti is usually soccer-related.

I really don’t have any analysis on this one. Just putting it out there, looking for opinions and perspective.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The end of colleges as we know it…

The University of Cambridge is a prestigious i...

Image via Wikipedia

I suppose I’m on a kick right now…mostly for myself.

The objective: never let myself forget that NO corner of the old economy is going to escape unscathed from the relentless onslaught of the networking revolution.

Lawyers were one of them and today, Higher Education.

I’ve been saying for a while that the rising costs of education (college, that is), the questionable ROI on those costs, and the advent of new technologies means that the model is bound to break.

Well, now I’ve got some backup…Bill Gates.

Here’s the story.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another reason to blog…

There are many, many good reasons to have a blog.

A recent post by one of my favorite bloggers, Mitch Joel, made a great case for it (as if I needed one) and the more I do it, the more value I get from it.

But, I recently discovered a surprise benefit of having a blog…it’s become a story repository for my main themes.

I was hired to do a 12 part webcast for Microsoft and outlined the topics I wanted to provide.

Of course, I have to provide the substance to back it up…which is where the blog came in handy.

I was able to search for the key terms (about which I’d been writing about for years) and find great, illustrative examples to help bring the point home.

It saved me HOURS of time and a lot of stress in preparation for the webcast.

In essence, I’d spent 3 years blogging to prepare me for the work of sharing the knowledge with the audience.

Just one more example of why it’s good value.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Only the Paranoid Survive…

Some weeks, I feel like nothing is going right (from a business perspective).

Some weeks, I am just on fire.

Either way, I’m paranoid.

There’s a great book by the former CEO of Intel, Only the Paranoid Survive and I am starting to live that mantra.

When I have a rough week, I get paranoid that if I don’t re-double my efforts, I’m done.

And when I have a good week, I get paranoid that I will let success get to my head.

Fun way to go about life, eh?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Old Spice Man Works For Me Now…

That Old Spice man

Image by bobster855 via Flickr

Want the Old Spice Man as your voicemail receptionist?

Now you can. Here’s mine.

Here’s the site.

HT: The Next Web for the find.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

America’s Economic Forecast

The NFO sometimes accuses me of walking around with a “doom and gloom” view of America’s economic prospects.

In this video, casino mogul, Steve Wynn, shares why.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Council of Dads: Preparing for Death

Long time blog readers know that I have a “break glass in case of emergency document.”

It’s focused on the financial elements of running our lives so that the NFO can receive assistance from capable folks and there is clarity about the elements of our financial interests and obligations.

For Father’s Day, the NFO gave me a copy of Bruce Feiler’s book, Council of Dads.

The author was diagnosed with cancer and he knew there was a chance we wouldn’t survive the treatment.

He took my document one BIG step forward.

For his 2 twin daughters, he realized the void that he would leave and he sought a way to fill it.

He assembled a list of 6 men who, by committee, would be able to help his girls as a father figure. Each man represented a different part of Feiler’s outlook, but together, they could begin to serve the role of the dad for them in all of its myriad of forms.

It’s an inspiring idea and one that I’ve taken to heart.  I haven’t yet made up a list of a potential council of Dads, but it seems like a good idea. After all, you never know when tragedy will strike.

Like having insurance, a group of guys who appreciate me and can provide my kids with the male perspective on life seems like a good idea.

So does picking up the book.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Office vs Home: The Paradigm Shifts

While the industrial and post-industrial economy comes crashing down around us, our paradigm of “work” as a place you go and not a “thing you do” doesn’t crumble as easily.

My friend, Jacob, sent this article form the Wall St. Journal…that folks who work at home are often viewed as easy prey for their office-bound colleagues to help out with favors/chores, etc.

At the beginning of the Never Stop Marketing adventure, I felt this bias (not that anyone ever asked me to do something—since I would have no problem saying no. After all, according to WIRED magazine, I am one of the selfish elite).

I’d hear comments along the line of “that must be pretty easy, since you work at home.”

Mental models don’t always move as quickly as required (I’m as guilty as anyone).

Oh, and I felt a twinge of sadness while reading the article. Clearly, SilentFrog was the right idea at the wrong time.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Lawyers in India: A Wakeup Call?

Coalbrookdale at night

Image via Wikipedia

For years, I’ve been saying that the advent of networks is like the “Industrial Revolution, only bigger.”

At least 5 years ago, I argued that it would start making sense to outsource most legal work to a lower-cost center, like India.

My dad, a long time litigator, was doubtful.

Wednesday, he sent me this note with a link to this article from the NY Times:

This is an idea that you expressed a few years ago.

I was skeptical. 


There is NO part of our lives as we once knew it that isn’t going to be dramatically impacted in incredible ways by the wave of technologies which is unfolding around us.

This is my biggest concern for American competitiveness…that we just don’t fully comprehend that there are upwards of 500 million? a billion people? who, ultimately, can do much of the work we do for much, much less.

So, innovation, and creativity become the only way for us to drive value.

I once said to a friend whose brother is a plumber’s apprentice “that’s a good job, it can’t be outsourced.”

But, actually, it can be. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but…

We’ll one day have “smart pipes” in our house that tell us where the problems are. Nano-robots that can identify pin holes, and even automated repair delivery systems that can be fed up through the water main to any part of the house. A robot can replace a toilet, right?

And, that whole process can be managed by a guy sitting in his basement in Zimbabwe.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Does the Blog Make the Person?

Or does the person make the blog.

Longtime blog readers will know the name of Tjada, who has been around for a while as a reader.

She visited with her husband on Sunday and raised the following question:

“I can’t decide if you are interesting and that is what makes your blog interesting. Or if you are just average and you just share it more than other people, which makes it more interesting than average.”

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Outlook Social Connectors: Powerful Marketing Tool

On the other end of the email you just received is a person.

Not a computer.

We sometimes forget that.

The more we know about those people, the better we can connect with them, serve them, help them.

Well, the folks at Microsoft have done something pretty sweet in Outlook 2010 that helps. Take a look at the bottom part of this email window.


If you add the “Social Connectors” for Facebook and LinkedIn, whenever you get an email from someone (with whom you are connected), you can also quickly glance at their past updates. This may provide you with additional context or an opportunity to be highly relevant in your communications.

I know there are tools like Rapportive and Gist, but for me, Outlook is STILL the most powerful personal information management tool around. For someone who lives and dies by the network, Outlook is a no-brainer.

And these connectors? Man, they are sweet. It’s a competitive advantage to have all of this information come to me instead of my having to go look for it.

And I think it will be for you.

Disclosure: I’m a former MS employee and a shareholder.


Monday, August 02, 2010

$52,000 in 8 Months

Met a guy the other day who paid off $52,000 worth of debt in 8 months. So inspiring.

I loved his passion for helping others. It’s worth the watch and/or sharing his contact information with someone who might need the help.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Your Notes…Digitized

Though we continue to move towards a fully digital lifestyle, there are many people who enjoy using a pen and notebook to take notes during meetings, lectures, etc.

It’s understandable and sometimes more flexible.

Well, there’s a product now that helps bridge that preference with your digital lifestyle (or mine, at least).

Called the LiveScribe Smart Pen. Check out the video here and below for the full demo. I got mine via Amazon-see Livescribe 4 GB Echo Smartpen

It’s not supercheap and there IS a learning curve, but the potential is there and I’ve already seen it come in handy.

Big shout out to Michael Jahn and Raja Pagdala. Two Raving Fans of the Smartpen AND of Never Stop Marketing who convinced me to buy it.