Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Own Part of a U-Haul Truck

I was very intrigued when I heard about the Uhaul Investors Club.

It gives regular people like you and me a chance to put some money into an actual asset- like a truck and then earn returns up to 8%.

What I like about it is that U-Haul is going even beyond the idea of stock ownership. It feels like Propser or Lending Club, but for hard assets, backed by a brand we all know and trust.

While I only put $200 into a truck (mostly to test), I think it's a pretty interesting concept and a foreshadowing of things to come as "old line" companies seek to identify new ways to build relationships and drive revenue in a world of supercharged connectivity.

You're going to see more and more of these types of new business models or new business experiments, all made possible by mobile+social+connectivity. Fun times.

Here's their official pitch (feel free to use my referral code-full disclosure)

I've found an easy way to invest and wanted to share it with you. U-Haul Investors Club® offers its members the opportunity to invest in actual U-Haul assets and earn rates as high as 8%. I'm enjoying my membership and think you will too.

Joining U-Haul Investors Club® is easy and free! To get started follow this link:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm an e-Citizen of Estonia

You know me....if I hear about a cutting-edge type of technology, I'm game for it. :-)

The mere act of exploring it allows me to understand how the world is evolving.

That's why I became an e-Citizen of Estonia.

Yes, you read that right. An e-Citizen of Estonia. 

My ego says that I hope you don't know too many. ;-)

I first heard about it while reading the Jerusalem Post, where someone suggested that Israel should emulate Estonia. Yep, caught my attention as well.

So, I did it.

Now, the "e-citizenship" confers NO political rights or visa rights. You can't vote, get actual citizenship, or work without a permit, but what it does do is allow you to set up a bank account, establish a business, conduct EU transactions and more at a fraction of the time/cost it would take if you were setting it up in any other country.

They aren't stupid. To do much of this, you need to actually go to Estonia to finalize the deal (i.e. you need to show up at the bank to establish an account and you need a non-PO Box address to be the residence for the business), but you don't have to stay there.

Think about this... Estonia gets people to visit, to invest, and to be the hub. You get the ability to jumpstart European business operations at a fraction of the time/cost/hassle.

It's all part of the post-Soviet Union initiative where the country decided that it was going to basically "re-boot" and become the single most advanced digital country in the world.  They call the initiative "e-Estonia."

The more I think about it, the more brilliant it is.  I actually blogged on the "Marketing Lessons from Estonia" from that perspective.

This is a great example of saying "ok, the world has fundamentally changed. Now, how do we take the technology and new needs to uniquely meet them?"

For more on e-Estonia, click here. And sign up here.

BTW..It's not a joke.  The English in all of this is flawless. You fill out an application, pay a fee (free money for them) and have to prove your ID via Passport, etc.  And, no, it's not a tax-evasion thing either.

To see where Estonia is, see here.

I may have to get a flag for my house. And I may have to go visit now.

I probably won't fit in too well on some level as they wrote "Estonians may defend their rights in a rather unusual way-just by sullen silence" and that "Estonians generally try to avoid sentimentality."

Not quite how I roll ;-)

In their literature (which of course I've read), they write about the various ethnic minorities that are part of the culture, except for the Jews and Roma who were "lost to evacuation, deportation, and mass killings."

I'm kind of bringing the Jews back to Estonia.  Or, as my friend said, "they get the Jews without actually having to have Jews there!"

Seriously though, I think it's a very remarkable concept and a glimpse of what the future could look like as nations look for new ways to compete in an e-world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When I weigh too much, my lights flicker...and more

The motto of the technology early adopter is "Because I can."

A lot of the time that we do things it's not because it necessarily useful or practical. It's because the only way that we can really understand the new technology is to play with it.

Through the "playing," we learn how it works...and then, believe it or not, our eyes are opened to new possibilities and thus new solutions that were previously not possible.

Or, at least, that's what we tell ourselves to justify the expense!

So, herewith, I share the latest outcomes of my "play" involving the 16 million color possibilities of the Philips Hue technology. (BTW, they call it 'frustration-free' set up and I have to say, in this case, I agree with them.)

What's involved in this solution.

  1. Philips Hue  lights
  2. Amazon Echo
  3. Withings Scale
  4. Nest Thermostat
  5. The website, If THIS then's one of the best out there for this type of stuff.

Ok, so here we go.

First off.... let's say your hands are messy and you want to turn your lights on or off.  You connect Echo to Hue and you're off and running as I show here by  turning off lights in my kitchen with my voice.

Now, let's say that you believe that the best way to stay focused on your diet is to have the support of your family. Well, in that case, you set it up so that if you weigh too much, your lights rotate in color.
That way, everyone knows you've missed your goal (or made it, if you prefer that option).


On the other hand, maybe you're in your office and looking for inspiration to change the mood. No just pull out the app and change the colors. Here's a demo of lights changing color in my office.

What if you and your wife sometimes argue about temperature in the house and the conversation is "what's the temperature in the house?"  Now, everyone knows because the light turns red.

and my personal favorite...

Let's say you don't ever want to miss a text or a call or an email from your wife, but sometimes you put your phone down and miss it.  Now, when you go back into any room, the lights are flashing. You know you should call her back!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New England Adventure....

Took a small jaunt to New England this summer, spending some quality time with the NFO's family (and my kids' cousins).

We hit Sturbridge Village, an 1830s era town replete with re-enactment and workshops.

Needless to say, spent plenty of time in the pool at the various hotels, but also managed to visit Nahant Beach, the Science Museum in Boston, and continuing our effort to visit Presidential birthplaces, the home of JFK. 

We're very fortunate in that our kids are inquisitive, good travelers, and thanks to the iPads, easy to handle in the car.

They're willing to take on almost any attraction with an open mind. I think, of all things, it is that of which I am most proud.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This guy knows how to live LIFE!

So, we're driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, returning home from our mini-vacation to Boston when the NFO says "look at that car, it says '50 states or bust."

So, I look up from my computer and see a car that has writing all over a "Just Married" thing but much more.

On the back, it says "@chrisstrub" on it. I give the guy driving a thumbs up and say, 'hey, I'm going to tweet him."

So, I do.

This kicks off a twitter back and forth (he's driving, I'm not) and ends up with us meeting at the Clara Barton rest stop where I get a souvenir t-shirt.

That's great, but what's really remarkable is when you meet people with passion who want to make a difference.

Chris fits that category.

He used to work at a social media agency (or he read my bio and just knew what to say) and previously spent some time volunteering with a youth organization. Then, he decides he wants to see America through the eyes of various youth organization.

So, completely self-funded, he takes off for 100 days to all 50 states (he only has 3 or so left as of right now) to make a difference.

He's got tour t-shirts (I now have one though the sunglass stand attendant somehow switched it to Aqua mode). Here's another one from Chris' tweet.

He has PR opps set up along the way (will be in the Wilmington, DE tomorrow and in Baltimore on Friday) and then heading for home in Charleston, SC.

Originally from NYC, I asked him, "so, man, why did you decide that this is something you wanted to do?"

His answer: "It was just something I felt like I had to do before I was 30."

Man...I just love this "leave it all on the field attitude."

And now...he's looking for his next job and you'd better believe I'm going to talk to him about @sprinklr  Anyone with this type of attitude and ability to generate his own awareness and PR is worth some consideration.