Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eric Prydz vs Floyd - Proper Education [2006]

Definitely worth watching great green message.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Working on the format

Over the Holidays I'm planning on changing the template of my blog as well as some of the content in the sidebar. If you have any feedback for me, just post a comment below.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tremendous news for Celiacs

"ST. LOUIS — People with wheat allergies who have stayed away from beer now have a new option. Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (BUD) on Wednesday introduced Redbridge, which the company called the first nationally available sorghum beer. Starting Wednesday, Redbridge is available in restaurants and stores carrying organic products."

Read the rest at - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,237799,00.html

What I find so important about this is that a major company that made wheat based products is waking up to the untapped demand for gluten-free versions of their mainstays.

Open honest feedback at AOL

I wouldn't doubt that some people will feel I'm a bad person because I don't give all of my web usage to AOL considering I work there. I do use Google for quite a few things one of which being Alerts which is how I found a recent post by Steve Gaitten who's Director of Product Marketing for Community Products.

It looks like Steve started blogging this past October and his latest post was advice to Ron Grant and Randy Falco. This is not a short or superficial post, there is serious thought behind it. I agree with most of it.

There are a few points that Steve has made that I disagree with.

Steve's Point #2 covered a lot of ground - "Culture matters, it's broken, fix it."

My feedback - We all have a responsibility to create culture, not just Ron and Randy. Your ability and responsibility to impact culture increases the further you are up in the organization. I can't tell you how many times in meetings with people from all levels where they have complained about AOL. Great, thanks for sharing, now how do we fix it?

Subpoints - "Fire incompetent employees, replace GOAlign"

These two issues are highly intertwined. Writing actionable goals takes time and effort. I always have my managers write their own goals. They write the first draft and it becomes an interactive process, back and forth. I make sure they are on track and there's enough of a stretch in them. When it comes time for scoring any difficult discussions are easier because, they had an active effort in writing in their goals. While they are working to achieve them it's easier because the fully understand them.

This takes me to performance management, without clearly defined goals and ways of measuring them it becomes difficult to manage out poor performers and reward the rest.

The feedback that GOAlign needs closer watching from the top down to ensure goals and feedback are done on time is needed, but it doesn't prevent any manager from doing it themselves today for the area of the company they manage.

Are there things I'd like to change about GOAlign? You bet, but for now it'll have to do.

For 2007 my directs are already drafting their goals (in Word), with the goal of goals being in GOAlign by mid-January for everyone on our collective team. I'm lucky because for the most part unless there is a dramatic shift in company strategy the work of my teams don't dramatically change. The tool does allow for goals to be added or changed over the course of year, maybe people aren't leveraging this ability and adjusting during the year.

On point #6 "Hire from within, Whenever possible" and point #7 "Value Tenure"
Sounds good, but unless point #2 is nailed 6 and 7 are more difficult to achieve.

I'm disappointed that there are only a few page views of Steve's blog, more employees should read this and comment. I'll be sending it out to my directs.

Happy Holidays!

And thanks to Steve for taking to time to write a thoughtful and thought provoking post!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Interesting video clip on WSJ regarding Yahoo Local

Here's a great video segment from WSJ.com of an interview with the GM of Yahoo! Local. He talks about their plans for the future.

Update: I guess WSJ.com's video content expires. Why even offer the ability to post it if it's only good for a day or so?

Yahoo Messenger Upgrade a Yahoo Search Trojan Horse?

Yesterday I was prompted by Yahoo Messenger to upgrade to a new version which included a security upgrade. I almost accepted the upgrade until I looked at the box on the right of the screen.

As well as the newest version of Yahoo! Messenger, you'll also get these helpful Yahoo! tools and services.

Their toolbar, changing your existing homepage to Yahoo.com and making Yahoo your search engine.

I'm sure plenty of people don't pay attention and click away only to find their MSN or AOL homepage is gone. It would be nice if they put check boxes on that page so it was easy to opt-out of these other "upgrades."



Monday, December 18, 2006

Charge non-fliers to walk through security

Apparently the TSA is allowing some airports to test letting non-passengers go through security checkpoints. As a frequent flier this makes me nervous because it could causes delays for actual fliers. I already pay a security fee every time I fly, these non-fliers will only slow down the lines and they don't have to pay a dime.

Almost every time I fly I see people getting stopped for various infractions and then they argue with the TSA people which slows down everybody.

Charge non-fliers $20 to go through security. This should keep people out of the lines as well as pay for more screeners.

Second Annual Festivus in Las Vegas - Update 2

Continuing in the Festivus festivities we headed off for dinner at Mix, located at the top of the Hotel at Mandalay Bay. The meal was delicious and afterwards we walked into the club area and enjoyed the view of the entire strip at night.

Saturday started off with a quick ride on the New York, NY roller coaster which was well worth it. I haven't been on a roller coaster in a long time and it was intense.

We then grabbed the Las Vegas monorail for a ride down to the other end of the strip. Of course there was a narrative played as we traveled. The first thing that struck me was the ride was NOT smooth at all. It jumped around almost as much as a NYC subway. The narrative then mentioned how it was one of the most modern monorails. My impression was that a monorail should be a smooth ride.

We arrived at the end of the line and expected a quick walk down to Fremont Street, quickly it was obvious that it was too far to walk and through a relatively sketchy looking neighborhood. We hailed down a taxi which happened to be a Chrysler 300. We hopped in and I thought I was back on the roller coaster. This guy was blasting heavy metal music to the point where I couldn't hear anything. My buddy was in the front seat looking stressed out, from my vantage point I couldn't see the speedometer which was a good thing.

This guy raced down the strip, I thought we hit 50 mph easily (later found out we hit 80 mph on Las Vegas Blvd).

Fremont Street was definitely not like the strip, it was run down. We stopped in a few casinos to see what they were all about. Not for us, blackjack tables with "liberal rules." It's worthwhile for a visit, but I wouldn't recommend spending any significant time there.

We then visited the Stratosphere for the view from the top. The view was spectacular, they also have a few rides that we avoided. Next stop was Caesars, the ladies wanted to check out the Forum shops and my buddy and I stopped for a beverage at the cigar store near the Tommy Bahamas shop. After relaxing for a while we had to head back for dinner at Alize in the Palms.

Alize was clearly the best meal we had in Las Vegas. Our table was dead center against the windows facing the strip for the best view in the house. The waiter Derreck was great and even let us in on their speciality of habanero infused vodka. The vodka was so spicy that they didn't serve it to their guests, it was used as a rite of passage for the staff. I like spicy foods so my buddy and I tried it after dinner. Highly recommended.

After dinner we had tickets to the Blue Man Group at the Venetian. Excellent show.

That wrapped up a great Festivus holiday. We experienced a few Festivus Miracles, including winning at the tables.

I did forget to mention that we visited the Bodies exhibit at the Tropicana. Simply amazing to see what we look like inside.

Looking forward to our third annual Festivus trip next year (Dec 13th to the 16th). Hope to see you all there.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Second Annual Festivus in Las Vegas - Update 1

My wife and I traveled to Vegas last year this time as a nice little pre-game vacation for the holidays. We met up with another couple we met on our honeymoon and had a great time. We decided to make it an annual tradition and we're here again.

In honor of my Seinfeld devotion, I've used Festivus as the official reason for going. It's Festivus in Vegas.

So far we are having a great time, my best man and his wife came this time. We enjoyed our complementary passes to the Shark Reef, and I found a booth that sells custom made bobble head figures. I now am expecting a custom bobble head of myself in about seven weeks. (I was glad that there wasn't a surcharge for my rather large head)

After a light dinner at Noodles in the Bellagio we watched their fountains and returned to Mandalay Bay for some Blackjack. We called it an early night as we were going to attend our own "feats of strength" event in the morning.

8 am we headed off for a morning of mountain biking in Red Rock Canyon. This is the third time I've ridden with Escape Adventures and with our guide, Kurt. It was a great ride and I highly recommend it to everyone.

For lunch we dined at the Burger Bar, I had an amazing Buffalo burger with Jalapeno bacon. Apparently they soak the bacon in Jalapeno juice for 24 hours before cooking it.

Then we were back at the Blackjack tables with continued good luck.

To recover from the "feats of strength" we headed to the Bathhouse Spa at the Hotel. After dry sauna, steam room, hot tub, and cold tub I was fully prepared for an 80 minute deep muscle massage.

Now we are off to Mix for dinner.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Co-registration Mousetraps Advertising on the Radio

Driving home this evening from the airport I listened to a radio ad for some "get a free ipod" site. They mentioned that companies like BMG and Blockbuster wanted to give them surveys or free offers.

The URL they mentioned to visit couldn't be that memorable since I can't remember it now.

I wonder how the economics work out on it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

My best Black Friday story

Watching this video segment on Wallstrip reminded me of an amazing Black Friday story experience by old co-worker.



Since the embedding isn't working click here to go directly to the video.

There was a brand new Walmart in Baltimore at Port Covington. Map of Walmart Portrait Studio:410-752-7970 2701 Port Covington Dr
Baltimore, MD 21230, US


Apparently when it opened that morning(Black Friday) two gentlemen made a run for the $25 DVD players where they placed all of them into their shopping carts. They took all that they could grab.

Then they proceeded to hangout in the store and sell them to people for $20 (I think that was the number, any number over zero is funny). People were actually buying the ability to purchase one from Walmart.

At some point Walmart figured this out and shut them down, but not before they made off with some cash.

How I'd put advertising on user generated video

I've been thinking about video advertising on user generated videos for the past few weeks and this is how I'd do it.

One of the biggest challenges advertisers face on user generated video sites is the massive amount of videos whose quality and content varies greatly. If I was a brand conscious advertiser I would be worried about showing pre, intra, or post-roll to something that could be detrimental for my brand image.

My proposed solution is to use the number of views as a critical metric:

  1. Quality and content is reviewed at various thresholds of popularity. First level of popularity would be outsourced overseas, next level would be people looking for innuendos and subtitles that might be missed by non-native English speaker. Final level would be professional editors. At each level of review you'd also have more tags, etc added to the video to help further increase the velocity.
  2. Upon each review the video is tiered and classified which then drives the type of advertiser who can run on that video clip.
  3. As the views increase, start to place shift the insertion of the ad. When is first runs and there is no human review, run CPA and non-brand sensitive advertisers post-roll. As human review occurs then start then move to mid-stream. When it reaches Mentos/Diet Coke level of fame, pre-roll.

There are a few things that need to happen for this to work.

1. Need to revenue share with the poster or maybe their favorite charity. If there isn't a reason to keep the video on video sharing site, you'll have multiple versions running everywhere as the author puts the video on multiple sites to increase viewership.

2. Control the duplicates on your video site, use video IQ or something to reduce the copies. Not doing so will only reduce the velocity of the streams on a single video.

3. Keep copies of videos off other sites.

LMK your thoughts.

Wallstrip

Andy turned me onto Wallstrip. Great concept, video segments are great. I've included two below.

Not impressed by Revver, their stream is jumpy sometimes. Doesn't seem to work with Blogger either.






Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Want to create value?

You need a sense of personal ownership. People tend to treat their own possessions better than public goods.

My good friend, Andy Monfried has a great post on how to go about value creation in a startup.

I'd like to synthesize his post down a bit and add my own two cents.

1. People respond to incentives. Give people clear incentives that help a company achieve it's goals and you get everyone swimming together in the same direction. There may still be some debate over what stroke to use, but that's ok. The metrics to determine success have to be clear and measurable. To do this you need timely data.

2. Transparency of timely data is critical for point one. If you don't have clear and easily accessible data it's difficult to set goals which drive incentives. The longer the lag time in access to the data the less accountability, less relevance of goals, and loss of empowerment.

3. Great managers at all levels are critical. Great managers encourage the right amount of creativity and help channel it in the right direction. Creativity without direction can kill startups as well as large companies. Startups don't focus enough to get traction, large companies sometimes brand these people as difficult, they spin their wheels, get frustrated and leave (there goes your next big idea). Good managers help leverage the creativity while making sure the work gets done.

4. Believing your own hype - successful startups take off like a rocket. Leaders and managers who are in-charge get caught up in this success. Their responsibilities grow, their titles grow, their challenges grow. The question is do all of these things grow faster then their abilities? If they do there are three options, 1) understand and accept that you may need help and ask for it 2) believe your own hype and think you are infallible 3) realize you maybe in over your head, but behave in ways you think will cover this up etc. ~ engage in politics, empire building, etc.

5. While the idea of a "politics free" company is a nice thought, as many of Andy's commenters wrote it's impossible when there is more than one person. I agree, the question is really what degree of politics you will allow and the intentions of the politics. Politics aren't necessarily bad, you need to rally the team behind a goal.

Good leaders are good politicians. (this becomes more important as companies get bigger)

Sure if we think we are right, we can pound our fist on the table and say, "my way or the highway." Will everyone around you come along? Probably not.

Bad politics are when special interests come into play. Different types of bad politics would be personal special interests, division special interests which go against the overall company goal.

In the end it's easy to say someone is being political because their objectives don't align with your own. What's critical is that there is strong leadership from the top down that set the vision, the ground rules. The less ambiguity of goal, the easier it is for people to rally around the vision. If the vision isn't clear then the process of determining the vision becomes political and the company suffers.

In summary, you set the vision and it could be the wrong vision. The more focused and aligned your company, the faster it can realize the mistake and take corrective actions. Lack focus and alignment and you'll plunge into political battles and miss your chance to adjust your course.

Pink Floyd marries Judas Priest with Blue Oyster Cult as the best man

On my flight out to LA today I had the opportunity to chat with an interesting fellow who was an aspiring musician. His day job was sales, but his passion was music and he's getting his band back together, When Thunder Comes

He described it as Pink Floyd marrying Judas Priest. After listening to the first 2 minutes of each track for free on CD Baby I must say it seems to have some BOC thrown in as well. Maybe also some Styx.

It definitely has medieval themes in the songs. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

I wish the band well.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun Thanksgiving!

Cheers!

Contextual Video Advertising

Since I'm from Westchester, NY I keep an eye on local news.

The twin shooting of the Clinton neighbors is something I've been following. I watched a tv piece a few minutes ago and sure enough they play an ad for a car video before a piece on two people being shot in a car.

Click here to watch (not sure if you will see the car ad)

Does it affect my purchase intent? No Would it affect others? Not sure

PPC search has negative keywords.

Airlines usually pull all of their web ads if there is any kind of plane crash.

Video will need a solution.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Uncle Leo? Uncle Jason?

Jason Calacanis is leaving AOL, that's what his blog says.

I'll miss him, he definitely stirred the pot and kept people on their toes.

One recent comment by Jason on www.Valleywag.com left me scratching my head.

Point #3,

"The email page views are worthless--no one buys email inventory on the web."

Uncle Leo?

Jason - I'd love to understand how you came to this conclusion.

I know we sell email inventory at AOL and I'm sure MSN and Yahoo do as well.

As Stein Kretsinger always said, "there is no bad inventory, just mis-priced inventory."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Southwest Airlines Gets The Web

I've always been a big fan of Southwest Airlines, previously living in Locust Point I was ten minutes from BWI Airport. For Southwest, BWI was one of their largest airports and with the new terminal it's even better.

Faster security lines, better food (if that's possible at an airport).

DING! Their windows applet that delivers deals to your computer multiple times per day.

They've built an excellent web experience (at least once they had fixed the problem of losing your reservation settings when you hit the back button). You quickly see when you earn flights, etc.

Normally they send cards during important holidays, like your birthday.

Today I received an Flash email card wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving (click here to check it out). I'm not a designer, but I thought it was well put together.

Enjoy yourself and start flying Southwest to get your own.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Last Day In Baltimore

My Baltimore rowhouse was sold this Friday. I met the buyer at closing and it's in good hands. I spent many hours working on that house, many people helped me out with the various projects. Met some interesting contractors and made new friends.

Here's a view of the from the living room of the kitchen. Notice the nice wood paneling. Notice the new view.

Here's my Advertising.com demolition crew, them in addition to friends from Johns Hopkins we gutted the house in a day and a half filling a full size dumpster. I did have to send Ryan home to get some actual shoes, flip-flops were too dangerous with all the nails.

While living in Locust Point we had a hurricane and some serious snow.

My real estate agent Steve Murphy did a great job getting my house sold, most houses are still sitting on the market.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great post on keeping email under control

click here

Wildfire is on fire

While enjoying my complementary USAToday on the Lifecycle this morning I noticed that Wildfire by Nelson DeMille has started out at number four in the weekly top 150 best sellers.

Nice start.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What is a trebuchet?

Check out this very cool DIY trebuchet project. Wondering what a trebuchet is? Check out the wikipedia.

watch the video


Fix Social Security

I'm normally not a USATODAY reader, but I'm at a hotel all week. Two words: Captive Audience.

They had a good editorial today regarding the impending problem with Social Security. This is something we need to tell the Democrats and Republicans to fix NOW.

I've always considered myself a Republican, but I've recently become more disappointed with the party. My new identify is a fiscal conservative, stop wasting tax payers money on pet projects etc. Politicians are either spenders or savers.

It's difficult to identify who's doing what, or maybe I don't have the time.

Therefore I regularly participate in email campaigns through Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org), a current campaign supports the line item veto. If passed it should save us $29 billion dollars. Click here to check it out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Brilliant Gmail Google Spreadsheets Integration

I just noticed that if you get an Microsoft Excel file emailed to you as an attachment in Gmail, you are offered the option of opening it with Google Spreadsheets.

What a great way to encourage trail and usage of their spreadsheet product.

Doesn't seem like they are doing the same for Word documents.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Finished Wild Fire

I'm happy to report I finished reading Nelson DeMille's new book Wild Fire early this morning.

I have to say he's met or exceeded Night Fall. I definitely recommend this book to everyone. I'd love to see a movie made of this one.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Book signing with Nelson DeMille

I'm a big fan of Nelson DeMille, having read almost every one of his books. When I saw his new release of Wildfire and that he was going to speak and sign at a B&N on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan I decided to head over and check it out.

The place was packed - standing room only.

Mr. DeMille spoke for about twenty minutes and answered a bunch of questions. Told a funny story about Bruce Willis calling him out of the blue asking if his main character John Corey was created with Bruce in mind.

I turned into the defacto cellphone camera tech support person as the lady sitting next to me asked if I could show her how to delete a picture on her phone. She wanted a picture with Mr. DeMille. From my helping her the man in front overheard and asked me to show him how to take a picture with his Treo.

Next while waiting in line, a man whipped out every single book DeMille had ever published for him to sign. There were books there that weren't even published in his name. The cell phone lady asked him how he found out about these books, his response was that it took a long time. Hmm.

After I got home I fired up wikipedia and looked up Nelson DeMille. Sure enough all of those obscure titles were listed. Was this literary sleuth the writer of the wiki post? Or did he just undergo a lot of work for something that was a few clicks away?

Either way, I'm about 75 pages into Wildfire and I recommend it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Working in the backyard on Sunday / Trying out AOL UnCut Video

I spent some quality time today with my wife's family cleaning up the backyard. A friend came over with some serious heavy equipment and went to work. He moved old farm equipment as well as pulled down trees and cleared brush and old firewood.

I thought I'd try out AOL UnCut Video with my some videos from my Konica Minolta camera. The quality isn't that great, but it'll do. They don't have any sound but the work is impressive.

Update: The embedded videos don't show or work correctly on IE 6.0, Firefox 1.5 they display and work just fine.













Friday, November 03, 2006

Jason's 10% Better Posting

I have to point out Jason Calacanis' great post on November 2nd regarding AOL's new strategy.

He suggests a simple goal of making a five areas 10% better that will have a network effect for even greater levels of improvement.

At Advertising.com we used to go through exercise of how we could grow each account by 10%? Sometimes it was simply asking for it. Other times it was coming up with an innovative solution. Occasionally we had to stop what we were doing and start from scratch.

Overall we found some had no movement, but others far exceeded the 10%. It works.

I have to agree with Jason, we keep doing 10%s and AOL will continue to grow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Is the digital herd tiring of the predators?

The Sunday Washington Post had an interesting article about MySpace, "In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year - Social Sites Find Fickle Audience."

The writer interviewed teenagers regarding their views on MySpace and other social networking sites, the bottom line is that they are leaving MySpace.

In a previous post I wrote about the digital herd and how important it is to keep your grass fresh as well as how easy it is for a stampede to occur. The Post article has some great data on the rise and fall of the MySpace's predecessors.

Why are some people leaving now?

"The high school English class cites several reasons for backing off of MySpace: Creepy people proposition them. Teachers and parents monitor
them. New, more alluring free services comes along, so they collectively jump
ship"


My wife and I recently attended a wedding and spent some time in the airport with the brother of the bride who is a high school teacher. I asked about MySpace, which brought on a smirk. Apparently a bunch of kids posted some photos from a party they had which involved some illegal activities for all to see. Sure enough someone saw them and they got in trouble.

Creepy people, what to do with them? Dateline regularly has shows where they lure child predators into stings at homes. Where do they meet these people? Online. It's a scary thought for parents. At least some kids are aware of the creeps and are voting with their feet. In the past I mentioned of keeping your pasture as green and tasty as possible, this article has caused me to add one more factor. The predator, the predator prays on the heard while it's grazing. Maybe there's a fence that keeps them out or maybe there's ranchers hunting the predators. Looks like there might be too many predators for the digital herd at MySpace.

The question is:

Will the digital herd stampede to Facebook?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More Pig Roast Pictures

Here are some more pictures - for some reason Blogger was not publishing more than five photos per post.




Pictures from the pig roast

I'm on a roll today, in a previous post I promised video and pictures from a family pig roast. While I haven't gotten the video piece done, I did upload some photos to the new AOL Pictures site. I've had trouble loading pictures to Blogger and AOL Pictures works great for hosting my pictures.

The spit turning mechanism:











Here are the two pigs on the spit cooking:










Carving up the pigs:

Replacing my rowhouse staircase (6 of 6) - Finished Finally

I finally finished the staircase I have been blogging about in the past. They've been done for some time and people have asked to see the final product.

It's also amazing how many times my posts have been found by people searching on Google about replacing stairs.

To see the rest of the staircase posts - click here



Hiking in Navy Road Park in Montauk

I haven't posted in quite sometime, it's been almost a month. Part of the month my wife and I were in Italy for ten days enjoying some time off the net.

After some torential rain yesterday myself, my wife, my brother-in-law, my future sister-in-law, and a friend and her dog went for a morning hike out at Navy Road Park in Montauk, NY.

Included some pictures below, the wind was howling.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cold Stone Prepared Ice Cream

Is really only a massage for your ice cream.

Friday, September 29, 2006

More insight regarding Facebook

Mark Cuban said something interesting at Advertising Week in New York.


Cuban cautioned advertisers against investing heavily in so-called viral campaigns that are spread by users beyond their initial point of distribution on YouTube or other video sharing sites. But he touted opportunities to run commercials on high-definition television such as his HDNet network.

"What makes viral so special is it's so hard to do. It's so hard to plan. It's hard to stand out," he said, describing 99 percent of money advertisers spend on viral campaigns as "wasted."

"You guys love to be the trailing edge," he said.


I think the second paragraph above is very applicable to my previous post on Facebook's new ad format.

Facebook seems to be trying to turn it viral and as Mark said, "its hard to do. "

I compare all of this to real world germs.

The common flu spreads naturally, it stinks to catch it, but if you get it from a friend it's unintentional.

Think of a bio-weapon like small-poxs, it's an intentional release and the backlash and devastation is clear. Quarantines are setup, etc.

If this format is to work, it's really got to be a great campaign. If not, you've just unleashed a bioweapon.

Next thing you know you'll have quarantines around your brand.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Facebook's new ad format like chain letters?

In Mediaweek


"The new Sponsor Stories ad unit will initially be placed in the third position
within each user's News Feed - as either a small banner-like placements or video
clip. When users elect to click on these ads, their entire network of friends
will be automatically alerted and then given the chance to interact with that
particular marketer's group."

If I understand this correctly, I'm on Facebook I click on one of these ads and then all my friends will be alerted of the ad I clicked on.

Remind you of something?

Those great chain letters that you get from friends or those jokes you never want to read.

In my opinion this is not the way to leverage social networking.

Social networking data needs to be leveraged in a non-explicit fashion. There needs to be more relevance than just one degree of separation.

If "friending" is a true phenomena the relevancy of association is greatly reduced, thus increasing the annoyance factor of these, "hey I just checked out this ad alerts." The strength of each connection needs to be valued individually to determine the proper group to pass along a similar marketing message.

Pink Floyd fans should check this out

I work at AOL and use AIM for my communication needs. One nice feature of the Triton client is that I can listen to AOL Radio (yes, it's free).

There's a station on the radio called Psychedelic under the Rock genre, they play some of the deepest Floyd tracks. Meddle and Ummagumma have been rotating heavily recently. Definitely worth checking it out.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Update: Three, not two, indicators of a bad hotel

1. They charge you $1 to use the in-room safe. update: had this removed from the bill. Just saved AOL $1

2. The sink's hot and cold are reversed.

3. You catch another hotel guest watching porn in the gym at 6am in the morning. To quote him, "I don't understand how this was on the tv." Hmm, I wonder....

Canceling my Lingo VOIP Service

I'm on the phone right now trying to cancel my Lingo VOIP phone line. I've got my AIM Phone Line which is more than adequate and works on my Comcast cable modem service.

The phone representative is doing a good job trying to keep me: down grade the service, one month free.

It wasn't a painful experience, I think my reason for canceling wasn't in their rebuttal book: I just don't need the service anymore.

He did tell me to take down my cancellation number, in case I needed to call back. I ask him, "Are you expecting me to have to call back?"

He laughed and said, "No, just in case."

Maybe I should be crying?

Next time you cancel something try, "I just don't need it anymore." It's probably not in a single rebuttal book.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Importance Of Vacation at Yahoo

Kevin Delaney has an interesting article in the WSJ this morning regarding Yahoo requiring it's employees to take off the week between Christmas and New Years. As mentioned in the article this has interesting timing considering their comments regarding a slow down in some online advertising verticals.

Yahoo management mentions this is "guilt-free time off."

While at Advertising.com I loved that week between Christmas and New Years. It was my catch-up week since fourth quarter was always extra busy for sales which in turn meant it was extra extra busy for operations. It allowed me to get ready and recharge for the onslaught of first quarter.

Personally I'm not a big fan of mandatory vacations. I'd much rather have people take vacation throughout the year. Vacation is a great way to help re-prioritize and empower your employees.
If you're a manager it forces your direct reports to step-up. It also allows you to reevaluate what you can delegate. Something you always do, something you used to cherish doing, now you don't. It might be something a direct really will be fired up to do, or improve on how you do it. Different perspective. Maybe you stop doing something that you realize nobody finds any value in?

If you're on the front lines it forces your peers to step-up. Is there a good coverage plan? Are your department's internal processes designed well to allow for redundancy? How much extra capacity is in your operations?

As a manager or front line employee you should strive to ensure every vacation is guilt-free. Managers make sure the machine doesn't stop and fail if you or a direct leaves. Employees if you see that the processes you have break when someone takes time off work with your managers to FIX those problems.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great Yoga Mat

Just tried my new Manduka 71" Black Mat at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett. This mat is about twice as thick as a normal yoga mat and is super comfortable on a hardwood floor. It's all natural rubber apparently. Only downside is that's probably 2-3 times heavier than a normal yoga matt.

Honda Element Windshield Crack Update

Beginning of this year I blogged about replacing my Honda Element windshield for the second time. This week I received a letter in the mail regarding a class action lawsuit where among various things I could potentially get reimbursed for my two repairs.

We'll see if I ever see a cent back, but it's good to see a class action lawsuit actually addressing a real issue and Honda owning up to their mistake.

Now I have to find my receipts for the windshield repairs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Email addresses are sticky, but not that sticky

AOL email has been free for about a month and a half and in a previous post I wrote about the front desk clerk at my hotel and how she was about to switch to Comcast.

Well again I was in Baltimore this week and sure enough when I was checking-in the front desk lady asked me where I worked, "AOL."

FDL, "Oh I used to be AOL for years but I switched to Verizon DSL."

Me, "How long ago did you leave AOL?'

FDL, "Long time,

Me, "How long?"

FDL, "About 3 months ago."

Me, "Did you know that you can get your email address back at AOL - no charge?"

FDL, "Really? That would be great, everyone knows me by my AOL email address. Now when I send emails people don't know it's me anymore."

Me, "Well just log back in and you should be set, if not call."

She was so happy. It feels good when something like this happens. My bigger concern is how many other front desk people exist. They just don't know and we need to reach them before they fully switch to their new non-AOL email address.

YouTube Customer Non-Service Continues

On Tuesday of this I wrote about poor customer service at YouTube.

I responded back to their automated email which I thought would lead to a real answer.

What came back?

Account Questions:
Can I change my username?
Unfortunately, users are
unable to change their usernames. There is simply too much information tied to
each account. You may, however, sign up for a new account with the username that
you desire.
Can I upload videos longer than 10 minutes / larger than
100MB?
If you create your own content and are looking to share it with the
world, we invite you to join our Director Program (www.youtube.com/director), which eliminates the 10-minute time
limitation on uploads. The 100MB file size still applies, however.What if I
donÂ’t want to get emails when my videos are commented on, etc?
You can enable
or disab enable or disable YouTube notifications by navigating to your profile,
selecting ‘edit’ in the yellow box near the top of the page, and then ‘email
optionsÂ’ on the right. From here you can check/uncheck the boxes that you wish.
Click save and youÂ’re set!
How do I close my account?
If you would like to
close your account please go to http://youtube.com/my_account_delete. \nIf youÂ’ve had a
video removed or your account has been suspended and donÂ’t understand why,
please read our terms of use againa here, http://www.youtube.com/t/terms. \nFor all the parents
out there and users between 13 – 18 years old, please review our safety tips to
make sure you are safely using the service http://www.youtube.com/t/safety
.\nIf
none of the above information has helped you with your problem, please feel free
to write back to this response. Include as much detail as possible so that
we can attempt to recreate the issue you are experiencing. The more
information you are able to provide us with the better so that we can solve your
issue in a timely manner.",1]
);
//-->
If you would like to close
your account please go to http://youtube.com/my_account_delete.
If youÂ’ve had a
video removed or your account has been suspended and donÂ’t understand why,
please read our terms of use againa here, http://www.youtube.com/t/terms.
For all the parents
out there and users between 13 – 18 years old, please review our safety tips to
make sure you are safely using the service http://www.youtube.com/t/safety .


Yes, I realize the copy/paste was terrible, but again clearly nobody read my question. I'm going to email them again and elaborate on my simple problem of not being able to register my blogger account.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Poor example of customer service at YouTube

I've been trying for a day or so now to embedded the Roger Waters pig video on this blog. When I go to setup my blog on YouTube it just keeps saying "accessing account." I decided to submit a question early yesterday morning.

Having trouble registering my blogger blog so I can embed videos. Just keeps
saying accessing account.


What do I get back over 12 hours later?

Hi there and thanks for contacting us!
In response to your email we have
provided you with answers to almost all of the questions that we receive.
If you are one of the very few who has a question we haven't heard before,
and your issue isn't addressed below, please respond to this email and we will
help you personally!

[Insert a bunch of FAQ answers.]



Why couldn't that email have been sent right after I requested help? It doesn't seem to me that anyone in customer support actually needed to think to send that reply.

My guess is that the beta login for Blogger is causing their process to choke.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jones Beach Roger Waters Pig Video Clip

For some unknown reason I can't embed video from Youtube on my blog, but here's a link to the video of the pig.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfyoZCZvtPw

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Legalize It

60 Minutes tonight had a great piece on Internet gambling. It was a replay from last year, but first time I watched it.

"The federal government is clear: gambling on the Internet is against the law." CBSNews.com

Well as I wrote before, Amtrak accepts money from off shore gambling companies. Last time I checked the majority of the people riding are US citizens.

The Federal government should just legalize it, regulate it, and TAX it. Gambling is everywhere - state lotteries, native American casinos to name a few.

Imagine if you could earn comps online for transfer to your favorite Vegas casino?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Roger Waters doesn't seem to like George W

It's lightly raining and Jones Beach has no protection from the weather. It's packed, people drinking in the parking lots, getting frisked on the way in.

We find our seats and cover ourselves with plastic ponchos to keep the rain off. There are people smoking pot everywhere. If I sampled the people sitting directly around me (except for my wife) I'd find drugs on everyone.

First set are some oldies, Set the Controls for Heart of Sun.

Roger also plays a couple of his more recent works as well as one written about his hitchhiking in Lebanon. Two guys sitting to our left start booing because of the anti-Bush political messaging.

At one point they bring out the pig balloon and a guy dressed up as a butcher who leads it around through the crowd. Written on the pig were a few slogans, one of which was "Impeach Bush" on it's butt.

At this point Cheech and Chong next to us start booing and screaming "Go home {insert derogatory homosexual term}." Nice, REALLY NICE I forgot where I read in the Republican docket that illegal drug use as being OK.

Now another guy starts screaming, "Remember 9-11."

Intermission

Cheech buddys up with 9-11 guy and they start complaining how Roger should just play his music. They didn't pay to get political messages and look at all the people cheering.

If you just want to hear the music, buy a CD and sit at home with a tube of model airplane glue.

It's a concert and it's his concert, let him say what he wants. I know my political views weren't changed by any of his comments. Maybe they were concerned that they would be swayed under their heavy consumption of weed?

Second set, Dark Side of the Moon played in it's entirety. Simply amazing.

Last song of the night - Comfortably Numb

Best part about it was there was lightening in the distance that seemed to be choreographed with the music.

Jones Beach still stands as the best venue for a concert.

Getting to Jones Beach for Roger Waters

Concert is at 8pm, wife and I leave at 6pm.

It's been raining all day out East. Traffic on 27 is bad in both directions, so we veer off to take the back roads.

I've never seen flooding like this, maybe back in the 80s with a hurricane. I'm driving a Honda Element and we crossed a few flooded areas where I wasn't sure we'd make it. I wish I had a video camera. One "puddle" that we crossed was about 75 long and the SUV in front of us thought driving at less than 5 mph and stopping occasionally would be a good way to make it across. I gunned it right past them.

We had to get back onto the main road because the back roads were getting too deep.

Numerous flooded areas heading out, with line of traffic heading East was significant and I wondered what would come of the Porsches and Minis about to cross these fijores. One we cross was so deep there were foot high waves going back and forth from all the cars driving through.

Made it to Jones Beach at 8:15 pm - Roger wasn't on yet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tree Skiing and Business Goals

Company incentive programs and goals are similar to tree skiing.
When you enter a glade (area of trees you ski or snowboard through) your end goal is to make it to the other side.
As you approach each tree, your mini goal is to miss each tree. As you progress through the glade, each tree avoidance is a mini-win. Each tree is a step to emerging successfully from the glades.
The key to avoiding each tree is to look past it, look at where you want to go, don't focus on the most imminent tree.
If you focus on the oncoming tree, you'll most likely smack right into it.
Glades are usually big enough for different paths, different trees that each person must navigate.
Goal and incentive setting in business is similar to tree skiing.
To often companies give individuals goals that represent avoiding a particular tree, they don't focus on exiting the glades. If a person focuses on avoiding the tree versus making to goal of the white space after the tree, good chance they'll hit the tree. If the tree is your only goal you aren't out of the woods yet.
Successful goal setting and incentives need to focus on the successful completion of the overall goal while making sure people understand in general to watch out for the trees. Business is dynamic and it requires people to be flexible and turn on a moments notice. Hence focusing on one particular tree tends to reduce the ability to dynamically navigate the glades of business.
Different departments may have different trees to avoid, but they should all be in the same forest looking to come out to the same place as everyone else.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five years ago tomorrow

I'm sure there are millions of posts about the fifth anniversary of September 11th, 2001 I'm throwing mine in.
I still remember the day so clearly in my mind.
Sitting at my desk in Tide Point at Advertising.com. Third floor, next to the window facing the molasses tanks.
Instant message pops up from my college friend Nell, she's in the city and tells me a plane hit the WTC. I mention this to people around me, no one believes me.
It's off to CNN.com to see what's going on. I keep hitting refresh, finally something comes up.
First it was a small text headline, then a picture, then the site goes down.
I call my parents in the Hamptons, I tell them to turn the TV on.
Next I call Andy Monfried my co-worker and friend in our NYC office. No answer at his desk, I try his cell.
He answers and tells me he's by the back window of the office watching the first tower burn, he tells me bodies are falling. As we are talking he starts screaming, the second plane comes roaring overhead and slams into the other tower. Andy hangs up and heads to his car to get out of the city with as many co-workers as he can.
At some point I ping my friends in Washington about the rumors of another crash. My best friend Geoff, (best man in my wedding) lived in Crystal City at the time, which was right next to the Pentagon.
My fraternity brother Paul directs me to his website, http://www.trafficland.com/, it has traffic cams all around DC. One was right next to the pentagon, the plane actually knocked it off the light post on it's way down. It was still working, picture was upside down, but you could see the Pentagon on fire.
I start to wonder if any of Nell's family are in the towers, many of them are in the bond business. I know Cantor occupies the top floors, I interviewed there a few years earlier with two Johns Hopkins/Delta Upsilon alumni. Both died that day.
Most of the people at Ad.com head upstairs to the penthouse to watch the television. That's where we see the first tower collapse.
Whenever I see the footage of that day, my entire body tenses up and I get really angry.

Interesting article about Mad Honey

Apparently honey bees can collect pollen from poisonous plants and you can get sick if you eat it. Click Here

Friday, September 08, 2006

Done with incorporating video on this blog from Google Video

You'll notice a second post of the dorey video from PlumTV hosted on Google Video. Again it doesn't work.

If anyone has any insight let me know.

Real Men: East Hampton Dory Squad - Video

My comments - The Hamptons have a rich history, this is a great video depicting the dory men. These shots of them launching boats into the ocean from the beach are amazing.

Everyday heroes lived among us. They were men who dedicated themselves to assisting those caught in peril at sea. These were fishermen who understood the dangers of the surf and were a crucial part of the emergency response team for the Hampton's East End community. For close to 30 years The East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad assisted boaters in distress from Montauk to Bridgehampton. The Squad was made up of local offshore fishermen, Haul-seiners, whose unique ability to launch boats directly from the beach, proved to be vital technique in reaching those in harm. Between the Slatch: The East Hampton Dory Rescue Squad, looks at the rescue efforts of the volunteer team from 1978 to 2005. The documentary reviews the roots of the Dory Squad in the United States Lifesaving Service, as well as the role Haul-sein Fishing played in the Squads unique history.

About Plum TV®

Plum provides highly localized programming and strives to be an incubator of groundbreaking new television programming. Each Plum station is unique, providing original programming customized to each community. Plum programming includes regionally-focused feature pieces, tourist information (weather, traffic reports, restaurant reviews, retail and lodging information), a real estate show, local news and specially targeted entertainment for each community's interests.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On the road again

I'm headed to the Hamptons on the Jitney, it's around 8:30. It's definitely after Labor Day, the bus has a handful of people riding on it.

One person is coughing and I hope it's not TB.

I'm writing this using Writely the new online word processing service by Google. I love this thing. It's much more stable then writing directly in Blogger.

Ok it's almost 9 and we made it past the traffic. We are cruising on 495.

Tomorrow is the last day of one of my team members, who will be missed. She was the pioneer of a new role being piloted. So standup that she actually stayed engaged during the last few weeks and helped train her replacements.

Signing off at exit 37

Monday, September 04, 2006

New flight security restrictions marketers delight

Eating breakfast this morning my wife mentioned to me that wealthy women on airplanes were having trouble coping without their creams and lotions to keep their skin moist. Since I'm always in marketing mode, I mentioned this would be a incredible marketing opportunity for high-end skin care companies to provide free samples. My suggestion would be to focus on first class and business class and offer either a male or female targeted product.

Let's see how things develop.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The History Boys & Roger Waters

My wife and I received tickets to the History Boy's play as a gift and last night was the show.

Couple thoughts -

1. Tickets were almost $100 each and I understand why theater is declining in this country. Maybe it was only this theater, but those seats are really packed in there. My wife and I are not particularly tall people, but we were uncomfortable. The crowd was older and maybe they are used to this, but what's going to happen with the MySpace generation? They have custom chairs for playing video games.







Movie theaters have stadium seating. Younger people are used to comfort.

2. We had the pleasure of sitting next to a MySpace couple and they were slurping down wine at their seats (against the rules) as well as sprawling themselves across our seats.

3. The play was OK - best parts were the use of black and white movie clips that transitioned between different scenes. They played some great 80s music, and I was "hungry like the wolf" for more. The party of three sitting in front of us apparently did not think it was ok, they never returned after intermission. Either they had a bad meal at one of those theater dining specials in the area or they were disappointed.

4. I hope there is never a fire or emergency in the theater, the logistics of getting to seats and the number of people who have trouble navigating them is a recipe for disaster.

5. Our being in the city intersected with a text message from my fraternity brother Paul, who was meeting up with Shaggy (aka Jay, my little brother) at the bar he bartends at. I haven't seen Shaggy in years, we haven't stayed in touch and I feel bad about that. He wants to get out of bartending, I have a gut feeling online ad trafficking would be a great fit for him.

6. Free drinks and not paying attention to the Metro North train schedule leads to having to take a cab all the way home to the burbs. The cab drivers have a great racket, they are there waiting for you to find the doors locked at GCT. There is also a handy kebob stand so you can buy some late nite food and drink for the long ride home.

7. I'm getting really excited for Roger Waters at Jones Beach on the 15th. Jones Beach is my favorite concert spot. The stage is built into a lagoon and at night you get the salt air breeze.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Planes, automobiles, trains, taxis

Last night I embarked on my normal commute between New York City and Dulles, VA. Normally I'm on the AOL shuttle which is convenient and drops me at my hotel. Last night due to weather it was canceled so we had two options, 1) stay in local hotel in NJ 2) take Amtrak to DC and taxi it over to AOL HQ. There were a few other AOL colleagues in a similar situation, two of which decided to go the train route as well.

We had a friendly driver take us from the airport to Newark Penn Station. Waited about an hour for Amtrak to show up. We passed time in the bar enjoying a couple performing CPR on each other at the bar and a group of business associates getting so blasted that they were slurring the words.

Leave Newark 9:15 arrive Washington DC 12am

We get a taxi, hoping for one that accepts credit cards. No luck.

Off we go, I'm in the back, I strap in and proceed to fall asleep. I can sleep anywhere under almost any conditions.

I'm most proud of the time I drank a Starbucks grande double red-eye and feel asleep 20 minutes later.

I wake up about 15 minutes from HQ and I notice the driver veering off the road onto the shoulder. Our AOL co-pilot promptly tells the driver to get back on the road. Apparently this has been happening the entire drive. Good thing I was traveling with others, I would have been in a ditch some where.

Not sure if the guy was drunk, tired, or just had some kind of inner ear balance issue which caused him to drift to the right.

Monday, August 28, 2006

AOL's FREE Active Virus Shield

I'm really impressed with AOL's AVS (active virus shield). I downloaded it for both my mother-in-law's computer and my personal laptop. Very easy and no strings attached (you do have to provide your email address)!

I had used McAfee and it seemed to slow down my machine, with it uninstalled I'm much happier.

CNET's editors gave it a 7 out of 10.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Verizon Wireless Customer Service

Interesting coincidence in the mail this morning.

I had to call Verizon Wireless the other day about my bill because it seemed to be higher than normal. After talking with the rep I found out that they bill one month in advance for their wireless data card. OK

Today in the mail comes an envelope from VZW which thanks me for being a customer and encourages me to call their telephone support. What they also included was a nice handy reference card so I could find out my balance by simply dialing a few characters.

I'd love to see the customer service model and the savings this letter saves them on support calls.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pig roast pictures and video coming

I attended my wife's uncle's pig roast last night - a great time was had by all. I have some pictures of the pigs cooking as well as the carving. This will also be my first attempt at video as I recorded the process of putting them on the spit.

Stay tuned

Anybody know of some free video editing software?

Posted East bound on 495 @ Exit 27

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Follow-up to my bus posting

I received some interesting feedback on my bus posting. I feel it's necessary to follow-up since I think the comments are completely fair and they exposed some points I should have made.

Comment #2:
"Although its a noble thought, in reality not many organizations reward individuals for "taking one for the Gipper." "

This is a very true statement, many organization do not reward individuals for taking the blame.
"To take the hit for someone else's mistakes -- is a mistake."

True sometimes, but the key to all of this is having aircover from your boss. If they are measuring you on results and not on the number mistakes (real or assumed) you are in good shape.

Critical for taking the blame is the ability for you to solve the problem so it doesn't resurface again. If your work to fix the problem then leads to better company results that your boss sees along with other leadership the blame won't matter anymore. Usually people already know who the responsible parties are but due to various political reasons finger pointing isn't efficient.

If your company is filled with corporate assassins then you should probably find a new company.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Better Ad Targeting = Better Content

There was a recent article in the NY Times about behavioral targeting on the Internet. I’ve read many posts by people who expose how they block ads and if they found content of value on the Internet they would pay the owner for it. I’m not going to debate about how much of this follow through occurs, what I will debate is whether better targeting is bad.

Disclaimer, I’m an Internet ad guy, my career has been about maximizing revenue per thousand impressions. Simple, yet not as easy as you think, I’ve cut my teeth on optimizing Match.com and Smoker’s surveys to name a few.

Those of you who think I’m evil you can stop now, otherwise read on.

Let’s lay out some assumptions:

We are a consumptive society – we have jobs to make money to buy things that increase our standard of living.

We are like entertainment – that comes in the form of tv, magazines, Internet, etc. We consume media, which is made up of content, which costs money to produce.

Now let’s discuss the business of media on a simple level:

Media companies make money by the following math:

Sell advertising space to companies who want to reach the consumers of their content
Minus
The cost of creating the content
Minus
The cost of potential advertising to bring the right people to the content and hopefully then become a customer of the content (their advertising)

What’s left?

Profit

Now let’s remember back to our Economics 101 college class:

Demand and supply must cross at some point and that’s the point of equilibrium.

It’s the point where everyone pays a certain price and the supply is a certain level.

Let’s wrap in the quote, “50% of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%.”

Now let’s take a look at consumer behavior:

I talk to people about the digital herd, the people on MySpace, the herd is clearly grazing there. Look at their traffic numbers, their amazing. One miss-step and you might see the herd stamped elsewhere. My guess is that they will focus on things that enforce the network effects. Similar to why banks want you to signup for online checking. It’s sticky, MySpace needs to make sure they have sticky offerings.

The digital herd will graze where the grass is tastiest, if someone else can offer tastier grass and get enough people aware of it the stamped is on to the new patch of grass.

This threat of stamped then leads to innovation. Stop innovating, your grass is stale, and the herd is off. Investment in better grass is critical.

Now back to my main point:

Investment is needed to make sure the content is the best to keep the consumers consuming. Better targeting of advertising which yields higher rates for the ads potentially leads to higher profits, which then gives the media company resources to create better content.

Profits allow them to keep their pastures fertilized and green.

Two Paychecks

My wife and I were taking care of switching our Maryland drivers liscenses over to New York state yesterday and on an errand we ran into the John DeMayo’s father.

Mr. DeMayo is a great guy, successful businessman and a wealth of great knowledge and insight. We talked about business and life and he told me about what he’d say to every employee when he hired them.

“You have the chance to earn two paychecks from me, the first one is what I pay you for the work you do today for me. The second paycheck is what you are going to learn on the job and then have the potential to sell back to me in the future. If I don’t pay you for it you can sell it to another employer.” Note this is approximately what Mr. DeMayo said.

This is a great concept, he obviously had a learning company. It’s a great way for employees to think about their job, the second paycheck is what gets you ahead.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Make sure they feel the bus go bump bump on its way over you

It’s a well known fact that taking responsibility for your mistakes is one of those easy to do behaviors, but it’s seldom done. People are worried about the consequences of accepting their errors which then prevents embracing a solution to the original cause of the mistake. It was definitely something that I learned to do and it made a big difference in my performance.

If taking responsibility for your mistakes is a painful process, here’s something that will make your head spin.

Take the blame for a problem even when it’s not your fault. This is what I mean by let the bus ride right over you, versus letting everyone jockey to avoid going under the bus.

Think about musical chairs, one seat is missing. Everyone is focused on getting a seat. I realize it’s a game, but if you watch people play they are so focused on finding a chair. Imagine if the goal was to figure out how solve the problem of being one chair short. You have X people focused on producing another chair versus X people focusing on the closest chair to them. X times greater focus on finding one chair.

If you’re trying to solve a problem whether it is human, process, or external in nature the best way to get to the problem solving process is to skip the blame process. Some organizations don’t play the blame game, others do.

If you find yourself in one of the blame game companies then you need to throw yourself under the bus. This is how you will be able to fix tons of problems in a short amount of time. If everyone is looking to avoid blame they aren’t going to be thinking about how to fix the problem. The solution might show a personnel training gap or a fault in a process that someone was responsible for creating. People inherently don’t like to make a mistake which then makes it hard to solve an issue if they feel it will bring a negative spotlight on them. Takeaway the potential for a spotlight and they are more comfortable working on the problem.

That’s why it’s critical to make sure they feel the bump bump, when you take the blame and throw yourself under the bus you want to make sure that everyone feels (translation = everyone feels they are now safe) the problem (translation = bus = blame) run you right over. You’re the carcass (you took responsibility for the mistake, you’re in the spotlight) and now we can carry on with the postmortem.

The postmortem is where you will then be able to fix the issue because everyone is relaxed because someone else has taken the fall.

Problem gets solved and in the end that’s what it’s all about anyway.

Quote of the day from Foxnews article

"While there has been sabotage, Davis said there has never been an act of terrorism on America's rail system. That's proof, he said, of just how secure the railways are."

Foxnews.com

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Innovation at Legal Seafoods

Tonight while grabbing dinner at Legal Seafoods in downtown Baltimore, I experienced a truly empowered staff.

I ordered gluten-free calamari which is calamari dusted in corn meal. Apparently they ran out of cornmeal, so instead they took gluten-free croutons and ground them up in a food processor. They alerted me to the issue after they had implemented the solution and offered the appetizer for free.

The initiative and inventiveness was refreshing because most of my dining experiences end up with, “sorry, we ran out, etc etc.”

This is the kind of innovation and empowerment that should happen at every business, hats off to the manager and his team.

One, maybe two data points

If you’ve been reading the news you know about AOL’s new strategy direction and the ability to keep using AOL (not everything, but almost everything email being the most important) without paying us any monthly subscription fee.

If you read Ted’s blog you read his perspective on the significance of this strategy shift. Ted writes, "Just wait until all AOL ISP members can take all of AOL with them when they move to broadband. Just wait until everyone can keep their AOL client and use their AOL email for life - for free!"

Why am I blogging about this topic? Because today, I traveled up to Baltimore from Dulles. Tomorrow I spend the day at my “old” company, Advertising.com and as I checked into the hotel tonight in downtown Baltimore I had a conversation with the front desk person that reinforced that this was the absolute right move.

“Who do you work for?”

Almost saying Advertising.com, I tell her, “AOL”

“Oh, I’m about to cancel the service to go to Comcast, but I don’t want to lose my email.”

Ceasing the opportunity and putting my sales cap back on, “You know you can switch and still keep your email address?”

“Really?? I want to get a new laptop and Comcast cable access, but everyone knows my email address.”

“Sure you can keep it, just get your pipe to the Internet from someone else. Haven’t you seen the email from Jon Miller, our CEO?”

“Nope, behind on my email..working all the time at the hotel.”

Yes I know this is only one data point, but I have to believe there are millions like her who would have gotten up the courage and put up with the pain of an email address switch and we would have lost her for good.

One other data point is my aunt, who loves the client. She loves the client. Wants to get high-speed, but doesn’t want to lose the client. Now she doesn’t have to give it up.

Now that the uncertainty of AOL’s future strategy is gone, it’s time to focus on building audiences and providing them with relevant advertising.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Non-displaced fractured tibia

Thinking I'd pick up a new activity, I purchased a Carve Board.

While trying to learn this new contraption I found myself having to jump off the board to avoid hitting a mail box at high speed.

My right foot hit the ground and extreme pain ensued. I walked it off, but it still wasn't right. After about 2 weeks of on and off pain I thought a visit to the orthopedic surgeon might be a good idea. My doctor was great, he first x-rayed my knee, nothing showed up. Next was an MRI because he thought it could be a meniscus tear.

Ended up getting a call yesterday, I apparently fractured my tibia near my knee but the bone never displaced. Prescription - don't seriously shock my right leg for a couple weeks. Never knew you could break a tibia bone and not have a serious problem.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Secret New Mapquest Feature

I've been using online mapping sites for a long time.

Started using Mapquest sometime pre-1999.

Then My Yahoo came out and I could save locations under my screen name so I switched.

Next was Google Maps, nice clean crisp AJAX, and satellite photos. Everyone wants to see their house from a satellite - genius.

Then came my recent promotion into AOL. This spurred me to start reviewing all of the AOL solutions for my current online brand preferences.

I re-visited Mapquest especially after I heard about the multi-point routing feature (I could have sworn that they offered this feature in the past) and during my investigation I discovered they offered another feature along with it.

The ability to avoid segments of your directions.

There are plenty of times where I get directions online and they include a road I know has lots of traffic and there's a faster way. Now all you need to do is use the multi-stop route building feature (or click on add a stop) and enter your start and end point. Next look at the detailed results and if you see a road that you know you want to avoid click on Avoid and your trip is re-routed.

I'd include some links to example maps, but for some reason the Link to this page feature doesn't remember the avoided parts of the trip. If anyone else isn't having this problem let me know how you get it to work.

If they get this fixed, maybe we see a proliferation of short cuts and alternate routes. I would use it to send directions to friends that utilize back roads.