Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Roger Waters with Nick Mason to play Dark Side Of The Moon in France July 14th!
Now comes the planning for how to get over there to see this amazing show.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
For those who know me, I read lots of books on random topics. One book had to do with the flu pandemic of 1918.
There are many experts writing on what could happen if the current bird flu, H5N1 took on the ability to infect like the normal flu. Our government seems to think that containment (read: quarantine) will work once it breaks out. I beg to differ; we have such a highly mobile society this will spread quickly. Think of all the business travelers, any who are out on assignment will want to get home as quickly as possible. Skirting around the quarantine and making it back with the flu.
What I’ve been trying to wrap my head around is what the affects will be on the Internet.
1. News sites will see a spike in volume that will far exceed September 11th. For those in the advertising business it will cause your performance to drop due to increased frequency and more than likely news sites pulling ads and graphical content to keep up with the increased usage.
2. Increased usage of grocery delivery – people will not want to be out in areas where people congregate. The motto will be leave it around back and get back in your truck. Person-to-person contact will be reduced as much as possible.
3. Proliferation of companies offering masks, sterilization chemicals, etc. online. They will be there to soak of unsold inventory as well as all over Google Adsense.
4. Increase in on-demand and mail order DVD rentals – People will start to nest and stay close to home for safety. Leading to avoidance of video rental stores and movie theaters.
5. E-commerce will spike as people do anything to avoid going to stores. Everything will be bought online. This will (as well as points 2-4) require delivery people to show up for work.
6. Increased usage of online education – to avoid classrooms people will turn to online education as a safe alternative.
7. Increased usage of remote workers – companies will tell employees to stay home and work remotely. Companies VPN capacity will be maxed out.
8. Increased use of video chat – friends and families will want to see each other because it might be the last time they do.
If you look at the 1918 pandemic it was around for months. I’m looking forward to hearing from you as to what impacts I may have missed or called the wrong way.
Whenever I need to fly to Dallas, I'm forced to fly somebody else. I collect FF miles that I'll never use.
The Wright Amendment is keeping Southwest from offering more service to Dallas. Let's fix this! Click here or enter your zip code on the banner to the right and write your Congressmen to fix this problem. It takes less than 1 minute.
Coming soon will be my thoughts on the bird flu.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I'm hoping they are as successful as Scott and John, then I can retire.
Monday, February 20, 2006
First, I’ll make a clear disclaimer that I haven’t kept up on the subject as well as I wish I have. So what I’ll write next is based on a limited data set.
My general thoughts regarding why the Middle East is seeing a rise in fundamentalism is strongly related to the economies. From what I gather Palestine has tremendous unemployment ~30%. I can only imagine what is possible with these down and out youth with no real prospect of a future. This comment is not to justify any of their actions, but merely to illustrate how easy it must be for a fanatic to recruit them to do evil.
There is a tit-for-tat cycle that keeps occurring which will make it very hard for peace to occur between Israel and Palestine. It truly is a prisoner’s dilemma for the politicians on both sides.
My relatively uneducated suggestion for breaking this cycle would be for massive investment in Palestine to help get people working and educated. If people have hope and a future, they can raise a family; they want their kids to have a future. All of this will start to stabilize the area.
I’m not sure why this hasn’t happened, but my guess is that the rest of the Arab world doesn’t want it to happen. It’s much easier to keep this conflict around because if they did make the investments and empower people they would soon find their monarchies challenged by a growing middle class.
Maybe if people had a better life today, they would start to think twice about blowing themselves up.
Note: this posting was conceived and written while driving back to Baltimore. As I drove my Element on the Belt Parkway I remembered the excitement and joy driving in New York brings. For some reason I just don’t get the same pleasure driving in Baltimore. I drove into the city on Friday and the Westside Drive was exhilarating as well as navigating the city streets. It makes you feel like you’re a NASCAR driver. My Element held its own against the taxis; I think my recently keyed car intimidated them.
With Valentine’s Day passing recently, I realized I have a second Valentine. Sure my wife will always be my first and most important one. My second is my Valentine One, my radar detector. For those who drive a lot, the radar detector is a necessary accessory for your vehicle.
I lost my first Valentine One about four years ago, it was stolen out of my Jetta while I was at a yoga class. The junkie hit about six cars in the yoga studio’s parking lot on a nice Sunday afternoon. At that point I wasn’t driving up to New York much so I never replaced it. They are expensive, ~$400, and probably not needed if you are just driving around in Baltimore.
With my marriage to my New York wife, we are now driving much more frequently and I needed to replace my Valentine One. What I learned from my first loss was never leave it in my car. I purchased the detector and a slick carrying case.
It’s well known that variability of speed causes accidents, not speed alone. I use mine to ensure that I keep the same speed as the traffic and avoid a ticket if they happen to be exceeding the speed limit.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Individual contributors that become managers for the first time face that challenge of what to do next. What are your new priorities as a manager?
Assuming you are in a properly functioning company, goals should flow down to each individual thus each individual’s efforts add up to reach the goal.
As a manager you own a bigger goal than an individual. Your number is the culmination of all your reports. The key thing about your new goal is that it’s more than a single individual can achieve alone. That’s why you’re a manager.
The normal tendency of a new manager is to focus on performing the tasks of their prior role. Previously that’s how they were measured and rewarded. Now they are responsible for others and their productivity. The key focus instead needs to be on leading and managing.
For example, if you have 4 direct reports, you have the potential to have a 4x impact on your company. You must decide whether your operational leverage is positive or negative.
If you focus on your individual contributions, you’ll have a negative impact amplified by your direct reports. If you focus on managing and leading then you can amplify the impact of your experience. You’ve probably been promoted because of your potential to lead as well as your experience in the job. Your goal is to focus on the activities that will turn the 4x lift on four people to 8x and then to16x on those same four people.
You’ll need to learn to teach someone else to apply what you know. That’s very different from doing it yourself. Exceptional people will rise to the challenge. Focus on leveraging good people.
Bringing this back around to the title of the post – your people are your lever. You control where your fulcrum sits. Place it wisely and your team will have breakthrough performance.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Every once in a while I forget this and I pay dearly. The last time I forgot, was in Vegas this December. There’s a store called the Art of Shaving located in the shops between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. It’s a straight razor shave. The hot towels, the works.
I go for my appointment, and it was great. I don’t think my face has ever had that close a shave. Since I got the shave the morning of our last day, we flew home that day returning to work the next day.
Next day back in Baltimore, my face still has no stubble. Amazing. Next thing I know halfway through the work day my face lights on fire. Every whisker growing back was like its own torture device.
It took a week for my face to get back to normal. I’ll never do that again, although I did like the hot towels. If your face is tough try it out, if not spend your money on a blackjack table.
Back to the main point of this post - the art of shaving for me. A neighbor of my parents has started a business manufacturing and selling 100% pure olive oil soap. It’s fragrance free and has no additives. The product literature mentions that it’s great for shaving. Well what the heck, I use a Gillette Mach 3 with their shaving gel, time for a test. I thought this combination was great until I tried Elan De Provence instead. The Gillette gel definitely dries your face out; the olive oil soap lubricates and helps the razor glide for a close shave but doesn’t strip out your natural oils.
I gave a bar to my contractor who was having skin problems. It cured whatever it was. Next thing I know I’m ordering him a case of this stuff.
It’s amazing how many new and improved products are pushed on the public. Something a simple as pure olive oil soap can beat a product engineered by a major Fortune 500 corporation. The only thing they need to work on is the name. It may not scream out to men looking for a closer shave.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Where are we finding these "highly qualified" teachers? The Philippines.
This is a great thing. We helping clear the education market. Apparently there are too many teachers in the Philippines and too few here. Simple supply and demand.
Click here for the article.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
I’ve coined a term called the “experiential slope” which in plain terms is how much you learn over a fixed amount of time at a given point in your career. It’s steep at Ad.com, especially the last two years with b-school piled on as well.
Simple algebra, rise over run. Experiential slope – e-slope
Obviously everyone with career aspirations will focus on the steepest slope job possible, the problem is that most companies won’t or can’t put you on a steep slope. Why? One of two reasons.
One – They can’t because the business is failing or the politics or the organizational structure isn’t setup to challenge someone. They only offer flat slope lines.
Two – They aren’t willing to throw that much responsibility onto someone right upon hiring them. It could lead to complete failure. That’s why most people can increase their slope after they’ve initially proven themselves.
A steep “experiential slope” is to an employer’s advantage because it allows them to gain the maximum effort from an employee while more than likely not having to keep their compensation up with market trends or their value. Depending on your scenario you have different choices to make.
Under compensated with a steep slope – This is a tough position because you’re learning a lot quickly, but paid less than what you’re worth. In this position you need to evaluate whether the experience outweighs the opportunity cost of sticking with your current job. Although at the new job you may not be able to get back on that steep slope quickly. They are probably hiring you for your current experience and will want to maximize your ROI to the firm.
Fairly compensated with a steep slope – This is a great position to be in. You’re learning a ton and getting paid for it. Just keep an eye on the compensation piece. At some point you’ll either be under or overpaid.
Over compensated with a steep slope – Congratulations, you have the best of both worlds. Focus on making your slope steeper, otherwise you might find yourself out of a job.
What happens if your slope isn’t steep or just plain flat? Excel in your current role to the point that you can take on more responsibility. If you continue to excel you might just get your slope increased. Good companies will want to increase your slope, it’s in their best interests. If you can’t you need to find a new job, just remember to take your red Swingline with you.
What’s your slope?
The only catch is for a lifetime opt-out she'll need to send the form in with her signature.
Today I was on Foxnews.com and saw the best TiVo banner ever.
Simply put, it was an interactive 300x250 in which I controlled a little TiVo figure to catch dropping TV shows. It seems they have taken the data they collect from existing TiVo users to pick what shows to have on this banner. Very smart, similar to the Amazon strategy of others who purchased this book, purchased these as well. Maybe the TiVo owners and non-TiVo owners (but would buy one if your message was relevant) have similar viewing tastes.
Read my earlier post and you'll see the viewing tastes of the general public are not similar.
Well since I've been a fanatic, I can tell you I've been trying to pitch them ideas forever through my employer's sales force. No success there, no fault of our sales force, I don't think the client was interested.
Imagine this, banners that every hour of the day have the most popular show of that hour. Imagine people at work who can't be at home watching the soaps, etc. What about demographic targeting to the audience of a particular show and then messaging the benefits around that show?
While I don't have TiVo-To-Go, this would be perfect to target to business travelers. How would you do this? I'd go to the job sites (Monster, HotJobs) and buy the behaviors of the people who mark off that they are willing to travel 20% or greater and have a certain salary requirement. Another option would be to buy behaviors of bookers from travel sites or airlines.
I am really rooting for TiVo, it has dramatically changed my viewing habits and allowed me to actually keep up with shows while working at a hard charging Internet startup.
Buy a TiVo today.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Talkhouse is my favorite live music venue, it's small so you can really get close to the music. Yellowman comes on and jams the entire time. I'll try to get some pictures this time around.
Last summer, Diana and I had in a few friends for the weekend to enjoy the show. We'll be doing the same again this year.
Off we go to the gate, sorry you need to get a seat assignment. It was at that point that we were told we have to wait and see if the loadmaster would give us the green light to fly. During the wait I could only think of Ghostbusters and the Keymaster.
Not to shock anyone, they won’t let us on the plane. They were happy to rebook us on a flight touching down at 4pm, which would get us in after our meeting was over. I ask for a refund, sorry there are no refunds. Let’s think about this one a little more, I book a specific time to arrive, the plane isn’t full and now you won’t refund my ticket? I’m a business traveler, I’m willing to pay more to get where I need to go on time. Nice.
I immediately called Southwest and booked another flight (definitely cutting it close, it got in later than the previous meeting) and as soon as I hung up I hopped on my blackberry to check in. We both ended up with B boarding passes.
I continue to be impressed by how well Southwest is run as well as their constant innovation.
US Airways has lost my business, sure there will be sometimes when I can only fly them, any other time – it’ll be anyone else – hopefully Southwest.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Time for bed - long day tomorrow.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Some how I came across his blog and found a fascinating post about how scientists had found that a single cell parasite that lives in cats was able to change the normal fear reaction of rats. What was more interesting was that by administering schizophrenia drugs to these rats their fear came back regarding cats. I've clearly oversimplified this post, but to read more click here for his Return of the Puppet Masters.
Think about it - how many diseases are there that are caused by viruses or bacteria? Stomach ulcers and cervical cancer are two examples.
These final treads were a bit more complicated than the others since there were angles involved and I had to glue together two treads to get them big enough. To help the process along I ended up using 1/2 plywood for a template in order to ensure the first cut was the last cut. Following the age old rule, "Measure twice, cut once."
Three of the treads were glued together which required extensive sanding because the joints weren't exactly flat. Normally I would have sanded these outside, but since it was raining I had to stay inside.
To get around the dust issue, I removed the dust bag from my Porter Cable handheld sander and attached my ShopVac to the dust port. Turned on the vacuum and sanded away. Minimal dust is generated and both the oak and myself stays dry.
As you can see below the all the treads are in place. Next steps are the banister, railing, and stringers. I'll post these as well.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
What I can’t seem to fathom is that why anyone would be such an A$$ as to take up a table with luggage when the train is clearly very full. They saw us trying to get a table and yet they don’t offer to move their bags.
Now for the return trip from NY. The train was completely sold out as well as having door problems that prevented it from leaving on time. Again we sat in the café car. This time we couldn’t get a table to ourselves, so I ended up sitting with an older lady who looked like someone on a trip to NYC, not on a business trip. More on her later…
There are now multiple announcements about making sure you clear your stuff off every empty seat because the train is full. Sure enough behind me is another table with stuff on it. So two guys move the stuff after asking if it belongs to anyone. Sure enough in comes the conductor who proceeds to yell at them for moving his stuff.
Isn’t the conductor supposed to be working?
If they run out of seats on the train then shouldn’t the conductor give up his TWO seats?
Now back to the older lady…
Somehow we started chatting and she started telling me about all these problems she has with Verizon, the cable company, various product manufacturers. Apparently when she doesn’t get any satisfaction from customer service she finds a VP level person on the website and finds out their home phone number and calls them at home. She said that it is an effective technique. I then asked, “How do you find these numbers?”
“Oh, I’m a private investigator.”
Hmm, interesting. Then she informed me she was also a lawyer. Apparently another effective technique to get companies to pay up is to file in small claims court. She was able to get a $1,000 credit from Verizon this way.
Then the stories came out about different cases she worked on. One was a man who she staked out in the office because the company suspected him of dealing drugs. She was setup as a temp in his department and then had many different people available to tail him as he went out at various times during the day. Sure enough he was dealing pot out of the back of his car. When she informed the company she did ask if he had to be fired because he seemed to be a very diligent worker. Always coming to work very early and staying late and worked very hard except for his little dealing breaks. Apparently he was eventually fired.
Fascinating who you can meet on the train.