Monday, June 26, 2006

Great interview with the chairman of Church and Dwight

This week's episode of History's Business on the History Channel had a great interview with Robert A. Davies, III , the current chairman of Church and Dwight. They are the makers of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, a 160 year old company.

Three key insights I took away from this interview.

1. They are a green company - since the beginning they were a "green" company. The founders were avid outdoorsmen.

2. "She has a secret in her refrigerator" - The right marketing idea and creative can change a company overnight. In 1972 they rolled out a commercial on the West Coast telling people to keep a box of baking soda in the refrigerator. This increased sales overnight by 80%!! They had to wait 6-7 months before rolling the commercial out across the country. They needed 6-7 months to build up enough inventory. One year afterwards 90% of consumers had a box in their fridge. Asked how they found out about this trick? They learned from their grandmothers. Interesting...

Where did they come up with this idea? A young woman in the marketing department was looking around in an attic of a factory at product packages. There was a old package from the 1920s with a list of uses, this being one of them.

3. #1 Rule for Success - "Face reality as it is, and then bring huge debate to the subject amongst talented people who care." - Robert A. Davies, III

This is a great rule for success: it encourages open dialogue and candor, then leverages the passionate people in your company to work out a solution.

Click here to read Church & Dwight's principles - right on their website.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Google goes CPA - Hello adverse selection

Read an interesting article in the WSJ today about Google testing out CPA Adwords with a select group of advertisers.

Philip Remek, at analyst at Guzman & Co. postulated this is the way to eliminate click fraud, where in reality the could cause adverse selection for the non-cpa advertisers in the mix. People generating fraudulent clicks will quickly be identified, while non-cpa with no real post-click measurement could get hammered.

Southwest Testing Assigned Seating??

Read this post today on The Airline Hub blog.

Southwest is testing changing something they have done successfully for 35 years!

What's my take-away from this move?

Constantly challenge your assumptions and view of the world.

Southwest is choosing their 10th busiest market, not too small, not too big, just right.

Caveat - always test in a responsible fashion.

Great book excerpt on strategic planning from HBS

Just read a great excerpt from a book regarding strategic planning which fits real well with the Internet.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Oh you work at AOL?

Yes, I work at AOL.

Sorry, I can’t answer any technical questions, but I can up sell you for broadband.

At a wedding this weekend I met a couple who used to be avid AOL users. The husband still is, the wife isn’t. She gave it up years ago when she didn’t need it anymore for access. He’s still a fan; he raved about their stock quote pages. She worked on some of the original deals with Citi and AOL. Small world – getting smaller.

Just in case you’re wondering, they have the broadband package. Which led me by default into promoting the new Active Security Monitor product.

I was recently promoted out of to a new role in AOL Media Networks. It’s the division responsible for the advertising on AOL’s properties. My new role covers a similar role at, it’s the operational support team for our advertisers (both internal and external).

So far a month in and I’m more pumped then the first day. My team wants to win and it’s time for AOL to take back our #1 standing. At we became the #1 network and that meant everyone by default was aiming for our back. It’s fun to be the lead runner, but what’s even more fun? Trouncing the lead runner.

I’m looking forward to writing more on my experiences in the new role since this is a new team and customers. My general approach to the new role is the following:

1. Set clear expectations. Admit ignorance on a topic if you don’t know it, then find out.

2. Always make the right decision for the business – ignore whether it might “hurt” the corporate internal scorecard for promotion, transfer resources, etc. We’ve got to focus on optimizing the entire system, not just my group. The only way is for every section to have an open mind and make the best choice for the company.

3. Always make the right decision for the people – notice how this comes after #2. Team members need to feel that there is a career path and that people value their contribution. These things are critical in attracting and retaining the best. Assuming you keep this in mind with Rule #2, three almost always takes care of itself. Always build your business with the goal of a continuous innovation feedback loop. If the business is structured right people development and advancement are a natural side effect. A great side effect.

4. Develop my managers – without strong managers, the success of the team will be in jeopardy. Intense focus on helping them improve their skills and abilities while they do the same for their people. Trickle down effect, helps reinforce Rule #3.

Looking forward to an incredible year.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Off-Shore Gambling Operations Supporting Amtrak

Riding back from NY on Amtrak yesterday reading their arrive magazine (May/June issue) was mind blowing.

There has been a big push in the Internet advertising world NOT to accept money from off-shore gambling concerns because of the potential illegality of their product in the United States.

What did I find in arrive?

Page 4 – Full page ad for a sports book – – no disclaimers

Page 7 – Full page ad for an online casino – – this does have a disclaimer, “Void where prohibited by law. Fully licensed in Costa Rica”

Last time I checked Amtrak was not making money and is supported by the Federal Government. Love seeing them taking money from businesses that another arm is trying to shut down.

After doing a little research there are presently no laws on the Federal books, but the Federal government is pushing for it. Click here to read more about it on

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Replacing my rowhouse staircase (5 of X)

Well I'm back, I've taken some time off due to a new job which I'll detail in another post. With the new job, we're moving and now I really have to get the stairs done.

This Saturday and Sunday I finally made some serious progress. I've got 2 coats of primer on the risers and stringers. The stairs were stained and polyed earlier this month.

Their coming out well I think, the final coat of glossy white will go on this week.

staircase taped for riser paintingstaircase taped for riser paintingstaircase taped for riser painting