G'Day ...

I wanted to let my loyal readers know that I'll be taking a two week vacation from blogging ...

I'm heading to Australia for 12 days... I'm really really excited although I can't lie - I'm a bit nervous about how I'm going to keep myself (and my wife) entertained during the long flight.

I'll be sure to give a recap blog upon my return ... Wishing you all a very happy 2008!!


Holiday Gifts

It's that time of year.... No - I'm not referring to the typical "holiday cheer" attributes (which I honestly have no clue about) ... I'm referring to the time of year when any service-related employee in your life expects something from you...

When did it become "the norm" to give a holiday cash gift to your cleaning lady, your hair cutter, the mailman, the doormen, your gardener - or whatever??

I know it comes off like I'm either insensitive or cheap --But -- Truth is, I don't exchange gifts with my friends - yet I end up spending hundreds of dollars on gifts for people who I probably don't even know what their last name is...?

When I lived alone, I had a cleaning lady, Patsy... Patsy and I had a distinct conversation once on how she didn't celebrate Christmas (I'm not sure what faith she was, though). Anyway - after I told her I was moving and didn't need her services anymore -- she told me that she was always so hurt that I never gave her extra money for the holidays... In hindsight - I definitely was wrong - but I think this is a good summary of my issue with tipping on the holiday season -- The expectation of receiving a gift - for almost no reason...

In the corporate sector - there is often the expectation of a "bonus" at the end of the year - but only if the company has a good year. Additionally - in that scenario - part of the rationale for holiday gifts is to retain employees. Do I really care if the person who delivers my mail quits the USPS? Not really ... And isn't it the USPS' job to keep their employees happy? I don't expect gifts from my clients....

Bottom-line .... I'm not a hater...I just don't like doing something because it's expected...and that it's often the measure of gratitude for the year - rather than the year-long "relationship." If it wasn't expected - I'd be happier to give our doorman a little something because I do genuinely appreciate them...

Happy Holidays to all.....


The Boston Sports Jinx

If you have lived on the East Coast over the last 10 years, you've undoubtedly heard the heartache and pain that was involved with being a Boston sports fan between the Bird era Celtics through the 2004 Boston Red Sox. And while the great Celtic teams are a source of pride for the city -- any deep rooted Boston sports fan would tell you that all those NBA championships combined didn't add up to the joy of the 2004 (and 2007) World Series Championship. This was because - the city believed its' baseball team was jinxed...

Well - within this 2007-2008 generic sports season - as the sports media has well-documented - there is certainly no jinx in Boston...It's sports interests couldn't be doing any better. The Red Sox won the World Series, the Patriots are going to go undefeated in the regular (and post) season, and the Kevin Garnett led Boston Celtics look like the best team in the NBA.

So what happened to the jinx? It looks like it's become a snow-bird and flown down to South Florida, where most of my sports interests call home...The Dolphins are going to be the first 0-16 team in NFL history. The Heat have won only 5 of their first 20 games and are in last place...The Marlins are the laughing stock of baseball - although I think undeserved (check out Dan le Batards take which I agree with).

Regardless, it's been hard out here for a South Florida sports fan...The problem is, Florida is a transient city. Very few people who live there are born and raised - which means most people move to Florida with an existing favorite team...I'm a die-hard Miami Heat fan because I've been a fan since the franchises very first game - and like a true fan - I could name almost every player who's played on the Heat since 1988. That's rare in South Florida... But not in Boston...

Many Boston sports fans gave up a little bit on the Celtics over the last few years - but in their heart of hearts - they were always Celtic fans - which undoubtedly makes the current situation even sweeter.... This will probably never happen in South Florida. I used to think the Dol-Fans were loyal - as the franchise has been around a very long time - but I suppose it's base is starting to give up on Wayne Huizinga...

Anyway - I'm hoping the jinx is merely a cold and not a virus. I can take it for one year - but not much longer...As a sports nut - it's REALLY painful. (Thank goodness for Fantasy Sports once again) ;)


Restaurant H-2-0

The following is something that I find irritating, and I've been meaning to write a post on this topic for years.

When I go to a restaurant, I understand that there are small up-sell opportunities that employees employ to try and maximize their profit. Finding ways to increase the bill amount at a restaurant equates to a larger tip for waiters. Daily specials, a separate wine list, and asking if you'd like coffee or desert after your meal are examples of this.

The one tactic that irks me to the core - is when a waiter asks: "Can I get you flat or sparkling water tonight?" (Notice - not even giving "tap water" as an option) The main premise here - is that they want to seamlessly peer pressure you into ordering the $10 bottle of water rather than enjoy the free tap water (which in New York is known as some of the best in the world)...

At this point - when asked this question - I instinctively answer "TAP is perfect" in an annoyed tone... (In attempt to relay that "Homey don't play that - so nip it in the bud"... My routine never works, though...up-sells continue throughout the meal).

If a restaurant mandates that waiters say this ... I prefer it to go something like this: "Is tap water OK for the table or would you prefer sparkling?" ... This way - the server doesn't insinuate that you are a cheap bastard because you don't want to spend $10 on a bottle of water that the servers will continue to fill up so you quickly finish the bottle(s) and order more...

I guess I find it so annoying because it's one of those cases when I KNOW a business is up-selling me and while they think they're being smooth -- they're making it worse... Customers are smarter than we used to be - I think acknowledging that goes a long way these days...


College Football Chaos

I don't know if I'll ever give up on it -- but I really don't think the aggregate "College Football brand " approval rating could be much worse than it is today. Anyone who argues that the BCS is a quality system is clearly misguided.

While I understand there are complications with the much-desired play-off system, I don't think anyone could argue that it's what College Football "customers" want... College Football is a business... it's a brand.... and while it's not going anywhere (like the NHL in my opinion) - I have to imagine that some fans are going to get sick of the broken system...If fans aren't as interested, than TV broadcast networks will value the rights less, which I'm hoping would open the eyes of the powers that be...

I thought Tom Wetzel (of Yahoo sports) did a very good job of articulating how the play-off system should be run - and I wanted to share. Check out the link if you're interested - it's a good read.


Holiday Shopping

Yesterday, Seth Godin referenced our email exchange about holiday/online shopping trends...While he can undoubtedly do a better job with insightful commentary and rationale, I think one important element was missing from his discussion (And he is someone I genuinely respect, so this is in no way a slight).

Online retail and brick-and-mortar retail are often pinned against each other. In Seth's discussion he gave some great commentary on why these two classification of retailers have different peak holiday shopping days. Traditional multi-channel retailers are certainly gaining "market-share" in the online world (over single channel retailers like Amazon, ebay, etc), and while perhaps the aggregate traditional customer doesn't "get" the shipping concepts and think there is a more powerful reason...

I can often be found preaching online marketing prowess to drive offline sales. That said - I think the reason why "Cyber Monday" is the biggest sales day for traditional multi-channel retailers is because offline shopping also drives ONLINE sales. People go shopping the day after Thanksgiving - period. And while no one would think of a retail store as a stand alone marketing tool -- in this case -- it is. I believe that people go into stores and truly "shop" (rather than solely purchase), knowing that they still have time to price compare online and then buy.

Online marketers care about the separate sales channels ... Customers don't.


Logging on the Dub-Dub-Dub

It's been over a decade that the internet has been commercially used by most people... I feel like it's about time that Americans at-large shed some vernacular that stems from the "early years" (much like we no longer say "groovey" or "totally tubular").

First of all - No one "LOGS ON" anymore... I can't stand when I'm watching a commercial and the call to action is "LOG-ON to ESPN.com" (as an example) ... When AOL dial-up was mainstream - I understand why this term was used ... People waited several minutes to get connected to the internet - and "logging on" was a way for marketers to inform 40+ year olds that when they said "Log-on to XYZ.com" that they were referring to the internet (aka information superhighway) ... But now - I'm happy to report that AOL dial-up represents less than 5% of US internet penetration - and we've moved on to a faster, always on internet environment. We can "visit" or "go to" URLs... we just shouldn't LOG-ON and marketers should take note of this....

Secondly - when promoting a URL - people really should exclude the "www-dot" portion from now on... It's similar to the concept: If everyone didn't let the water run while brushing their teeth, imagine all the water that we collectively can save ... Well, in this case, if people no longer put "WWW-Dot" in front of all their URL addresses -- think of all the time we'll collectively save! You'll notice this on talk shows and the like...When the host asks them where can the viewer find out more - the reaction is typically "WWW-Dot-some-long-URL.com" ... No need for the first part, buddy... I think it's much easier to tell people to "Google" a keyword that your URL shows up #1 for...(and no bias here - I swear) Seriously - what's more likely - users remember and type in a specific URL - or they Google a relevant concept?
Either way - the WWW is inferred as part of a URL and people who don't realize this appear either uninformed or patronizing to me.

Am I alone here??



Props to Andrew Fried - who produced the most recent episode of Iconoclasts - featuring Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and legendary TV writer/producer Norman Lear.

Because we're friends with Andrew - Amy and I have watched a handful of Season 1 episodes - and we both agreed that this episode was the best one we've seen yet...In fact, it passed the VERY difficult "Amy couch" test.... If it's after 10:30PM, and Amy is on the couch lying down with the TV on ... Let's just say that even her favorite shows sometime don't pass the test... She's OUT! Well - last night - it was after 11 - and she didn't fade at all ... That should tell you something!

The show was really well put together, but most importantly was quiet interesting. Two things I found most interesting were:
  1. Howard Schultz wasn't the founder of Starbucks ... He wasn't even close ... He bought the chain after 10+ years as an employee. He did invent the "Coffee service" aspect of the chain, whereas before, they only sold pre-packaged pounds of coffee.
  2. A citizen (Norman Lear) actually BOUGHT and OWNS The Declaration of Independence. Huh? Where have I been?? I honestly had no idea ... I figured it was in a historic museum of some kind ... and ... I'm assuming I'm not alone. Norman Lear needs a MySpace page....
For those that don't know, Iconoclasts is a show that brings two legendary "icons" in different fields together so they can pseudo interview each other. Typically, if you are a fan of one (or both) of the subjects - the show is really interesting. The challenge for me, personally, is that in the past the subjects tended to be people I wasn't overly familiar with or interested in... I suppose that says something about the lack of broad culture in my life -- but thats neither here nor there ... whatever that means)....

Here's a clip... Good work Andrew!


My Virgin America Experience

I flew out to San Francisco this week on Virgin America Airlines. I've never flown Virgin Atlantic, but their brand is well-known for high quality flying experience...

My initial reaction of Virgin America is: Good potential, but poor first experience...

The main perk of the airline seems to be the interactive console in front of every seat... The entertainment system (called "Red") is supposed to come equipped with:
- DirecTV
- Pay-per-View Movies
- Pay-per-View TV (Past episodes of popular TV - like The Office, Family Guy, etc)
- Games
- Email/Text messaging (including Seat to seat chat)
- Food ordering

Well - unfortunately - the only feature that worked on my flight was the food ordering capability. Additionally, as opposed to what the crew members said, the food was no great shakes...

The decor of the plane was funky-fresh - consisting of neon lighting and all black leather seats. The leg-room seemed typical, a little less possibly than Jetblue...

The airline currently only has service between LA, SFO, JFK, DC, and Las Vegas - which are pretty typical locations for me...

I will definitely give it another try - but I'd be looking forward to them improving the experience. I'd like for the airline to make it, but not willing to sing it's praises just yet...


Rooms 2 Go - Marketing Success Story

This is my personal blog. I write about things that are on my mind or that occur in my life outside of work. While I may blog about cool new Google features or tools that I believe could add value to my friends lives, I don't think I've truly ever blogged about my day-to-day job.

Well - I am very proud of something - so looks like that trend is going to end.

For the last few years, I've put a lot of time and energy into trying to convince multi-channel retailers that online marketing isn't only great for driving online sales, but that it can also drive substantial brick-and-mortar store sales as well.

After a number of quality client success stories - we finally got a multi-channel marketer to publicly share it's success. The retailer, Rooms 2 Go, and the account team that worked on the campaigns were absolutely fantastic throughout the whole process, and I hope the client finds even greater success in the future.

Here is a news article that Internet Retailer published yesterday (where yours truly is quoted). Just wanted to share as it was something I was very proud of....


New Friends Born

I've been a little lax on updating some of the personal accomplishments of friends/family on the blog, so wanted to take a quick second to introduce everyone to two new friends of ours.

Sydney Brown (formerly known as "Nugget") was born on October 19th. DooDoo and Jamie are obviously really happy to extend their collective massive family trees... While the betting line had the "Brown" male chromosome winning out against the "Satnick" female chromosome (sorry Matt)... Sydney is a beautiful baby girl who will most likely follow her moms footsteps to all-girl summer camp.... the Michigan - Duke decision still at-large.

While Sydney popped out a week ago, Joshua Namordi is a bit more life-experienced (I mean - the guy already has a blog!), coming through over 6 weeks ago. Rachel and Eyal (and Mojo) have really enjoyed spending time with "J-Nam" (especially when all specific odors and sounds can be attributed to the lil' guy...innocent or not).

I have represented the DAD'S in the pictures provided ... as I am guessing I will receive plenty of mom featured pictures in the months/years to come...

CONGRATS to the Browns and the Namordi's ... I met both of our new friends in person - and they are both stand-up peeps!


Google AdSense

I cannot count the number of conversations I've had with people over the years who want to understand how they can make money through Google's business model....

While there are several ways this can be done, the most scalable and easiest way is to write. In other words, create interesting content that can be monetized easily. Google will supply the ads if you supply the content. That's it! Assuming your writing generates a sizable audience, and is relevant to topics - people can earn a decent living.

Today, there was an article in the USAToday on how retiree's in particular have leveraged the AdSense movement. It shares stories of folks who earn sometimes $100K plus per year - just for writing about things they are passionate about...

Now, although I have ads on my blog, I honestly don't write my blog for revenue gain. I'm solely interested in how it works from a publishing standpoint (vs. an advertisers standpoint which I'm more familiar with). In the 6 months that I've had ads on my blog -- I've made less than $5. To be fair, though, I don't write enough, my audience is the same 20 people (although about 100 unique people visited my blog this month), and again - I don't view or treat it as a revenue generating exercise.

If you are interested in learning more, in addition to reading the USA Today article, you should also read up on Adsense. I think the key to making money with Adsense, though, is to be patient and to think like a true publisher... Focus on creating insightful, interesting, and entertaining content. If you develop an audience...the ads (and money) should follow....


The Return of The Douchebag

Amy and I jointly discovered this - and I've discussed it with a few of my loyal readers - but thought I'd bring it to the masses...

It's fairly common knowledge that fashion trends repeat themselves over time. While language and grammar aren't necessarily a fashion trend, I believe certain sayings follow a similar formula and make their way back into the mainstream. Let's hope that "Totally tubular", "mint" (that's for you Wolfe), and "groovy" don't make their way back, but I feel confident in proclaiming the term "Douchebag" back into everyday context.

For starters, I've heard the term spoken in several conversations among friends (of course not used to describe any of my loyal readers). Additionally, I've now seen some form of "Douchebag" referenced in 3 popular TV shows (including Saturday Night Live having a "Douchebag of the Year" sketch)...

What brought the word back?? While I'm not completely sure - I've gotta assume that MySpace and Facebook had something to do with it. I mean - who can look at the picture below and think of ANY word besides Douchebag...

In case anyone was wondering - when you Google "Douchebag" - the picture below is the first listing - seriously.

In conclusion - If anyone was looking for a trendy Halloween costume - look no further...


Update on Ugliest Couch in America...

It's for sale!! Check out the eBay listing (which was done by my step-brother)...


Ugliest Couch in America

Regis and Kelly have a yearly contest to determine the "Ugliest Couch in America." I would have no idea of this fact...however... it turns out that this years winner happens to be the childhood couch of my brother-in-law!

Fred's mom, Sylvia (accompanied with her couch of 32 years), is featured in the episode that aired this morning.

I'm going to let the video be the bulk of the content on this post, but I didn't want to leave out that I thought Sylvia came off as the coolest and most comfortable with her appearance on the show out of the 3 contestants.

In addition to getting put up in New York by the show, Sylvia received $5000 and a trophy for being rewarded as the contest winner. Congrats Barry and Sylvia!!!


MIchigan Football...2007

It seems as if the biggest story in the sports media world over the last few weeks has been the University of Michigan's abysmal start to the college football season. As I'm a proud Wolverine fan, most people who know me are thrilled to ask me how I'm feeling these days about Michigan Football...As I've gotten the question over 10 times recently -- I decided to blog my feelings...

While I am frustrated, annoyed, and baffled -- I actually have what I like to think is a unique mindset on the situation. You see -- being a loyal fan means that you are with the team through good times and bad. This is a clearly bad time. So... I take notice to the fact that I'm lucky... Lucky in the fact that I am a fan (and alumni) of one of the few college football programs that has the luxury of being a realistic competitor year in and year out. I can think of maybe 5 other college programs that can say that...To put it in perspective - if I went to Indiana - I wouldn't have a college football program to root for... This isn't meant to be a knock on IU -- it's just an example of why I feel it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine - even in times like this.

I do feel bad for Mike Hart, Chad Henne, and Jake Long -- who all came back to repeat as contenders... I'm hoping they are able to taste a championship at the next level...

It's been a very bad start to the year. Does that mean that the season is over? Of course not. We're not going to win the National Championship - but there are some big ten team(s) that could make our season salvageable - even if we go 3-9. Another benefit of being a Michigan fan -- lots of meaningful rivalries...

All in all ... again - As a fan, it's been a baffling 2 weeks. It's probably going to be a very frustrating 12 weeks...
This said ... I'm still proud to be a Michigan Wolverine alumni - and this will never fade. I won't defend the poor performance or get frustrated with those classless fans who like to rub my face in it. I don't think I gloat when Michigan is great either. I'm what I like to consider a class-act Michigan Wolverine fan. GO BLUE!!



I just got back from Home Depot... As I was leaving the store, I took a double-take at a specific product display. It was for a all-purpose household cleaner, with a name I'd never heard of before. I'm familiar with the standard brands: Windex, Clorox, Pine Sol, Formula 409, Fantastik, etc.... but this was the first time I ever was introduced by the brand "FABULOSO" (manufactured by Colgate).

Now - If I'm the CEO of SC Johnson (the maker of "Fantastik") - I'm a little ticked at the product marketing folks for getting beat to the punch here. You know that a good portion of your target audience is Hispanic-American, and you probably spend a good deal of advertising dollars with Hispanic language ads (I should have probably checked with the Mrs. on this first to make sure my facts were correct)... Yet you believe that your brand is so powerful - that you will leave it's name the same? Who wants to bet that within the next year - Fantastik is selling a portion of it's product as "Fantastico"? (and if they're not - someone should be fired)

Anyway - props to Colgate for doing something that even Jim Gaffigan mentions in his famous Hot Pockets routine ... "...Caliente Pockets...."


Google Lunch

As I haven't had a pro-Google post in a while... I thought I'd quickly show-off a recent article in a food service magazine about the lunch served at Google.

For those that haven't experienced lunch with me at Google - read this to get a sense....
I actually had those peas as part of my lunch today - so the article I suppose is pretty timely.


Sportsline glitch and phone Number

I have been a loyal Sportsline.com power user for the last 10 years. By power user - I mean that I not only consume their products as a fantasy player -- but as a commissioner as well.

Anyway - I wanted to post an issue they've been having with their HELP CENTER (and "ask a question feature" in particular). Basically - every time you try and login - there is a "login loop" that is occurring - where the "Please login page" constantly appears - even after continuously logging in. This is not a browser or operating system issue -- it's an internal problem at Sportsline (now CBS Sports). To fix this call: 1-877-Commish from 8:00am to 8:00pm, EST, Monday thru Friday.

It took me 2 weeks to get this answer. Sportsline does a HORRIBLE job giving out a customer service resource - email or phone number. This is the one major issue I wish they corrected.

Anyhow - just wanted to drop some knowledge for those Sportline commissioners out there...
Fantasy season is only 2 weeks away...


Fake Poker mishap

Yesterday, something upsetting happened to me .... Before I tell you what it is, know that I was surprised at my initial feelings of severe disappointment. Surprised may be the wrong word -- Pathetic is probably better...

Yesterday I sat down on the subway, blackberry in hand ready to continue my quest of "Texas Hold em King 2" dominance. While I clicked my usual way to start the game - an instant feeling of sadness had come over me. For a reason I will never know -- my fake $43 Million had just vanished from the games memory. My only option was to start all over with the starting bank of a measly $5,000.

Please keep in mind, the $43 Million was a product of immeasurable hours on countless subway and bus trips over the last several months (if not year). I guess it's the equivalent of George's (from Seinfeld) Frogger high score staying in tact over the years - and the importance of that to George.

It's a day later - and although I'm over it ... I have yet to start up a new quest. I'm not announcing my retirement from the Texas Hold em' King 2 Tour ... but I think I just need a break...

To fill up the time -- I've been listening to FootballGuys Podcasts on my iPhone. Other than severely eating the battery and the inability to figure out if/how I can fast-forward on my new device -- I love it! I guess nothing can cure a video game disappointment more than the smell of Fantasy Football in the air....


Being Sick Sucks

I typically have the mentality that I'm "a machine." I believe that your state of mind is often dictated by how you think...(If you think you are beaten -- you are...) This said, I can think I'll never get sick forever, but it's bound to happen, and it did. This week I took my 2nd and 3rd sick days at Google in 4 years... After traveling a lot last week, I suppose my body shut down...

Not only was I sick, but Amy apparently got jealous - and became sick herself. 2 sick people under one roof is definitely not a party... Anyhow, our condition forced us to cancel our weekend trip to Florida - where I was scheduled to take part in the WPT Boot Camp (Amy's birthday present to me).

We were able to reschedule for sometime next year - but I didn't think that I would be able to get as much out of it if my head was continuously throbbing as poker pros were instructing me how to play properly.

We're still getting better .... just resting and taking it easy. So ... I guess all I have to say is: Being sick sucks!!


My London visit

Last week, Google sent me to London to educate English retailers on how US retailers are utilizing Google as an effective marketing platform.

Before I get into the business aspects -- I generally had a much better experience in London this time around than I did 10+ years ago. The food was much better than I remember it, and the people I actually had conversations with didn't seem to mind that I was American. (Although I was amazed to find that London Tube riders were much ruder than NYC subway riders)

Also of note - last week was the first time in my memory that jet-lag truly kicked my butt. For the first day or two - my body was real screwed up. In fact, the first night of sleep - I woke up at 2:30 AM and was up for good. I went to the gym in the hotel at 4:30 AM ... which was definitely the first time that's ever happened.

Speaking of first times - it was my first time visiting the city of Manchester. As my pseudo tour guide (who lived in NY for 7 years) told me -- it's like Boston, but smaller and cleaner. And that was pretty spot on. I was only there for about 24 hours, but I really liked the city (minus the fact that the pound is worth 2x of a dollar).

On the business side - I was a bit taken back initially at some of the conversations I was having. It was like I traveled in an Internet marketing time machine to the US in 2005. The same objections and conversations that I was having with U.S. retailers 2 years ago -- our London and Manchester teams were having last week. This is no knock on anyone at all -- I just find it so interesting. Here's an Internet economy that is apparently larger than the US, yet the US is 2 years ahead of England in online marketing....

Given the fact that I travel a lot for work, it was definitely cool to travel overseas for a change. It was a good experience and I met some great people, but I don't see myself doing this regularly or anytime soon.


My iPhone!

I received my iPhone in the mail on Friday night. 2 weeks of waiting is over... and let me tell you, it was worth the wait! I've known that being the first generation technology is probably a mistake, but for some reason - I had to have it.

This said - after 2 days of ownership - I'm proud to proclaim that the iPhone is as cool as advertised.

Everything is typical apple: Sleek design, light weight, enormous colorful screen, nifty and futuristic sounds, intuitive interface and just overall coolness.

The publicly discussed drawbacks are there: slow internet connection, weak battery and expensive price-tag. But as I've never had fast internet connection on my personal cell phone, I am OK with plugging the phone in everyday, and never spend much money on myself -- I am accepting of the drawbacks.

The reaction people have (including random strangers), is pretty interesting to witness. I went to buy a suit today -- and the salesman wanted to talk more about the phone than he did about the prospective purchase I was going to make.

The interface will take me some time to master, such as the touch screen keyword and shortcut type tricks -- but all-in-all -- I'm loving my new phone... I'm sure I'll keep you posted.


My favorite business mag in trouble

I read a NYTimes article today with some bad news ... Apparently, Business 2.0 (owned by Time, Inc) is in danger of having it's last issue run in September. If this is the case - I'm undoubtedly going to be upset.

I've been reading Business 2.0 since it's beginning (1998). I find the subject and stories consistently interesting, educational, and relevant. I am not a huge magazine reader on the regular (minus fantasy football and baseball themes) - but it's fair to say that I've been reading Business 2.0 usually cover-to-cover on a monthly basis.

What's upsetting is that it seems like it was a corporate blunder that's causing the downturn. Apparently, when Time Inc. restructured its sales staff, the magazine started declining in ad revenue. With the consolidation, the sales staff was focused on selling higher priced titles in the "family" such Fortune, Money magazine, and others... If there was a dedicated Business 2.0 sales team - perhaps the company would be doing better... I mean - circulation hasn't declined year over year ... but it seems like ad revenue has.

If you're a loyal Business 2.0 reader - please join me in emailing Time Inc "Business and Finance" management staff members. I've written them an email today asking them not to stop the magazine. I have my fingers crossed. I've also joined this facebook group: I read Business 2.0 - and want to keep reading. (yes - this was my first time signing up for Facebook)


Fresh Direct Downslide

I've been a loyal Fresh Direct customer since the company launched it's service in 2002. Living in Manhattan - I've always been hard-pressed to find a quality, stress-free grocery shopping experience. When Fresh Direct came along, I thought I found it - and was happy with it - until recently.

Over the last 6 months, I've found the service and quality of food has rapidly declined, while the prices have gone up at a similar pace. The problem is -- I'm still in love with the convenience and I haven't found something that suits me better. The website knows our past orders, which makes ordering consistently beyond easy. We have a doorman, which makes scheduling the deliveries fairly stress-free (although we realize we can't leave our raw food down there for any major amount of time). And best of all -- we never have to step foot into a small, over-priced Manhattan grocery store...

The problem is - the products and service are decreasing so badly - that the allure of these conveniences is fading... The fruits and vegetables come in poor condition, anything delicate usually comes at least part broken, and the delivery guys aren't what I would call "happy to be there." To this end, it looks like their policy on "no tipping" (from the beginning - which they even touted in their commercials) has changed. Look below for their new tipping policy which is posted on their FAQ of the website:
You are under no obligation to tip but have the option of providing a nominal tip if you feel that you've received exceptional service. FreshDirect delivery personnel are not permitted to solicit tips under any circumstances.
I actually thought I'd tip the delivery guy today -- but he was 5 minutes from being late -- and he was rude... Given the status of our groceries -- I'm happy I didn't tip him...

Anyway -- I wanted to share my thoughts -- as I'm sure many of you have heard me praise the service in the past... If anyone knows of good alternatives in NYC - please holla at me.


The Good Sore

This is a philosophy I've had for a while - but never blogged about it. As I've recently gotten back into lifting weights, the concept has re-emerged into my brain.

So what is "the good sore"? Well, the best example is when you have a good work-out and you feel it the next day or day after. By "feel it" I mean that your body acknowledges that you extended muscles more than they're used to... Notice my used of the word "acknowledge" rather than "scream at." I don't consider the "good sore" to be when you're forced to hunch over and walk around like a 98-year old...It's more of a minor feeling that doesn't hinder your daily activities...yet, you still know it's there.

Anyway, I've equated this feeling to a completely different scenario. Living in NYC, there is always something going on. As individuals, we don't always feel like partaking in some of these festivities. Back in the days of "BG the bachelor," I would often convince myself to partake, by thinking of the potential for "the good sore."

So here's an example... It's a Thursday in the summer... you've had a really long week, but some friends are pestering you to go out. Some friend of a friend has mustered up a group of younger girls who want to go out and go dancing at a lounge. You're not totally feeling it - but you convince yourself to power through... Long story short ... you have a great time. You're out till 4 in the morning, and you wake up 3 hours later preferably lying next to one of the lady-friends you went out with... You clearly have gotten a small fraction of necessary sleep and your alarm is the most annoying sound in the world. After the uncomfortable pleasantries with your visitor, you get ready for work....

Throughout the day, you really feel like you've been tortured by a member of the "Covenant" on Alias -- but the good sore helps you through the day. Although you're beat up -- your mind acknowledges that you truly lived life the night before...

That's the good sore. The times when you decide to do something against your body's better judgement, and you end up with a positive experience. This doesn't have to be the example I mentioned. It can be an all-nighter that a student puts in and gets an "A" because of it. It's when a parent spends all night putting together a toy for their child, and then seeing the look on the child's face, regardless of how tired you are.

Sore is typically used in the negative context. I guess my point is that it doesn't always have to be. There is such a thing as "the good sore."


Two NBA thoughts

First NBA thought: Robert Horry owes Bill Russell and apology
"Who is the best player of all-time" is probably the most popular sports debate topics ever. Rarely is there one conclusive answer to the question - as there are varying viewpoints from different generations, different sports philosophies, different regions of the country/world, etc.

Growing up, the NBA was my favorite sport and Magic Johnson was the type of player I wanted to emulate. Understanding that I was never going to be 6' 9'', I still loved his game. I'm sure there was some time when I thought Magic was the best of all time ... although I don't today. Him and Bird undoubtedly made a enormous impact on the league like no one else - but I'm not sure either was the best. Magic ended up with 5 NBA Championships, Bird ended up with 3.

Michael Jordan is probably the most popular choice as best NBA player ever. It's hard to argue MJ's impact on the global game, his dominance, and sheer beauty playing the game. MJ ended his career with 6 NBA Championship.

There are a bunch of other players of mention in the category such as Wilt, Kareem, Oscar, etc.
But then there's Bill Russell ... who I never saw play. They guy has 10 championship rings - more than any other player! I used to think that the 10 championships were almost enough to give Russell the crown ... but then Robert Horry comes along.

"Big shot Rob" - as Wilbon likes to call him - has been a solid role player on 7 championship teams! More than Jordan, more than Magic, more than Bird, more than Wilt..... You get the picture. Bottom-line, Robert Horry ruins the claim of Bill Russell's as the best player of NBA history - and I think that's sad.

My second NBA thought: When are teams going to learn -- Drafting big, white centers in the top 10 is a huge mistake.
What was Sacramento thinking tonight? Spencer Hawes??
I honestly cannot remember a 7-foot-plus white center being drafted high who actually has an impact on his team. Rafael Araujo? Chris Mihm? Nikoloz Tskitishvili? Chris Kaman? (solid role player - c'mon)


Toilets in Mountain View Office

I'm at corporate headquarters this week for work. This place is very lively, with tons of perks (like great free cafes, gyms, pools, dry cleaning service, valet parking, etc) - but over time the company has done a pretty good job bringing some of these high value perks to other offices like New York.

Well, today, I figured out what I really want to come to NY next... The toilets in the bathrooms here are AMAZING. You may think I'm either over-exaggerating or ridiculous... but hear me out.

First and foremost - who likes taking a deuce at work? NO ONE! Well - I've got to admit that if I had toilets like the ones we have here.... I may try and hold it in to ONLY do it at work.

Check it -- Each stall has a square panel on the right side of it -- about waist high standing up. There are 4 controls on the panel - which become at eye-level while sitting down:

1) Heat Control -- Yes -- the seats are being consistently heated so that when you sit down - it's comfortably warm. There are controls to move the temperature higher or lower, but in my brief experience tinkering wasn't necessary...the temperature was perfect at initial contact.
2 & 3) Rear and Frontal (for the ladies) "rinse" controls. Now, I've never been a "bidet guy"... Partially because bidets are rare, but primarily because it looks uncomfortable. Who wants to do their business on the toilet, then move (with your pants down) and crouch over another apparatus. It just doesn't scream "refreshing" to me. Well, these toilets solve that problem. The rear and frontal rinse buttons enable you to efficiently and refreshingly take care of your washing business. There are water temperature controls for these features as well.
4) Dryer - After you rinse with water - you of course need a dryer - which temperature is able to be set on the panel. I obviously used TP as well -- but I'm guessing because I'm a novice at it. I can foresee figuring out a way to ensure that the embedded rinse and air dryer combo is sufficient enough.

That's it. I felt the need to share. I've tried looking into how much one of these costs for my home, but haven't found it online yet ... I need to do a bit more researching...


Political Debate Youtube style

A quick note in case you don't frequent YouTube.

Today the leading online video site and CNN announced an interesting format of upcoming Republican and Democratic debates whereby all of the questions will come from uploaded Youtube videos. I know I'll catch a little grief about promoting some Youtube announcement -- but I thought it was cool. I'm sure the entire events will be available on the site afterwards as well. Check out the announcement below.


Metaphor - "Nah Mean"

I had to give a quick shout-out to an old-school friend, Becca. We go back a ways from the mean streets of the Rat's Mouth..

Becca has been working the record industry for a few years now - and came across Metaphor (the rapper in the video below) a few years ago. The kid is young - but apparently getting some real-deal hype. It's great for to see them start to see some momentum - so wanted to do my part in the "social media" world and share his new video. If you're a hip-hop fan - I hope you enjoy.


Seat un-taken

I spent this past week in San Francisco at my companies national sales conference. Usually I find these weeks very long and fairly uneventful -- but this past week certainly wasn't.

The details of the two day festivities were exceptionally planned. One of the highlights was renting out AT&T Ballpark (while the Giants played on the road) for a huge party for the 900 of us attendees. We had celebrity MC for our yearly talent show (Carson Daly), but I'd have to say the highlight of the "wow factor" is in the following story:

I'm assuming most of you have attended a large conference in a hotel ballroom before. Seats were set-up in 10 seat round table formats. On Thursday morning, my buddy and I headed into the ballroom looking for seats. It was mildly crowded, but we found a table with no one else at it... I sat in the seat with direct straight view to the humongous stage and screen ... My buddy (JJ), being the "guys-guy" we both are -- felt we needed some elbow room -- so we left a seat in-between him and I.

Before starting the days session -- our VP kept telling people in the back rows to move up closer. Given the influx of people --- JJ and I both thought separately of moving next to each other, as to not have someone we didn't know sit in-between us, but we didn't do anything. A petite girl who'd been at the company for 2 weeks sat in-between us....

Anyway - the morning session was dedicated to clients coming in to talk to us about their marketing initiatives, how they thought we can serve them better, etc. Representatives from 4 companies including AT&T and Cadillac did the honors. After the session - they announced that there was a surprise... They were giving away prizes - including Gift cards for AT&T products (excluding the iPhone) as well as a new 2008 Cadillac (that hasn't even been built yet). They instructed us to look under our seats to see if we won anything.....

By now - I'm supposing you guessed it ...... THE GIRL WHO SAT IN-BETWEEN MY BUDDY AND I WON THE CAR!!! The seat in-between us won -- which by the way -- is the reason why they told everyone in the back row to move up ... They knew that no one was sitting in the winning seat...

Imagine if no one sat there --- my buddy and I woulda had to wrestle for the car!

I told myself that I'd give it one day of frustration -- and that I'd have to move on after that. And no - I couldn't sleep a wink on the red-eye flight home last night ... I was still thinking about it.


Stepping in dog poop

Last Friday -- I stepped in dog poop. I was wearing my shoes with about 80 different crevices in them -- which the poop fit right at home with filling up completely...Clearly I've developed some thoughts on the subject...

1) Seriously People -- Curb your freakin dogs!!
I'm not a dog lover nor a dog hater. I don't see Amy and I ever owning our own dogs -- but we aren't against them at all ...We actually like playing with family and friends dogs... What we are against is committing ourselves to the responsibility of properly taking care of a non-human. Part of this responsibility is scooping the dogs excrement off the street - putting it in a bag - and throwing it away. EVERY TIME!
Do the people who decide not to pick-up their dog crap think it's going to magically disappear? Well - their half-correct ... it's going to disappear onto someone else's shoe! Not what I would call good Karma people...

2) Although the instant feeling of frustration right as you realize you stepped in crap is a bad one ... I found a worse feeling than this (and it's not getting on an elevator with the crap still on your shoe - praying the smell will not be too potent)...The winner of the worst part of stepping in dog crap during a work day is ..... Digging the crap out of your shoe in your companies bathroom, as several people come in and try to empathize... (and for the record, saying '' Oh man - that sucks" ...doesn't make someone feel any better)

3) I'm wondering how long my new doggy-doodoo radar walk is going to last. My approach to walking on the street has been temporarily altered. I'm now overly keen of looking down to see where my feet are going to step on the sidewalk -- and yes -- I'm even more appalled how much dog crap is on the sidewalks -- (SEE Point #1 please!!)


Congrats Felchy and Dana!

Quick congrats are in order for Felch and Dana who got engaged this week! (I'm sorry Dana - but the only pictures I have of Felch are either of him asleep or giving the camera the finger like the hater he can be)

For those of you who I told the "bagel for dinner" story to -- Felch is the renown author of the phrase.

Felch is the center of a lot of friendly abuse (mostly by Colediggy), but on occasions like this -- I've gotta try and show nothing but happiness for the guy. I'm looking forward to snapping a picture of you taking a little snooze while your groomsman walk down the aisle... (Sorry - I couldn't resist).

In all seriousness -- Congrats to you both! It's great to see you both so happy!
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How long have I been blogging?

Well - if you look at the archives of this blog -- it will say February of 2005... but in truth... I've been blogging since February of 1997...

Long before I starting working at Google (the owner of blogger -- which sparked my initial interest to see what blogging was about), I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain. At that point, I had 2 years of "World Wide Web" exposure -- and was entrenched in communicating via email for about a year or so through my @umich.edu address. Knowing I wouldn't be able to access this account in Spain -- I got my brettg@hotmail account (yes - it was that early) to communicate with friends and family while I was in Europe.

I had every intention to keep interested parties up-to-date with my activities and experiences, although I honestly under-estimated the massive effort and lack of computer time I would actually have. My solution to this issue was to create a mass email on a weekly (or bi-weekly) basis giving highlights of my study abroad experiences. So - yes - I consider myself a blogger since 1997.

The main difference, of course, is that my current effort is:
A) Available for total public consumption rather than merely 25 people on an email string
B) More easily archive-able (if that's even a word) -- so that hopefully one day I can use these web pages as a way to reminisce.

Interestingly enough, when I wrote the mass email -- most people weren't satisfied. It seemed as if everyone wanted their own personal attention. Fast forward 10 years -- and I get grief from people for not writing enough...


Cooling Down

As I've previously mentioned, over the last month, I have begun most days during the week with a cardio workout at the gym. With the weather getting nice and the routine starting to come into place, I've really only hit one snag....

For some reason -- my body and face/head in particular, takes a very long time to cool down. This causes any subsequent activity whatsoever to result in a minor (and sometimes major) post work-out sweat attack. Clearly for many reasons this is annoying and worrisome given that it hasn't even gotten hot and muggy yet (and yes - I do take the subway to work - so this could turn into a major problem this summer).

I've always been a morning shower person because I like the feeling of starting the day fresh. With the increased body heat issue - I have a cheapened "morning fresh" feeling. Now, I want to point out that this issue isn't odor related. It's the mere annoyance of sweating while in dress clothes on a daily basis.

I've purchased some Dri-fit shirts (which aren't spandex btw) - which have helped the torso sweat decrease during the gym session - but my head is still like a furnace for about an hour after my workout. Additionally, I've been drinking A LOT of water during and after the work-out to try and cool down. This helps a little as well, but it's unfortunately not the total cure. I've tried the cold shower - but that hasn't helped at all...

Does anyone have any additional suggestions?


RSS Feeds

One of the "hot topics" in 2006 marketing circles was the concept of RSS feeds. While most marketers are trying to think of ways they can exploit their marketing objectives through the practice -- I think only a handful of folks in the publishing industry are starting to get it right...

I consume a lot of online media. Most people I know do. And while this post isn't intended to be one of my Google promotion pieces, I will just say that one of the main reasons why Google is so successful is that it helps people get through the massive clutter that is the Internet to find what they were looking for.

In the case of RSS feeds -- we as users are already fairly certain of what we want - and rather than search for it - it's probably preferred if it were merely delivered. So yes, rather than going to the store everyday to pick-up a newspaper, we want it delivered to our house. The difference within this RSS vs. Newspaper metaphor, is that we are very explicit with what custom information we want delivered to us. And whenever there is an update -- I want to know about it right away. I also have the ability to customize the layout as I see fit. (There are several "readers" such as the Personalized Google homepage and MyYahoo, etc)

Now - I'm very high on the concept - and I employ it daily on a number of levels.

My personal consumption (Sports, Friends, Weather, etc)
My professional consumption (Industry news, Google News alerts, industry bloggers, etc)
My entertainment consumption (Authors or concepts I enjoy)

Now in some cases, companies have caught on to the fact that I'm a loyal reader to some portions of their content. For example, ESPN recognized that I enjoy reading The Sports Guy, but I don't want to go searching for his articles (especially with the pop-up - video downloading pages of ESPN.com!). So - ESPN provides me with an RSS feed and I am now in-tune with when Bill Simmons posts a new article and I can click on a link that directs me to it.

An example of where RSS could be better utilized is Bloomberg and The New Yorker (magazine). I'm a big fan of the authors Malcolm Gladwell and Micheal Lewis. I try and read all their books and articles, however, the publications they work for haven't made "author specific" RSS feeds available. (To be honest, I wasn't even aware that Michael Lewis wrote a column for Bloomberg until I started doing a little research for this post...I know - big fan I am)

In the world of vast information availability - if publishers want my eye-balls, they'll need to make the specific information available to me in the way I want to consume it. Otherwise, authors will become their own publishers and we fans will stay loyal to the writers rather than the media publisher.

Also if you want an RSS feed of my blog - Click Here.


Getting "the underpants"

Back in 1998-1999, Internet advertising was beginning to explode. Tons of start-up companies were getting countless amounts of money. Most business models during the time period revolved around generating revenue from advertising. After companies received this money - they consistently needed to prove something to the VCs in order to position themselves in hopes to sell the business to someone else. This began the incredible demand for "registrations." Companies believed that if they merely grew their registered user base (regardless of why users were registering), they would be able to sell that to someone else for large sums of money...

While working at Beyond Interactive, we often represented many of these types of companies. Several of us, and most notably "the big daddy" began to grow skeptical of the aforementioned business plans. But ... given that our job was to merely obtain registered users -- we did just that -- and we did it well. Whether it was using gimmicks like contests and promotions -- or only having 3 or 4 required fields to counts as a registrations -- we got our customers registered users. (To be clear - our clients always knew the tactics we were using - and always signed off on them)

So - what's the point of this "underpants" post?? Well - in 1998 - there was a South Park episode clip that is almost the perfect representation of the business practices of a lot of these .com companies. As we all know - most of these companies ran out of money shortly thereafter. As I found the clip randomly on Youtube - I felt the need to share. It's about a minute long - and worth the watch - especially if you were in the industry and the time.


Early Morning gabbing

Up until today, everyday this week I woke up early to go to the gym. It's fair to say that I'm not a morning person, but with the weather the way it was (65 degrees with a light breeze), it truly wasn't that bad jogging to the gym at 7 AM. (I know - most people who want to go to the gym in the morning have to wake up at 5:30 AM - I'm lucky I guess)

Anyway - I wasn't surprised to see the gym crowded at that hour. What I WAS surprised to see, however, is how many people no the street are talking on their cell phones at 7 AM. I mean - seriously - I have a lot of questions about this.
Who the heck are people talking to that early? Is there a whole society that I am not part of? I know we are a "connected culture" but I can't imagine why people would want to talk that early in the morning or what they are talking about. Is talking on your cell phone on the way to work a new "buddy system" where you find someone else in your social circle that commutes at the same time and have daily conversations to help the time go by?

If someone calls me before 9 AM - my first instinct is "somethings wrong." It's not a good feeling at all. If I ever have to call someone before 9 AM, I get nervous when the phones ringing....

Interested in knowing if any readers are morning cell phone junkies (BDS - I'm sure you are). Well - if any of you are - please don't call me. :)


_______ On Steroids

I think in the last week I've read 3 quotes in business magazines along with a few mentions during business meetings that "something" could be "something else on steroids." This has begun to irritate me.

Here is why... If a new technology, for example, would help facilitate "online advertising on steroids," does that mean that the new technology would help make online advertising look strong, but truly be bad for it's health and well-being?

I obviously don't think that's the intention. Clearly people mean to use the phrase as a way to express ultimate improvement on something. So - why can't they just say this? I'm a big fan of the word "Innovate." It extremely positive and good for society, as well as fits with the desired description. "The new technology would really help innovate online advertising." SO much better.

Perhaps the term was developed in the 1980's when steroids were seen as cool ... but terms and fashions evolve. So just as cigarette packs rolled up in t-shirt sleeves or terms like groovy and rad .... I'm proposing that we stop using the description of "steroids" in a positive way.


UPS Whiteboard commercial

Just a quick note ... Today I went to a client meeting at an ad agency. We spent the entire day strategerizing on how their clients can utilize Google more... Anyhow, the highlight for me was during a brainstorm session...

I'm assuming that most of you have seen the UPS Whiteboard commercials where the guy talks through various benefits of UPS by modifying his sketches on a whiteboard. Turns out, that the guy in the commercials is the actual creative director at the agency on the UPS account (Andy Azula is his name). So...the highlight for me was him actually "whiteboarding" brainstorming ideas during our meeting. Turns out that he had some pretty good ideas too...


2007 NBA Regular Season Rap-up

Tonight marks the final night of the 2007 NBA Regular Season. Although the NFL has surpassed the NBA as my favorite sport to be a fan of -- I think I'm one of about 16 people who still like the NBA (including the Sports Guy). However, even as an NBA fan, I did find this past regular season disappointing.

Part of this was that my team, the Miami Heat, pretty much announced at the start of the year that they weren't going to really try until the play-offs. This plan was a bit foiled when D.Wade went out for 20+ games, so they had to try a little while he was gone. Props to Jason Kapono who had the best year of his career - and had a huge part of keeping the Heat afloat while the regulars were on cruise control...

Anyhow - some more reasons why I was disappointed about the NBA this year:
  • How did the Detroit Pistons get Chris Webber? Oh yea - He just didn't want to play for the losing Sixers anymore so they cut him and he was able to sign with whoever he wanted. Huh?
  • Lebron took notes from Shaq and decided to coast for about 50 games.
  • I can't remember the last time the rookie class was this bad. Anyone who wins the Rookie of the Year honors is by default.
  • This entire Tanking situation is out of control. There needs to be a fix and I do believe that D. Stern will make it happen.
  • Speaking of D. Stern -- He took Mark Cuban out character. This season Mark was very very quiet.
  • The West is still Varsity and the East is still JV. Last year the JV squad upset the Varsity, but that's just because they had the best JV phenom who was waiting for his spot and took it.
Not all was bad, though. Some things that are good:
  • The Phoenix Suns are fun to watch - especially when they play the Mavs
  • David Stern actually took the players side in the Joey Crawford ordeal
  • Kobe being so good.... but Phil and the Lakers being so bad...
  • Props to Sam Mitchell and the Toronto Raptors. Sam deserves coach of the year in my opinion given the fact that everyone expected them to be in the Oden/Durant sweepstakes, but instead they've got home court in the first round.
  • My "I took and extra step up in 2007" team:
    • Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, E. Curry, Gil Arenas, T-Mac,
Going into the post-season - I will obviously be passionately rooting for the Heat. I didn't expect them to win last year - and I don't expect them to win it all (again) this year. I'm hoping for some upsets, especially in the west. I'd love to see Houston or Utah come out of that group - although I wouldn't bet on it.

Finally, if you're looking for a reason to watch the NBA play-offs -- check out the NP3 later this week. It's a pool my buddy runs....


Imus and Black Leadership

In case you haven't watched any news program in the past 48 hours, Don Imus made racially insensitive remarks on his radio show last week. I'll first say - that I don't have too much knowledge on Don Imus past, but I've seen him a handful of times, and never once been intrigued to listen to his program. Bottom-line - he seems like an idiot to me so I'm not suprised by the dumb comments he made.

The media world has really fallen in love with the story - making it a top-headline for almost an entire week. I feel like it's on every outlet varying from CNN to ESPN to The Today Show and I am OK with this. Some white entertainment personality makes racially insensitive comments about black people should be publicly humiliated (like he has been) by mainstream press. What I do find a bit disappointing -- even as a white person -- is who the media consistantly turns to for the African American viewpoint: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.....

No doubt these guys have put in their time -- and no doubt that they've seen the worst of this countries racial divide, but I truly believe that some new leaders from the black community need to begin to be highlighted. I believe that the tactics used to help create a greater vision of racial equality should evolve over time and I don't believe that Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton agree with this.

Clearly this is a sensitive topic - but I am curious to know how the black community feels about these 2 guys consistantly being the "mainstream representation." When Imus or Micheal Richards or whoever realizes that they were idiots -- the first thing they did was reach out to these guys. I recognize that having a passionate civil rights leader interview "the idiot" is clearly a different interview than, say, Kelly Ripa -- but I guess I wish there were just more options than Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson....


Something in Baseball that I've been waiting for...

Baseball season is upon us... While baseball is my 3rd favorite sport behind Football and Basketball (I don't have a "team" that I'm a hometown fan of... other than my Fantasy teams), I have a full grasp of the game and have always been intrigued by the concept of the switch hitter - Someone who can modify what side of the plate he bats on based on which pitcher he is facing. (Not to be confused with a bi-sexual)

For a long time, I've often wondered if I'd ever see a switch pitcher in my lifetime -- and apparently - I will. This morning, The New York Times did an article on Pat Venditte a Junior at Creighton University. He's a switch pitcher, and apparently pretty good.

He apparently has a custom-made glove that allows him to easily switch hands easily, depending on what side of the plate the batter he is facing is on.

That's all -- but I wanted to share as I truly have been waiting to hear about something like this.


The Sterns Leave Manhattan

Last week - Fred, Jill, and Sydney officially moved to Florida. Beyond having family, good weather and a need for a change of scenery -- Fred also had a great career opportunity at his company.

Amy and I are obviously sad as we're going to miss them. It goes without saying that we're gonna miss Syd Stern the most - but that's not a bash on Jill or Fred. We can keep in touch with them via phone, email, etc -- but even as advanced as she is -- Syd has yet to develop the capability of keeping in touch (Jill - please work on this).

As a house warming/going away present -- Amy and I are going to buy the Sterns a webcam. It will certainly not be the same -- but hopefully we'll be able to see Syd's smile every once in a while.

With Jill and Fred moving down -- we need to add another group of people we'll want to see when down in Florida. (which at this point if you add up everyone - and exclude beach time - we definitely exceed the typical 50+ hours in a weekend time-frame) Yea-Yea, I know ... Amy and I should move down there ... I'll just say that we're happy how things are now and are focused on that.

Enjoy The Sunshine State Jill, Fred, and Syd. The Goffins will miss you.


Our Honeymoon

(I've been meaning to write this for a couple of weeks now)
Directly from Florida- Amy and I flew to Hawaii for a 2 week honeymoon. Some things to note before I get started on some of the details:
1) This was probably the only wedding related task that I, personally, owned on my own.
2) It was a lot harder than I imagined - and caused some anxiety in planning
3) Everything worked out perfectly

Amy and I have always wanted to go to Australia - and have spoken about it many, many times. So, before we even had a wedding date - we were telling everyone we were leaning towards going to Australia for our Honeymoon. Well - then reality set in.... First, Australia is a place we want to explore. I was passionate (and Amy agreed), that our Honeymoon probably wasn't a typical exploration-type vacation. And secondly, getting to the land down under via Frequent Flier miles (first class, of course) was not possible. Paying for tickets would have run us $20K PER TICKET. So... yea.... we decided on Hawaii.

Hawaii is to Honeymoons as Vegas is to bachelor parties -- Sure, a lot of people have done it before you -- but there's a reason for it. Both places are perfect for each occasion.

We ended up seeing 4 islands in Hawaii:
  • Honolulu
  • Kauai
  • Maui
  • Kona
I enjoyed our trip tremendously. In hind-sight, I may have only gone to 2 places. I totally underestimated how unbelievably exhausted we would be from the wedding weekend - and we probably would have been better off with less airport experiences rather than more.

Again - though - all was great. We relaxed, hung by the beach, went swimming, ate well, drank well, saw plenty of sunsets..... All the things we enjoy to do on vacations.

Here is a brief run-down on the places - trying to be brief.

Honolulu -- We only stayed here for one night, as a lay-over to the other islands. We stayed at the Halekulani, which was very nice - and only 20 minutes from the airport. It was interesting to see the capitalism in full effect, as it resembled a major city with tons of high-end brand-name stores and restaurants. It was the only time while in Hawaii that Amy and I noticed a true Japanese influx. We also heard a lot about how good the coffee in Hawaii was. Here is where we had the best coffee of our trip.

Kauai -- Pretty much the opposite of a major city. There was one major road that took us from the airport 30 miles (an hour) to our hotel, The Princeville resort. This is located at the north part of the island and unfortunately - we had dinner reservations at the south part. Being committed to our plans, we rented a car - explored the island -- and enjoyed the ride. The following day, we had massage appointments outside - which was very needed by both of us. We spent the day chillin and had a romantic Valentines Day dinner that night.

Maui - We then went to what we envisioned as our "beach" portion of the trip. We stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. The rooms were big -- but we were a little disappointed when we first got there. A lot of kids and a somewhat crowded beach scene. We powered through, though, and looking back definitely had a great beach experience there. In Maui, we did the only true touristy thing of our honeymoon by going Whale watching. Amy was like a little kid - getting so excited when the whales would jump up or splash. I loved seeing that. The 2 hours we were out there - we saw very close-up views of these whales activity and the crew on the boat said it was the best they've seen in a while. We also adventured out to Mama's Fish House, which was recommended by everyone - and probably the best food we had all trip in my opinion. We also made our own little driving beach tour on the west part of Maui. Was nice to have a convertible and do that with my wife...

Kona - Hands down the icing on the cake of the entire honeymoon for us. We stayed at the Four Seasons, which was amazing. The rooms were modern, spacious and comfy - including a cool outdoor shower in our room. I don't mind getting my ass kissed while I'm on vacation - and this place definitely knows how to do some ass-kissing.... The pool area's were all very serene (Amy's comment multiple times) and the overall atmosphere was very chill. While sitting by the pool, they brought goodies to us every 15 minutes (cold towel, Evian spray, fruit, ice pops, etc). The spa was very nice as well - where we enjoyed a couple of massages a piece. Our meals were great, too, especially, the private beach dinner I planned for us (picture on the right). We had our own waiter who served us food on the beach where only the two of us were. The resort was so great - that we literally didn't even think about leaving once and have no regrets about that.

When the time came to leave, we were certainly bummed. Not often do we get to go away for two weeks without any questions....but after this trip... I am going to really try and do it more often. Two week vacations may not be easy on the wallet -- but they are definitely worth it.

Amy and my honeymoon was great. Anytime we go on vacation together, we have a great time - and this time was no different. I'd recommend Hawaii for anyone's honeymoon.


Work at your own schedule

I heard of this concept about a year ago when I went to visit Best Buy at their headquarters in Minneapolis. Basically, employees can make up their own hours. If you're a dad who wants to pick up your kids from school at 3:00 everyday - you can do it. If you prefer to work from home - you can do it. If you prefer to work at night - and sleep in the day - you can do that too.

At Best Buy - they have true "flexible hours" As long as managers and employees have realistic conversations about what's needed in terms of productivity - hours or place of actually working don't matter. Check out the CNN article about it.

Workers at the company had mixed feelings about it when I chatted with them a while back. In essence, it makes it very difficult to manage people. Managers actually get in trouble for making employees feel like they should be in the office - so it puts a lot of pressure on a manager to set very straight-forward expectations and goals of actual tasks. It also makes it near impossible to have "team conference calls" or mandatory meetings. (not to mention if you're a sales person calling into a marketing department. Having a large meeting is unrealistic)

On the employee side - I think it's great in theory - but only good in practice. Sure, making up my own hours is ideal -- but I think there is long-term value from going into the office and learning from others. I think over time it would feel a lot like school where you have an assignment and you wait till the last minute to get it done. I hated that feeling (personally)....


The Goffins - Media Power Movers

Knowing that Amy sells ads for Telemundo and I sell ads for Google - does anyone find an interesting correlation to the news below?
TNS Media Intelligence's latest numbers show that total advertising spending in the U.S. last year(2006) reached $149.6 billion, a 4.1% jump from 2005. The growth was mainly attributed to Spanish-language TV and Internet with the former experiencing a 13.9% increase to $4.3 billion. Internet ads went up by 17.3% to $9.8 billion while TV ad spending grew by 5.3% to $65.4 billion. Network and cable television experienced slower growth than the others with 2.5% gain to $22.9 billion and a 3.4% to $16.7 billion, respectively. Spot TV increase by 10.4% to $17.2 billion. As for actual share of the advertising market, TV led the pack, of course, with a 43.7% share while Internet ads crept up from 5.8% to 6.5% .
* I do find it a little strange that Google (a company that generates 99% of it's revenue through Internet advertising) publicly reported revenue of $10.6 Billion - yet the entire Internet advertising market is quoted as less than that alone at $9.8 Billion....

4/26/07 Update -- In a recent study on Brand value ... Google was ranked #1 and GE was #2. I mean - seriously - I don't think these things are a coincidence...


Trick to getting into NYT Wedding Announcement?

Over the last few weeks -- there have been a lot of questions around how Amy and I got into the New York Times Style section....

First and foremost - NO - we didn't pay anything. Not for the Print version and not for the online video section. When they called us to fact check our application (yes they have to do that to ensure that you're not making up a dream-job or saying you graduate cume laude from Harvard (when in fact you graduated from Palm Beach Community College) Wnen they called us 2 days later to ask if they could send someone over with video and lighting equipment to shot us for about an hour total - we figured we were in the paper - but weren't 100% sure...

I don't think there is one "trick." Does it help that Amy and I are really, really good-looking - of course it does. (Just kidding!! In all seriousnous - I certainly think it's a lot of luck - but here is how it went down with us:
1) Most importantly (I think), Amy wrote out the wedding announcement, using a prior weeks copy as a template. So rather than merely giving information, Amy pretty much did the job of the editor for him...So when he looked at our "entry," he hopefully was relieved - because the hard part was done for him. (Props to Adelle for giving Amy the tip on this)
2) Amy hand delivered the announcement application to the New York Times building. She only did this because the email on the site kept getting bounced back...
3) Everyone asks if we "knew anybody".. and we didn't. But.. when the email kept getting bounced back, Amy's first reaction was to email it to one of our friends who buys print media, who in turn was to email her NYT rep. Turns out - that the rep was out-of-the-office. Which them prompted Amy to drop it off in person. When the rep did get back into the office, she emailed our friend to let her know that the proper folks did receive the application already... (Thanks Alison K!)
Turns out - that the NYT rep was pretty crafty - (in my opinion) as a salesperson... She sent 20 copies of the Sunday Styles to Alison, complete with the stats/reach of how many people would be seeing her newly married friends in the paper

That was it ... We definitely were suprised that we got in the newspaper - and were definitely suprised when a picture of us (linking to the video) was on the homepage of the NYTimes.com site. It's something that is cool and that we'll have for ever -- but other than the story above, there was really nothing more to it.


Our Wedding -- February 10, 2007

As many of you know, Amy and I got married on 2/10/07.

I have so many thoughts that I want to share, but it truly would be impossible to share them all. I am not going to go into specific event details (we will hopefully get this via our Video-ographer), so instead, I thought I could list some thoughts on the topic in bullet-point format.
  • Amy - stress, sinus infection, and all - is and was AMAZING. She looked amazing. Her attention to detail and planning for the entire weekend was amazing. And it's amazing that she is now my wife. (I love you Amy)
  • Although they drove us close to crazy for the 8 months leading up to the wedding, I truly appreciate the support and love from our collective parental units. I want to thank them graciously on behalf of Amy and I. as we had what we will always remember as the perfect wedding. THANK YOU!
  • The list of attendees was hard for us. In our robust experience, Amy and I have been to weddings that we quite frankly didn't belong at. We've also been to intimate weddings where everyone genuinely wanted to be there. We were aggressive in trying to make sure that we had the latter of the two. In hindsight, I think we did pretty well. As expected, there are a few people who we wish were there that didn't get the invite - but all-in-all Amy and I both felt that everyone who was there genuinely wanted to be there and that's what we were hoping for. For all of our friends and family who traveled to be with us in Florida-- Thank you - as it clearly wouldn't have been the same without you.
  • Part of the "perfect wedding" was the phenomenal cooperation of Mother Nature. The weather was flawless. With rain the entire week before and after our weekend - it is just remarkable how lucky we feel. 75 degrees and sunny - with a nice smooth breeze, pretty much the entire weekend. For those that traveled from up north especially - you got an upfront view of the heart of the sales prowess that the entire "move to Florida" campaign endures.
  • A quick rundown of some of the wedding elements:
    • Band - Great! I think it's fair to say that 90% of the room was on the dance floor 90% of the time.
    • Decor/Flowers - Great! Amy and I definitely didn't want to go over the top. We wanted elegant and romantic - and we were told by many that we succeeded in doing so.
    • Food - Very good. It's hard for me to judge because I wasn't really hungry - but I think it was good. Any time meals are mass-produced, it's hard to expect exquisite, but in walking by many of the tables...I did see empty plates - which I'll take as a good sign.
    • Rabbi - eh. It's probably sac-religious to say anything bad about a Rabbi... but Amy and I were both hoping that we'd have a Rabbi who knew us, was intuitive about our relationship, and who wouldn't drag stories on too long. Unfortunately - none of the above with our Rabbi. This being said, he was well spoken and is a very smart man. Definitely could have been worse.
    • Rehearsal Dinner - Perfect! We had a small rehearsal dinner for immediate family and bridal party. It was exactly what we were hoping for. Laid back atmosphere - with great food and good friends giving very funny and insightful speeches about us. It was very heartfelt - and Amy and I were so happy with it.
    • Cocktail Hour - Great! Although we only got a few of the prized pigs-in-a-blankets, it was a homerun. A great outdoor location and atmosphere with perfect weather was what we were hoping for and got.
    • After Party - Perfect (again)! Beyond the extremely creative little touches Amy put on (Late night-type grub and "Club Goffin" matches to name a few) - the scene of all our friends and "younger generation family" dancing like we were in a 1995 music video will never be forgotten. It was something that we felt was "very BG and Amy."
    • Brunch - I mean, is there anything better than an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet? I thought not...
All in all - the wedding of Amy and Brett Goffin was as close to perfect as possible. Amy and I had very high expectations of the day - and they were almost all exceeded. All of the time Amy spent planning, All of the money that went into it (Arie - you're amazing!), all of the stress that partially consumed our life for a few months.... WAS ALL VERY MUCH WORTH IT. I never thought I'd say that - but it was.

Amy and I felt very loved that weekend - and we hope the family and friends there felt out reciprocal love. As I mentioned towards the end of the ceremony, it is very important to Amy and I to continuously celebrate life with everyone. We truly look forward to it.

I'm appreciative of our perfect wedding weekend and I'm appreciative of my wife! (yes - that's weird to write)

P.S. For those that haven't peeped our "media coverage" - check out the NYTimes Video hype.