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."