Gone Fishing...

I won't be posting for a couple of weeks - just wanted to let y'all know...

If you're a fantasy football fan - are are interested in a fantasy pool for the play-offs ... check out this blog.

Happy New Year and Holidays to all!


Scarcity Brings Clarity

We are living in crazy economic times. I have 5 good friends who have all been laid off recently - and these are ALL people who are very smart and valuable contributors to businesses. If I had my own company - I would hire all 5 people....It's crazy! Really, really nuts!

While there can't be much sugar coating on getting laid-off from your job, I genuinely believe that these 5 friends will all be OK in the long-run and perhaps the last few weeks will be "Fillet Mignon disguised as a Shit Sandwich." (I came up with that all by myself - feel free to use it)

A buzz phrase included in almost every mass message here at Google is that "Scarcity brings clarity." The concept that when times are tough - focus and true passion bubble up. You get rid of the waste - and re-focus on the core....
Clearly - I drink the Kool-aid of Googley-ness, but I think GENERALLY (and not specific to Google) - in times like this - most people actually do whatever they need to in order to pay the bills ... BUT... I think that smart and opportunistic people will look at times like this to re-evaluate career paths and goals, overall happiness priority list, etc...

In a conversation with a couple of buddies last week (one in which was laid off), he asked what "the next" business explosion will be from this economic debacle? Stemp and I agree that a career in "alternative energy" certainly is - as an industry - poised for significant growth. I honestly don't have a clue about what specific job functions are available in this market, but that was the first thing to pop into my mind when the question was posed.
My other buddies (JP) first response was "internet commerce." And I was shocked. I mean it's literally my core job focus - and so - I wasn't really sure how to react....

Yes - E-Commerce will grow substantially over the next 10 years - but - knowing what I know, it is more of a function of consumers being more comfortable with buying online and the established traditional retailers catching up from internet pure plays like Amazon, however, I don't see huge "job market growth" coming from E-Commerce .... BUT ... it's not how JP intended it ... and I thought it was interesting...

Basically, as people spend more time looking for jobs, they'll start trying to make money for themselves in the most easily accessible ways ... The Internet clearly represents an easy, accessible and scalable way to network and operate business. Whether people merely start selling things on eBay, start their own businesses (like Barb - who started her own organizational business), start writing blogs and putting ads on it, or even try and become professional poker players - the internet will play a huge role in small business generation in the coming months...

Curious to know what my blog readers think... What's the next industry to explode (in a good way)? What should people without jobs do in this environment?


Houston's to Hillstone in NYC

Friends of mine know that Houston's is probably my favorite restaurant on the planet. I got made fun of in college because my favorite restaurant was a chain ... but ... Yes - that's how it's done when you grow up in South Florida...

Anyway - "The Malester" (my friend) shares my passion for Houston's - and sent me an Eater.com article this morning about Houston's changing it's name to Hillstone in New York City.

What the article fails to mention is the real reason for the name change - which I will share with you all... The REAL reason for the change is the NYC calorie law, where "Restaurants that have 15 outlets nationwide are now required by New York City to list calorie counts on their menus."

SO ... if there are only 2 Hillstones ... the restaurant doesn't have to share it's calorie count on the menu. The secret of really how bad (but how good) the food at Houston's in will remain a secret FOREVER...



I am pretty cynical when it comes to my consumer experiences within the medical profession. I get frustrated with the inflexibility of appointment times, the often cold experience with trying new doctors blindly (that these days automatically result in a slew of tests/additional appointments for no truly justified reason), and several other factors ... BUT ... Someone at work just told me of a very cool tool that I wanted to pass along.

I haven't used it yet - but played around quickly earlier today: ZocDoc seems to be an "OpenTable for Doctors and Dentists" ... (it's limited to NY only at this point - but that's how OpenTable started too...)

It offers available appointment times, the ability to filter by specialty and insurance accepted. It also offers reviews (overall, bedside manner, & wait time) - which I think could be really interesting if used at greater scale.

That's it -- just thought I'd share something I thought was pretty cool.


Noddy, Noddy ... We likes to party...

...We don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody...

Inspiration of this post comes from Kara G - a co-worker (and occasional blog reader)...

Kara is the QUEEN of the business meeting nod...which some may find pesky, but I do not. As someone who, um, isn't afraid to speak in public settings - it supplies a great source of confidence to the speaker (that you are not boring the heck out of everyone). On the flip side, it does also most likely prompts the speaker to talk for a little longer than planned (so if you're in a rush to conclude the meeting - cut the nodding)...

I'm sure there are those people who nod anytime their superior speaks - regardless of what they are saying - which I guess I could find annoying ... BUT ... as long as you don't discriminate your business meetings nods - I'm OK with it...

I recently had a meeting with some Japanese businessmen, and I was told before the meeting that the Japanese are notorious for incessant nodding while others speak - as they believe it's almost rude not to... Now - I won't go that far - I think it's a respectful gesture that what the speaker is saying resonates with the audience (or at least some people). So - the next time you are in a meeting - and you agree with what's being said -- give a nod or two, you may find it rewarded back to you some day...


An Airplane Seat First

Amy and I used to book airplane seats next to each other, but recently have been trying to "beat the system" by booking the aisle and window in the same row/side. Out of the first five times we tried this - we had 100% success-rate of not having someone sit in the middle of us.

On the flight back from Florida this past Saturday, however, our plan was unsuccessful.
Normally, this really isn't a big deal. We just do what we normally would have done - and I (most likely) would sit in the middle and Amy would sit by the window (our preferred seat). We assume this because - let's face it - who wouldn't trade a middle seat for the aisle seat??

The answer to that question is ... A complete asshole. And to our unfortunate luck this one time - we encountered the BIGGEST asshole of them all on Saturday night in Seat 12D on Jetblue Flight 382. (Would LOVE to find this guys name to publish his ass-hole-ness to the public).

Here's what went down:
Amy: Excuse me sir - would you mind switching seats with my husband so we can sit next to each other - he's in the aisle.
Asshole in 12D: (pause) I'll take the Window
Amy: Excuse me?
Asshole in 12D: I said - I'll take the Window
Amy: Um - I didn't offer you the Window.... Are you saying that you won't switch with my husband?
Asshole in 12D: I'm saying I want the Window
Amy/I: So you're saying you'd rather the middle seat than the aisle?
Asshole: I'm saying I want the Window.
Amy (obviously beyond frustrated at this point): Well that's not gonna happen....

So - Yes - because we were all stubborn (and the asshole approached the conversation as a negotiation rather than like a normal person) - we flew the 2 hour and 20 minute flight with Amy seated at the Window, Asshole in the middle, and me in the aisle.
Amy and I tried talking over him for the first few minutes of the flight to annoy him - but - given my adverse feelings towards conflict in general, we decided to do what we normally would have done - and just watch TV the whole flight.

It was uncomfortable, annoying, and definitely a "first" that I don't want to experience again... This said, I don't think I would have done anything differently other than maybe phrasing/approaching the original request a little differently...

I still plan on booking the window and aisle for Amy and I moving forward - let's just hope that we don't fly the "asshole skies" rather than the "Friendly skies" again...


Google Retail blogpost

As many of you read my personal blog -- I thought I'd share my first official Google blog post on the Google Retail blog. It will give you a sense of what I talk to advertisers about on the regular...


Hoover Goffin (1917-2008)

My Grandpa Hoover Goffin passed away this past Friday. After 91 years with us - he now joins my Grandma Ida in what we all believe is a better place.

To me, my Grandpa Hoover was a simple and exceptionally warm-hearted man. "Such a nice man" was uttered several times since he's passed - and while that statement was the first one to pop into my mind when I started to think of what I'd write on this post - there is more to my grandfather than being such a nice man.

While I won't go into all these things - the things that come to mind first are:
  • He was intellectually curious - choosing a lifetime profession in education - after his many degrees in education from Colby College and Columbia.
  • He loved using words in ways that most people did not ... As an example - he'd say "I was able to negotiate the distance between here and there quite successfully" instead of - "I didn't get lost"... (There are A LOT of sayings like this - and family members who read this should definitely include any they'd like in the comment section below)
  • He was globally cultured, having spent a good amount of time stationed around the world on behalf of the US Army - and loved to speak French - even if the people at the same dinner table didn't speak/understand a lick of it.
I heard very recently at a funeral - that when someone you love and respect passes away, the best thing people can do to honor their life, is take a positive trait or two from that person (that also somewhere lies in yourself) - and anytime somebody comments on that trait -- you acknowledge that you learned this trait from the person who has passed...

A trait that is in me that was also a trait that I believe my grandfather lived his life by - was always unselfishly "doing the right thing." In my grandfathers case - he never made waves or wanted anyone to go out of their way for him. He held low expectations of what he "deserved" and conversely was willing to do almost anything asked of him that he could. He didn't pry into others lives - or judge the way others lived their lives. He was even-keeled and believed his way of life was "doing the right thing."

I like to pride myself in "doing the right thing." This isn't to say that I always actually do the right thing -- but it means that, like my Grandfather, I try and remove excess personal judgment or opinions when deciding how I should act in situations. And although my Grandfather was an educator professionally almost his entire life, this is never something he sat me down to teach me. How come? Well - I believe it's because he never wanted to tell either of my parents how to raise their kids or what to teach them. It was what he believed was "the right thing to do."

To me - this is his legacy to me. Sometimes mis-construed or even incorrect - it's not necessarily clear what is right from wrong - but - if what you decide is good natured and "right" is the basis for living your life... well then you should be able to fall asleep with a smile on your face every night.

And so, Grandpa, I know you fell asleep for eternity with a smile on your face. It may have been a few years longer than you expected - but you lived your life as best you could and as good natured as anyone I know. You will be missed and loved and never forgotten.


Scammed, Bam, Thank you Ma'am

Just thought I'd share a life lesson with my loyal readers ... Amy and I were fairly lazy today (weather was horrible), so we decided to try and motivate for our evening ... Joel McHale - the funny host/comedian of "The Soup" was performing at Town Hall in NYC ... We didn't have tickets but thought - what the heck - we'll go check out the scene ... If there are tickets - great, if not - we wasted 30 minutes on a night where we didn't have any plans...

We take a cab uptown that drops us off right in front of the theater .... We take no more than 5 steps out of the cab and are drawn in by the ease and charm of a scalper ... He was willing to give us tickets printed off the internet for $5 less than face value... Amy and I certainly had our skepticism, but, our BS meters clearly were out of order after our day of laziness ... After talking down the guy $10 - and having him pulling out a wad of cash - saying "hey - these are my last tickets of the night ... the show is sold out" ... I gave the guy the cash .... walked 10 feet to the door and heard the unfortunate noise I knew was an option ... The scanner wasn't functioning properly - The tickets were no good ... as soon as I heard it, I started walking towards where we bought the tickets, but I knew we were f'd...

In hind-sight, there is so much I wouldn't have done. I totally gave away money in a stupid, idiotic and sucker-like fashion. I am planning to ask my accountant/father-in-law if I can write it off as "giving to charity" but that's just to make myself feel better for being such an idiot ...

We're not the first nor the last people that this is going to happen to - but - I can tell you all that the while I don't foresee a next time I buy tickets from a scalper ... IF there is.... I am going to have them walk in with me (or at least tell them that I want them to and see their reaction).

Shit happens ... Just gotta hope that we learn from it.


Email Pile-On

If you have worked in a fairly large-sized company in the last 10 year - I'm guessing you've experienced the "Email Pile-on" - but perhaps never known it as such ... It is something that does irritate me, and is a good way for me to think less of you (if I don't know you yet).

An "email pile-on" (a phrase I've totally made up) is when someone sends out a mass email to people (particularly in a business setting - but it doesn't have to be), usually to announce positive news of some kind ... A completed project, a promotion, a big sale, etc ... This mass email I have no problem with ... What I have issue with are the people who feel obligated to "REPLY TO ALL" with something to the form of ... "Great job team!" ... or ... "Congrats - huge win."

The action of replying to the email is not something I have an issue with either... It is the DELIBERATE inclusion of everyone on this 3 word email that bugs me.

First of all - When one person does this - it's like saying to other email pile-on-ers "I care more than you do," which instigates and is clearly the core of the actual PILE-ON ...
Secondly - the action SCREAMS of the need to feel important ... like ... "I approve of this email - and just wanted everyone to know that my approval is important."

Managers often feel like public acknowledgement is something that people crave - and I actually think this is kind of messed up. For me, personally, I'd much rather get a personal email or call from my boss (or better - my bosses boss) saying "Hey - you did a great job with XYZ." For me - it would go a lot further than pressing "Reply to All."

While I definitely understand that the act of pressing "delete" takes less than 1 second - so it shouldn't truly bother me - for me - it's less about the deleting the email and more about what would drive people to see the GOOD in the "email pile-on"...

There are plenty of email correspondence instances that are GREAT "reply to all" cases ... I don't mean to discourage this... and ... Un-intentional "Reply to all" mistakes have happened to me, personally, so no bashing there either ... but that is not what I'm talking about with the "Email Pile-on" annoyance...

If you are an Email Pile-on-er ... Think twice the next time you reply-to-all. Not only is an aggregate waste of time (If the email takes an average of 30 seconds to read - and 100 people read it -- that is almost an hour of aggregated wasted company time) ... but ... It doesn't reflect as positive on you as you may think (in my opinion). ;)


BG - "Cover Man"

It's a random goal to have, but I have always wanted to be on a cover of a magazine. Not in a "I'm so important" way ... but more in a "Something I think would be cool" way ...

Well - that goal has officially been attained, thanks to the November 2008 cover of Electronic Retailer Magazine.
While I've bee quoted in a number of articles in my tenure here at Google - I've never been pictured on the cover or part of a cover story. I must say, it certainly is cool that my picture is on the cover, but I'm most proud of the article - in which Vi Paynich does a really good job encapsulating the many ways where Google is trying to make direct marketing more accountable and actionable in their efforts.

I've sent hard copies of the magazine to immediate family and some friends who I thought would appreciate it - but please let me know if you'd like a copy - and I'm happy to put one in the mail for you ...

Thanks to the ERA and Electronic Retailer Magazine for featuring Google in a lot of what they do and especially the November 2008 issue of the magazine. ;)


Cost Per Wear

In general - I'm a "math guy." If a problem can be solved in my head in math terms - I'm much more comfortable than if it's justified without them.

In my personal life - I've been brought up to appreciate money earned. I've been very lucky to have married someone who has the same appreciation. Spending without justification just never sits right with us. This isn't to say we are "cheap" by any stretch of the imagination -- We merely require some form of thoughtful or researched justification before we spend our money.

My wife, in particular, happens to be a very thorough and "dedicated" shopper. She researches purchases, utilizes discounts whenever available and is someone who unquestionably puts the "market research" time in. As a member of the male gender - there are obviously things I will never be able to understand about the opposite sex and vice versa. I believe, however, that I've used my "math mind" to try and bridge the gap in one case.
I think I've come up with a solution for the question: "Should I buy this ______ (insert woman clothing item here)?"

The Answer is: The "Cost per Wear" metric.

Amy and I have come up with a generic "Cost per wear" goal for her clothing.

How much would you pay to rent a specific piece of clothing for a given night? For nice "going out dresses" for Amy - it may be $30 - for example. If she buys a $300 dress and can realistically wear it at least 10 times - than she could justify buying it. If not - then don't. The more she wears the dress - the better the "cost per wear" efficiency becomes. You can have a different "Cost per wear" metric for Sweaters, Boots, or anything really. (I haven't really figured out if Jewelry passes this test - but my guess is that it's more complicated).

This sounds really dorky - but I think it's a solid exercise. Amy is paying more attention to how many times she wears things (in relation to how much they cost). If things from a specific brand last longer - (and hence have a better "cost per wear"), Amy is more likely to buy that brand again in the future.

I, on the other hand, have been able to help Amy out with her shopping questions, without sounding like a "clueless and standard guy."


Comforting Transitions - Solid PR!

My Step-mom and Sister started their own company called Comforting Transitions. The concept is fairly simple - they pack-up the belongings of elderly folks in South Florida.

Usually it's for one of two reasons - either the elderly are moving into a group home or they are moving to their place in heaven... Either way - the demand for a service that takes care of the needed task is clearly there. Typically, the children who don't live in South Florida have to fly down and pack-up their parents who move into a home - which is both cost prohibitive and physically taxing. If they have to pack-up belongings after their parents pass away - that's beyond emotionally exhausting... So - again - the service they provide is filling a sincere need.

Earlier this week - they got some amazing PR... They were included in an article in Businessweek (in the "Personal business Section"). Just wanted to share it with everyone as I thought it was really cool.


Doing my part

I'm doing my part in social media movement by posting some politically charged videos under 5 minutes.

"Don't Vote" Celebrity Pile-on:

I know his "shtick" is the same - and - that he doesn't come close to having the same talent as Leo or Forrest Whitaker, but Jonah Hill flat out CRACKS ME UP. Sarah Silverman also thriving in the Youtube environment (in the video above and below)...

The Big Schlep


Madison Avenue Boxing Experience

Last night concluded 4 months of fairly intense boxing training. I'll take you through the brief version of the experience, but before I went it to that - I wanted to thank everyone who supported me throughout and those (including my parents and in-laws) that were beyond AMAZING fans at the match. I especially want to thank my wife - who through it all certainly wasn't sold on the idea, but supported me 100%.

Anyway - on to the story....

In the beginning of June I got a forward from a long-time buddy who works at an ad agency. It was an application to participate in the Madison Avenue Boxing event. I have always enjoyed the sport of boxing and have been curious of what it would be like to get into the ring, however, I never had the balls to go through with it. BUT - here was my shot - so I went downtown and tried out.

Basically - the qualifications during try-outs were:
1) Do you have no or very little experience boxing (check)
2) Are you somewhat athletic so you can handle yourself throughout training (check)
3) Are you in a weight range where they can easily match you up with someone (check)

So I "made it" and started going down to the gym on the regular. "The Gym" is Trinity Boxing gym downtown. John Snow was our trainer throughout. John/Trinity donated their time and facilities FOR FREE to all of us who committed to the event("Four months free training" is really what go me to go down originally). As an aside - John was really great - he was hard on people when he needed to be, but also helped us get confidence when we need that too.

My outlook throughout training was all about losing weight. I had been pretty regular gym/treadmill guy for a year - but honestly wasn't seeing any results. I decided to switch it up. The first time I went in to try out - I spoke to a guy who was scheduled to box in the Wall Street event in the next week or two. He said he worked hard and it was an intense commitment - but he only sparred 4 times or so...(this was great news for me)

The first month of training was great. I went to the gym 4 times a week - hit the bags, did some drills, and did a bunch cardio. I think in the first month alone I lost 8 pounds... After every single practice, I would literally come home with my clothes weighing triple - as I say in the audio profile - I never sweat so much in my life.

In the 2nd month, the size of the "Madison Avenue Boxing pool" dwindled substantially... this is when we started sparring. So much for 4 times before the match - clearly John realized that more sparring was better than less (I think there were 3 or 4 KO's in the Wall Street event of the 8 fights) - and he decided to throw us into the fire early and often. Let's just say that I needed enormous confidence boosters almost every time after a sparring session. I SUCKED. I got cracked in the face repeatedly - and didn't think I did too much damage on my opponents. I literally felt like a punching bag...Towards the end of the 2nd month - I honestly contemplated quitting... My thought process was that I was far from a having a "fighter mentality" ... I obviously hated getting hit in the face repeatedly - and didn't even get so much joy from connecting with a punch of my own. I wasn't in it to win "the fight" - I was just wanting to lose weight - and by the end of the second month - I had already lost 10 pounds... I could certainly do without waking up every Saturday morning at 730 to go downtown and train/get beat up for 2 hours to start my weekend...

This said - I made a commitment and I was sticking with it. There were certainly times when I dreaded going into the gym and hearing John say "get your head-gear on" .... cuz I knew that meant I was going to have some marks on my face the next day ...I honestly could never look around at any of the guys training and say to myself "I could take that guy" ... I felt they were all hoping to fight me the night of the fight.... But through the third month I got some confidence. Not the confidence that was about being better than ANY of the fighters - but the confidence that I had come a long way and could hold my own.

The weeks leading up to the fight were more anxious than anything else. I got tendinitis in both of my elbows (from missing thrown punches and from gripping my gloves to tight), so after every session - I felt like I had two dead-arms... I had trained hard - and I wasn't about to pull up lame a few weeks before...

People throughout always asked if I knew who I was fighting - and I honestly didn't know until 2 hours before the fight... I ended up fighting Jason from Satchi & Satchi. Him and I worked out a bunch and sparred a bunch during training. I think we were pretty even ... He got the best of me some rounds - I got the best of him some rounds - so it was a good match-up...

The actual day of the fight I was pretty tame. I was anxious for the fight to come and go. Again - my inspiration for the training had nothing to do with the actual fight. However, I had SUCH INCREDIBLE support from family, friends, and co-workers that I certainly wanted to represent myself well in the competition. The fear of getting knocked out or looking stupid certainly loomed in my mind...However... the day of the fight I said to myself that I wouldn't have changed anything in my preparation. I had no regrets - so there was nothing left to do but to go out there and try my best.

And that's what I did. The video of my fight is below - and while I didn't win the fight - I'm proud of the effort I put in during the 4 months. The interesting thing is that I was completely out of gas in the 3rd round (as you'll be able to tell in the video), but I don't think it was necessarily solely a conditioning thing. The adrenaline high was so great for so long - that in the 3rd round - the low of that high just took the wind from me. Jason and I sparred last Thursday and fought 4 rounds, and while I was tired during and after that, it was a fraction of what I felt during the 3rd round last night...

Finally, I again need to thank EVERYONE who supported me. As I've stated many times - I got into this to lose weight - but while I did accomplish that - the feeling of the incredible support I received from family, friends, and fellow Googlers was by far and away the best feeling of the entire experience. Amy, especially, was the usual most incredible supportive wife throughout the entire process (I think the "Bringin' The Heat Buttons" were more talked about than the actual fight - seriously).

I am proud of myself for the accomplishment - but I am more proud of surrounding myself and my life with such amazing people. Thank You!!

Enjoy the video (courtesy of D. Kaul Productions) ;)


Losing Weight = New Clothes?

As many of you know, I've spent the last 3 months training for a Boxing Match that will take place on October 1st. I'm waiting until after the fight to post something to the blog - hoping to give a complete picture of the entire experience...

One thing that I'll write about now, though, is the effects the training has had on my physically. I probably lost 10 pounds in the first 4 weeks - but have plateaued since then ... I have even gained a couple of pounds of muscle since then. While I can see my muscles more toned - the most glaring difference is how my clothes fit...

I like loose clothing. Nothing too tight, especially pants. This is something that is mostly a "comfort" thing - and not so much a "look" thing... As I've gotten older, I've opted for Large T-Shirts over X-Large as I realized the shoulder stitches looked kinda silly on my bicep.

Anyway - I get the feeling that most of my clothes right now look silly on me... I can't say I had any "tight" pants before I started training - but let's just say that most of my shorts and pants are AT LEAST one size too big at this point. I've been trying to make due with utilizing the last hole on my belt, but I'm starting to feel like this looks stupid - especially when I am tucking my shirt into my pants...

My issue is that I don't want to go shopping for completely new clothes.
Is this my insecurity believing that I'm bound to put back the inches after the fight? Probably ... Do I just hate shopping in general? Yes. Do I have limited closet space in my NYC Apartment? Yes.

So - What is a fella to do??


Noise Compensation

(Sorry for the 2 week delay in posts ... been focusing on boxing and traveling)

There is a new Gansavort Hotel being built across the street from my apartment. Before that, there were 2 luxury buildings being built on the other side of the street of where they're building the hotel (Which blocked our view of the Empire State Building btw)...

Manhattan is a crowded place - and noise comes with the territory. Sirens, car honking, the occasional street work, and drunk people yelling at 2 AM on Tuesday nights are standard and to be expected. You actually learn to block all these things out.

What I can't figure out how to block out, however, is the ridiculous drilling, jack-hammering, and banging at 7 AM every day except Sunday. (And yes - I have a feeling that if a high-ranking government official lived in my building - that a 7 AM start-time would suddenly be moved to 10AM..)

And - I'm not talking about a month or two...It's been going on for over a year already... And while I understand that the investment of having these luxury buildings and fancy hotels across the street from me help us in the long-run -- it doesn't help the present day pain.

I think the Gansavort should give us something. Free massages, free nights stay, or whatever once the hotel is finally built. This is no way even close to an equal exchange in value - but - I feel like there should be SOME gesture. A gesture that says - "we know we were a pain in the ass for a while - please don't hate us forever for it." If the city is doing extended street-work that inconveniences residents for an extend period of time - they should give them free Metrocards or a free week of tolls... Again - it's less about the value exchange and more about the principal. Am I crazy?


2008 Olympics Tid-bits

Some random thoughts after the first week of watching the 2008 Summer Olympics:
  • Opening Ceremonies were cool - but - that was until the whole "digitally enhanced" and "lip sync-ing" facts came out ... Now they're selling a DVD of it??
  • NBC seems to have hit a home run in terms of ratings (Single handily due to Michael Phelps) - and I think it's rare these days that you read about "instant success" when big networks spend big money on these types of events. It mostly viewed as a way to make some money back, but mostly as a huge stage for that networks future programming. Speaking of which - I understand Hulu is a rev-share for NBC - but TOTALLY traditional media short-term view on things ... "NBCOlympics.com"??? Hulu seems like a very successful user-friendly platform ... A huge event like the Olympics could have done HUGE things for that -- but ... I think NBC got greedy and blew a huge opportunity for them.
  • Speaking of blowing it ... Someone is going to need to explain to me how Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Johnson & Johnson justify these enormous Olympic sponsorships. Is there analysis that shows that McDonalds sells more value meals in the 4 years after they sponsor the Olympics?
  • I know, how can I wait until my 4th bullet-point on Michael Phelps? Well - here goes... The accomplishment is SICK. The kid is SICK. Some of those close races were SICK. You know what also is SICK ...?? The over-promotion. The stupid questions Andrea Kramer would continuous have to ask him - cuz she just asked him questions 15 minutes earlier ...
  • The comparison of Michael Phelps to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods? I mean - again - great accomplishment - but NOT EVEN CLOSE! First of all, Tiger and MJ dominate(d) on the big stage for YEARS. Phelps dominates on the big stage twice. Swimming is a sport with less commercial appeal than Tennis or the WNBA ... AND... the elite athletes of our time also know that they have this appeal - so they not only prepare for the competition - but they prepare what to SAY when they do what they expect to do. Michael Phelps can only be "at a loss for words" so many times ... Mr. Phelps did a phenomenal thing last week - but he just doesn't have the Superstar charisma at this point ... Sorry.
  • Speaking of Michael Phelps -- Did anyone see where he was talking about going on Facebook and not accepting friend requests from kids who were mean to him in middle school? I mean - over/under on how many friends requests he got after that interview? I'm going with 10,000....
  • Gymnastics is not a sport. It's a competition (like a beauty pageant) featuring extremely flexible and daring competitors. In a sport - winners and losers are determined by the play - and not by judges. I was beyond frustrated last night - when I saw the Gold and Bronze medal of the "vault" go to girls who both fell down and stepped out of bounds on their "vaults." Gymnastics is an acrobatic beauty pageant.
  • Since when did Beach Volleyball become such an American followed sport? (Oh - since 2 woman wearing skimpy bathing suits could be marketed because they were good)
  • While Bob Costas is at his best talking baseball - he's still the best at what he does. Those who disagree, have a much different definition of what hosts and announcers should do in those jobs than I.
  • "ReDeem team" - LAME. Dwayne Wade - "THE MAN"
  • The Mens 100-yard dash was insane. The 21 year-old who won - started celebrating when he was 80% done - oh - and he still set a world record.
  • Finally.... I can't stop thinking what these athletes do when the 16 days are over... I understand why Michael Phelps and NBA stars will be just fine, but what about the 98% of the others? Home Depot would make you believe that they all work for them - but that can't be the case. How do these people have time to train, work, have families. Is the potential medal plus some very worthy attention and national pride worth what seems to be insane dedication? These kids in China get taken away from families at 4 years old and train for 17 years to compete for 4 days every 4 years ... Seems pretty crazy to me...?
    I appreciate every American who has dedicated themselves to representing our country - and I think the practical side of my brain would ask me everyday... "Is it worth it?"


Parlaying Hobbies into Money

I recently wrote about my experience at the WPT Boot Camp. That is a good example of people who take hobbies (like Poker) - and try to parlay them into a FULL-TIME income.

For this post, I wanted to highlight a bit lighter fare when it comes to parlaying a hobby into revenue generation. (Not full-time money - or consistent income to count on -- more discretionary-style).

It's middle of August, which means if you try talking to me about anything outside of Fantasy Football, chances are that I'm only half listening to you. Please don't take offense to this -- I'm a Fantasy Football true fanatic.

I started The BigTime fantasy league 11 years ago. As many of my loyal readers know - I take great pride in being the Commissioner. The league is still going strong - and has kept many of the first owners. Being a more "mature" league - it's actually become more about luck than skill. Once you understand the basic math and general philosophy -- I'm not certain there is much of an advantage that one Fantasy Football owner can have over another.... This said - last year I entered 4 Fantasy leagues. 2 "mature" ones and 2 Novice ones... I won the Championship in both of the novice ones... Example of parlaying a hobby into $$.
The truth is - that if the money was more important to me than the entertainment value - you would find me in over 30 "office leagues" or novice leagues. I know I could win money from that "investment"... HOWEVER ... the entertainment value is like no other - and I chose not to do that. In fact - I think I'm only doing 2 leagues this year...

For anti Fantasy Football readers - I have another example...

Most people I know are huge fans of American Idol. Amy is THE BIGGEST fan of the Fox Show, "So you Think You Can Dance." She literally could probably enter a trivia show of random facts about the show - and clean up ... Unfortunately, that particular quiz show doesn't exist, but, she did get a chance to make money based on her expertise... There is a GREAT website that runs "office pools" of sorts for both AI and SYTYCD. Amy and I entered... As did our friends, The Remers... The show just ended last week - and I'm happy to report that both the Remers and Amy parlayed their hobbies into money.... The Remers came in first - netting over $1K and Amy tied for third gaining ~$150 on her $20 "investment." (We goin' to Sizzler!). (I am very proud of my wife for doing this - It was so much fun talking "strategy" with her... hopefully she got a little glimpse into my Fantasy Football experiences)....

So - that's it ... If you're good at something - chances are that there are ways to make some money through it... And ... If something doesn't exist today -- Start it! That's what the information superhighway is all about. :)


Smart and Sad

Earlier today, I needed to purchase a money order. After researching and finding out that my primary bank - Citibank - charges $5.00 for one, yet random Western Union only charges $0.99 - and is less than 1 block from my office -- I decided to go to said Western Union (Pay-O-Matic).

I have to be honest. I have undoubtedly been to "Check Cashing" establishments less than 3 times in my life. I've been lucky enough to always have a primary bank for all check cashing and banking needs...

Anyway, I walk in and see 3 people ahead of me in line and 3 people at "the window." Being one of my first times in such an establishment - I am curiously very aware of my surroundings...
For example, the Pay-O-Matic obviously cashes personal checks (for a small fee), but also checks made out to Corporations... It also sells E-Z Passes, Metro Cards, and Stamps. BUT ... none of these cross selling strategies are the sad AND smart one in which FOUR OF THE SIX people in front of me took advantage of...

The Check Cashing place sells Lotto tickets. I literally hear every person say "Give me 5 Quick-picks", or "I'll take 10 scratch-offs...." Again ... BRILLIANT and SAD at the same time...

While it's sad - and you could probably make some sort of generic socio-economic theories on WHY people do it -- I honestly think that if Citibank or Chase or whoever did the same thing -- that a similar positive increase in lotto tickets would occur... No?

And furthermore, I'd much rather Citibank make money THAT way - then by "nickel and diming" their existing customers on things like Money Order Fees and Foreign Currency Exchange fees (They charge $5.00 -- even if you are changing $10)....



Last week, my lovely wife lived up to her self-proclaimed klutz reputation... At 7:30 AM, reaching for a Tupperware container, she knocked over a vase - which cracked on her hand - leaving a blood gash which wasn't stopping...
After assessing the situation, I called the nearest Emergency room to see if they were busy or not (If they were - no way we get out of there before 4 hours). The receptionist said "it's empty" so
we go down to Bellevue Emergency room.
3 hours later, Amy and I leave - her gash glued together - and a bunch of gauss rapped around her thumb ... Amy had a very interesting experience which included prisoners in orange jump-suits chained together, shortage of doctors, drunk & bloody man passed out next to her, etc...

So - a few observations before the main one...
1) No Emergency room experience should be expected to be less than 3 hours ... Period.
2) Amy and I were both flabergasted to see with out own eyes, how many people are actually drunk or drugged out on Tuesdays at 9 AM ... Staggering really.
3) The decision to go to the emergency room with a hand gash is something I've done before - but it's a tweener ... What are the other options: Band-aid it up and hope it heals on it's own?

So ... After over 30 years of being a patient - I now know why they are called such a thing ... Patients require extreme patience. It took a big sign in the waiting room that said "please be patient" for it to click for me (I kind of feel stupid that it took so long). Spending time in doctor waiting rooms is painful for me. As it is, I have issues with most doctors I've visited in Manhattan (to clarify - though - I moreso have issue with "the system"). I won't go back to a doctor if they make me wait longer than 30 minutes more than once or twice. If a salesman is always late for appointments with clients - do you think they're going to get the business?
I understand that things happen - but being late is a true pet peeve of mine.

Anyway - I'm going to try and be more of a patient patient in the future. Clearly if the words have been around for a while - it's for a reason.


WPT Boot Camp

For my birthday last year, Amy bought me an amazing present: A spot in the WPT Boot camp. I was supposed to go last August, but due to being sick - I had to postpone. The next convenient (and cash-game oriented) event was this past weekend in Atlantic City.

In short - it was AWESOME. I'm not what anyone would consider a poker expert, nor do I have short-term plans of quiting my job and becoming a professional poker player. I play occasionally, very rarely online - as I enjoy in-person games much more. I don't subscribe to Poker magazines - nor have I read many books on the topic...I understand the basics - but what I found out this weekend, was that I previously truly didn't have a clue.

The WPT Boot Camp is a weekend long training session run by poker professionals. The event I went to was mostly classroom style (Powerpoint slides and lecture), with mixed in "Live Labs" - which is live game analysis of the students. In my opinion, the structure of the weekend wasn't the forumla for success -- it was the ability of the pros to teach the game. They obviously bring in instant credibility, but they were so helpful, down-to-earth, and approachable. The pros at the event this past weekend were: Mark Seif , Nick Brancato , Rick Fuller, and Lee Childs.

I think I probably learned more than the average attendee. I felt like I was at the perfect stage to gain as much knowledge as possible. I'm sure there are a handful of attendees who felt they already mastered parts of the game - but I could use all the help I could get (with having an under-lying basis of basic poker strategy). Below is an over-view of the poker specific skills that I was introduced to:
  • Money management (Bankroll) and tracking your play/progress.
  • Difference between Tournament and Cash Games. While Tournaments are certainly the most publicized poker events -- the bread-and-butter of poker professional income is cash games. Tournaments are just too difficult to CONSISTANTLY win/cash.
  • Poker success is not about the mythical "reading people" hype. It's about analyzing situations and using statistics to help navigate these situations.
  • While the cards are definitely a crucial element of the game ... A players POSITION at the table is just as important ... I honestly never truly took so much stock in analyzing this before.
  • The typical "tells" people like to talk about (Pulse in neck, hands shaking, etc) are NOT close to the most important to the pros .... BETTING TELLS are ... (and I realize that before this weekend, I'm sure I had betting tells) ...This means, I was betting a certain way with good hands vs. another with semi-bluffs. My favorite phrase that was mentioned frequently by Nick B was: "Using deception through consistency" ... If you always bet the same way -- players can't tell if you're bluffing or have the nuts.
  • Betting Strategy ... Guidelines on betting/raising/etc to help be consistent.
  • Taking ego out of the equation. It's not the end of the world if you fold the best hand - it's gonna happen.
That's just a few examples. There is a booklet of information that was discussed that I'm going to continue to study. I'm probably going to play more online - as it offers a great arena for more practice - but I'm not going to be obsessed.

I really, really enjoyed my experience -- so thank you Amy for a great birthday present! While I definitely recommend the boot camps to anyone who enjoys poker strategy and getting better, my only hesitation is that the weekend is expensive. I think most of us looked at the cost as an investment that you can make back over time at the poker table, but, I definitely see that it's not cheap. It was great, though.



I am a pretty typical guy when it comes to shopping. I am definitely about shopping being more of a sprint than a marathon. I like simple, easy, no stress. I like sales. (My step-mother likes to say that I'm like my father in the sense that we both b-line to the sales rack as soon as we enter any store). Huge crowded stores, waiting to try things on, dealing with rude sales people, and $100 t-shirts are sure ways to get me to leave a store and never come back...

My current solution: Nordstrom's

Nordstrom's is known for their world-class customer service and an overall classy and enjoyable experience. They are not, however, an inexpensive option as they are considered a high-end department store. I have found, though, that they are not unreasonably priced - and I can ALWAYS find some kind of items on sale. I am a big fan of Hugo Boss -- and Nordstrom is always in full supply of their clothing...

Which leads me to my experience yesterday. I am in Chicago for work (and pleasure over the weekend). I had known this in advanced - so contacted Nordstrom's to find out if any major sales were going on while I was in town. Unfortunately, they were not - HOWEVER - their anniversary sale is occurring next week.... So ... I strolled over to the store yesterday in hopes to ask if I picked out items then -- could they put the items on hold for a week, ring it up, and send it to me? Answer: "Certainly can!" When I asked if alterations were included in sale items... Answer: "Certainly are!" "How much will it cost to ship it?" $9 (which can be waived apparently)... I ended up buying 3 Hugo Boss suits - all on sale (about $300 off each suit!)

The issue has always been that I live in Manhattan, don't have a car, so don't truly have access to a local Nordstrom's. So - I am forced to go to the one in Town Center when I'm home visiting the folks or when I travel to Chicago or Mountain View for work...

I know sometimes I post about things I don't like or things that annoy me -- so this post is meant to do the opposite. I'm a brand loyal fan of Nordstrom's and I wanted to pass that along.


Online Retail Sales vs. Total Retail Sales

I was talking to my buddy BDS yesterday, who was SHOCKED to hear that online sales were merely 6% of all retail sales. Yes - it's 2008 - and internet shopping is considered mainstream within the social circle of this blogs readership.... however...that's not the norm throughout the country. As an example, I don't know anyone outside of New York City who shops online for their groceries. I believe groceries are a $150 Billion industry....

As a quick glimpse into my everyday job... I'm passionately trying to convince marketing and merchandising executives that e-commerce (online sales) is not a good barometer of online advertising impact. Most marketers use online advertising to drive online sales - and offline advertising for everything else. Clearly more than 6% of shoppers use the internet as a shopping tool - even if they don't use it as the final buying mechanism... While most people will raise their hand when I ask "who in the room has ever used Google or the internet in general to research products that they later buy in the store."...however... you would all be surprised to know how difficult it is to truly convince these marketers to change their behavior...

Here is the breakdown of retail categories and the percentage of sales that online commerce represents (source: State of Online Retailing, Forrester/Shop.org)


Now Serving at Lunch ...A Heart Attack...

My friends know that I'm not shy when bragging about my Google lunch perks... I'll sometimes send out the email menu (which we are no longer aloud to do) - sometimes I'll just talk (annoyingly) endless about it.... Today - I'm doing a first - posting a picture of two of the options .... I can only think of one word to describe them.... SICK.


Lobster Tails?

Amy and I just got back from a Sunday evening Lobster dinner treat.

Lobster isn't cheap - and is clearly a fancy meal of sorts. I feel like anytime I hear the term "lobster tails" - I envision someone in a tuxedo serving something at a $500 per plate dinner...

Amy and I both enjoy eating whole lobsters ...(I taught her how to do it - and I'm very proud that she's got her own skillz now.) Still on the expensive side - eating whole lobsters isn't a truly glamerous activity. It is a lot of work and quite messy - but oh so GOOOOD...

We were both wondering tonight, though, why the "tail" gets all the attention. In both of our opinions - the claw is the best part - which is why we save it for last. Did the "Lobster tail" people just have better PR people???

So - here's a poll (on the right hand side) ... Do you prefer lobster tails or lobster claws?


Family Titles

I spent a couple of days out in LA this week for work. I was able to see my Aunt Ellen, Uncle Bruce, and Cousin Lauren...

My Uncle (my moms brother) mentioned somehow that I don't have to refer to him as "Uncle Bruce" when talking to him. My Aunt made a similar comment to Amy a few months ago. They both said it casually - clearly not annoyed about it -- moreso an acknowledgment that we're all adults -- and for my Uncle to be referred to as "Uncle Bruce" must make it seem like I'm twelve again...

While I understand the concept -- I really can't imagine not having the words "aunt" or "uncle" in front of their names. As I told my uncle after he brought this up -- if he would have brought this up 25 years ago -- it would be a different situation... But after over 30 years of knowing him as "Uncle Bruce" -- I'm unable and uncomfortable excluding the "uncle" preface.

So - this got my thinking ... Am I going to feel the same way with Sydney in 30 years? While - I'm not expecting her to call me "Uncle Bre Bre" 30 years from know -- I think I'll be Uncle Brett" (Or Uncle BG). I wouldn't have an issue if she didn't have the word "uncle" in front -- but I think it's also a way to help young kids filter the family from the friends. To just call me "Brett" would probably confuse her ... As our culture is evolving to a more casual nature - Are family titles going to change over time????

SIDEBAR - Speaking of confusing - for those that don't know -- I have 2 "First Uncles".... both are named Bruce... I have always (and will continue to) refer to them as merely "Uncle Bruce."


The JetBlue effect on other airlines?

Jetblue is my favorite airline. Over the years, the "discount" adjective has been less and less relevant to it's offering -- but -- I still value the "JetBlue experience." (I don't value it enough to spend $200 more per person to fly to Florida, but I value it nonetheless)

Their planes are new and clean, the seats are all leather, TVs for every seat are obviously revolutionary... but I think my favorite aspect of JetBlue is the focus on customer experience.
90% of the flight attendants I've interacted with have been friendly and helpful. I thought the fiasco last year on the JFK runway was such an bad representation of how I perceived and experienced Jetblue, personally....

Earlier this year - Amy and I were flying back from Florida on Jetblue. When we got on the plane, we learned that the TV channels weren't coming in - so we'd be without the LiveTV for the flight. We could, however, watch the movies free of charge... Bummer, but nothing to get too upset about...Later that week, Amy and I got an email from Jetblue customer service apologizing for the TV malfunction - which included a $15 credit for future flights for each of us. I thought this was above and beyond the standard... It's things like this that create brand loyalty - especially within an industry where the bar is set so low in terms of expectations. (I just learned that if you pay for your JetBlue flight with a Jetblue credit card -- they serve you free alcohol on the flight) ;)

This all said, American Airlines is my frequent flier airline of choice for business travel. Well - it's not really a choice - more of a decision based on convenience. The bottom-line is that American flies direct to/from almost every destination that I travel to for work -- and flying direct is important to me. Jetblue does not - nor does it have a great Frequent Flier program (I can accumulate free flights - but can't seem to use them). Furthermore, AA's points can be used internationally - which is how I like to "celebrate" my frequent business travel rewards on personal travel...

Last week, I flew to San Francisco via American and had a bad experience... We were delayed an hour before boarding and an additional 2 and a half hours on the tarmac...
Today, I got this email:
Dear Mr. Goffin:
After hearing from our manager at JFK about the delay of flight 85 on June 10, we
wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to you. That situation must have been
frustrating (to say the least) and we are genuinely sorry that we didn't get you to
San Francisco as planned.

It's completely reasonable for our valued customers to put on-time flight departures and arrivals at the top of their list of expectations from us. For that reason, the on-time operation of our flights is one of our most important service goals. While the delay of your flight was necessary, you can be sure that we will continue our efforts to depart as scheduled.

Sometimes an apology and promise to do better just aren't adequate and so we've added 3,000 Customer Service bonus miles to your AAdvantage® account. This mileage adjustment should appear in your account very soon, and you can view your account via our web site.
I mean - while I'm not doing back-flips about the 3,000 bonus miles, I like the gesture. I like the mere fact that American acknowledged that their customers experience matters to them a little...

I share this because I'm convinced this wouldn't happen if JetBlue wasn't around... I believe they've forced their competitors to service customers better -- and for that I am grateful.


Tony, Tony, Tony

Last night was the first (and probably the last) time I ever watched the Tony Awards. Amy and I fast-forwarded through the "play" honors - but watched and rooted for "the musical" awards...

We rooted for "In the Heights" to win any/all of it's 13 nominations. (They won 4)

We saw the show Off-Broadway and loved it. We are actually going to see it on Broadway this Friday (buying tix pre-Tonys = smart)... ;)

Is that why we were rooting for it? - not really...You see, Amy and I are pseudo wanna-be friends with Lin Manuel and crew... I've been going (as has Amy) to FLS shows since early 2005 (or late 2004 - not sure). I introduced the show to a lot of my friends - including one friend who's been working with the guys for the past few years on various projects and is legitimate friends with them. We've kept up on their success on our own, but it's nice to hear that as people and friends - the members of the cast are cool, down-to-earth people...Totally randomly - I found out last week that the director of the play is actually my second cousin...

It's also nice to see "Broadway entertainment" that is geared towards my tastes. I've probably been to 15+ Broadway shows in my life -- and I've only liked 2 (Avenue Q and 700 Sundays). While I can acknowledge the extreme talent it takes to be a Broadway star -- I'm not a fan of the standard musical - where people break-out in a song and dance at every turn...or the standard drama "play" - where I can find something more relevant to me on the television or movie screen.

In The Heights mixes truly modern music of my tastes (hip-hop, R&B), modern dancing (no ballet or jazz-hands-Broadway), with a meaty plot and like-able characters.

I'm so happy for the people involved in the show, who took home 4 Tony Awards last night - including Best Musical (the crowned jewel of the night)...

UPDATED - Check out Lin's FREESTYLE acceptance speech at The Tonys:

I was shocked to see that I had never wrote a blog post on Freestyle Love Supreme or In the Heights. If you're friends with me, though, you've definitely heard about them both - and probably gone to see them. If not - it may be too late - as winning the Tony for best musical tends to make getting tickets for the show very difficult.


Top 5 Sports Stories that should go away

Having infinite sports information and programming is for the most part a very good thing for people like me. This said, there is the "Extra-Access Hollywood-E-News-US Magazine-type" effect/drawback. There are times when every program segment is about the SAME EXACT thing. Over and over and over again. I know it's really popular to be "green" these days -- but the recycling of certain sports stories NEEDS to stop.

Give us more stories about:
  • What the real reasons are that there isn't an NCAA play-off system
  • How refs are graded, instructed, and paid
  • How some college athletes get away with the bare minimum and never going to class.
We need MORE stories that push the envelope on discovering "real-ness" and LESS of the story types below.

My current Top 5 Sports Stories that need to go away:

#5) Pacman Jones
The guy played 1 mediocre season in the NFL. He's undoubtedly more famous for his off-the-field issues than on the field. That should be immediate grounds to cut him as a story.

#4) Pat Riley pushed Stan Van Gundy Out (and SVG is avenging it in Orlando)

Some people will say I'm impartial to Riley -- but the truth is -- I don't think Riley is at all above this. He absolutely is "that guy" who would do what everyone said he did. The issue is that it's not how it went down, however, given the way how it really went down -- Riley is a stand-up guy for taking the heat. In short - Stan didn't have the respect of Shaq - and he wasn't quiet about it among team-mates (including D. Wade). Shaq was the leader on that team - so everyone followed. Riley realized this and stepped in. (and rather than defending himself and throwing Shaq and Stan's beef in the public view -- took the high road)

#3) Any story from Skip Bayless, Rachel Nichols, or Pedro Gomez
Sports journalism is a very competitive industry. ESPN is the absolute giant player in the space - and should have their pick of the best of the best. Over the years - some classic journalists like Clayborn, Patrick, and Oberman have all left - probably for good reason. HOWEVER, the fact that the 3 names above have consistent jobs on the "worldwide leader" are insane. I'm not kidding - anytime I see one of the 3 on the screen, I immediately turn the channel. Give me more Mike and Mike, PTI crew, Linda Cohn, SportsGuy, Erin Andrews (obviously) and others. I even like it when they have guys like Kirk Herbstreet doing sports outside of football. The only way the 3 personalities above should have consistent gigs is if they have dirt on the brass or some kind of nepotism.

#2) Performance Enhancing Drugs (i.e. Roger Clemens)

This one probably could fall into the camp of "real-ness", but it's on the list for a different reason explained below. I've always been taught that you shouldn't complain about a problem without suggesting a solution. It is exactly what media outlets are doing. They point the finger at everyone but themselves and almost feel like these related stories are trendy or shocking or even NEWS. I'm, personally, over it. Maybe I'd feel differently if ESPN didn't have what seemed to be it's own Truman-Show-like Roger Clemens channel a few months ago -- but they did -- and I'm through with caring about performance enhancing drugs in sports. Baseball, Cycling, Track, Horse Racing, Football.... I really don't care. Each sport has a system that should make the playing fields equal - so it's all relative.
(For those who've seen Chris Rock's new concert -- I thought he was right on. Americans themselves are hooked on Performance enhancing drugs (Zoloft, Viagra, Ritalin, you name it -- who are we to judge athletes)

#1) Jason Taylor-Dolphin feud

Seriously, I can't take it anymore. We all know that everything will work out in the end. The media just loves the "Bill Parcells doesn't get along with people" angle and won't let it go. I don't need to know what Jason Taylor is doing on a daily basis. Come August - Jason Taylor will be at Dolphin camp. He's a stand-up person who can be counted on, unlike unstable hold-outs of the past...


Baseball Stadium Competition Update

As mentioned previously on my blog - my buddy Salis and I have a competition of sorts around who can visit more baseball stadiums (for a ballgame) in our lifetime.

This past Saturday, we actually visited a new stadium together for the first time. Jared also joined us for our Citizen Bank Ballpark road trip to Philadelphia - which in addition to the game - also included an unnecessary amount of cheesesteak consumption.
(For those interested - we all concluded that although Geno's and Pat's both served tasty Cheesesteaks, we believed the hype of best cheesesteaks in the world was a bit over-hyped)

I've updated the map to represent the progress of the Ballpark Competition. For those keeping score at home...the score is:
BG: 15 Salis: 12

Push-pin legend
BG = Blue
Salis = Red
Neither has been yet = Yellow

View Larger Map


Second Guessing Giving to Charity

While I wouldn't call myself a heavy philanthropist - I do enjoy supporting my friends and family in charitable events and causes.

I must admit, however, that I recently gave pause before I pressed the "donate" button - second guessing if I should give to a few donations. Not because I'm cheap or heartless or shallow. It was because SPAM (both snail-mail and email) is a huge pet peeve of mine.

The use of online tools has made it much easier to donate, collect, and track charitable activities. It has also made marketing database acquisition efficient and scalable.

Once we donate to a cause - our names are inevitably embedded into that Charities marketing database until the end of time. As consumers, it's OK to get annoyed by receiving unwanted catalogs - but is it socially acceptable to get annoyed by unstoppable Charity out-reach? I mean - is anyone really going to call up a charity and asked to be removed from their mailing list? That's like someone admitting they don't like puppies...

Anyway ... after the pause ... I obviously donated - and I will continue to donate. Similar to how opt-in email was somewhat self-regulated over time (thanks to better SPAM filters by email providers, government pressure, and smart marketing practices) -- I'm hoping charitable organizations follow-suit.

Finally - here's a donation of sorts to any non-profit related readers out there -- Google supplies several free tools to use for those businesses - Check them out.


My Capitol Hill Experience

Earlier this week, I spent some time in Washington DC for an industry event.

The concept of the event is a yearly "fly-in" where members of the association spend the day meeting with staffers from various Senators and Representatives of Congress to discuss issues important to our companies and industries.

While I was disappointed that we didn't meet with any actual members of Congress -- I was pretty intrigued with the overall "open-ness" of the offices of our government representatives. Although you have to go through metal detectors, there was no security or appointments needed to walk into a Senators office. I guess if you think about it -- our public representatives should certainly be open to the public - but if you went to any corporate office and wanted to meet with someone - you'd pretty much be denied entrance into the building without an appointment...

We met with various levels of "staffers" during the day. There were some folks who at least faked being interested in what we had to say, while others clearly were annoyed. This said, I was happy to learn that each staffer is usually tasked with coming up with a weekly roll-up report of their meetings. We were also given their business cards and encouraged to follow-up when important issues arose (The key issues we were discussing were: Net Neutrality, Streamlined Sales Tax, and Online Behavioral Advertising)....

Another side-bar is how clean and groomed the Nations capital appeared. It's possible it was the time of year - but I felt that the streets and buildings were so clean - and the shrubbery everywhere was meticulous... I'm glad our tax dollars are being used to clean up the city, I guess...

I would recommend that everyone make a trip to DC to visit their representatives (if you've got something to say, of course)


Jury Duty

This past week - I had my 2nd Jury Duty experience as an adult...I learned some things and thought I would share.

The jury duty rules in NYC have changed over time. Potential Jurors used to have to serve a minimum of 2 weeks versus minimum of 2 days now... I can't imagine 2 weeks! Also, once you serve your term - you are excused for SIX years (barring a Juror shortage). The last time I served - I was excused for only 4 years...

Overall, there is a negative connotation with serving jury duty and a greater negative feeling about getting picked to actually serve on a jury. It's understandable I suppose ... taking off of work is a pain for most people, especially if you work for a small company. If you work for a big company, it's not easy either, because you're going to have to make up work when you get back.

Due to this, most people will definitely TRY to avoid getting 0picked on a jury...They'll enhance any feelings they have to a particular subject - or - something that was popular this time around - people with accents suddenly don't understand English that well...

The first time I served, I was sitting for criminal cases. Those cases typically last weeks rather than days. When the judge asked who thinks they should be excused from service - it was like asking who wants free money... At the time I worked for a company with less than 5 people - so the excuse was legit.

This time around I was sitting for Civil cases and part of me actually wanted to get picked on a jury. I think it would be a very interesting educational experience. I cleared my schedule this week at work because I knew I had to serve my civic duty... Anyway - it didn't happen. I was called into the jury selection room once for a medical malpractice suit... That was it.

I served a day and a half ... I sat listening to music and playing poker on my blackberry (Internet connection was very spotty). I read a little. But basically - I just sat. It was crazy boring.

I don't know how they can improve the system -- but I feel like it could use a change. If I was involved in a case -- would I want people who didn't want to be there (or who were obsessed with having the power over people - so really wanted to be there) deciding my fate or outcome? I don't think so...but... how else do you aggregate a jury of one's "peers" ... No clue - but - It should be another 6 years before I have to think about this again...


Being Handy

Over the past few weeks, the need to be "handy" has surfaced more regularly than usual. Whether it's been the need to call Sears for any kitchen appliance issue (Sears has THE WORST customer service EVER - I have a lot of pent up anger for a separate post) or going to friends houses and seeing all the handy work needed on a regular basis when you own an actual house...

I've often said that there are two types of being "handy" around the house:
  • Home Depot Handy
  • Best Buy Handy
Home Depot Handy is the more traditional form of handiness. While I know a few guys who have this gift, I know about 100 times as many who don't. I'm thinking it could be a bit of a dying breed (much like guys who know a lot about cars), but then again, it could be the sample size of my social circle.

I will be the first to admit that I'm pretty far from being "Home Depot Handy." I can hammer a nail or follow general instructions -- but there is a level just above that where I have no place being. This is something that is actually quite frustrating to me -- Not because I think I can truly do anything to change this -- but because I hate feeling hostage to the people who are "home depot handy" for a living. The kid who dropped out of high school, got his GED and decided to work for his uncle has full reign to take advantage of me because I've got no clue what he's talking about -- and he knows it. Have you ever met anyone who LIKED a contractor who worked for them? If you have - email me so I can store it away for one day in the future because I never have met anyone who can sincerely recommend a contractor...

The other type of handy is "Best Buy handy." While I would consider myself on the lower tier within this form of "handy," I'm starting to believe the ability could slip away any year now... If instructions aren't included -- I'm lost. And given that most consumer electronics are manufactured outside of the US -- instructions are becoming less and less understandable.

So - I guess this is the evolution of things...Specialties being drained throughout generations... My generation is one that would prefer to pay someone to fix something around the house - rather than spend 2 weeks trying to do a crappy job themselves. We'd rather pay 70%+ margin on restaurant food and service rather than cook and clean-up ourselves...

On the flip-side -- our generation has more information on any topic accessible to us hever we want it... So - is the net-net that we're lazy? Are we more rationale - giving way to opportunity-cost analysis?

Honestly - I don't know. I just know I'm not Handy and it is starting to get to me...

Google Me - A Pop Song

I'm not sure how long this song has been out...but...Teyana Taylor's first hit single is called... "Google me."

Universally (short-sighted) Music doesn't allow embedding of videos - so you have to go to youtube to watch the video. (warning - I am not inferring that the song or video is good at all)

What's interesting - is that her message seems to be working. People ARE Googling her...!!

It's a tactic that a lot of advertisers are using these days within traditional media spots. Rather than place a corporate URL on a print, radio, or TV spot -- they are telling customers to Google or "Search for" their brands online ... I know it was viewed as successful for Pontiac in 2006...


Jake Long - The Fins #1 Pick

The Dolphins have had been slotted with the number 1 draft pick for what seems like last years draft. I have actually been saying that Jake Long will be the first pick in the 2008 draft for longer than that - so for him to be going to my favorite NFL franchise - is a great thing.

There have been a lot of changes within the Dolphin organization over the past few months, and I'm beginning to believe in long-term Dolphin success (my prediction is that they'll win 6+ games in 2008). The last time the Dolphins were successful (a run of 6 consecutive play-off appearances), they had Dan Marino. What common football fans leave out, however, was that it was also the last time that the team had a pro-bowl offensive lineman (Two actually ... Richmond Webb and Keith Simms).

Securing Jake Long was the best choice - period. I've watched over 95% of the games that Jake Long played in college, and I can tell you that he's a monster, super-stud offensive lineman. None of the other players available are sure-things, and J. Long is undoubtedly the closest thing within the 2008 draft class as such.

The Fins have a plethora of early round picks to secure Linebackers, Defensive Lineman and other pieces. (I'm hoping we take Mario Manningham with the #32 overall pick, but not sure that's gonna happen)

I'm thrilled we signed him. I'm really happy the announcement came early. I genuinely believe it's the right choice - and I think Dol-Fans around the country should be pumped.

(Why do a post like this? Well -- Blogs are pseudo documents of history. Should Jake Long by a bust -- I'm on record saying I think it was a good move. No one would be able to say otherwise. And I think that's pretty cool)


Two New (and interesting) Blogs

Two good friends launched blogs recently and I wanted to promote them because I think they're both really good...
  • Greg March launched a blog about Ads, Sports and Technologies (oh - and "giggles" but I thought it was way too weenie to include in a "promotion" of sort). Greg is a very good writer, a very funny guy, and fairly insightful as well.
  • Another buddy (who desires to be anonymous) launched a 2008 NBA play-off blog. He is also a good writer (although - I never knew that until the blog) and is beyond passionate about the NBA. If there has been an NBA play-offs to follow in the last 15 years -- this year is it! Great games should be on tap for the next 2 months....and Playbyplayoffs should offer some great commentary...


Third Party Data in the Media Business

This past week, Google reported "better than expected earnings." Just a few weeks ago, a reputable third party data company reported that Google's paid click growth sharply declined from 12% in December to 0% in January and 3% in February...

Well - it turns out that those third party numbers were WAY off (I think Google came out and said click growth was 20%) - and so the market was surprised when Google reported it's numbers...

I geniunely don't have an issue with ComScore. They tried downplaying their numbers when they came out - but Wall Street Analyts felt it was more fun to jump on the "Google is sinking" bandwagen.

My burning issue has nothing to do with Google or ComScore or Wall Street Analysts. Well, it sort of does, but not directly. You see, in the Television market - for decades - Neilsen Ratings is THE third-party barameter of television viewership. It is the source of information that values and compensates television networks. It is the deciding factor if a television production is successful. They SWEAR - much like ComScore swears - that their data is accurate given statstical modeling...

I have a HUGE issue with this. I think I've blogged about this several times -- and will continue to do so. The cable companies have the REAL data, but for some reason - they don't release it. In the online model -- Google had the real numbers -- released it -- and proved that 3rd party data can (and probably is) way off base.

In the online world - the value and accounting of billions of dollars isn't based off the third party data, however... In the TV and Radio and Print worlds .... THEY ARE! Why are companies so scared to release the real data?

When will it change????? I have no idea...but it drives me nuts!


Healthy Food at Airports?

I'm still in the middle of my work-travel stretch, so here's another travel-related post...

Do Airports ban healthy food? Seriously. I'm not the worlds healthiest eater, but I'm in the middle of being fairly successful at going to the gym at least 3 times a week. When you're like me - and you geniunely don't enjoy the act of running on the treadmill but do it anyway ... I think it gives some motivation to somewhat watch what you eat. Otherwise - kinda silly to torture yourself 3 times a week - right?

Anyway - when I travel - I find it very difficult to eat healthy - ESPECIALLY when you have a meal a day at the airport. There is nothing healthy at fast food joints or the microwave pizza places...Seriously - NOTHING.

Here's a business idea for someone... Develop a health-conscious chain for airports. Start in body conscious cities like LA, New York, Detroit(just kidding), and Fort Lauderdale. There is no question in my mind that it would work. While "the average American" probably thinks ordering a Diet Coke with their super-sized meal counter-acts the burger and fries they ordered -- I think there is a size-able market of air-travelers who would be happy to expense an over-priced healthy meal...

If not - does anyone have any good "tricks of the trade" they can share?


My Top 5 Airplane Annoyances

This week is the first of a 7 week stretch that I will be on plane at least twice during the week for work. Given that, I thought I would vent/outline my top 5 biggest annoyances on airplanes. I've avoided the obvious ones like delays, turbulence, flight attendants who hate their jobs, etc....

5. Loud Talkers.
I have found that women friends who sit next to each other are the worst offenders of this. There's "outside voice," "inside voice," and I guess now "airplane voice." Oh, and if the person on the window and aisle know each other and there is someone sitting in the middle - switch seats!
4. The Rush to get on/off the Plane
I've already vented about the people who crowd the boarding area before it's their turn to board, but what I also find rude are the people who don't let the rows in front of them off the plane before they dart down the aisle.
3. The Over-Verbal Pilot
As air travelers, we put our hands in their lives so we are certainly forced to respect the job that all pilots do. I want pilots to focus on the flying, and focus less and the talky-talky. I don't need to know every single town we are going to pass during our route and it doesn't help me to know that we are running out of fuel. Welcome us on the flight - tell us how long it's going to be - tell us to be safe and then tell us when we're about to land. Thank you.
2. Rude People
This can be classified under "the obvious," but there are specific class of rude people on airplanes (these people are often pegged as "New Yorkers"). If you ask someone to switch seats with you - and you have a crappy seat and they have a good seat -- you are rude. If the flight attendants announce that cell phones need to be turned off, or that you need to be seated -- and you think that rules don't apply to you -- you are rude. If you are on the aisle and don't get up when the window seated individual needs to go to the bathroom - you are rude. If you are a man of a somewhat young age - and you don't help an older woman with putting her luggage overhead - you are rude. You get the picture. Rude people suck.
1. Gas Passers
Passing gas in public is rude...passing gas on a plane (more than once - because fine - sometimes it just slips out) should be against the law. Seriously. It's just not nice. Not at all.


Play Ball

The 2008 Baseball Season is underway ...

I'm a huge sports fan - but baseball has always been a fantasy-only joy of mine (I've been playing fantasy baseball for probably 7 years)

Living in NYC, I have often said that I casually root for both the Yankees and Mets, as New York City undoubtedly has an added vibe and excitement when the Yankees and/or Mets are in the play-offs. While I will continue to hope that both teams make the play-offs, I'm going to try and root (and be a fan) of The New York Mets this year... I was a huge Mets fan as a kid in 1986 - but when I moved to Florida - I spent 9 years without a local professional baseball team. The Marlins came along in 1995, but anyone who knows anything about the Marlins knows that it's almost impossible to truly be "a fan" of the Marlins...

So - I'm not going to pretend like I'm a long-time fan ... I'm just going to try and have non-fantasy interest in baseball. I have tried in the past - but without any success... I'm hoping this year is different. I believe in Willie Randolph - I really like David Wright's demeanor and overall game...So...Let's go Mets!