Two Year Anniversary of The Worst Day of My Life

Yesterday (12/22) was the two year anniversary of our family losing a baby girl at 38 weeks of pregnancy.  Each year the day of 12/22 is going to be a hard one, but hopefully they'll get less hard as the years move on.

Alexa is now 4+ and asks some tough questions when the topic comes up  We definitely want her to be able to continue to ask anything she wants - so we try our best not to avoid her very direct questions like "why couldn't she come home from the hospital?" or "did she have a name?" (both of which she asked yesterday).

On Sunday we spent "Family Day" together which was nice.  In the afternoon, we went to the pier near our apartment and released 2 pink balloons in the memory baby girl goffin.  I had tears in my eyes when we did it as did Amy, but it's the first time I've seen either of us get overly emotional about it in the last few months.

I don't expect people to remember the tough day (like a birthday), but it's been interesting to witness people's reaction on hearing that it's been two years... Most sensitive people make a simple comment like "I understand that this must be a tough time a year for you."  Several other people just assume that Amy and I have gotten over the loss because of Ben's arrival 11 months+ ago.

Yes - we have Ben for the last 11 months+ and he's amazing.  He definitely helps to blur out some of the pain and both Amy and I feel very lucky to have both of our amazing kids.   I have had a much easier time trying to move on (but not forget), yet Amy's come a really long way over this year.  Yes - it's tough when she see's a couple of sisters 2 years apart sometimes and has some tougher emotional days than others. ... but 12/22/11 is not a day either of us will ever forget. 

I'm hopeful that it remains the worst day of my life for a very long time.


Shawn Carter Ranking Jay-Z Albums

In case you didn't see, Jay-Z ranked his own albums on his site Life and Times a week or so ago.

Here's how Jay-Z ranked his own albums (with his own brief commentary):

1. Reasonable Doubt (Classic)2. The Blueprint (Classic)3. The Black Album (Classic)4. Vol. 2 (Classic)5. American Gangster (4 1/2, cohesive)6. Magna Carta (Fuckwit, Tom Ford, Oceans, Beach, On the Run, Grail)7. Vol. 1 (Sunshine kills this album…fuck… Streets, Where I’m from, You Must Love Me…)8. BP3 (Sorry critics, it’s good. Empire (Gave Frank a run for his money))9. Dynasty (Intro alone…)10. Vol. 3 (Pimp C verse alone… oh, So Ghetto)11. BP2 (Too many songs. Fucking Guru and Hip Hop, ha)
12. Kingdom Come (First game back, don’t shoot me)

For starters - I think it's awesome that Jay-Z would do this.  In fact, I think it's actually crazy that he didn't make it a bigger deal (Example:  Hired Mr. Andrew Fried.... Gotten some heavyweights to sit around a table, debate it, film it, edit it - BAM - you have an hour-long prime time ABC special).

Secondly, anyone who massively disagrees with him is entitled to their opinion, but it's like some intern at Google disagreeing with Larry Page on the biggest priorities of the company. The man is the actual source (and pun NOT intended to reference the magazine).

I, personally, agree with most of his choices give or take a slot or two with only one major personal choice.  I don't think American Gangster is a top 5 Jay-Z album.  I'm sure it's probably in his top 5 "projects" (being involved with the movie and having one of your solo albums be a movie soundtrack), but if you told me that I, Brett Goffin, could only pick 5 Jay-Z albums to have with me on a year-long journey.... I definitely don't come close to picking American Gangster -- I probably rank that one 11th.  I think I pick either BluePrint 3 or Volume 3 as #5.   

BP3 may have a couple of tracks I'm choosing to skip - but not too many.  It also COULD end up (sadly) having the Jay-Z sound that's most played 30 years from now (Empire State of Mind).

Volume 3 is listen from start to finish exercise for me.  May press "repeat" on Dope Man, Big Pimpin, Watch Me, and Come and Get Me.

I don't chose Volume 1 as Top 5 because there are a bunch of songs I can do without HOWEVER - it arguably has the single track I listened to the most number of times in a short time frame.  "Who You Wit" was on constant repeat in my car pretty much my entire junior year of college - I don't think I'm exaggerating on that.

While I could probably go deeper on some of my thoughts -- I really just wanted to document that I thought it was really cool that S.Carter did this and in case any of my blog readers weren't aware of it.


Dolphin Drama

First of all ... It's frustrating enough being a Dol-phan in general since Dan Marino's departure.  The last thing we need is some "housewives of the Miami Offensive Line" drama.  Part of me wonders if the Dolphins weren't playing against an 0-8 team on Monday night football on ESPN if the story would get so much airtime, but I digress....

I don't know all of the details and I'm not sure anyone does yet.  There will be two sides of the story and I don't think people have to pick a single side, but that's what seems to be happening.

The truth is - I'm currently in the middle.  This whole issue seems like it's a high school after school special - which is why I'm torn.  On one hand, bullying anyone is wrong and it sounds like Richie Icognito is just one of those guys that's cool if he's in your inner circle and an absolute dick if not. Those people exist throughout the world -- and yes -- there are a lot more of them who are 17 than who are, say 30.

On the other hand, when you are a professional athlete and 300 pounds - I am not sure the same 'bullying" rules can apply to you.  Jonathan Martin is a Stanford grad - he's gotta have an IQ 5x larger than Richie Icognito.  He shouldn't be able to feel like he has no other options than to just "take it." Either do what every parent tells their 3 year old "USE YOUR WORDS" (to coaches or whomever), rise above it, or break through it.

I think Richie Icognito is a dick - but I also think it's ridiculously lame that Jonathan Martin is portraying himself as a defense-less victim.  He's an NFL player - not a child.

Also - if Jonathan Martin is soft - then the Dolphins shouldn't have drafted him. Which brings me to the only positive thing about this drama ...  That Jeff Ireland should get dragged in the mud!!!  The guy is the worst General Manager in the history of the NFL.  I'm convinced he has naked pictures of the owner or some major dirt on him.  Stephen Ross (a Michigan Man) is smarter than this!!!


Race versus Lindsay

I work at a place that has crazy over-achievers.  Half of the people I manage were D1 college athletes and I feel like all of them wake up at 5:30am every day before work to keep in shape.  I wake up at 5:30am to crying kids.  I love/miss sleeping late.

Since becoming a father, I just have not been able to prioritize staying in shape.  I'm over-weight and well aware of it.  Most of me is OK with it given that if choosing between spending 2 hours a day with my kids vs. 1, I chose the two (and btw - I'm lucky I can say that - my work-life balance is fantastic)!

Why do I bring this up?  Because 8 months ago - I was challeged by a "20-something" over-achiever woman on my team to a sprint race.  I conceded any distance longer than 100 yards or so -- she'd win easily.  She insisted it didn't matter what the distance was.  She works out 6 days a week, has run a marathon in her life, and is addicted to staying in shape.  She's also crazy-competitive. 

Anyway - the race is documented below. 

A fat, older man (who's slightly above average athlete) is just physically at an advantage over a very in-shape female.  Kudos to Lindsay for having the confidence, however, hopefully she learned a pinch of humility through the experience.


10 years at Google

I started my Google job 3654 days ago.  10 years at the same company is rare these days, however, just as rare are companies as renowned or historic as the one I work for.  

Here are 10 random thoughts about the last 10 years working at Google:

1) After 10 years - I'm still impressed with the food perks this company gives.  I still love telling people what I was deciding between that day (the duck or the skirt steak as an example).
2) I believe I was the first "Brett" at Google.  There are now apparently 46 others.
3) Almost all of the people I work with are incredibly impressive and smart.  I've worked at companies where you feel like not everyone is on your "same wavelength."  Not here.  That's an amazing thing and only a company like Google can continuously pull it off.
4) I sell digital advertising but I really don't consider myself a "saleguys sales guy."  I feel very fortunate that I truly believe in what I talk to advertisers about every day:  I can help improve their business.  Google's ad solutions is one of the most "relevant" targeting around today - and it should only get better in the future.  When I ask customers for more money (which is what all sales people do) - I don't feel bad about it because I genuinely think it's the best choice they can make AND in my 10 years here I have yet to feel like an advertiser is giving us the right share of their advertising budget.  I really enjoy this aspect of working at Google.
5) I'm a rare employee at Google.  10 years here and 10 years working with retail advertisers.  Most people who've been here for a while cover many different aspects of the business.  I've had 3 different jobs and gotten promoted several - but all of them covered retailer advertisers for the most part.
6)  (Common question) After 10 years here -- I still have no pull in hiring processes.  Sorry - I can't talk to someone to help you get a job.  I'm happy to talk to you about the company culture and beliefs, though.  
7) (Common question) On a similar topic - Sorry - but I can't tell you how to get to #1 on the Google search results of the keyword of your choice.  I can tell you how the ad system works, though.
8) (Common question) The founders have no idea who I am.  I've met them each a couple of times but I'm not in any of the same meetings they are.  I'm OK with this.
9)  I'm a pre-IPO employee but that doesn't mean that I made millions.  People assume that I've been at Google for 10 years and so I must be "loaded."  Not true.  I'm not complaining about the financial benefits of being here 10 years - but the perception is vastly exaggerated.
10) There is still a great sense of pride telling people that I work at Google.  I'm very proud of this company and the mission it's trying to accomplish and the way it's attempting to do so.  The fact that my soon-to-be 97 year old Grandma talks to me about what she read in the paper about Google (and she has no clue what the internet is) is amazing.  I love that.  

In 2003, it was very different than it is today.  Some things good and some things not as good - but again - I feel very fortunate for having worked at this place for the last 10 years.  Who knows what the next 10 will bring - but if it's anything like that last 10 - I'll be really happy.

Thanks Google.


Cold Calling should die

I'm a manager within a sales organization.  I think of myself as a sales guy.  I very much believe in talking on the phone with customers and prospects.  I still think cold calling should be left in 1987.

I work at Google so I guess people assume I'm rich.  I probably have one person a week who calls my office asking if I want them to manage my "portfolio" or invest in their firm...  I also have head hunters calling me about "can't miss opportunities" regularly.  I can't imagine, in 2013 who this cold call tactic works on.  Conversion percentages have to be less than banner ad click-thru rates.

Why do I think cold calling should die?  
Here are my top 5 reasons:
1) Phone calls are personal.  They take time and demand concentration.  These are limited aspects of everyone's day.  Respect that!
2) Cold calls are "tricks."  No one in the world actually is hoping that someone is going to cold call them (maybe except this guy).  I can't see a sales call starting off worse than someone being annoyed or disrespected.
3) There are better ways to communicate today.  Email and social networks in particular.  If I really am a good prospect - then you should be able to give me the opportunity to engage on my terms.   I talk to my clients on the phone regularly, but I can't tell you the last time that I called one blind and actually had them pick-up with a productive conversation.  I email them, send a calendar invite, etc.  They come into the conversation with the right expectations and frame of mind.  It benefits everyone.  This is just the new reality.
4) There's no way to stand-out (in a positive way).  At this point - every trick in the book is a negative cliche'.  "What would you say to 30% returns? - Huh? huh?"  (CLICK).
5) It makes people resent picking up the phone.  As sales people - we don't want that.  Because I get these random cold calls - the odds of me picking up the phone for a number I don't recognize rise.  This is bad.  On time, I had a CMO leave me voicemail when I sitting at my desk.  This drove me crazy because it took another week to get them on the phone.  I blamed cold callers. 

If you're a good sales person than you've done some research before picking up the phone.  I'm hoping that cold callers have done some research on ME before calling me blindly, seen this post, and decide an alternative form of first contact... Thanks for listening.


Why I Don't Like Live Concerts

Last night I went to go see the second live concert with my wife in our 10 year relationship (thanks Blake!).  She loves concerts; Me - not so much.  Even by typing that I feel like I should be embarrassed somewhat by that statement.  "Who doesn't love live music?"  (ME!)

Here are my reasons why:
1) I grew up loving Hip-Hop.  
Live Hip-Hop isn't even close to as enjoyable on your ears as produced Hip-Hop.Freestyle battles aside - there is far less quality of music in the execution of the lyrics, rhythm, etc.  I've seen every rapper you'd want to see live (Biggie, Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, Eminem, Nas, Vanilla Ice) ;) and none of them conjure any kind of over-the-top memory.
2) I've never really fantasized about being on a concert stage
Watching people at the concert last night, you see the passion when they know every word or stare enviously at the stage day-dreaming about them being in that position.
3) Logistics and cost
Getting concert tickets are never easy or always expensive.  Do you ever really get the seats you want?  Traveling to a concert is never stress-free.  If you're driving you're not drinking and if you're taking mass transit - you're a cattle who has better had taken their patience pills.  I'd personally rather save this type of over-priced, logistical nightmare for sporting events.
4) Restrictive Fun Zone
If I wanted to hang out with people who liked the same music and knew the same songs as me - I'd much rather go to a club and hang out with these people in that setting/venue than some enormous stadium that may or may not have people sitting/standing who each get a 10 inch seat to sit on.  If you've seen me dance - I need more than 20 square inches of room to let break it down.
5) The Always Scripted "Encore"
Seriously - don't say "Thanks so much for coming out - Drive Safe" and then play 30 more minutes afterwards.  The first 20 times someone did that -- fine -- it was decent shock value in 1974.  In 2013, it's just lame and for me it's a sure-fire way to leave me annoyed at the end.

I'm sure there are bands or groups that defy my rationale.  I have a lot of friends who probably can't understand why I feel this way.  I, personally, just don't happen to be into those groups or music genre (again - outside of freestyle hip-hop -- Shout out to FreeStyle Love Supreme who I've seen over 10 times live and enjoyed every time).

This all said -- I can tell you from going to concerts when the performer is crazy-talented.  I have now seen Bruno Mars twice in concert - and he definitely is crazy-talented with a great voice.


18 Months of Silence Ended

In 2003, I wrote the headline below the title of my blog to read: "I've got many thoughts and on occasion want to share them with the world."  Well - that's always been true until a significant loss happened in my life and I didn't really want to share my thoughts and opinions in this forum.

I saw Seth Godin and Mitch Joel speak at Google last week - and they both recommended that everyone blog at least once a day.  With them saying that, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing this blog and part of me missed it.  Twitter is great - but the space is somewhat restrictive.  So while I still have a scar from the loss, I feel like I'm ready to get back into blogging.  I'm not an "every day" blogger - but I'd like to try and do it once a week.  Topics will continue to range from random observations to family updates to internet advertising verbal musings.

As a quick family update - We are in a better place than we were 18 months ago.  Since that time, Amy and I have become parents to a beautiful son (Ben) and Alexa's thrived in becoming a big sister and she's developing into a great, "big girl".  We just moved apartments after 4 years.  It's been less than a week, but I'm feeling great about our new home and the memories we'll create there.  I love my family and it continues to be (as it always will) the most important priority in my life.

I'm still at Google working to help retailers embrace digital marketing as a way to improve their business.  I manage an awesome team that consistently makes me proud to be a manager.

I've really enjoyed my favorite sports team, the Miami Heat winning back-2-back championships.  It's crazy to think that they've won 2 championships since I stopped blogging.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't have doubts during the journey in the past 2 seasons - so maybe it's a good thing I didn't blog about it.   Maybe I won't next year either.  Yes - I'm still a little superstitious about sports.

That's all I've got for now.  I'm looking forward to a lot of things this summer and I'm happy to hopefully re-establish this blog to convey some of these upcoming experiences and opinions.