Archive for July, 2010

Water Drowning

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Last week I was swimming with my kids and my three-almost-four year old had this very concerned look, and in a voice worthy of pity and sadness, she said:

aaaaaaaw, look at that water down there,” as she points down to the bottom of the pool, with serious concern, “it’s drowning :(.”

In all my years I’ve never thought about the water on the bottom, drowning.  How ignorant of me :p

Influence: Art, Religion, Government, You

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I had an idea to start a blog called “you are what you read,” and perhaps do book reviews and stuff like that.  I’m an avid reader and I have a few writing projects, and the idea of the content you consume (food or the written word or music, etc.) influencing who you are, what you think, how you act, what you believe, etc. is really interesting to me.

I did a quick google search to see if the domain was taking (it is) and who was using this brilliant phrase that I thought I came up with :p  I found a post on the rt:21 blog titled You Are What You Read that intrigued me.

It starts off with the question: “what are the ethical implications of using live animals in art?”

The post focuses on an artist in Nicaragua who supposedly tied a dog up and left it to starve… the “art” was watching the dog starve. Why?

According to hundreds of blogs and news articles circulating on the Internet, the artist intended for the dog to starve to death during the course of the exhibition. Vargas intended to raise awareness of the public’s hypocrisy by comparing what happened to this dog to a burglar named Natividad Canda Mayrena, who was mauled to death by two rottweilers in Costa Rica while the police and onlookers watched.

Interesting… and of course, beyond contraversial.

Apparently the dog didn’t starve… they fed it regularly.  This is where it gets really interesting.  The stories online, in news, etc. were all very critical and decried the outrage… without knowing or reporting the dog was not starving.

It seems the art was less about a dog and more about YOU and ME.

Exposición No 1 (the name of that work of art) is one component of a larger work of art called Eres lo que lees, which employs misinformation and manipulates mass media via the Internet.

I remember reading something from Chris Knudsen (I think) about Twitter, in the very early days… his concern was that something could get picked up and BELIEVED in a mob mentality manner, without any facts, basis, etc.  I tried to find it on his blog but I couldn’t… anyway, the point is, misinformation has the ability to manipulate what we think…. read on:

One of the aims of this project was to demonstrate the hypocrisy in real world and art world ethics. Take a dog off the streets and put it into a gallery and it becomes an ethical phenomenon, while stray dogs and most real human suffering are ignored or given minimal attention.

There are plenty of headlines TODAY that are getting front page news while real, bigger issues are getting minimal attention… :(  Read on:

This illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into believing what news outlets want us to. The title, “You Are What You Read,” illustrates this point very well. If one artist can manipulate over four million people around the world, imagine the ability that governments, corporations, and religious entities have to do the same.

That last sentence has stuck with me over the last week.  PR and marketing and information and misinformation… how powerful!  And many times, we’re just tools…. right?

You can read the original post that inspired this one right here.

Are you a speaker? You are probably average.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Update 7/28/2010: here’s a brilliant post on Tim Ferris’ blog that goes deeper into how to get to that far left extreme: From CEOs to Opera Singers – How to Harness the “Superstar Effect”

I love watching speakers present.  I am a student of presenters and often find myself writing down two things:

  1. Things to do: what is the speaker doing that is amazing and awesome, and something I need to incorporate.
  2. Things to never, ever do: what the speaker does that discredits the message, causes a negative reaction, etc.

A few weeks ago I was watching an awesome person speak. This person speaks often, so I had high expectations because:

awesome person + speaks frequently = should be awesome presenter

That formula is flawed, of course, and the presentation was… well, also flawed. It was average.

What does “average” mean? Check out this drawing I came up with:

NON Professional Speakers

Note, this is for non-professional speakers.  I consider myself a professional speaker because people pay good money to have me speak, and I speak frequently.  More on that below.

For non-professional speakers, some thoughts:

  • Most presentations are average.  You will likely be just average.  You would have to work pretty hard to really suck, even though that’s what you are most stressed about (sucking). Don’t worry, expectations are low and you probably won’t suck bad enough to be in the red circle on the right.
  • Most self-confident speakers (like me) think they are awesome, and awe-inspiring.  But they really are just at the left side of average, in that pinkish box.  As great as you think you are, you are just as average as you would have been anywhere else in the yellow.
  • You *can* do a presentation where you are in the green circle and be awe-inspiring.  But it takes a lot of work.  Presentation skills, your appearance, your message, the stories, jokes, etc.  How you connect… there are so many things to get into that circle that if you ever do, consider quitting your day job and becoming a professional speaker.    But you won’t get there by just practicing a few times… it takes a LOT of work.

Here’s a similar image for PROFESSIONAL speakers.  These are the biggies that get paid to do this for a living.

Professional Speakers

Some thoughts:

  • Since the expectations are much higher, there is no pink box.  You are either average (“yeah, he was like all the other speakers we’ve paid”), or you are awesome.  Getting to awesome is equally as hard as it is for non-professional speakers because you don’t get any slack… the bar is HIGH.
  • Average is different… you can’t go too far to the left or else what would be average for anyone else becomes below average for your audience.  Once again, the bar is high, so you can’t do just okay… just okay, for a professional speaker, is not even close to good enough.

Rarely do I ever see a presentation that I would put in the awesome side of this bell curve.

Thoughts?

Website? Favicon?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Do you have a website?  Y/N

If N… you can stop reading :)

If Y… do you have a favicon?

What, you ask, is a favicon?  It is a little tiny icon that goes in the tab of the browser… look at this:

These are *some* of the tabs I have open right now… do you recognize any of the sites I am on?

  1. gmail, always in the first place
  2. a blog post that is hosted on blogger… something I liked and will blog about later.
  3. the third tab I’m on. Because I’m on this tab the favicon doesn’t show up.
  4. Looky looky…!  A blank page.  This is a BUSINESS’ S website… with NO favicon.  See how it sticks out like a sore thumb?  I can’t tell what it is until I click on it.  IF YOU HAVE A WEBSITE, DO A FAVICON!  IT IS EASY!
  5. Twitter… for a person I’m trying to network into.
  6. Google Calendar.
  7. VJC – my competition – they have a great blog post that I’m reading.
  8. blank page … I don’t know, and THEY miss a branding opportunity!
  9. Some association page.
  10. Southwest airlines as I get ready for some trips.
  11. KSL – local news.
  12. Twitter – another person I’m trying to network into.
  13. Huffington Post article about unemployment.
  14. blank page – I don’t know!
  15. Job-Hunt.org post on avoiding job boards that I need to read.
  16. A google search.

If YOUR page was open, would I see a blank page or a nice little favicon?

Here’s a search on favicon to help you get started.  This can really take just a few minutes to do.

10 Marathons

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Today I hit 262 miles.

That is the distance of 10 marathons… 26.2 miles * 10.

I won’t even pretend to be a marathoner, but I think it’s cool that I’ve gone that distance.

I have about 240 miles left before the end of the year – and I’m feeling pretty good!

Scary Spam

Friday, July 16th, 2010

This is really clever, very scary… I think the spammers will have a good success rate with people clicking on this:

here are the things to watch for:

  1. I don’t know the “from” person, and “local schools” doesn’t make sense to me (but it might to a lot of students :s)
  2. I went to laca.org and it wasn’t a real website… didn’t go anywhere.
  3. online.com?  Too generic…
  4. subject line has a period
  5. I don’t have a mailbox with 23GB.  I Don’t have an account with them.
  6. NEVER, EVER “click here” to validate a mailbox… or anything that you haven’t specifically requested.
  7. Other poor grammar towards the end of the email

When you mouse over the “click here” link you see it will go to this URL:

A few red flags here, also:

  1. the URL doesn’t match the sender (laca.org)…
  2. the subdomain starts with scripts. … NOT GOOD.
  3. 4goodhosting.com?  Seriously?
  4. form1.html?  Very novice.

This has yellow and red flags all over it – but they’ve done a very good job. PLEASE don’t click on anything that looks like this.  Simply delete it (or, if you are on Gmail, report phishing, or report as spam).

How To Loop a YouTube Video

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I like to listen to music while I work… sometimes I get stuck on a song that I like to hear… here’s what I do so that I can hear the same song over and over.  Note that I normally hate repetition but I put one of these songs on while I work and it’s nice background noise… with no distractions, and no need to hit replay:

Step 1

Open a notepad file and save it as an html file.  In Notepad you’ll want this code:

<html>

<p><object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/0Gjx-ZQuQ_Y=en&fs=1&”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/0Gjx-ZQuQ_Y=en&fs=1&loop=1″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object></p>

<html>

Step 2

Now, go to Windows Explorer and double click on the file – it should open in your browser, with a YouTube video embedded.

When you click on play, it will play to the end, then loop again and keep looping all day long.

I have about 7 videos on that page so I can put on different songs when one gets to be too much.

Step 3

To add a new video, just copy and paste the code above (from <p> to </p>) and change what is in bold to be the video code from the YouTube page (in yellow below).

You are telling the chunk of code above which video to show.

That’s it… I’m guessing I’ll update this post as people tell me what’s wrong with it, but it should work.

Not ALL videos work like this… some have protections placed on the YouTube side, and you’ll get a message saying you can’t loop it or show it… but many songs will loop.  Just play around with it.

One of these days I want to figure out how to loop a playlist :p

Eight Lunches, Business, Entrepreneur thoughts

Monday, July 5th, 2010

As I let the feedback from Eight Lunches incubate, and I noodle on the direction of the next draft, I’ve thought a lot about business.

I think about it as if I really were someone’s business coach.

I think it as it pertains to my own business.

I think about it as if I were speaking to a group of 100 wannabe entrepreneurs.

Lately I was thinking about starting and sustaining a successful business.  I’m sure people have thought about this a gazillion times, so perhaps there’s nothing new to this, but I’ve been trying to whittle down a model/system, so I could communicate it efficiently.

I came up with 5 steps or stages or components of this system… a system to create and maintain a sustainable business:

  1. Idea. It all starts with an idea, whether it is NEW (the better mouse trap) or old (a pasta restaurant).
  2. Execution. Not to use an ambiguous word that could be used in each of these five steps… but the idea here is to take the IDEA from step one and make it happen.  This is, create the widget, open the restaurant, etc.  This is take the idea off of paper and make it happen.  And then wait for the build it and they will come/buy, thing, right?
  3. WRONG.  Sales. This is key. This is the make-it-or-break-it thing.  Whether you sell licensing to your brilliant thing or sell widgets at 4 cents profit or sell one thing every year for a million bucks profit, you gotta sell.  Even non-salespeople have to sell – the brand, and the company.
  4. Delivery.  Once you sell your job isn’t done… you have to deliver on what you sold.  If it is a widget you put it in the mail (assuming it’s already been manufactured). If it is a custom quilt you have to sew it, if it is a consulting package or writing gig you have to schedule time to deliver on what you sold.
  5. EVOLVE.  I thought steps 1-4 was good but in the last four years I’ve found that there is this tricky little thing I call business evolution… my business has evolved dramatically from what I thought it would be (and what you would read in my business plan from 4 years ago) to what it is today. Having said that I feel like I’m in the most torrential part of business evolution… based on technology changes, competition, opportunities, economy and market, etc.  If you don’t evolve you might not live long.

Five simple steps… books can be (have been) written on each of these things… but what do you think… am I missing something (that can’t be put in one of the 5 above)?  Is there a list like this somewhere else that you like?

What can almost $5M get you (as a business)?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I’ve been advised to go after my next round of funding, based on business goals/objectives (which are always lofty :)).

There are lots of thoughts about getting investment money, and my biggest concerns are with the investors themselves.  This post from Tim Ferris was AWESOME… but his objective as an angel investor is different than many angels’ objectives.

One thing I’ve worried about is the ability of an investor (or group of investors) to have control over my strategic direction to the point where we are driven to do something that I don’t think we should do… or to shut down completely.

On TechCrunch there is a post about Wesabe, a company like Mint, that is shutting down.  Their reasons are legit… as a company that provides FINANCIAL services (interface with your bank account, etc.), they HAVE TO have certain security in place, and they say they aren’t comfortable with the level of service they can provide right now… I totally get that.

But my concerns was this:

In Feburary 2007 [Wesabe] raised $700,000 from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and later that year raised $4 million in a round led by Union Square Ventures.

How is it that a company gets 4.7M in funding and three years later it dives into the deadpool?

If I got 4.7M, what would my path to the deadpool look like? Alternatively, what would my path to fantastic success look like?

Makes me sad to think that wesabe is pulling the plug, but it really makes me think about going and getting money – money alone will not solve the issue (how to become successful/sustainable, etc.).

Or could it?