Cut the Crap & Help Someone Else Do The Same

After a fairly intense week, I was blessed to go out to dinner (& some darn fine bourbon) with a great friend tonight.

It seems that in those special moments when I’m with someone I’ve grown to trust and enjoy who also happens to operate their business inside the NY tech world, invariably the conversation comes around to an unfortunate and odd situation: every founder is always “doing great.”
No one sleeps, no one vacations, everyone works all night, beats all their developers into the office in the morning & is at the networking event that evening making connections. And of course, no one is ever sad because every minute of our existence is spent living our passion.

Bullshit (of course).

The bad part is that even though some of us know it’s bullshit, too many of us have no idea. When we have no idea, we feel guilty when we get tired or when we get sad or when in the course of living our passion we realize that some days (weeks) actually suck and aren’t fun at all, even though we’re still working towards our grand purpose for being on this planet.

I’ll not writing this because I have a brilliant solution; there are way smarter men & women in this corner of the universe giving light to the problem & proposing solutions. The reason I felt compelled to post about this tonight is I’d like to ask you for two favors:

First, please put real time and energy in the next week into finding a friend (or a pastor, rabbi, therapist, someone) that you can cut the crap in front of. Someone who you can say “I completely failed” to and know that their only concern is if you’re ok. Trust me, this is more important than your next deal, your next 10,000 users or your next round of funding.

Second, please go be that person for someone.



Now is a dish best enjoyed without much adornment. It’s fresh, nutritious & tasty when it’s eaten as presented.


So often it looks unfamiliar when we first see it. We instinctively grab the shaker and sprinkle enough Yesterday on it until it looks somewhat familiar. That first bite is usually great, comforting even. But in the end, the flavor is bitter and the aftertaste overwhelming.

Now is a dish best enjoyed without much adornment, knowing that tomorrow yesterday’s now will have prepared our palette for the new, unfamiliar and delicious Now.


written after a wonderful morning date with a wonderful girl, who after all these years, still likes me

A well Target-ed Ad missed the mark

I’m surfing through FastCompany reading about the Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator when Target’s well targeted (yes I went there) banner ad gets my attention (it complimented me). I clicked, it expanded and we began to have a dialogue; a simple, adobe-Flash, intentionally cheesy, computer lady voice conversation about my favorite programming language, among other things.

The punchline is it’s a clever lead-gen ad for talent acquisition. Now I’m not a dev, but one of my clients is looking at talent aquisition strategies, so hell yeah, I play along and at the end of my conversation with the banner ad I click through.


Hang in there with me for a minute and let me play this back for you:

  • I’ve engaged with the banner; in the marketing department that phrase is read something like this “Holy crap, someone clicked on our banner ad!! Woo-hoo!”
  • I’ve bought into the style of humor. I actually love intentional, self-aware cheesiness; reminds me of Doctor Who.
  • I’ve answered 5 questions or so. In salesman’s parlance that’s 5 agreements in a row, 2 more than the requisite 3.
  • And finally I’ve clicked the bright red button that says Current Opportunities.

All caught up now? Great. So here’s where I end up when I press the button. Don’t feel like clicking? Fine, I’ll just tell you, it’s the main Target careers page. First call to action that I noticed: search hourly careers.

This blows.

Here’s this clever effort by Target (and the agency who put this together) to get the appropriate attention of the (self) qualified prospect, engage her through humor and get her to commit to an action only to then have this qualified engineer come to a landing page encouraging them to jump into an hourly career or perhaps retail management. These are both wonderful and potentially rewarding careers, but it’s not a landing page that presents exactly what the person who just chatted with computer voice Sally would expect to see. The worst part (well maybe not the worst) is that it’s almost certainly just a minor mixup, just that someone missed the email to set up an appropriate landing page.

Just in case someone from Target stumbles upon this, when I was looking at the site, I thought maybe the link to and mobile careers would lead to what should’ve been the landing page. Unfortunately that link lead me to an Access Denied error message.

I’m not writing this to play the (very lame) game of “make fun of the big brand if they make a minor screw up”, I’m writing it because it makes me nervous and it should make you nervous too.

It makes me nervous because someone who strives for excellence planned this campaign. It makes me nervous because someone smart & creative thought up the engagement strategy and path behind the banner. It makes me nervous because an awesome client greenlighted this. And ultimately it makes me nervous because my clients are awesome and I’m creative & smart and I strive for excellence in everything I do.

So if Target can screw up then I sure as hell can too, and some jerk will write a blog post about my screw up.

But nervousness is useful.

For example, I’m always nervous before I go on stage and I use the familiar feeling to help me make sure I am totally prepared before I step in front of an audience to give a talk. So I’ve decided to use this new-found Target-inspired jolt of nervousness to remind me to always make sure of two things:

  1. Double check the simple, basic things on every project
  2. Make sure everything I work on is amazing to begin with, I’d hate to screw up something mediocre


written while wearing a pair of blue Merona Tailored Washed Chinos 


Talking #SMAC at Social Media Week NYC 2013

I’m always excited to speak at an event, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m extra excited for this next event; I’ll be on a panel at the Social Media Action Camp on Tuesday, February 18th.

Why so excited? Check out the lineup and you’ll know why; 18 speakers who all kick ass and most of them are either friends I greatly respect and don’t get to see often enough or they’re people I respect and haven’t yet had a chance to meet. So looking forward to this. If it’s not yet on your Social Media Week NYC schedule, I highly recommend it. VIP tables are sold out, but as of now you can still get a ticket.

SMAC Promo Flyer small

Now, later, why

You heard it from your mom or your granddad or an awesome teacher. Maybe you had your very own Mrs. Garrett who taught you life lessons in half hour segments. But however you first encountered it, I’m certain you’ve heard it. “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.”

I woke up this morning thinking about that line and thinking about my walk yesterday. I took an after lunch walk to refresh my brain and I walked past a  homeless woman. She had a sign, she had a cup and most of all, she had a sincerely sad downcast look about her. In my head I thought about the couple of bucks I had in my pocket and decided when I looped back that way in a few minutes, I would put them in her cup. When I got back, the woman was nowhere to be found.

As I think about it this morning though, it’s not the fact that I missed her that makes the event stick in my head. It’s that I was dishonest with myself. As I re-run the tape mentally, my real thoughts were along the lines of “I’m not sure if I have that cash on me and it would be really embarrassing to stop, dig in my pocket, find nothing and then walk away.” So I waited until I was an acceptable distance away and checked my pockets to confirm that I could be generous without embarrassment on the way back to the office.

Does that suck? Maybe a little, and I hope sincerely that the woman I saw got the money she needed and more importantly that she got some human kindness from someone to lift her spirits.  But I’ve decided to learn something from it; two somethings actually:

  1. Minutes matter. Putting it off until tomorrow is one thing, but putting it off until I get back could be just as bad.
  2. The real why matters. Do not bullshit thyself. The tidy easy explanation I gave myself was a quickie lie to help me feel better.

It’s Never Just The Data

My buddy Paul Biedermann pinned a Kissmetric infographic earlier today and it popped up as I’m working on a growth plan for one of my favorite client’s ecommerce efforts. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m elbow deep in sales data and path to purchase stuff but I was inspired to share a quick thought with you and see if you wanna share what you think.

It’s always interesting to me to see the apparent contradictions presented in these (awesome) infographics. In this case one that jumps out at me is the ‘average’ blog gets the most views on a Monday but the most comments on a Saturday. On the surface, what do you do with that? Does it mean that you should post on Mondays, that you should post on Saturdays, both or neither?

The answer is it doesn’t actually mean either of those things. In fact, by itself, it doesn’t mean squat. It’s just (presumably accurate) data. Having this information can be useful to develop strategy, but only if you’re considering it in terms of your organization’s actual objectives. Without objectives in mind you have no framework for usefulness and then data is just data.

Data’s great but it always comes down to proper decisions based on the interpretation of it. In other words, talented human judgement based on clear objectives.

Return on Investment – She Remembered

Sunday marked the first ever visit of two of my wife Ruby’s cousins, Soranyi and Darling. Along with them they brought their beautiful families. All in all, it was a lot to look forward to for all of us; the kids had new cousins coming to play with, Ruby had a wonderful woman to talk with and I had a couple of great guys to drink with (and talk, in-between beers of course).

My wife reminded me that I’d spent time with Soranyi at my sister-in-law’s wedding in Florida. With my amazing memory for detail, I couldn’t remember much of the conversation. Late into our family day, during “grownup time” at dinner (that time after all the kids have abandoned their plates for a game controller), Soranyi brought up our conversation from all those years ago. This wonderful wife and mother reminded me that when she was 15, the age my daughter is now, I gave her a book and said some things. She was even kind enough to share the lesson she’d carried forward in her life from what she read.

So now I should tell you what the lesson was, or at least the name of the book. Nope, forget that for now. What I hope you get from this is that she remembered.

When you find yourself considering if it’s worth investing the time, or the energy, or the breath, or the money, or whatever into a fellow human being, always err on the side of over investing. The potential return is amazing and the potential loss is too sad to consider.

My big return on investment? She remembered and I still can’t stop smiling about it.

Facebook, children and your fences

Got a call yesterday from (the awesome) Patricia Kitchen (@patriciakitchen) at Newsday. We had a nice conversation about the Wall Street Journal’s report that Facebook is testing technology to allow children under 13 to have access to the site. Or as one commenter put it “Facebook explores not requiring kids under 13 to lie about their age.” The article says that the accounts would be linked to their parents’ accounts and it appears that parents would have a good deal of control over who and what their young children can interact with.

Edit: Patricia was kind enough to include my comments in her article.

So first things first, I am still surprised at how many people are surprised by this. Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, these are our new media companies; it was only a matter of time that one of them realized that it was time to start the Disney, Jr phase of their evolution. I think this could be a positive move if it’s implemented the right way.

Kudos to Facebook for finding a way to create revenue by fixing a problem (kids buy a crapload of games and will probably drive us parents crazy to get them the latest in-game content) . However I reserve final judgement until I see the actual parental controls. I for one want to see the ability to control not only who my kids friend but also whether or not they see advertising and who from, so we’ll see.

So What’s With The Fences?

A fence is a choice not an excuse.

The guy with the fence on the right may have a beautiful yard, but clearly values his privacy over the ability to display his handiwork. The owner of the fence on the left has got no issues with the neighbors (and everyone else) looking into the yard and seeing what’s going on.

I passed these two fences last night and got to thinking about some of the objections I’ve heard to this Facebook plan. According to the more colorful ones, Facebook’s (possible) new plan will make kids fatter, more socially awkward, unable to have a relationship outside of a mobile phone, grow horns, a tail and cloven hooves and various other disastrous consequences.

Thank God, we live in a place that allows us to make choices, especially as parents. If this plan was live today and Facebook complied with all my wishes for the parental controls, I still wouldn’t have my 11 year old on. Why? Because it would add no value to his life right now. Maybe next year but not right now. My choice.

If you like to take the garbage out in your underwear, I hope your fence looks like the one on the right. And if you don’t care if the neighbors see you playing in the yard (and if you keep your clothes on), then the fence on the left is perfect. Either way, the consequences are not the fence’s fault.

Be Selfish – Volunteer

Weekends are great times for me. I’m lucky enough to get extra time with incredible people (my wife and kids) and every few weeks, I get an extra treat on Sunday mornings; I’m given the opportunity to speak with a group of the most awesome teenagers and pre-teens at my church.

There are so many things about this group that make them special (the kids themselves, the team of grown-ups I work with, all the incredible talent, etc) but I have to admit I have three selfish motivations in being involved:

  1. Every time I’m with them, I learn something new. So much talent in one room, so many fresh perspectives on life, so much honesty and bravery. It’s really mind blowing.
  2. They make me feel great. No matter how many times I screw up the Bible verse or totally forget my place or go off on some crazy tangent they’re always patient and only make fun of me a little bit. I don’t try to be super-grownup to them and pretend that I’m perfect (they’d see right thru that anyway).
  3. Lastly, it gives me more time to hang with my kids. My daughter and oldest son are in the group and any time I get with them is precious.

I know we’re all crazy busy, some of us running on absolute empty some days. But when I take this tiny sliver of time and put it into these awesome people, I get so much more out than I put in. I walk away feeling refreshed and renewed mentally and emotionally.

Trust me when I tell you, if you have the opportunity to volunteer somewhere, be selfish and do it. You won’t regret it.


Silly Bandz
Beanie Babies
MySpace customized profiles
Neon Legwarmers
Bike Shorts
Ripped Jeans
Blue hair spray
Safety pins
Pet Rocks
Pants so low your boxers (or thong) show

We all have a fad or two that make us laugh. We might even have a few embarrassing pictures that we wish we could burn or wipe from every server on the planet. But of course, at different points in our life common sense overtakes us and we move on from those fads. At some point for most of us, common sense and maturity mix together and we look at the fads of youth and say things like “what are those youngsters thinking?” Of course a lot of us go too far in that direction in the name of “common sense and maturity” and that keeps us from being bold and experimenting, but that’s a different post for a different day.

But the other day I took the picture that led off this piece because I just couldn’t believe what I was (barely) seeing. I know you can’t make it out, so let me try and help.

Enhanced Billboards?

It’s a billboard. It’s 5 stories up. It has a QR code on it (plus the font was too small, but let’s not nitpick).

I feel like we need some sort of PSA here. Maybe we should ask one of the agency that do the anti-drug ads to tackle this problem.

“This is  unnecessary QR codes. This is your creative on unnecessary QR codes. Questions?” (don’t get it? click)

Don’t get me wrong, some form of scan and go to connect the mobile device and physical goods and ads is going to work, and it might even be QR codes. But I don’t think a lot of people are going to scale a building to scan a code.

Now QR codes on neon legwarmers, that could work.