Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sweet Of Milk?

I was wandering through the cereal aisle at Big Box Mart when I saw a brand new product, Dulce de leche Cheerios. My initial thought was, really?

The first time I learned of dulce de leche was in "Guys and Dolls".
(Yes, that's a young and healthy Marlon Brando. Later he sings and dances during "Luck Be A Lady". Nostalgia.) Dulce de leche has more uses and meanings than a tool for getting a teetotaler drunk. Still, I'm not only skeptical, I'm a bit bothered by Dulce de Leche Cheerios.

I have no gripes with GM (Mills, not Motors) nor with their marketing department. I'm just weary of over the top hype. "Get rich with no effort", "Eat all you want and lose weight", "Tastes just like the real thing", "Oatie circles that taste like dulce de leche".

It's been a challenging few years and it doesn't appear to be over. Simple and straight forward wording will go a long way to aiding in a world wide recovery.

Can anyone help me gain some perspective?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The One Must-Have Twitter Tool.

Way, way back in November, 2009 (Nov. 30th to be exact) I joined Twitter. Early on, I realized Twitter was a very powerful tool, a tool that I would need some help in harnessing. In January, 2010 I purchased two books about Twitter. The first, "Twitter Marketing An Hour A Day" by Hollis Thomases was a tremendous help and led me to my 1st tribe, the HTArmy. The other book was the pocket version of "Twitter for Dummies".

One of the authors of "Twitter for Dummies" is Laura Fitton. I'm sure there are people that know Laura as Laura, but I know Laura by perhaps the best Twitter handle ever, @pistachio. My connection with @pistachio led me to her start-up, was an indispensable tool. The catalog of Twitter apps (with reviews) helped me pick and choose the tools that directed my Twitter account. I must have only scratched the surface of because was purchased by Hubspot in mid-2011. Hubspot had synergies with but decided to not invest resources in the Twitter apps compilation. What's a Twitterphile to do?

Not to worry. With the support of Hubspot and in the spirit of @pistachio and her team, Socdir is here to fill the void.  When you have a chance, check out Socdir. Want to fine tune your Twitter experience? Check out Socdir. Take a moment and bookmark Socdir. It's the one must-have Twitter tool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Clarification Needed?

Oasis, DesPlaines, IL
Was there concern that users would be confused by liquid waste vs. solid waste or by #1 vs. #2?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ROL: Confirm Terms.

ROL (Return On Life) is a soft measurement for lifestyle comparable to the hard marketing measurement, ROI (Return on Investment). ROL addresses small or simple life changes that can greatly improve quality of life. This week's ROL is about speaking the same language.
Saturday Stuff.
I had a long to-do list for last Saturday. The primary item on Saturday's to-do list was to take Little Suzy to the library to get a biography for an oral book report. Usually, when I have to take Little Suzy somewhere, Mario (my son) prefers to stay home for unfettered Wii and all things Mario (the plumber). I always ask Mario if he wants to come with, knowing the answer is usually no. Much to my surprise, Mario said "OK, We're going to the public library, right?" "Yes, Mario. We're going to the public library".
Not That Library.
I briefed the kids about a stop at Big Box Mart before going the library. When we arrived at Big Box Mart, Mario said "Dad, I don't want to go in. Can I start walking and meet you at the library?".
"Mario, the library is 5 miles away. You can't walk to the library.", I replied.
     Mario responded, "NO, the library is just down the street."
"Mario, we're going to the library on 2nd Street.", I answered.
North Suburban Branch Library, Loves Park, IL

     Angrily, Mario said, "YOU said we were going to the public library. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Library."
"Mario, they're all public libraries. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Branch of the public library.", I answered.
    Mario ended the conversation, "Maybe, but that's not what the sign says."
OK, But That's Not The Library You Said.
The whole public library/North Suburban Library conversation may seem like minutiae, but Mario has Asperger's Syndrome.  Aspies are very literal and often inflexible, so to an Aspie, the North Suburban Library is significantly different than the public library. These seemingly insignificant differences can end a day or waste many hours for an Aspie. On this Saturday, Mario rose above it all (after 5 minutes).  A successful library trip and a good day was had by all.
Lesson Learned.
This is a wonderful lesson Aspies can teach the non-Aspie enabled world. It's easy to assume everyone is talking about the same thing, even with simple terms. Simple terms don't necessarily mean similar and certainly don't mean the same terms. Little differences can have major implications and turn good exchanges bad. Taking a moment to confirm terms keeps life simpler and more enjoyable.

Do you have any examples of finding out something you said was heard differently than it was intended? How did everything turn out?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Puzzlement.

Driving around on Tuesday, I was listening to WSCR-AM, the Chicagoland sports talker.  Each time the hosts mentioned Twitter, they followed with "I mean a social network". The hosts indicated they would explain these corrections later.
source: Wikipedia
I also happened to be listening when the hosts cleared up the "Twitter, I mean social network" statement. CBS which owns WSCR-AM (among other outlets) sent out a memo directing on-air talent to not reference their Twitter handle. Quoting the memo, the hosts relayed "Twitter is the pipeline, our content is the product" or translated "Only reference the station website to avoid building any brand other than CBS and sponsors".

Ignoring the potential social media marketing disaster (experts can break that down better than me) I am still left with a question. I don't think corporations make decisions based on stupidity, I think corporations make decisions based on greed (I mean decisions based on maximizing shareholder wealth). Therefore, I don't understand the directive to not mention Twitter. What could make a corporation  happier than a cadre of on-air talent building the company brand even when the talent isn't on air? That's free labor, and corporations love free labor. So why the Twitter ban? I think either CBS is concerned about complaints from sponsors (why do we pay for advertising and Twitter doesn't) or CBS is scared the talent will build a loyal following that is portable. A portable and dedicated audience for the talent means the non-compete clause that keeps radio hosts off air between jobs means less. That transfers power (and $$$) to the hired help and corporations hate that.

So was the "no Twitter mentions" directive driven by sponsor complaints, management anxiety or my need for a topic? Have you encountered other examples of insecurity driving bad policy? How did that make you feel?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hold Your Horses.

While watching my Smartphone news stream on Sunday, I found this goodie: 
As Apple and Microsoft unite mobile and desktop, where will Android go?
The article discussed the intertwining of Apple and Microsoft desktop and mobile with the upcoming Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion. All I could think was "What's your hurry?"

The marriage of Microsoft and Apple reminds me of such arrangements between European monarchs to consolidate power. How did that eventually workout? (Hint: democracy) Ignoring my snark, isn't it a bit early to suggest the demise of Android? Win8 and Mountain Lion aren't even out yet. Shouldn't viability questions be still until all parties are operational?

I'm tired of business (and frankly everything else) being reported with Enquirer-like eagerness. Isn't it time to let the news speak for itself and leave speculation behind? How do you feel? Any examples of reporting jumping the gun? Or perhaps you formed an opinion in your own life that was premature and incorrect? Share with the class.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sign On, Please.

Over the past six weeks I have acquired a number of unwanted Twitter followers. These followers share similar characteristics:
  • The avatar includes a provocative, well endowed women. Sometimes the avatar includes two similar women. Sometimes these two women are embracing.
  • The @handle includes and 'X' in the middle.
  • The account rarely has any followers and often hasn't tweeted.
  • The account description is often NSFW.
These accounts are pornbots.

When I encounter these accounts (usually multiple times daily) I curse and tag these accounts as spam. But now someone is doing something.

Tabitha Fung has started a petition at The petition asks Twitter to ban pornbots. Please be aware the request is not about bots, that's another discussion. The ban is also not about porn because that too is another discussion. The petition is to keep Twitter users (including children) from having multiple, daily, automated porn related followers. It really is that simple. So please take a moment to sign the petition and maybe even pass the petition to your friends. Thanks for your help.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

ROL: Do Something.

ROL (Return On Life) is about engaging in small incremental changes that can have a large positive impact on living life. ROL is a non-quantitative adaptation of the financial measure ROI (return on investment). This week's ROL is about doing something.

Little Suzy brought a flyer home from school yesterday. As with most school flyers, Suzy said, "Mommy, Daddy I want to do this." The flyer had the details about "Jump Rope For Heart".
source: Heart Foundation

Little Suzy is blessed with my intelligence (that's a good thing usually) and my dexterity (that's a good thing rarely). I doubt Suzy can jump rope for 10 minutes or 10 turns, whichever comes first. Also, neither myself nor my wife come from a large family, so there aren't many potential sponsors in our inner circle. And none of that matters.

Both Mommy and I are 100% in with Little Suzy being involved with "Jump Rope For Heart." The understanding of doing something for others is great to learn at an early age. The good feelings that come along with helping others is secondary. On top of it all, Suzy's doctor has prescribed regular exercise to offset Suzy's taste for empty carbs, another inheritance from me. So Suzy's participation in "Jump Rope For Heart" is win/win. Doing something for others usually is win/win.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Disable Autosend.

I was out and about Monday afternoon to pick up my wife's Valentine's Day gift. While in the car I was listening to the Chicago sports talk station.  The topic was Jeremy Lin, or more specifically tweets about Jeremy Lin. In short order these tweets were shared and dissected:
source: Wikipedia

  • Pat Fitzgerald (or someone representing Pat Fitzgerald), Northwestern U. football coach tweeted that at last there was someone in the NBA that plays hard and says the right thing.
  • Floyd Mayweather tweeted that Lin was a good player but his success/publicity was because he wasn't black.
  • Jason Whitlock tweeted a thinly veiled reference to penis size. Whitlock's tweet was meant to be humorous and Whitlock failed to be funny.
I have always found one of the best features of social media was the ability to review my thought before expressing myself by hitting send.  I wonder what Lin, a Harvard, graduates thinks about the tweets listed above?

Have you ever posted something online that didn't turn out the way you had intended? Do you find e-communication simpler or more complicated than "live" communication?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Talent Isn't Enough.

My wife said, "How will the Grammys put together a tribute in under 24 hours?" I replied,  "They will pull an all-nighter buoyed by cocaine. That would be the most fitting tribute to Whitney Houston."
source: Wikipedia

Whitney Houston could act a little and sing a whole lot. Whitney, the daughter of Cissy Houston, cousin of Dionne Warwick and god daughter of Aretha Franklin should have had some insight into the dark side of the fame and fortune that often accompanies exceptional talent.Then again, maybe insight isn't enough of a shield when money, drugs and insecurity come together.

The world should have been able to enjoy the voice of Whitney Houston for another 25+ years. Unfortunately, Whitney Houston didn't have the proper mix of drive, dedication and discipline to showcase her tremendous talent into her later years. Without drive, dedication and discipline, talent isn't a blessing. Without drive, dedication and discipline talent might even be a curse.

The fact that Whitney Houston's death is self-inflicted (an autopsy isn't necessary to determine that long-term substance abuse was contributory) doesn't diminish the sadness surrounding her death. It's time to tighten up my schedule. Maybe I'll watch "The Rose" for additional motivation.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Editing Matters.  
"Eli Manning, You've just won your 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years. What are you doing next?"
      "I'm going to Disney World.", and the next sentence was left out. "Of course, I've been in Indianapolis for a week so any place will feel like Disney World."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

ROL: Show Up.

ROL (Return on Life) is derived from the metric ROI (Return on Investment). Just as changes (hopefully small) to investment increase profitability (hopefully disproportionately larger than the increase in investment), small incremental changes in behavior can greatly increase QOL (Quality of Life). This week's ROI is about showing up.
"I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."  - Peter De Vries
I Love My Blog.
I'm proud that I've been blogging to a regular schedule for the past 4+ months. It's been a challenge because I'm trying to limit my blogging time. I'm unplugging more often to be a better family member. Then life happens (stuff more important than blogging) and there isn't much time to blog. It's become challenging to post as regularly as I would like to post. I also question whether I'm actually offering anything worth blogging. Then I recall the quote from Peter DeVries and I blog on.
Even When My Blog Is Ordinary.
It's not always a life-changing post, but not every post can be The Great American Blog Post. Also I don't know what effect I might have on my readers. If I only post when I feel the post will be incredible I lessen the chance of writing an incredible post or of anyone reading an incredible post because no one knows when I'll be posting. Therefore, there is tremendous value is blogging regularly, even if the post isn't going to change the world.
I Love My Friends and Family, Too.
It's the same those I love. My loved ones may need me for issues momentous, mundane, general or specific. I may feel I have great value to offer my loved ones. Or, I may have nothing at all to offer my loved ones. The greatest value lies in showing up. Being there matters and matters more than what I bring with me.

Do you agree or disagree? Have you ever been in a situation where your presence (or the presence of another) has been transformative? Please share your story.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What's Up Doc?

Friday was Daddy-Daughter Home With Head Colds Day. Little Suzy was limited to laying on the couch and watching TV. Saturday was a home day. On Sunday, Little Suzy and Mommy ventured out for a bit, but not too long so Suzy was well rested for school on Monday.

When I picked up Suzy from school on Monday, Little Suzy had that nasal sound when a cold is draining. Suzy also complained of a sore throat. Tuesday morning, Suzy's throat was so sore she could barely eat. Suzy asked for another day off school. I agreed to her request. I also decided to take Suzy to the local treatment center when it opened at 5 PM.
 Suzy and I arrived at the treatment center about 4:50 PM. Luckily, there were only 6 people ahead of us. We waited our turn and were called into the doctor at 5:45 PM. Doc did a once-over and took a quick culture to test for strep throat. Culture was negative and Suzy was dismissed with a prescription for cough medicine with codeine and advice to take ibuprofen every six hours.

One thing, though. When Doc wanted to check Suzy's throat, he didn't explain about the tongue depressor. And when Doc went to take the throat culture, he again failed to prepare Suzy. As we left the treatment center, Suzy protested that her throat felt worse than when we arrived at the treatment center.

Suzy's regular pediatrician is soft spoken and warns Suzy before he does anything. The treatment center Doc was also a pediatrician, yet failed to warn Suzy about anything. I hope treatment center Doc has a better manner with the other kids.

Have you ever had a medical (or other) service provider fail to thoroughly explain procedures? How did you feel when that happened? Would you recommend that provider in the future?

Monday, February 6, 2012


I am a participant in Sarah Robinson's "28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty" blog series. Sarah writes the exceptional blog, "Escaping Mediocrity". My participation in this particular series has a very unique feel. I'm not only participating as a member of Sarah's Hooligan Tribe but I am also participating with members of my blogging tribe, Renaissance Roundtable. As chief of the Renaissance Roundtable, I am honored that some of my tribe have taken my suggestion and signed up for "28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty." Bragging, he says, "I guess I occasionally do something right."

"28 Days" began February 1, so there is still time to join up. With only 3 days of posts in the bank (weekends are for catch up, reflection or maybe even unplugging) I have already felt the burn. Considering the meaning of loyalty, showing loyalty and earning loyalty are keys to success in all areas of life. Whether or not you choose to participate in "28 Days" I ask you:
  • What does loyalty mean to you?
  • How do you show loyalty?
  • How do you earn loyalty?
Share your thoughts in the comments and I will share in kind.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why Lie?

I mentioned in a previous post that I had spent Saturday with my in-laws. My father in law, Cary asked me to help obtain a death certificate for his brother, Manny. Manny had died a few months ago in Colorado and had preplanned and prepaid to be cremated. A local friend disposed of Manny's assets but was unwilling to send Cary a death certificate. Since I am a funeral director by trade, Cary asked for my assistance.
Will You Help?
I called the Colorado funeral home that cremated Manny on Saturday. I asked for their assistance in obtaining a death certificate. The gentleman that answered the phone explained that the funeral home administrative aide (Judy) arranged for death certificates. Judy would be back at work Monday and call me then.

When Judy hadn't called me by Wednesday, I felt it was time to call Judy. Judy answered the phone. I told Judy that I had called the funeral home on Saturday and explained the reason for my call. Judy put me on hold to get Manny's file. When she returned to the phone, Judy said,
     "I'm sorry. I can't help you. John Smith signed the contract.
     You will have to go through him."
I replied, "You are unwilling to help the next of kin get a death certificate?"
     "Well, with HIPAA regulations we can only work with the person that signed the contract", Judy said.
 It's Against The Law To Help.
As soon as I heard HIPAA, I asked Judy to have the funeral home manager call me. It's now Thursday at 10:30 AM and I have not heard from the funeral home manager. I expect I won't. The funeral home clearly has no concept of customer service. Funeral homes have no obligation to comply with HIPAA. Further, helping a family member obtain a death certificate isn't a disclosure of private information.   Judy, and by extension the funeral home was simply unwilling to help.
Why Lie?
It seems many service businesses are using this strategy. When asked to explain a stunning lack of customer service or a new policy that is clearly anti-consumer, the business blames some form of federal or state regulation. Many federal or state regulations are cumbersome, far reaching and difficult to understand.  That makes state and federal regulations convenient targets for "why I can't help you." Still there is no law in favor of lazy or sloppy customer service.

Have you encountered someone using regulation as a reason not to help? How does that make you feel? Would you allow an employee or client to use regulations as a shield for poor company policy?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Drivers, Haiku Rhymes With...

Yield at roundabout.
I drive like an old lady,
Guy behind me honks.
Next guy zips around.
I stay unconcerned and safe.
Y'all have a nice day.