Paper

Paper Don’t Crash

“Modern marketing is all about automation.” I don’t completely agree with this statement, but if you spend any time reading about how companies communicate with customers in 2017 you will discover how “marketing automation tools” play a major role.

What is “marketing automation” you ask? Well, this humble blog uses a bunch of it. Many of you came to this post today via a link on Facebook or Linkedin. Those posts are scheduled and executed using an automated social media tool called Hootsuite.

If you signed up to receive new posts via email, then you likely reacted to a “scroll box” popup, and then the email you received was sent out using an automated platform called MailChimp. Google Analytics collects and tabulates all the traffic and visit data, which I use to adjust how I use all the other tools.

Like any other, these tools don’t actually do anything by themselves, they require content, strategy and a purpose. Clearly if you’re reading this… they’re working.

That said, sometimes the most effective way of keeping your name, brand, product, (or blog) in the forefront of the mind of your audience, can be a simple as a piece of paper. […]

Egg Salad

Egg Salad and Bug Juice

There is this idea within the American Dream, where each generation is destined to do “better” than the previous. While a noble (but potentially selfish) goal, things get a little murky when you try and define “better.” Does better mean more money and in turn more stuff? Perhaps better means more leisure and family time or a lower level of work stress? Maybe better means more (or fewer) children, better nutrition, and a longer life?

The bottom line is this… “better” is subjective and although one can tie nearly all the things above to more money, the availability of money and the conveniences it brings may not necessarily produce the “better” you’re after. […]

tool

The Most Powerful Tool

I got yelled at on Tuesday. I was at my son’s spring track meet and as he tried to pole vault over a seven foot bar, I took a “live photo” with my iPhone 6s. A “live photo” is a funky thing my phone does where when you take a picture, the phone records 1.5 seconds of video both before and after the moment I pressed the button… pretty cool.

As you can see in the video below, he almost made it over. So, being an interested (and data driven) Dad, I walked over to show my son his vault with the idea he might correct his mistakes on his next attempt. […]

Who Wants To Be In My New Book?

Every so often I run across a story of true selflessness. These are stories about people who go above and beyond to “do the right thing,” even though for many reasons it doesn’t make sense.

You all know the kind of story I am talking about. Someone sees an opportunity to help someone or something, and despite the risks to his or her own well being, reputation or personal safety, they plow ahead and do it anyway.

My next book is tentatively titled There’s Less Traffic on the High Road and it will be filled with stories like this – stories of risk, reward, noble kindness and ultimately human triumph. I have several tales ready to tell, but this is where I need your help. […]

problem

First World Problem

As we head into spring I am reminded of a task for which I used to be responsible. For fourteen wonderful years, we owned our home on Hillrise Drive in Penfield, NY and with it the pool in the back yard. Having recently moved to North Carolina, I expect I will be missing my pool any day now. That said, the ownership of a shimmering blue hole in the ground taught me a lesson I use nearly every day.

I recognize that ownership of a swimming pool of any kind is a luxury, unique to our blessed and (to be completely honest) wealthy country. With 780 Million people the world over lacking access to clean water, it seemed almost cruel for me to keep 32,000 gallons of the stuff in my backyard for solely recreational purposes. […]

Best

Fiona Knows Best

About five years ago, my friend Fiona moved to South Dakota. She and I became friends working together on a local TV show almost a decade before, and we would get together maybe once a year for lunch, that was at least until she moved. Fiona is one of those people who you don’t see often, but when you do you’re able to pick up right were you left off, as if no time had passed at all.

Two years ago, I was driving back to Rochester from a day in Buffalo and my phone rang. It was Fiona, and she said, “Hey Steve. I have this new philosophy about far away friends. Whenever I think about them I don’t wait, I just pick up the phone and call or text them. I was thinking about you a few minutes ago so here I am giving you a call. How are you?”

We chatted for fifteen minutes, about nothing in particular, and went on with our lives… 1,500 miles apart.

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waffles

Waffles Are For Breakfast

The other day I dropped my eleventh-grader off to take the PSAT. As we drove the mile and a half to the high school, I blurted out the one thing I remember from my SAT prep course thirty years ago. “Scan-Discard-Select-Move On.”

In addition to all the content we covered, this was the lion’s share of the strategy I was taught, to conquer this all-important measure of my seventeen-year-old brain.

After exclaiming the one thing I remembered from three decades past, my daughter (as is often the case) looked at me like the alien creature she believes me to be. However after wiping the sour look off her face she asked, “tell me more about that.” […]

honeydew

Honeydew Terrorist

I recognize the title is odd, but I assure you the story I am about to tell involves both a honeydew melon and terrorism. Last week I saw an article about the Ozark Mountains Turkey Trot Festival.

This reminded me of (and was no doubt the inspiration for) the very best episode of a 1970s-1980s TV sitcom called WKRP in Cincinnati. The episode to which I refer, originally aired on October 30 (my brother Doug’s birthday) 1978. IMDB.com describes the episode as:

Feeling left out by all the recent changes, Mr. Carlson decides to launch his own Thanksgiving promotion. With the aid of Herb and Les, the Big Guy turns a routine turkey give-away into a comic catastrophe.

What ends up happening is this. In an attempt to make an annual turkey giveaway more exciting, the station owner arranges to drop turkeys from a helicopter flying 2,000 feet above a shopping mall. If you’re not familiar with the show or the episode, the clip is just below. […]

minus

n minus one

There is a concept in business strategy known as “n-minus-one.” Simply put, the idea is you should always staff your company, office, or team with every needed resource, minus one.

For example, let’s say you run an accounting firm. You land a new contract and the analysis of the engagement calls for a team of twelve accountants and auditors. The n-minus-one concept says the team will actually be more successful if you implement a team of eleven.

It may be counter-intuitive, but I have found this to be not only true, but also applicable in situations well beyond the workplace.

Some business gurus believe the secret behind n-minus-one is how the remaining team members are required to hustle just a little more to get the job done. The resulting momentum and frantic energy will drive the eleven accountants to do the work of twelve. While hustle and momentum may have something to do with it, I believe n-minus-one works for another reason entirely… flexibility and the room to maneuver. […]

inactivity

Inactivity Timeout

This post was originally published in March of 2015 as part of a series called 500 Words To Save The World. Given the political maelstrom in which we find ourselves in 2016, it struck me as worth re-issuing. As the Irish statesman Edmund Burke aptly said,

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Do whatever you must to avoid being one fitting his description.


One day I received an email from my library informing me that my card was about to expire, however if I had used it within the last year it would automatically be renewed, no further action necessary. By simply using something, I was permitted to keep using it. […]

Dreams

Only In My Dreams

Friday morning as I was making breakfast for my kids, my daughter was doing her daily “flip around” the major cable new channels.

My daughter Charlotte may be the best-informed sixteen-year-old in America. She makes a point of watching all the different news channels with their respective “leanings,” so she can get a clear picture of what each side is saying about the other. She does not take any one source of information on faith but instead requires multiple points of reference before deciding her own truth.

Back when there were still more than a dozen candidates for president, she read all of their most recent books… all of them. However, what I’m going to talk about today has nothing to do with politics. […]

drop

Every Drop

I am writing this on day seven of an eight-day vacation with my bride of seventeen-plus years, and my three sons, aged 15, 14 and 12. We have enjoyed amazing adventures and wonderful family moments, but as is the case in all families… there are limits to how much togetherness one can truly tolerate. Lucky for us this vacation appears to be just the right length.

From the day they are born, all children test boundaries. When our first child was born in 2000, my Father (who at that point had 30+ years of experience as a pediatrician) offered us only one piece of parenting advice. Holding our day-old daughter in his arms, he looked up thoughtfully and said,

“Make no mistake about it… you start raising your teenagers, today.”

As our oldest grew, and we added to our family at a brisk pace, and the sage words of my Father echoed in my ears every time I was tempted to give in to the boundary testing antics of our four children. […]

Go

How Pokémon Go Can Win The White House

As I sit and watch the political ping-pong, zing across the inter-webs like so many Sneetches, I have done my level best to stay out of the fray. If the experience of my forty-seven years has taught me anything, it is that another’s point of view has never been swayed by a single pithy comment, image of Willy Wonka or rapier-like jab.

Go

This has never been an effective persuasion tool.

No matter how smart you think you are, and no matter how clever your delivery; odds are at least one-third of the universe thinks you (and your opinions) are equivalent to the hind-end of some slovenly livestock. […]

Fred

For The Love Of Fred

I have written before about my elementary school, but I will recap with a single sentence. It was a freaky 1960s experiment where all the rooms were shaped liked hexagons and the classrooms had no walls.

One of the things I remember vividly from my years at Harris Hill Elementary, was a movie we watched called, For The Love Of Fred. For this film to have burned itself so clearly into my mind, it must have been shown with great frequency. Either that, or my unofficial position as school’s “projector whisperer” exposed me to more viewings than most. […]

ties

A Few Things Everyone Should Know About: Ties

Ties, so simple yet so misunderstood.

Welcome to the latest episode of “A Few Things Every Man Should Know About:” Every week this series will cover 3-4 interesting facts on a single topic.

This week we’re talking about ties.

No matter what you think you know – take a few minutes and have a look, you just might learn something. Even if you don’t, you’ll at least confirm that you already know a lot, which is always good for the ego. In the comments section, tell us topics you’d like to see covered. If you have info to add, please share that too.

This series is meant to start conversations, not just be a pile of facts

So, again this week we talk about Ties. Believe it or not, you could look even better than you already do. Watch, listen & learn!

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