Monday, August 30, 2010

Shalon's 2010 AVM Walk Documentary

Shalon from AVMSurvivors.org put together this awesome documentary on this year's AVM Walk in San Francisco. I missed the walk this year but the year before was awesome. Meeting everyone in person really helped cement my relationship with everyone on AVMSurvivors. This year the AVMSurvivors group ended up raising $10k for the walk, pretty darn impressive! I'm so glad Shalon made this video because it made me feel like I was there in a small way.



Here's the video I made from the year before:

Funny Dating Advice

Funny dating blog I found via my Facebook feed. The one below is funny and great advice.


"126. Don't date guys whose email address is their firstname@firstlastname.com

It's a bit of a red flag for arrogance (okay who are we kidding... its a big red flag for arrogance) to have your own firstlastname.com and make it your email. If you want someone more down to earth (and less obsessed with himself) stick with dudes that use the the regular ole firstlastname@gmail.com and you'll be fine. Another red flag is @aol.com but that's an entirely different issue.".

The "OBP of Social Media"

Really neat post by my buddy Papi on what he calls the OBP of Social Media. OBP is a baseball term that abbreviates On Base Percentage. In baseball, it's short hand doing something productive in your at bat. Here is the beginning of his article. Read below and then Click through.

A short digression, but it's really exciting for me to see my friends from Kellogg putting up posts that relay their experiences and opinions. That's one of the main reasons I started this blog 3 years ago. I wanted to create seed a hub for my Kellogg friends so we wouldn't lose track of each other. It's worked better than I ever could have hoped with many people contributing the bulk of my content. On the marketing front, their insights are invaluable as many of my friends now run big brands. Brands that spend a lot of money on marketing. I want to know what they are thinking and it's so cool to be able to read it on a lazy Sunday.

Papi:


"OBP, how can I ‘splain it?   It’s the fabled baseball metric that rose from obscurity proceeding Michael Lewis’s Moneyball.   OBP ( on-base percentage) indicates how good a hitter is at getting on base (duh), and is highly correlated with winning.   It’s so simple in its elegance, but was largely overlooked for many years by “old baseball”.   You get on base more, you score more, you win more. 


When evaluating brand efforts on social media efforts, there are so many metrics companies can use and few that are universally regarded as an effectiveness or brand health correlate.  The most powerful marketing, don’t forget, is positive word of mouth (or so the old adage goes).
I’ve been doing some social media benchmarking for brands in my marketspace (personal care goods).  I would propose that the ratio of “lovetweets” (positive engaging posts about a product, brand, company, advert) to deal/promotional retweets is the most revealing statistic about your brand’s standing with consumers."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Article: How playtime is responsible for Post-It Notes, Lasik, and more - (37signals)

How playtime is responsible for Post-It Notes, Lasik, and more - (37signals)
http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/1804-how-playtime-is-responsible-for-post-it-notes-lasik-and-more


How playtime is responsible for Post-It Notes, Lasik, and more

Jobs:

See more on the Job Board.

Are you giving employees time to play? Often, that's when breakthrough ideas happen.

It's something Jim Coudal has mentioned before — how he actually encourages employees to goof around. I asked him to expand on that and here's what he wrote:

Most of the smart, creative, successful people I know spend a good deal of time looking for inspiration, tracking down ideas and doing research.

We do all those things too, we just don't have a problem with calling it what it is, "goofing around."

Play is essential, it's through play that you find connections between things that might not be at all obvious through logic or practicality.

If you don't have any accidents how are you ever going to have happy ones?

3M gives all employees 15-20 percent free time to work on their own projects. If it's a success, the project can be spun off into a new business and the employee who originated it is given an equity share. Most of the inventions that 3M depends upon today came from this free time.

In 1968, 3M employee [Art] Fry was singing in the church choir and got annoyed that his bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal. "It was during the sermon," Fry remembers, "that I first thought, What I really need is a little bookmark that will stick to the paper but will not tear the paper when I remove it." Fry wondered whether it would be possible to create a repositionable bookmark that would stick only gently to a page. In the months after his church choir daydreaming, he spent his side-project time researching what would ultimately become the adhesive behind the hugely popular yellow Post-it Note. It was an unexpected, even random, invention that saw the light of day thanks to 3M's flexible employee policy.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Talk at eBay

Today I gave a talk at eBay to the the tech group that builds and runs all the advertising products. My good buddy Matt Madrigal runs the group. He introduced my professional credentials quickly, and then did two minutes on my endless appetite for pizza. It was a hit with the crowd to say the least.

Note the icon next to my name.

Kenna is blogging and I'm stealing one of his playlists for Friday Chill Music, even though he specifically designed his playlist to counteract the overt sensitivity of my playlists. I met Kenna at Kellogg and he has great taste!


Click through the post to get to the playlist (I couldn't figure out how to embed it).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Doesn't Seem Safe

A Note from a Ben's Friends Member

I received this note from a member of AVMSurvivors.org, part of the Ben's Friends patient support networks for rare diseases, after she finished her final treatment and has been pronounced healthy. These notes are the main reason I help build the patient networks. They're so beautiful. Although it's long, it's touching and I thought I would pass it on to you..

"Some things I learned through this experience/blessing:

1.  Never give up hope in your treatment; never let one dr. decide your future...there are too many out there; medicine is a practice and lets face it, AVMs are so rare we are making futures in treatment.

2.  Allow those who want to help, help.  It may heal is wound in  something in their life and for those who don't want to help don't be upset realize they may not now how to deal with the situation wherein it is their issue not yours and just let it go....negativity is way way too heavy....

3.  Breathe....life is too short to sweat the small stuff...when it all gets crazy and you are not sure what to do ....breathe, meditate...create some me space.  Silence is a great healer and you will learn to hear much in silence....

4.  Pray...to God..He listens. He is on this journey with you too and loves you and its okay if you get angry with him..He already knows it; and if you are afraid, its okay..He will always put people in our lives just when we need them...trust me and just be open to it.

5  Fight insurance companies...I did....nothing is set in stone and we must fight this rare conditoin and deserve the best care avaible....your life is priceless.

6.  Cry...best soul cleanser in the world...and if someone sees you...its okay....ask them to join you....shoulders were made for crying on..

7.  Know in your heart who your best friend is and let them in...don't think you are a bother or don't want to know....they do and you are not a bother to them...they are on the journey with you....they want to be .

8.   Don't make excuses if you don't feel well...if you don't feel well physically, mentally, spiritually emotionally....its okay take time fo ryourself...if some don' understand, again, their issue not yours.  Remember God gave us two ears one to let negative comments in another out...

9.  Challenges are blessings...yes we all have challenges in life but we need to learn from them, its why they are there and will enrich your life even more...be open to it.....and while it can be difficult at times...you will see it is a blessing.

10.  LOVE LOVE LOVE....love with the most deepest passion you can....people, God, your work, most importantly love yourself!   Hug all....recycles human energy!  You are a gift to the world and a survivor!  Love is the best healer....God is love. Love with your whole heart and soul...fills you with peace, peace, peace...."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Commuting in a Highly Networked World

Great post in the Atlantic on the toll commuting takes on people, especially in our highly networked world. I used to hate commuting because of the physical fatigue, but now it's becoming much more an issue of time inefficiency. I was nodding my head vigorously when I read this.

"Similarly, the things we did in our cars reflected the entertainment available. And in the broadcast world, being in your car wasn't so bad: you listened to the radio for fun at home, so the car was kind of a couch on wheels. (See: drive-in movie theaters.) One system helped support the other.

But the latest network to overspread our country -- the wireless electromagnetic one -- is just not fully compatible with driving, at least for human brains. In more economic terms, the opportunity cost of car commuting is going up. You can listen to Howard Stern in a car; you can run your business from a train or bus."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Calkins on Groupon & Gap

Interesting blog post from my old Kellogg Marketing Strategy Professor, Tim Calkins, on Groupon and Gap. I read his blog religiously and in hindsight, his class was in the top 3 of most interesting & useful that I took at Kellogg. He's gradually starting to cover technology companies more too, which of course I appreciate. The post is interesting because he evaluates the offer from the brand's perspective, something that people associated with tech sometimes forget to do.

For what it's worth, I've had a lot of informal conversations with small business owners about Groupon and the established ones are generally aligned with Calkins thoughts. At the same time, I think Groupon is hugely valuable and as real-time couponing goes mainstream, which I think it will, there is going to be gigantic slide into game theory, specifically Prisoner's Dilemma, for local retailers. Each neighborhood shopping area is going to become a micro couponing climate. I predict a short term raise to the bottom in couponing. Something that will greatly benefit consumers and the couponing companies but hurt retailers.

"It isn’t hard to figure out why the Gap deal was such a big success.  It was a great offer.  Gap sold a $50 coupon for $25, a 50% savings.  Gap is a huge retailer with broad appeal; I suspect a large share of the people following Groupon participated in this offer.

The question to consider: why did Gap offer such a deal?

Financially, the offer has to be a disaster.  If Gap got Groupon’s usual deal, then the company sold $50 worth of merchandise for $12.50.  This isn’t a good way to make money.

Worse, Groupon buyers are presumably price sensitive, so they will use the coupon on merchandise that is on sale.

Indeed, I struggle to figure out why any established, successful company would want to use Groupon.  Driving sales through deep discounting does not build a strong brand or a good business.  Appealing to promotion buyers is dangerous.  Groupon surely provides excitement and some short-term revenue, but at a very high cost."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Housing Fades...

Good article in the New York Times today on housing, not so much for the content, but because it demonstrates how hopeful people still are about the housing market. There are lot's of quotes from people recognizing that it's going to take a while to recover, but in their next breadth, they're still hopeful. It takes a really long time for excesses to work through the system. The moderate recovery or flatlining, whatever you want to call it, has come with interest rates continually hitting all time lows. I'll believe there is some type of housing recovery when I see prices going up in the face of rising rates. That's when you know there is real demand.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BensFriends.org in Business Week...Kind of...

My partner in the Ben's Friends patient support networks, Ben Munoz, was interviewed by Business Week as part of an article on Odesk. We use Odesk a bunch for administrative and SEO tasks and are big fans (along with Elance, a similar service). The only problem was that they didn't credit BensFriends.org or give us a link. :(

Here is Ben's quote, which is 100% true. If we didn't use a service like Odesk, we'd never be able to scale Ben's Friends like we have.

Oh well, we'll get them next time.

"Benjamin Munoz, an Austin-based entrepreneur, has used several international outsourcers whose lower costs have benefitted both his two startup companies and his nonprofit website. "If we had to pay for U.S. or Western talent, it would be pretty difficult to do what we're doing," he says.
Recently he created a 90-second video for his nonprofit site—a networking organization for people with rare diseases—that cost him a little over $300 working with an artist and a musician in the Philippines. That's about one-tenth of what he expected to pay using domestic talent."

Chateau Montelena with Friends...

...and the wine that put Napa on the map.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One of My All Time Favorites

Radio King

Update: Oops, some people are having some trouble! Navigate to the whole Tweedy concert here. Then click on song number two, Radio King.

Friday Chill Music (August 20, 2010)

Hope you enjoy. I especially love the Clogs song at the end.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flowing Data & SF Bus Movements

Cool post from Flowing Data on Bus Movements in SF. It's a neat graphic but I can't figure out how to embed it. Just click through the link, please.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yuppy

Cool visual of my FourSquare check-ins by Weeplaces. Definitive proof that I'm a total yuppy.


Scott Orn's Foursquare by WeePlaces.com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Avastin, Rationing, and Death Panels - Code Red

This news on the FDA potentially rationing Avastin bums me out, especially since I know more about Metastatic Breast Cancer after starting a support site for it on the Ben's Friends network last month.

Laughter In The Dark

I love this picture.



via Photografr.com by Chris Nixon on 7/30/10



Photographer: Jeremy Brooks
Source: Flickr

Training People to be Disloyal

Loved the segment below from Seth Godin. His example is about publishing houses training authors and book agents to be disloyal. However, I've seen this far more often in the job market recently. Many of my friends are getting really good offers when they start looking around for a new job. When they let their employer know that they are leaving, they almost always get a huge counter offer. I keep hearing numbers that are 30% - 50% above their current pay and it drives me crazy. Why haven't these companies been paying the employees what they were worth the whole time? Sure, it's great to have people on the P&L at a below market rate, but even in bad markets, great talent has tremendous value. These employers are training my friends to be disloyal, and it's working...

"The way you price expensive transactions is going to train your partners and customers in how to behave.

When selling a book to a major publisher, it’s common for the publisher to offer an advance against royalties. In fact, the advance is the most significant tool that publishers use to get a coveted author to pick one house over another--royalties and most everything else are fixed.

It turns out that if an agent offers a hot book to multiple publishers at the same time, the advance offered goes up, often dramatically. Obviously, the publisher was capable of offering the higher advance without the auction, but it was the risk of losing the book that got them to pony up more money.

This trains agents and authors to be disloyal, to shop around and to create an artificial game to raise the price."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fascinating Story of Protein Folding by Humans

I found this post by Andrew Mcafee on enlisting humans to break the code on protein folding incredibly fascinating. Turns out that the best super computers are human brains. Read the whole post, but this segment describes what's going on.

"Rosetta and other protein folding algorithms do much better then simple trial and error; they incorporate all the rules and ‘tricks’ that we know about. But as Pietszch writes “Any realistic hope of cracking the folding code… is probably a very long way off.”
If the smartest biochemists and fastest computers have made so little progress on this bitterly difficult problem over half a century, it seems ludicrous to think that novices will be able to contribute much. But a paper published earlier this month (pdf) in Nature shows that amateurs can fold proteins better than anyone or anything else when they’re given the right training and incentives, and when they’re given digital tools that allow them to experiment, collaborate, and self-organize.
A few years back a team at the University of Washington took cues from both the phenomenon of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games and the concept ofcrowdsourcing scientific problems and developed Foldit, a protein folding game. Foldit presents protein folding as a visual or spatial challenge to the player, whose goal is basically to arrange an on-screen protein into the smallest possible shape that obeys all the game’s rules."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Paul Graham on Yahoo

This editorial on Yahoo by Paul Graham is one of the finest technology editorials I've ever read. I can't really express the ideas in the editorial better than Graham did. Two things I'll add though:

  1. I remember when they hired Semel to be CEO. I knew the goose was finally cooked then. He was a studio guy and Yahoo fully embraced the entertainment company mantra. They even hired a guy named Loyd Braun, who had green lighted Lost at ABC but was fired before it was proved successful. Together, he and Semel were to turn Yahoo into a content company. Shortly after hiring him, there was a glowing article on him in something like Fortune or BusinessWeek and it casually mentioned that he didn't know how to work his computer and his assistant read his email to him. I nearly blew a gasket. The most important anecdote of the whole article was a throw away sentence buried in the middle. The guy in charge of Yahoo couldn't work email!!!
  2. Some people probably say, "who cares about yahoo?" - totally get it. It's a company that lost its way and that happens all the time. However, I think it's valid for tech people to care about Yahoo for two reasons, 1) It's a shame to see wasted potential. Whether it's a superstar high school athlete that can't get out of their own way, or a Fortune 500 company that does the same. It stinks to see someone/something not reach full potential. and 2) Yahoo is one of the big three of potential Internet acquirers - Google, MSFT and Yahoo. To have a strong startup ecosystem, there needs be acquirers to cash out investors and take smaller, but useful tech concepts mainstream. Facebook and Twitter are on their way to reshaping the acquisition environment, but for the last 3 or 4 years, you had three choices when selling an Internet company, and two of those choices were in obvious decline. The startup exit market was less competitive, and less lucrative, because of Yahoo's missteps.

Skype IPO

It's funny what you learn in business school. At Kellogg, I learned to love Skype.

My first exposure to Skype was one of the first days in school when my section was trying to choose an IM service to standardize on. All of the Americans wanted to use Yahoo or Microsoft, and said so. That's when all of the international students freaked out. People were going crazy. We were told in no uncertain words that the rest of the world used Skype and so would the Poet section.

Skype is one of the first Internet services I've ever heard of becoming a standard in the rest of the world before the U.S. Sure enough, when I got to London Business School for a quarter, everyone used Skype. I bought credits to call friends and family back home and used it all of the time.

Fast forward to today and it's clear those international students knew what they were talking about.

From the Skype S-1 Filing (you file an S-1 Registration disclosure when you are going public):

"“users made 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls” during the first half of 2010, with a full 40 percent of those minutes being video. Skype users also sent 84 million SMS text messages through Skype during the period."


Holy cow! Those are some crazy user numbers. It's an IPO I'll consider buying because of those adoption numbers. Yes, Skype generates revenue from only about 5% of it's user base, which is quite small. However, many Internet services today are adopting a business model that monetizes only a fraction of their user bases. More important than the short term monetization rate, is that Skype is rapidly becoming the communication tool of choice across the world. I heard a crazy stat last year that 8% of all phone calls worldwide travel across Skype. I'm not sure if that is true, but it seems reasonable given the user stats above. It's the phone system of the present and future, and I want to own a part of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Inter-office Male


"Have you ever hooked up with a co-worker from a remote office and had to look him up in your Outlook corporate directory the following morning to remember his first name?"

The Floozy is the best. 

U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know: Laurence Kotlikoff - Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-11/u-s-is-bankrupt-and-we-don-t-even-know-commentary-by-laurence-kotlikoff.html


Scary stuff.

Alex Bain and Ben's Friends

My good buddy, Alex Bain, sponsored www.LivingWithTN.org (Trigeminal Neuralgia Support Group) in an incredible act of kindness. LivingWithTN is part of the Ben's Friends network of patient support sites that I'm involved in. The networks have really taken off and we now have 15 networks and over 5,000 Friends (members). We're self funded and once we reached 15 we began to be tapped out financially. We never solicited a donation but Alex was so touched by the magic that is happening on the networks that he generously offered his financial support. It was very touching to me personally and also to the members of the network who responded with about 35 digital thank you's.

Alex, tip of the cap to you my friend. Thanks so much for your support!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Matt's Daughter Playing Computer

My buddy Matt and I go on the occasional bike ride and last week he was telling me how much his 1+ year old daughter loves the small computer he gave her. Sure enough, I saw this clip from her blog via Alex's Favorites.

She's ridiculously cute in the video. Matt is a developer dude. Is there any doubt his daughter is following in his footsteps?


Love, Love Computer from Matt Koidin on Vimeo.

Woman Quits on Dry Erase Board

The Internet is so awesome! Loved this woman quitting via dry erase board. Especially busting the boss on Farmville usage.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This is Funny

the sound is a little bad on this but worth it,

via Dave Holmes:

"Listen, I don’t like to post about You Know Who any more than you like to read about her. But sweet Bristol’s involvement really sends this one into the stratosphere."


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mark Cuban's Blog on the Rangers

http://blogmaverick.com/2010/08/05/chasing-the-rangers/

I really enjoyed Mark Cuban's blog post on his quest to buy the Texas Rangers. I did investment banking at Hambrecht & Quist for my first three years after college and his post brought back many fond H&Q memories.

Banking is kind of like joining a fraternity & the hazing, you'd recommend the entire experience to someone but you wouldn't want to do it again.

Anyways, this post is excellent and it captures the adrenaline that comes with the chase, the analysis that keeps you from over paying, and the disappointment that comes when your bid loses, which happens almost every time. You can even read between the lines and see that Cuban is blowing off a lot of steam in this post.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tim Goodman & Mark Lisanti on Mad Men

Two of my favorite bloggers happen to write epic blog posts on each episode of Mad Men. If you're like me, you savor the show and then can't wait to read the recaps and analysis the next morning.

Lisanti writes a tongue and cheek recap full of humor and sexual innuendos (or overt sexual humor). His Mad Men logo is an inside joke for those that enjoy Draper's "Finger Bang Threat Level" update each week. Note, Lisanti's column is for adult reading only.

Goodman's recap are always enlightening and point out a bunch of little things that I missed, but make the show so much more enjoyable.

Check them both out on Monday after they've had time to write the recaps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What to Do With 401k Allocation Choices

A good friend from Kellogg asked me to help her with her 401k Allocation choices. I'm not a pro, but tried to give her some general guidance. After I wrote the email, I figured I might as well post it here so others could either point out the flaws or use it themselves if they think it's a good framework. Remember, I'm not a pro.



General rules - 

1) Diversification is very important. Will protect you over the long haul. some things go down, some go up. the nice thing about a 401k and automatic contribution is that when things are going down, you are still buying them, so you are dollar cost averaging down. You may want to set up something where you re-balance every year. That way you take profits on things that have gone up, and dollar cost average down even more. I don't really worry about that, but that is me. I'm lazy and I figure my time frame is so long that it's not a huge deal.

2) My friend is 30 so so she is still very young, so you want to take some risk. If you were 50, I'd say have a lot of your money in more conservative things like a lot of bonds and large cap. You should have some exposure to International stocks and bonds, which are riskier but theoretically have a higher return profile, as well as Alternatives like Real Estate and Natural Resources.

There are two ways to do this with her choices, pick funds that are a complete diversification plays (different securities and different asset classes) within themselves. A general Capital Appreciation Fund is like that. You can put a lot of money into that and know you have some diversifcation. Find a general bond fund like that, and you are good. Probably 80% to 20%.

Personally, I like diversification on the funds too, that way, no one bad fund performance can screw me up too bad. Therefore, I allocate based on Asset Classes and just try to pick the best ones based on expense ratio and I look at performance too, but past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Using my strategy, I break up allocations into Asset Classes. My 401k allocation is about the percentages below. This would be my rec, but you can't really go wrong as long as you are diversified. Also, I'm not a pro so take mine with a grain of salt.

US Big Cap - 20%
US Small Cap (or Mid Cap) - 15%
Value Fund - 10%
US Bond (or High Quality US & Euro Bond) - 10%
Global Equity - 15%
Global Bond - 15%
Real Estate - 7.5%
Natural Resources - 7.5%

Hope this helps everyone. Please point out the flaws in my thinking in the comments!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cool Video

The Clogs & Matt Berninger via Fuel Friends


CLOGS "Last Song" from Brassland on Vimeo.

Inception

Inception is the best movie I've seen in a long time. It's such a brain twister that I'm still trying to figure out what actually happened. I've been searching the Internets for days and thought I would share a few, cool articles that friends Matt Koidin and Cousin Cliffy sent me.

Very thorough explanation of the movie and what's really going on. Loved this!

Nice piece of Inception music trivia. What are they trying to tell us?

A late addition is this beautiful chart posted on Flowing Data (fast becoming one of my favorite blogs).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Healy Jones on an MBA & Startups

My buddy Healy Jones writes a great blog post on why MBA's can be so useful in startups. Here is a snippet:

"As OfficeDrop has grown I’ve found my MBA more and more useful. Basic stuff like statistics, pricing strategies, etc are particularly useful. I sure that I could have learned this in a book, but there is something about the classroom learning environment that is good for the way I acquire knowledge.
The connections I made during the MBA are very useful. For example, I wanted to test out an idea for a new verticalized product offering at OfficeDrop. I glanced through LinkedIn, saw several classmates who were in the targeted field and had some quick conversations. I could have done this without the MBA, but it was nice to know that there were people who would pick up the phone. And of course the connections were helpful during our fund raise."

Also, he has a great point about how student loan availability make tuition increases easy for schools, but they end up crowding out risk appetite of recent grads because of the huge debt burden.

"*On a somewhat unrelated note, does anyone else think that student loan situation in the US is the major cause of the educational cost inflation that we have here? In other words, because the federal government makes loans so easily available it is driving up the cost of higher education? I’m starting to think that government policies may be part of the reason that education is becoming so expensive - flood a market with cheap financing and the asset prices will go up??"

Monday, August 2, 2010