Friday, December 5, 2008

One Week Later

It has been a week since I finished school. As you may have seen from my last post, I was pretty upset about a few things.

Some of you may have noticed that I did in edit my last post. It contained a neat little list of things that bothered me. I removed it because I didn't want to give anyone false impressions about the work that actually gets submitted.

What happened was this: I had a group of people that worked on a project with me for my IP class. We divided up the project and everyone was supposed to write their part of the project. What ended up happening was that two of my group used Wikipedia extensively for their research when we were told in the first week that Wikipedia isn't an academic source... which makes sense given what Wikipedia is. I also had group members submit work to me that I felt was largely copied and improperly cited. I saw this because taking an article, copying large portions of it and throwing a reference at the end of a paragraph would probably not have been accepted as anything other than plagarism.

My anger came from the fact I felt there are people in my program with a severe lack of integrety and character. I was called out for focusing too much on marks, which I feel was not fair. I think that these people just don't get it... for me it is, and has always been about doing work that I am proud of. I want to stand in front of people and present ideas that I am proud of. I don't want to hand in somebody else's work, nor do I want to ride somebody else's coat-tails.

We got a high grade on our report. Above 85. And I should point out we lost 8 percent for not having an executive summary.... something I intentionally left out. I left it out because I was too tired to finish the report after having been up for two days working and doing that report. I left it out because I don't care about marks and by that point - I wasn't proud of the work or the process of getting it done.

Getting that mark is of no satisfaction to me. The realization that there are people who learned nothing in their 15 months in the program hurt even more. Since then, I have spoken to a few of my classmates and my story and my thoughts are not unique. So what am I going to do about it?

Nothing.

I have decided to just focus on myself, my career and my own personal development. It is clear to me that those people that don't get it are only concerned about themselves... otherwise they would care about reputation and integrity. While I don't pretend to be a bastion of either, I think that there is always more to do.

And now I have to get on doing it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ninety One Percent

My MBA is now 91% complete.

This past week was the last week of this calendar year. I had only one major assignment due for my Intellectual Strategy and Business Strategy class. It was a group project and we had to do a 30 page paper and 20 minute presentation.

We were tasked with creating a firm that mismanaged their intellectual property and then suggest how they should address the issues we created in the context of being Business Development managers in front of the board. The class was really interesting and probably one of the top three classes I have taken in the program so far.

The reason is that intellectual property is everywhere. The products you interact with on a daily basis are loaded with IP. For example, if you wake up in the morning and brush your teeth, then your toothbrush will have a name, which is probably trademarked and part of a brand with some type of brand equity and using some technology that is patented or licensed out and has a design that is protected by a design patent.

Every year, billions of dollars are spent defending and prosecuting IP infringement cases. Plus there are probably billions more LOST on opportunities where IP was not maximized. I'm not going to get academic and quote this and that, but I think that you get the point.

Unfortunately I am also came to the realization that some people learn nothing in these programs. In the last week I have seen some pretty awful behavior by some of my classmates.

To be honest with you, I am quite upset about this because I think that these just don't get it.

And they never will.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bring It On...

Two weeks or more since I have taken the time to update and I have to admit that it is my fault.

We have been down a Marketing Coordinator here since October so I have been doing two people's duties for the past while. Combined with the last assignments of this term and you have disaster pretty much.

The upcoming economic slowdown seems to be topic number one in most people's minds so let me share a few of my thoughts on the issue: stop crying and get to work.

That's it. That's all. Stop pointing fingers, stop making drastic calls for changes... and start getting to work fixing the problem. Get to work producing and purchasing goods.

The reality is that until they pay those who monitor the system more than those who abuse it - they will never really root out the greed on Wall Street. Money goes to scarcity and when there are a few people in the world who can game the system - they will draw HUGE bonuses.

I have been in the job market since 1999 when I graduated university. In that time I have seen two major financial downturns. The first was the dot com bubble of the early part of this centry and the second one is what we are currently living through. For those of you with great minds and innovative thoughts, the future is and alwasy will be bright. Same goes for those people who can get stuff done. There will always be a place at the table for you.

Now if you're one of those people who is refered to as "fluff", then you need to be worried that the house you bought and couldn't afford will be vacant in a short while. Go back and get training, get skills that are in demand and rare and your career will thank yo for it.

I will be finished my MBA early 2009 and lucky for me I have a job so I don't need to worry abou that but I am actually looking forward to what is going to happen in the next year. The downturn will push the fluff out of the market and leave the solid people/companies. As a marketer, I will learn to be way more savvy about how I do things. The days of having unmet demand are over and now is the time to see what you are really made of. You can run or you can stay and fight. I choose to stay and fit so bring it on.

U.S. Thanksgiving is coming up. My favorite Canadian holiday. I know.... you're probably wondering why I say it is a Canadian holiday and the reason is that we are so tied to the U.S. economy that when they shut down, we slow to a crawl. We're going to use this time to finish the office spruce up project and I am going to get everything around my desk organized and cleaned for the holiday rush. My last class for this year is next Thursday so I am looking forward to finishing for a month.

Yes, I live in such a twisted world that only having a full time job is considered a vacation. Evenings and weekends free.... what am I going to do with all this free time? Sleep.

I am also going to use the time to get this blog back into shape. I will put some pictures up and tell you all about my new Phone. The HTC touch diamond. I am loving it so far and will be bloggin with it soon enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

barack to the future

So, I'm sitting in class right now but most people are watching the election on their laptops and it looks like we have a Democrat victory. Right now, McCain is giving up.

I have to admit that I am somewhat surprised that they didn't close the gap a bit more in the final days... I find the Republicans are pretty good at scaring people into thinking the country would fall apart under Democratic rule... what with the same sex marriage and abortions and all... however if McCain won, rest assured that California would have burned in riot.

With the return of a Democrate president, I figured I would return to my blog. It's been a while hasn't it.

The truth is that I haven't really been up to much lately. Work has been really busy based on the fact that it's our busy time of year... not to mention the whole crush of projects we have going on with channel partners. The good news is that we are still bullish and the future looks bright.

School has been slightly quiet since starting up... I have classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights again so the combination of that and lots of work has been rough.

Outside of school, I dj'd a great house party for Halloween. My organic food delivery is coming today and I'm looking forward to that. Saturday is going to be fun. I have a whole spa morning booked with a massage, followed by a haircut. Then it's back to the grind.

Anyways, talk to you later...

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Friday Night...

... and I'm going on a Pub Crawl. Not since about second year university have I done a pub crawl and pubbing isn't the thing that I normally do but today I find myself absolutely excited.

First, it is my friend Jon's birthday and second it's been a crazy week. Spent Sunday at work, as I will again this Sunday... then hammered it out in the office.... then went to school... then had my physical...

I guess I should mention I had a physical for my insurance this week. That was fun. Good news is that I am a totally healthy. However I didn't need get any blood taken... or I would have fainted as usual.

Back to the crawl. Have no clue where we are going. I just have to show up at a certain Boston Pizza at 7pm and the rest will be history.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Period 6

So I am back at school this week. Taking a class on Tuesday night and another one on Thursday night. I am taking a class about intellectual property and another one about services marketing. Not really jazzed about either subject but we'll see how it turns out. I'm going to be taking more HR courses and some courses way outside of marketing.... maybe even something in Finance... yeah right.

Spent the weekend getting ready for the pending beat down that will be the next two months of my life. Here's the deal.

Our marketing coordinator left last week to go work at an agency... which leaves my boss and I to pick up the extra work. On top of this, we have about a thousand different projects going on AND we're heading into the busiest time of the year. The upside is that I am going to get a crash course in how to manage pay per click campaigns through Google, Yahoo and MSN... and get a little closer to affiliate marketing. I have been meaning to get into both of these things but the amount of work I have had to do elsewhere kept me out of it.

I am really looking forward to hiring somebody new. I'd like to get somebody with a great head on their shoulders that is really motivated and hungry. I think marketing is an amazingly exciting field and I want somebody that really shares my enthusiasm... sometimes my office is too quiet. If I wanted to work in a quiet office... I'd work in a library.

Visited the UBC botanical gardens on Saturday for the annual apple festival. I never knew there were about 200 varieties of apples... and I saw most of them. The gardens were amazing and I can't wait to go back and take them in properly.

I also signed up to get a basket of organic goods delivered every two weeks. My first delivery is tomorrow. I got an email from the company today welcoming me to the program (I will post their name later) and telling me that although the deadline for changes is 9am on Monday, because I am new, they will let me have until 9am on Tuesday. Either way, I can see that I'm not going to change my first order as I'm really looking forward to what they bring. I'm getting some pretty standard things like potatoes and tomatoes but then I am also getting some chard and some grapes... and some other stuff I am not too sure about but hey, that's the point of this exercise. It's only 35 dollars every two weeks... which is nothing considering I get the grocery close to never. I could see myself pushing it up to once a week if I really like it.

I have a physical tomorrow for work insurance. That should be fun... but they are sending a nurse or something to my house... what a total sham. Some company contracts some other company to come and do their dirty work for them.

Lastly, it is back to the gym for me this week. I went on Sunday and absolutely punished myself. I think the combination of the improved diet and a heavier workout schedule should really help get past the second stage of my return to being in shape. It's weird because I haven't been weighing myself (no point, just go for it is what I say) put I recently realized I fit into some old pants I hadn't worn in years the other day. I guess I am going to wait until the spring and then buy some new clothes.... no point until then as it will probably rain all winter anyways.

take it easy.

d

PS. I'll put some pictures or something exciting up soon.... I realize this writing is getting boring.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ideas on Tap

I went to a great networking event last night called Ideas on Tap.

Hosted by local companies that included 6S Marketing, the event is the new version of an event that used to happen in Vancouver around 1999 whereby web people would get on a milk crate and pitch their ideas for 60 seconds. The new version of the event, launched last night, wasn't really about looking for funding but more about talking ABOUT great ideas and that is what I found really interesting.

The problem is that I feel this city is full of small marketing type firms that have a few people looking to work for themselves... to live that specific "life". Which means that people are more into themselves and their own thing than really pushing the whole scene forward. Also, I spoke to a number of these small firms that seem to be really industry specific... which is REALLY dangerous. They should really look to diversify more.

Interesting though is that I did get the chance to talk to John Chow briefly, who is famous for making about 30k/month through blogging and affililate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you agree to sell a firm's products or goods in exchange for commission. John's thing is lead generation so he gets a fee for each lead he generates. I never knew he lived in Vancouver as well.

All in all a fun evening and it was good to get out and be involved in the marketing community in Vancouver. I think I will keep going to these types of events in order to meet more people and expand my network as I can. It's a bit hard in this city as some people aren't overly friendly and sometimes people don't really network as much as they talk to their friends but still, these things are MUST if you are going to move your career forward.

I have a free pass for the Vancouver Board of Trade speaker series... so I am going to go to one of those events soon. Ideally, I really want to expand my network outside marketing and software. I think the scene in Vancouver is small enough that if you really work hard at it, you can really set yourself apart.

Have a great weekend. I am going to be really busy at work in the next months as we are hiring some people and getting ready to set up for the xmas rush. As such, I won't get to blogging as much anymore but keep your eyes peeled as you never know....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Thanksgiver

It's been a really busy month for me so far. I haven't really had a day off since August, including weekends, and so I am really looking forward to having three days of being back to normal.

Tonight I am going out (shocker, I know) to see a band play and then I'm going to get my dance on, so I'm doing two parties in one night. Then I'm going to get out and see the city on Saturday afternoon. Probably see a movie on Saturday night... heck, maybe even go and see two of them back to back!

Sunday I am going to a thanksgiving dinner at my friend's place and I'm going to watch NFL all day. My buddy and I are in charge of potatoes and veggies, so we're going to do our best. I'm thinking something classic like mashed potatoes and carrots but we'll have to see what we can find at the Granville Island Market.

This term at school finished this week, so I had to complete two group projects. That was fun. I have next week off school and am back the following week... so here we go again.

Work has been super busy for the past month as well. I am really excited for our new product release, happening soon and will talk more about that when it is ready. I don't normally promote things on this blog related to work but I think people should really see what we've come up with.

Found an interesting site called Loud3r recently. It has all types of "channels". Each one is a gather of other information about that topic. Basically it is a great way to get an overview about what is happening. I read about internet technology and stuff like that quite often and my problem is that there are so many different sites to read. I get RSS feeds, I visit sites... I read magazines, books, newspapers.... there is just too much stuff coming from all over the place. The Economist is my main print source of information these days, love that magazine and a must for anybody doing an MBA.

Even though I haven't been updating much recently, I am going to be taking a break from posting anything or even touching a computer for the whole weekend. I hope you all have a safe and happy thanksgiving (or thanksgiver).

Take care.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Main Street vs Wall Street

Everything you see in the media these days is talking about the battle between Main Street (the average folk) and Wall Street (I guess this represents the corporate fat cats).

I love how the media simplifies things to this extent. By making it A vs B, the public is easier able to decide which side they are on. You are A or B, simple as that. Although with the elections you can vote independant but then you're just diluting the vote.

They are saying that Wall Street has taken advantage of Main Street and profited from them... that Main Street is left poor while Wall Street has gotten rich.

Of course they have! That's what they do.

And it is only a matter of time before this happens again. We had the whole Enron/Worldcomm thing... then Sarbaines-Oxley (aka SOX) and wouldn't you know... the whole time that was going down, Wall Street was getting rich off crappy paper.

So here we are, about 7 years after the last big blow up - another one. This time even worse.

And until they start paying people more money to watch Wall Street, nothing is going to change. The truth is that MONEY TALKS. That's why the best and brightest clammer for jobs on Wall Street, not Main Street. You can be at the top or the bottom and you need to make a choice.

Where are you going to be?

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Month Back

Well I have finished my first month back at school, and other than the fact I am grappling with being very busy all the time, things are going well.

The weather was nice here this past weekend but I spent most of my time working away on the various projects I have due. One of them is a consulting proposal and the other is a creative marketing plan for a company that makes an innovative art/photo display system.

Watched a few bits of football when I was able to but I don't have cable so I don't get much. I looked into getting cable last week but basic cable is 35 bucks and a package with an ok amount of channels is 55 bucks a month. Seeing as I never really watch much live TV, I figured it wasn't worth it. Seriously, how can these cables companies possibly survice at a time when all the content they deliver can be downloaded or watched elsewhere for free? I suppose they know this and are so short sighted they are simply pulling as much revenue from us until the day when they are made obsolete.

I have mentioned it before but MTV.ca really knows what they are doing in this regard. You can go to their site and watch any show for free, anytime you want. They have small commercials inserted a few times throughout the show but it's nowhere near as bad as live TV.

Unfortunately, I'm not going home for Thanksgiving weekend. Although it's too bad I'm not going to see my family, I am looking forward to having three full days off. I am planning to not touch a computer or think about work for one minute. On the Sunday, I'm going to a friend's place watch football all day. Then, I'm going to sleep in on the Monday and spend some time around town. Can't wait.

No school the week after so concentrating on work is going to be a nice change. Then it's back to the grind the week after that.

Talk to you soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I just don't get it

I don't understand how people can be in an MBA level program and have their heads so completely in the clouds.

If you don't know what the requirements of an assignment or project are, then how can you possibly complete it. The FIRST priority whenever you are given an assignment is to fully understand the nature of what you are being asked.

I had some major issues with this just this past week. We have to do a proposal for a consulting class... a proposal is what you would use to secure a job in consulting. I guess you could say it is that industry's version of statement of work. What you are doing, when and how much. What is in scope and what is not in scope. What you are trying to do and why.

Yet some people thought, until just this week, and our proposal presentation is next week, that we had to solve the problem and kept talking about the solution.

Then I really enjoy how nobody accepts any responsiblity or ownership of everything - instead they just expect other people to do it. I wrote about 4 pages of the final work in 45 mins. Only thing I have seen so far are confused faces, emails and a PDF.

I don't know people ever sit up and take a look at the people around them. If they looked at me, they'd see somebody who has a job already and isn't graduating until May 2009.... I can fail courses and it won't affect me.

Think about THAT next time you want to gamble with whether or not I'm going to be motivated to help you coast through the program. When I was full time, I was gunning for a job bigtime... I found my job so I'm happy as a clam.

I'd fail a course in the blink of an eye just to watch somebody else finally learn the most important lesson you can learn in the working world: nobody is going to do anything for you that you don't do for yourself.

Plain and simple. I know.

Add value to situations by providing ownership, direction or significant input.

Do that and you will be ok. Fail to do this and you will find yourself with no job or a in a dead end one.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One Year Out

I celebrated my one year anniversary of living out west over the past week few weeks. I took a dip in the sweet waters of the Burrard Inlet, a BBQ at Spanish Banks and had dinner at Tojo's.



Let me tell you, Tojo's was awesome. The best, if not one of the best, dining experiences of my life. It was a great mix of good company, unreal food and sake.



For those of you that don't know (and I may have some details slightly wrong) but Tojo is the man responsible for inventing a majority of the sushi rolls you see in around these days. California roll, dynamite roll... and many others. He gets the best ingredients and is able to get fish that almost nobody else ever gets. I had one roll called a Canada Roll that had fresh EAST coast lobster and fresh WEST coast salmon. Unreal. Add a few bottles of the unfiltered sake called Northern Lights and it's over.



We must have been there for over 3 hours... and there were about 8 things that happened that had me laughing so hard I was in tears. Hot chocolate, rice wine... hot dragon...



Anyways, I have also been reflecting on my first year out from the MBA as I went to talk to the first year students about MBA stuff a few times. I can't believe that I was in their shoes just a year ago. It seems like a lifetime ago. If it wasn't for the grind of the two major projects I would do it again in a heartbeat.



Here is a quick rundown of some things I proud of:


  1. Getting over 80 percent in Statistics: Failed this is in undergrad. The only course I EVER failed in my life.

  2. Getting over 85 in Macro Economics: Now I understand what the other half of my Economist magazine is talking about.

  3. Making it through the first year with my sanity in check, although the jury may still be out on that.

My goals for the next part of the program, which I am completing on a part time basis are as follows:

  • Keep everything organized
  • Go to the gym at least 3 days a week
  • Work on the art of selling

I have come to realize that, in the end, the experience is really about learning how to sell your ideas and present arguments in a convincing way. I am taking a few classes this term that are hopefully going to help work on these things.

Now back to work. I watched the new 90210 this weekend and I will comment on that and the Canadian Idol finale soon.

Take care!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I love chrome

Just downloaded the new Google browser, Chrome today.

You can get it here.

So far, I'm a big fan.  Let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Updates from the field...



We're in Costco across the entire United States! Here ares some shots of our placement... makes you realize that retail is a tough nut to crack.




Also, here is a picture of me in front of our signage, take to mark the "completion" of my internship.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mookie!!!!

They voted Mookie off Idol!

Unreal, that kid is going to be big someday.

best idol ever

well that was one, if not the best single episode of Idol, ever.

The Canadian Top Five really tore it up tonight. No ladies left so the boys got down to work on the Beatles songbook, as decided upon by the judges, who also chose the songs.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back In Town

Sorry that I haven't posted anything in a while, been really busy.

back from my long weekend back East. I spent 4 days up at my cottage in Norway Bay, Quebec.

Flew home at 11pmPDT and arrived in Ottawa at 6:30amEDT.... so I got about 45 minutes of sleep. Partially because I was excited to go home and see the family, partially because it was a chance to get caught up on some stuff for the Sauder MBA Marketing Club as well as the new season of Mad Men.

Air Canada now has a personal entertainment system for each seat and that was nice, although I never used it until I was on my way home... I watched Iron Man (good) and What Happens In Vegas (bad).

Anyhow, I finally got up to my cottage on Friday and the weather wasn't very good. Cloudy with some sunshine but not great.

Friday night, I put the women and children to bed and destroyed the cottage - old school style - with a few partners in crime, namely Ronslo and TB.... not, TB is NOT Terry Bradshaw.

Saturday was spent sleeping and sitting around waiting for the rain to stop. Saturday night saw us have a HUGE family dinner follow up by a bash over at Ronslo's place, followed by The August Long Dance.

Now for those of you who don't know and probably can't know because you have never seen anything like a Norway Bay Dance, we're talking absolute insanity. Cover band ripping huge tunes while people go buck wild on the dancefloor.




Most importantly, I got to spend some time with the newest members of my family - my niece Ella who is just over 1 years old and my band new nephew Tate, who is about a month old.

Here is a picture of Ella and I on the dock:



What is funny about Ella is that she knows more Spanish than English.... she knows how to say "Gracias" and a few other words but she can imitate a fish, elephant and lizard pretty well too.

I didn't spend as much time around tate though - he's too small to hold a beer right now.

Work has been absolutely off the hook for the last two weeks. Although it was nice to have things moving so fast, it became a bit hectic to get everything done on time. But the good news is that we're in Costco in the US... which is a huge deal.

I'm going to be in Seattle on Monday next week and then it's all going to be about trying to enjoy the end of the summer. Can't wait!

Danny

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

back to normal... again

So I have been waking up at 5:30am every day for the last 4 weeks and going to the gym. It's been great but then last Thursday I destroyed legs and then killed my tricepts on Friday.

On Sunday, I finally decided with my girlfriend that it was time to take on the Grouse Grind. Learned two amazing lessons. The first is that you should probably make sure you are fully recovered before doing the grind and the next is that it's a pretty serious affair.

It took me an hour and 40 minutes to get up the thing! People do it usually in about an hour and the record is like 25 minutes or something. My goal is to knock 30 minutes off that time by the fall, perhaps even labour day.... so I've stepped up the incline on the treadmill at the gym.

The lady and I also went to Granville Island on Sunday.... which is always awesome but it was totally crowded. You can rent kayaks down there so we're going to do that sometime soon.'

Also went BACK to a great new sushi place at Nelson and Hornby... but I can't remember the name.. it's called Okana or something like that.

Anyways, Idol is going to start soon. Gotta run.

great night on idol

big night on idol tonight. After last week's sh*t show, it was great to see most of the contestants step up to the plate tonight.

Although unplugged is totally boring...

Anyways, tough call to see who's going home. Sebastian Pigot would have my guess for going home but I wouldn't be surprised if the girl vote keeps him and we might see Mark Day go home, finally. Mitch McDonald might also be in trouble..

Monday, July 28, 2008

funny john mayer video

This is pretty funny. John Mayer spontaneously hamms it up for the TMZ cameras in NYC.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just getting started...

So I have just about passed the mid-way point in my internship and everything is going great so far... actually, I'm having an amazing time.

What is weird is that although I am only halfway done, the MBA program is really starting to ramp up again. A good number of the class is going on exchange so many of them are leaving either this week or next to get settled into their respective cities. Some are going to Barcelona, Milan, Rotterdam and I know some people going to Shanghai and Singapore.

As such, there are lots of people finishing their internships and gatherings to see people before they leave.

Also, the program itself is starting to get ready to accept the incoming class. The ISP program for foreign students starts any day now.... then they have pre-core in mid-August before they start classes after labour day.

Wow. I feels like I just finished school yesterday. Work has been fun but I feel like I'm just getting warmed up. The good news is that I'm staying on to work full time in the fall while I go back to school part time. Instead of finishing in December, I will finish in May and graduate with my class.

I will be in school a few nights a week and the odd weekend... unfortunately, I may not be able to take some of the good classes I wanted to take but that's ok... this is exactly where I wanted to be... and although it came a bit early... you gotta get on the train when it's at the station!

Take care and have a great weekend everyone. I'm going to see Dark Knight on Friday night, can't wait... then I'm going to meet some classmates.... then I'm either doing the Grouse Grind or going kayaking in Deep Cove with the gf... can't wait!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quebec = out

Catherine St. Laurent got booted tonight.

Too bad, she was really good. This is a bad sign for how the voiting is going to go from here on in!

Web Analytics

I have been reading a few great marketing related books recently. One of them is called Web Analytics: An hour a day by Avinash Kaushik who also has an amazing blog that I am now reading through as well.

By chance, I attended a webinar last week given by Avinash at Elastic Path. That SAME day, our web developer came up from Bellevue to work in Vancouver for a few days and had a copy that he lent me. I dove right in.

So far, I am LOVING this book. I will provide a more complete review when I have finished it... which at this rate will not be long.

Perhaps the biggest concept so far and one which has always been top of mind for me is the idea that you have to use analytics to get at the WHY.... why people visit your site... why they buy stuff... why they don't.... and that web analytics is a great way to help formulate the questions you need to ask.

But the real gold for me was the realization that me and anyone else sitting around looking at our company's website is just that... people sitting around and guessing... to really deliver the insight that is going to seperate your site from the rest is the fact that you need to understand these things from the customer point of view.

If you think your company's site needs some work, or even you don't.... pick up this book and start applying it ASAP.

Tuesday morning

Last night's Canadian was pretty terrible... they can choose any song by any dead artist and we get two Bob Marley's, Blind Melon, Doors... very unoriginal choices if you ask me.... heck, we even had a Jeff Healey "Angel Eyes". Now Jeff Healey (rip) was a great artist but that's an easy listening favorite with the older folks... give me a break.

I really thought this was going to be a great season but it's turning out same as always so far...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

500 Gigs and Wireless

picked up 500 gigs and a wireless router at price club today.... good stuff.

Can't wait to unload tonnes of documents on the hard drive!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

it's all over now

So Adam Castelli from Hamilton got booted off Idol last night... he had done "Rebel, Rebel".

I wasn't an overly huge fan of his but he was by no means the worst out there last night... best part was how shocked he was he's going home.... I find it so funny when this happens as people on the show always seem to forget how regional voting can play a bit part of how far people go on that show... and season after season we see people like Mark Day get to the top 6.

Remember Sanjaya?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Canadian Idol Top 10

Well, it could have been a great season of Canadian Idol but after tonight's show, I can't help but think this season is going to turn out to be a total bust. None of the performances were good and I'm not sure David Bowie was a good choice for this stage of the contest.

Overall, not impressed at all. and it's not even over yet
Today is Monday and I woke up at 5:45am. Went to the gym and then came to work.


This past weekend wasn't very exciting either. Went out on Friday night and then did various things around the apartment for the rest of the weekend.


I'm looking forward to spending the August long weekend at my cottage. Going to meet my nephew, Tate:


Friday, July 11, 2008

Two things on Friday

The first thing today is a comment about the downfall of the TV. I enjoy watching this go down because I am sick and tired of people talking about TV advertising. I have posted the occasional good TV ad on this blog but in general, I find it a boring marketing tactic and I has always bothered me how people in marketing class love to talk about this ad or that ad.


True, there is ALOT of money spent on TV advertising but that number is falling fast while more exciting and measurable mediums like the net are increasing... why would marketing students want to talk about a dying tactic? I never understood that...


Anyways, there have been two developments recently that have caught my eye in relation to this ongoing saga. The first is that TV ad rates fell by 11% percent in the second quarter or this year (source).


The second is something I read last week but have been waiting to comment on... and that is that the average TV viewer is now about 50 years old and this is the first time the averge age has hit 50 (source). The best part is that when DVR viewbacks are included, that age only drops by one year!


Now both of these could be expected. The first because of the writer's strike and second based on the fact that baby boomers are dominating society and have for years. But on a deeper level these might point to the fact that people are just not watching TV like they used to. Many have resorted to watching TV on the computer... whether it be downloaded via BitTorrent or streamed (like on mtv's websites).


Advertisers better smarten up and stop being drunk on expensive TV advertising and start shifting more of their marketing budgets to other tactics and channels...


Canadian Idol

I was busy this week so I didn't get a chance to catch up on Canadian Idol until just last night. This week, they booted 6 people to get down to the top 10 and I have to say that I'm quite surprised at a few of the ousted contestants.


I thought Omar Lunan who did the Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" should have stayed and so too with Oliver Pigott - I thought he was the better of the two brothers and one of the best on the whole show.


Gary Morisette was also really good. He did "House of Rising Sun" this week and killed it... and I thought Marie-Pierre from Quebec was good so was Katlyn Dawn but seriously, doing "Zombie" is one way ticket home because we have all had to sit through girls trying to sing that song for over 10 years now.


So we now have our top 10... I think a few of them have a good shot... Mookie is strong, Theo Tams is strong... Amberly Thiessen is good and so is the French girl....






Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Monday night...

It's been a busy few days for me since I last posted.

I went to an AMAZING art show on Friday night at Grunt Gallery by a young native artist named Andrew Dexel. Rarely have I seen an art show with so many captivating pieces.

He is young and although he has a background that started in street art (tagging specifically) he has blossomed into an amazing painter who combines aggressive an street style and traditional aboriginal art.

He has a showing happening right now at Grunt Gallery. The pieces at the show were unreal and ranged from about $1,000 to about $2,000. I totally want one and don't be surprised if one is on my wall soon enough!

Next up was celebrating 4th of July... which was fun.

Then on Saturday I woke up to find out that my sister in law was going into labour one week early... and my brother and her made me an uncle twice over with the birth of my nephew Tate down in Rhode Island. On top of that, my other niece, Ella is turning one on Wednesday.

Then I started going to the gym this morning. Opened things up with a 6am workout... followed by a day at work spent organizing all of the things we have going on. Then, finished it off with the BCAMA's annual general meeting which was also fun. I really enjoy talking to other people in the marketing field.

Anyways, I'm tired and have a new issue of The Economist to read so I better go.

Take care...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Idol Top 20 Week

I finally got around to watching this week's Canadian Idol episodes.

The pack has clearly split into those that can and those that can't. I always hate when this happens to the group because it makes half of the performances between now and what ends up being around the top 6 totally useless. Worse, it tends to be the time when people who are good don't get enough votes, often because of regional voting, and go home.

As I've said before, this year's crop has some GREAT performers and this week there were some great performances. Here is who I thought was good:

Omar Lunan did "Ain't No Sunshine"
Theo Tams "Collide"
Mookie, Amber Thiessen, Oliver Pigot and his brother were good. Mitch McDonald did Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" which is a great tune if you don't know it. Youtube the live version.

There were a few others that were good too. In the end, four were sent home and a few of them I didn't think were that bad... Paul Clifford and Jessica Sheppard were both good and I'm not sure they should have gone home but that's life... I think the BC peeps aren't voting or something... but maybe that's because we don't get the show until later or something.... i dunno...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Working 9 to 5

I just celebrated my one month anniversary at Laplink. So far, everything has been really great. The pace of business on the West Coast is much slower than back in Toronto... and it has taken some getting used to.



People in the West Coast work 8 to 4 or 9 to 5. They do this so they can avoid traffic, get outside or conduct their personal lives. In Toronto, everyone works 8 to 7 or 7 to 6 or even worse, 8 to 9. That time isn't always spent being productive but I don't think that changes much out here... but people do seem to move a bit slower... I use the expression that it's like trying to do business in a vat of molasses.

Working again has been really fun. Not nearly as demanding as school in that I have my weekends and nights free - in fact I have no clue what to do with all my free time. I have come to realize that I must enjoy it now because I will be back to school in the fall - allbeit part-time but still....

I won't be talking about Laplink specifically very often but it was nice to see a positive review of our PCmover product today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Anything but an iPod... please

I have always found it funny when people create websites in spite of the major players in an industry. In one sense, I guess that it is validation that they matter - heck, someone has gone to the trouble of creating an entire webproperty about how much you suck... on the other than, it shows that when you get something good going, there are always people looking to knock you out...

I came across this site today... anythingbutipod.com. Basically, it shows you all the alternatives you have to your iPod.

I had an iPod... I think it was generation 2 or 3. Either way, it lasted for about a year before the battery started running out and the software would bug up on me... and over the years I have seen tonnes of people spend all this money on them and never use them or all the memory they think they need... so I think iPod is a well marketed piece of technology above anything else.

A few years ago, I bought a 1gb Samsung mp3 player with FM radio for $75. Drag and drop files and about 10 hours of battery life. Worked great for me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

Sorry that I haven't posted very much since last week. I have been busy spending time away from my computer. I know, I know... shocker.

This past weekend was my first "real" long weekend in a while so I spent time cleaning my apartment, relaxing and cooking things on the BBQ. I also went fishing on Saturday, but I will post a detailed description of that when I get the pictures downloaded - a few classics in there for sure.

It has been fairly hot and sunny in Vancouver all week and that has been nice but I'd rather do other things than blog about the weather so I'm going to sign off.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Idol Come Again

I just finished watching last night's Canadian Idol. Great show. They did group performances and they reworked a bunch of songs. A few of them, including Drew Wright who I think is good, did a great "Heard It Through The Grapvine" that was really good.

Then they announced you got booted. Two of them were shockers for me. And I guess I wasn't the only one.

It was funny because Tetiana and Shaun were like me - in shock. The other two knew they were going home and were laughing about it on the stage but Shaun was totally shocked. The other two are smiling but Tetiana and Shaun look out of it.

Check it out:




Thursday, June 26, 2008

Canadian Idol, first cuts

I didn't watch last night's show live as I was having dinner with some friends but I have to admit that I was really shocked to see two of the people who went home. I thought Tetiana and Shaun Francisco were both really talented and not even in the bottom half of the talent pool... or even close.

As such, I have to admit that I am totally surprised by this. As always, I'm sure that regional voting really plays a big part at this stage of the competition. Both Tetiana (Ont.) and Shaun (B.C) come from provinces that have multiple contestants and many of them are talented so they probably just got lost in the shuffle that way.

I finished reading the recap and it appears as though they did some group performances... which sounds interesting... but I will have to watch the show tonight so that I can try to figure out what the story really was...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spam

For those of you that don't know, my background has been centered around email marketing... so spam is something I have had to deal with on a daily basis.

At my new position, I receive a tonne of spam because emails sent to certain aliases (the part before the @symbol) come to my inbox. Most go to my junk folder and I delete but I get about 50 of them a day. 50!

Seeing as I'm about 75% done my MBA, I thought this one was pretty funny:

Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas available in the field of your choice that's right, you can even become a Doctor and receive all the benefits that comes with it!

Our Diplomas/Certificates are recognised in most countries

No required examination, tests, classes, books, or interviews.

** No one is turned down** Confidentiality assured

CALL US 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK

For US: 1-501-647-0781Outside US: +1-501-647-0781

"Just leave your NAME & PHONE NO. (with CountryCode)" in the voicemail

our staff will get back to you in next few days


I was laughing as I read it. First the spelling mistakes always make me howl.. but then I said to myself "wait there are no exams, tests, books, interviews..." what kind of program can this be??

Do they have a frosh week?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Top 12, part two

Tonight was the second half of the top 12.

Going first at this stage of the competition only makes it more difficult and tonight's first contestant was Jesse Cottam who did "Rebel Yell". Great song but he was pretty weak. Don't look for him to make it past the next two weeks.

Next up was Mark Day, aka the newf, he chose a quintessential girl song "How Do I Get You Alone" or should I say "Coming Out Without Saying You're Gay On National TV". He wasn't very good but might get the whole East Coast behind him...

I might as well say what I think about the Canadian Idol Judges... Farley and Sass are worth ignoring... Zack is an idiot and takes the focus off the contestants and puts it on himself and Jake Gold is usually spot on and I enjoy hearing what he has to say.

Jessica Sheppard did that "Get Here If You Can".. at least I think that was the name. She was pretty good but I wasn't really feeling the performances so far.

Ok so Shaun Francisco had big momentum in the auditions... he was sent home last year.... he did Coldplay's "Yellow" and re-arranged it a bit... he wasn't stand out amazing but very solid and has the chance to go pretty far. He's smart though and trying not to peak early (aka pull a David Archuleta). But he was playing a nice Gibson ES-335.

I have no clue what song Lindsay Robbins did but she was very average. She's the screaming rocking chick but it's not an original shtick. However I always admire people who just go for it.

Omar Lunan was next and wasn't that great... he has a good voice though.. he did "Every Breath You Take". so far though, nobody had really stepped it up and hit a home run..

Marie-Pierre did Amy Winehouse's "Trouble" which is a great tune but doesn't go over well with a french accent... they should just steer clear of the word "t shirt". She can really sing though and looked good up there...

The second Pigot brother has a great voice but performance wasn't that great. Song choice - Amanda Marshall's "Dark Horse" was terrible but he's going to be around.

Theo Tams was next and he was also really good in auditions. He did that "Apologize" song which was a really bad song choice for him.... he reworked it to make it as best as he could but please why do people pick these songs that can only be good as their original.

At this point the show wasn't as good as last night - at all.

Amber-Lee was country and pretty good but I was bored. She's like Jewel.

Adam Castelli has been a big favorite of mine and I think he could be in a band someday. He did the "The Mess-around"... classic boogie song which was a good choice. I think that is a Little Richard song or something.. anyways.. good performance. He's probably the only contestant in Idol history (US or CA) that I would actually have a beer with.

Katelyn Dawn was really good. She reworked "Hallelujah"... but Jason Castro owned that song on AI so no points for that choice... she should not have played the guitar though...

Overall tonight's show wasn't close to as good as last night's show. I think we might see one of people who performed near the start of each show go home..

Derrick Carter

From the Sullivan Room in NYC. This is house music.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Top 24, Night One...

Ok so tonight was the first 12 of the top 24. This year's show is going to be good.

The first two performances weren't very good but still, they weren't very bad either. The french girl I didn't know much about did a great Elvis impersonation. Then, the bloke did Blue Rodeo's "Lost Together" and it was not that great.

The dude from Northern BC, Gary Morisette was rocking. He's class and did a guitar solo so I love that he just went for it. Really original voice and great energy. He actually destroyed it.

Tatiana was also really good. She reworked "Feelings" into a sultry 70's lounge type tune. Really good stuff. Her and Gary were both really strong.

Mitch MacDonald from Cape Breton was also good. Lots of seasoned performers this year. But he did a Gavin DeGraw song... country ain't my thing. He should have done "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" by Big and Rich.

Paul Clifford from Port Moody was great in auditions. He has an insane growl to his voice but he song choice wasn't outstanding. He didn't let it rip though and that's a problem in this type of competition. Some time people should not play the guitar and just stand up and sing.

The competition really started when Earl blew up "All Along the Watchtower". He's really good.

I thought Lisa Bell had great funk and energy when she did the Doobie Brothers "Long Train Running". Mookie was sweet and he actually was named after Mookie Wilson who made a hit win the game against the Blue Jays as he was born.

He did Twist and Shout. Honest to God. It was really good. He also got an interesting voice and I thought he killed it. This kid could lead a band someday. And he used a classic Rickenbacker, the kind of guitar John Lennon used to play. In fact, the Beatles have a strong connection to that brand. Zach commented he's get the record deal so far and I have to say there are a few people in this year's competition that could be signed already.

©1999 Astrid Kircherr. Used with absolutely no permission.



I was really impressed with Drew Wright in the auditions and felt he was going to go far. He did Queen's "Under Pressure" and it he hit the crazy shreeking note at the middle. But the rest was flat for me. He's not going to peak early.

The Pigot brothers are both good and seasoned performers. The older one, Oliver was pretty raw and did a good number of him pumps. The ladies loved that. Some great energy to this point.

The french girl Katherine St-Laurent has an unreal voice and did "Total Eclipse of the Heart". That is probably one of the frenchest last names out there too. She has great tone and could actually sing much harder than she did. She was actually amazing.

Way more good performances than bad. Better so far than American Idol was this season so far.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Canadian Idol...

For those who don't know, Canadian Idol picked their top 24 this week. You can see them here.

A few talented people in the bunch. Word on the street is that the producers went out to find unsigned indie people and encouraged them to be on the show... which makes sense as they didn't want the bunch of amateurs they have been getting in recent seasons here in Canada where the winner is usually the only person who was able to perform well consistently. Last year, the final was hilarious. A 16 year old blonde Elvis who shouldn't have made it past round 3 and a good singer that sounded like the lead signer from The Watchmen.

Those of you reading from the good 'ole U.S of A will have no clue who they are. Which is understandeable as we here in Canada have what they call CanCon (Canadian Content) rules that mandate a certain portion of media be Canadian programming. So - Canadian radio stations have to play Canadian music which means that bands often get big in Canada based on that.

Now I'm not saying The Watchmen were only popular because of this, but you see my point...

Today is Friday and I have finished week 3 here at Laplink. So far, I have been really having a blast. I get to be involved in everything from package design to product design to online marketing to business development. This is a great company with a great future and I feel really blessed to be able to participate in that.

However, let's see how I feel in a year from now after the Xmas rush is over.... hee hee.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm getting my feet wet

In case you haven't been watching the news recently, six severed feet have washed up on the various shores around Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

They don't know exactly where they came from or who they belong to but they were found with shoes on them... one was a Reebok and one was Adidas.

Perhaps this the most brilliant gorilla/viral marketing campaign ever?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nice hat

Saw this guy while driving back from Bellevue yesterday... one of the funniest things I've seen since the photo-bombing site.


I actually thought he had a pet racoon on his back from a distance... I wonder who he's voting for in the upcoming U.S. election?


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

photo-bombing

Someone posted this funny website on a message board....

Photo-bombing is the concept of a photo that is ruined by someone doing something stupid in it. It is not always intentional, but often is and is not always in the background...

They have developed a whole site around some of these shots. Here is a pretty funny one.

What a tangled world wide web

I was thinking the other day... it was back in the fall of 1995, when I first saw the Internet, in the form of the world wide web. Mount Allison, where I did my undergrad, was the first school wired in every room. I remember getting my computer hooked up a month or so into school.

I had email and everything, including a direct to server hookup...no slow modem...no dial up... back then, Yahoo was THE site where everyone went to find things. A band I was into, Phish, had phans that really grabbed a hold of the medium in order to keep in touch about shows. If you go to Phish.net and poke around, you can read all about it, it's pretty interesting how early they were on that train...

Even back then, the web fascinated me. I remember trying to learn HTML and make a simple html page for myself that was basically just a few links - but never hosted anywhere. Oddly enough, I took a marketing class that had a few sessions in the cpu lab where we made pages and spoke about internet marketing. When it came time for a project, my group created web portal for baby boomers called 50something.com. This was about 1997, I think and our biggest hurdle was convincing our class people would buy stuff on the 'net....

I moved off campus in the third year and my web access diminished severely. I had to unsubscribe from a few of the e-newsletter I was on...and never did much but send a few emails... I got side tracked into other things, like finance... and didn't come back to the net really until about 2000 when I quit TD Watherhouse to work at Flonetwork, a email marketing company and ASP with a product called Flo.

I always wonder what would have happened if I hadn't moved off campus, or if I hadn't gotten side tracked by finance... or if we had actually moved on that business plan for a web portal years before the tech boom.... and subsequent bust.

This past week, as I entered back into the web marketing world I was struck once more by just how far the web has come... and how diverse it is... In 2000, email marketing was just getting started and we had to convince people that it worked. These days, it is a given in any e-marketing mix - even to the point of being "old" and tired.

Even search marketing and pay per click... where you bid or pay for keywords/ads that are placed on pages where people find them... is getting tired... Now, the big new thing is viral stuff... where you hand the content over to the customer and they run with it... so you see pages being tagged with delicious, digg, stumble.. heck, go to any site and you'll see tonnes of little icons for these types of sites... I counted twenty on a site just today.

Each day that I sit down at my desk I have about 10 different channels to check on... it's insane... but at the same time, super fun and dynamic... but the times, they are a changin'..

So what does this all mean?

For marketers, or as some say, marketeers... it means that we have to be:

Smart: You have to know your customer, how they behave and what they think about. You need to know what sites they go to and how they use the web. Then you have to figure out how to get there efficiently because if you don't do the second part, you will choke on opportunity. Evaluate everything that comes down.. does this fit with my value proposition?... my target market?

Vigilant: You need to be constantly monitoring how you're doing. It is not 1960, when you filmed an ad and put it on TV.... you tweak search copy see how it works, tweak it some more... you need to keep your head on swivel at all times. What are your customers saying about you? Where are you in the search engines... how are your affiliates doing?

Gutsy: If you're going to get into the viral stuff, then you have to be ready to turn your content over to the public. That takes massive guts because you can't control it anymore and you might not be able to stop it or turn it back.... you need to do your best upfront and hope that you don't hurt your brand. Not many people in upper management have the balls to do this and go all the way....

But this is what makes marketing so fun... how many people get to say that they are required to be smart, vigilant and gutsy on a daily basis... heck, I am usually required to be all three over 1o times in one single day... what more could you ask for?

Friday, June 6, 2008

David Archuleta News

So this season's American Idol winner David Cook is in a studio somewhere working on his album while the runner-up, David Archuleta is making news.

Seems Archie has been signed to a record deal with 19 recordings/Jive. He also had to cancel a concert that was planned for this weekend. (source)

Not a big deal except it appears his father was involved in the planning of the concert - which is classic Daddy Archie. You may recall he was being branded a nightmare in the press and there seemed to be tension around his involvement with David during the show.

I would love to go see the tour this summer but it's not coming to Vancouver... Tacoma, WA is the nearest to me... and I suppose the chance of someone wanting to join me for a road trip is probably ZERO.

I wonder... do they sell beer at these shows?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Doppelgänger

Due to the power of the mobile internet, I have received word that my doppelgänger has been spotted in NYC at Yankee Stadium just now.


... Thoughts?


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

new Stride gum commercial

I don't really give a crap about TV advertising but I thought this commercial for Stride gum is pretty funny... although they are using that bold white text that is so common in ads these days...

Monday, June 2, 2008

First Day

I started the first day of my internship/new job at Laplink. I am working for their Canadian subsidiary in their Vancouver office.

We have an intimate space just east of Cambie and Broadway that reminds me of when I first started working in e-marketing. The office is quiet - however I wonder how long until they all realize I am one of the loudest people in Canada... Perhaps I will have to turn over a new leaf here at Laplink Canada...

I am going to be spending this summer diving into their marketing and outlining some plans for how things are going to taken to the next level. In the fall, I am going to move into part time to finish my MBA until May 2009 while working here full time. On the surface that may sound like a raw deal but trust me - I spent the last 8 months working like a dog at school so this won't be any worse. Plus, I think this is a great company and a great opportunity for me to apply what I have learned.

You would think I would be nervous on my first day - but I haven't been. Everyone here is super nice and I really think there is a great fit between me and the company. This is exactly the type of situation I wanted to be in when I graduated - so yes, it came a bit early but you gotta jump on the train when it is leaving the station.

Anyways, just finished logging into my new email account and we are working on getting me all set up at my desk....

I might be pretty busy this week with work but I hope you all have a great week and a wonderful start to June - three weeks until summer begins!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Back to life, back to reality

Got back yesterday afternoon from my week in Kelowna. It was amazing. If the weather is nice, which it was for every day we were there, then the driving up there is filled with great views and amazing roads.

The Lake Okanagan Resort was great. We had a great room on the water with a great view:


As you can see, the weather was unbelievable. We spent most of our time relaxing but we did visit a few amazing wineries.

The first day we rented a driver and went to Rollingdale Winery. A friend of ours recommended it and we had a lengthy tour of the property followed by a pretty intense tasting experience that included some barrel tastings. We bought a few bottles each and headed out of there a few hours later...






The next day, we decided it was best if we tried to hit up a few wineries. We started with a few that were near Rollingdale. The first was the famous Mission Hill, known for the really nice grounds and clocktower.

We took a tour of their facilities, including the wine cellar, where I was able to get a good picture of what their barrel set up looks like.

They had some great wines and I walked away with a few nice bottles.

Next, we went to Quail's Gate for some lunch and some tastings. They are just down the road from Mission Hill and have some great Pinot Noir's. Of course I grabbed a few and we had a great lunch in their amazing restaurant that overlooks their vines.

We tried to go down to the Naramata Bench but the road was closed for an hour so the traffic was crazy. Instead we turned around and hit up the Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Now we didn't take the tour but the deal is that they have a pyramid over where their wine cellar is, so the energy is transferred to the barrels and then to the wine.

All in all a great week up in Kelowna. I highly suggest a visit.

If you want to see more pictures, check them here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finished

Well, Capstone is over and I have now completed the first year of my full time MBA.

We had to do a business case competition and I have to admit it was pretty funny.

We had to do a some recommendations for a clothing retailer that isn't sure how to proceed in the face of increased pressure on margins and competition.

We went to the store, two of them in fact, and spent about two hours in one store and its area and about half an hour at the other. We spoke to the staff and the customers about the store. We bought 5 dollar Starbucks cards and gave them out. We gave one to the staff at the Kits store and then one to an older lady who bought a bunch of stuff and two 15 year old girls who bounced out of the store but have been many times with their moms.

The store was pretty interesting. We thought from the description given that it might have been highly fashionable. But it the end, it was fairly middle road conservative work wear. The Starbucks baristas we spoke to about it said they'd only go for something for church of a wedding. The young girls didn't find anything that they felt was for them. They said it would be a 2 on the "like me" scale to 5.

Their marketing was not the greatest. Great location but subdued signage. So the company hasn't really shown me at this point that it has the muscle in marketing to go to a new audience outside of the middle aged girl. They like the clothes, as they do shop there... and each store had good food traffic.... so they have pretty good revenue. So they have a great repeat customer who is 35-55. They have some money and a job so they spend 5 days each week in their work type clothes. So you can't move down in age appeal.

We felt you should make more of your lines of clothes, because people like your clothes and that's why they go there. Sell more of your own clothes, which you make in North America. Overseas might have been good in 2005 but shipping prices are up 100 percent in last 8 months. Starting to go there is going to take time and scale you don't have. Your main customer is a big group and you can just focus on them. The youngest of that group is only 35, she's going to work until 55 or even 60 - and people are working longer so by then, maybe even 70 and need your clothes. That's 25 years!

Unfortunately, this didn't really seem to get through. I guess sometimes you know something so well and so surely that you just can't believe somebody won't see it. They will only see that we don't have any girls in our group and that we spoke to 15 year old girls - who aren't your customers.

Oh well, I'm off to Kelowna tomorrow for a four days. Staying at the Lake Okanagan Resort, which is out in the middle of nowhere. Going to visit wineries, play some golf and relax. I guess I won't be blogging for the time that I'm there because I need some time away from a computer screen.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Capstone Update

This is funny.... the Cathay Pacific case centers around the changes made to the Inflight Services Department in 1997 under the leadership of Peter Buecking.

Well... he's actually here and just finished talking to us. Best part was our Capstone facilitator asked who would work for Peter? Few people's hands went up... and then he introduced Peter, who had been hiding in the wings until that point.

Cost of MBA: 40k

Saying you'd never work for someone who when you don't think he's going to find out only to realize he's standing in front of you: priceless.

Kissing the Capstone

Although it's about 22 degrees and sunny here today (note the weather widget in the right side of my blog) I'm sitting two floors below street level at the UBC Robson Square campus for the Capstone Program.

Basically, there are about 70 people in our class taking part. The Capstone is designed to bring us back together and apply what we've learned in the program. This morning has been a discussion of the Cathay Pacific (or as I say, Cathay Specific). This afternoon we are finishing that up and getting briefed by CEO's on real life problems their business are facing.

We are in groups of 5 and have until Monday morning to come back with solutions. Basically, it's going to be a total barbeque session. I might even wear my grilling outfit - apron and tongs all the way.

I have to admit - I don't have much juice left though. I felt sick from exhaustion this morning on my way down here and I can't really stomach much food.

Either way, it's going to be sweet to take these skills for a ride and it will make Kelowna allt he more interesting next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol Finale

David Cook won American Idol last night.

Since this happened, people have asked me about what my thoughts are, so here they are.

David Cook is a total idiot and a douche. That said, he deserved to win. Not because his brother, terminally ill with cancer, was there but because he simply outperformed.

Archuleta is and will be a major recording star. I think he was a bit too young for the show. Winning Idol is hard. You have to endure the scrutiny and media attention. He was only 17 and I blogged previously about his inexperience in this sort of situation.

But it also goes to show some of the problems with the show. Things are getting boring.

Let's see what next year brings before we make any harsh judgment. Agreed?

I want my MTV

MTV has a good thing going on with their website and the availability of their shows.

You can go to their website and watch pretty much every show they air. You can save episodes and save a whole playlist of shows much like you would if you were had TIVO or another DVR on your cablebox.

I have watched shows on their site before but I have started to use it more often now that my term is almost over at school and have a few more minutes of spare time here and there.

What is most interesting about is that they only show a 3o second spot every 5 minutes or even more so you see less commercial interruption. Good move on their part as I actually find myself not being annoyed by the ads.... so seems like they have gotten something right.

Check it out, it's pretty amazing how much content they have up:

www.mtv.ca

take care. One exam down, one more to go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

One week to go

This is the last week of the first part of the full time MBA program.

I am going to Seattle on Tuesday to meet the people in the head office at Laplink. I am in the process of finalizing my internship details with them for the summer. I am really looking forward it. It's going to be a great summer and I'm really looking forward to getting back into the workforce so that I can see how much my skills have improved being in the program.

Wednesday afternoon, I have an exam in Business Strategy and then on Thursday afternoon I have my last exam in Environmental Marketing, which was a great course and the first time I took something over in the sustainability side of the program.

Friday I have a big group project due for Relationship Marketing and then Saturday is the start of a three day Capstone program.

The Capstone was put together to allow us to apply our skills in integrated problem solving. On Saturday morning we have a case memo due and a discussion about it. Then we get briefed on a real world business problem and have 24 hours to come up with a solution to present. Monday is going to be discussion panels and then we're finished.

Next week I'm planning a trip to Kelowna to hit a few wineries through Saturday and then I'm back in town to start up my internship on Monday.

Going to be whirlwind week!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

take the credit

McDonald's Canada has a new micro-site dedicated to their new Angus burgers.

Unfortunately, the broadcast TV versions are not on Youtube yet so you have to go to the mini-site to see them.

www.takethecredit.ca

The bloopers are pretty funny and they have gone to great lengths to give them a cinematic look and feel.

Well done.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Maybe I will Lois...maybe I will...

This show is unbelievable.

CW11, one of the only channels I get on TV is showing old episodes of Seinfeld each night from ten to eleven, the only time I might ever watch tv.

It is the episode where Jerry races his friend from high school, everyone gets labeled an communist and elene gets Ned the commy banned from hop sings after she "named names".

My favorite line has to be Kramer, turning over to communism, while being the Macy's santa. This kid says he wants a truck or something and Kramer tells him the companies are getting huge profit and reducing the total number of toys. So funny and true. Economics can be really interesting when you explain them in relation to simple situations.

The final scene is the race on the street where jerry wins again, set to the theme of Superman. Jerry says "maybe I will Lois... maybe I will...".

Monday, May 12, 2008

he really does hate sarah marshall

I was talking to a friend the other day. He told he me that he saw the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" the other day and it was terrible.

He told me he was really upset about how bad it was. I said that it happens sometimes, they don't make movies like they used to.

Then, he told me the full story:

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is produced by Jud Apatow, who did "40 Year Old Virgin" and "Superbad", both of which are amazing movies. It was written by Jason Segel, who was the tall friend who sweet talks the sister in "Knocked Up" and was on "How I Met Your Mother".

The problem is that the movie was terrible. It was filled with the same old jokes they always do except none of them are funny. Well, only a few of them are.

The real kicker, he said, was that he tried to download the movie previously on BitTorrent, which he tells me is a popular file sharing program. Because he was feeling guilty about doing that, he ended up downloading The Bachelor instead.

He ended up going to the theater and paid for two tickets to the movie. It cost him about $20. His date bought him a drink and popcorn for $1o. This means they got $15 per person. He and his date sat through the movie totally unimpressed. Waste of time.

He feels he should have just downloaded it off BitTorrent because they shouldn't be allowed to dupe us into going out to see that garbage. It is punishment for making bad movies to have your goods pirated. Perhaps the balance of power has shifted to the consumer and it should continue until the previous wrongs have been paid for.

I suggested they just put out movies like Ironman every weekend. Enough with the fluff like Maid of Honor or 27 Dresses. Those movies are never any good anyway and at best, worth the price of admission. Certainly not the drinks and everything else.

What do you think?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't believe the hype

I have been writing a paper for Environmental Marketing about organic food pricing strategies.

I decided to choose this topic because I know someone who loves paying more for things at Whole Foods. I wanted to see exactly how organic foods are priced when compared to non-organic versions. I also wanted to see how much more Whole Foods charges for its organic products.

I priced out a few different products but I think the B.C. gala apples are a great example of how things are priced because I was able to find both organic and non organic versions. At Whole Foods, they were $2.49. At Safeway, the organic versions were $1.79 and the non organic version was only $1.49. Whole Foods is charging a full dollar more a pound for the organic part of the product and then 70 cents more because it is Whole Foods.

Interesting.

I contacted Whole Foods and they said "Whole Foods Market’s prices are equal to or better than the average supermarket’s for products of similar quality".

More interesting.

So I then looked at profit margins and found out traditional grocery stores earn a profit margin of about 1%, yet our friends at Whole Foods earn close to 3%.

Now I wasn't able to do any type of full on consumer behavior study but I would bet that Whole Foods is able to get away with this because the people who walk in there are simply willing to pay more. Perhaps they don't know to price organic foods. We have been buying non-organic product for years and we might know what somethings costs when it's non-organic. Once the organic label is placed in the banana, how much more should it be?

I think that Whole Foods customers don't even care. Whole Foods owns them the second they walk in the door. They situate their stores where people who have money like to shop. I used to work near one in Toronto (notice I say work and not live) and it was in Yorkville, where most of the cars are at least a BMW.

Imagine that, you own a business and your customers don't even care what the price of something is. That's gold right there.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Afternoon

I haven't posted too much personal stuff lately so here is a quick update live, from the Starbucks at Jervis and Robson.

View Larger Map

If you know me, then you will find this quite odd because I am not a big fan of Starbucks. But, I am sitting at a counter that allows me to see everything the staff are doing behind the scenes. Here is what I am looking at right now



I have learned a few things:

They generate A LOT of waste. These people are going through dishes and milk cartons like crazy and I'm not entirely sure things are getting recycled because I notice that waste just goes into this big grey garbage with a clear bag in it.

Making double-non-fat-lattes-with-such-and-such is a messy ordeal. To the customer, it may look clean in here but behind that counter is war zone. However they do spend their free time cleaning it... which brings me to my next point.

The kids work hard. From a distance it might seem like an easy job... making coffee but I am noticing that it is so much more. They need to aware of how long things have been sitting around for and there are all kinds of timers and temperature gauges to read. It's like a airplane cockpit back there. For the first time in the last hour there isn't a line of people ordering things so they are cleaning and stacking everything.

So what else is new?


My friend from Ottawa is in town and we're going out tonight for dinner. Last night, we met up with some other friends and went for a few drinks. Because university just ended, the bars were packed with students going nuts.

Life has been really busy lately so I have to admit I haven't done anything fun in my personal life worth talking about. School is busy, as always and then my spare time has been reading and researching various topics. I have upwards of 4 books on the go right now and I'm really enjoying them. I am reading the Art of War, a book on mobile technology for the second time in one week, a book great book on networking and a book on sales. On the table next to me right now is a case on Home Depot.

I took a dining etiquette class the other night. It was super fun but I was totally wiped because I was up at 6am and downtown for about 7am to attend the Global Business Risk Management Forum I helped promote for a local company. Totally interesting stuff... except taxation. The guy from KPMG was super interesting but I am just not into the subject of taxation. To each his, or her, own though. I guess I am going to put those dining skills to use tonight at Lift.

I am really looking forward to the spring. I am planning a trip to Kelowna for a few days after this term ends because I need a few days where I don't think about anything but relaxation. Most of my days start at about 7 and finish at about midnight with the majority of that time being spent sucking up information. I learned recently that if you eat gold, you will be gold. This means that if you focus on ingesting the best info on subjects, then you truly learn valuable information really quickly and you start to see patterns in effective thinking and presentation.

I have so many projects going on this month that I can't even find time to organize group meetings. I have one on Saturday morning, then I have to research organic food pricing for a paper I am doing (who writes papers in mba classes anyway) and then on Sunday I have another group meeting all afternoon. Then, on Monday, it's back to the grind, lather, rinse and repeat until about May 26th.

Our final weekend is going to be the Capstone program, which I am totally looking forward to. I feel this program has really helped me lift my game and I am looking forward to show what I have learned. The problem is that it starts the Saturday morning after our exam week. We have to hand in an individual case write up. Saturday afternoon, we are briefed on a project that we present answers to on Sunday. Monday is going to be panel discussions.... then we're done.

Good news though - it is worth 1.5 credits so I can take one less course in the fall.

Anyways, that's it for now. Take care. Sorry if there are any typos or anything, it's been a long week.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Google has their hooks into me....

It's starting.

While I have always had a gmail account that I used for email delivery and contest testing, and just recently started up this Blog, I am starting to get sucked into the world of Google.

I have always used their search but for some reason, never thought about it so while Google might think of their search as a great way to get people, I think it's their suite of solutions outside of search that create the "sticky" points in our relationship.

The blog was a great way for them to amp up the interaction... I start looking for ad ons to my blog to make it more interesting and in doing so, ran across Reader. While it appears to be nothing more than RSS reader, I like that they make it so easy. I was able to search and find some great feeds in a matter of minutes.

Now it seems like they have hit that tipping point where I am actively searching out for their other solutions.

Could this be the end of my longstanding affair with MSFT?

One of the reasons I am still with hotmail is that I can send emails from my @alumni.sauder.ubc.ca domain through web-based hotmail. I tried to upgrade to their LiveMail application but couldn't do that one feature and switched back so they lost me... perhaps for good.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Mobile Destiny

I started reading Dan Steinbock's "My Mobile Revolution" today and have managed to read about a good quarter of the book already.

Highly recommended reading for anyone thinking about getting into Mobile technology.

It's funny, whenever I talk to people about mobile technology or the mobile industry in general, they bring up the operators... Rogers, Telus, Bell Mobility.

I think the book does well, on about page 4, to show mobile operators are, in some ways, becoming less important as time goes on.

Why?

In the U.S., you have $99 all you can eat type plans. In a few years, we will see this in Canada and at that point, your mobile operator will simply be the pipe through which you access content. All kinds of plans based on weekday and weekend minutes will probably be old news.

So your relationship with your mobile phone company will probably end up being like your cable provider... except there is still the point of hardware and software. Will the mobile operators use the fact that they currently provide both of those things to keep us hooked on them?

Most likely. I would bet that most people have never paid anything close to the retail price of a new phone - unless you have broken or lost your phone - so we're completely spoiled.

And this question is what I am currently mulling over as I work on my relationship marketing assignment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

greenwashing

I've been taking this Environmental Marketing class at school and it has been really interesting.

First of all, it is the first time I have taken a course in the Sustainable Development (Sus Dee as I call it) side of the program. Second, it is interesting because there are a few people in the class who are from the Sus Dee side and a few of us from the marketing side.

In the course, we talk about what environmental marketing is and how companies market their green products. I did a project about an ad for Dell severs placed on the back cover of The Economist that was for their servers - but with a green twist in that their solutions could "slash energy consumption up to 45%".

During the presentation, we looked why they would have spent a CPM of about $395 to reach IT decision makers, how effective the ad might be and then we analyzed Dell's green strategy.

It's funny though - you make a product and market it the traditional way and nobody says anything but once you put a green spin on things, you are all of a sudden held under a microscope.

The example I used to explain this to someone was this:

You make a household cleaning product that works better and you can say in your ad that because it works better, it saves you time so that you can go onto doing the things you enjoy doing, instead of cleaning.

You make a "green" version of that product and say that it doesn't harm the environment and people start researching your environmental record and claims... which begs the question.. why even bother?

Well, the reason is that most people don't really understand or care to investigate those claims, so for marketeers, this is an easy win.

A recent survey by Cone Inc said that while 39% of Americans prefer to buy products they believe to be beneficial to the environment, only 22% understand what those claims mean. Read the summary here.

So is using green benefits a viable way to differentiate your offering or is simply the cost of entry in today's market??