Although I'm a native San Franciscan with roots there from the 1800's, I live in Colorado right now. In the several years I've been here, I've been very involved with local Chambers of Commerce, and I've spent quality time (if you can call it that!) with many of our local, statewide and national politicians. I've met many of the folks who are tasked with "economic development" for the state. And... I don't understand what these folks do all day, but it sure seems to me they're missing the boat in some big ways.
Sure, I'm fine to pontificate to people working in a field that I don't have experience with, I get that. But COME ON! Right now, when I look at my home state of California, I see a place that's in a goodly amount of chaos. As of 1/1/13, taxes on personal and business income have been jacked through the roof. Overall, the sheer cost of doing business in California is far more expensive than it is in Colorado, which is known as a pro-business state. The Creative Group, which publishes an annual Salary Guide
for creative professionals, adds 30% - 45% (or more!) to the same position if you're hiring in San Francisco instead of Denver. Don't get me started on the cost of gas, parking, food, utilities, etc. (We finally sold our Marin County house and moved here when our monthly utility bill topped $1100 -- for a 1800 square foot ranch house!).
So... why are there so few venture capitalists in Colorado willing to back new technology firms -- and why are the econ dev guys not doing more to attract California companies to Colorado?The Foundry Group
is the most well-known VC in this state, and they've done much to raise the profile for technology businesses in Colorado - I love them for that. But, given that California -- especially Silicon Valley -- is jam-packed with VC's, why are they so reluctant to come here, where it's sunny and beautiful, and you've got world-class skiing within an easy drive? Where you've got an educated work force, a pro-business climate, and all the cosmopolitan amenities any big city demands? Why?
I had a chance to talk at length with Scott McNealy, who, after Sun, decided to help create a Denver-based company called Wayin
. Scott has many brilliant ideas about how to bring top tech companies and talent here -- is anyone listening to him? He backed Romney last year, which probably makes him persona non grata in California now -- but why haven't the Colorado ED folks latched on to some of his ideas?
This isn't about politics -- it's about economics. Smart business people should be able to do the math, and see that your money simply goes farther in Colorado than it does in Denver.
For some reason, I've been in fortune-cookie mode lately. I keep spouting sayings and aphorisms at work and at home. The one I'm saying the most often is:
"If you always do what you always did, you'll always git what you always got."
I'm looking at making a lot of changes in 2013 -- all of them for the better, most of them exciting, but many of them just plain put-one-foot-ahead boring but necessary.
The other thing that keeps popping into my head is Mark Twain: "I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead."
Isn't that true? As a marketer, the biggest challenge I have is to BE BRIEF. And, honestly, I don't like brief! My favorite novelists have frequently been accused of selling their work by the pound -- give me 1000 pages plus, and I'm happy. The online experts I tend to really enjoy, like Chris Brogan, spin tales in a leisurely manner yet still get their point across.
What's my point? Everyone's different -- as a marketer, you need to keep that in mind, because you can't talk the same way to everyone. That's why you need different tactics in your arsenal.
All signs are pointing to a smartphone and tablet-laden holiday season. I bet that one of the trends we'll see is what I guess you'd call "hand-me-ups" -- because you KNOW lots of 20-somethings are going to buy new tech gear,and give good ol' Mom or Dad their old Kindle, Nook or smartphone. Or iPad.
Yep, the tables get turned! Fortunately at my house I'm usually the one who gets the new tech first, so I'm not worried about this. But I am betting somebody's going to call it as a trend. Hah.
I had a Sunday to kill, so after swimming I found myself at iHOP for breakfast. I'm sitting there reading the UK Daily Mail on my tablet when I overheard an older couple behind me ask the waiter if he had a newspaper.
"Um, like, a real paper-paper?" the young guy says.
"Well, yes, we want to look up the movie listings, and we forgot our paper at home. Don't you have a paper?" said the old gent.
"Um, well, let me go check -- maybe somebody has one in the kitchen, but I'm honestly not sure -- I don't think I've ever seen anyone with a, a... news-paper." (He said the word so carefully, like it was a foreign phrase.)
This nice couple is sitting there, stressing out because they don't know how they're going to find their movie.
I pull up Fandango.com and grab the showtimes for the nearest theater. I asked the couple what they wanted to see -- they were AMAZED that I had that "right handy". I gave them their showtime, which made them happy. They told me they didn't have a cell phone or a computer at home -- "We just don't understand all that stuff."
It was... amazing. I have not run into a couple like that in years! Have you?
I took our Irish Wolfhound, Pinehurst Preston McGinty, to the local dog park this morning. Dogs can, and do, grin like mad when they get to go play. I'm always amazed by the vibe at the dog park. There's something about the level of pure, unvarnished JOY the dogs radiate when they get to run around, sniff and explore. It rubs off on the humans -- I've never seen a dour face at the dog park; it's like it's just not possible to be in a negative mood.
Why can't we keep this mindset more of the time, and not just at the bark park?
I had a conversation with someone recently who was suddenly faced with a big life-change. He was overwhelmed and upset. Then... he started to see it as a benefit, an opportunity. A happy change. It was a big aha -- and honestly I was glad to see him take that approach.
Sometimes change is hard. We're all comfortable with what we know, and afraid of what we don't. The Unknown is scary because it's... Unknown. (Wow. How Zenny.)
Leap into change and embrace it! You'll never regret facing changes with bravery.
We live in the exurbs south of Denver, Colorado -- north of the firestorms that have devastated Colorado Springs, but not by that much,. My husband has dealt with some knuckleheaded but well-meaning "Facebook friends" who thought that, since we're in Colorado, those fires must be licking out back porch. Uh, not exactly -- but I've seen and smelled the smoke, and these disasters are certainly within a half-hour's drive of home. It makes me think of when the firestorms hit the Oakland hills while we lived in Marin in California -- though separated by both miles and water (the Bay) -- some people thought this was in our back yard.
What has really made me think is the video I've seen of people who have, indeed, lost everything -- one that sticks out is a woman who said on-camera that she had "raised five children there" after living in a house for 18 years. And she lost "everything, including mom's china and grandma's sewing machine." YES, without a doubt, my heart goes out to her. YES, I can only imagine what a terrible tragedy this is for them. But there is also great freedom and opportunity in being freed from that baggage, painful as it IS. (Not ignoring the pain!!!)
Sometimes, starting from scratch is not a bad thing. Sometimes, being roused from a multi-year "comfort pad" can be a good thing.
These fires have truly been devastating -- but there is something good there
I'm sorry. I know it's important if you work in my field to understand all the tools available. I know Instagram was snapped up by Facebook for a cool one billion dollars (go ahead, I know you NEED to do the Dr. Evil Little Finger Move, so just give in to the temptation).
Even though I've been using this stuff since early-adopter, beta-slop days, mostly, I've gotta call it.
I don't get it.
I don't get all the noise and hoopla.
And I guess that makes me a bad, bad, bad, bad marketing person, right? Because I refuse the Kool-Aid? (Note -- it was actually Flav-R-Aid at Jonestown, but everybody knows the Kool-Aid brand better, so... Kool-Aid is what we say we drink when we're following the herd.)
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because I know a lot of people who think the sun rises and sets in Silicon Valley. Sorry, I'm just not that impressed. My cousins lived in the middle of what became the elegant part of San Jose (wow) and when I was a kid, I just always thought the area was... brown. Dull and brown. I know it's not now! It's full of exciting, smart, smart, super-duper-duper smart people. People who know things. People who know what matters. People who are not like the rest of the people who live in flyover country. I mean really really really smart people. And they all know that social media matters more than anything else. That Facebook is your Friend. I mean your Friend-friend, like, your, you know, your Friend.
I won't get lost in my screen all my life. I like to raise my face to the sunshine, look in the eyes of the people I love, and pet my furry creatures. Real Life. I love being IRL.
And those people who respond to the stuff I obligingly sprinkle out on Facebook, etc. (because, you know, it's expected -- after all, I AM in marketing) -- well... they've never spent Thanksgiving at my table.
I am positive that social media in all its glory is with us forever. I'm actually banking on it. But it is not, and will not become, the focal point of my life. You can do what you please -- but I want to stay tact
Yesterday morning, I unplugged my Android phone from the charger as usual, only to find that it was having a fractal meltdown. Usually I enjoy the pretty color show I see when I restart my phone -- but this time it just would not stop. Unplug. Pop battery out and in. Restart. Fractal color madness, never ending. Pop battery out and in again. Restart again. Try backup battery. Nada. I tried all sorts of things during the day -- no luck. Finally I just turned it off and plugged it back in to fully charge again.
Got to the Sprint store five minutes before closing. (I HATE being one of those retail-staff-abusers, but I couldn't get there any earlier.) Ended up with THREE Sprint employees, techies all, manhandling the phone and trying all the stuff I had already tried.
They did a factory reset (which wipes your data, sorry -- they warned me). I ended up with the Android robot lying on his back with a red triangle with an exclamation point coming out of his middle. Stuck! Then they tell me it appears I don't have the $8 protection plan (error! I thought I did, even though a friend who's a Sprint employee always tells me it's dumb: if something happens to your phone, just add the protection to your account, wait two days, then use the protection plan.) Given that they're now 30 minutes past closing, I just took my dead phone and went home.
Then *I* played around with it some more. And I dug through the Android Forums. Dammit, I'm an early adopter, I bought one of the very first Android phones and I'm on my fourth Droid. there's NO WAY I was going to let this hunk of plastic, glass and silicon beat me down!... and... I figured it out. I fixed it. I found the secret combo of factory reset plus reboot plus black magic plus swearing eternal allegiance to primary colors that worked. THREE Sprint employees couldn't figure it out. I could. Neener.The best thing of all?All my "stuff" came right back -- because it was all backed up via my Google account: apps, email, files, photos and videos, books and audiobooks -- the works. Poof. Magic. I was so happy!
I love PicMonkey. Love it love it. I was very fond of Picnik, which is closing in a couple of days -- PicMonkey was started by a few of the Picnik engineers. It has the same cool factor, but it's a little different.
Why is this great? Because it's a satisfying and easy way to manipulate your photos.
I had opened another, similar, app today (which I won't name) and it looked... hard. Hard to learn and hard to use. I closed it. Fast.
Consumers want easy and they want fun. Products that provide this do well -- those that don't, dont.