Friday, July 31, 2009

Think Outside The Box: Break Down


The phrase, ‘think outside the box’ has become commonplace.

The box represents the imaginary limitations or parameters for a situation. These “Dimensions of Value” are leverage points that create value to the customer.  Think of the box as having three or six sides. Each side is a value point to the consumer.

For any particular product or service there is a standard that represents the current market. As that market gains new entrants, there will be an increase in competition and a decrease in operating margins. An organization is challenged to increase innovation.

Innovation is or may be achieved via moving one of the walls of the box. Consumers change over time. What is optimal for consumers today, is suboptimal for customers tomorrow.

Organizations must challenge themselves with innovation that increases consumer value as well as returns to the firm. This must be done even if it destroys the old business. The organization is better off destroying itself via innovation than to be destroyed by an outside force with no alternatives available.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Apple iTunes Drops AOL Screen Names?


Itunes Aol

Logged into iTunes this evening to sync the iPod and this dialog box appeared. Have never seen anything like this before.

Did Apple just drop AOL screen names?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Economic News?

Want to know what economic data is being released soon? What are the important ones to know? Is there a consensus forecast?

The answer to these questions and more can be found on the Bloomberg Economic Calendar page.

Monday, July 27, 2009


About once a month there is a WordPress Meetup in Ferndale Michigan. Usually the meetings are at AJ’s Music Cafe [a coffee shop].

There was a good turnout at today’s event. There were probably about eight of us in total. It was cool that a few new people came out to see what was going on.

Aside from conversation about WordPress, we discussed Chris Brogan and his book Trust Agents as well as the domain registration site Joker. Another item mentioned was Moo cards, a distinct business card. They make an impact was the consensus.

A private Friendfeed group has been created for this group. If you are part of the group and would like access to the group request and invite.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Below are the four elements to creating success as stated in the Wall Street Journal article: Silicon Valley Survivor

  • “Be realistic”
  • “Assess your situation”
  • “Get ready for the upturn”
  • “Get closer to your customers”

For the full details on each, visit the full article on the WSJ website.

Here are three unwritten rules to add to the four above.

  • “Watch the stock market.”
  • “Always have more cash, not less.”
  • “Be aggressive.”

Again, these are from the article linked above. It is one thing to talk about these rules and quite another to have such strong execution on them. Cisco has successfully acquired several billion dollar businesses and not missed a beat in doing so. They have been a nimble M&A machine.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


An article in the Wall Street Journal, AT&T Gets Another iPhone Boost, includes some interesting information about AT&T and the Apple iPhone.

In the most recent quarter AT&T activated 2.4 million iPhone units. Assuming that each of these units is a sale and part of the total subsidy number leads to the following.

AT&T estimated that subsidy payments to Apple for the iPhone were $720 million in the quarter. Some basic math, $720 divided by 2.4 million, reveals that each handset is subsidized approximately $300.


How would you analyze this data?

Have you seen similar of different numbers?

Friday, July 24, 2009


Earlier this week at #tweetea, a tweetup event in Royal Oak, MI, we had a discussion about Twitter. The discussion included some thoughts on how so many people sign up and just do not see what all the hoopla is about. A big part of the conversation revolved around there not being a guide on how to use the service. It is not real clear and generally takes a few weeks to get a hang of it. Most new users are not willing to put in such efforts and thereby abandon the service.

What Twitter Did

Twitter recently released Twitter 101 - A Special Guide. The guide is geared for business and included best practices and case studies. This is the kind of progress that will be welcomed by new users.

Extra Credit Reading

The New York Times: Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media


  • Do you use Twitter?
  • What value do you get or give with it?

A few years back it was new for a business to have a website. Then it was having an email address. The new thing is to have  a Twitter account.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

TWITTER TOOLS [Current 7.23.2009]



Current top sites used to enhance the use of Twitter are as follows. – URL shortener. Link is for main site. Get the bookmarklet to be most effective.

TweepSearch – A search tool for the bio section of a Twitter user.

Twellow – The directory of Twitter

Tweet Stats – Data about a Twitter account.

Twitter Search – Used to find tweets that include terms or that are from certain geographic locations.


What tools are you using?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009






These are really good. Great for listening during a daily commute. Each of the above podcasts is about thirty minutes in length.  If you are interested in learning more about business and the economy these are some good podcasts to start with.


The blog has been getting quite a bit of traffic regarding ePrize layoffs as a search topic. Last year ago I wrote two posts about ePrize [post 1 & post 2]. A recent Detroit News article confirms that there have been more layoffs.

The Detroit News: Number of jobless in Mich. hits 740,000 Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ryan Duval, a 26-year-old software engineer, just got laid off from ePrize LLC, an online marketing firm based in Pleasant Ridge. When Duval joined the firm four years ago, ePrize revenues were growing almost monthly and the staff had doubled to more than 400 employees. "Now, I'm part of the latest round of layoffs," he said.

The firms that hired ePrize have likely pulled back spending on the kinds of promotions that were the bread and butter of ePrize revenues. Less business means that there is less need for the knowledge workers that drove the ePrize business model.

The current economic conditions in Michigan are some of the most challenging in a generation. In November 1982, Michigan unemployment peaked at 16.9%. Michigan will likely surpass that during the current downturn.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



Are you resting on your laurels?

Prove you are not, everyday to clients, associates, business partners and to yourself.

When one has created the seeds and fruits of success, it is important to not let past performance discontinue itself because of a sense of entitlement. One must continue to create delight in the community that makes an enterprise thrive and prosper.

SPAM - Subject line: Your resume on the internet (medical job training available)

The email below looks like a scam to me. Think I’ve seen this one or one like it before. Marking it as SPAM so it gets blocked the next time around.



I am a healthcare recruiter.  I saw your resume on the internet.  How is your job search going?  Are you still looking for work in your current field or would you be interested in a career change to healthcare?  There are many job openings right now and there is a huge shortage of qualified staff.  We are working with some schools that will train you for a new career in healthcare.  There are careers that range from $25,000 to $35,000 per year as well as careers that pay anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 per year.  Many people also qualify for Federal funds to pay for the training.  If you are interested or you would like more information please reply back and let me know.

If you are not interested please do not reply.

Best regards and good luck in your job search.


Justin James

27762 Antonio Pkwy L1-261

Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

PS..  I'm not going to fill your e-mail box up with lots of messages, but I will send you an e-mail and check in from time to time to see how things are going, but if you would rather not hear back form me just send an e-mail to and I won't contact you again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


UPDATE: near the bottom of the email - "Was it a gift? No longer interested? Improve your recommendations." Amazon should put it next to each item and not at the bottom of the email. Who will read the whole message if it seems inaccurate or not relevant?

Below is a screenshot of an email Amazon sent. It is a list of recommended items based on “items you purchased or told us you own.” Knitting is a cool hobby but it is not one of mine.

Amazon Recommends

Cool idea but it needs a “This was a gift for someone else” button.

Has Amazon ever recommended items for you that were off the wall?

Friday, July 17, 2009

SCAM EMAIL - Subject: YOUR EMAIL HAS WON £500,000.00 in category "B"


Email text below

Dear Winner,
We are pleased to inform you that you have emerged as a winner in our end of Year (2009) International Lottery Programs. Your email address was selected by our Electronic Random Selection System (ERSS) from an exclusive list of 30,000,000 e-mail addresses of individual and corporate bodies generated from an internet resource database. No tickets were sold.
Your email address is identified with Batch Number: P1/56/2009 and Ticket Number: PL 3917 /2009-09 in Category "B" and your claims portfolio is filled with Ref Number:UKL/09-005/XX.You are therefore advised to receive a cash prize of £500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Great British Pound) from the total payout.
To claim your winning money, please contact our Certified and Accredited claims agent for category "B" winners with the information below:
Name: Mr. Richard Adams
Fiduciary Agent
Endeavour to provide him with the following information in your contact with him.
You are to keep all lotto information confidential, especially your reference and ticket numbers.
Yours Faithfully,
Rebecca Anne Crawford
Lottery Co-ordinator.
UK National Lottery Company

If you found this blog post you can safely ignore and delete the email message that set off warning bells. Those warning bells caused you to run a search to verify.

Thursday, July 16, 2009



Came across this ad while browsing the New York Times website. Thought it was interesting that a local community college was using Google Ads. [See screenshot nearby] There is obviously some sort of geographic targeting of this ad. My location is about 10 miles from the South Campus. It would make little sense to display it to someone more than fifty miles from the campus unless it was for online classes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NEW BOOK PRICING: “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”

The other day Bloomberg had an excellent podcast interview with Chris Anderson, author of, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. After listening, it brought me to the belief that this new book was worth looking into. Used the Amazon Apple Touch app to search for the book. Found it for a very reasonable price. Bundling it with The Long Tail, another book by Chris, brought that total just above the $25 basket size required to get free shipping on Amazon.

In the mean time some other things came up, namely #tweetea and the order was not placed. Today I finally got back to Amazon to look at completing the transaction from yesterday. The price has gone up significantly. Below are the prices from this evening.

*Note: The prices may have changed between not and when you visit them.

Amazon: $26.99

Borders: $21.59

Barnes & Noble: $17.54

Moral of the story: You delay, you pay.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


If you are looking for a new tool to dig a little deeper for information on the web you may want to try

This is how Samepoint bills itself.

Samepoint is a conversation search engine that lets you see what people are talking about.
Discover, learn and share new web sites and ideas.


Try searching for some friends or business associates. You might find some interesting information. You could also use it to search for competitors.



Monday, July 13, 2009


How large a role does materialism play in your life?

  1. How many automobiles [+ trucks] do you own?
  2. How many televisions do you own?
  3. How many computers do you own? [do not count smart phones or PDA’s]
  4. Do you own a smart phone? [if you own an iPod Touch, it counts]
  5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
  6. How many watches do you own?
  7. How many jerseys or shirts with a players name on them do you own?
  8. How many square feet are there in your dwelling per person?
    • Formula: Home of 1,500 square feet. Two people = 750 square feet per person
  9. How many round trip flights did you make in the past 365 days? [personal, not work related]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Business Week: Customer Engagement

Earlier today I was listening to a Business Week podcast for the story titled “Where Housing Will Be in 2012.”

One of the things that stuck me was a question that raised concerning the future selling price of a home in New Jersey. Both writer and the editor took a stab at answering the question. [My guess is $475,000]

This question would be a good way to engage listeners and readers. Perhaps Business Week will use a free survey site to do just that. A site such as Survey Monkey or Predictify may work.

Data requested would include the following

  • Price in dollars
  • Name
  • Email

Closest guess gets the winner in some sort of analysis Hall of Fame page on the Business Week website.

Each guess could include space for a 140 character reason for why that price was guessed. Twitter posting may also be included.

Would something like this drive discussion?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

GAS PRICES IN ‘09, ‘08 & ‘07


Gas is going for $2.439 at retail nearby [7/11/2009].

On 7/4/2008 gas was at $4.199 locally.

On 7/6/2007 gas was $3.199 locally.

In Summer 2008 there was a huge price spike where the national average topped $4 a gallon. Crude oil also closed above $145 a barrel.


What do you think the national average will be for a gallon of regular at the end of 2009?


Walmart is already targeting the college back to school crowd. It is only Saturday July 11, 2009. Target does not appear to be targeting back to school as an event/buying occasion yet.

Walmart College ad 7.11.2009

Note: In the mail today was a back to school themed catalog from Bed Bath & Beyond. Below is a screenshot of their website. [7.11.2009]

Bed Bath & Beyond College Ad 7.11.2009


Screenshot of the Target site is below. [7.11.2009]

Target Website 7.11.2009 no college ad yet

Friday, July 10, 2009


On the last visit to Kroger the Plus Card Savings came out to $.14. Yep 14 cents. That is a savings of 3% on this transaction.

Nikon 002

If  you have a savings amount on the bottom of a shopping receipt, what is the biggest percentage saved you have seen?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


When reading a book it is suggested that one take down notes to further synthesize the thoughts and lessons.

Some books are good to write in. Did this most notably while reading Personality Not Included.

Other books get a blank 3” x 5” index card that is used as a bookmark and to write out notes. This is a good method. It is best used for small nuggets of knowledge and short quotes. Long strings of text take up a lot of space.

The newest method employed for note taking while reading is a legal note pad. Currently I am writing down the page, one item per line. The goal is to make two columns per page. After reading the book with this method, I’ll probably type out the full notes and post to Evernote.


Do you take down notes as you read?

Notes after reading?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Below is a tweet from earlier today.

Photo_20090706232420_normaladmore We practice to make the plays WORK! Admit it, you should put in some practice. #NowNotLater about 2 hours ago from web

If you have something important to do, it would be wise to start on it now and not wait. Starting is the first step to attainment of any goal or mission.

Possible Life Applications [PLA’s]

  • Jobs
  • Career
  • Learning

Can you think of any other applications where doing it now is better then later?



For some people it is about price. For others it is about location. Some people even look for superior service. Each of these is a tactic that may be employed by a retail business to create customers.

Near where I live, Kroger dominates the area with four stores that are closer than any competing [food] store. CVS is a bit closer in two instances. Could one really shop for most groceries at a CVS? If one had very limited needs it is possible. For the 99.999% rest of us, we will probably have a supermarket or supercenter that serves our grocery shopping needs.

Location [access] is the biggest reason I shop Kroger for groceries. Each of the four stores is on a major road all within 1.5 miles of home. No matter which way I am coming from, there is almost always a Kroger to be found on the way home.

Where do you shop for groceries, why?



pana 151 

Last night when I filled up the car, the price of gas was $2.559 [credit] and 2.499 for cash per gallon. The station was the Mobil on 11-Mile road in Royal Oak and just west of I-75

Monday, July 6, 2009



On Monday Caribou Coffee has a promotion of coffee for a dollar.

Today I found out it is only for the dark roast. Usually the dark roast is what I order. The past few visits to Caribou have included purchases of dark roast coffee. Probably one of the last three visits was on a Monday for the dollar special.

For whatever reason when asked if I’d like light or dark roast, I selected light. As the transaction was being rung, that’s when I found that the promotion is only for the dark roast.

Instead of paying one dollar, the total with tax came to $2.23. That’s the regular price and I was a bit disappointed to not get the Monday Special.

It’s experiences like these that drive consumer cynicism. When there is a deal, there is almost always a catch. If the actual deal was better communicated, I would not have been less than delighted on this visit. The order would have been for the regular dark roast if getting the deal was that important.

Certainly this is not enough to drive me to exclusively to Starbucks. It will certainly give me pause before I have to make a choice between Caribou and the Starbucks just a few doors down.


How many customers have had a less than delightful experience at a retail business?

What should a business do to prevent service failures from happening?

How can firms better communicate what the deal is and includes?

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Real Estate promoted using Zillow

Recently I was passing a home for sale and couldn’t help but notice the sandwich board in front of the house. It indicated that people should visit and search for 625 Renaud for house details.

Certainly lots of homebuyers are using Zillow and Trulia to find homes that fit their requirements and budget. Using the sandwich board to drive traffic to the site has probably lead to more potential buyers looking at the house.

The listing on Zillow has been updated and currently indicates “Views: 12,” one of which is mine.

Pictures 1 031

Pictures 1 032


View Renaud House for Sale on Zillow in a larger map

Saturday, July 4, 2009



“If you aim at nothing, it is hard to hit the target.” dld

If one is to perform at a high level and generate success in a chosen endeavor, one must choose a goal to aim for. Once a goal [destination] is set one can measure progress to attainment over time.

Sometimes it takes some practice to become better prepared to attain a goal. Measuring progress will enable the individual to understand if the goal is being made and areas of achievement that are weak and improvable.

Friday, July 3, 2009



A Google Maps contractor is working near Detroit, Michigan. At about 9:40am [7/3/2009] one of their vehicles was spotted on the 11 Mile road bridge above I-75.

Pana 120

Pana 121

Map picture


Wondering if they are just adding in missing areas or updating areas that have changed.

Thursday, July 2, 2009



Tweetups are gatherings of peeps [people] who tweet [use Twitter]. Using tools such as Facebook etc has made them quite popular. This popularity has lead to strong and growing attendance [see Detroit Tweetups]. Even when an event is not actively promoted, 15 people show up. That is rather impressive.

When group size becomes large the effectiveness of the group declines. Connections are not as strong as they might be. One might even argue that they are weak. In any case, late last year a few of us were discussing how big the attendance was for recent tweetups [100+ attendees]. At that point we began to meet at a coffee shop under the premise of doing smaller scale tweetups [aka: a mini tweetup]. 

It is time to launch that idea again. There should be mini tweetups all over a large metro area such as we have around Detroit, MI. Other places are welcome to launch their own events. There should be events every day  of the week. Collaboration on ideas is powerful. The network effect will connect people to the resources they need. Resources are best connected in smaller groups where trust can be built. It is also critical for needs, known and unknown to be uncovered. Some people need things and don’t yet know it. In a small group setting these can better be unearthed.

The hashtag I’ll be using for mini tweetups is #mtweetup. The m stands for mini. As a suggestion it is a good idea to keep group size below 8. Even 7 might be too many. If the number of attendees becomes too large, consider breaking the group apart. Move to two places at the location of any events. Perhaps one group could relocate to a second place. This will will expose more people and businesses to Twitter, people and the events that are happening.


What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009



WSJ Bing Ad 7.1.2009

In the past Apple has had some huge ads on the Wall Street Journal website. It appears that Microsoft is now making some big ad buys for their Bing search engine.