Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I've seen the future

This exciting video was recently released by the brains behind Intel's Ultra Mobile PC. Since Microsoft personal home kitchen project, this is the most progressive, sophisticated multimedia technology I've ever laid eyes upon. Goes to show how effective, well-designed technology can truly enhance our life experiences without being too overwhelming.

So, this is what my day will be like as CEO of a next generation business. Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks, Greg Verdino.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ready to make history?

Tomorrow, on April 14th, I will be in Ann Arbor, MI in conjunction with the University of Michigan to "assimilate" during the nationwide Step It Up 2007 campaign. Start by Bill McKibben of Burlington, Vermont, Step It Up 2007 will hold over 1,300 sites filled with people urging Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. According to the word on the street, Step It Up promises to be the single largest global warming urgency rally since Earth Day in 1970. The campaign has even been featured by BusinessWeek.

Over the last year, global warming has become an issue dear to my heart, and I wish to make considerable energies towards alleviating this problem. In addition to Al Gore's incredible efforts, John Doerr has really convinced that global warming must become apart of our social and environmental conscious. Not to mention that global warming = green business = lots of green.

On another green-related note, here are some awesome sites that I have visited, plenty of times. I've even subscribed to some of their podcasts:

So, check out the site, see were the closet Step-It-Up locations is from you, get there, and do the earth some good. You'll be glad you did it!

Back from Aspen

Yeah, so... I was gone; gone to Aspen. I went skiing, did some fine dining (SkyHotel), walked around town, enjoyed a few cups of Ink! Coffee, saw John Legend perform at the Belly Up Aspen, and meet some real incredible people (entrepreneurs). I must confess that I fell in love with Aspen. ultimate dream would be to buy a place out there (10 years from now?).

So, I apologize for the week-long intermission between postings. I assure you that I'm well-rested, energized, and ready to dish out some great content!

But, here's what's been on my mind...

While in Aspen, I stayed in a condominium that provided a local cable program called Plum TV. Before visiting Aspen, I was partially familiar with the station, but it wasn't until I started watching the footage that I was transformed, and compelled to discover the story behind this great, entertaining channel.

For those who are uninformed, Plum TV was started by young entrepreneur Tom Scott, founder of Nantucket Nectars, who envisioned a niche local station that would exclusively cover major vacation spots in the U.S., such as Nantucket, The Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard, Vail, Telluride, and Aspen, highlighting the events, styles, activities, and people surrounding these great sites. Tom graduated from Brown University and went on immediately to start a general store called All Serve in Nantucket with his friend Tom First.

But what I found most fascinating was his ability to get a "jump start on things," right out of college knowing that he wanted to start a business, whatever it would be, with the explicit intention of never wearing a tie (or being an ivy-league, corporate sell-out). Instead, he took the unconventional route, followed his passions, had fun selling juice (in his little red sail boat) around Nantucket Island, and later established a well-respected, and profitable brand.

Tom Scott also provides a great example of why an entrepreneur's career isn't limited to just one successful business. Being an entrepreneur allows you the chance to make a business out of any of your interests or passions. As soon as Tom had grew Nectars into a viable business, he decided to reach further and start a new-age television channel. In essence, Scott was always open to growth.

This has lead me to realize my true calling, an entrepreneur: one who thinks differently, takes risks, create new ventures, and starts early. In the pursuit of my dreams, I'm about to take an unprecedented risk in the coming week. Once plans are finalized, I will announce it on my blog.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

World-wide conference call

Today, at 1:30pm, I'll be taking it live with CEO of Wikipedia, Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, during a Waxxi interactive podcast. As mentioned in Kevin Hylant's earlier post, Waxxi is the service offering a totally radical way to participate in podcast conversations. By registering in advance, you can guarantee one of the 500 participant spots that are available. From what I've heard, registration was closed within two weeks prior to the event.

Waxxi works a lot like "one big skype conference call." It's exclusive, but it allows you to chime in your thoughts at any time, be it with Jimbo, the Waxxi staff, or other listeners.

Eventually, when I start up a podcast of my own (this summer?), I would like use Waxxi my model. But, for know, I urge anyone to send me your dying questions. Keep in mind that, Waxxi will soon release a downloadable version of the podcast via iTunes.

Here's the e-mail I received on Tuesday:

Hi, Austin!

Thanks for signing up to participate in Thursday's (April 5, 2007)
interactive podcast with Jimmy Wales. As a reminder, it will begin at
1:30PM EDT. To see who will be participating in the conversation, go
here: (only those who have given us
permission to post their information are listed).

For Thursday's event, here are the three things you'll need to know:

1. Your Code
In order to take part in this exciting event you will need to use
your unique event code which is:
********. Only one person can use that code: you! It acts as your
ticket to join the event, so please keep it in a safe place.

2. Chat/IM
In order to enjoy a true, interactive experience we invite you to a
simultaneous chat/IM session: You'll see a
chat room, where you can personalize your ID/screen name and say
hello, ask a question, comment on the conversation or just hang out.

3. Dial in Number
You'll also need a number to call into in order to ask Jimmy Wales a
question by phone:

Toll free (within the US): .1.800.976.0840
Direct dial (International): + 1.404.920.6336

In order to ask a question, simply press the star key and the number
one (*1). You will then be placed in line, indicating you are raising
your hand.

If for any reason you'd prefer to have us ask Jimmy a question on
your behalf, simply email your name, city, country and question ahead
of time to

Talk to you soon!


Team Waxxi

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Money To Be Made

On Tuesday, I made a visit to University of Michigan Ross School of Business to hear a special lecture given by long-time business professor and consultant, CK Prahalad. A legend and "guru" for so many years, (even when my dad had him in class twenty years ago), CK has devoted the later part of his years in developing new strategies for doing business with the poor. In February 2006, CK published The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, a widely-popular source on how to alleviate poverty through profitable new business ventures.

While I got lost in some of CK's professorial terminology, I found CK's speech to be, overall, quite fascinating. It definitely widened my perspective on how big money can actually be made through businesses that are geared to the world-class poor, and the obligation for big-businesses to be pro-active in developing new products and services, while maintaining social responsibility. So for companies willing to take the challenge, I think they ought to start-off by initiating their own in-house departments that are specifically geared to this new market. i.e. "Team for the Emerging Poor."

But, here's what I found most illuminating:

  • The traditional question to globalization asks, "Is globalization good or bad for the poor?"
  • This question should now be re-phrased to,"How do we make globalization work for the poor?"
  • At the Bottom of the Pyramid (world's lowest poverty level), the unrealized market potential $5 trillion.
  • In Asia, it's $95 billion.
  • Companies that have shown success at B.O.P:
    • Frito Lay - In India, regular packaging, yet flavored with local curry powders
    • McDonalds - Low cost, veggie burgers
    • BP - new village cooking stoves
  • The "normal" business model views business as: "price minus cost equals profit."
  • The "new" business model views business as: "price minus profit equals cost."
    • By fixing your projected profit, products such as the $100 MIT laptop can be made feasible.
Lastly, I thought it would be appropriate to include a 2005 TedTalks video featuring Jacqueline Novogratz, who is the CEO of the Acumen Fund, a third-world venture capital program that is putting a lot of CK's teachings into practice. (CK also mentioned that the other top pioneers of social change were: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and

Check it out:

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Juicy Joost

Joost, the pioneer of online television, is creating an experience more profitable for advertisers and more enjoyable for viewers. The company is bound to attain unprecedented success with its new free technology which puts the viewer in charge of the experience by allowing him or her to choose from an entire days worth of shows at any single moment, except of course from live shows. In addition, its interface allows for easier navigation than the conventional TV remote.

Joost is a dream for advertisers and a tremendous catalyst for online and viral advertising because commercials would be far more effective in getting the viewer to visit their website because it is only a mouse click away for a viewer sitting at his or her computer as opposed to the inconvenient "trek" from the couch to the computer room which most would currently have to endure. This means companies must construct interesting and interactive websites which would captivate the consumer and hopefully persuade him or her to buy or at least learn about their product.

Joost is also currently developing compatibilities with other technological products. For example the Apple TV, a device which links one's iTunes video library to his or her television, is partnering with Joost to develop a means of linking Joost to one's TV in order to preserve the comfort of a family viewing experience, providing the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Steve Job Speaks:

I've lived by this speech. From the time when my mother handed me this transcript to the day when I sat down with my Jesuit teacher, Mr. Schreiber S.J, to discuss its principles; I've read this speech so many times. I read it at night when everyone was asleep, making highlights and jotting down personal notes. I even read it during church service.

Steve Jobs offered me a religion, in a sense. And so this speech has forever changed my life.

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GotTime to play?

Probably not. But in any case, Goodby Silverstein and Partners makes it's it pretty compelling not to spend a few minutes trying out their latest GotMilk ad stunt, GetTheGlass online board game. While Joseph Jaffe has a strong affinity towards the Myspace Travelocity Gnome, GotMilk has now become my own personal favorite. The site's visuals are incredibly crisp and clear, and the overall entertainment factor is off the charts (for anything of it's kind). This just proves the importance of good storytelling combined with stimulating graphics -- both of which Goodby does immensely well. Just for comparisons sake, check out Easy Jet's latest online game, and notice the contrast in quality of experience.

*One is out to directly sell promotions. The other is out to share a good experience*

I should also mention that the experience is sustained throughout the game, for hours literally. Darryl Ohrt, over at Via Worldwide and Brand Flakes, claimed to have spent his entire afternoon playing the game. He does lament on the downloading times, however.

But like anything in markteing, it all comes down to reach. After reviewing the latest statistics, it appears as if the site has witnessed a mere 80% boost in traffic, a lot driven in Europe (not bad for new launch). Thus, Goodby continues to push the envelope, and makes a strong case for the development of online branded games. I just hope that GS+P would share their new expertise with their other clients and brands who don't only advertise milk.

Two thumbs, way up!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Follow-Up on Twitter

Since Thursday's post, Twitter has been featured a number of times. However, Twitter seems to be taking a break from its recent proliferation. Appears that a lot of the naysayers are out to spread their own impressions. I agree to some extent. Remember, it's only the beginning. As for now, check below:

And here's a Youtube video that basically sums it all:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Twitter Worth It?

Twitter is here, and it has arrived in full-force, making converts out of big names such as Jason Calacanis, Mitch Joel, Paul McEany, and David Armano. Intended to ask the question, "What are you doing?" Twitter is also being used to chat, organize, and inform. With a Twitter name of my own, I found Twitter to be an excellent networking tool that also enables me to easily blog on the go.

In only two weeks of using Twitter, I've made friends with over 35 of the world's most influential businesspeople. Through Twitter, I've discovered that people really enjoy cultivating new connections. As a blogger, it's just another great way of joining the conversation. Case in point: I was able to call Robert Scoble one night after he sent out a "Twitter" saying that he was driving home from San Fransico, and that he was open to any phone calls.

Yet some people find Twitter a waste of time, and believe that better sources of creativity can be found elsewhere. Roger Van Oech firmly believes in this notion. David Armano, thinks otherwise, and contends that Twitter is on the verge of something great. Consequently, RvO and DA have decided to initiate a little experiment.

While Twitter can also be used a ideal means to procrastination, I think it largely depends on the content/conversation that is being generated. Besides providing constant updates on one's status, Twitter could be used as an outlet to creative ideas. Since a lot of brilliant ideas are often conceived spontaneously, Twitter could be used to allow professionals to quickly review other people's ideas, build on them, irrespective of location.

So, the question is: What kind of impact has Twitter made on you? Has it been worthwhile of your time?

If you wish to be my Twitter friend (click HERE).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Join the Conversation

Joseph Jaffe, author of the best-seller "Life After the Thirty Second Spot" and Chief Interrupter of Crayon, will release a new book in Fall 2007 titled "Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers With The Power of Community, Dialogue and Partnership." According to Jaffe, "JTC" will carry on from where "LA30" left off. In others, it will be light years ahead; completely different, focusing on the power of dialogue, community and partnership.

In the spirit of "joining the conversation," Jaffe opened up two unique ways for others to contribute. The first was a contest in which people could submit their own book designs. Over a dozen cover designs were submitted and the the winning photo of 2,000 bloggers was recently selected. The second option was to contribute to Ch. 10 of Jaffe's book titled, "Why are you so afraid of conversation?" Writing and editing was done through a community Wiki.

So, I choose the second option, and here's my essay/blurb... Enjoy!

"When it comes to Web 2.0 and joining the conversation, marketers are too concerned over the amount of responsibility and maintenance required to initiate and monitor consumer dialogue. Call it complacency, but marketers worry that by joining the conversation, they have eternally wedded themselves to their consumer. In a space eminent for immediate outbursts and widespread consumer havoc, marketers worry about the representation of their brands, and don't want to deal with the myriad of consumer sensibilities.

In addition, marketers struggle with what to say and how to conduct conversation. Before the advent of Web 2.0 and new media outlets, marketing was primarily a one-way communication device. Commercials, print ads, and others mediums were all forms in which marketers could creatively employ their own messages. Today, marketers can more effectively persuade through two-way conversation. However, this form of communication requires marketers to have something important to say on a regular basis. Meanwhile, two-way conversation tests a marketers ability to listen. If attention isn't placed on the consumer, all conversation and ideas are thereby lost. Under this new model, then, marketers must become facilitators of new ideas with the understanding that "the consumer (always?) knows best."

Yet in order for marketers to establish a stronger, more intimate relationships with their consumer, marketers must take advantage of these new technologies. In the process, marketers must gain a better understanding of this new medium and must create smarter methods of monitoring conversation. By investing time and efforts towards providing earnest conversation, marketers will have grown more transparent and open to consumer needs.

Any Comments??

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We celebrate you, Zingerman's!

This week Zingerman's Community of Businesses celebrated the 25th anniversary of its flagship business, Zingerman's Deli. Started in Ann Arbor, MI by the dynamic duo of Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, two pals from University of Michigan, Zingerman's Deli grew rapidly to become world-famous for its signature Grilled Reuben sandwiches. Over the past 25 years, Zingerman's has grown beyond corned beef to include new food-related businesses such as Zingerman's Bakehouse, Catering, Mail Order, Coffee, and ZingTrain (food consultancy).

Today, the $30 million dollar food juggernaut is considered to be a among the most innovative small companies in America. In 2001, Zingerman's received the recognition of being "The Coolest Small Company in America" according the Inc. Magazine, as well as a "Small Giant," after featured by Bo Burlingham in his book Small Giants. In 1989, Zingerman's establish Food Gatherers, the largest non-profit food distributor to the hungry (in Washtenaw County).

To celebrate the occasion, Zingerman's hosted a day-long street fair in the Kerrytown quarters of downtown Ann Arbor, MI. As part of its potent guerrilla marketing tactics, (as well as just sheer benevolence), Zingerman's rolled back sandwich prices to rates used back in 1982 during its first year of business. So, the regular #2 Rueben was discounted from $11.50 to just 5 dollars. As a result, loyal Zingerman's customers piled outside the store for hours just to get a chance to purchase a bite of history. Zingerman's sold over 3,000 sandwiches that day, setting a new company record.

In addition, Zingerman's just received the honor of being among "The Most Democratic Workplaces in America." This award was granted this month by WorldBlu, a new network that examines innovative, "democratic" business cultures. Its recent 2007 list featured 34 remarkable small businesses, with names such as Linden Labs, Dancing Deer, Threadless, and Honest Tea. After receiving countless e-mail notes from Paul Saginaw mentioning that he was in the process of applying, I know this recognition means a lot to Zingerman's.

Click (HERE) for the WorldBlu List 2007.

Dislaimer: I work at Zingerman's and share in providing a truly unique experience, everyday. Undoubtedly, Zingerman's is one of the greatest places to work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Damn Good Magazine

Today I happened to stumble upon "one gem of a magazine." The publication is called Good Magazine and it was started last September by 26 year old entrepreneur, Ben Goldhirsh. The magazine explores topics as wide-ranging as politics, media, and consumer spending habits. The writing is completely fresh and provocative, but what's even more astonishing is that Good Magazine is entirely non-profit. So, when you subscribe for one year, you subscription fee is transferred as a monetary donation to any charity of your choice. The magazine offers some really great charitable options, such as Room to Read and Donors Choose. So far, Good Magazine has raised over a quarter million dollars. After ten minutes of navigating the site, I was compelled to buy in.

While the bulk of Good Magazine's content is print, the magazine also has a great video production team. The following short video was recently featured at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival this week -- really helped to answer a lot of questions I had about advertising.

Do yourself a real service and check out the magazine, pronto.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Waxxi: A New Generation of Podcasting

Tracy Sheridan distinguishes herself as a fascinating entrepreneur in the world of podcasts with her creation of Waxxi: a live scheduled podcast in which people can participate via telephone or computer. I really like the idea because it's yet another tool that pushes listeners out of their normal role as solely listeners and makes them active contributers by joining the conversation. Shel Israel and Robert Scoble, the authors of Naked Conversations, were guests on its inaugural podcast on May 20,2006 at 10:30 AM PST. Even Jimmy Wales, the creative mind behind Wikipedia, is scheduled to be a future guest on the program. While this live podcast is taking place, Waxxi will also have a simultaneous chat/IM running with the podcast. With up to 500 participants taking part in the podcast, it might be difficult to get a chance to ask all your questions, but it's certainly allows you to become involved.
It's easy to participate. Just visit the Waxxi homepage and you'll receive a participation code and a tool free number. Waxxi is definitely something worth keeping an eye on for I believe it is yet another way for the consumer to get involved -- much like blogging has been over the past year.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ad(s) of the Week

Heineken just reported record sales this week. The company has really been on a tear of lately, investing wisely in some great branded marketing and advertising. Aside from its bold taste and clean finish, a lot of Heineken's success should be accredited to creative ad agency, Strawberry Frog. The New York and Amsterdam firm has done a great job of promoting the brand internationally, with spots such as "One big game" and "James Bond Casino Royale" (posted below). I've always admired their work (definitely a company I would want to work for someday).

Here's to the power of advertising, done right. Cheers Strawberry Frog!

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Today, BusinessWeek posted its official rankings for the 2007 Best Undergraduate Business Schools in America. In its second year, BusinessWeek has featured in-depth coverage on this increasing trend, and has used smart methods for scoring each school, relying more heavily on areas such as student and recruiter sentiment, coursework, and starting salaries.

For years now, I knew that I would always pursue an undergraduate business degree. Reminder: I'm still a junior in high school. It just makes sense, especially when you're focused on a career in business. For me, the incentive is that I can major in Finance (the one business subject that really isn't taught outside the academia), build a strong business foundation, and then move on with starting my own business/ventures -- all in four years. Keep in mind that a business degree is absolutely NO predeterminer for future entrepreneurial success (as noted by Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn). Therefore, I intend on focusing more heavily on internships, job experiences, and outside motivations.

Undergrad Rankings 2007 (click HERE)

One notion of mine is to move out west (Silicon Valley) after college, work for design firm or study briefly at a design school before jumping into the business of venture capital. Moreover, I think it's important that I don't become fully transformed into a prototype Wall Street executive, but that I make time to cultivate my inner creative engine.

Which brings me to my belief that: the culmination of design thinking and business foresight will ultimately drive the most innovative businesses of tomorrow.

As for now, here's my list of schools I'm most likely going to apply:

  1. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
  2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  3. University of California - Berkeley (Haas School of Business)
  4. Indiana University (Kelley School of Business)

Any suggestions??

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Big Shot in Cannes

Everywhere you look from the Super Bowl to the Oscars you can find user generated content in television commercials. Now Yahoo! is trying to instigate a new type of user generated content in which the user would create online advertisements. Yahoo has dubbed this operation Big Shot in Cannes. In this contest, participants have to create an online advertisement which promotes basically any "green" subject and the three people who create the three advertisements that Yahoo! believes would most likely inspire someone to get up and work to make the planet a better and more healthy place to live. The prize is an all-expense-paid trip to the prestigious annual Advertising Festival in Cannes.
I think this is an extraordinary concept which will yield extremely positive results. Two of my friends, Max Katsarelas and Austin Kronig, are even participating in the contest and are excited about the idea. Who wouldn't want the chance to be able to pick from a massive pool of advertisements for an extremely low cost?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lookout TED 2007

The TED 2007 conference begins Wednesday, March 7 in Monterey, California. According to BusinessWeek, the three and a half day session has become more popular than even the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But it's not all hype. Just take a look at the agenda of speakers (Al Gore, Richard Branson, Paul Simon, etc.). While the event is certainly costly ($6,000), it's value is worth millions considering that businesses like, Wired Magazine, and others owe their creations to the conference. In effect, some people have made claims willing to donate their organs in exchange for admissions.

Agenda for TED 2007 (click HERE)

What's really nice about the event is that each individual's TED presentation will be available to non-attendees via videocasts. The last five years of TED's have been archived on-line, allowing for a great at-home viewing experience. Sure, you'll miss out on the plenty of opportunities to network, just make sure next time that you're ready to fire up your American Express Card in time for the TED 2009 sign-up. You'll only get a three-five day notice.

Business Week article on TED 2007 (click HERE)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ad of the Week

Each week, I will begin awarding my favorite ad, commercial, or viral video. Sort of like a marketing rendition of VH1's Best Week Ever (or a weekly Cannes). I won't be applying any specific grading rubric to the ads, only because ads are too often scrutinized for copywriting and art direction and not appreciated for their social interactions and extensions of brand experiences.

So, the first award goes ceremoniously to Apple and their recent iPhone commercial. The TV ad debuted appropriately during the Oscars last Sunday, and I recall viewing it a couple times during Monday's 24. After viewing it for the first time, I couldn't help but smile. The ads left a sense of purpose, believability, and even community.

Ron Elizando said it best on his blog Brand Curve:
"I think it’s brilliant. They’re pushing and clicking the right buttons on consumers minds. First off, just by making an ad for this new product under their “Apple” brand they’ve already captured the attention of millions, many of which are die-hard fans that will instantly connect to it.

And then, to take it all to the next level they show some of the best and most memorable “phone answering” moments in TV and cinema history. They’re straight-up playing with out hearts and minds. People tend to fall deep in love with TV/movie story lines, characters, and images; so by starting off the commercial with this attention hook they’re making sure all eyes (and minds, and probably many hearts) are into the ad 100%.

I think this is what all TV ads should be like. Well thought of, well executed, and most of all: excellent serving for the brand they’re promoting.

Friday, March 2, 2007

How to Empower Entrepreneurs

Currently I'm down with a cold, and while off school and at home, I spent some time browsing the blogosphere for some new inspiration. One of my favorite stops was at Guy Kawasaki's ultra-popular blog, How to Change the World. Founder of the Silicon Valley V.C. firm, Garage Ventures, and former "software evangelist" for Apple Computers, Guy is an affable, "cut-the-bullshit" kind of guy. In a video post dated a few months back, Guy presented on his new book, the Art of the Start, a self-guide handbook to starting up any business imaginable.

Given that I'm in the process of starting a business of my own, there were a few ideas that really grasped my attention.

Make Meaning over Money.
Without meaning their is no business. If your intention is to solely based on making money in an untapped industry, you will be destined to fail.

Out with Mission Statements, in with company Mantras.

To often companies waste exorbitant fees on setting up their own luxurious off-sites, hoping to create the perfect, most emblematic mission statements. The result: broad and worthless statements that are completely uncharacteristic of the company itself. With mantras, companies are able specifically define (in 3 or 4 words) the purposes they serve.

Best Examples:
Fedex -- "peace of mind"
Target -- "democratize design"

Ask the questions: Who is my customer? And how do I get MY Money out of her purse?
The two fundamental questions of any business plan. Be specific. Any further questioning in unnecessary. Get started immediately afterwards.

Once completed, have a WOMAN review your business plan.

By nature, men are vigorous, demanding, critical, and out-spoken. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more responsive, open-minded, and honest. Women are believers, so trust their advice, first.

"You need a soul mate."
Some of the greatest start-ups have been created by partners. For instance, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google helped to compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses. They provides strong reinforcement and allow partners work more creatively.

Hire people who love your company.
Guy was hired by Apple not because of his proven business experience, but because he held a unbridled enthusiasm for the Apple brand and what it represented. Find people who share that passion and they will be your most productive and devout employees.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cristo Rey Network

During our trip to Chicago, one of the most rewarding visits was not to a corporate headquarters, but rather to an extraordinary Jesuit high school called Cristo Rey. Located in the Hispanic quarters of Chicago, where the area is overridden with gang-violence and experiences a 75% high-school drop-out rate, Cristo Rey offers a tution-free education that allows students to pay off their tuition fees by working one day a week. As part of the program, students are assigned to work for major companies and firms in Chicago; corporations like Deloitte, Chicago Board of Trade, USA Soccer Association, and Univ. of Chicago Hospitals. What's more is that 99% of graduation students end up going to college, typically sponsored by an affiliate Jesuit College. Given the incredible success of this school, model schools have been created under the provision of the Cristo Rey Network in cities such as New York, Boston, and Tucson.

From a business perspective, here's what I found most interesting
-Before establishing Cristo Rey Jesuit H.S., Rev. John Foley consulted with a major Chicago business firm to help create a viable business model.
-Cristo Rey dedicates an entire sector of its school in helping recruit new companies and building new partnership.
-Cristo Rey was able to raise large pools of capital from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation as well as from a major venture capitalist.
-After graduating from college, graduates from Cristo Rey are usually offered high ranking positions from the companies that worked for during high school.

Lessons to be learned:
Too often we see many failed attempts in improving the state of our inter-city schools. The best hope for non-profits is though the application of business practices and approaches. The ideal situation is the perfect fusion between big business and non-profits. Instead of solely donating funds, big businesses can make more meaningful impacts on their communities by consulting their advice and resources.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Back from the Windy City

Sorry guys for the lapse in posts... once again, I happened to be gone on a business sabbatical.

As part of my Jesuit high school's Business Club, a.k.a. "the," (started by myself and Kevin), we arranged a trip (with 18 student members) to Chicago to visit Loyola University and to make several corporate visits. This year, we met some truly inspiring people, all holding different business backgrounds and positions. Here's a sample agenda from our trip, and over the course of this week, Kevin and I will chronicle each stop that we made and its significance. We will also try to include some photos that we took along the way. Fun times.

Friday, February 23

-Chicago Board of Trade
-Leo Burnett
-Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
-Meeting with Loyola Dean; tour of Loyola Business School

Saturday, February 24
-Deloitte and Touche
-Catalyst Ranch
-Vosges Chocolate

*Stay tuned for more tomorrrow. Hop on and ride with us*

Friday, February 16, 2007

Google Presents: It's Own Advertising Campaign?

What I love about Google is there unabashed willingness to experiment, explore, and create. Sure, they have a lot of money to play with, but without trying new things, innovation cannot be realized. So, with the acquisition of Youtube, Google thought they ought to try filming their own licensed videos. The result was the creation of Gmail Theatre, a four-minute Youtube series, broken up into four one-minute commercials.

Released just a few days ago, the series is part of an effort to promote Google's ever-so-sleek e-mail service, Gmail. According to Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, the estimated cost for these low-tech commercials amounted to a few thousand dollars, practically penny change. And if the response rates to Google's commercials reach levels comparable other popular Youtube videos (approx. 250,000 hits), the ROI potential looks quite promising. Pretty entertaining stuff, simple while carrying a lucid message. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Time For Change?

Just last month Leo Burnett of Chicago lost their long-held Altoids account to San Francisco's Hal Riney. Burnett has done an excellent job in the past, but the executives at Wrigley felt change was in order and they have certainly done so, not only with their advertising, but also with their product. Recently, they introduced dark-chocolate-covered mints. The curiously strong candies come in peppermint, cinnamon and ginger flavors. They even allow you to personalize your own box of these new mints so you can send them to your valentine. This new product has proven successful and the company looks like its on its way back to success after a brief slump last year. Their new website possesses a similarity to the Guinness beer commercials. I liked this image for Guinness, but I do not particularly agree with this new appearance for Altoids. It looks like they did not spend much time with the website's construction due to its brevity and lack of creativity. When I went to their newly structured website for the first time, I was a little disappointed. Although I don't particularly love the work of the new advertising company, I still love the product.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Every journey needs a Journal

In one of Katie Kempner's latest podcasts from The Hook, she sat down with Judy Barry, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for The Wall Street Journal. During their discussion, they talked about the new efforts the Journal has taken to distinguish itself as the world's top business news publication. Among the most notable improvements, the Journal completed its January 2, 2007 re-design debut, featuring a smaller paper with bolder text and vivid pictures. In addition, the Journal is making strong headway towards offering a better, up-to-the-minute business news service through its site. In its Weekend Edition, the Journal is focusing on offering more leisure articles pertaining to entertainment and executive lifestyles. So, clearly the Journal believes that print media is far from being a dead business.

According to Judy Barry, it appears that readers are liking the new changes. I would agree, especially with revived marketing efforts such as its latest ad campaign. For the first time, the Journal seems to really get it. It's evolving its brand image, and it understands its present/future role in the lives of its everyday reader. Serving up videos of major business/popular moguls, its new campaign gives the Journal much more personality as well as consumer interaction (reminds me a lot of the American Express "My Life, My Card"). As part of the deal, the Journal is asking devoted readers to submit their own stories of how the Wall Street Journal has played an inspiring role in their own personal successes.

Check it out. I chose the Jake Burton video because I liked it best:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Gay Marketing?

Ok, so, I'm kind of apprehensive to be talking about a contentious topic like this, but I think its safe to say that Bravo's new interior design reality series, Top Design, is geared towards a predominantly gay and female audience. With hit shows like Project Runway, Top Chef, and Queer Eye, Bravo has proven that hip and provocative content sells. While a lot of these shows share a lot of commonalities, Top Design, hosted by interior design aficionado Todd Oldham, seems to be more specifically focused. Unlike Queer Eye, Top Design doesn't offer the same universal appeal.

Reasoning: over 90% of its male cast is homosexual, including a recent hollywood drag-queen who played the role of its "mystery client."
It's subject matter: interior design (not cooking, like on Top Chef).

Nonetheless, I really think Bravo has got a solid business model on its hands. Believe me, I do like the show, especially the fact that it brilliantly blends consumer brands into the experience of the show. In one viewing, I saw product placements for Select Comfort, Pier 1 Imports, Thompsonville, Brizo faucets, and Elle Decor magazine, not to mention a slew of ads on Additionally, Bravo has done a great job of offering an interactive website with video blogs, podcasts, and viewer contests. So, I think Bravo realizes the market potential of a show like this. It figures that the "gay appeal" of the show is wide-spread enough to really capitalize on a seemingly untapped consumer base. Certainly, marketers are responding positively. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Feeling Your Impact

Tremor is a website targeted at the teenage population in hopes of attributing a youthful insight to the product developments of old, new, and never before seen items. Started by Proctor & Gamble CEO Steve Knox, the site promotes its members not only to critique, but also to create new ideas and help choose what might be the best design or product. In exchange for such insight, Tremor sends its participants exclusive products which have never before hit the shelves. I am currently a member and am just starting to experiment with the service. I think Tremor is a cool way to connect the perspectives of the youth with the wisdom of the old in order to help better determine what will and won't work.

Monday, February 5, 2007

And the MVP goes to...

Doritos. Hands down. While it's still debatable over which two (out of five) ads should have been shown on Sunday, the basic fact that that is was interactive, viral, and consumer-generated speaks a lot to the direction of advertising. On the other hand, General Motors tried, and failed, because it only allowed college contestants to participate.
Doritos did an excellent pre-game job of generating a lot of hype with its Crash the Super Bowl ad contest. And after viewers finally realized that its wasn't "essentially" produced by an advertising agency, publicity stormed. I'll even bet that these ads do wonders for its business. What do you think?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff

Wait a minute... before you head out to your nacho-filled Super Bowl event, take some thought into visiting SuperAdFreak. The site has got 20 guest bloggers set to critique the Super Bowl ads for you. (Some will post during the game, others after). Names include Joseph Jaffe, Seth Godin, and Jeff Goodby. Their critiques will be cross-referenced by commercial and by blogger.
Should be some great commentary. Are you ready?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Cool Thinking, GM

Today's Detroit Free Press had an unusual, trendy article on General Motors in its Business section. Typically, the Business page is overloaded with automotive nonsense, and rarely do I find anything attractive. But its commentary on GM's new page is really interesting. Its a "campaign" in which GM is inviting charismatic, college-aged students to audition as the site's official spokesperson. The identified winner will be given the opportunity to document the many world events that GM sponsors, such as the upcoming Sony BMG After-Party and the Grammy Awards. Casting is done through video blog submissions.

It's good to see that GM has moved outside of its comfort zone to offer something hip, engaging, and not so GM trademarked. Too often, GM's marketing is predictably wide ranging, and not consumer driven. While GM claims that the site is geared to its new line of trucks, I don't see a real distinction. Nonetheless, it's a great interactive, viral way of experiencing the GM brand. Best thing from GM since the Apprentice GM Tahoe campaign. I believe the site was rendered by Deutsch Inc.

Oh, did I mention that Damien Fahey of MTV is repping the site as well. Check it out, what do you think?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lovin' It

Norah Jones, you've done it again. First, it was your "Feels Like Home" album, which captured my heart while vacationing in the French countryside. Now, you've decidedly accomplished yourself as my blissful escape. Your new album, "Not too Late," is really going to take me to new heights. I look forward to soulful nights spent visioning of great successes. Thanks for attuning my ear to great music. Keep it coming. Keep it coming.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Heir to the Throne

We have all witnessed Microsoft's (MSFT)
rise to power and watched them rule the
world of operating systems for over a decade. It began with the release of Windows '95 OS which, at the time, was the be all and end all of operating systems and was quickly adopted as the standard for personal computers. Then came Windows '98 and Windows XP. Now a new generation of Windows operating systems has been born: Windows Vista.

Is Windows Vista superior to all others? The answer simply put is... no. Yet millions are confident that it will bypass all others and once again assume its role as the "standard" OS despite its relative inferiority to others. In reading other blogs and business news websites I feel that it is safe to say that the general consensus is that Vista only offers a few new and unique options and is extremely similar to its predecessor, Windows XP, excluding its aesthetics appearance.

Bluntly put, I am not here to write a research report about Vista, rather I am here to give my unique perspective on Windows and its future in the realm of operating systems. Based upon my research of Microsoft's newest member, not my own personal experience with it, I believe that Microsoft's realm will endure until another operating system can provide a quality far superior to that of the Windows operating systems and a usability which is significantly more user friendly. Until then, the world of technology and consumers alike will continue to set Windows operating systems as their default.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great Industrial Design

On Friday, I was able to sit in on a University of Michigan Ross School of Business seminar with Co-Leader of IDEO's Consumer Design Practice, Iaian Roberts. Iaian is originally from London, where he went on to pursue a career in industrial design. After developing the Dyson vacuum with James Dyson, Iaian caught a job with the revered IDEO design agency in Palo Alto, Callifornia. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the agency, IDEO is the innovative, product development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Poloraid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm handheld, and hundreds of other cutting-edge products and services. IDEO also helped create the newly established Stanford Design School. IDEO's practices and cultures have been detailed in best-selling business books.

Anyways, Iaian's presentation was very focused on the impact IDEO's design strategy has had on its clients. Iaian provided a great illustrative model as to how it conducts business. Below is a composed sense of IDEO's guiding principles:

Aesthetics ---> Empathy
Ergonomics ---> Experiences
Manufacturing ---> Connections

This diagram (if you wanna call it a diagram), illustrates in simplistic terms, how IDEO intrinsically views each of its projects. First, it's necessary for IDEO to gain full understanding of its client, not only on an operational level, but more so on a deeper, almost spiritual level. Once, IDEO seems to resonate with its client's sensibilities on an emotional level, then it is time for IDEO to proceeds with creating exhilarating experiences.

In the case of Amway, IDEO mapped out how a passenger runs through multiple progressions before actually boarding a train. Thereby, IDEO was able to design the new train cab to accommodate each of these stages so to speak. Also, when it comes to experiences, IDEO seriously believes that the customer must come first; that any new design concept must be centered on the customers need and wants.

After working with Dyson, Iaian recognized that James Dyson never really had the customer in mind while creating his vacuum. Rather, Dyson was more concerned on creating the best damn vacuum imaginable. Another instance of great experiences is IDEO's new project with the NHL to help totally revamp its image. While the project is still in progress, IDEO remains focused on the experiences to which the NHL should serve. The third and final step is the actual, physical creating of the product or service.

But in order to successfully put a product on market, it must have achieved the prior two stages. Apple Co. excelled at following this approach, given that it started from the bottom-up, instead of the tradition top-bottom approach. Once, Apple had visioned the ultimate mobile devices, it made sure that the design of the phone was uncompromisingly sleek. However, in the case of the Motorola Razr, designers spent too much time on the appearance of the phone, instead of the actual internal characteristics of the phone. Fascinating yet understandable, it's the IDEO way.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Collaboration: The Way of the Future

Dear Reed Hastings [CEO of Netflix(NFLX)],

I am an avid user of your product and have been for the last year or so and I love the service. Recently, your company introduced an online system of digital dvd rental which is a great idea with tremendous potential, but I believe the idea of viewing movies on the computer would not be too enthralling to all your customers, me included. Movies are meant to be enjoyed in the comfort of one's sofa or recliner on a big screen TV, not in an uncomfortable computer room.

Therefore, I'm proposing that you join forces with Apple(AAPL) in order to improve the viewing experience for us all. My plan is simple, but extremely rewarding.

  • Utilize the new Apple TV, a device hooked up to your TV, which wirelessly syncs to your iTunes library so that you can view movies on your television
  • This would make both the consumer and your wallet happy
  • Your movie database would be accessible from the iTunes Music Store and only members of Netflix would be able to take out movies
  • iTunes users would see your product and quite possibly try it out due to their constant exposure to it
  • Also Apple would benefit because the reverse scenario would apply; introducing your members to their products
  • Your consumer pools would combine and result in increased profits for both companies
  • Focus on getting the movies to the consumers, let Apple worry about its presentation

Such a partnership would allow you to make great strides in your newly acquired race with Blockbuster Total Access. Not only would this deal benefit your company, but also Apple because it would strengthen their hold on the online movie industry, an area which it has started to develop since its introduction of the video iPod.

Mr. Hastings, we're living in an era of collaboration in which companies must work together and combine there capabilities and influence in order to achieve success. Now that the world has become "flat", as Friedman adeptly asserts, American products must be able to match the cost and quality of those around the world. This means that our companies must put their heads together because 2 is better than 1.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Proven Hospitality

Sorry for the delay in new postings, but the last few weeks have distanced me from my laptop. Now that high school finals are finally over, and I'm home from a weekend business trip "Up-North" (Michigan), I'm ready to get things rolling again. After spending some time with Kevin, we've constructed a newly planned vision as to how we can better serve our readers. Our hope is that we can satisfy these three main objectives:

-Personality and Specificity
-Interactive media that promotes community
-Engaging content that is clear, consistent, and fresh

Hopefully soon, then, you should be able to recognize a noticeable improvement. Meanwhile, I want to share with you a recent experience that Kevin and I went on. As mentioned, the two of us drove four hours north for a two night visit at Crystal Mountain Resort. The intention of the trip was to fully immerse myself within the hospitality business. Why? Because, as of summer of last year, I began works on a proposed new concept for a Zingerman's Bed and Breakfast in Ann Arbor, MI. To give you a little history, Zingerman's is world-renowned for its local deli and eight other food-related businesses. In January of 2o03, it was named "The Coolest Small Business In America," by Inc. Magazine. So, after picking up a ton of business knowledge from Zingerman's, I started work on establishing a business plan for the B&B. Currently, the businesses is making rapid progress towards opening the new business in August of 2009.

So, by visiting the successfully run Crystal Mountain Resort, I was able to better understand the business from its top executives. Noted as the #1 Resort in the Midwest by Ski Magazine, Crystal Mountain generates $35 million in total sales through its real estate, lodging, winter and summer sports. Yet, after meeting with Rick Schmitt, VP of Group Sales, I came to learn some valuable insights about the resort and its industry:

1) Pricing is critical, especially when it comes to room rates. Crystal Mtn conducts weekly meetings to discuss pricing and packages. Given the seasonality of the business, Crystal Mtn has the ability to change rates on a daily basis, if needed.
2) In order for a new development project to be approved for construction, 75% of funds must be collected in advance.
3) While Crystal Mtn is predominantly a golf and ski destination, the resort actually makes more from its conferences and banquets.
4) RevPar is one of the most commonly used terms in the business. It stands for "revenue per average room," and is used a universal index score. It is calculated by:
-(price per room x percent occupancy) divided by (# of available rooms in same period)
5) The hotel business is often compared to that of the food industry since both businesses view its product as perishable from day to day.
6) In determining its target customer group, Crystal Mtn believed that it could make more money by remaining a three diamond resort. 4 diamond resorts require specific services like laundry cleaning, valet, food delivery to rooms, etc.
7) Crystal Mtn has maintained a 55% occupancy average, and has total margins of 35%.
8) Crystal Mtn doesn't actually own the rights to any of its lodging areas. Rather, Crystal Mtn has approximately 430 individuals owners.
9) It's common for resorts or hotel to sell its real estate through two common methods. The first is full ownership and the second is time-shares. The latter allows certain people or companies to purchase a certain amount of room nights per year. An example of this would be Google who would elect for 100 room nights for its corporate visitors to Ann Arbor.

Stay tuned for further updates on my status with the B&B.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Is David Beckham Really Worth It?

It's official. David Beckham will be playing for the LA Galaxy for five years starting in August. Alderac Entertainment Group(AEG), owner of the LA Galaxy, is working on deal with Beckham that amounts to $250 million over five years. In addition to his yearly salary and endorsements, Beckham will receive a stipend of ticket sales as well as 40% of the jersey sales.

AEG believes that this contract will largely increase their overall revenues, so much so that his profit will exceed his cost. Thus far, their assumption is coming to fruition much as they had planned given that season tickets for LA Galaxy games are practically sold out. Do I think that David Beckham will change the attitude about soccer throughout the United States? Depends. Look at the influence Tiger Woods has had on the business of golf. Surely, Beckham is an iconic athlete, but his soccer roots aren't embedded in the United States like that of Tiger Woods. Additionally, American's aren't altogether as religious over soccer as European counterparts. Speaking from a consumer perspective, Americans aren't going to hold the same ardent connection toward's Beckham and his projected brand image. So, while I'm certain advertising and marketing campaigns will be huge in the U.S., how are American's going to respond. Are they going to feel a highly compelled to rush Adidas stores. Again, it runs back to the status of soccer in the U.S.

So, a move like this might take time to adjust to. Yet, Beckham's move to the U.S. might have some significant residual effects if other elite soccer stars follow similar suit. If others realize the marketability and possibilites that the U.S. offers, the commercialization of soccer could gain dominance.

While Beckham contends to affect change over face of soccer in the U.S., it's clear that his intentions for joining the LA Galaxy are purely money-driven; he's a sellout. But does the AEG's contract with Beckham make good business sense?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taking a Stake in Coldwater

It's time. I'm ready to fiscally kick-off 2007 with a new position in a company that promises multiple upsides. Last year was kind to me, as I banked a 55% profit off my portfolio of three major holdings. But instead of continually adding to my existing positions, I want to develop a little more "diversity" with a stock like women's retailer Coldwater Creek (CWTR). Given the natural volatility of this stock over past months, I've been waiting prudently for a solid entry point. Now that the stock is approximately 25% off its 52 week high, I relish over the opportunity of buying an undervalued growth stock. While the company has been around for nearly 25 years, I wasn't until recent years that Coldwater reinvigorated it's vision of rapid growth. After supremely establishing its catalog and On-line business, Coldwater is greatly optimistic over the expansion of its retail stores. Over the course of the next year, Coldwater looks to double its retail locations across the U.S. Coldwater's intrinsic value, however, is projected in its total leverage over the female baby boomer generation. Coldwater certainly does a nice job at directly appealing to the 50+ market, through it fashionable apparel as well as its strong customer service. It should also be noted that Coldwater was the first real company to offer clothing in sizes that weren't labeled as 13+, but rather 1x, 2x,3x, etc. Additionally, Coldwater has begun to campaign for 100% energy efficency in all its operating stores. So, clearly Coldwater is a socially responsible company that understands its niche well. Earnings are estimated to grow at 30% this year, while revenues are seen to improve 19%. Like all of my holdings, I am playing this one long-term (3-5 years). CWTR will account for 1/4 of my portfolio. Limit orders only. Long term = multiple bagger.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Apple Co.mmunications?

Say you’ve just downloaded Good Will Hunting from your iTunes. Instead of huddling around your computer to watch it, you walk into the kitchen, make some popcorn, walk into your tv room, sink into your recliner, turn on the TV, and use your Apple Remote to play the movie that was, just a few minutes ago, in your iTunes library. While you were preparing your popcorn, your new movie had wirelessly synced to your Apple TV and readied itself to be viewed. As the people at Apple would say, "Give yourself a hand: You've just changed the way you watch digital media."

Apple wants to create new consumer possibilities through digital media. With a rekindled focus towards entertainment, Apple has extended its product offering with the latest announcement of the iPhone at the MacWorld conference. This "revolutionary" device integrates the technologies of a mobile phone, a touchscreen iPod, and an Internet communications device. Yet, by the looks of it, it remains puzzling as to whom the phone directly appeals to. Some have asserted it to be more of a "lifestyle" phone that offers cell phone capabilities with enhanced iPod features. Moreover, critics claim that the phone lacks the scalability of a Blackberry or Palm, in that its vibrant touchscreen doesn't scale up to Qwerty keyboards of its competitors. Also, at $499, the iPhone runs a pretty penny considering that it values at the same price as the MacMini. But like the iPod, this phone should take time to grow on consumers. It's important, however, that Apple establishes itself in the communications business before it becomes possibly "too late."

According to Wall Street, investors like Apple's products developments considering that the stock skyrocketed 7.10 points, a gain of 8.31%. What truly adds benefit to Apple value, is the wide-ranging possibilities that Apple can exploit to attract other companies to buy into its entertainment business. TIVO realizes the advantage of a joint partnership with Apple, in which it just agreed to offer TIVO capabilities via iTunes. Similar moves like this should bring Apple big business, and with continual product advancements, Apple looks to be virtually "untouchable."

Monday, January 8, 2007

Raw Marketing

Want an inside peek at future of brand marketing? Look no further than Fahrenheit 212. This New York firm was just started in November by former Saatchi & Saatchi executives, Mark Payne and Geoff Vuleta. Both gurus wanted to spinoff their own agency in hopes of working more intimately with clients by establishing more creative control. Within months, Fahrenheit 212 has attracted clients from the likes of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Samsung, and Proctor & Gamble. Why such the immediate success? Because Fahrenheit has develop a unusual business model that ensures clients a completed project within five months. Focused on product development, Fahrenheit serves the combined role of being a management consultant, advertising agent, and design house. Thus, Fahrenheit is known to acquire a deep understanding of the overall operations of each business before proposing big ideas. Also termed, as the "idea company," Fahrenheit has developed a system called "the hive," in which eight people with specifically sharp marketing skills convene to tackle clients' marketing problems. As a mode of conceiving radical ideas, Fahrenheit stresses "multiple intelligence theory," a philosophy rooted in the belief that all forms of marketing should stimulate the eight discrete forms of human intelligence:
-Verbal, Mathematical, Visual, Spatial, Physical, Worldly, Emotional, & Musical

Among it latest projects, Fahrenheit worked with the largest global liquor company, Diageo. Contracted to work on its depleted Smirnoff brand, Fahrenheit totally revamped its current product line-up to include a refreshingly new beverage called Smirnoff Raw Tea. As example of the boldness and initiative of Fahrenheit, the firm took the trouble of going to a bartender/mixologist to concoct the new drink. Moreover, Fahrenheit over-achieved by creating the actual bottle design and advertising campaign called "Tea Partay." While its tactics may seem provocative, its effect on the brand has been tremendous. Considered one of "the most memorable ads of 2006," by Contagious Magazine (check earlier post), Fahrenheit has shocked audiences with its humor and whimsical sense of prestige.

So, don't tell me... I know what your initial reaction is. Mind you, this spot is really a clear example of smart, innovative marketing. You've just got to draw the inferences. Clearly, Fahrenheit wasn't afraid of stepping "out of bounds." Remember, this took Fahrenheit only five months with eight executives on board. As a result, Fahrenheit is receiving myriad of product request companies who have received positive reference from global investment banks.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Brands That I Love

Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, has recently published the sequel to his bestselling business book, Lovemarks, titled The Lovemarks Effect: Winning in the Consumer Revolution. In inspiring fashion, Robert asserts that companies no longer want their brands to be solely "respected," but want to be both respected and "loved." When brands have achieved such acclaim, they are to be termed as being "lovemarked". Moreover, Roberts's contention is that companies must use insight and foresight to best promote powerful, emotional connections. Below, I have made a personal list of lovemarked brands, all of which resonate with me on an "emotional level of engagement."

My List of 30 Irresistible and Irreplaceable Brands

Vineyard Vines
Trader Joe's
Whole Foods
Barnes & Noble
Cliff Bar
Fiji Water
Hennes & Mauritz
Research in Motion (aka Blackberry)
U2 (Yes, Bono deserves his own brand title)
Trek Bicycles
Burton Snowboards
Suunto Watches
Four Seasons Hotels
Life is Good(R)
SouthWest Airlines
The New York Times

I would love to hear feedback and comments on your own list of favorite brands. Are there any of my mentioned brands that you agree or disagree with. I'd really like to open up discussion on this topic. As I continue reading The Lovemarks Effect, I will try to keep you updated on my overall impressions of the book. I will also post some original thoughts and insights as to how Robert's principles hold certain relevance.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Google: In a Class of It's Own

Over the past week now, I have become greatly intrigued by the steps and methods Google is employing to ensure future corporate success. In a Sunday Times article, I came to discover the pure eccentricity surronding the Google culture. While the Mountain View, CA office is prominent for its distinctive employee benefits, it appears that Google is expanding upon the Silicon microcosm, to include the same luxuries in New York. Yes, Google is growing a satellite campus in downtown Manhattan. To accommodate the chaotic daily life of its average employee, Google is offering unique services like daily yoga, sushi and espresso bars, Thursday night socials, and much more.

This development coincides with the recent announcement that Google is searching for sales executives to help turn a profit on the newly acquired, YouTube business. Google is looking to grow office divisions in Detroit, New York, and Boston.

I also discovered this morning that Google is developing a new admissions system to better manage job applications. Sounds strange, doesn't? But in order to continue attracting the elite caliber of talent necessary, Google has established a extensive "biological" survey which includes an index score meant to detect how well a person will fit in. Google believes this new, objective approach will allow its business to distinguish aspiring leaders. Prior to this advancement, Google relied solely on onslaughts of personal interviews, some of which amounted to 10-12 visits before confirmation.

So... Have you ever:
-Turned a profit at your own non-tech side business (dog walker, catering, tutoring, etc.)

-Started your own non-profit?

-Started a club or recreational group?

-Set a regional, state, national, or world-record?

Next... Please indicate your working style preference on a scale of 1 to 5.

1 = Work Alone (A personal espresso machine and a box of Toblerone and I'm ready to go!)

5 = Work in a Team (Ten voices at once, egos colliding... ah, the challenge of getting work in edgewise)

When your employees rate has doubled, and thousands of jobs are up for grabs, new actions must to be taken. Yet, with the intention of continually creating a "better place to work," employee demand remains incredibly high. Figuratively speaking then, Google bleeds the "Ivy League" of job prerequisite, and the "utopia" of cultural dynamic. (Yahoo, beware!)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Second Life: A New Era of Advertising

Many claim that Second Life will revolutionize advertising by providing its users with a completely interactive service in which users can visit an ever-growing amount of businesses via their avatar (simulated game character). Users in Second Life can purchase LindeX -the official currency of Second Life- with US dollars in order to pay for the virtual items and do business in this virtual world. Although the LindeX is relatively invaluable, it has its own exchange rate, comparable to the US dollar. Companies such as Adidas and American Apparel have already taken advantage of this virtual economy by displaying their products in 3D virtual stores which display their current products. At these stores users can outfit their avatars in the latest styles or peruse the store's products for items that they may want to purchase in reality. Other stores are using websites like to insert yet another aspect into this virtual marketplace; that of being able to purchase item from stores and have them delivered to your house in real life.

Another feature of Second Life which I found to be quite interesting was the ability for companies to showcase concept items in order to see if the concept product would be worth it based upon Second Life user response. One such company that has utilized this facet of Second Life is Adidas.

Austin and I were fortunate enough to have attended an informational and interactive presentation on Second Life at the Ann Arbor IT Zone. Believe it or not, there is a Harvard class which is experimenting with the Second Life technology through holding discussion groups in the virtual world. One of the men at this presentation was even pursuing the prospect of creating his own virtual library via Second Life.

Although the program has not gone error free, its programmers are slowly perfecting the technology and building up protection against hackers. Since its opening to the public in 2003, Second Life has acquired 2,337,620 residents and a great deal of excitement.