Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

If I…

If I … Am About to get Laid off By Sun/Oracle

Posted on Jan 28, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I … Am About to get Laid off By Sun/Oracle

So Larry Ellison railed into a UBS analyst who claimed that there were to be mass layoffs topping 13,000 employees from the Sun side of the Oracle/Sun merger. Apparently all that is hogwash says the CEO who’s boss Charles Philips just got busted cheating on his wife — Oracle is going to *hire* about two thousand employees and trim the Sun team to a lean fiscal machine. I’m not claiming that Ellison or the poor stomped-on analyst are lying, but I am saying that if you’re in Silicon Valley, you know all this is bullshit. Everyone knows that Sun employees — both recently laid-off and about-to-be-toast ones — are putting together their resumes faster than you can say “Larry Lies.”

Whats a Sunner to do? If I was about to get laid off by Sun/Oracle, I would:

1. Beef up your Social Media personal brand. Add everyone you’ve got from your Sun/Oracle network. Join LinkedIn and start jabbering industry talk. I don’t mean gossip, I mean your.specific.expertise. Get inspired by Ryan Kuder’s Yahoo! Layoff — I’m not saying to Pull a Kuder, I’m just saying, get involved in the process of being layed-off. Be an adopter to an industry of job-seekers flooding the marketing from your former employer. Be real and honest and knowledgeable to your network about the merger, the layoffs and your recent need for a new gig. Get top of mind to the people you know (who could be potential employers) by using real-time communication tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

2. Remember, you are not a victim, you’re an (ex)employee. When the bubble burst here in Silicon Valley, all kinds of creative outlets popped up. My favorite were the LemonHeads. These folks had been layed-off and determined to make lemonade from their mutual predicament. They met at mountain biking trails around the Bay Area and rode hard. I thought it was brilliant: a cheap way to network! They talked about opportunities, referred one-another for gigs, talked industry to keep their minds sharp and got an endorphin rush from the exercise to feign off depression. You’re about to be layed-off, not because you were screwing the boss’s wife (or maybe you were, but that’s another If I… blog post), but because the industry is consolidating down to get lean and move forward. Call yourself the Rays of Sun or the Sunbeams or some positive-minded kitchy thing like that. Find something for you and your Sun buddies to do outside, something active and fun. Couldn’t you use a little fun right now?

3. Do not bash your former employer. Do I need to go on about this one? Sun and Oracle have been around a long, long time. There are some amazing products, incredible brains that have gone through those doors. Respect it. When I left Yahoo!, I still bled purple and yellow and I always will. I love the company that brought me so much learning, so many great colleagues, so much opportunity. Don’t write blog posts or cryptic mean tweets about the trade secrets or insider info or anything at all inflammatory to bash Sun and especially, not Oracle. Remember, Silicon Valley is a very small town and you don’t want to be the negative one shoveling fresh shit on an already steaming pile.

4. Don’t panic. Follow these steps (a) Clean up. Clean up your resume, your social media outlets, clean your desk drawer and your hard drive. (b) Breathe. The stress of layoffs sucks. Take time to get your mental house in order. Visit a friend, go camping, go on a road trip, let your kids play hooky from school and go to the beach to make sandcastles. (c) Make a plan. Where do you *want* to work? For whom? With whom? Where? Target where you want to be. (d) Get the book The Promise. I don’t care if you think it’s crap, it’s still inspirational. Visualize your next job, tell yourself It Will Be. And then be careful, because you might just get what you’re looking for.

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If I …Were in Alpha

Posted on Jan 21, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I …Were in Alpha

I didn’t say If I was an Alpha, because if you know me, we already know that I’m an Alpha. And if there’s a greek letter they discover someday that comes before Alpha, I’m that too.  If I had a company in Alpha mode, I’d take some steps to make tactical moves to ensure I didn’t have a near-certain death by moving into Beta before it’s ready.

So many companies, so little room in the market? Must.move.lighting.fast.always? Must throw it out there and fix it later? In the past several months I’ve seen companies go flying out the door before the products are fully baked. Ideas are never fully baked and online products are never done; as we all know, they simply evolve (if we’re lucky). But the belief in an ever-growing product isn’t the same as putting out a product to the public that isn’t ready.

If I were running product at a company that is in Alpha (even if it called itself in Beta), I would:

1. Withhold any and all traffic growing measures. If you’ve got a product that requires UGC in order to hammer out bugs, load test and populate pages then call your mother, your jobless cousins and your husband’s golf buddies. This isn’t the time to open up to random people. The web is simply too small now for that. Be clever about how to use the people you know. It’s old school, I know, but there’s a new reason: Real-Time Reporting. No longer do pages disappear. Everything now is available in real-time and opening up beta can produce half-completed pages, logins that spin, dead-end links or “this is where the ugly picture of yo baby goes” engineer placeholders. It’s just not worth it. Keep your content close and your content users closer.

2. Stop. Collaborate and Listen. Okay, fine, I’m stealing the line from Vanilla Ice and that’s just wrong. But he’s right. If you’re thinking of rolling into Beta do yourself a favor and stop everything. Take a breather. Take a weekend. Go back to your drawing board, away from the specs, away from the fancy UI corners and remember the product’s vision. Are you there? Are you there so strongly that you could push the product into Beta and go to sleep tonight not running MySql queries in your sleep? Have you listened to your team? Where’s the biggest worry? Is it valid? Is it a showstopper? Do you want to push to beta to get the Board off your back? To meet an arbitrary deadline? Take the moment. Stop. Collaborate. Listen.

3. Do not work any social media campaigns. No matter what. Sure, secure your FB fan page, get a Twitter account, play FourSquare, write a blog. But and this is a big but (not a big butt, which is a totally different rap song), do not waste the time or investment of a user when you are not yet ready to reciprocate. What can you offer users when you are not yet there yourself? Don’t tell me “Something Big is Coming!” because that’s not communicating with me. If you must engage social media into your pre-Beta plan, be completely transparent about your work. Tell a story of troubles and problems and issues and be fully prepared to offer the same kind of comfort in return to people you’re communicating with. The only thing I can honestly tell you to do in social media is LISTEN — comment on sites that matter to your business, pull in RSS feeds of sites that inspire your product and engage with them. Learn from them. But putting out a social media brand message takes dedication that Alpha products don’t have. Do you have it to give? If you don’t, save yourself the need of hiring me to fix the brand image and simply don’t engage until you are fully ready to put your best foot forward.

My bottom line is, don’t put up crap — your awesome idea is worth waiting a bit longer before taking it to Beta.

Note: Please give me some knuckles that I didn’t call out the names of the companies that led the inspiration for this post. <<good for me!>>

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If I… Were VP Ad Sales for XMRadio

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I… Were VP Ad Sales for XMRadio

I am the most loyal XM Radio user — so loyal that I still refuse to call it Sirius Radio. But I’m one ad shy of K-Oing my XM. If I were VP of ad sales for XM Radio, I’d make a few serious changes to keep loyal users in the game. Now, nevermind that the whole business model for XM went down the shitter — originally it was ad-free radio. In fact, that was the whole point of subscription radio. No more, as we all know. A shame since it seems it’s the only business model that works for them. I’m pretty certain their choice in advertisers isn’t supposed to drive their users away from their service, right?

If I were VP of Ad Sales for XMRadio, here’s what I’d do:

1. Local, local, local. Invest in cool technology that can use the geo-targeting in your unit to target local ads. Figure out what newcomer companies like CopiaMobile are doing to geo-target coupons to mobile phones and get on the bandwagon. I’m driving in Campbell and you tell me that I get a free chips with my meal at Aqui Cal-Mex during happy hour. I pull over and go! I call my friends to come! I don’t go in, but I remember that if I mention XMRadio, I get free chips. Your local brand confidence goes up, your brand association goes up, your value to the customer goes waaaay up.

2. Put a cap on ad rotation. I have heard the same four commercials on XMRadio virtually non-stop. It has gotten to the point where I hear the same ads on various XM channels at the same time. There has got to be a cap on ad rotation. The saturation level cannot possible be a value-ad for advertisers and even if positive, the over saturation of the same ad dilutes the value of the message. I’m sure we’d all agree that bombarding your audience isn’t the smartest thing in the world. In place of over-delivery of the same ads, use the opportunity to demo the beta of the local ad targeting.

3. Get smarter about what I want by using social media tools to instigate and maintain two-way communication with your users. Invite your Twitter users to a virtual listening party, create favorites and playlists to be shared. Show up and be a part of local big markets, just like radio stations do. Be present. Ask questions, be relevant to your market. The targeting for XM ads is abhorrent. While maintaining communication with your audience (and building trust while you’re at it), take your learnings and sell back to your advertisers. Be the authority on what your users want and need and then demand that from the advertisers that you are bringing to them.

If XM Radio were to target ads that were relevant to me, added value to my life, provided me with opportunities, showed that I, as a user, matter to you, then I’d have a lot easier time listening to ads on the XM Service. Without improvement in ad targeting and direct communications with what the users want, I fear that others like me will fall off the XM signal and move to a place where there is less noise.

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If I… were to start an eCommerce Social Network

Posted on Jan 15, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I… were to start an eCommerce Social Network

If I were to start ane-commerce social network I would focus on the trifecta of instant gratification, money and the power of influence. If I were to scoop up startups in town and make a mega social environment from them, I’d buy:

1. The Find http://www.thefind.com In full disclosure, I love The Find after @la_gringa and I worked on a project for them a couple years ago. The technology behind the product is amazing and they are a great, great group of talented people. But, the product lacks instinct, lacks instant gratification, lacks urgency, lacks influence. However, the sheer technological ability to find something you are looking for online or in a brick-and-mortar store is a direct arrow to the heart of a sale.

2. RetailMeNot http://www.retailmenot.com Retail Me Not is one of my favorite sites, maybe ever. I’m not a coupon kind of person (unless I have to be) and this site is less about old fashioned old lady mid-west coupon clippers and more about finding a deal. I almost never, ever buy a single thing online without looking at RetailMeNot to see if there is a coupon code. I have saved more money that I can ever imagine. They also have two key social elements: (a) they rely on their users to float good deals and (b) they give a success rate voted on by the community on the validity of a coupon code. RetailMeNot also has two other clever ditties: they have a toolbar that works about 40% of the time, but it’s got potential. They’ve also realized that working with brands instead of against them is key to their survival. I’ve seen coupons created just for RetailMeNot from large scale vendors. Smart business model. The downside to retail me not is that they leave the shopping to the individual, although there is a live community there.

3. Blippy http://www.blippy.comis Twitter for your purchases meets FourSquare.  Now, I have to say, Blippy bowled me over. I love this product. In beta, the site is pretty buggy but still, the path is clear and I’m ready to zoom down it. Link your ecommerce accounts (from big ones like Amazon to smaller ones like Threadless). I love that I can see what trusted friends are buying. We all know that peer influence is the greatest influence in buying considerations. Blippy is going to have some challenges with privacy (what if I  allow my Amazon purchases to be shown, wanting to share my  book purchases, but forget to hide my spouse’s birthday gift bought on the same service?). But they’ve got it right with the power of peers.

In merging my three companies, I’d have a TheFind interface, with coupon codes appearing if available and social integration of people in my network that have purchased this item or others similar to it. I’d add in a bit of social responsibility too (stores that are donating to Haiti relief with your purchase, stores that take eScrip for schools, etc.). My little ecomm platform is a call to purchase, a peer influence and a bargain — three direct-to-buy data points we know top the list for purchasers.

Now, what would I call it?

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Hollow Leg with Pit Stop in My Ass and Thighs

Posted on Dec 3, 2007 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, If I..., Rants |

It’s not a matter of want, it’s a matter of need. Since training with Lisa started about four months ago, I cannot stop eating. I am STARVING. I try sushi and starve. I try a little steak and starve. I try a bowl of once-forbidden pasta and starve. I simply cannot get satiated.

I can out-eat and out-drink almost everyone. I can put away four or five slices of pizza. I can eat salad out of an industrial-size bowl. I can drink a bottle of wine without blinking. I simply cannot get to the point where I’m not hungry. And no, a-hole, I am not pregnant.

I try all the tricks… drink a ton of water (made me want to pee and eat), drink tea (again, pee then eat). I eat large helpings of steamed asparagus and broccoli to ward off the dinner that’s yet to be served…then chomp all my food and La Gringa’s too.

There is no end in sight. I had three servings of Indian food on Saturday (a Cardinal Sin) which topped off the day of eating four different kinds of pig. Twelve hours later, I ate a giant eggwhite fritatta, three cups of coffee, a nonfat latte and 1/2 of my kid’s french toast for breakfast the next morning. I left wondering what was for lunch.

One day, in lieu of raiding the service counter at Bills for hashbrowns, I ordered THREE Nonfat Eggnog Lattes from Starbucks. An hour later, I was farting up a storm and trolling through the ready-made, single-serveThanksgiving meals at Whole Foods. Last week I made the whole family go to Japanese food where I ate nearly 40 pieces of Sushi…guess what? I left there…hungry.

Maybe it’s psychological, but to be frank, I’ve never been happier in all of my life and each day is the greatest day (besides 7.16.03) I have ever had. It’s weird what a good healthy relationship can do… too bad it can’t curb my appetite.

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