Friday, June 30, 2017

Toastmaster Questions: Music Theme

Here's some questions around the theme of music. I used most of these at our recent Toastmasters meeting.

  1. A movie about your life is currently the reigning champ at the box office.
  2. After people see the movie, they're going to want the soundtrack. What songs, artists or genres will they be listening to?
  3. What kind of music do you listen to when you're feeling sad to either feed the melancholy or beat the blues?
  4. What's a genre of music you can't stand?
  5. What kind of music do you listen to when you're feeling happy, pumped or on top of the world?
  6. If I found your phone and launched iTunes or Pandora or Spotify, what genre or song would I probably likely hear?
  7. Tell us about a song that makes you feel nostalgic about a previous chapter in your life?
  8. What's your theme song?
  9. Audio Daily Double: Play short clip, ask speaker to describe how it makes them feel.
  10. Tell us about an earworm that has recently plagued you.
  11. You end up at a Billboard Music Awards after-party and someone busts out Karaoke. A duet is announced and you're pushed on stage. Which celebrity in attendance (they're all here) do ask to join you?
  12. What does "the classics" mean to you?
  13. Have you ever made a mix tape for someone? What did you put on it?
  14. What instrument do you think it would be interesting to learn to play? What's keeping you from learning?

I was ready to be offended if anyone called the '80s "the classics" but the guy who answered the question plunged the knife in and then really twisted it when he called music from the '90s "the classics." *sigh* Ok, I get it. I'm old.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amazing Animations

I came across an email in my inbox from a year ago.  I had been looking up some examples of animation in mobile UI for some project.  I was surprised at how well these have held up - how great some of these animations still look.  For these first three, I only had the URLs for the images, not the pages they came from, sorry.




Plus, here's a whole gallery of great animated mobile UI.  Even after over a year, these still feel fresh and relevant and in some cases, futuristic (and not just because some project out of the device).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What is User-Generated Marketing (UGM)?


User-Generated Marketing, or UGM, is when your customer (or aspirational future customer) advertises your product without any reciprocation. You haven't promised them anything in return - you're not paying them, you're not giving them entries into a contest, there's no affiliate scheme, they're simply painting your product in a positive light and helping others to be confident in their choice to purchase out of the goodness of their heart.

In its simplest form, UGM is simple Word-of-Mouth (WOM) - your customer raves about you on Yelp! or Amazon reviews because they had a great experience and they want others to know about it. (Sure, they may be helping to improve their reputation on the particular platform where they've left the review, but it's not a direct tangible reward or it's an outcome for an accurate review, not necessarily a positive one.)

UGM differs from User-Generated Content (UGC) because whereas UGC shows your product in use (whether it's a video game or a grill), UGM is more about motivating others to make a purchase as well.

There are practical steps you can do to foster UGM - whether it's including your logo on a sticker with the product, or offering up a link in your email that generates a Tweet or Facebook post with some suggested wording or an image.  It could be offering up Memes or animated GIFs that people enjoy sharing.

But, there's one thing you must do more than anything else to turn your customers into an extension of your marketing department. It's not easy, but it's something you must do, something that will set you apart in a big way from those who don't.

Ready?

Be awesome. Sounds easy, right? It's not.

It's the day-in, day-out focus on surprising and delighting your customers, of anticipating their needs, of having the solutions they need before they even know they need them. It's a commitment to identifying and addressing problems quickly and having values that will support making the tough decisions. It's about being willing to admit when you made a mistake and being open about how you're going to work to avoid those mistakes in the future.

It's about avoiding cutting corners. Doing the right thing, every time. Following the rules not simply to avoid penalty, but because you want to be above reproach. Going above and beyond when the rules or laws are aren't sufficient to truly protect your customers, your employees, your company's future.

It's about empowering your employees to represent you well, and rewarding them when they do so. It's about creating a culture that cares - because when employees feel loved, they will be more loving.

It's about being personable.

When you truly are awesome, it will be impossible to keep your customers from telling the world.

Like this article? Please share on Twitter.

(cross-posted to Linkedin)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Few Recent Things...

3 Simple Strategies for Motivating Your Tech Team -- In a tight job market, these tactics can make your tech workers want to stay. (Inc.)

Driven to Success: Getting Inspiration from Plumbers -- Folks in their own service vans know as much about startups as we do at my high-tech outfit. (Inc.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

The guy on the train...

It's been 11 months since I moved to L.A. and started using public transportation for my commute. My previous commute was - get out of bed, turn on the coffee maker, grab the laptop and find some place to sit.  But, my employer made it clear that wasn't going to be the permanent working arrangement - I think they wanted me to show up in person more often than the few days a month when they'd fly me down and put me up in a hotel.

Why track this?

Partially curiosity, partially an attempt to refine it and squeeze out every second that I could to make the commute as short as possible.  This isn't meant to be an exhaustive examination of the system, just my tiny slice of daily travel on a much larger, complicated and busy system.

My commute:
  1. Walk to bus stop
  2. Drive Take bus to North Hollywood Red Line Station
  3. Red Line to 7MC
  4. Expo to Santa Monica
  5. Breeze Bikeshare to work
From Burbank to Santa Monica
  • average: 1h, 39m
  • best: 1h, 25m (12/19 - dwells under 2 minutes)
  • worst: 1h, 57m (not counting my "bus" phase - tie: 5/11 - Expo had to wait to go around broken train; 9/21 - 18 minute wait between Red and Expo) 
  • best days: Monday and Friday
  • worst day: Wednesday
From Santa Monica to Burbank
  • average: 1h, 45m
  • best: 1h, 28m (7/14 - super fast bike ride and no wait for Expo, feels like a fluke or bad reporting)
  • worst: 2h, 40m (9/14 - includes a 104m Expo leg. I think this is when the train died and I jumped off and took a Lyft to 7MC)
  • worst days: Tuesday and Wednesday
  • best day: Monday
Red - NoHo to 7MC, AM (usually depart at 6:28)
  • 170 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 20.27
  • Slowest: 33.82
  • Median: 23.58
  • Average: 23.78
Red - 7MC to NoHo, PM (varies)
  • 166 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 19.58
  • Slowest: 60.07
  • Median: 23.80
  • Average: 24.32
Expo - 7MC to 26th/Bergamot, AM (varies)
  • 170 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 35.63
  • Slowest: 67.05
  • Median: 42.58
  • Average: 43.10
Expo - 26th/Bergamot to 7MC, PM (varies)
  • 166 runs
  • Fastest: 40.13
  • Slowest: 104.95 (may have been the one where we jumped from the stalled train on the embankment near Palms and walked down to the street and called Lyfts and Ubers.) 
  • Median: 47.57
  • Average: 49.10
So, what have I learned after almost a year of commuting?

June 2016 to May 2017 (with much of January missing for some reason)
from left to right:
Burbank to Santa Monica,
Santa Monica to Burbank,
morning averages (reds were the bus era),
evening averages (we're pretty close to the best it's been yet),
overall averages (doing pretty good),
day of week rankings.


Morning and Evening averages (oldest on left)

1. The bus is so not worth it
As much as I liked the exercise, it added too much to walk to the nearest bus stop and then wait for the bus. I could never figure out how to predict its arrival time and finally decided it was easier to drive and I could stop buying the monthly pass and instead rely on loaded fare.

2. I can beat the train in the morning, but I can't beat it in the afternoon.  
I can get to the office in under an hour, driving, and I've done it a few times and it's been somewhat magical to experience different parts of L.A.  But in the afternoons, driving in L.A. is horrid.  If I could stay in the office every night until 9, then the drive only takes 20-25 minutes.  If I had a self-driving car, I'd have it drive me to the office and then send it home and take the train home.

3. The Breeze Bikeshare is crucial
If they decide to stop offering this, I'll probably have to find a new job.

4. Things got better after the Expo got more frequent
Lots of time was lost waiting at 7MC.  Now it's usually less than a 3 minute dwell from when I exit the Red.

5. It's hard tracking all this stuff.
It got easier once I started using Toggl.  Before that, it was difficult keeping track of when I departed. I missed a lot of January for some reason. Google Sheets is awesome for aggregating, summarizing and color-coding. I suspect the older numbers are a little less reliable, as I add more it'll even out. Of course, I'll be the first to recognize that the trains are running every 5 or 6 minutes so these stats are but a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny slice of what goes on.

6. The dwells are key.
I know when to leave in the morning, but I'm still trying to figure out what time to leave in the afternoon. But, the bike leg is less predictable so not sure if I'll ever be able to get that down to a science. But when I zoom out far enough, it's the dwell columns (red headings) that have the widest red/green variance.

7. Some things are predictable
The Red Line takes 23 minutes. It's brilliant. Maybe someone holds a door, but the precision is amazing.  The morning Expo is pretty predictable.

8. Some things aren't so predictable
I seem to often arrive at the Santa Monica station just as a train is pulling up, but I still have to return the bike, go up the platform, TAP in, so I usually miss the train there.  DTLA is unpredictable. Sometimes my Expo rides are in the low 40s, but other times there's so many stop lights and it can be 10, 15 or 20 minutes longer.

9. Things have gotten better
Last summer, lots of Expo train failures and quite a few Red failures. It's possible some of this will come back in the hotter summer months.

10. On average, DTLA isn't as bad
The key word there is "average" - on average, it's only 6 minutes slower in the evening for me than it is in the morning. It can be speedy in the evenings, but it can also drag on and on.  Thank goodness for Netflix allowing you to download shows.

11. It's worth it
Parking plus the train each way plus the annual membership for Breeze Bike Share costs less than the amount my company pays me for not parking in the business park parking lot. Plus, instead of sitting in traffic, I can watch movies, read email, write blogs, and when the Expo is really quiet, pull out my laptop and get some work done.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jamey Kay Peterson (Aug. 19, 1997 - May 5, 2017)

Jamey and I found ourselves in a KFC one night and despite both being cat lovers for some reason we decided that their new product Popcorn Chicken was actually made from cat instead of chicken. Every time I'd put a piece in my mouth I'd meow. Jamey was almost hysterical with laughter. We must have been so annoying to the other customers.

Jamey passed away last week. I picture her in heaven, reclining against her sister Josey while Josey runs her fingers through Jamey's hair.

not actually Josey and Jamey

Friday, May 05, 2017

irregardless definition

ir·re·gard·less
/əˈrəˈɡärdləs/
adverb

1. intentional disregard to the present situation in an extreme manner; despite the prevailing circumstances. (without + without + regard) = without² regard
2. paying attention to the present situation (without + without) + regard = with regard

Common usage: "Shut up, shut up, shut up! Irregardless is not a word!"