Monday, September 27, 2010

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. MTP: 52,325.

OK, yesterday was a really good Sunday. Unless you are from Boston. The Yankees came back to win in extra innings to beat the Red Sox. My son and his two college roommates from Quinnipiac took the train from Connecticut to meet us at the game, so my wife got to see her baby boy. I got to spend $400 on Yankee tickets, $23 on parking, $90 for train tickets, and around $225 on food. College kids can pack it away let me tell you. A bottle of water at the “new” Yankee stadium is $5. Beer is $10. Buy a Yankee shirt or anything else, and you need to take a second mortgage to see a Yankee game in person. And all of the 52,325 seats in the largest baseball stadium in the biggest city in the country had “asses” in all of them – sold out for one of the best rivalries in sports. Recession? Not in the Bronx.

Now, while I am sitting there enjoying the game, I am thinking of how much stuff I will have to sell this week to pay for this night out with the family. Then, on the big screen TV – which is MASSIVE – it says “text the word YANKSTEIN to 41513” and you might win an autographed baseball signed by all of the Yankees. Like watching the opening of the China Olympics, 52,325 people reached for their cell phones in what looked like a choreographed dance, and everyone with a phone entered the contest. I did it twice to see if it would let me cheat. It did not.

One of my son’s roommates brought a “Hot Dog” costume to the game. Seriously, at the 7th inning stretch, he transformed into a six foot tall hot dog. He was determined to get himself on TV. To guarantee this would happen, my son sent a text to the Yankee Stadium short code 669900 “There is a guy in a hot dog costume in Section 411. Get him on TV!” Minutes later, everyone in our section is on the big screen. Including me. Someone could have told me that I had mustard on my chin.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Steiner Sports now has a database of 52,325 people who paid several hundred dollars for an evening at Yankee Stadium. What is the demographic profile of these people? Yankee fans, of course, as we don’t allow Red Sox fans into the Bronx. But what else? These are people that are willing to spend a few hundred dollars in a single night, easy. Some fans never miss a home game. Gee, I wonder what else these wonderful Yankee fans spend money on? Who else could this database of 52,325 be of value? An auto dealership? Travel agent? Mortgage company? By opting into the mobile database, the “salt of the earth” Yankee fans are telling us more than they realize about themselves, and about their spending habits. And, this was only one game, of a very long season.

Now, I am in the wireless business, so I saw all of this from the eyes of a telecom and IT nerd. But, I can guarantee you that everyone who opted-in to the Yankee mobile database is now very much aware of the power of Mobile Marketing. They will be getting mobile coupons from Sports Authority, or from Bank of America, or some other official Yankee sponsor. They will be invited to dinner at Yankee Stadium, even during the off season. *Great steaks, by the way. Now, you can opt-out of a mobile database at anytime, just like with email. But the folks who are running the mobile marketing campaigns for the Yankee organization know what they are doing. They will never abuse the system, and they will give the people coupons, deals and special value offers that keep ‘em coming back for more. People will tell their friends to opt-in, to get these great deals.

Now, in how many other stadiums across the US, did this same scene play out yesterday? What about at the Jets game in Miami? Or at the Giants game? If you are not using the power of mobile marketing to grow your business, you are missing the boat. There is no area of marketing that has a greater ROI than with mobile marketing. Want to learn more? Text the word Tom to 30101 and get my mobile business card. Heck, MTP will even give you your first 30 days for free (Yankee fans only). Or, take a free test drive here:

Only losers will miss the mobile marketing revolution, and I can prove it. Currently, there is no mobile marketing at Fenway Park. Now, that is the real “Curse of the Bambino”.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What did you learn in school today?

Today was BizTechDay New York. The BizTechDay™ conference brings innovative and scalable ideas to small business entrepreneurs. If you are in the technology business, BizTechDay is like being a kid at Disneyworld, on Christmas, if your birthday was on December 25th. There were many great presenters on the schedule, but there were two guys that I just simply had to meet.

Simon Sinek, Author of the book “Start With Why” and Seth Godin, New York Times Best Selling Author. A few weekends ago, I watched videos of both Seth and Simon on I thought they were great. From there, I found their websites. I signed up for their free daily blogs. One Sunday morning, I emailed them both. They both replied directly to my emails, which I thought was very cool indeed. Hint: famous people tend to read emails on Sundays, just like the rest of us.

I applied for media credentials to cover BizTechDay 2010. Press passes were limited and made available to those who can verify they have 10K readers or more per month. We have much less, but we only started blogging a short time ago. I got a free pass. I was going to spring for the $595 for the event, but I like getting things for free just as much as I like spending money. I am quirky that way.

Both Simon and Seth were great, as were the other speakers. Scott Heiferman, Founder of Esther Dyson, Chairman of EDventure. Dana Mauriello, Founder of Profounder. Clayton Morris, FOX News Anchor. Lisa Gansky, Cofounder of Ofoto and Author of The Mesh. Joan Barnes, Founder of Gymboree. Then, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, there was an After Party. Free food and grog. I was not piggy, since I was working off of my free passes. Besides, I had to drive home at some point.

So, let’s review. I watched free lecture videos via of famous people that normally get paid big bucks to speak in public. I was able to meet these same people virtually via email, and then develop a real non-virtual relationship. I told them that I would meet them in person one day, and I did. I downloaded their books online, and read them electronically. We then connected via Facebook, and we have all exchanged ideas about business and marketing. Through today’s event I met their agent, Speakers' Spotlight ( who seems to know everyone on the planet. It turns out that all of the folks from the paid lecture circuit need MTP’s services, namely MTP’s mobile marketing services. Can you not see it? Something like, “Hello audience, simply text the word SETH to 54321 to get my new eBook at 25% off”.

The moral to the story? Other than gas, tolls and parking, all of this cost me nothing. The power of the Internet allowed all of this to happen, for free. Yes, there was some “sweat equity” involved, but since I started this chain reaction acting like the kid at Disneyworld, on Christmas, on my birthday, none of this felt like work. It was all fun. And now, it looks like it might even be profitable.

I have two sons in college; both are in the School of Business. I am quite confident that they learned something useful and meaningful in classes today. The big difference was that my day of learning from brilliant minds and industry experts was free, and theirs was not. Alas, I paid for all three of our days today - mine in New York and theirs in Connecticut.

You learn something new every day, right?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time Machines

In youth we learn; in age we understand. ~Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

When I was very young, I used to hear the adults ask “Where were you when JFK was shot?” I assume that the same question was asked about Pearl Harbor. In every generation, there seem to be “where were you when” questions. As a kid, I used to think about how cool it would be to have a time machine, to be able to travel back in time and prevent certain things from ever happening. I could have been the hero that warned the US Navy about Pearl Harbor. I could have stopped Hitler before he ever wrote his book Mein Kampf. I could have told the captain of the Titanic to slow down and to be more careful. The list became endless; all of these opportunities for me to become a super hero, and save the world from needless tragedies.

When we are young, we observe but we do not yet understand. I just finished watching “The Reading of the Names” at ground zero. I have watched this ceremony every year, but for some reason this year was more emotional for me than in the past. While the names were being read, I had a flashback to my youth, and my fantasy of using a time machine to save the world. If only I could have traveled back in time, I could have prevented 9/11 from ever happening.

There is no such thing as a “time machine” and it is doubtful that any such invention will ever exist. But there is something that does exist today, and it has existed for hundreds of years. The clock on the wall and the watch on your wrist - these are indeed “time machines”. But these time machines are designed to have us focus on the present. These time machines identify the moment that is now – right now. With maturity, I now realize that traveling back in time would never solve the problems of the world. The list of events to alter would be never ending. My childhood idea of intercepting and preventing tragedies before they happen is flawed. There will always be some event, some issue that caused pain and suffering. It would be a never ending job, constantly traveling back in time.

But we can use the time machines that we all have today, for the same purpose. Our time on this planet is short. We must make every minute count. Today, I am remembering the events of 9/11 as if they were happening right now, today. The events of that tragic day are vivid and are still very real in my mind. I have indeed traveled back in time, not to prevent the tragedy, but to somehow make today – to make this very moment in time – better.

There are no H. G. Wells time machines, and I cannot physically go back in time to save anyone. But ironically, those who died, and the families who continue to suffer because of 9/11 are indeed using a time machine today, right now, right this very second. Today, I am being given the gift of “present time”. I am given the gift of this moment in time, to remember all the things that are precious, and to focus on all of the things that are important in my life. I am reminded right here and right now, to treasure every minute on this planet. I am being reminded that I should always strive to be a good husband, a good father and a good friend. I am being reminded that life is not fair, it is not predictable, and that we must never take anything for granted. Today is a beautiful day, and the weather is perfect. Just as it was on that fateful day several years ago. We must never forget the lessons that the past can teach us, if we are wise enough to pay attention.

The child in me still wishes for the time machine that does exist. I still would love to travel back in time, and prevent all of the pain and suffering of 9/11 from ever happening. The mature adult in me will have to settle for the time machine that does exist. The one that I look at several times a day, each and every day, to track my moments in time.

God Bless everyone who is reading this as we pray for those who have died, and pray for their families who continue to feel the pain of 9/11.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Passion Day

If you Google “Labor Day” you will learn something interesting about this national holiday.

The first Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882 in New York City, by the Central Labor Union of New York, the nation's first integrated major trade union. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.

So, Labor Day was not created as a “thank you” by the bosses of the world to all of the employees of the world for a job well done. It was a calculated political move, to try to keep a lid on an already explosive situation.

Work is a four letter word. So is love. There is a famous quote “If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life”. We ask kids all the time, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers are usually things like Doctor, Police Officer, Firefighter, Nurse, Lawyer, Teacher, Astronaut – career choices that in the minds of a child equal a life of excitement, noble achievement, personal rewards, and passion filled lives. Very rarely do children say factory worker, checkout clerk, or dishwasher at a restaurant.

Now, before anyone gets upset with me, the key word here is passion. I respect everyone who earns an honest living, regardless of their careers. I remember laughing at the quote from the movie Caddyshack where Judge Smails says “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”

If you are going to do something with your life, do it with passion. If you are not passionate about your current job, or passionate about your current career path, make it your purpose in life to pursue your passion. It is never too late. You do not have to quit your job, and you do not have to go to work tomorrow and tell your boss to “take this job and shove it”. But if you have the chance to live with passion, to work with passion, and to be passionate about what you do with the little time that God gives us on this planet, I highly recommend that you do everything in your power to have your work = love = passion.

My neighbor is a landscaper, and he is a millionaire many times over. He loves everything about landscaping, and he talks about it every chance he gets. I on the other hand, do not own a lawnmower, and I detest yard work. Regardless of the financial opportunity, I would be a miserable failure at landscaping. It is not about the money. It is, and it will always be about the passion for the job. He built a wonderful landscaping business, all because of his passion.

I sell things for a living. Yep, that’s me, a lowly salesman. How many kids when asked will say “I want to be a salesman when I grow up!” Not me, I wanted to be a Doctor all my life, right up until I was in college. My nickname at Purdue was “Premed”. But I can honestly say that I am a very happy salesman, and I am very passionate about my job. My definition of a CEO? Best salesman in the building.

I hope that you have a safe, and relaxing Passion Day. Or Labor Day. I think you should make that choice for yourself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Name is Earl

With Hurricane Earl approaching my area, I've been doing the normal hurricane preparations. Things like buying food, water, batteries, and bringing all the outside toys inside.

Right now I'm being told that it could just be tropical storm conditions, but there is a chance it could move more inland and cause more problems. There could be power outages, and it's possible for roofs or buildings to be compromised.
So, what do you do when your entire business is on a computer (laptop, desktop or server)?

According to the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the effects of a disaster can be quite profound:

• More than 1 in 4 businesses will experience a significant crisis in a given year.
• Of those businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan, 43 percent never reopen.
• Of those that do reopen, only 29 percent are still operating two years later.

It is clear, disaster preparedness is central to business survival, particularly when it comes to protecting a company's most valuable and irreplaceable assets: its people and its data.

That's why it's crucial to have backups. And not just backups to an external drive, but to a remote location. I blogged on this topic last month (Long Pause Clients) but it is events like Hurricane Earl that make this worth revisiting.

I know that if my office were to be destroyed my business wouldn't. I could easily download any file necessary to continue. It would be difficult enough dealing with any kind of destruction but to add on top of that loss of important business documents or even family photos would just add to the devastation. Don't let it happen to you!

Just remember to do it BEFORE a disaster is coming your way, as it does take time to upload files to these remote locations. I have about 600GB of data that took 3 days initially to upload, and I have a full 20Mbps upload speed. Most internet connections have a high download speed, but a much slower upload speed. After the initial upload, it only takes me a few seconds every day, to back up the files that have changed since the last 30 minutes. So, my computers are never more than 30 minutes since their last secure backup, with all files saved off site.

Tape backups fail. External Hard Drives can be lost or stolen. There is only one way to do it, and that is the right way – automatic, encrypted, online backups to a secure facility.

Let’s hope that Earl comes and goes without incident. But what about the next storm? Or fire, flood, burglary, hard drive failure or other such inevitable event. Are you prepared?
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Speed Kills

When you sell technology for a living, speed always comes into the equation. You should buy the new computer because it is faster; more memory means faster. Buy the one with the faster hard drive, faster CPU and so on. Or, you should get the new broadband service, because it is so much faster than what you have now. People who write software for a living are always striving to shave a few milliseconds off the program processing time, as these saved seconds (when added up) can save a client millions of dollars . In the world of sports, speed is always a factor. The person who runs the fastest, or throws the fastest, or who has the fastest serve in tennis makes the most money.

Speed is a benchmark that seems to measure success in our world. Our pursuit of happiness has somehow become permanently linked to the pursuit of doing things faster, and not necessarily doing things better.

We are one of the slowest species on the planet. We can only run so fast. We can only do things so fast and remain safe. After that, the train flies off the tracks. We love our technology because technology allows us to “do things faster” than before, as technology supports our love affair with speed. But we humans are the lowest common denominator in the equation. The steroid crisis in sports comes from our pursuit of speed – bigger, faster, and stronger – at any cost. Even when it can cost an athlete their very lives and certainly their professional careers, some will risk it all to be just a little bit faster.

Drugs can cure, but they can also damage. I see technology in the same light. Used properly, technology can save lives, it can greatly improve life on earth and technology can make the world a better place. A business cannot be profitable without technology. But when used improperly, technology can easily do more harm than good. Technology can help the lowly human go much faster than we were intended to operate (both mentally and physically) until we reach the point of “unsafe at any speed”.

So, I have some choices to make today. I can use all of the technology at my disposal to try to do more today than I did yesterday. And then try to do it again tomorrow (faster) and then again, until I burn up and burn out. I can try to host five conference calls today, when I really should host only two or three. I can try to speak with ten clients all over the globe (feeling rushed, and thinking about my next call) while I am simultaneously checking email, and chatting live with someone in Skype. Or, I can slow down, and have deeper, meaningful conversations with five or six clients, and really make each one a quality conversation. will always remind me what’s next on my schedule, and my email inbox will beep at me all day long, following me from my office computer, to my laptop, to my Smartphone. There is always going to be something to do, something that needs attention. In business, it is always so tempting to try to go faster, to do things faster, and to speed up the process. In business as in sports, faster is always better, right?

Just as we all have a choice to only use drugs for good and noble causes, we must use the same logic with how and why we use technology.

I have two sons in college, living away from home. As I sit here and wonder how they are doing, I can email them, text them, call them on their cell phones, or do a video chat conference call. I wonder which of those technologies will best communicate to them how much I love them, and how much both my wife and I miss them.

It would be so easy to send a quick email to both of them. But in my heart, I know exactly which technology to use for this very important task; the slowest one. Pen and paper, and two first class stamps.