Sunday, October 27, 2013

Knowing where to dig

Let’s say you grew up in a fictional place called Cedar Grove, New Jersey. And then at the age of 10 you moved away to another fictional place called Boca Raton, Florida, never to return to Cedar Grove. Let’s also say that you have very vivid childhood memories of your father “hiding things” in and around the house you grew up in, because he did not trust the banks.

Fast forward forty years. Your childhood home still stands, now owned by a local church (we lived next to a church). Do you tell them “where to dig?” And then the follow up question: Do they listen?

Sometimes in business, we are given advice that is so blatantly obvious, we have no choice but to promptly ignore it. Sometimes the people who care about us the most - our family - our investors - our shareholders - are turned a deaf ear.

Backing up your data is so obvious, that you would think that it would be automatic. You would think that no one in their right mind would use a computer without backing up their precious data. And yet, less than 45% of computer users backup their data consistently.

Higher education saw online distance learning coming down the tracks decades ago, but very few took steps to compete with what is now a game changing movement.

The book publishing industry clearly knew that eBooks were coming, but many chose to ignore the threat, hoping that eBooks were going to be a passing fad.

I was introduced to Brad Stone via my friend and amazing author Dan Pink.

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn't content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store: a store that offered limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition that transformed retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing.

Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth fly-on-the-wall account of one of the world’s most secretive companies. Compared to technology’s other elite innovators: Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Bezos stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, which has led Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle, Kindle Fire and its cloud computing business.

I recommend reading this new book from Brad Stone. With or without a Kindle.

Because I pursued (wanted to meet) Dan Pink, I was introduced to the works of  Brad Stone. Because of Brad Stone, I have an upcoming audience with Jeff Bezos to discuss all things distance learning and the  

In business and in life, it pays to know where to dig.

It pays to take the advice from the people who truly care the most about your success - the ones who know where to dig.  

It also pays to keep a shovel (metaphor) handy at all times, and not hesitate to use it.


Afterword: I may or may not have a sister who may or may not live in Toms River, New Jersey who may or may not be able to corroborate the  “Daddy does not trust banks” story.

And I think you can buy cool life-changing tools like shovels with Amazon Prime. Sports & Outdoors  Outdoor Gear  Camping & Hiking  Knives & Tools  Shovels 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Put it in writing

One of MTP's best relationships is with Fortune 50  


First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers.

To shape the future of global commerce by delivering the world’s most secure and innovative payment solutions.

Company Overview
Around the world, every second of every day, First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers. First Data leverages its vast product portfolio and expertise to drive customer revenue and profitability. Whether the choice of payment is by debit or credit card, gift card, check or mobile phone, online or at the checkout counter, First Data takes every opportunity to go beyond the transaction.


Now, watch the First Data animated video above. 

If you are like most people, you will watch the entire video from beginning to end. Not because you are deeply interested in the world of global eCommerce, but because your curious mind wants to see "what's next." 

It is like watching an artist paint live in the park. It is like watching a live performance vs. a movie. Something in your brain makes you want to see the creative process unfold right before your eyes. 

The animated whiteboard video is cool. The above detailed paragraphs (although well written) are a little boring. You might understand the words as you read them, but you "feel" the video. 

People buy from people. Emotions sell. We are visual creatures. 

And since we are curious visual humans, we seek to be entertained. If you have a website, you need video now more than ever. The holiday season is here, and the eCommerce sites with short "explainer videos" will outsell non-video empowered sites by a factor of seven or more. 

"Curiosity killed the cat" is a proverb used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. A less frequently-seen rejoinder to "curiosity killed the cat" is "but, satisfaction brought it back". 

Put human curiosity to work for you this holiday season. 

Your satisfaction is guaranteed. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Just Water Economics

The family went out to dinner last night. Perfect weather on Lake Hopatcong (the largest lake in New Jersey) with a sunset worthy of a painting.

When the waiter came to the table, the girls were not ready to order (go figure) so my son Robert went first. Chicken Parmesan with Onion Soup appetizer. And to drink? “Just water, please” was his answer. Next up was Tom Jr., with a steak and salad and a side of pasta. Again, “Just water, please”. I was up next with the King Cut Prime Rib, and the Onion Soup sounded good. And then I did something that I never do when eating out: I said “I’ll have just water, thank you.” When all was said and done, all five in our dinner party ordered “just water” with their meal.

I’ll fast forward to the end of the story: a great time at the lake. The food was perfect. The service was excellent. The portions were huge, and when asked, no one had room for dessert. Not even coffee. Just the check, please.

There was something wrong with the check. It seemed to be “too small”.

Before we sat down at the table, I had a number in my mind of how much this evening was going to cost. From many years of eating out (and picking up the tab) you tend to have a guesstimate of what things should cost (dinner at a lakeside restaurant in New Jersey vs. The Four Seasons in New York City).

Because we all had “just water” and we also passed on coffee and dessert, the final tab was around half of what I was prepared to pay. I am sure that many of you (especially if you have young families) have had this “just water” epiphany. If it was not for my son going first, we all would have had beer, wine or soda - but not “just water”.

Then it also hit me: were there for the good food and the atmosphere (sunset on the lake) not to drink. It was a restaurant, not a martini bar. We should be focused on the food and the conversation, not the beverages.

It got me to thinking about other “just water” moments. Did you really need all of the features in that new smartphone, or could you have been just as happy with a regular phone? I carry an iPad mini everywhere I go. Do I really even need a smartphone? Or do I carry a smartphone because I don’t want to be seen carrying a regular phone?  

Do people order more than “just water” at a restaurant, because they don’t want to look cheap ordering “just water” in the eyes of the server? Don’t worry guy, your 20% tip is still safe.

Now make the leap to the money that we spend on technology. Do you know how to monetize the features of your laptop, desktop or server? Do you know the incremental costs of the extra storage, the extra speed or the bigger screen size? My “just water” moment from last night made me think about all of the technology that I purchased over the years without even thinking about the choices I could have made regarding the transaction.

At a restaurant, water is free. Coffee, Tea, Soda is not free. In business, online collaboration tools like StartMeeting and Google Apps are free, while collaboration tools like GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar are not free. Do we know when to pay for technology, and when to use a free service? is free, while is not. Sometimes free is just fine, and other times, free is just too damn expensive. The key is to know the difference.

We tend to buy Cable TV packages with 1000 channels, the latest smartphones with the extra pixels on the camera, and new computers with the fastest processors. New Computers. New Appliances. New Cars. Do we know why we buy Premium Gasoline for our cars if Regular Gas is just as good?

According to my research on Google today, I should be able to use regular gasoline in my vehicle, no need to buy the higher octane for $0.35 more per gallon. The next time I fill up my car, I’ll tell the guy “just regular, please”.

Sadly, it will never be as much of a savings as saying to your waiter “just water, please.”