Monday, September 28, 2009

Are you using Google Sidewiki with Twitter. 3 ways it could help?

I downloaded Google's Sidewiki plugin last week and have spent a little time playing with their latest tool in the toolbox.  This afternoon I got thinking that maybe if you couple Sidewiki with Twitter it could help with a few things.

Go to your twitter account profile page and click the Sidewiki button to provide additional content / details including:
  1. Provide additional bio information about yourself
  2. Possibly hyperlink to your email address, LinkedIn profiles, etc. so people could easily reach you vs. having to type in the associated link
  3. Use to highlight people that are spammers and help others with who not to follow
  4. Others?
 There are probably many other ways it could be useful, of course it could also turn into a mess because I don't know how you could remove offensive content, user's feedback.  Certainly you could 'Report Abuse' and go through the Google 'Report a policy violation' process, but who knows if they'll remove the offending comment from your sidewiki page.

Do you think it will help, hurt, is useless?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thoughts on book - What got you here won't get you there

I just finished reading the book "What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful".  I have to admit the early beginnings of this book had me wondering if I was going to get any value out of the book.  By the end I was thinking of ways I could use concepts from the book to improve my style both professionally and personally.  One of the biggest areas I see in the people I work with on a daily basis is listening...and talking less.  This is a strong and recurring theme in the book that is a problem with most people.  So, I would say to improve take to heart the concepts the book describes and learn about how you can improve your relationships, style.  People should obtain candid and honest feedback from peers, subordinates, and leaders, then listen attentively to what they are telling you. 

My final take on the book is 3.5 stars out of 5.  My feedback is I wish the authors could have been a little less about their own self-promotion of their business, and wins...and highlighted more of the success of their clients and how they improved.  I would recommend reading the book as most people don't think they have anything to improve.  Goldsmith and Reiter help highlight for everyone we can improve and the areas we should focus on in our professional and personal lives.

Did you read the book?  If so I would love to hear your thoughts / feedback.


Bryan Karp

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Should the US have a national healthcare reform plan

First let me quote an article from the WSJ last Friday (September 4th) - How to insure every American
"Americans nationwide have voiced their desire for greater control over their care and for reform in digestible pieces." - JOHN SHADEGG AND PETE HOEKSTRA 1
There are two very important aspects within that quote.  The first is Americans do want change in healthcare and recognize the need for some reform.  The second aspect is the change must be digestible implemented over time, and needs to come from a cross-party, intelligent team.  Ideally the plan for our healthcare reform would come from a round-table of industry experts who know the details of the problem, and have identified ways to improve in the past.  I do not admit to understand all the issues, but I do know this...we should treat this the same as we would a new business startup.  In fact if these companies knew what was best they would start to evaluate their businesses and evaluate their pricing policies to help consumers.  The ones who wait until the last minute or change after the new solution will be looked upon very poorly.  Imagine it is 2013 and your policy is adjusted down by are you going to feel, and are you going to ask why they didn't do that sooner.  Now the next day you talk with your neighbor and they said...oh yeh, back in 2009/2010 my company adjusted my policy down because they realized they could drive efficiencies within the process.  Imagine the goodwill the second company will have received vs. the first company who will probably experience a mass-exodus.  Of course the day after people are going to start going after them just like they are today after the bankers like BearStearns, and probably rightfully so.  Now given my statements above...I want to make it clear I'm not trying to propagate fear7,8,13, rather I'm trying to suggest that the companies evaluate their policies and re-consider pricing.  Just remember mandates from the Government are NOT the answer...we need a jointly agreed upon solution.

First and foremost we need to properly identify the entire problem before we begin implementing solutions.  Now, I don't mean we just say that we have a problem, but drill into each and everyone of the issues creating a detailed fishbone diagram and/or process map analysis to identify exactly where we are having the problems and attach weights to each point.  This should allow the "expert round table" to focus on the most costly areas to drive quick improvement, later focusing on areas that don't have a high / costly impact.  One of the main components this needs to address is the fact 1/5th of the American economy is spent on health care...or $2,500,000,000,000 (2.5 trillion)4. That said I am still confused about how countries outside of the US which have a government sponsored (universal health) are spending less per capita than the US, yet the talk is of expectations of an additional $1,000,000,000,000 (1.0 trillion)4,12 of additional spending if the US moves to a universal health care program.

For congress to gain the support of their constituents they need to keep people informed, distill the facts into simple but factual presentations / documents / blogs, continue to refine the improvements and not bicker back and forth.  It will not do anyone good for either side to point the finger back and forth at the other one.  If we ran our business like the government nothing would ever get done because one faction would constantly blame the other, and we wouldn't make any progress for years!  I also think that Congress needs some severe motivation to solve this problem (again with a round table of experts)...and maybe they should announce they will pay for their own insurance or another radical idea to help them become motivated to reach a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution for the American people. Above goes back to reference 6. Now everyone must remember we don't want mandates, we want CHOICES.

As readily admitted in the article government helped create this problem so, why do we expect they will solve this problem by themselves.
"Government has caused the problems we face in health care." - JOHN SHADEGG AND PETE HOEKSTRA1
Today I see ads for everything related to insurance and I even have the opportunity to buy insurance myself if I were a contractor.  But companies don't have a real opportunity to buy across state lines, so there is no real competition within the insurance industry.  As noted in the reference 1 car and life insurance companies can sell across state lines thereby increasing competition, decreasing costs to the consumers and naturally driving efficiencies into the process.  None of the aforementioned exists within health care because there is no real competition...and we haven't even really started with the drug companies, but we will probably leave that out of this post :-).  Most companies within the past year or so have taken to reducing costs, most of which have been salary reductions, but the next cost they may consider is health care benefits if the costs continue to rise. 

On the topic of pre-existing conditions...there isn't much really to say.  There is always some company that will cover a driver that has numerous auto-accidents, and while it is different than a pre-existing condition why don't we do the same for pre-existing conditions?  I do not recall if it was an urban legend or reality but I have heard some insurance companies treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition.  Now I have two children and I would never say that my wife had a condition when she was pregnant and parenthood is anything but a condition.  I understand that everything comes down to money, but I think we should demand the health insurance companies really show us their books.  I don't know I'm convinced it really costs them serious money to cover someone with a serious illness that is pre-existing.  There are plenty of individuals who are health their entire life, without knowing the facts my guess is all the premiums they collect from those individuals overtime balance out against the costs and premiums they collect from those who get sick or have a pre-existing condition.

The last discussion point the article talks about Un-Insured Americans.  What a laughable topic...not laughable in the fact we have far too many people that don't have insurance.  Instead we have countless people who take advantage of our existing system by coming across the border for better health care and in effect getting free health care for which we pay out of our pockets later.  We also have numerous people going across the border OUTSIDE the US for dental care, and other procedures because the costs are cheaper in places such as Canada and Mexico.

From another post2 Americans may generate a bit more of the problem themselves because...we don't eat and exercise like we should.  Having traveled just a little :-) within the past few years I have to agree.  I myself can even resemble the statement as I spend more time behind a desk and less and less time on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. In this case I think it was Safeway that had the right idea from the company perspective9.  They incent their employees to exercise, eat right and not smoke.  Again it might have been a different company, but my recollection from the TV interview was they covered more of the health benefits for the employees who ate right, etc...and they penalized employees who ate the wrong foods, smoked, etc.  Now they recognized that people can and do in fact change when properly motivated so, if someone was making progress they modified the benefits package accordingly to reflect the change in their behavior.

I guess my summary is...we must have a round table of experts within the industry, coupled with experts outside of the industry that know how to cut costs, while maintaining quality.  We need to have change, it needs to make sense, politicians need to work together (yeh right...when does that happen), and for a change they'll need to read the entire bill before they vote.  I am hopeful my children don't have to worry about this topic the same way my parents generation and I spend time thinking about social security11.

I hope this post continues the debate and brings civility and discussion.


Bryan Karp

References and Related posts that drove my thoughts:

  1. - How to Insure Every American
    We don't need radical change. Subsidies and high risk pools can get the job done.
  2. Salon - The questions our healthcare debate ignores
  3. Salon - Bill Moyers on the health care debate, Democrats, and Afghanistan
  4. NYTimes - Following the Money in the Health Care Debate  
  5. LATimes - Obama's big gamble on healthcare debate
  6. National Health Care Debate and Poll. Would you be willing to pay for National Health Care Plan?
  7. - In Health Care Debate, Fear Trumps Logic 
  8. - Rumors influencing health care debate
  9. - Big employers dip into health care debate
  10. YouTube - Debate: Health Care - from 2008 democratic primary
  11. Newsweek - Health Care as a Civil Right
  12. WashingtonPost - States Assert Place in Health-Care Debate Health-Care Reform 2009
  13. Jerusalem Post - The US health care debate - read during my business trip to Israel in August

Saturday, September 5, 2009

G20 meets on bankers pay. What about provisions when politicians fail?

I just finished skimming through some of the WSJ articles.  One that caught my attention G-20 Agree to Boost Banks' Capital Requirements, Set Rules on Bonuses which makes me think...what about those that make these rules / decisions?

Given everything that happened within the past few years I can't say I don't agree with the G20 on this subject.  I also can't say I agree with them either...I'm very torn on this subject.  On one hand bankers probably do need to feel some pain if they receive a bonus for which we later discover was not warranted.  On the other hand doesn't this mean greater government involvement...meaning they could do the same for other industries?  If that is so, when will we get the ability to enact clawbacks on government officials?  What can we do if/when we learn they use government funds inappropriately?  How about if they leave office and hence us with a significant debt on our heads?

I'm all for regulation when it makes sense, but in this case I want to start seeing politicians doing what they say....not telling companies how to act...and doing something else!

In B2B what is better paid pilot or free trials

While reading some recent blog posts I ran across this post from Adam Blitzer's blog B2B Marketing ROI "Are Paid Pilots or Free Trials better for B2B?".

As someone who works in the B2B space and constantly looking for B2B tools to help our team, this is a good relevant post.  Additionally I think it applies to the B2C market where I will sign-up for a number of free trials, but stop them or not continue because I just don't have the time, or they haven't shown me any value.

I am in agreement that 'Free trials' are rarely worth their time and effort in a B2B environment as companies tend to walk away, or the product is too complex for anyone to use without significant training.  The 'free trial' tends to work better in a B2C environment IF the consumer can see value immediately.  For B2B sales rarely is the 'free trial' ever always require some time from the user trying the solution, and in some cases requires paid professional services to make it it is never FREE.  That said one good example of a 'free trial' is the Sample books you can get for the Amazon Kindle, and free 14 day trials you can get for magazines, newspapers, but I would love to see what their conversation rates are from free samples.

On the point of 'Paid Pilots'...Adam's points all make sense and are right on with getting a customer to convert.  The issue I have seen with paid pilots is they do not always have a definitive 'ENDING' and a definitive 'CONVERSION'.  Both of these points lead to the Pilot which neither the customer nor the vendor consummate the deal.  If you have to make a decision always do Paid Pilots unless of course you can go straight to a full deal.  If you do decide to go with a Paid Pilot, or have to because of the complexity of the product, or size of the customer make sure you...
  1. Have a clear measure of success that is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely)
  2. Define a clear ending point for the Pilot within the agreement
  3. Insert a trigger point within the agreement at which the Pilot rolls to a full deployment
  4. Plan for a case study / way to prove the value up front; don't design it into the process after-the-fact
  5. A point I can't emphasize enough....KEEP the executive sponsor(s) engaged and informed throughout the pilot
I'm sure there are other major points, maybe you'd care to share your thoughts, but these were at the top of my mind before I headed off to the pool and dinner.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My quick take on Groundswell

If you are interested in improving your companies SMO efforts and brand awareness I recommend reading "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies".   Groundswell lays out several case studies on how people / companies reached out to their customer base.  While most companies live in FEAR of the Groundswell you need to help create the plan to break the FEAR and help Sr. management and Marketing realize that they don't own 100% of the brand anymore because our customers own a major percentage and are constantly talking about your brand.  My only suggestion for future editions is to provide a bit more detail on what technologies people were using to drive the groundswell.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love my Kindle2 - but the Amazon Kindle forum and feedback loop stinks

First let me start by saying I love my Kindle2 which I've had for 2+ weeks now.  Also I just finished reading the book "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies" on my Kindle which drives some of my frustration about Amazon, their Kindle community and feedback that end I left the post below on their main Kindle community forum page.

Couple of quick things related to the Kindle, the Community and the feedback mechanism
  1. I've had my new kindle for 2+ weeks now and really enjoy the kindle.
  2. You've got a great product and it has viral effects...I've shared my thoughts and let no less than 2 dozen people hear me / see my kindle since I've owned my Kindle2.
  3. My key point about this one is YOU Amazon need to read the book Groundswell which I've just read.  Just in case you don't know of the book I've inserted a link :-). "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies"
  4. It is ridiculous that finding this forum is difficult.
  5. Users who own a kindle should be able to provide recommendations, and see other recommendations (feedback) on this community.  You can still accept emails from your customers and post them to the community, but then at least we can all rate them and help you in future product improvements.  As an example I really liked one posters comment about reducing the 'slip' factor by placing some rubber on the back edges of the reader so it doesn't slip out of your hands. If you had a rating factor I would have rated that feature. That rating coupled with other Kindle owners rating could then be applied in your decisions about future product development plans.

Now for some feedback on the Kindle 2
  1. Automatically turn the kindle to off mode if it has been in sleep longer than 15 minutes.  If you don't we will likely have screen burn-in, not to mention it drains the battery!
  2. Let me push books to my wish list when I'm reviewing from the kindle store on my kindle device.  I don't want to buy the books I see every time, but there are some that look interesting that I may want to purchase later.
  3. Give me an option to archive items after I'm done reading them.  Or, at least give me an option to create 'Read' folders so that it helps me keep the 'Home' menu clean.
  4. Tied with the point above - Let me delete Samples from the device after I've read them, or if I've downloaded the book let me delete the Sample.
  5. Related to the 'Sample' feature.  If I download a Sample tag that and index where I left off within the 'Sample' to the actual book if I download.  I've read a couple of books now this way and it is frustrating to get into a good book only to have to 'Next page' continuously to find where I left off reading the 'Sample'.
  6. I just saw how to delete 'Samples' - not an intuitive any means.  I accidentally clicked on the navigation button and saw I can 'Delete This Sample'.  You let me 'Buy This Book Now' from the menu, but you don't let me delete....
  7. To an earlier point, let me categorize / create my own folders.  I would like to be able to start the morning and flip to my newspaper folder read all the newspapers, then over to my blog folder.  This can be an optional feature...if users don't enable they retain the laundry list sorting they have now, but tagging and organizing content would make life easier IMHO.
  8. Let me offer feedback directly from my kindle where I'm probably going to come up with the ideas / feedback anyway.  I get the free ability to shop the Amazon store from my device, but I can't send you feedback...that is crazy!
  9. Give me the ability to lock my device just like my cell phone.  I would hate to lose my kindle or have it stolen...but to make it worse if it were stolen, users could buy as many books as they wanted and I'd be screwed.  If I do forget my password, let me reset it from my kindle, but disable the ability to purchase from the store until I reset my account via the website.
  10. Make the keys a bit bigger.  I'm young (early 30's), but the buttons are still small for someone who types a lot on my iPhone and computer you could make better use of the empty space on the bottom but before the screen, plus you have a bit of extra space still on the left.
  11. Give me some type of option or setting to turn off the 'Next Page' button on the left of my screen.  I maybe the only person to ask for this one, but being right handed and using my mouse to navigate back all the time I think of the buttons on the left as 'Back' buttons.
  12. Respond to your users when they give you least an automated message that you received my last email would be nice.

Again, after only a few weeks the Kindle is one of my favorite technology devices and travel with it all the time.  I hope to help you continue your future product lines and look forward to debate and conversation on the forum, etc.


Bryan Karp
- midnitecoder

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Study - People aren't using turn signals

I'm thinking about starting a study to track the number of times people don't use their turn signal when they should. I'll expand more over the next several days based upon observations and feedback from people. So, please let me know your thoughts and if you've seen the same where you live.



Should sales people be measured on more than just quota

While doing my tweet reading tonight I ran across this tweet from Paul Krajewski, from Toronto. His tweet/blog post was asking
"Should Sales people should be tracked, measured, or accountable for anything other than quota?"
My response was Absolutely! see my thoughts below and adjust / tear apart as necessary :-).

Yes, Sales people must be measured by much more than just their quota. I run the Pre-Sales and Analytics department where I work and engage with multiple internal sales people and our external channel partners. I spend a good percentage of my time reviewing and analyzing metrics for various aspects of the business and metrics are critical, hence my view "Unless you can measure something, your attempts at managing it, and maintaining or improving its performance, will be unscientific at best." by Lord Kelvin.  So, yes sales must be tracked and measured on each aspect of the business, and while quota is certainly an important aspect in what sales people need to be measured by it can by no means be the only measure.

I'll walk through each of the points, but sales people should also be measured by the
  • ROI of the deal
  • Lead to close time
  • Customer satisfaction after the deal is closed
  • Accurate population of data within the CRM
  • Forecast-to-actual sales
  • % Penetration within account
  • % Conversion rate by lead type (hot/cold)
  • Time per sales stage
  • Attrition rate per sales stage
  • Average deal size
  • Ramp time

Metric: ROI of the deal - It does no good for a deal to be sold if the return is going to take years, or there will never be a return because the contract ends before a return can be recognized. Far too many times I have seen in companies where the sales rep pushes for a deal to meet their quota without regard for the level-of-effort required by services, or support after the deal is closed. This then kills any margin left.

Metric: Lead to close time - While not a metric to hold a rep 100% accountable for it is a key metric. Imagine if you knew for all your deals the typical lead to close time from when it entered the queue from BusDev and/or marketing to when it was closed. This can enhance your visibility and forecasting capability. Additionally it can help highlight individuals how might need additional training and who might be able to help them.

Metric: Customer satisfaction after deal closing - This ties back to ROI and later in the account when you try to get a reference. If you have a true 'Cassius the closer - character from Selling the Wheel' they worry about getting the deal closed, not always what is required afterwards. This can lead a bad taste in the client's mouth and put the deployment team in a precarious situation.

Metric: Accurate and complete data population within the CRM - A no brainer! I have heard the reasons why it isn't done from various sales people and it ceases to amaze me.

Metric: Actual-to-Forecasted sales per time period - this does tie to quota, but really it ties closer to how well the rep does at forecasting. Additionally if you track this over time companies can increase their visibility in corporate forecasting, and also detect problems earlier. If you detect a sales person is historically off by 10% you can adjust in your corporate forecasts and help them with training to improve. If you see a one-time drop you can keep an eye on them for the next time period vs. trying to guess what happened last reporting period. Seems like a no-brainer, but as I've talked to people it seems this metric is never reported on or tracked.

Metric: % Penetration within account - In most sales engagements there are specific roles that need to be identified. Where deals can go bad pre or post deal closing can be attributed to not having fully penetrated the account to find all the key players.

Metric: % Conversion rate by lead type (hot/cold) - Simple measurement by resource to determine what % of leads they are given convert.

Metric: Time per sales stage - Quickly highlights for management and sales person if displayed properly deals that need attention. These would be the deals where it is taking significantly longer in the current deal stage vs. the average. Additionally it helps to identify problem spots if it is tracked. We measured every stage in one of pre-sales efforts and were able to quickly identify key areas for improvement, and develop a longer-term plan. By doing this we reduced our step within the sales stage thereby helping the sales person move the deal faster. My point is...IF you track the time per stage by deal you can quickly find areas that need improvement and focus a team to improve the methodology.

Metric: Attrition rate per sales stage - Where are deals falling out of the sales process and of equal importance is why?

Metric: Average deal size - Easy metric to measure, but if you measure properly you can get a good feel for the number of deals you'll need to close when doing next year's budget.

Metric: Ramp time - Sales people just like everyone else need to be measured on how long it takes them to be self-sufficient. While most have the sales background every company has a unique value proposition, methodology and of course product / service. If a particular rep is taking longer than average you can work with them to close the gap with training or determine if you need to make a change.

I'm sure there are other metrics that can and should be measured, but the list above are my thoughts.  Again let me know if you think I'm off base, or just plain missed some key metrics. 



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Can you find me? My SEO project at work.

I've been spending the past couple of months doing a lot of research on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SMO (Social Media Optimization).  I have to say there is a tremendous amount of information on the web, and a lot of people who want to bill you for services you can do yourself, especially as it relates to SEO.

Based upon all this new knowledge we are in the process of implementing several sets of changes to my companies website.  One of the frustrating aspects of this update is our site was recently revamped, and while the new design looks nice the company which said they knew and understood SEO clearly did not know anything about SEO.  They are several basics one needs to understand to implement SEO, and we quickly found out they didn't understand them, or they were speaking about things they couldn't implement.  So starting in the next few weeks we are going to be implementing changes to our website so when people search for us, or terms we have optimize for on our site our pages (hopefully) will show up towards the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).  This is going to take a lot of work and will be an iterative process so, we will be measuring the changes using Google Analytics to determine what is working and what still needs improvement.

A sampling of the changes we are going to be applying are:
1.) Improve site for SEO - Insert and update the following
  • Page meta descriptions - descriptions of what the page is about e.g. author, content, category
  • Page meta keywords - while not used much anymore it doesn't hurt to include them on your site
  • Page names - a small but important item to optimize e.g. seo.html doesn't mean as much to google as search-enginge-optimization.html
  • Page titles - a no brainer, but this was a key area the company that revamped our website failed
  • H1 tags - defined as critical by the W3C and by most sources I've read as very important by search engines.  This is a touchy subject with most people, but in the end my take is it does get used and is probably more important if your page uses flash to get its point across.
  • Alt text - since the engines can't see images this tag gives your images textual descriptions
2.) Improving site content, visibility and infrastructure
  • Update first sentence to include relevant keywords
  • Submitting site to directory services and improve sitemap
  • Improve site links to eliminate no brainers such as click-here :-)
  • Removing PDFs and replacing with html pages from previous press releases

After we get those aspects done we will start with the second phases of our project, which for the time being I will not be commenting upon for obvious reasons.  What I will share is we are evaluating a couple of tools to help with this phase and later phases.  The two primary tools being considered right now are HubSpot and Pardot.  What is really interesting is how I found HubSpot earlier today.  While I was gone on vacation to Cabo (more on that trip at a later time) I got several emails from LinkedIn to groups I subscribe.  One of those emails was about B2B Lead Generation which took me to where I spent a bit of time reading various topics, ultimately reading their ebook Volume 1 Online Marketing.  Their ebook is where I found out about HubSpot, subsequently spending several hours watching HubSpot's webinars, reading whitepapers, etc.  Ultimately I don't know which company we will end up selecting, but right now I'm very impressed with what I saw and read today from HubSpot.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar process, learning about and driving an SEO strategy in-house.  Also if you have used other internet marketing software what was your experience and what tool(s) did you use.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New book - The new rules of marketing and PR

Spent some time earlier today at Barnes and Noble.  No real intention to buy anything there other than to waste some time and see if there were any good books.  I skimmed through "The Tipping Point", but did not pull the trigger on that one.  From a cursory reading of the first hundred pages or so it seemed to repeat itself over and over.  Everything related back to some tipping point and that things did not need the overwhelming push as required in the past.  They continued and continued to point out small viral inflection points that changed the game.  Maybe I'm impatient and should have kept reading, so let me know your thoughts if you thought there was much more to this book.

I put the book back and started looking for something else to pass the time.  I started to skim "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and decided to purchase.  After reading the first 50+ pages I'm very happy with my purchase and the direction.  It is right up the alley I have been building a plan for around our new marketing campaign.  It also hits up a number of the same points from the last book I finished "Your Marketing Sucks...details inside".

If you have read or have thoughts on either or what you've done to implement a new marketing / PR program I'd love to get your thoughts.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

House passes Climate bill

Been doing some reading of the 'House Climate Bill' or HR 2998 American Clean Energy and Security Act passed Friday June 26th, 2009 219-212. I have to admit it is very dry as with most bills, that and I have been distracted by doing other things today. A couple of interesting points of what I have read / discovered so far. The bill is ~1,500 pages with 300 of those pages added Friday morning at 3AM. A number of people asked to read the updated text when they learned of the amendment and were told a copy was not available at the speaker's desk or elsewhere. Another interesting point I've learned is the DoE once again has power to give money to automakers to help them transitioning to 'cleaner' automobiles. The exact amount of the new loan is from "SEC. 125. ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY VEHICLE MANUFACTURING INCENTIVE LOANS." changed from $25B to $50B.

The cartogram right is very interesting depiction of the votes by state and 'Aye', 'Nay'. From looking at this cartogram and other articles I have to wonder how much lobbying took place related to all the Smart Grid provisions in the bill. I know from previous articles both Google and GE have been actively pushing their SmartGrid technologies. In the same section of SmartGrid and electric distribution the bill states "The United States shall take no equity or other ownership interest in the qualified advanced electric transmission manufacturing plant or qualified advanced electric transmission property for which funding is provided under this subsection." I seriously hope they never revoke / undo this clause or we could be in for bigger trouble. As some might recall the Roosevelt administration tried to run the power plants under the TVA...They are however making changes to light bulb requirements. Starting in 2012 any new candelabra base incandescent shot not exceed 60 watts. So, I guess that means Congress knows how much light we need in our rooms to see, read, eat, etc. Additionally the bill also mandates that beginning January 2012 intermediate base incandescent lamps shall not exceed 40 watts.

The bill clears the way for some new jobs for 'Advisory' positions needing to be created for the Energy Technology Advisory Council. Those who are an advisor and do not already draw a salary from the federal government will be paid "for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code" or, from what I can read $58K annum. Unfortunately I have only gotten through 350+ pages of the bill and need to move to some other topics, but my quick take is this bill is not in the best interest of the US. We can expect dramatic changes once this bill reaches the senate and they have had an opportunity to read and improve the bill. One last item which gives me pause is the potential for future problems with the proposed 'cap and trade' of carbon credits and their potential valuation. If this area is not handled properly it could turn into another bubble and companies in-properly placing valuation on their carbon credits.

Well gotta run, but I hope everyone stays cool, in the Austin area we tied another heat record today at 105 :-(.

Bryan Karp - from

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interview between CNBC and Barney Frank on Exec pay

Typical Barney Frank...change the question, avoid answering what the interviewer asks and push his own set of questions and answers. Wish I could avoid the questions like he does, maybe if I do I could be in congress.

Once again this interview highlights it is painfully obvious Mr. Frank is unable to handle interviews with multiple people asking questions, even when they are asking one at a time. In this instance Rebecca Jarvis asked Mr. Frank a question which he avoided answering the root of her question. David Faber then proceeded to ask him a different but related topic, Barney then became confused and agitated how dare two people ask him questions in an interview. When he still hadn't answered the question good 'ol Mark Haines followed up and asked Barney a question, where Barney interrupted Mark repeatedly, and then decided he couldn't handle the question or complexity of the questions so Barney and Mark ended the interview pre-maturely.

So, interviewers, I guess your answer is either don't schedule him for interviews or only allow one person to ask him questions. Then let him pander to the direction the wind is blowing today as he chooses, then ask him the same question again. As we all learned from this episode and the many others, it is okay for him to interrupt the interviewer, but nobody should ever interrupt Barney.

Now just to show I'm being fair, my liberal co-worker overheard this interview and made it a point to step in my office and say she, can't stand this idiot!

Thanks CNBC, keep up the good work and watch the video below.

Barney Frank on Executive Pay -

Pictures of Kids from Chicago trip

Pictures from Julie of the boys and their cousin Iris during their Chicago trip. I'll continue to publish pictures as I receive them and have time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thanks to Walt Mossberg's review of the Kindle...

Thanks as usual to Walt Mossberg for his technical reviews of new gadgets.  I had been debating on a.) a kindle all together and b.) the new kindle.  Walt's review has helped me make up my mind that *IF* I do decide to bite the bullet and buy a Kindle to not buy the DX.

You can view his review using the link below.

The Latest Kindle: Bigger, Not Better, Than Its Sibling

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Leave our 401(k) alone

The following is a re-post from my FB page January 8th 2009.

Big Slide in 401(k)s Spurs Calls for Change -
Source: "The stock-market rout has ignited a crisis of confidence for millions of Americans who manage their own retirement savings through 401(k) plans."

Very strange...every time I ever take a allocation survey it always profiles your risk appetite and compares it to that of the 70's bear market. Now, I wasn't alive then and I am in my young 30's so while this does hurt I am willing to live with the short-term losses for the long-term gains. Congress should not touch or modify the 401(k) plans just because some people can't grasp the concept of doing their own research or hiring a financial planner (which I have not done nor do I have the resources to do so). In one sense it is very clear there is no 'true' educational program other than what I have learned from on what companies / funds to purchase. Therefore it is no surprise when employees make poor decisions we all think the system is bad because the people didn't make the right decision especially since they probably don't understand who they are investing in and why. We need to improve the education in our schools and workplaces of how to invest, why we should invest and forget about the late 90's and the high flying days of quick gains in a few days / months. Buffet probably has one of the best lines I have ever heard....I don't care what the market does today, tomorrow, or the next few years, invest in good companies (or in most 401(k)'s good funds) and periodically check on them and re-adjust as needed. Too many people are concerned with what happened in the market today vs. what is going to happen in the next 3 - 5 years. Oh and don't push me into SS considering as a previous poster stated it is no more than a type of ponzi scheme as I'm paying for my neighbors who are now retired...and given the current funding and plans for SS it will be bankrupt when I am ready to retire....and just for the naysayers...if that isn't true then why do we talk about reforming the SS system?!?! Stay out of our finances DC and leave the 401(k) system alone!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spring...huh..where did it go?

The past few months have been extremely busy and included lots of changes. As usual Pointserve has been consuming quite a bit of my time, though I have been able to learn and apply some new concepts, travel to new places, and on occasion relax.
Travels, Customers and thoughts...
Since my last posting I have been to Montreal twice, Chicago, Denver twice, Boston, and Albany. While it can be tough on everyone's personal life, I find it relaxing and exhilarating. During my travels I find I have more time to read the books on my reading list, listen more attentively to customers and prospects, and spend time reflecting on my personal and business life. In my opinion everyone should spend time visiting with customers once a year. Generally people think they know what their customers want and need...this is where I believe they fail and in some cases create products they want not what the customer needs. It isn't until you spend time with customers and/or prospects and walked in their shoes you can truly understand what they want and/or need. To that end I recently re-read the book Five Myths of Consumer Behavior: Create Technology Products that Consumer Will Love. Though the concepts are geared toward companies producing technology for consumers, I believe the process can be broadly applied. If you don't listen to what your customers are'll build products you want not what your customers need.
Blue Ocean strategy...
I have to begin this section by saying how great the book "Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant" is when building new businesses / product lines. I am in the middle of a few projects and can't stress how excellent this book has been in evaluating where we want to compete, helping us stay focused, and determining if we can indeed build a blue ocean vs. a red ocean. The overall concept of the book is to make you think long and hard about the product or service you are going to provide and how you will 'Eliminate', 'Reduce', 'Increase', and 'Create' features in the market you plan to attack. The book has several great examples including Cirque du Soleil, Southwest Airlines, NetJets, and Casella Wines also known as Yellow Tail. Though we have several iterations until our product launch the combination of Blue Ocean Strategy and agile development methodology we are making great progress. I would strongly suggest that anyone planning on a new business venture, product line extension, or product line update read this book. As we get closer to our product launch I will talk about more details and provide a link to the website...until then you will have to sit in suspense :-).

New executives...
I am always amazed when a company hires a new employee of authority how everyone changes their tune and moves into a 'defend my value / worth'. During my tenure, I have seen a number of senior executives come and go and over time, I have noticed a pattern that makes me laugh. I can't say if it is because I'm over-confident in my team and personal accomplishments, or my team and personal my team's and my track record, or that we (my team and I) get our job done and get it done consistently. What I have noticed is people who are either pessimists or those that have something to worry about go out of their way to make nice with the new executive. What tends to happen next is while they are trying to show their worth they speak out of context and on occasion, they speak to tasks they should have completed vs. tasks they are just starting or have not done. It is my opinion that if you do your job and do it well you will be noticed especially in a small company. That said you can not go far enough to on occasion to tweak your own horn. The last thing I have found is if you have your ducks in a row, a well documented a 'Continuous Improvement' plan in place you will be well served.

The weight lifted...
To add just a bit more suspense, I was able to get my employment agreement modified several months ago. This was a big relief as it now allows me to own my ideas / concepts outside of my day job (pointserve). Since that time, I have been involved in numerous discussions related to new product ideas, companies, and consulting gigs. The only problem now is keeping myself focused on no more than a few projects at a time outside of regular work and family life. If only I could invent a way to pack more hours into a day and sleep, fewer hours and still be productive :-).

Things to come...
Last section for this post and this summer is going to be busy again! I have yet to make up my mind, but I am tentatively planning to attend my 15-year high school reunion from Marmion Military Academy in June. During that entire time Julie and the kids are going to be in Chicago for an entire month so, I will be enjoying pseudo bachelor life at home while they are gone. Additionally Julie and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year and are tentatively planning a trip to Antigua or any other location that has an all-inclusive package. August might also bring another Chicago trip to attend the Hinckley Big-Rock 15 year high school reunion. While I did not attend HBR, I was good friends with almost everyone who went there and lived in the neighborhood. Of course as noted above, I will be busy with a few outside interests.

I will do my best to keep things updated as the summer progresses but feel free to ping me for an update :-).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Austin360 bridge from friend's surprise party

The pictures below are of the Austin 360 bridge. These were taken during a cruise Julie and I took on "Austin's Party Cruises" for a friend's surprise birthday party. It was a nice night and I have to say the views and time spent with friends was nice and relaxing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Awesome sunset

Last night was an awesome sunset here in beautiful Cedar Park, TX.
The storms coming up from the southwest just missed us (as usual) but setup the sky for an awesome sunset.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three things you didn't know about Bryan Karp

Found this the other day looking for something...that now I can't recall what that was.  Anyway it was pretty neat in that it told you how likely there were other people with your same name.

Did you know that Bryan Karp...
  1. Translates to the number 7 in numerology
  2. Has the Blast-Ended Skrewt as their Power Animal
  3. Shares their name with a guesstimated 13 Americans?
See more at

Posted using

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New FB layout stinks

It is going to be rough but I am going to try and avoid posting a status update on my FB or twitter account.  The new layout is horrible and aggravates the heck out of me every time I try to use the new layout.  It does not appear that FB consulted anyone prior to making the change except maybe themselves.  Just a quick little look at a new application developed by someone shows how bad the new layout has been received  As of this posting the vote is 1.23M against vs. 80K for the new layout.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Current list of books in my queue

As usual, I buy too many books and inevitably have too many things going on or, just plain forget I even own them. I am going to try and change that habit by spending at least 1 - 2 hours per night reading vs. watching tv, surfing the web, etc. To that end, the present list of books I have started or recently acquired (in no particular order) to read are:
TitleAuthor(s)Brief purpose (pre-reading)Status
Six Disciplines Execution RevolutionGary HarpstGain insight and improve skills around operational execution and leadership100% Read
The Forgotten ManAmity ShalesReceived as a gift in '07. Learn about the great depression and problems created by Hoover and Roosevelt50% Read
Blue Ocean StrategyW.Chan Kim
Rene'e Mauborgne
Understand how to increase differentiation in existing markets and create new markets25% Read
Selling is DeadMarc Miller
Jason Sinkovitz
Different approach for selling, enabling cultural shift in business approach to sales15% Read
Lean Six Sigma for ServiceMichael L GeorgeLooking for ways to improve my department's operations, reduce waste and improve quality25% Read
FreakonomicsSteven D. Levitt
Stephen J. Dubner
Suggested by a friend as an interesting read and twist on economics50% Read
The Intelligent InvestorBenjamin GrahmLooking for interesting insight and ideas on value investing and the thoughts from the father of long-term investing25% Read
The Balanced ScorecardRobert S. Kaplan
David P. Norton
Trying to improve visibility into current operations and understand how scorecards can help.0% Read
Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate SynergiesRobert S. Kaplan
David P. Norton
Coupled with 'The Balanced Scorecard' believe this book might provide insight into the creation and execution of 'balanced scorecards' in our organization.0% Read

Ugh…sometimes MSFT just irritates the heck out of me

So, I was doing some research the other night for various topics and noticed I still had the MS RSS feeds in Outlook.  I deleted the MS @Home feed and thought for $4its and giggles would just quickly look at the MS @Work RSS feed.  One post stood out amongst the others which really irritated me  This link talked about how to make your life easier using accessibility features within MS.  Unfortunately MS did not listen to their own advice because they removed numerous short-cut keys when they released MS office 2007.  One of the biggest items they removed is the E,S,P when sending email which I used very frequently.
In the end I have learned to work-around, which really means I just curse every time I need to paste special in an outlook email. I only hope that MS does a better job next time they push a major release for office.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good Iron Chef last night

We watched a good episode of Iron Chef last night (Sunday March 22nd). The secret ingredient was coffee beans which would have been an 'oh crap' moment if it was me. I am contiously amazed at how the chefs on the show are able to take the secret ingredient and make amazong dishes. This one however; takes the cup ;-). At almost every turn both chefs were making excellent dishes which I might even try to recreate myself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moving posts to custom site at

Well, I'm trying to move my posts to my name site (, plus add a few widgets and adSense.  It seems like it is taking longer than I expected to have the site show up.  I think when it is all finished it will be a lot easier to post updates, etc.

Bryan's first post

Just continuing to add to my web presence.  I registered my wife and two kids yesterday with their own domain names.  During that time I remembered that I needed to create a simple blog so I decided to give blogger a try.