Showing posts from 2006

And that's about that...

It's strange to realize it's been a monthish since my last blog post... Between blogging for the day job and working online, it doesn't seem like it's been so long, but then again - digital stuff don't lie.

It's been a good month, though - the widget on the right tells you that the running has been going well. I did a 5k in 22:37 a few weeks ago, which means that it took me five months to eradicate 15 years of inactivity and get back to the same place I was when I raced 5k as a high school freshman.

In that 5k, the results said I came in 17th out of 62 in my age group, which sounds good - until you realize that run/walk results were combined and I'm guessing about half of the 62 walked it... so, I was likely mid-packish, but it was still a barrel of fun. We had a team from work, and my niece raced with us, too, so a good time was had by all.

Christmas shopping is done, but I think my wife and kids read this blog from time to time so that's about all I have…

My Five Minutes of Blogging Fame?

Andy Warhol said that everyone gets 15 minutes of being famous.... In the blog world, I think it's closer to five. At any rate, my ship came in tonight... After writing my review of yesterday's Digital Magazine Forum and posting it to this blog, the posting was picked up by the crew at MediaBistro.

If my Mom knew what a blog was, she'd be proud.

On the Deeper Things...

So I've been reading Bernd Heinrich'sWhy We Run, which was formerly titled Racing the Antelope... At the mid-point of the book, I'm still not sure Why We Run is a good title -- How We Run or How Creatures Run would be more descriptive, but no matter: the book is an absolute delight if you're seeking one of those books which is partial biology and partial biography.

Heinrich goes into great deal explaining how bugs, birds and antelopes achieve their amazing acts of ultra-endurace, and tempers the science lessons with his own experiences in the world of ultra-marathoning. It's an interesting blend of understanding why certain athletes (and animals) can kick our butts while also giving some thoughts on things we can do to improve our own performance.

Pronghorn antelope have always been fascinating to me. Though I've never hunted, stories about hunters tracking these very fast and very skittish animals make for great reading. Heinrich provides the reader with a lot o…

Slightly More than 1 Horsepower

Last week, I mentioned the fun of trying to run down an Amish buggy from my Cannondale... I was hauling him in, but the wind was in my face, I was tired and before I could do so, he turned off the road.

Today: same road, different buggy (I presume), fresher legs and less wind. I caught up to him on an uphill and hung out behind him for a minute until we crested the hill... Blew by him on the downhill, which was really cool... until I popped my chain on the way down (obviously the Craigslist Cannondale still needs tweaked a bit). But it was a big downhill, so I coasted all the way down... hopped off the bike and popped the chain back on and was on the road with the buggy still behind me.

Today was my fourth ride on the Cannondale... 4th ride in a row with a faster average mph... 2/10th of a mph better than Saturday's ride and only 6/10ths of an mph from being respectable.

Planning on a lunch-time ride tomorrow, rest day Thursday, bike Friday and bike or run Saturday... hard to know if…

Wipeout... and Recovery

So Saturday I had a nice 15.5 mile ride... well nice except for the part where I wiped out about a mile into it... it wasn't a high-speed wreck by any stretch, but it did serve to prove that the Craigslist Cannondale really needed a tune-up before I hurt myself even worse.

Three days and $109 later, the bike has new brake pads, new brake cables, a new black wrap and a new chain, which means I should be less of a hazard to myself in the coming months.

I'm still using my original elbow, bloodied though it may be.

Glad the bike thing is working out, though - tried for a run on Sunday and it was a joke. My knee is truly interested in an off-season... I'm thinking of giving it a week. So long as the bike weather is ok, that should be fine.

Race results have been posted for the York White Rose Run... I came in 99th among 155 men, which isn't great. Then again, I've been running for all of 4 1/2 months... all things considered, it ain't so bad. But I'm eager to do be…

A Bit Blustery Today....

So the Cannondale and I took a nice twelve and a half mile jaunt over lunch. In terms of mileage/time, it was a slight improvement over Tuesday's ride, but given the windy conditions, I think the *athletic effort* was definitely more intense. The course was awesome though - rolling hills past mostly Amish farms and probably no more than ten cars passing me the entire time. Very cool.

Riding among the Amish is a nice treat... Tuesday I passed a school house just as the kids were getting out. The boys all cheered when I flew by (fortunately it was a gentle down hill, so I actually was flying - a little.). Later on that same ride, I passed by an old Amish man pushing a scooter. Only in Lancaster County.

Today I chased a horse and buggy for about a mile and had almost pulled them in when they turned off the road we were on. I'll get 'em next time. ;)

The Plan....

So now that I have a tri-worthy bicycle, I think it's ok to layout my tentative plan for end of '06 and beginning of '07. Though I'd always hoped to do a few triathlons next year, planning one without a bike is kind of like planning a trip to the shore without suntan lotion.

In a nutshell, I like to do 1 race per month... it keeps me motivated without cutting severely into family time. It's interesting reading over triathlete blogs and seeing how many people are trying to train for Ironman competitions while their family is being left behind. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

I know I can do a good job in an Olympic length triathlon while keeping my house in order. I think the *potential* exists to do a half-Ironman without my wife and kids forgetting who I am. But a full Ironman? No way, so I'm putting that idea on the back burner for a few years.

(And if you've had a better or worse experience, feel free to comment -- this isn't a training issue, …

Wow, Do My Knees Feel Great. :)

So today I finally was able to take the Cannondale out on the road.... After buying it a week ago and taking a few days to get it road-worthy, I was treated to four days of solid rain. Not funny. Add to that a sore knee from the race on Saturday and I was going out of my mind.

While it's still pretty much a rainy today today, it was dry enough to hit the pavement for a lunch-time jaunt.

Cycling is always such an interesting contrast to running. Generally speaking, running seems to have a fairly constant amount of pain (depending on the workout). Your run is either easy or hard or somewhere in between and while hills have a nominal effect on the amount, it's all relatively constant. Cycling, however, is as easy or as hard as the road beneath you. A rip-roaring twenty-five mph downhill can give way to a hard-charging level stretch followed by a quad-numbing ten mph uphill - and all of this can (and does) happen within two or three minutes.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. :)


Not a baby jogger in sight...

So last Saturday was the York White Rose Run - five miles of - mostly- flat terrain through the city of York, PA. This would be my first race since the half marathon six weeks prior and my first five mile race since... hmmm.... 1989 (!).

The goal for this one was to break forty minutes. After my hm, my trusty McMillan calculator said that 41:33 would be a good goal for a five miler, so I rounded down and decided to go for forty. The past six weeks haven't been optimal for training, though... After the hm, I'd taken two weeks off to let my foot heal, and since then, I've only been running two to three days per week, never more than 5.5 miles... That being said, some of those workouts were very quick and felt if all went right, I'd be able to hit my goal.

It was a smaller field than most races - I haven't seen any results yet but I'll be surprised if the group was bigger than 200. There were, however, a handful of impossibly sculpted Kenyons.

The start was smooth, …

Road Warrior....

So the truth of the matter is I didn't start running again to be a runner.

My goal when I hit the road in July wasn't so that I could be the guy I was in 1990, who ran 70 miles a week, six days per week. Actually, my goal was to be the guy who raced bicycles in '87. I loved doing that. It was invigorating and exciting and fun.

But it's also expensive as hell. And until July, I hadn't actually been physically active in years. So I told myself that if I got into shape I'd let myself get back into biking (and triathlons - since I do enjoy swimming and running, too).

However, even though I'm healthy, I'm still cheap and I kept my eyes open for a loooong time. Finally, a week ago on Craigslist, I spotted a Cannondale R600. Now, it's not this Cannondale R600, but rather a Cannondale R600 from 1996. Granted, in 1996 it was still a thousand dollar bike, but ten years is ten years...

Similarly vintaged models were going for about 350 on E-bay. This, however, was…

Happy D-Blog Day, Uh, I Guess...

So according to diabetics blog-wide, today is D-Blog Day, the day when those of us affected by diabetes are supposed to blog about it. Or draw awareness to diabetes... Or something like that.

I'm really a bad poster child for the disease. Not because I'm not in great control (actually, I am), but because I've just never been bothered by the disease so much.

Red sums it up well in Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living, or get busy dying." So if living means three blood sugar tests a day, so be it. If living means being hooked up to an insulin pump, go to it.

That being said, I feel for anyone with diabetic kids... I'm a tough guy about the disease. I wouldn't be if my kids had it. If either of my kids had diabetes, I'd be screaming about the politicians who are spending money on wars instead of research, and I'd be yelling about the schools that make it difficult to be a diabetic in the classroom.

But my kids don't have diabetes, so instead I com…

Several Months After the Fact....

Assuming there's a biography about me someday - something behind this blog, for instance - it would be curious to see how 2006 gets written about. Particularly, if the biography is about Marcus Grimm, the "writer."

In many ways, 2006 could go down as my most "successful" year ever. My stories have appeared in two anthologies this year. "A Hell of a Deal" appears in the Horror Library from Cutting Block Press, and "Everything is Something to Somebody" can be found in "Rebel Voices" from Rebel Press. Today comes word that the latter has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Now here's the kicker: In the past year, I've written zero fiction. Nada. Not a line.

Keep in mind, it's been a good year. Heck, a great year. I love my job and a couple of freelance clients ensure we'll have a nice Christmas. And let's not forget about the half-marathon a few months ago, either... But it's odd having a relatively accomplishe…

Pretty much back, kind of....

Well, it took me two weeks to get my foot to heal up well enough to start moving much again.... I got a nice workout on the exercise bike earlier this week (yuck) and was finally able to put together a mostly painless three and a half miles tonight, which means I still have a shot at my next two goals:

1.) Run in Central Park next week when I go to NYC.
2.) Break 40:00 in the White Rose Run 5mi. race in November.

However, this injury has reminded me how much I want a road bike so that I can cross train... Ebay, I've got my eyes on you....

The Recovery Week...

I wasn't sure how long I'd need to recover from last Saturday's half-marathon. On one hand, most reports recommend you take two weeks off running after a full marathon and this was only a half. On the other hand, I've only been doing this for three months, so it's not like I'm in *prime* shape.But other than all the hands was the matter of the foot - the same foot I madly iced in the two days before the race.Five days after the race, it's still quite sore and informed me during a one mile test run last night that the recovery process isn't over.The good news is everything else feels great.Here's hoping another week does it good - I have two upcoming trips to places that would be great to run in, and I'd prefer to do that, rather than hang out on the hotel exercise bikes when I'm there.

Hands-on-House 1/2 Marathon Report

Last weekend, I completed my first-ever half-marathon. Here’s one of them blog posts about how it went and how it came to be.Backdrop:On July 3rd of this year – after 15 years of doing very little exercise – I came back to running again. Working out every other day, I gradually brought my mileage up.

By late August, I had my long run up to about 8 miles. I ran a 5k in 26:14. When I plugged that time into my McMillan Calculator, it said that if I were to train for a half marathon right now, I should be able to do it in 2:01. I wondered if I could… more important, I realized that if I continued to add a mile a week to my long run, I’d be up to 13 by the last weekend in September. As fate would have it, there was a half Marathon in my town the same weekend. So, I decided to go for it, with a goal of breaking two hours.

The training:Most of September went about as expected, though not without aches and pains. A slightly pulled hamstring in early September after my 9 mile run worried me, but…

I'll Start the Bidding at Zilch

Do I know when to jump off a sinking ship or what?

Less than 1 week after I move all of my newsletters from the uber-buggy Zookoda to the very orange but very effective FeedBlitz, the Australians have thrown in the towel, offering Zookoda up for sale.

Here's some comments from Zookoda's announcement, along with my own commentary:

"Over 5200 blog publishers have adopted Zookoda as their blog marketing tool..."

Yeah, but how many of us have left? Moreover, FeedBlitz claims to have more than 65,000 active feeds. Conclusion: Zookoda never really got that big.

"A Zookoda user has the right to add or delete their mailing lists from the system at any time."

While they may have the right, Zookoda appears to have turned off this feature (probably to try and hold onto the data from folks like me who are trying to leave), thus bolstering the appearance of a robust operation.

"As such - NOTHING WILL CHANGE for at least a couple of months. During this process we will cont…

The Hills Are Alive.... But I'm Dead

So Saturday was a 12 mile run - my longest run in probably 17 years, and my last long run before the 1/2 Marathon in 2 weeks.... all that considered, it went pretty well, just under 1:54:00. All of which means it's going to take a very special day for me to break 2 hours in two weeks.... Which means it's important to remind myself that I started all of this nonsense only 75 days ago. From zero to 12 miles in less than 90 days is pretty cool.

Then again, I'm also pretty sore today, likely because of the hills I climbed in miles 8 and 9:

Times Reader As Good As Vista?

I got my notice that I could download the new Times Reader from Microsoft and the New York Times. Thus far, I'd say the Times Reader is about as good as most of Microsoft's beta products.

Call Me a Show-Off

Ever since I started running in July, I thought it would be cool if I could post snippets of my workouts on my blog. I have no good reason for this other than to brag and to motivate myself, but hey - whatever gets you through the day.

I finally found a service that lets you do just that. If you keep your running log at Breaking the Tape, you can easily get some javascript like I have on the right (I selected my last three workouts, but they have many options.).

So now even my blog readers will know if I'm staying off the couch!

Zookoda And I Agree to See Other People

Those of you who've followed the blog know that I was once one of Zookoda's biggest supporters. When I started using it in April or May, it was one of the snazziest blog to newsletter tools out there. I immediately started using it for this newsletter, as well as three different corporate newsletters.

Previously, I'd been a free FeedBlitz customer, and while their service over the years had been good, Zookoda had some features that FeedBlitz either offered for a fee or - in some cases - not at all. So I jumped on the Zookoda bandwagon.

Around mid-June, the problems started, as when my newsletter was first delayed. I'm not going to spend time rehashing Zookoda's lack of response to this issue, other than to say they didn't seem to care. Service only got worse from there, and by this month, the Zookoda success rate for me was somewhere less than 50%.

In the past couple weeks, I've certainly driven FeedBlitz crazy, as I asked Phil (their CEO, who actually reads …

Do As I Say, Not As I Do...

I think with my latest blog-over, I've committed the cardinal sin of bloggers. Blogs - I believe - should be focused. They should be specific, so that the reader can say, "Hey, this is for me," or "No, it isn't."

But the reality is that - as a human being - I struggle with focus. Not for short stretches of time, mind you, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm simply into a lot of things. I have my profession, my family, my diabetes and my hobbies. At the moment, I'm not happy having a blog that only addresses one of these things so - at least for the time - being, I'm going to declare this blog as fair game for whatever strikes me.

I think these types of blogs tend to make for bad reading and if so, I apologize. But hey, it's still free, so who are you to complain? ;)

Running Re-cap, Exercise on the Internet, etc.

Thank you to the two commenters who congratulated me on the start of this exercise thing. I appreciate your kind words muchly.

First up, an update on the exercise itself. Second up, an update on how I'm using the Internet to help me.

As the summer has drawn to an end, I've backed off on my swimming, but am still running 3-4 days per week. My weekly mileage is now up over 20 miles and my longest run - last night - was a hair under eight miles at a 9:00/pace. To think that I only got off the couch eight weeks ago and am up to that kind of mileage is kind of cool. Again, I think the main reason this time has been successful is because I'm only doing workouts every other day. The rest day seems to be doing a lot to keep the knees, shins, etc.... healthy.

Last weekend, I ran my first race in nearly 15 years! It was only a 5k, and my eager beaver first mile resulted in a less than stunning 26:14, but the good news I came in 150th out of 305 - just ahead of the bubble, so all in al…

That's Right - I'm a Rebel

Here's a don't-miss anthology: Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, features twelve of the best new writers out there, including me.

Most of the writing in the anthology I'd call lit.fic. bordering on contemporary fiction with maybe a little noir in some cases.

Want a taste of the book before slapping down twelve measly bucks? Here's a bit of my story for your review.

So do it: be a rebel!

A Confession

A great surprise showed up on my door-step yesterday: my own autographed copy of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, by Ellen Meister.

You'll find my name in the Acknowledgments section of the book (woo-hoo!), assuming you're the type of person who reads the Acknowledgments. Ellen and I traded ms edits a few years back. Obviously I'm a better much better editor than Ellen because her book got mentioned on Leno last week and my book is... is.... frankly, I'm not even sure where you'd find a copy of it these days. Certainly not in stores. Perhaps on the hard-drive of the computer I wrote it on, which I believe is at a landfill near you!

But if you like chick-lit or mommy-lit or minivan-lit or whatever else they call it these days, buy a copy. You won't be disappointed.

Oh Blogger, Where Art Thou?

What's with the radio silence on the blog, you ask? Well, a couple reasons:

1.) Summer, in general: Internet traffic dips in the summer. Since this blog tends to be the best info. I've found online, there's less of it to find.

2.) Summer, in specific: Last week was a glorious week at the beach. I came back feeling tanned, rested and ready - uh, until I opened up the 400 e-mails I hadn't gotten to.

3.) There's a new love in my life. Yes, believe it or not, I'm back on the exercise wagon. Here's the least you need to know about that: I was a long distance runner in high school and college. I wasn't great, but I was one of the best ones to finish after the great ones did. No, I wasn't the worst of the best, but I was one of the best of the ok crowd. Then, mid-way through a training run in college, four miles from the campus, I stopped running and walked home. Four years before Forrest Gump did the same thing, mind you.

In the fifteen years since then, I…

Zookoda Frustrations

Sometimes businesses need to decide if they have a company or a hobby on their hands. I'm starting to feel that way about Zookoda.

I blogged about Zookoda several months back. They have a wicked slick interface and a nice system for sending out blog-based news. Most of the time, it works great.

A few weeks into it, I was having a rather simple problem and complained about it. When they finally responded to my complaint - three days later - their tone was basically, "Hey, this is beta and it's free - what are you complaining about?"

I send a few different newsletters every Friday and for the second time in four weeks, my newsletters didn't go out this Friday. Or rather, according to the Zookoda system, they were sent, but not delivered. Last time this happened, they ended up getting delivered about 14 hours later.

Let's make this simple: if your business is one that delivers e-mails, you better deliver the e-mails. Whether you're in beta. Whether you're fr…

On Featuritis

Just because the competition is doing it, is not necessarily a reason for you to do it.

Mind Blowing Stats on Books.

One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. …
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
42% of college graduates never read another book.80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
Customers 55 and older account for more than one-third of all books bought.
Number of publishers1947: 357 publishers
1973: 3,000 publishers
1980: 12,000 Publishers. The New York Times, February 23, 1981.
1994: 52,847 publishers.
Books in Print.2003: About 73,000 (plus those who publish through POD/DotCom publishers; they use the publisher’s ISBN block.)
78% of the titles published come from the small/self-publishers.
Most initial print runs are 5,000 copies.
A larger publisher must sell 10,000 books to break even.
A book must move in the stores in six we…

Oh, Floyd!

History was made today, as Lancaster County's Floyd Landis recorded one of the greatest stage wins in Tour de France history. You can read about it here.

Yesterday in the Alps, Floyd got crushed, falling from first to eleventh place. Most people said the Tour was over for him. But those close to him said that Floyd was doing OK. I guess they were right!

Floyd goes into Saturday's time trial in 3rd place. Right here, right now, I'm predicting that the next winner of the Tour comes from Lancaster County, PA! Go Floyd!

A New Business Venture's Shiny & Deep Story

Marketing guru Seth Godin says that "the most successful marketers tell two stories at the same time. A shiny one and a deep one. The shiny story is easy to notice, easy to enjoy, easy to spread. The deep story is fascinating, worth your time. It has texture and mystery and it lasts."

Peter Leach is a good friend of mine. He's also technically a client of mine, though I think over the years I've bartered as much as I've bought or sold with or to him.

Peter's a great photographer and had an idea for in-action pictures of your student athletes, printed on durable automotive magnets. I think it's a great idea and you can see the tiny website I put up for him here.

So the "shiny" story for Sportscarz is the fact that you get a magnet for your car with a picture of your kid on it. That's cool and we think it'll make people at least inquire.

The "deep" story, though, is that Peter's been a professional photographer for more than tw…

The Coach's Job

A great article on youths, sports and coaching:

The only measure of success for a coach is if the kids come back to play the next year. If they don’t return for a second season, you weren’t a good enough coach, period.

Is Senator Santorum Breaking the Law?

I think he may be.

This email was in my in-bin this morning:

Dear Mr. Grimm:
Having personally witnessed the devastation from flooding in central Pennsylvania in the past week, I am writing to make you aware of federal assistance that you may be eligible for. As you may know, President Bush issued a disaster declaration for numerous Pennsylvania counties. This declaration allows eligible individuals in these counties to apply for federal disaster assistance. If you have been affected by recent floods, I urge you to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as soon as possible to apply for possible relief. FEMA can be contacted at (800) 621-FEMA or and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) can be reached at If you own or operate a small business, you may be eligible for relief from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA can provide low-interest loans for business repairs or replacement costs to eligible in…

How People Use Your Website

A new service just launched called ClickTale which records how people move about your website. I think this is a great idea. My recent corporate redesign was done in such a way that I can tell you exactly how I intend for people to move through the site and this service lets you see if your intentions are being met. I've already signed up to be on the beta list and hope I get in.

RSS Explained

I read a review this week that said that Microsoft has nailed RSS, meaning that when people upgrade to Office 2007, they'll finally "get it." If you'd like to get it sooner, click here to get a non-technical explanation of RSS.

Cutest Billboard I've Seen This Week...

What time is it? Just ask McDonalds.

Got My Hugh On

I'm a big fan of Gaping Void, and was thrilled to add the "widget" to my side bar, which posts Hugh's new cartoons as he draws them. I would've done it sooner, but only today realized that Hugh had a "no adult language" option. Because while some of Hugh's more mature content really cracks me up, I like the fact that my blog has a work-safe appeal.

Tour de France Time

In my opinion, perhaps the most underestimated sporting event is the Tour de France, which is underway all this month. What is it? Basically, it's 22 one-hundred mile bicycle races, taking place during 23 days over the highest mountains of France.

I always pay a little attention to the Tour, but this year I'm keeping a closer watch. Why? Because Lancaster County's own Floyd Landis is one of the favorites. Whoda thunk it?

Keeping in mind that this blog tries to be about the intersection of marketing and technology, here's an interesting article that explains how - in some ways - the bikes the pros ride are crappier than ones you and I could buy (assuming you have $5,000 burning a hole in your pocket).

Checking Out the Checkout

The biggest news on the Net this week was the release of Google's new Checkout Payment System. For a great review from both the vendor and customer standpoint, go here.

PowerPoint Like it Oughta Be...

I've been putting together my first Lessig-style PowerPoint presentation and I'm really stoked. Though a few days from completing it, I'm convinced that if you're going to use PowerPoint, this is the way to do it. If you've never seen it done before, here's a great example by Dick Hardt. His speech is only 16 minutes and if you're not in the high-tech arena it wasn't written for you. Still, I bet you'll be glued to your seat.

So You Think You've Thought About Your Website Enough?

For example, a Motley Fool newsletter increased its conversion rates by removing a picture of the author. And a photo of the company’s chief executive will generally drive conversion rates down. “If you’re not a celebrity, you really ought to think twice about" including a photo.


Even something as seemingly minor as changing the color or style of a button can affect conversion rates, Wachen said. For example, one client realized better conversion rates with a red button than with a green one.

“Red doesn’t mean ‘stop,’” Wachen said. “It means ‘pay attention.’”

Read more here.

Behold: VISTA!

Curious about what Microsoft's new Vista product will look like? Here's a great mini-review. Most disconcerting to me was that the reviewer couldn't easily add RSS feeds from anyone besides Microsoft. I have high hopes for RSS readers to become transparent, and this isn't helping.

Blog, Newsletter, RSS or... dare I say... FAX?

Whenever I talk to people about setting up blogs, a common thing they say is, "Well, we're already doing an e-mail newsletter and we don't have time to do something else." or... "We're not sure how our audience will react."

I'm fond of saying I'm "platform agnostic," which means this: I believe in regular communication for lots of reasons. But I couldn't care less whether you visit this blog every day, pull in the RSS feed or subscribe to the Zookoda newsletter. Either way, I win, because I succeed in communicating with you. This frees me of the burden of having to make a choice and allows you the freedom of making a choice.

"Sounds like a lot of work," I often hear, or, "Man, you must have a lot of time on your hands." If you haven't communicated this way before, here's the least you need to know:

1.) There's content creation. Whether you're starting from a blog or newsletter, you're going to h…

On Playing Skynyrd (and Desperately Trying Not To)

I was in a meeting earlier this week and a customer was asking about a certain next generation use for what we were pitching. The customer was quite wise and correctly surmised that our solution could handle this request but was a little bit befuddled that I couldn't show him an example of where we had. It was one of many times that I lamented the fact that - to quote a great John Eddie tune - "If you wanna stick around, ya gotta play some Skynyrd."

Many times over the years, I've approached clients with some really fringy ideas. Ideas that I knew would work, but would upset the apple cart of what they're used to doing. At first the client sounded intrigued, but as the project progressed, people got scared and the execution got whittled down to something progressive, but not life-changing (at best), or something that was only a mild improvement from status quo (more often).

This is the equivalent of the musician who goes into a club to play his own original music, …

What Would You Pay For a Customer?

That's not a question we ask ourselves much in marketing. We ask ourselves what we'd pay "per lead" (per click if you're online) or per pair of eyeballs (read: impressions). But we don't usually ask what we'd pay for a customer because - let's face it - you can lead a horse to water, blah, blah, blah.

And yet, the next big thing from Google asks advertisers just that: what would you pay for a customer? And rather than paying "per click" you'll have the ability to bid "per action." In other words, you define the action: "Customer buys this red sweater," and decide what you'll pay for Google to get someone to your site to do just that.

If this works, all the guys who said Google was little more than a big billboard company can pack up and go home.

What Your Computer Desktop May Look Like in a Year or Two

I watched the video and have no idea how this will help me work better. But it's still really really cool.

Funniest Video of the Week, or Why I Have DSL

Need a Search Engine?

Probably not, but you could probably use a good search aggregator. Like this one.

In Honor of His Retirement...

Here's a great Bill Gates story:

Bill came in.

I thought about how strange it was that he had two legs, two arms, one head, etc., almost exactly like a regular human being.

He had my spec in his hand.

He had my spec in his hand!

He sat down and exchanged witty banter with an executive I did not know that made no sense to me. A few people laughed.

Bill turned to me.

Read more here.

My Personal Barcode

According to PersonalDNA, I'm an "Attentive Leader."

Marketing V. Sales

From FastCompany:

I find sales as rather agrarian in nature. It's their job, after we've planted all the seeds, the excitement... to get out and sell. I think sales should report to marketing. That'sll never happen, because most sales people are so type A. Marketers are environmental -- we create environment of which sales people should have an easier time to sell.


PrimoMailer is another new service for those of us who publish email newsletters. I took it for a short spin this morning. I'd say very short because it refused to let me enter any email addresses, which makes it kind of hard to given the fact that the mail has to go *somewhere*.

As some of you know, I'm a Zookoda fan, and have been using them for more than two months, now. PrimoMailer has a couple cool features I'm intrigued with - you can embed your entire blog within the email, for instance and supposedly Primo is better about deleting bad email addresses - but alas, I was unable to try it out to see for myself.

All in all, I think Zookoda's feed-based system is *probably* superior for my needs. And since it's totally free (You pay for more than 10 emails at Primo), I expect to be there for some time. But it's always good to check out your options.

Psst.. Wanna Buy a Book?

You're going to have to wait a month or so, but when the time comes I'm going to beg you to do yourself a favor and buy the anthology coming out from Rebel Press. Why? First up, I'm in it, but secondly, the book is full of people like me - the literary equivalent of a room full of bridesmaids. The entire anthology consists of folks who've been ignored by the major presses (if not all the presses). And every one of 'em - I'd like to think present company included - can tell a darn good tale. My story involves a repo man who has to hire an Amish sidekick to collect a Russian bride after his co-worker gets bitten by a deadly snake. Seriously. You can actually read a little of it here. It's probably not the best story in the book, but it's the only one to include a violent Amish man.

Google Knows Everything About Me, But I'm a Lot Faster at Work

So the other day, I finally downloaded Google desktop, which basically indexes everything you've ever written, viewed, read or downloaded to your computer. Actually, this was the second time I've downloaded it. The first time, it kind of creeped me out it worked so good, so I deleted it, but I'm so sick of the slllllloooow speed of Windows search, I reinstalled it.

If, like me, you're a file monger and, like me, you're awful at having a good folder system and if, like me, you're constantly looking for stuff on your computer, do yourself a favor: download this program. Creepy or not, it flat out works. And wicked fast, too.

Much To-Do

This week, I started playing with Toodledo, basically an online "to do" list. It's free and wicked easy to set up. I'm a list-maker, but your average list maker will find the exact same functionality in Microsoft Outlook. So why use Toodledo? Two reasons: the first is that I use Outlook at work and my web access for Outlook from home is cumbersome at best, so a web-based system would be better. But more importantly, Toodledo allows me to export an RSS feed of my to-do's and I spend way more time in my RSS reader than in my Outlook task menu, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out.

The Social Army Attacks

P&G has hired 600,000 women to sell you crap. Actually, don't let my lead sentence fool you. This is actually a great idea - low cost and taps into the social network. Very Web 2.0 and very easy for most businesses to replicate. If you're a marketer, you need to think about how to do this at your level.

Can We Make Lunch a Little Earlier in the Week?

Do you know when you're going to die? This website does.

Magazines Delivered by Ipod

Assuming you read what the kids are reading, you can now get some magazines on your Ipod.

While most of us cringe at the idea of reading on an Ipod with its 2 inch window, let's not forget that in Japan, kids are reading novels on cell phones.

At NXTbook, we use the phrase 'platform agnostic,' which simply mean looks for ways to easily repurporse your content because the future is not a printed brochure, or a website or a blog or a cellphone. It's all of them.

The Dumbest Article I've Read This Week

Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore... Daily posts are a legacy of a Web 1.0 mindset and early Web 2.0 days (meaning 12 months ago!). The pressure around posting frequency will ultimately become a significant barrier to the maturity of blogging. Here are 10 reasons why.

The author goes on to say - basically - that frequent posting is bad because it forces people to publish content, regardless of quality, which is kind of like saying it's bad to eat supper every night because every dinner can't be a made-from-scratch-4-course meal. While I'm not suggesting you sit down to a supper of potato chips, a take-out pizza every now and then will keep your family more or less on the track to nutritional health.

He then goes on to say that if people are pulling your RSS feed, there's also no need for frequent posting. Again, this is stupid, IMO. I currently pull 136 feeds. Only the updated ones show up. When you're not posting, I'm not reading.

Again, it goes wit…

What Kind of Marketing Organization Are You?

From Brand Autopsy:

In the May 29 edition of Brandweek, Constantine von Hoffman shares findings from a Booz Allen Hamilton study which asked marketing executives about the structure/function of their marketing department within their overall company. After analyzing the responses, Booz Allen researchers identified that there are six types of marketing organizations.1 | Marketing Masters
2 | Senior Counselors
3 | Service Providers
4 | Brand Builders
5 | Best Practice Advisors
6 | Growth ChampionsAt Brand Autopsy, you can find a summary of each of these and then a question: which one are you? Funny thing is, most the people responding claim to be "Growth Champions," which might be a little self-serving and more than a little deluded. While that should be something we all strive for, I've found myself caught in each of the buckets from time to time.Hey, even the guy who owns the restaurant has to clean the restrooms every now and then.

Jesus Would be Proud

Donald Spector, Chairman of Innovation Fund LLC, announced today that it has patented and developed technologies that will allow consumers to screw one of its Flavor Tops caps onto any bottle of water and turn it into a vast variety of beverages.

A consumer can take their favorite brand of plain bottled water, like Poland Spring (from Nestlé), and with a Flavor Tops cap turn it into a power drink, a soft drink, tea, or even an alcoholic beverage.

Thirsty? Read more here.

Well, You Can't Hit 'Em All.... or Any of Them

Just a take a look at who this VC firm decided NOT to invest in.

You're So Vain

Word for the day: GRAVANITY

Meaning: Marketing used to convince people that it's really all about them.

This Town Ain't Big Enough for The Both Of Us

I like to think of myself as an optimist, so when I hear that some real estate professionals are scared that Zillow and Trulia will take money from them, I think they need to figure out how to make lemonade.

That being said, Redfin is a direct assault on traditional real estate sales:

If you find a home you like and want to place an offer, Redfin will represent you in the buying process (they have a call center with licensed real estate professioinals to guide you). Here’s the good part: They reimburse you 2/3 of the buy-side real estate fee directly on closing. The average amount reimbursed to the buyer is $11,402 (and that is based on relatively low Seattle home prices).Redfin is also testing a seller-representation model, called “Direct for Sellers”, that will handle all aspects of a sale for a flat fee (currently $1,350). On a $500,000 home sale, this saves the seller $13,650.The local real estate market is not impressed:Everything isn’t rosy for Redfin, though. They’ve been …

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Cartoonist Scorned

Dilbert - which I always love - was even more fun than usual in May, as Scott Adams poked fun at the folks from Google. Turns out, though, that Adams had his own reasons for not feeling the love for Larry and Sergei. For a great story about brand preservation, logo tweaking and famous names, just go here, scroll back to May 18th, and keep reading forward.

Pavlov Moves Into the Cellphone Industry

With the cost of mobile phone calls already dropping sharply, Virgin Mobile USA plans to announce a way that people can talk for no money at all. They will, however, have to pay with a chunk of their attention.
The program, called SugarMama, lets people earn one minute of talking time by watching 30-second commercials on a computer or receiving text messages on their phones, then answering questions to prove they were, in fact, paying attention. Read more here.

What's NXT?

I'm wondering where this week went - between our technology unexpectedly(!) being featured in the NY Times in conjunction with a MySpace promotion and our planned release on the state of the digital publishing industry, it's been a wild one. Still, I hope you enjoy the weekly update!

The Death (and Birth) of the Press Release

Anyone who works in marketing knows that the press release is a somewhat outdated item. Often little more than a block of copy, they're often sadly linking in rich media content, rich is one of the great things about the Web.

Via Shel, we learn about a company which has designed a template for the NEW Press release, which leverages the power of the Web. The company, SHIFT Communications, makes use of the template here.

As I commented on Shel's blog, I'm thrilled with this new template. But while I think it's perfect for new media, I'm concerned about some of the more traditional outlets. Simply put, the new press release isn't quite as copy-and-paste friendly, and will require some honest journalism to turn it into a story. I'm curious whether time-strapped writers of b-to-b pubs will prefer the better, more interactive, but more labor-intensive format.

Today's Worthless But Fun Link

More information about your birthday than you ever wanted to know can be found here.

When Geeks Get Carried Away...

One of the cornerstones of Google's innovation is the freedom given to their engineers: 20% of their time may be spent on anything they wish to develop. However, as Google get's bigger and badder, there's some speculation this privilege may be going away:

Here's some fuel for your fire: a couple weeks ago, at a regular engineering all-hands, Larry Page went on a half-hour rant that left the entire engineering team wondering if he's gone nuts. He spent a long time lecturing everyone about how we're not smart enough to pick the right projects to work on, and he singled out a couple of projects (in front of hundreds of engineers) to complain about because they weren't using shared infrastructure components.Then he announced that he doesn't want people to use 20% time to work on new ideas -- yep, Larry has suddenly decided that the only good way to use 20% time is to work on someone else's project. So don't expect to see any products like Google News…

Fifteen Minutes of Fame Shrinking for Best-Selling Authors

"The life-expectancy of a bestselling novel has halved within the last decade, according to a long-term study of fiction bestsellers. It has fallen to barely a seventh of its level 40 years ago....

The average number of weeks that a new No. 1 bestseller stayed top of the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List has fallen from 5.5 in the 1990s, 14 in the 1970s and 22 in the 1960s to barely a fortnight last year -- according to the study of the half-century from 1956-2005. In the 1960s, fewer than three novels reached No. 1 in an average year; last year, 23 did. "The blockbuster novel is heading the way of the mayfly," says Bob Young, CEO of, referring to the famously short-lived insect."You can read more about the study here, but Seth perhaps sums up the moral best:"If your marketing strategy requires you to hit #1 in order to succeed, you probably need a new marketing strategy."

Genesis of a Viral Marketing Campaign

Ever since I started with NXTbook, I've been actively seeking ways to get the NXTbook format into readers' hands, simply because unbiased users are the best way to figure out if your product features make sense.

While we typically do test-cases with most of our clients, it's not exactly the same - Sometimes, the publisher already knows what they want the results to say. Other times, there are certain questions they don't want asked. Most importantly, they tend to frown upon experimentation with their customer base, and I don't blame them. So how do you get honest open feedback?

At NXTbook, we decided to launch The NXT Big Thing - a publication produced for us by us. This way, we can tweak the format how we like and get feedback from a more diverse group of people.

The bonus is that readers get treated to some outstanding writing, totally free of charge. We just launched our first issue, which features Rajesh Petty, well-known blogger of Life Beyond Code fame. He graci…

Never Trust a CEO With a Book in His Hand

The following story is true. Names have been removed because – frankly – they have more lawyers than I do.

In late ’03 and early ’04, “outsourcing” was all the rage. Companies, particularly those still trying to shake the dot-com blues, sent lots of work overseas, hopeful that the promises of all the brilliance at a quarter of the price would be fulfilled.

In April of ’04, noted writer Thomas Friedman signed a contract with Random House to write, “The World is Flat,” a nonfiction piece which said – in several hundred pages – that virtually everything could be outsourced, quality would not suffer, and corporations would have higher profits.

Or at least, it would say that, but not until it was published nearly one year later in April of ’05. By that time, judging by the Google Trend chart, smart corporations had finally learned the truth – while some stuff could be outsourced, it wasn’t really that easy to replace overpaid American workers, for many reasons (good and bad), which I won’t ge…

Today's Cool New Product

Those busy beavers at Google are at it again. Just this morning, they released Google Notebook. In a well-written nutshell:

The idea behind it is that you can use it to takenotes about web pages , and copy snippets from those pages, and keep them in notebooks, whichyou can keep private, or make accessible to the public. A link to the page where you found the material makes it easy to return to the source ofthe information.

Notebooks can be organized into sections, and can contain images as well as text. The program can be accessed from more than one computer, which means that the information contained within it is stored by Google rather than on your own computer.

While I’ve seen other products that do a similar sort of thing, the fact that Google has it means there’s a greater chance of traction.

To view my own public notebook, just go here.

Lifestyles of the Somewhat Rich & Famous

Sometimes this Internet is a crazy crazy thing. By combining the use of two totally free tools, I was able to snoop out some relatively interesting personal stuff about famous people.

For instance, anyone who Googles dynamite author Harlan Coben can find out pretty easily that he lives in Ridgewood, NJ. But it only took me one step further to find out his house is worth around $963k, which isn't so great appreciation, considering someone paid $885k for it 12 years ago. Then again, the place is nearly 100 years old, so maybe appreciation slows down. It's a nice looking joint, though.

Need an Ad Agency?

A good friend and former boss of mine is in the market for a new agency. I wonder if he'd like this firm:

Our female staff members are all hot, so, even if there's nothing to meet about, we'll sit and flirt with them, and charge you for the time. When one of our new-age marketing gurus or design experts or consultants has an idea, the rest of us look at him or her with serious expressions and write stuff down on paper.

And I Thought Telling My Wife I Bought a Car Was Hard...

"I practiced for about an hour on how I was going to break this to Jen," Weber said, "because when you come home to tell your wife you're buying a hockey team, like, that's an ugly hill to climb. So I worked on it and then I came home and I sat her down and I got her a glass of wine...

Read more here.

Next Up, We Go After Wal-Mart

I'm always amazed when start-ups try try to make waves in an industry where the industry leaders are - frankly - pretty good.

Today, opened for business. Snap is a search engine, kinda like those Google people, and the Yahoo people you may have heard about?

Snap has a preview window, which is admittedly kinda cool. But in the dozen or so searches I did, the search results weren't even close to what Google and Yahoo did.

The preview window is the sizzle, but the search results are the steak. My advice is that Snap sell the sizzle to Google and Yahoo and move on.

Internet Claims Another Victim

Late last week, Bowker announced that US book publishing numbers were going to be down 18% from '04 to '05.

My first reaction upon hearing this was to think that some of the leading self-publishing firms were responsible for the hit, since they'd gotten plenty of credit for the increased numbers in '02, '03 and '04. But looking at the detailed chart provided by Bowker, it appears that there is no silver bullet to be found: we're just buying less books of all kinds.

Been Scared Lately?

I've just been informed by Cutting Block Press that an anthology featuring a story I wrote will begin shipping next week. While I'm not a horror writer, per se, my story "A Hell of a Deal" appears in Horror Library Volume 1: An Anthology of Terror. My story is about a Real Estate Open House gone tragically wrong. Order it from the publisher here.And be sure you attend Open Houses well-armed.

How Big is Back to School for Futons?

We often hear that August-September is the hot season for futon and this Google Trends report confirms it. Search activity during this eight week window is twice that of the rest of the year. Notice, unfortunately, that the peak wasn't quite so high in '05 and, more importantly, didn't last as long.

By the way, if you click on that link, you'll also see the most popular cities for futon searching! If you're a retailer in one of those cities, and you don't know how to do Google Adwords specific to your city, drop me a line. For the amount of profit you make on the sale of one nice futon sofa, I'll help you set up a Paid Search account specific to your city for this small window of opportunity.

On Google, Trends and Latex Mattresses

Here's the next head-scratcher from Google Trends.

I decided to run a comparison between memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses. The graph on the right is what we got. It shows that in mid-2004, there was enough interest in latex mattresses to put the term on the map, but interest eventually settled in to be somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 that of memory foam mattresses. Both terms have slumped a bit this year - chalk it up to either people being less interested in premium products or people already being educated. It looks to me as if memory foam mattresses have enough traction to stay on the map. The question is, "Does latex?"

A Catalog for Every Person

I'm just back from the ACCM Show in Chicago. The great thing about cataloguers is that they totally get the concept of successful niche marketing.

Oh sure, we met with some of the big guys, but we also had the opportunity to learn about the Avocado of the Month Club, too. Now, if that's not laser-like focus, I don't know what is.

All in all, a great show, marked by smart marketers, great food and really cool pens from the Google girls.

But Seriously, How Do You Really Feel?

Linked from Inc.

"As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, I interviewed, hired, and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like 'out-of-the-box thinking,' 'win-win situation,' and 'core competencies.' When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn about something other than business administration."

Ten Smart Moves to Improve Your Business

Lifehacker pointed this one out to me and while all ten (there's actually 11) are great, you gotta love #1:

Start a blog: I can attribute at least six figures of income to my blog (that doesn’t include the two decimal places!). Can you afford not to try it for yourself?

Twice in the past two weeks, I've had people tell me they thought they needed a newsletter. "Nope," I said, "You need a blog." By posting articles to a blog, including an RSS feed and pushing them out via an e-newsletter service like Zookoda, you serve three masters:

1) Website visitors who read the blog and the more who will come as you inevitably help your search statistics.
2) RSS geeks, who are growing larger every day.
3) The 90% of us who don't surf all day or sit on RSS readers but will read a great e-newsletter when it comes.