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Archive for December, 2008

Time To Work Really Hard! No I Am Serious!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

  • Time to work really hard!
  • Time to be a team player!
  • Time to think out of the box!
  • Time to be very customer oriented!
  • Time to make things happen at your office!
  • Time to make yourself so valuable your company can’t live without you!

With the challenging economy, a day doesn’t go by without someone I know calling/emailing saying they are now in transition. As of October 2008 new unemployment claims have hit a 16 year high! Yes, you have to go back to 1992 to see claims higher than they are now. That is an ugly thought to consider and I hope (although don’t believe) that trend will change very soon. Every day, companies are announcing major layoffs. A few weeks ago, Citigroup, Union Pacific Corp and Sun Microsystems joined the list.

As of October the unemployment rate was 6.5% which is over 40% higher than it was at the end of last year. I am sure people who are reading this are saying I always worked hard. Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t. However whatever you have done in the past should and needs to get kicked up a level.

I believe everyone has the capacity to get better at something every day! I strongly believe that people (not systems, not technology) make a difference whether a company exceeds or misses their goals!

The real question is, do most people try and do that or sit back and see what happens?

  • What are you doing to make yourself more valuable to your company?
     
  • Without giving away company secrets, what have you done to make your company more efficient?
     
  • When was the last time you made a suggestion to improve something to senior management?
     
  • When was the last time you showed something to a client and their reaction was "Wow, that is amazing"

I look forward to your comments.

I Think It Is Time To Take 10 Minutes And Do This Every Month . . .

Monday, December 29th, 2008

During the course of a month, all of us have things we do on a routine basis. Whether that is take out the trash, do the laundry, play softball or even pay bills. If you are anything like me (hopefully not), you tend to do those things on the same day of the week. For me I try to pay bills on Sunday while I am watching TV. I have noticed myself looking at the bills a lot closer these days for a few reasons:

  • To see if there is anything we can do to bundle bills (cable, phone, web) to save money.
     
  • To try and get a handle on how much money I foolishly spend on things!
     
  • To determine whether there are any mistakes.

Over the past six months I have noticed a number of charges on my credit cards that weren’t ours. In fact over the weekend when I was reviewing my Visa bill, I noticed that apparently while I was in Madison, WI last month I was also in Cancun, Mexico charging a bunch of things. Since I don’t have an identical twin, that obviously wasn’t me and that charge is being disputed.

It seems to me that I am hearing more and more stories about bogus charges on credit cards.

Last week I was on a website reading about my beloved Redsox and a pop up window appeared that said "take a Redsox quiz and see what your Sox IQ is". Since I was curious to see what my "Sox IQ" was, I took the quiz. You needed to put in your cell phone number and check a box to check to see your results. I did enter my number but before I checked the box, I started to read the fine print on terms and conditions. I never hit enter but all of a sudden I started to get these text messages saying I was being charged $29.99 a month for some service that I had no idea I ordered or what it was for. The end result was I called the number and of course they never picked up. I did eventually get it taken care of, but it was a pain.

  • Have you noticed any bogus charges on your credit cards?
     
  • Are you noticing more than in the past?
     
  • Have you heard of any credit card scams that we should be aware of?

Moving forward I will be reviewing our credit cards charges closely–especially during the holiday season.

I hope you do the same thing and it saves you some money. If so, you can thank me later!

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Everyone Loves Contests. Today’s Question Is: WHAT CONTEST WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Over the past twenty-nine months, we have had over 350 posts. Some of our most popular ones involve contests. Everyone seems to love a contest. Everyone seems to like a challenge and a little competition–and of course a prize.

Over the past few years our contests have included:

  • A candy quiz
     
  • A quiz about culture from other countries
     
  • The Power of Plus or Minus Ten–which was a contest about how well you know Americans
     
  • Guess the Academy Awards
     
  • Stock picking
     
  • Dow Jones

The question is, what contest would you like us to add in 2009? And who knows . . . if we start a contest based on your response, there might be a prize involved.

Also what current contest is your favorite that you would like us to continue?

Happy holidays!

I look forward to reading your comments.

Is It Just Me, Or Is There Nothing Like A Great College Football Game?

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Last week I was reading an article in USA Today that highlighted the top 10 great places to stand and cheer college football. It was a good article that highlighted a number of great schools and stadiums. The stadiums that made the list were:

  1. Neyland Stadium–Knoxville, Tenn.
     
  2. Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium–Austin, TX
     
  3. Husky Stadium–Seattle, WA
     
  4. Folsom Field–Boulder, CO.
     
  5. Memorial Stadium–Clemson, SC
     
  6. Beaver Stadium–State College, PA
     
  7. Lane Stadium–Blacksburg, VA.
     
  8. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium–Oxford, MS.
     
  9. Memorial Stadium–Lincoln, NE.
     
  10. Camp Randall Stadium–Madison, WI.

Certainly great schools with rich football history. To me there is one interesting thing ( I am sure there are more) they all have in common. I have never, ever gone to a football game there! I was surprised with all the sporting events I have been to, I haven’t been to games in any of these stadiums. In fact the closest I have ever been to any of these is I visited Husky Stadium with a friend (hi KA) years ago and recently visited Folsom Field with a colleague (RW) a few months ago and drove by Camp Randall Stadium a few times. That’s it. Never tailgated, never saw a game, never experienced a game there!

So since I don’t have any stories from those schools I stopped and thought about what would make my list. Here are a few:

The Big House–Ann Arbor, MI. I went to a game with my buddy (GS) years ago and was amazed at how big the stadium was (107,000 people) and how easy it was to get in/out of. Also I was surprised to be close to the stadium but really couldn’t see it because it is built down not up. We sat in the student section and stood the ENTIRE game. What a great time!

Michie Stadium–West Point, NY. Wow! What history! What emotion! What a great campus and truly a beautiful stadium. Even though the stadium is relatively small, it was an amazing experience

Alumni Field–Chestnut Hill, MA. Another small, beautiful stadium, lots of spots to tailgate. Have actually been down on the field during a game and had an amazing time.

  • Have you been to any of the stadiums on the USA list?
     
  • How was your experience?
     
  • What stadiums make your list?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Superstitions, OCD or Rituals by Guest Writer, Jason Miller

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Spence Bilkiss, Gene Filipi, Lance Hoffman, Drew Judge, Marisa Pope, Brad Solomon, Ted Watson and countless others have all witnessed OCD at its best, DINNER at my house with my wife, Angela Miller, as the hostess. I must admit, I am truly amazed each and every time we have dinner guests and the rituals that she has. Angela will prepare dinner, dessert (usually soufflés), all while she is vacuuming, doing dishes, washing under the feet of our guests, eating, while bathing the kids and everyone’s favorite — shaking out the rug.

She simply just can’t sit still; OCD in some form has taken over her life. Don’t get me wrong, living in the cleanest most organized house on the planet is fantastic. It is definitely better that the alternative. However, she takes it to a different level all together. Here is a list of the other "rituals" she has……

  • Cleaning the kitchen floor as the family leaves for the day — let me explain, she is on her hands and knees with a Clorox wipe cleaning her way OUT THE DOOR!
     
  • Stainless Steel Magic, this product is her life — when ANYONE opens the fridge, puts something into the trash can, she is right behind them with this wonder spray eliminating the finger prints
     
  • The refrigerator can NOT have an item missing (see picture). When a bottle of water is taken from its perfectly positioned location in its line-up it is immediately replaced with a fresh bottle from the reserve we have (approximately 3 cases on deck AT ALL TIMES) and rotated into the mix. All items in the fridge look like soldiers, all standing front facing in perfect order
     
  • Paper towels, now this might just be a sign of craziness. If we do not have at least 15 rolls on standby, I am ordered to the wholesale club store to stock up. You never know when you will need 5,000 feet of paper towels.
     
  • NOW MY FAVORITE — Shaking out of the kitchen rug. WOW, this is funny. You can ask anyone who has been to my house. Angela shakes that rug out so much that I have purchased 3 more to put in its place when it gets totally worn out. (each rug lasts about 30 days)

These are just a few examples of OCDs / Rituals that Angela has. I too have my "issues"; mine might be more superstitions or "good luck" habits. Here are a just a few………

  • Walking under ladders, I don’t do it — bad luck, superstition
     
  • I put cash into my wallet all facing the same direction in order of denomination, low in the front, high toward the back — I believe just an OCD
     
  • I say "rabbit, rabbit" as the first words out of my mouth on the first day of each month – good luck for the month (if I forget and say something else first, I am pissed at myself) , superstition
     
  • I never leave my keys on a table, if one does superstition says you will not have money – luck, superstition
     
  • When pouring a liquid out of a bottle (wine bottle, soda bottle, water pitcher, etc.) never ever ever do I pour underhanded into my glass.  Actually, if I am at a restaurant or out anywhere and someone pours into my glass and they start to pour underhanded, I stop them and have them pour over handed — bad luck, superstition
     
  • I am a big proponent of coins that face up. For example:
     
    • All of the change in my car’s change holder is heads-up. Guaranteed – definite OCD
       
    • When I see a coin on the ground, if I choose to pick it up, it must be heads-up. If it’s not, I’ll flip it over first to make it head’s up — good luck and OCD all in one
       
  • When watching the Red Sox in regular season at home, I always sit in the same seat, right in the middle of the couch. Now, when I watch them in the post season from home, always far left in the first spot. — superstition, thanks to my father

Now that I have shared some of our superstitions, OCDs and rituals — I would love to hear some of yours.

  • Do you have any superstitions that I can add to my life,
     
  • Any good luck rituals that can take over my daily routines?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Thanks for reading!
Jason R. Miller

###

Jason R. Miller, PRC (Vice President, Performance Plus – GroupNet Boston)


Jason has been with Performance Plus since September of 1992. Jason went to Framingham State College seeking a degree in English when he took a part time job as a telephone recruiter and like many others in Market Research fell into this field. Since taking that job, he has moved up the ranks from phone recruiter to interviewer to assistant front desk then off to an assistant project manager. Jason then worked as a Project Manager until 2000 when he moved into his current role.

Performance Plus has been a member of GroupNet for 15 years and Jason has been actively been involved with the network of 20 independent focus group facilities for the past 8 years. Currently sitting on the Board of Directors for GroupNet as a Director-at-large (the first non owner to do such) and is the Chairperson of Marketing Events.

Jason will be married 10 years this January to his "High-School Sweetheart" Angela Miller, who is featured in this article. They have two beautiful girls, Zoe 8 and Bella (Isabella) who is 6.

Attention Sports Fans: Who Are Your Favorite Brothers In Sports?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The sports industry has lots of great athletes. Athletes that can jump high, run fast, hit a 100 mile an hour fastball or stop a puck at some amazing speed. The question is who are your favorite brothers in sports?

Here are a few that come to mind quickly:

Football :

Eli and Peyton Manning
Tiki and Ronde Barber

Hockey:

Phil and Tony Esposito

Basketball:

Dominique and Gerald Wilkins
Horace and Harvey Grant

Baseball

Greg and Mike Maddux
Phil and Joe Neikro

We also have a few more in other sports with John and Patrick McEnroe and Jay and Jerry Haas in golf. Growing up in Boston I really liked Phil Esposito and the big bad Boston Bruins. His brother Tony played for the Chicago Blackhawks and since we lived there I also liked them so for me they would probably be my favorite brothers in sports.

  • Who are your favorite brother combinations in sports?
     
  • Who am I missing off the list?
     
  • Who is the best brother combination in sports?

I look forward to reading your comments and building a comprehensive list of brothers in sports.

P.S. I wonder if I had a brother, would that have given me a better chance to be a professional athlete? Probably not…but a guy can dream!

How Big Is Your Tree And How Do You Decorate It?

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Over the years I have really enjoyed going to Rockefeller Center in New York City and seeing the beautiful Christmas tree. The tree lighting ceremony is pretty spectacular year after year. A few facts about the tree in Rockefeller Center:

  • The tree is typically a Norway Spruce.
     
  • The minimum requirement is that the tree be 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide
     
  • There is no compensation offered in exchange for the tree, other than the pride of having donated the tree that appears in Rockefeller Center.
     
  • Over five miles of lights are used to decorate the tree every year.
     
  • Only the lights and the star decorate the tree.
     
  • The tree is recycled and the 3 tons of mulch are donated to the Boy Scouts.
     
  • The largest portion of the trunk is donated to the U.S. Equestrian Team in New Jersey to use as an obstacle jump.

Living in Boston, I would also go and see the tree at the Prudential Center in Downtown Boston. Since that tree pales in comparison to Rockefeller Center, I won’t even mention anything about it.

In the past few years we have had a nice tree. The kids seem to really like it and enjoy decorating and of course watching yours truly balance himself on a ladder to place the decorations on the top of the 12-14 foot tree.

  • What does your tree look like?
     
  • Do you have a tree decorating party?
     
  • Do you have a collection of ornaments that you showcase?
     
  • Do you have a place that you go to cut down your tree?

I look forward to having you share your comments and hearing about your traditions.

Happy holidays!

Some Signs Are So Funny. Which One Is Your Favorite?

Friday, December 12th, 2008

A few weeks ago I was driving to Baylor University to my first S3 (thanks KW & BG for asking me to be part of the program) Board meeting. S3 stands for Sponsorship, Sales and Sports–a fantastic program. Since this was my first trip to Baylor University, I had no idea how to get there or what I would see along the way. Very easy to get there: One road and as far as what you are going to see…let me try and be politically correct about this…. Nothing! Absolutely nothing! The 100 mile trip is filled with open fields and a town (small) every 30 miles.

The reason I am boring you with this story is that on my way back, I noticed a highway sign: "Speed Limit 70 at night 65." I never saw a sign like that. Have you? Because I was alone, bored and couldn’t get a radio station the sign gave me reason to pause. What would I do if I was pulled over? What would I say: "How do we define night? Is it when it is dark out? Is it from 6-12pm?" I had trouble answering that question, but since I did think the sign was kind of comical I thought I would share a bunch of signs with you and have you pick your favorite. So here goes:

I think all of these are very funny. The private parking sign must have been created from a very angry person! I may have seen the animal sign at the zoo. The sharp edges sign is funny especially since the most important information "Also the bridge is out ahead" is in small print.

My favorite sign is the gas sign which couldn’t be any more appropriate these days, and also the "No left turn / no right turn" sign. Very funny.

  • Which is your favorite?
     
  • What is the funniest sign you have ever seen?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Have You Ever Heard About The Angola Prison Rodeo? If Not, You Need To Read On…

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

A few weeks ago I had an average day. I worked and after working out I picked up my boys who were playing sports. When I got home, I turned on the TV as I was headed into the shower and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel caught my eye on HBO. The episode focused on the Angola Prison Rodeo. No, I have never heard of it. Have you? Probably not. They were interviewing the warden and explaining what goes on during the prison rodeo. This rodeo began over 40 years ago as a "fun" thing by a handful of rodeo-loving inmates and employees and is now big business. Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund, which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies.

Well apparently there are six dates of the rodeo a year and almost 10,000 people come to watch the rodeo during each session. Did I mention that the inmates are the participants in the rodeo! You probably could have guessed it from the title of this post, but I just wanted to make sure. What you can’t tell from the posting is the crazy (you can be the judge) events they have in this rodeo. Here are a few of them:

Bust Out – All six chutes open simultaneously, releasing six angry bulls, with temporarily attached inmate cowboys. The last man to remain on the bull wins the event.

Wild Horse Race – Six wild horses are simultaneously released into the arena with short ropes dragging behind them. Three-man teams attempt to grab the ropes and hold the horse long enough for a team member to mount. The first team to cross the finish line while still on top of the horse is the winner.

Wild Cow Milking – Teams of inmate cowboys chase the animals around the arena trying to extract a little milk. The first team to bring milk to the judge wins the prize.

Bull Riding – This dangerous and wide open event is what the fans come to see. Inexperienced inmates sit on top of a 2,000 pound Brahma bull. To be eligible for the coveted "All-Around Cowboy" title, a contestant must successfully complete the ride (6 seconds). The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules govern this event.

Convict Poker – It’s the ultimate poker game, and even winning has a price. Four inmate cowboys sit at a table in the middle of the arena playing a friendly game of poker. Suddenly, a wild bull is released with the sole purpose of unseating the poker players. The last man remaining seated is the winner.

Guts & Glory – A chit (poker chip) is tied to the meanest, toughest Brahma bull available. The object here is to get close enough to the bull in order to snatch the chit. This is the last event of the day, and perhaps the most exciting.

I must admit if I was close by (over 450 miles away) I would go once to check it out. Although I can’t imagine participating in one of these events, if I had to pick one, which one would it be? Bust Out and Guts and Glory would be a quick "no!" Wild Cow Milking I wouldn’t do if 10 people were holding down the cow. I guess it would have to be Convict Poker. Seems like a bit of a game of chicken. Although they showed this game on the segment and inmates were airborne for 3-4 seconds and some went as high as 12 feet. AMAZING!

  • Ok time to sign up for one of the events. Which one is it?
     
  • Would you go and see this rodeo?
     
  • Have you been to it or heard anything about it?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Baseball Fans: Where Will They End Up? You Tell Me!

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Today is the first day of the winter baseball meetings in Las Vegas. As usual there should be lots of rumors coming out of the winter meetings with this club trading for that player and this player signing with this team. Some of those rumors have no basis while others have some merit.

One thing is for sure, we know that these eight players will make millions of dollars:

  1. Jason Varitek
  2. Francisco Rodriguez
  3. Mark Teixeira
  4. Derek Lowe
  5. Manny Ramirez
  6. CC Sabathia
  7. Ben Sheets
  8. A.J. Burnett

When the dust settles and the rumors turns to concrete answers . . .

  • Whose payroll are they on?
     
  • Who is paying their check?
     
  • Where will their home be for the next 4-5 years?

Here are my answers:

  1. Jason Varitek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back to the Redsox
  2. Francisco Rodriguez . . . . . . . . . . . NY Mets
  3. Mark Teixeira . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boston Redsox
  4. Derek Lowe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atlanta Braves
  5.

Manny Ramirez . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Back to the LA Dodgers
  6. CC Sabathia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LA Angels
  7. Ben Sheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atlanta Braves
  8. A.J. Burnett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NY Yankees

Your turn!

I look forward to your comments.