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Archive for June, 2008

Yes Gas Prices Are Going Higher And Higher…The Real Question Is, What Are You Doing About It?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I can still close my eyes and remember going with my mom to a gas station to raise money for charity. It was the late 70’s and she and a few friends were pumping gas and having the gas station donate so much money for every gallon pumped. Even though this was many, many years ago, I can still recall the price of gas which was less than $0.75 per gallon. Today the price of gas is over four times that! Probably at this point, words and phrases like ridiculous, crazy, out of control and "when will the prices stop going up?" are entering your mind. I do wish I could answer that question for you, but since I am not a politician, futurist or CEO of an oil company I have no clue!

As I type away and read this posting, the price of gas is getting very close to $4.00 per gallon–certainly a lot of money. I noticed a recent charge on our credit card that seemed out of whack. The charge was $101.35 at a Texaco station. When I stopped and thought about it, if you have an SUV and fill up a 20+ gallon tank and get a few snacks for the kids, guess what? Your charge will be over $100.00!

What are you doing about it?

  • Are you not going out to eat as often?
  • Are you going to different restaurants that are closer to your home?
  • Have you changed your summer vacation plans?
  • Have you changed your dry cleaner because it is 2 miles closer?
  • Are you traveling a few miles to save $0.10 gallon on gas?

I am not doing much about it, but that will probably change real soon.

What about you?

Attention Baseball Fans: Don’t Hold Back. Tell Me What You Really Think Of Roger!

Friday, June 27th, 2008

His nickname is the "Rocket". Actually his first name is William but he goes by the name of Roger. He has very impressive statistics:

  • Won six Cy Young awards with four different teams
  • Has 354 wins
  • His career ERA is 3.12
  • Has 4,672 strikeouts
  • Nine-time All-Star

In addition he has a ton of other awards and milestones that he accomplished. During his career he made close to $150,000,000 yes, I said 150 million dollars.

Roger was actually drafted by the NY Mets but didn’t sign and that allowed my Red Sox to draft and sign him. When he was with the Red Sox I really liked him. In fact I loved to watch him pitch. I still recall the playoffs way back when the Red Sox won a game that would get them into the 1986 World Series and the picture in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald of Roger smoking a cigar sitting on a horse riding around Fenway Park with his close friends Al Nipper and Bruce Hurst.

As I mentioned his on the field stats are great. Incredible. Some of the best.

Off the field–ugh! It is filled with accusations and denials. Daily he is now getting blasted on TV, on the Web and in newspapers.

My opinion of Roger has changed. Here is a guy who has a ton of money (I assume) and could have the BEST legal counsel money could buy. Why didn’t he do that? I wish he would have admitted whatever mistakes he made! People forgive you when you stand up and you are man enough to say I MADE A MISTAKE! Pettitte and Giambi did it and people haven’t given them a hard time at all. Roger for some crazy reason decided he wasn’t going to admit anything. Maybe it is because he truly believes he is above it all. He is bigger than the game and thought he could get away with it.

William Roger Clemens not that I think you care, but you have one LESS fan! No longer will I try and defend you or make excuses for what you did or didn’t do. You did what you did and now need to suffer the consequences.

Everyone is taking a shot at him and has an opinion.

  • The real question is what is yours?
  • Does he get into the Hall of Fame?

I look forward to hearing you thoughts and comments.

Don't Fire The Shot Until You Know Who Is In The Room!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I have probably made every mistake you could imagine with regard to this topic.

Years ago I hit a single in softball and while I was on first base, struck up a conversation with the first baseman and foolishly made a comment about Lauren (hey isn’t she nice looking) in the stands. As it turns out it was his sister…ouch!

As embarrassing was the time when this person in the elevator struck up a conversation with me about where I was going in the building. I told him I was going to see blank and he proceeds to say not great things about this particular company. The issue was that we weren’t alone in the elevator and one of the people in the elevator overheard us. You could guess what happened next — this person who overheard us was in a meeting with me, and even though I was just listening it made for a VERY uncomfortable new business development meeting.

I also know two friends who have recently interviewed people for a job who name dropped a few people whom the interviewee didn’t like or respect and at the drop of a dime changed their opinion and they never would hire the person.

If you know me well, you know I name drop. I pride myself on knowing a lot of people. BUT over the years I have tried to be careful when I toss out names. Yes I still need to make progress on this that’s for sure!

There are times when name dropping can work. But not all the time.

When you name drop be very careful — DON’T FIRE THE SHOT UNTIL YOU KNOW WHO IS IN THE ROOM!

It doesn’t matter if you are at an industry conference, client presentation, high school reunion, elevator or baseball field. It can backfire very quickly.

Remind yourself of this: It is important to be conscious of how you think the person you are speaking to will react BEFORE you mention any names. If you really aren’t sure, proceed with extreme caution.

  • Are you a name dropper?
  • What are your thoughts on the subject?
  • Have you made foolish mistakes like I have?

I look forward to your comments and stories.

Please Help Me! I Am Looking For Great Hot Dogs!

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Last night while I was changing TV stations, I came across a show highlighting the best hot dogs in the United States. I watched the show long enough to hear of a place in Chicago called Superdawg. Not only have I never been there but I have never heard of it. This place was particularly interesting to me because in July, I will be going to Chicago for a friend’s wedding (congratulations S.B.) and Superdawg is located there. I love a good hot dog! And get even more excited for a GREAT hot dog! I really love a good hot dog at the ballpark. It adds to my enjoyment.

During the show when they were highlighting Superdawg, they mentioned that when you get to the counter and try and order a hot dog they will quickly say they don’t serve hot dogs and basically kick you out of the line just like Billygoat Tavern in Chicago and the famous Soup Nazi place in NY that Seinfeld highlighted in one of their shows. (Of course you have to say you want a Superdawg.)

Superdawg is located at 6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago IL 60646.

Have you been there?

I would love to build a list for people to visit while we are traveling the United States.

  • Where is the best hot dog you have ever had?
  • Where are the small little hidden gems that we never hear about that serve great hot dogs?

I look forward to your comments.

Isn’t It Time To Change The Name Of The City From Beantown To TITLE TOWN!!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

By now most fans have watched SportsCenter or the local sports channel and saw the parade in Boston yesterday. But just in case you missed it or have been traveling for a few days, the Boston Celtics pounded the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night by 39 points for their 17th NBA championship. And yesterday, Thursday June 19, 2008 was the victory parade. GO CELTS!

Boston should NO longer be called Beantown but more like TITLE TOWN since the city now has had six (yes I said six) championship parades in the last seven years. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, the Pats won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004, and 2005 and the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

I am sure hundreds of thousands of people watched the parade on TV or in person. The amazing thing about TITLE TOWN is that the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics are all favored to win their respective championships in the next year or so. All of those teams have GREAT young players who should continue to have success in the next few years.

Congratulations to the Celtics, all of their fans and the city of Boston…I mean TITLE TOWN!

  • What do you think of renaming Boston TITLE TOWN?
  • Are you rooting against Boston teams because they have recently won so much?
  • Isn’t Boston the best sports city in the United States?
  • If not what city is?

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

Attention Researchers: To Pay Or Not To Pay…That Is The Question.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I get a lot of calls in my office to do surveys. All of the initial calls come in during the day and I always respond the same way: if you would like me to do a survey, please call me around 7:00am. I tend to get in early and would gladly make some time available to help out this great industry. About a year ago, this interviewer called me to do a survey and of course I gave her my standard answer. Her name was Abby and she was very pleasant. The study involved CEO’s and paid an incentive of $100.00. At the end of the survey, I asked Abbey how long it would take before they would send out the incentive. She responded less than two weeks and gave me a number and some type of code that would help me if there was an issue down the road.

A month goes by and no incentive. Five weeks go by and no incentive. I figured it was time to call the number and use the code that Abby gave me. When I did, much to my surprise, it was a company I knew very well. At first I was a little taken aback that it was a company that I knew and that the incentive was not already sent out.

After a little back and forth with the company (SORRY BUT UNFORTUNATELY I WILL NOT SAY WHO IT WAS) I become more and more frustrated.

The data collection company’s position was that their client didn’t pay them the incentive so they can’t and won’t pay the respondents the incentive. They are not a bank and can’t afford to outlay thousands of dollars for incentives for respondents.

I was confused and upset about a number of things:

First and foremost that respondents are being treated like this. Respondent cooperation is the number one problem in the research industry and situations like this hurt us all. Isn’t it their responsibility to follow through with a commitment that Abby the interviewer made?

  • The real question is where does the responsibility lie?
  • Is it with the execution company?
  • Is it with the client?
  • How does your company handle incentives?

At M/A/R/C, regardless if we have collected the money, we pay the incentive within the timeframe stated.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

P.S. The end result was that after sending them two very stern emails, I finally received the incentive check.

You Are Going To A Conference And Bringing Back A Number Of Things…Gifts Or Junk?

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Last week I was at a promotions conference In Las Vegas. Having never been to the conference I was looking forward to the speakers, networking and of course the gifts that you receive at a conference. This conference didn’t have an exhibit hall so most of the gifts or "chotchke" were in the conference bag that I received when I checked in.

Yes there were mints in there, an eight ball that you roll and will tell your mood, a wallet and a number of other promotion items that had company names on them.

The question is what do you like and what is a total waste of time?

For me, save your money I don’t want a highlighter, calculator or pen. Those items just don’t work for me! I like something a little more creative, something that catches my eye. Something that stands out a little more than others. Maybe a small travel game like connect four or a small picture frame that I could use in my office–something that has a company logo on it but is small enough so it doesn’t stand out.

  • Are you a stress ball person?
  • Do you want a stuffed animal with a bow and logo on it?
  • Do you want some mints or M&M’s? Selfishly, I love candy so this also works for me but does it really promote the company?
  • How about a flash drive? Does that work for you?
  • What are your favorite gifts that you like to bring home to the kids?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Attention All Researchers: We Owe This Person A Big Thank You And A Pat On The Back!

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Over the years I have attended lots of MRA board meetings. The first week of June was no different for me. I went to the annual conference and attended the MRA board meeting prior to the conference.

Watching someone in action at a board meeting is fascinating to me. Whether it is their body language, how they control the room of volunteers, how they keep the meeting on point and frankly how they keep the meeting on time. The goal is to make sure you engage everyone and balance that with not having a few people dominate the conversation. Believe me this can happen when so many people (including myself) are very long-winded.

This can be a challenge for most if not all leaders. Rarely does someone have the grace, intelligence and respect of people to do everything that I describe here. This board meeting was probably the best of the last four that I have attended. The conversation was strategic in nature and attendees all voiced their opinions. Most discussions had a nice debate with everyone respectfully giving their opinion. It was poetry in motion. The board meeting was a Broadway hit in my mind. The star of the show, the leader of the pack, the person who was in charge to control the room was MRA Past President Colleen Moore Mezler.

Before I was on the MRA board, I really didn’t know Colleen. I knew who she was and admired her from afar. Over the past few years I am happy to say that has changed. I have gotten to know her very well. With each conversation I have with her I respect her even more. The conversations are always fresh and full of new ideas and passion. She is a terrific person and leader and the research community is much better off with her involvement and leadership in the industry.

Over the past few years I have seen firsthand what a great leader can accomplish. Colleen made things happen during her year of presidency and should be very proud of what she accomplished in the last 365 days.

Colleen’s passion doesn’t start and end with the MRA. She is a second generation researcher, wife, mother and business executive as well. From where I sit, she is successful in every aspect of her life. Last week I was honored with a national award from the MRA. One of the FIRST emails I got to congratulate me was from Anthony. Oh I forget to mention Anthony’s last name — Mezler. Yes Anthony is Colleen’s son.

Peggy, Richard, Frank and Anthony, I can only imagine how proud you are of your daughter, wife and mother. Believe me when I say you are not alone because myself and THOUSANDS of researchers are as proud of her as you are.

I hope others will share comments or stories about Colleen.

I Am A Little Concerned About Today’s High School Students. Should I Be?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

The topics for most of my blogs come from either the wacky way I look at things, contacts in the industry, readers of the blog or situations that happen to me that I think are a worthwhile topic. Today’s posting is no different.

On most Sunday mornings I will go to CVS and buy a few things including the Sunday newspaper. On this day I was just picking up two newspapers and the total amount owed would be $3.00. As I was checking out I mentioned to the checkout girl (who was dressed very presentably and was probably around 17) that I had a CVS reward card and I wanted to use it. She said the items aren’t on sale so it didn’t matter and we didn’t need to use it…which she is 100% right. Another benefit of the CVS rewards card is a 2% rebate on all purchases done in the quarter. When I said that to the clerk, she looked at me and said it isn’t much money at all–it’s only sixty cents. My only answer to her was a surprised “what?” When I said actually it really is six cents not sixty, not only did she look at me as if I had three 3 heads, she didn’t believe me and confidently said she was right.

I have had a few other things happen that were similar but rather than communicate those stories, the main message is I am concerned – in fact very concerned!

  • What are kids learning today in high school?
  • Are there too many distractions in the classroom like cell phones and text messaging?
  • Are teachers as good as they used to be?
  • Is the emphasis on standardized testing limiting what they learn?

In my opinion I just don’t think the kids of today are getting a great education. I am not sure if it is because computers and calculators make it so easy that they can rely on them for everything or if the kids of today’s generation don’t want to work as hard as their parents or grandparents.

I don’t know what it is but it does bother me and I hope we find some answers soon.

  • Does it bother you?
  • What do you think?

I look forward to hearing your comments and perspective.

Attention Baseball Fans: Rewind Or No Rewind – That Is Today’s Question

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Well it was only a matter of time that Major League Baseball would look to install instant replay. The other three major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL) all have instant replay in some capacity. One of the reasons they haven’t done it sooner is executives in baseball are VERY concerned with the average length of a baseball game. I believe I read that 65 years ago the average baseball game was completed in less than 2 hours (1:58 to be exact). In the past 20 years the average game has been around 2:50 consistently. Clearly the executives believe that by shortening the games it will keep the average fan more interested. That might be true, but if the games are 10 minutes shorter, doesn’t that translate to one less hot dog, one less beer or perhaps no ice cream for the little one? Maybe I am reaching a little bit, but if the games are shorter, revenues have to be affected in some way.

Baseball executives’ desire to not use instant replay because it will make the games even longer is not a sufficient reason to not do it. The benefits far outweigh this side effect. Over the years, technology changes. We all know that technology helps things get better and better. Technology can and does eliminate human error. In the past week the umpires (who overall do a nice job) got four calls wrong on balls that would have been home runs. One of those was hit by AROD (which I have NO issue that the umps got that one wrong…sorry…I digress).

To me it is all about getting the calls right. While I was watching the games at home, within seconds you could tell that all of those calls were wrong and should have been reversed.

I realize there are a tremendous amount of purists out there who don’t want to use technology to enhance the game and I respect that. If you look around the ballpark, technology is being used everywhere to enhance the experience from the most up to date and elaborate scoreboard to tracking the number of pitches the pitcher has thrown or the speed and type of each pitch.

I believe major league baseball should install instant replay ASAP. Ultimately isn’t it really about getting the calls right?

  • If technology can help you do that, how can you say no?
  • What do you think?

I look forward to your thoughts.