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Archive for November, 2008

Is This The Worst Thing About Sports?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I was reading a story in the sports section the other day and came across a great quote from Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. During the interview he said, "I think the worst thing that athletes can do is play too long." I thought about it for a little while and said to myself that is a big statement from a big guy!

Let’s break this down into a few different buckets. Take 30 seconds and try and think of all the reasons that an athlete would play too long. Here is my list:

  • Money
  • Passion for the game
  • Have nothing else to do
  • Love the fame
  • Chasing a record
  • Love their coach (ok maybe I am reaching)

I think Dirk is right and I started to think of older players in sports. Am I excited about spending a ton of money and seeing Randy Johnson (44), Jamie Moyer (45), Kenny Rogers (43) and Tim Wakefield (41) pitch? Randy Johnson is the only one on the list that will make the hall of fame, and even though I love Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox, I am truly not that excited to see him or the other guys pitch.

In basketball, there are only a handful or two of guys who are over 37. That list includes: Dikembe Mutombo of the Rockers (41), Clifford Robinson (41), Gary Payton (39), Darrell Armstrong (39), Dale Davis (38), and Sam Cassell (38). Frankly I don’t think any of those guys excite me but that might not be the question. The real question is who has played too long? Who should have retired when they didn’t? Who should have hung up their cleats before they did?

Here are a few names to consider:

  • Gary Sheffield – because of injuries, Gary is a fraction of himself and should ride off into the sunset
  • Morten Andersen – he kicked until he was 47. That seems like a very long time to me.
  • Chris Chelios – Great player, love his energy but he is approaching 47 and he just got injured. Not sure Chris or anyone can compete against guys 20+ years younger in the fierce NHL these days.
  • Warren Moon – played QB until he was 44. Great player but he had little left to give to the fans and his football team.

I can only imagine that the hardest decision for a pro athlete to make is when to walk away. I would never pretend to know what they are going through, but as a fan we have the right to ask the question since we are paying lots of cash to sit in stadiums.

So I ask you today: which athletes have played too long?

I look forward to reading your comments.

What Is The Best Excuse You Have Heard?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

All of us have heard them; perhaps some of us have used them. The question is, what is the best excuse you have heard or given for calling in sick? For taking a personal day! For not coming in when you should have.

I recently got an email (thanks MC) forwarded to me, highlighting CareerBuilder.com’s annual survey among employers and employees on absenteeism. This year, when the survey asked employers to identify the strangest reasons employees have given to explain an absence, they cited a few of these classics:

  • Employee’s wife burned all his clothes, and he had nothing to wear to work.
  • Employee didn’t want to lose the parking space in front of his house.
  • Employee hit a turkey while riding a bike.
  • Employee said he had a heart attack early that morning, but that he was "all better now."
  • Employee’s dog was stressed out after a family reunion.
  • Employee was kicked by a deer.
  • Employee swallowed too much mouthwash.

Yes some these are classics. Actually all of these are classics. My favorite is the employee was kicked by a deer. I just can’t even imagine that and if it did happen, wouldn’t the person be in the hospital for days if not weeks?

  • Which one is your favorite?
  • What is the best reason you have ever been given to explain an absence?

I look forward to reading your comment.

The Most Important Trophy I Have

Friday, November 21st, 2008

During the course of a weekend, there are a number of things that always happen:

  1. Try and cook up some crazy Sunday breakfast. 99% of the time it isn’t very tasty
  2. Watch some college and pro football and hope I am winning my fantasy football game
  3. Break up a fight between my two sons who are arguing about whose turn it is to play a video game
  4. Try and clean out an area in the house and toss away some stuff

Well last weekend was no different. I was going through a few cabinets in my office and all of a sudden I came across a bunch of trophies. Of course these trophies are very old (no I haven’t gotten any recently) and actually had the years on them (which brought back some great memories–especially the one from 1970 Peanut Champs.)

All of a sudden I came across a trophy that said "Most Improved Player." I can remember exactly when that was from: way back in 1978 and the trophy was for "Most Improved Ping Pong Player." In high school we had a club team that would play ping pong a few times a week and the coach gave me the trophy based on the improvement I made during the year.

I actually sat down in my office chair and gave it some thought. I think I have tried to base my entire life and career on "most improved." For those of you who haven’t met me, I am average height and weight. I never was the smartest kid in class and in a lot of ways I would consider myself average, so based on that I always tried to improve each and every day. Things never came easy to me, so I had to work at them…in fact really work at getting better. Frequently during conference presentations I will say, "try and get better at something every day."

For me this is the most important trophy I have and will ever get. It still represents everything I believe in and live for.

  • Have you ever won a trophy or ribbon?
  • What is the most important one you have?
  • Is there a life lesson in the trophy you won?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Attention Researchers: They Are Popping Up Everywhere, But Where Do You Think Their Place Is In Research?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Everybody has heard of them. Everyone has joined them and more likely visited one in the past few hours.

You are probably trying to figure out what I am referring to which is social networking sites. Some of the bigger sites are Classmates.com, MySpace, LinkedIn and Facebook. I am sure everyone has heard of them and probably registered with each of those sites. I believe each of those sites have over 100 million registered users.

There are ones that you may never have heard of like:

  • Geni.com
  • imeem
  • Last.fm
  • Orkut
  • Plaxo
  • PerfSpot

Until I did some research while writing this posting, I had not heard of those six social networking sites. Have you? I am assuming the answer is no for most of you. The interesting thing is, that each of those sites have over 10 million registered users. Yes I said 10 million registered users!

We all know the world is changing and changing very quickly. Clearly these sites have a role in research.

  • What is it?
  • How are you using social networking sites for research projects?
  • What success are you having?
  • Are there any white papers that you can share?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Attention Sports Fans: They Seem To Be Everywhere, But The Question Is…What Can We Do About It?

Monday, November 17th, 2008

For those of you who read the daily sports page or watch ESPN, one thing is for sure–no it’s not a Boston team winning another title although that was a good guess. It is an athlete in some sport getting into trouble. And some of them are getting into lots of trouble.

Raise your hand if you are tired of it. MY HAND IS RAISED real high. We all know by giving young stars lots of money and fame, bad things will happen to some of them. For me the "some of them" is way too many.

  • How do we minimize the trouble that athletes get into?
  • How can we educate them better so athletes know the people they should hang out with and the places they should go?
  • Where does the responsibility lie? Their parents? Their agent? Their coach? Their spouse? Their friends? Is it all of the above?

Clearly I am not famous, don’t have a multimillion dollar a year contract, don’t have an agent or an entourage. Since I don’t run in those circles, I don’t know what is exactly being done…but whatever it is, it isn’t working.

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone in sports got suspended. If I did, I probably could have retired by now.

What is the answer?

  • Do we have mandatory classes that athletes need to attend weekly?
  • As part of a contract, the team that signs the player has a right to insert a chip into the athlete so the team knows where the player is at all times?

I know I am very tired of it. Yes athletes are paid a lot of money. But from my standpoint they not only have an obligation to their team on the field or court, they have more of an obligation to the team, themselves and their community off the field or court.

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Are you as tired of this as I am?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Are You Walking The Halls?

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Lots of people like to walk. In fact if I had to guess most Americans enjoy walking and have incorporated it in their everyday routine. An example is, my Dad walks over two miles every day.

A few weeks ago I was co-presenting our strategy with RW to Omnicom and we were asked an interesting question (thanks TH). We were asked are we walking the halls? Some of you might quickly make the leap and think "does he mean walking the halls" because the economy is bad?…Sort of walking the halls to think…As I thought about the question a little longer, TH was really asking if we were walking the halls of our clients’ offices. After thinking about it for a few more seconds I think we do an ok job, but need to make improvement in that area for sure.

Many of us need to be more visible with our clients and to walk the hallways. When you walk the hallways a number of things can happen:

  • Since things are changing very quickly at companies these days, it gives you the opportunity to know what the current hot buttons are within the company
  • It gives you the opportunity to react immediately to any requests a client may have
  • It gives you a chance to meet any new contacts at the company
  • It shows that you care about the business and want to help
  • Doing this will probably separate your company from the competition

I believe our clients needs us more than ever. Companies have burning questions and I believe our company and other research companies provide critical answers to running their business. The answers that we provide set the course for a company’s strategy. Without research in the mix, aren’t they taking a chance on making the right decision on what course they should take?

So I ask you

  • Have you tried this strategy?
  • Is it working?
  • Have you cut your new business development travel budget?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ok, You Can Admit It. You Are One Of Them…

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

A few months prior to starting a blog I really didn’t know what they were, where they were headed and frankly didn’t clearly see the value. After writing a blog for the past 2+ years, I am not 100% sure I clearly see the future, but I can confidently tell you they are a very powerful communication tool and one that is gaining tremendous steam each and every day. This blog has taught me so much in a short amount of time. The insight that all of us gain from reading opinions and comments from different people is so valuable.

Did you know…

  • Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
  • More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
  • Over 57 million Americans read blogs.
  • 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
  • 9% of internet users say they have created blogs
  • Technorati is currently tracking over 70 million blogs
  • Over 120 thousand blogs are created every day
  • There are over 1.4 million new blog posts every day
  • 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs
  • Blog readers average 23 hours online each week

Amazing statistics for sure.

Blogs are such an important communication tool in today’s society that over the past year I have been asked to post about:

  • Promoting one of the biggest awards in the research industry.
  • Someone who unfortunately was terminally ill to try to help and notify people in the research community
  • Promoting and supporting both political campaigns for the upcoming election

Truly I am shocked where this has gone over the past few year

  • Are you surprised at how important blogs are in social media?
  • Are you surprised at how much blogs have grown?
  • What do you think the future brings for Blogs?
  • How are you using blogs for the purpose of research?

I look forward to your comments.

Do Sponsorship Contracts Go Both Ways Between Athletes And Companies?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

A few months ago when Tiger Woods got hurt I remember hearing a story on TV that some of his sponsors might consider dropping him. I actually thought that was odd and gave it some thought. I realize that companies and athletes have contracts and moral clause language in there that allows the companies to dump the stars and void the contract. Yes stars can be and have been dropped for a DUI, getting in a bar fight, dealing or using drugs and many other things.

My real question today is does it go both ways? Do you think there is language in the contract allowing the star to opt out if the company doesn’t do things the right way?

  • What happens if the company files bankruptcy?
  • What happens if the CEO embezzles money?
  • What happens if the company comes out with a new product and unfortunately a few people get really sick?

Since I am not a star and don’t run in those circles I really have no idea what goes into those contracts.

Do you have any insight on this?

My gut is that years ago contracts were probably one-sided and only protected the company but today I am not sure.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Everyone Loves It, But Does Everyone Know About It? Time To Take A Minute And Take A Candy Quiz…(** Contest Closed **)

Friday, November 7th, 2008

The contest is now closed. You can still take the survey to see how you fare, but there will be no prize. Click here to see the winners and view the correct answers.

If you are like me and not only have little kids but a sweet tooth, you probably are rampaging through the kids’ Halloween candy and taking a few for yourself. Ok I will admit it I did this more than a handful of times. I was recently reading an article that mentioned that 35 percent of parents buy and give out their favorite candies on Halloween. About 16 percent choose their kids’ favorites. Sounds like all of us are hoping that we have a bunch of candy bars leftover so we can help ourselves.

The question is how well do you know candy?

Time to take this quick quiz and find out. Yes there will be a prize for the winner. Any ideas what it will be? You guessed it: A surprise package filled with candy!

In the case of a tie this quiz will be timed with the person who gets the most answers correct in the shortest amount of time will be the winner of the candy quiz. This also is our way of hoping participants don’t research the questions on the web.

Click here to take the Candy Quiz.

I hope you enjoyed the candy quiz. Scores will be posted daily. The contest will be closed at noon (CST) on November 20th, 2008. The winner will be announced at 3:00PM (CST) on November 20th.

Attention Business Travelers: Tell Me It Isn’t So…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

As you know, I fly a lot. I must admit I used to really like it but now that isn’t the case. I view it as it comes with the territory–just part of the job.

A few months ago we had a family vacation and rented a house on the west coast of Florida. My sister and brother-in-law were supposed to fly in and arrive twenty minutes after we did. Well, five hours later they were still nowhere to be found. When they showed up, they told us the story about their delays in Houston that resulted in a fun day of travel…Not! Of course I said, "You went from Boston to Houston to Pensacola Florida? You have to be kidding!" They further explained that it was one of the only ways to get here and frankly the price was right. Under my breath I said I will never do that.

The reality is, I was wrong. LB and AB were right. Traveling with stops is probably the way of the future for most of us. Since I have always lived in a hub city for airlines, that has never been a problem. But with fewer flights these days (most airlines have 8-12% fewer flights than over the summer), and airlines struggling to show a profit, they will be forced to charge more for flights–and frankly in some situations, a lot more.

Because of this, for the first time in years I am looking at flights that have one stop if it is significant savings and in some ways it can be. As a business traveler, if I need to do this it will mean more time out of the office and a much greater potential for delays…especially since you are taking twice as many flights.

  • Are you looking at one-stop flights?
  • Have you noticed price increases on your flights?
  • Are you flying less than you did a year ago?

I look forward to reading your comments.