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Archive for July, 2009

Good Reference, No Reference, Bad Reference. What Do You Do?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I am sure that most people who are reading the blog have taken a call from someone who is looking for a reference. They would like a little insight on how talented the person was, would you rehire them, why did they leave, what were their strengths and weaknesses and plenty of other questions.

The question is how do you handle it? Clearly that question is somewhat easy to answer if the employee was terrific, a hard worker, made a difference and you were sorry to see them go.

The questions is what if:

  • You only worked with them for six months?
  • You didn’t have a great experience with them?
  • They always called in sick?
  • They missed tons of deadlines?
  • You worked with them fifteen years ago.
  • They were difficult to manage?

What do you say then?

Does it also depend on how well you know the person asking the questions?

I must admit I do struggle with this sometimes and frankly would rather NOT answer the questions rather than giving out a bad reference. On the other hand I tend not to hide my feelings about a co-worker and will mention things that need to be improved while I am working with them.

How do you handle these situations?

With more and more people in transition, this is leading to more and more of these types of calls.

I am really interested in your comments.

Okay, NY Yankee Fans, Enjoy It While It Lasts!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Red Sox vs YankeesAs I write this post, the New York Yankees are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Boston Redsox. The question is, how do I feel about that? Well of course I would rather be ahead, but I am NOT that concerned. The Yankees have been very hot and the Sox have gone into a hitting funk. Okay I said it. A funk. Recently the Yankees have had lots go right–like winning close ball games while the Redsox have struggled. Yes, both teams have had major injuries and both teams have had stars not contribute much, but I still feel great about the Redsox.

In fact they are STILL the best team in the American League and at the end of the season you will see that I am right.

The Redsox have the best pitching in the American League. They have given up 412 runs which is tops (Seattle is number two.) The Yankees are about to start on a difficult 20 game stretch and my prediction is that at the end of that stretch they will have seen first place for the LAST time this year!

By the way, the 20 game stretch I am referring to starts July 27, and 19 of the next 26 games are on the road–where the Yankees are slightly above 500. Yes the Redsox make the playoffs and maybe the Yankees do as well. But it will be as a wild card and they will need to come to Fenway Park for a chance to play baseball for the first time in November!

Just so I am clear — in fact crystal clear. AJ, Jennie, Jeffrey, Jon, Mark and many other Yankee fans, this Redsox fan isn’t worried one bit!

Now your turn.

  • What is your prediction?
  • How are you feeling about the season?
  • Is it the Yankees or Redsox in the World Series?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Okay. Time To Help Out ESPN And The Networks And Build A List Of Athletes Who Have The Potential To Be Future Sportscasters.

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Some pro athletes make great managers and coaches. They were leaders in their respected sport and now lead teams. People like Joe Torre, Dave Cowens, Pat Riley and Kevin McHale have all done that. Some athletes have great intuition, insight, solid TV presence are very attractive and are fantastic communicators.

Those are the people I want to talk about today. Let’s identify professional athletes that will follow in the footsteps of Bill Walton, Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas, Chris Weber, Steve Lyons, Jerry Remy, Dennis Eckersley and Joe Morgan.

Here are four of my choices:

  1. Shaquille O’Neal – big personality, million dollar smile, loved by many, enormous following on twitter won’t hurt – ok maybe they won’t have a chair big enough for him but everything else works
  2. Rodney Harrison – great player, very respected in the game, looks good on camera and seems to be very smart and a great communicator
  3. Curt Schilling – very opinionated, smart guy, always has something to say. Was a guy you wanted on the mound when the game really mattered, would need to tone it down a lot.
  4. Greg Maddux – no brainer in my book. Already looks like a sportscaster. One of the all-time greats who is smart and very soft spoken.

Ok your turn.

  • What do you think of my 4 choices?
  • Who do you have on your list?
  • Who is the best athlete turned sportscaster in your mind?

I look forward to hearing from you.

It’s Pouring Out So Now What Do You Do? What Indoor Games Are You Playing?

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Let's Play ChessLast week I was on the East Coast and I heard the same thing over and over. It has rained for the entire month of June and I am sick of it. It gave me a little time to pause and think about what people do when it rains, snows or is freezing outside for long periods of time:

  • Are they going bowling?
  • Are they seeing a movie?
  • Are they going out to dinner more?
  • Are they playing laser tag?
  • Are they going to an arcade?
  • Are they playing board games with their kids?
  • Are they playing cards?
  • Are they inviting over their friends and having a party?

So the question is what are you doing?

  • Are you catching up on projects at the house?
  • Fixing things you should have months ago?
  • Reading more?
  • Paying bills on time?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Favorite City: Chicago Or New York. Let The Debate Begin!

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

New YorkI have been working for over 25 years in the market research industry. During that time my travels have taken me to both cities for industry conferences, training sessions, board meetings, new business development calls, hiring trips and client meetings.

Both cities have a lot to offer:

  • Great hotels
  • Cutting edge restaurants
  • Museums
  • Sports teams
  • Great nightlife
  • Located on the water
  • International airports
  • Premier skylines

And plenty more.

ChicagoFor me one of these cities stands out more than the other. I really like staying at the Chicago Marriott on Michigan Avenue. It is located a few blocks from the water and is in the heart of the Magnificent Mile and one of my favorite hotels. I also like the architecture a little bit better in Chicago and love how Chicago has integrated the water into the city where NY really hasn’t made the most out of the waterfront area (of course my opinion). Both cities have all the major sports represented but I do like Wrigley Field the best out of any of the stadiums with Madison Square Garden a close second.

For me my decision is easy. I like Chicago better than New York.

Now your turn:

  • The question is which city do you like better?
  • What city would you rather travel to?
  • What city would you rather go to conduct business?
  • What hotel do you usually stay at?
  • Which city are you more comfortable in?
  • Whicy city would you rather live in?
  • Have you lived in either city?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Who Are Sports Untouchables?

Monday, July 20th, 2009

If you decided to read on you probably are very curious about where I am headed with this posting based on the title. To me the sports "untouchables" are the athletes that no matter what they do, get a pass from the fans and media. In some ways their private lives aren’t discussed, it’s off limits respected by fans and the media and that’s just the way it is. They aren’t hounded by the media if they do something wrong and their reasoning is accepted and everyone moves on. Let me give you a few examples:

  • Derek Jeter – in my opinion the king of NY. If he is at a night club in the wee hours of the morning I would be surprised if it is reported. If he is seen out at a fancy restaurant with a date, it isn’t reported and if it is it isn’t a headline.
  • David "Big Papi" Ortiz. Big smile, big burly guy who always seems to make time for the fans and media. Was pretty much in a season-long slump. It took him a very long time to hit his first homer of the year. The amazing thing is I recall listening to Steve Phillips on ESPN saying this is what David needs to do: he needs to stay back, go the other way etc. I never heard one person or read one article say he was done, his career was over, he was washed up.
  • Dirk Nowitzki. Great basketball player – one of the best in the league. Recently during the playoff series vs. the Denver Nuggets his girlfriend (maybe fiancĂ©e) at the time was arrested at his house. When the media asked him questions, he said "no comment, I am not emotionally ready to discuss this yet." The media said fine and accepted that.

All three examples I gave I believe are athletes that are considered untouchable. Unlike Terrell Owens, AROD, Plaxico Burress and many others.

The questions I have for you:

  • Are some athletes untouchable?
  • Why is that?
  • What do you think of my choices?
  • Who else makes the list?

I look forward to reading your comments.

How Has The Economy Changed You?

Friday, July 17th, 2009

To me every day is a learning experience. You can learn something from every situation. And even though the economy is very challenging, I totally believe that there are tremendous learning opportunities and life lessons there as well.

So here is the question: What has the challenging economy taught you?

For me the first lesson it has taught me is this difficult time has had a ton of highs and lows and for me I am trying to be much more even grounded and not get too excited when something goes well and don’t get too down when something goes in the other direction.

Now your turn.

What has the challenging economy taught you?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Starbucks Customers: What Do You Think About This Ad Campaign?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Over the past week I had noticed a number of new ads for Starbucks. I have seen full page ads in the New York Times and USA Today. I have a feeling they were in many, many more newspapers and magazines but those are the ones I saw. The campaign seems to be focused on quality, value and values at Starbucks.

  • The question is, "Does it work?"
  • If you are a Starbucks customer, how do you feel?
  • Does this make you feel closer to the brand?
  • Does it represent what Starbucks is all about?
  • If you are a fan of Dunkin Donuts, Peets Coffee, Seattle’s Best, or McDonalds, does this make you change?
  • How do you feel about the campaign?
  • In your opinion who has the best coffee?

I look forward to your comments and seeing what you think about this campaign.




Attention Sports Fans: Who Makes Your “All Time List Of Athletes That Hate The Media?”

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I actually believe the media has a tough job. They need to try and be the first one to get the big story. They want to be the first one to get a juicy quote and be the first person to toss out that perfect question. The reality is they can do all that but then they need to deal with an athlete. Not just any athlete–a professional athlete that is getting paid a ton of money and in this day and age could be very emotional. Sometimes interviews go very smoothly and other times I am sure the media feels from time to time that they need to enter at their own risk when dealing with professional athletes.

Last month I had this exact discussion with a friend of mine (thanks ES) about who makes his all time list of athletes that hate the media. It was an interesting debate. I won’t answer for him but here are a few of my choices.

  • Steve Carlton – never had any use for the media. Clearly one of the best lefties of all time, wanted to pitch and not deal with answering questions
  • Jim Rice – was one of the greatest ballplayers I ever saw. During the 1970’s he was the guy every night. Except the guy never wanted to do interviews and basically hated everything to do with the media. Clearly that cost him going into the Hall of Fame years ago. I am glad he finally got in.
  • Barry Bonds. I heard he isn’t a big fan of the media and I heard a rumor that he even wore different color arm bands that described his mood.

Am I right on these choices?

  • Who makes your list?
  • Who hurt their chances to get into the hall of Fame because they didn’t play nice?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Does Free Really Work?

Friday, July 10th, 2009

free stuffAt the end of a Dallas Mavericks victory, ushers are handing out Taco Bueno coupons for a free taco. Last week Oscar Mayer company took out a full page ad in USA Today and gave people an opportunity to go online and get a coupon for a package of Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef Franks–a give-away worth over $1,000,000. A few months ago Denny’s gave away a free Grand Slam breakfast to everyone who was in their store.

The real question is, "Does free work?"

Obviously companies are using this promotion as a springboard to get new customers. The thought behind most of the promotions is that if you try my product you will love it and come back. In most situations the acquisition cost for a new customer could be high and promotion give-aways appear to be an inexpensive and effective way to promote their products.

Again does it work?

For me, sort of. With the three examples I gave, I do keep the Taco Bueno Coupons and actually give them to someone who uses them all the time. The Oscar Mayer Franks promotion I would have signed up for, but because of my travel schedule, I missed the deadline. But I wouldn’t have changed the brand I like. The Denny’s Grand Slam free breakfast was a hit with me. First of all, the PR value on this promotion alone was off the charts. The lines were out the door and I am sure whatever the cost was the return was ten-fold. Way to go Denny’s.

I am sure all of us get coupons in the mail for free products. A recent example for me is I get Tom Thumb (local grocery store) coupons and every few weeks get a number of free products. They are a brand I have never heard of but I will go to the store and look for the brand which is typically called "Select" brand. Even though I won’t buy that product moving forward this promotion is very successful. The reason is these products are tough to find which means I am spending more time walking around looking for stuff and because I am an impulse shopper I probably buy $20 worth of extra stuff while I am looking for a free $1.50 can of pasta sauce.

  • Does free work for you?
  • Does it change your behavior?
  • Does it depend on the products?
  • What promotion does work for you?

I look forward to reading your comments.