Friday, October 30, 2009

Neologism - These are TOO good!

Speaking to Win: The Blog

2009 Winners Of The NY Post Neologism Contest

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.),a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavoured mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6.. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


So today I had a phishing attack on Twitter. Bizarre that people feel the need to try to capture my personal information. Or is it?

Twitter allows for many of us an unbridled sense of extroversion. We simply share often in a stream of consciousness, but much of what we provide on Twitter, including blog links, friends and access to potential consumers is worth a lot of money. Disregard them getting my banking information, my identity has value. My connections and content has value. To pretend to be me or to splash communications out there as if it was me is very frightening for the identity that is my personal brand (and thus my company brand.) Definitely disturbing.

Have you been subject to a phishing attack?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trick or Treat - Article

As children, we look forward to Halloween as an opportunity to dress up in costume, play a role, get candy from neighbors, hang out with our friends and stay up late telling stories of restless spirits. We called out “Trick or Treat?” in the hopes of a full bag of candy. So this year, which have you gotten?
For the Seal Beach business community, there have definitely been elements of both. It has been a remarkably difficult year due to a real pull back in consumer and business spending. Historic businesses have seen contraction in their sales and margins for many have gotten slimmer. On the other hand, some businesses have been doing better: alcoholic beverage sales are up, communication technologies (like the iPhone) are robust and there is a much higher sales pattern in alternative energy and “green” products.
Are we out of the recession yet? It is doubtful. Despite billons in government bailout, there are still a great many homes financially underwater and still more bank failures coming. Unemployment benefits are running out for millions of Americans and yet job growth is sluggish. Our centers of shopping still have many vacancies, like the Mel’s Diner, which recently closed at the Shops at Rossmoor. Some businesses in our town are transitioning ownership or looking to sell, even those which have been around for decades. In addition, California has certainly not gotten its own financial house in order, but our City seems to still be ready for the continued pullback in infrastructure support.
It will get better, but we need to continue to work together do it by shopping and spending locally. Marshall’s is coming into the space vacated by Circuit City and we have seen some recovery on Main Street. The Chamber is producing many events we can all participate in and look forward to: Dress up Halloween & Trick or Treat Main Street Sidewalk Sale (Oct. 30th - 31st & November 1st), Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner (November 26th), our Holiday Tree Lighting at Eisenhower Park (November 27th), and the Annual Christmas Parade (December 4th).
It is also a time to consider the generosity of Halloween. We give away freely to those we don’t even know. We do our best to create safe places for our children to play and explore new costumes, identities and enjoy scary mysteries. Can’t we do that for each other? Let us try hard not to judge others, but to protect individuality for the costumes we live in life. Let each of us not just give the free candy, but give of our time, talent and treasure to our community by volunteering. Several church groups are coming together for Impact Seal Beach on November 14th and there are many service organizations and non-profits which can use your help. We need to support events by not only attending, but asking friends and family to our town and sharing the wonder that is Seal Beach.
One project in particular which will help with sharing our town is the new Seal Beach map. A joint project between the City and the Chamber, the City map is newly revised with street names, businesses and key facts. It will help both visitors and residents alike in being up-to-date and clearly to scale. It even has enlarged call out sections for our busiest areas like Leisure World and the PCH corridor. Look for it before Thanksgiving.
As the writer Steve Almond said, “Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” Hopefully, all of us can have a full, beautiful bag of abundance and plenty when asked the same question. “Trick or Treat?” this time next year!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

When things go wrong. . .

Sometimes things go wrong in your business - like equipment breaking. Recently, at the bike shop, the compressor failed. As you can imagine, in a bike shop, being able to fill tires via compressor is fairly critical.

So when something fails, what do you do? Do you call someone else or can you fix it on your own?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Teaching and blogging?

Today I was working with my client Barbara B. (my bug!) and teaching her about the benefits of blogging. It reminded me how teaching is an important component of any good consultant. All to often a "consultant" comes into a business, makes some observations, analyzes some data, provides a set of recommendations and then leaves. Don't you hate that?

We need to remember to help with execution of what we recommend! Not everyone knows how to write, or analyze or observe effectively. That is NOT their failure (at least not yet.) Take a moment to try the following:

  1. Listen: Really hear what the client is trying to stay. It may take a bit for them to get it out.
  2. Listen some MORE! Then ask if there is more.
  3. Reflect on the issues based on what you know and what you have found in the situation affecting the client's business.
  4. Use the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle when presenting findings.
  5. If you can teach a tool to reinforce the concept - do so.
  6. Follow up and repeat (do I sound like shampoo directions? - rinse, repeat)
I know I am thankful for the feedback I have gotten from others when I have asked about this blog. Their feedback (through LinkedIn Answers) really helped remind me to keep the blog focused. Hope you find it so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weasel Words - thank you Altus Agency!

"We are the market leader, earning our clients' loyalty by providing exemplary service and value. We value honesty, innovation and our employees most of all."

If your mission statement resembles that - shame on you!

Weasel words. We use that term for the buzzwords that people use when they really don't know what to say. It's almost like a magician's slight of hand. If I use these words, you won't recognize that I'm not really saying anything.

Many times, weasel words crop up when a committee is involved or in an environment where no one wants to tell the boss that the corporate culture is not a healthy one. Words like empowerment, paradigm and innovation are clues that you've entered into the weasel word danger zone!

Contrast those weasel words with this simple but meaningful sentence. It comes from the values statement of one of our clients (they wrote these themselves, so we're not patting ourselves on the back.) "Fun provides energy for success." I not only understood every word, but it gives me a sense of who they are and what they'd be like to work with.

I think people use weasel words because they are at a loss. They feel like they need to fill space or deflect our attention. Or that somehow we won't think they're legit if they talk like regular people. They're afraid they won't measure up. They won't be good enough.

The truth of the matter is - we know they're not perfect. And we like them better when they don't pontificate or wax on.

Basically, they have a brand inferiority complex. Keep a sharp eye on your own writing and your company's cornerstone documents. At the first sign of the weasel words - grab that red pen!

Reprinted with permission by Altus Agency & David Jefferys. If you want more info, write me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Supporting particular communities

How do you make your "dollars" heard? Do you make sure that when you spend you shop local? What about your demographic? Do you know the power it holds? I know I try to. One of my clients has a cool partnership with Enterprise Rental Cars. When you log in to on the landing page you will see in part 3 an "Optional: Coupon, Customer, or Corporate Number" if you put in the box below the following code#: NAVIGAY, and then it will ask you for the PIN on the next screen, you will input: NAV - you will get an automatic 10% of whatever the best deal is that Enterprise is offering! So if you are allied to our community, make your dollars work when traveling. Want to know more about the project - it is There are some cool guidebooks have in several markets - Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles and potentially Austin! So I am just passing some savings on to you. What do you do to promote to specific communities or to build customer loyalty? This is a great example and I hope you might share more with me!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cost of Advertising

Does anyone else do media buying or advertising buying? I came to a shocking realization about advertising today - particularly print advertising. You are not really paying for the ad, you are paying for the sales people of the magazine/newspaper or whatever. It is RIDICULOUS what it costs to advertise! You might think that you are paying for a number of impressions to consumers, but what you are really paying for is the cost of running a publication - mostly the costs of staff. Actual production cost of newspapers, magazines and other communications is dropping as there is downward pressure on printers. Why do I say this? Because I am amazed at the lifestyle provided to many of those in advertising - having worked with clients in the field. I also say it as a consultant and marketing / advertising professional. Have we overvalued certain skills in our economy? Have we been attracting some of the brightest minds into jobs which don't create much, but actually work simply to drive our insatiable need to consume? Does your business advertise? If so, how do you make it affordable for you or your clients?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Power, individuals and business

There is a direct relationship among power, money, choice and individual action. Money allows a greater range of choices. At the same time, power whether apparent or actual, is often beholden to the money which puts the individual wielding it in position. In business, we are often caught in the middle. Those in power are very concerned about losing it, yet business does not necessarily have the votes needed to make or prevent change. So what does business use? Money. Unfortunately, small business, which represents the largest area of job creation in the US often does not have available cash to throw at the issues or individuals in power. Thus, we become stuck between a rock (the government), a hard place (big business) and a pending earthquake (the volatile, entitled electorate which votes for privileges and entitlements before it will reduce its own standards of living).
Ironically, we compensate individuals which generate nothing of concrete value (professional athletes, government officials, actors, models, corporate executives, etc. . .) but simply produce discussion or entertainment, far more highly than those who create lasting advances in education, health, science, technology, the arts or culture. There are of course exceptions to this rule but by in large it is the norm.
What is more troubling is that unlike the time of the founding fathers, we do not attract the brightest minds to government. We attract and retain stable, workers who do not innovate but simply maintain the status quo. Isn't that because 200 years ago, none of the founders were actually paid to be part of the legislature? When did becoming a legislator become a full time job? Do we really need that? Perhaps I am frustrated because most of the work I do for the Chamber with government officials and staff is done for free! I believe in citizens being responsible for their own government. So next time you wonder why you have fewer choices, perhaps you ought to look more closely at your own finances, engagement in civic duty and power you have accumulated.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weather & Business

How does the weather affect your business? Here in Southern California, it is rare to get cloudy days and even more rare to have regular rain. The last couple of days have had both. It is cool and refreshing, but it really decreases walking traffic. Many of my clients have indicated a slow down as high as 50% per day due to rain. This is fairly substantial in most operations that make money from many customers over time with smaller transaction volume (most retail & restaurants). Taking into consideration the impacts of seasonality and weather is certainly something you need to adjust to. Non-customer contact tasks are ideal for weather where customer flow is less. Need to have a meeting about marketing? Want to work on finances? Need to cut an employee just for the day? Could be a great time. Do you chart your daily sales? Can you see a trend with weather patterns which you could capitalize on? Take note and make the changes to bring you lower overhead and better opportunity to work on tasks that need your attention.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Disney & Anthony's Birthday

Where is your happy place? For Anthony, it is Disneyland. For me, it is with him. So, for his birthday we went to Disneyland. Simple right? Well for this blog, I thought I would talk about value - the perceived value of a Southern California Select Annual Pass specifically. When we bought ours, it was $129 per pass, plus an additional $40 for a pass with free parking. Combined, we spent on May 7th, 2009 about $324 for these passes. This year, the Year of Celebration, Disney lets you get a gift card equal to the current price of admission, so today, it was $72. Anthony found an awesome Billabong jacket for about that much and got it for his birthday. Let's subtract that gift card from the spent balance as "cash back" for us. So now, we have really only think we have spent $252.

Knowing Anthony and our mutual love of amusement parks and roller coasters, I know we would have bought at least one day each in the two parks - so let's subtract the value of a single day of parking and two costs of entry ($10 and $72x2 respectively). That brings our balance to $252-$154 = $98. Considering we will visit at least another 5 times in the next few months, our total cost per visit is about $9.80 each, about the same cost as a movie! Pretty decent perceived value for both he and I and a great bonus for Disney. In addition, this high perceived value allows us as consumers to justify spending nearly $80 at Ariel's Grotto for Anthony's Princess lunch (including the Fairy Godmother - so appropriate no?) We do love the princesses. . .

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Yesterday Anthony and I went flying in a Beechcraft Duchess. It was amazing. What impressed me about the flight were three key things:

1. Flying is definitely work for the pilot. There is a constant activity of pedals, yoke, elevators and rudder control. In addition, there is a need to not only scan the sky, but all of the instrument panel as well.

2. General aviation flying is incredibly convenient, fast and courteous. There is a team of people on the ground helping your aircraft, the aviation location will fuel the aircraft for you and it has amazing amenities. Think first class lounge in an international European airport (like LHR). None of the pesky security lines, check-in personnel or other burdensome issues.

3. Things in the air happen VERY fast. When aircraft are flying over 140 knots and free fall (terminal velocity) of an aircraft is over 300 mph, the speeds of things happening are frightening. There is vast open space which seems slow, but other aircraft just whiz along. Along this line, you are dealing with three vectors (a three dimensional space - x,y & z axis) when most of us are only accustomed to two when driving. That third dimension adds an exponential layer of complexity.

What does this have to do with business? Quite a bit - remember to consider more variables, realize that things in business happen FAST (much faster than they appear) and that it is HARD work. Finally, like that first class experience, there is nothing more satisfying than being in business for yourself.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Los Gatos & Chosen Family

So this is my Charming, Gracious and Lovely. She was my stepmother from the time I was five until I was around 16. She and I have continued to be close by choice since she and my dad divorced. Doesn't she look great for closing in on 60?
Anthony and I just flew up to Los Gatos (via San Jose) to visit her, as she lives in Miami. She was in Los Gatos for her 40th high school reunion. We spent time with her and her sister Francesca. Such a great visit! Not only does she look amazing, but she still has such a vibrant spirit, love of a good time and a warm way with people. She and her long term companion Nick travel all over the world. This blog post is dedicated to her and the impact she had on my life. She taught me some incredibly valuable lessons - the power of reading, the simple joy of life, the enduring friendships and how to be in someones life without controlling their life. Her parents also had an impact on my childhood. "Mi abuelita" (Mary Alice) spoke five languages and was the most amazing family cook (other than my mom) who has ever influenced my life. I can still taste and smell her homemade Sicilian pizza that she made for the family. She loved food and loved cards.
Barbara also taught me the value of making your own choices. She also was driven by a relentless sense of integrity. She was the last parent I told I was gay (1993) and I burst out laughing, when, after I told her, her reply was: "Thank God, you finally came out to yourself! I knew you were gay from the day in first grade when you insisted on having your hot dogs in your lunch cut into perfect rounds with a single dollop of squirter cheese and ketchup on each one that any child who had to have Hors d'Ĺ“uvre for lunch had to be gay." To this day, I am blessed to have her in my life.
From a business perspective, she has been the torch bearer for the idea of independence. She believes in it deeply and she helped carve the idea to remain independent of others support as much as possible - not that we don't all need help, but we should be accountable for our lives and our choices. Thanks bunny!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unexpected Connections

Are you open to receiving unexpected connections?I know over the last several months, I have connected with people who have had a panalopy of interests, diverse viewpoints and insights that were both exhilarating and stimulating. In business, some of the greatest innovation has come not from within the field, but adjacent or even outside of it. When you are working in one business, look to see how other industries or disciplines can help. What about non-profit strategies when in a for-profit world?

Each of these people has been stimulating not only in work, but often in my personal life. So thanks Michael, Joe, Chris, Caleb, Marv and Ruth. Each of you has added value not only to my business, but to my world!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Touring City Facilities

Today I had the opportunity to tour a set of City facilities: lifeguard tower, police station & jail, new under construction fire station and the key water treatment/storage reservoir. Fascinating. All too often in our businesses we don't know how services are delivered and simply take them for granted, like turning on the tap. This is particularly true in Southern California where water is becoming more and more a premium. Another interesting fact is that this tour was unusual because Cities no longer want people to know how infrastructure is routed and organized. Since 9/11 we have become increasingly concerned about the possibilities of terrorism and disruptive action. As businesses and individuals we should be prepared for some level of "Black Swan" type event. Can't we all have a few cases of bottled water on hand? Shouldn't we all have an emergency kit ready for action? I know it seems odd, but it only takes minutes for the world to change and a tiny bit of preparedness may go a long way when the unexpected happens. How is your business ready for the unexpected? Also, for the record - no, this is not the water treatment facility here in Seal Beach.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Need work?

I am amazed at how people think that the world owes them something. The world is wonderful, challenging, unfair and filled with both beauty and ugliness. It does not take sides or favor one point of view rather than another. What it does provide is an opportunity for each of us to make a difference and as my father says: "to not be a burden on the universe." So if you are out of work, have an idea or want to create some opportunity, feel free to reach out to me. If you want to have the weight of a business behind you and a corporate entity, a credible track record and a line of happy clients to call on, give me a call. I am happy to consider any client or potential business alliance. There is plenty of work, money, time and abundance for all of us!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trends & Sales

How do you analyze trends and sales? Currently, I am reading an amazing book, The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives ( by Leonard Mlodinow. It truly examines the nature of randomness, the history of how game theory and event analysis developed and how this chaotic element impacts all of our lives.
As some of you may know, I work at times in a bike shop. I am continually surprised by how Sundays can be extraordinarily busy or very, very slow. There seem to be few factors which connect to it - weather, events in the Main Street area where the shop is located, seasonality, overall economic conditions and gifting holidays. What surprises me is the incredible variation which occurs in this store when those factors are relatively similar or within a narrow range.

Is there more to it than these factors? Are there elements which appear random but in actually are not? If so, how do you identify that? A great example is "customer service." How can we truly measure excellent customer service? I know you can run focus groups, information surveys and other such analytic tools, but in the face of the power of the random, it seems a bit paltry. There is something undefinable about the impacts, and yet we all seem to understand implicitly that there is a clear, direct correllation between superior customer service and financial performance. We talk about building community, creating consumer evangelists, developing relationships and a whole host of phrases, but what do they really mean for trends and ultimately sales and profitablity? How can we harness the inevitable chaos to help rather than hinder our businesses and ultimately our lives? Thoughts on it?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Value of Silence

In case you might have guessed, this week, there was a theme to my posts. It was (drum roll please) - Communication. Whether or not it was in meetings, in person, via newsletters or other formats, communication is key not only to business, but our success in life.

“We cannot ‘not’ communicate. We do it by our presence and by our absence, by our silences as well as our words, by our choices, gestures and attitudes. We may not always do it well, but we always do it.” - anonymous (or was it Paul Watzlawick's?) It is also estimated that in-person communication: 7% of understanding comes from the words themselves, 38% by tonality and the remaining 55% in body language and non-verbals. I wonder how that would breakdown in the worlds of Twitter, texting and blogging? It seems that we have an amazing versimmilitude in much of our written word, but do we deceive ourselves? Is our writing more transparent than we think? I am not sure, but I know I make an effort to be clear and honest in all that I write. It makes it easier to recall!

Along these lines, is the issue of silence. Silence is a powerful tool to communicate reflection, displeasure or simply a recognition of an issue too complex, meaningful or emotional for a quick response. Silence also is an effective way to show you are listening to the other person. I felt that I should be silent for a day on Twitter and in some other areas of my life and business to allow others to contribute or even note my absence. How do you use silence in your life or business?

Friday, October 2, 2009


Do you use a newsletter to communicate with clients? I have been setting it up for several clients and one of the things that I have discovered is how effective it can be. You might want to try for a great reasource - including a 60 day free trial of email marketing solutions (including templates). Try it out, and if you are a member of a Chamber of Commerce, they give you a discount if the Chamber uses it (and it is free for Chambers!)
So go ahead and give that kind of marketing a try. And now a warning - be consistent! Actually commit to producing a newsletter for at least 6 months. Like many things, it requires both frequency and repetition to be effective. Good luck!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


When are business meetings worthwhile? When they have a purpose and yield a result or actionable steps. Any other set of reasons can be chalked up to intellectual vanity.

I am continually amazed at how many people really like to hear themselves talk. Do you really think you are that interesting? Do you think others are that interesting?

This post obviously goes with my last one, which was all about keys to making group dynamics work. I just wish more people would be aware of them. We can do great things and come up with wonderful solutions, but be quiet occasionally. Really.