Archive for Miscellaneous

Post-Katrina New Orleans is recovering slowly

I live about a 2 hour drive west of New Orleans and made my first trip to the area since the hurricanes of last September. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was surprised to see the French Quarter pretty much back to normal. Despite not getting flooded, there was a lot of construction going on in the Quarter. Must be a lot of Federal and Insurance money to go around for rebuilding.

I was very surprised at what was going on once I got out of the business districts. It’s as if no progress has been made in the residential districts. In the areas I visited, I would say 80% of the properties were abandoned and there seemed to be little effort to clean up. I really expected them to be further along by now. Despite total devastation, it’s been 9 months and you’d think the large sheets of roofing material would be removed from the oak trees at busy intersections. I spoke to a lady at Jacque Imo’s restaurant and she said there may be 3,000 people all trying to get the attention of the same adjuster.

New Orleans Home

Here’s a link to a few more photos I took of the area

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Really off topic Youtube video

I’m not normally one to brag about my kids, but I love this video of my 1 year old, Emily. She loves to dance and she loves to spin around and make herself dizzy.

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MIA

Wow, its been a really long time since I’ve updated… My mind has been elsewhere on the job hunt at hand. A lot has happened since my last post. I’ll try to catch up over the next few posts…

Brandon

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The Value of Friendships

I was going through some of my old presentations and ran across a great piece that I had used as an idea starter at a marketing ideation meeting. I apologize to the original author as I didn’t make note of his/her name at the time; however, his/her points are well worth repeating:

Many retailers go to a lot of trouble making their customers feel like “guests.” I’d like to suggest that they would be better off trying to forge friendships.

Treating your customer as a guest isn’t a bad idea, it’s just short sighted. A guest may be pleased and satisfied with a particular visit, but it doesn’t translate into the same affinity and desire to return again and again, that is felt when visiting a good friend.

Friendships are special things. You go out of your way to see friends. You care about their health, what they need, and you enjoy their company. Guests are frequently unwelcome and sometimes they know it. Friends are rarely unwelcome.

It takes two to create a friendship. Retailers have to get to know their customers and listen to their concerns in order to establish the trust necessary for a strong, loyal, long-lived friendship.
At this moment, hundreds of retailers are trying to capture loyalty. Retailers understand the concept of repeat business and want to do what they can to get it. Both online and offline stores, from Amazon.com to WalMart, use a variety of tactics to get to know their customers’ habits.

Statistics indicate that profits can be increased by 25-125 percent just by retaining 5 percent more customers. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that loyalty, guest, and personalized programs are becoming big business. They all share the same basic goal of capturing market share and gaining repeat business. Smart retailers should be looking at these programs as a way to turn their customers into friends.

It takes patience. It takes more than one visit. However, as friendships develop, great things start to happen. The increased loyalty brings referrals (new friendships). It makes marketing efforts more efficient and effective. It can help a retailer gain co-op advertising from vendors designed to meet their friends’ needs. Friends visit more and spend more because they know that this retailer is a friend who cares about they want.

Friendship is the most effective branding a store can ever use. It isn’t loyalty programs that set retailers apart from their competition, it is friendships.

Edit: The author is Melody Vargas.

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Google finally launches Picasa Web for online photos

I do love Riya, but Picasa has been my application of choice to organize my thousands of digital photos on my home computer. I've always wished I could see those photos from the web, either from my office, or to share with remote family.

Google finally "webalized" Picasa. It's about time. They only offer 250 megs of storage free with an option to upgrade to 6 gigs for $25/yr, and the application is still in limited, invitation only, testing. Philipp Lenssen notes that there is no such thing as a private album, just public and "unlisted". Album titles are appended to the URL of a user's "homepage" so others can merely guess at album titles such as "untitledalbum" and discover your hidden albums. Keep that in mind when uploading photos.

Aside from the privacy implications, it is a very welcome addition to the Google portfolio. link to Picasa Web

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Entrepeneurs are an odd bunch

Munjal's most recent blog post about his experience starting Riya is the best post yet. The following quote puts into words something that most entrepreneurs, just haven't taken the time to reflect on, and realize about themselves.

Entrepreneurs are an odd bunch. As an entrepreneur you create a vision of what can be and then work really hard to make that happen. It is your imprint on the world. It is your legacy. Maybe 2000 years ago if you wanted to leave a mark you would be Julius Cesear or Genghis Khan. Today you start a technology or Internet company. I believe almost all entrepreneurs seek immortality through their products. This is one of the reasons we all seek to build products that are used by and benefit the lives of as many people as possible. We want to do good, but we also want to be remembered. Some admit this and some don't, but it is true. The greatest crusades in the world are always for the intangible. There is no other explanation for why founder's of companies work so hard and sacrifice so much. Money can only account for so much of this. You have to believe that you are on this planet to somehow change it.

What a great reflection! I would think that most entrepeneurs are more interested in the success of their ideas than of money. For those of you that I'm speaking to about employment, please disregard that last sentence. 🙂

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Incredibly poor customer service

I was rooting through some old email looking for something and found this entertaining email thread from a friend of mine that tried to purchase a phone card from Worldphonecard.com

First Message from Worldphonecard.com:

Hello xxx,
Your attempts to order were not complete. You have not been billed for your attempts. Check the credit card number and transaction information to make sure they were entered correctly. If this does not resolve the problem, call the credit card issuer to resolve. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you, and thanks for choosing World Phonecard.

Best Regards,

WPC Support Team
http://www.worldphonecard.com

Reply from xxx:

I tried to purchase a card twice and both times my browser locked up.

xxx

Now for the good stuff from Worldphonecard.com

Hello xxx,

Sorry to hear that. We hope you don't think it was our fault?

Best Regards,

WPC Support Team
http://www.worldphonecard.com

Does your customer support team treat your customers like this? It seems to be an attempt to reclaim an abandoned checkout that could be very effective at driving revenue from a customer that you've paid good money to acquire. That's a sure way to run your business into the ground. 🙂

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