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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Remodeling Project DIY Style

Well, all that DIY television has really added up to some progress. Sure, it has had its toll. Now my wife limits the amount of Norm, Tommy and Bob that I get to watch, but the trade off is that I get motivation from my good DIY pioneering friends 24/7.

The first task was the area above our fire place. I said the TV we have is fine, and my wife was arguing to get a 50" flat screen. I kept saying, "No honey, we don't need a bigger TV." while she kept saying, "I want a huge flat screen TV that I can hang on the wall."

Of course she won that argument (and almost every other one we've ever had). And why do I feel that something is wrong when the husband is saying we don't need a bigger TV and the wife is saying, but football starts in a month and I want a huge flat screen to watch it on?

So, the picture below shows, from left to right, the fire place in our living room and how I removed the wall, then framed in an extension so we can hang sheet rock providing an extension big enough to put a 42" LCD TV on it. It wasn't a total killing in the argument department as I got her down to a 42".

On the left where that hutch is, I'm going to build in some cabinetry with a slide out storage case for CD's and DVD's - can't wait!

Once that was done, we had to have a place to put our TV, which I thought was big enough for upstairs, but is now becoming our "downstairs rec-room TV". Since we didn't have a downstairs rec room, this required removing a wall and the two electrical outlets, moving the light switch to another wall and the cable outlet to a different too.

So, this picture shows from left to right 3 images of the wall, the studs after sheet rock is gone and the end result, with the old furniture. I'm sure there will be another argument that I'll lose about getting new furniture too.

While I was at it, I did manage to run speaker wire just in case we decide to later put surround sound in place.

I love DIY projects and the guys coming to hang the sheet rock and texture above the fireplace and the ceiling and wall sections that I removed are coming Wednesday. While I can hang the walls if there isn't a texture, our walls have an egg shell texture and the $300 they are charging us is well worth the migraine it would have given me trying to match the walls.

I'll post more pictures once it's all done.

*** I just got off the phone with my wife who said it's all done - so once she gets it painted pictures will be posted ***

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The Simpsons Movie Was a "Doh"

Despite my mother's upbringing, I have long ago turned to watching the Simpsons and find it one of my favorite shows. (sorry mom, I know you raised me better than that, but at least I said no to drugs) Though I don't get to watch it much, I try to tune in as often as time allows.

So, when I heard that the movie was coming out, I was incredibly excited and loved every moment of the trailer. You could often times hear me singing "Spider pig, Spider pig, does what ever a spider pig does."

Knowing I would have to wait a long time to ever see this movie, I made a deal with my wife that I'd see Hairspray with her if she'd see the Simpsons with me. Secretly, I wanted to see Hairspray anyway, so it was a clever, if not fiendish deal on my part.

Earlier this week, we dropped the kids off for some child care while I went with my wife to collect on my deal. My review is this, I actually liked Hairspray better. Sure there were a few funny parts, but I actually find myself laughing harder at the TV show than I ever did at the movie. Perhaps it was a case of over anticipation brought on by the month long bombardment of promotions everywhere or maybe it just wasn't that great. I honestly can't remember laughing much past the part where Green Day stops to preach about the environment and the floating stage they were on corrodes in the polluted water and they sink like the Titanic. Okay that was funny, but after that there just wasn't that much. Oh yeah, Bart accepting the dare from Homer to ride his skateboard naked was pretty funny too, but I'm digressing. My point is that the last 50 minutes of the movie were pretty drab.

I did stay until the end to watch the credits and hear Maggie's first word, which was "Sequel". Hopefully the sequel will be better than the first try.

Sorry Homer, my friend, but that's just how I feel.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Don't Let Your Product Be Mistaken

Why should you make sure your product or service is distinguishable from your competitor's? I'll give you one reason. You don't want to lose sales because of mistaken identity.

Think about this. Have you ever noticed how some websites use very common names with slightly different spellings in order to capitalize on the more commonly used website to drive traffic to them? Think http://www.whitehouse.gov/ I'm sure most of you have at one time or another in haste typed in the wrong address and ended up at a not so family oriented website.

Another example is the notorious fake Rolex watch. Of course, most people in the market to spend a couple of grand on a watch, don't shop from guys displaying them in a trench coat, but the idea is the same.

I had this problem of mistaken identity happen Friday afternoon when I was at home and my phone vibrated telling me I had an email from work. I popped it open and began reading, then repeated aloud to my wife what I had just read, which went...

students, staff, and faculty:
The UCCS Police Department has just received a report of lewd behavior near the campus. According to the witness, they observed a white male, mid-30’s, heavy set, dark hair, who was...

At this point I mumbled the words so my kids, who were in the room couldn't understand what I was reading and was motioning to my wife to keep reading the rest of the email which read...
mid-30's, heavy set, dark hair, who was naked and masturbating. This unknown male was near the dirt trail that leads from Austin Bluffs Parkway south sidewalk to the Cragmor neighborhood just south of the UCCS parking garage.

We both kind of rolled our eyes at each other thinking what kind of deranged idiot would do that when my youngest son piped up and said, "Daddy that's you they're talking about!"

While I am a white male, mid-30's, heavy set and dark hair, there was one important feature of that other guy that was different than me.

Make sure your customers know what the important, distinguishing characteristic your product or service has that your competition doesn't have.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined Employee Handbook

At one time in my life I thought I wanted to go into human resources. I eventually changed my focus, but I still love learning all the employment laws. I'm kind of a geek like that, but it's a hobby.

Recently I started helping a business with an employee handbook. Acknowledging that plagiarism is the highest form of flattery, I started by doing some research on similar industry employee handbooks. As I was browsing through samples, I came across the Hooters Employee Handbook.

A lot of time is spent discussing the physical appearance of the Hooter's girls. Here are some of my favorite excerpts.
  • Our look is wholesome, yet sexy.
  • Approved name tags are to be worn at all times on the left side of the Hooters Girl uniform. No provocative nicknames are to be used.
  • The Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace

WOW! That's a far cry from the usual "be at your desk, prepared to work at the start of your shift" and "limit personal calls to break time" that most employee handbooks have.

Well, I guess it could be worse, your employee handbook could say something like "The entertainer with the least amount of clothes on has control of the stage" or "You may drink while on your shift, but do not get falling down drunk."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I just got the first three issues of a new magazine sent to me by the publisher to help them promote their publication to my clients who might be potential subscribers.

The magazine, called "Divapreneurs" with the tag line "Committed to Colorado's Business Women" seems to be a good resource for women business owners. The name is catchy and obviously makes the connection of women and business owner. After reading the cover letter and thumbing through a few of the articles, I got the feel for the type of articles they were going to be writing and who they were targeting.

I then closed the issues and laid them down, and noticed something I thought was peculiar on the covers of each of the magazines. You can make your own assessment of who you think their target market is by browsing through the online magazine here. My opinion is that I don't think the magazine cover is on target for who they are marketing toward.

These are the covers of the first three issues of the magazine. Without reading anything inside, my first inclination is it's a business version of Maxim Magazine. It appears that they are promoting long, tan legs in high heels instead of business women in Colorado. As a result I would imagine that more men than women would pick up the magazine based on the picture.

As a male I am required to stay relatively neutral on issues such as women's rights and what's appropriate in the workplace between men and women. For the most part, this gets dictated to me by lawyers and other women across the country. However, in my ignorant male mind, it seems a step backward for women to be self publishing a magazine about women in the business world where women have been long thought of as sexy secretaries and executives who have slept their way to the top and then put images related to that stereotype on the cover. I especially think they've missed their audience because the women featured in the articles of the magazine, while are nice looking, aren't exactly the modelesque figures on the cover.

But, what do I know, I'm just a dumb guy who doesn't understand women anyway. What could I possibly know. Oh wait, this article (written by a woman) uses the definition of a divapreneur as "a talented and confident woman, who undertakes and operates a new venture, and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks"

Again, I didn't know that talented and confident required long tan legs, but I'll sure make note of that the next time I go to hire a talented, confident individual.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Influence of Product Placement

We recently added the upgrade package for Direct TV, which includes the DIY channel. Being a DIY kind of guy, I was bordering on the little kid on Christmas morning kind of excited when we got it. My hero Norm Abram and all the guys from This Old House have become my new best friends. I asked Tommy if he wanted to come over for dinner this weekend, but he went to commercial and must have gotten distracted because he never answered me when he came back.

Needless to say, my happiness level just went up a few points and my motivation level has gone up as well. My lovely wife has even started watching with me. Since getting the DIY channel, I've finished the flower box for my wife's flowers to go in and I hung it nicely under the window on our front porch. We also have plans to remodel our living room and even tear out a wall in our basement.

I told my wife I'd need to have a reciprocating saw to take that wall down, and she didn't argue once. Thank you DIY Network! Because of your influence, I get new tools, my wife gets a new living room and our marriage got better.

My real point is that the DIY Network is a perfect example of how television programming can be more of an influence to buy a product than the actual advertisement is. Sure there are all kinds of advertisements during the shows, but I'm motivated to pay attention to the ads based on what is happening in the show. If I just saw Tom Silva take a wall out with a reciprocating saw, then Milwaukee advertises their saw, I am more motivated to watch the ad and then buy that brand than I am to buy whatever brand of toilet paper they advertise.

It makes me wonder if in the next 10 years with DVR's becoming so prevalent and advertisers losing out on the market to present a commercial, if we will begin to see shows actually become commercial free, but loaded with product placements. Perhaps companies such as Lowe's or Home Depot will actually have a television production studio some day where they go from sponsoring to producing a show.

This article by PQ Media talks about the 37% growth in product placement in 2006 and the new media order that has brought about alternative advertising and marketing strategies.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

A New Twist on Old Marketing

One of the oldest grocery item marketing concepts is the "New and Improved" product. Everything from soap to lipstick to microwave popcorn has been new and improved at one time.
While this article from the Motley Fool explains that New and Improved doesn't always mean that much, as I sat down to eat my morning cereal I found a new twist on an old marketing concept.

My wife, being the great mother she is bought my kids the new Limited Edition Spider Man 3 cereal. This is a new product, isn't it? I mean the movie just came out this summer, so how could you possibly have a new and improved version when the character on the box is new? A great question, I'm glad you asked it.

Well as I poured my first of 2 bowls, I was instantly taken back to being about 10 years old at my grandma's house, where she always spoiled me by buying me that sugar cereal my parents would never let me have. I loved eating Smurf-Berry Crunch. Mmmmm, I loved it. I would eat all of the red ones first and leave the blue ones last. Almost like I was Gargamel, I would chase the little blue ones around my cereal bowl and eat them like Gargamel always wanted to eat Smurfs. (But not Smurfette, she was hot)

So take notice of the two cereals. They look strikingly similar I think. Granted Smurf-Berry Crunch was a Post cereal and Spiderman 3 is General Mills, but there couldn't have been much creativity in copying one cereal to another and slapping a cool new box on it.

Honestly, I don't care if it was a blatant copyright infringement as a result of industrial espionage, I'm just glad to have my Smurf-Berry Crunch back in my cereal bowl.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Entrepreneurial Success

I just came across this article in the Spring issue of the JCI Leader magazine. Evidently it was originally published in Entrepreneur magazine, but I mention JCI only to plug them as a neat organization with some great resources for the young entrepreneur.

The article, 7 Secrets to Success by Brian Tracy is one of those articles that when you read it you are continually saying to yourself, "Yeah I knew that." But, later you are asking yourself "Why don't I practice that?"

Brian's 7 steps are:
  1. Clarity: You must be absolutely clear on who you are and what you want.
  2. Competence: You must resolve to join the top 10 percent in your field.
  3. Constraints: Your ability to identify the most important factor that determines the speed at which you achieve your business goals is essential to your success.
  4. Creativity: The essence of successful business is innovation.
  5. Concentration: Your ability to concentrate single-mindedly on the most important thing and stay at it until it is complete is an essential prerequisite for success.
  6. Courage: It takes tremendous courage to take the entrepreneurial risks to become wealthy.
  7. Continuous Action: The entrepreneur is always trying new things and, if they don't work, trying something else.
Some excellent points to immediately implement in life regardless whether success is in business or personal life, it all applies. Plus they all start with the letter "C". Doesn't that just scream "I should be extra motivated and I have to do this now?"

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Politics are Funny

All politics aside (this is not a political blog) I love a guy who can laugh at himself.
Whatever your political affiliation, I think you'll laugh at least once by watching this.

Thanks Mr. Goodpost for the link.


Friday, July 06, 2007

There is No "I" in Team

Every one who has ever played any sport as a kid growing up has heard the saying that There is no "I" in Team. Which was probably followed by the old "TEAM - Together Everyone Accomplishes More" line.

Well, as corny as those sayings are, they are true. Tonight marked the last game of our soft ball league even though there are 5 more games to play. Despite my great rookie pitching season, it's kind of hard to field a team when only half of your teammates show up. One decided that it would be better to babysit tonight than to show up then we had to recruit 3 others out of the stands. As a result, we only fielded 8, instead of 10. Not that it would have made much difference. We got pounded 12 to 2 and were given mercy in the 5th inning.

So, while some team members would rather baby sit, I'd rather not. So I'm throwing in the towel and forfeiting the rest of the games.

Always looking for the bright side of things, I found this and realized my loser season could have been much worse.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Rocket Science

"Rocket science isn't rocket science to a rocket scientist."

That's what a client told me this morning when I commented that while his business model seemed viable, I wasn't able to give much advice on the technical aspects of what he was doing, which was literally rocket science.

His statement reinforced three things for me.

  1. I don't want to be a rocket scientist - When I was back in high school working on physics, trigonometry and calculus problems, my dad would help me with my homework. At the time I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and design space ships. When I'd miss a problem, my dad would say, "Looks like your space shuttle just crashed." Fortunately for me, and probably dozens of future astronauts, I switched to business. Though I liked the idea of space, flight and all things engineer related, it wasn't my true passion. Finding my true passion is what makes business so fun and easy for me and what makes rocket science so fun and easy for a rocket scientist.

  2. I don't need to be a rocket scientist - What ever the next project is that I get involved in at work or at home, I don't need to be the expert in a new field to be successful at it. I have to be an expert in something, but there is no way for me to be an expert in everything. Instead, I need to go find the expert, the rocket scientist, who can solve my problems in their sleep while I would have to stay up many late nights trying to learn and then implement what is routine for them. I don't need to be a rocket scientist, I need to be a rocket scientist magnet where I am able to find and attract what it is I need.

  3. Leading from your strengths is not a fad - The whole idea of First Break All The Rules or any of the subsequent books and articles that came out about not trying to improve on what you aren't any good at, seemed to reach critical mass a few years ago. I wondered if it would be the latest addition to many piles of once best sellers like the One Minute Manager that have now become pass'e. I realized that this won't be a trend that will later end up on the pile of used to be hot books, but has the staying power of a principle of business. One like the Peter Principle or the Pareto Principle that become quoted and referenced in all of the next generation business fad books. Finding your rocket scientist to complement your weaknesses is a principle of business not a business fad.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Twisted, Demented and Warped

Losing the focus of business in the summer months, I thought I'd share some personal insight. Be careful though, what you see might frighten you.

My personality has been called many things: twisted, demented and warped are a few of the endearments I get from family members. Part of this is deserved because I tend to think half a click off sometimes.

One thing I recently admitted was that I hate being deceived. This is true for most of us, but what makes me twisted is that I get great satisfaction from deceiving others. I don't like maliciously deceiving others, but I love it when I can bluff my hand in pinochle, or lead someone on who is not gullible, and make buy my story long enough for me to drop the punchline and tease them. For example, in my previous life as a pastor, we had a bunch of people over to our house for dinner. The conversation turned to how old we all were when we married. I said we were 19 and 20 years old. I could feel the line go taught as they nibbled the bait as I saw the surprise that we were so young, so I followed that up with the statement by setting the hook and saying, "Well we had to get married so young because she was pregnant."

The look on their faces was priceless as they were all trying to figure out how they could escape this incredibly awkward situation of their pastor admitting this so candidly after they had so openly shown surprise that I was so young when I married. Twisted - maybe, but I still laugh when I think about the look on their face. So now you understand what I mean by deception.

I think I get this joy from the feeling of superior intellect that I get in that one situation. Somehow it makes me feel like I got the upper hand over them and I've established myself as the better trickster. As a result of this, I hate being deceived in the same way. Where certain people can't stand to loose, I can't stand to be deceived. I hate surprise birthday parties and other such things.

This all come to the surface again when I was recently reminded of a time when I was deceived for nine months by a previous employer. I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning analyzing events that occurred years ago and wondering where I missed the signs and how I could have been deceived for so long. To this day it still bugs me.
So there you have it. A look into the mind of a person with a twisted, demented and warped personality.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Springfield, Colora-DOH

July 27th marks the opening of what I'm going to call the greatest epic movie since Gone With the Wind. More action than all six Star Wars movies and better cinematography than Brokeback Mountain.

In a fortunate twist of fate, our very own Springfield, Colorado has been afforded the chance to host the premier of this movie.

Please click here and cast your vote. We already claim South Park, we might as well get the Simpsons too.

Also, make sure you click on our promotional video. You'll see some great reasons why we deserve your vote, as well as a cameo by Napoleon Dynamite.