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December, 2008:

Entrepreneurial Holiday Spirit

It seems the news for the technology and web industry over the past few months has been nothing but gloom and doom, entrepreneurs needing to prepare for the worst, news of layoffs across the industry as org attempt to control costs, etc.  Much of this is tied to the economy and the awareness of the tech space.  It seems as if it hits continual new levels in media coverage since really the release of Sequoia’s now famous RIP Good Times presentation.  The report was covered by many of the usuals if you missed it such as Venture Beat and GigaOm.

So with all that, could there be a better way than to reflect positively on the entrepreneurial spirit than the holiday video release by First Round Capital?  There are so many companies out there continuing their uphill climb, following their passions and trying to change the world in their respective space.  Better than concentrating on what is wrong and how it could get worse, take a few moments to check out this video, it is great to see some real entrepreneurial spirit and realize that it is there every day.  Plus it is just an enjoyable holiday card. :)  Check out the video:

Take our money!

My wife was telling me over dinner about a store experience she had today.  It epitomizes customer frustration and leaves me shaking my head.  She was at a well-known retailer shopping for the holidays and went to them specifically because they have a 30% single purchase coupon.  (I will keep the name of them private since I have a strong suspicion this would have happened at many retailers and I don’t see a reason for one brand to take the hit for what is par for the course.)

Anyway, she arrived at the register to be rung up. At the end of the process, my wife handed the cashier the 30% off coupon.  The response, “I’m sorry but this coupon is not valid until tomorrow.”  My wife apologized and asked if they would accept the coupon anyway to which the response was “we can’t but we will gladly hold the merchandise for you so you can come back to use the coupon tomorrow.”  Nice enough and trying to be accommodating but I must say fundamentally flawed.  At that moment, you have to close the deal and take our money!

Here is a customer (in this economy) willing to spend $300 in merchandise and “coupon logistics and rules” is going to prevent the store from taking our money and making the sale?!?!  To bring you to the end of the story, my wife nicely said “no thanks” and did not purchase the items.  I can safely say she won’t be going back to purchase the items tomorrow.  In fact, she found them cheaper at a competitor so their competition got the revenue to boot!

Look, I know stores have rules and rules are made to be followed.  And being an unbiased third party, I can almost buy into the “customer fairness” argument about all customers being offered the same deal.  But at some point, doesn’t one have to say, “a sale is a sale.”  When consumer spending is down across the board, you aren’t going to sell $300 in merchandise because the coupon isn’t valid for another 12 hours?  In this economy?  No, you have to take our money!  Make the sale, that revenue just walked out the door!

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One of our board members gave me one of those “What have you been living under a rock?” looks when I told him I never read Moneyball by Michael Lewis. After reading it, I now know why.

This book is fantastic. For anyone who likes baseball or interested in sports stories, loves the business of sports and loves a read that makes you question the norm, this book is for you.  In this book, Lewis takes you on a tour of how Billy Beane and his front office team look at player personnel and the capabilities.  It questions the norms of what makes a superior baseball talent and the statistical view behind it.  I’ve never looked at the sport of baseball with such an analytical eye.

My only hope now is that I can watch a baseball game and not think the outcome is a pre-conceived notion.  Fortunately, one game is a small sample size and anything can happen.  I can say one thing for certain.  I am even more entrenched in my belief that while it may be easier to build a top tier baseball franchise with all the money in the world (Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, etc), a superior team can be built at a much lower salary level (Devil Rays, Twins, Athletics, Marlins).  I also wonder if this same analytical lens can be placed against other sports like football.

Check out what people are saying about it over at Shelfari.

UPDATE (11:49 AM):  Wow, frighteningly efficient recommendation from Amazon for the book, From the Blind Side, which is Lewis’ book that takes a much similar view for football.  Guess I know what is going to be on my Amazon wish list for Christmas!

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Now I’m Bothered, And Upset

At some point (I think recently) I updated my MyBlogLog profile which included updating several other services.  Yes, this is basically the same thing you do at FriendFeed.  And this is one of the common themes about social media that bothers me:  updating your profile in a number of locations.  I’ve discussed this in that past.  The thing I find most bothersome about this though is that I forgot I did this, I did not recall that I updated some of my services such as Delicious and Twitter within MyBlogLog profile.  My fault, of course, but bothersome nonetheless.  Most bothersome is that I wouldn’t have remembered at all that my data was being collected over at MyBlogLog except for the fact that one of my Google alerts picked it up.

Now let’s get to why I am upset.  There is no way to remove the services from MyBlogLog (and if there is I can’t seem to find it).  There is only a way to update and add services to your account, and there is a way to stop data collection altogether.   I now find that there is no method to have my data collecting stop for one particular service.  That simply is not realistic in a world where there are so many social media services that one could have updated their profile with.   Okay, end of vent but I find this quite problematic not to mention not user-centric.

Anyone know how to have MyBlogLog stop data collecting a particular service?  If there is and I’m missing it, I’ll be happy to update this post with it.

UPDATE:  There is a way to remove the service.  Here are the instructions:  Public updates are also available to third parties via an RSS feed of your profile as well as the MyBlogLog API. To prevent information from any particular online service(s) from being displayed, simply remove your screen name(s).

SIDE NOTE:  Even though there is a method, see my comment below, I still find the removing the service unintuitive.  You have to remove your screen name and then click in the window again for the change to take effect.  Would rather they used standard profile management practice with a submit button.

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