Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

Guest Blog Post About How Marketers Failed to Effectively Incorporate Mobile Into Their Super Bowl Ads – On ThornTech.com

Check out my guest blog post on ThornTech.com about how marketers failed to effectively integrate mobile into their Super Bowl ads.

If you spent $4 million for a 30-second spot, wouldn’t you want to continue the conversation with viewers after the ad ends and milk that spent money for all it’s worth? Find out who effectively incorporated mobile and social into their ads, and who ultimately failed.

I hope you find this interesting!

New Consulting Partnership – National Bid Network

NBN LogoGreat news! I’ve just finalized a consulting engagement with National Bid Network (NBN), a company that sells an extremely valuable database of government contract information and provides services to help consulting firms and manufacturers do business with the government.

I’ll be helping NBN with all aspects of marketing with a primary focus on lead generation. Together we’ll work on a website redesign, setting up and executing inbound marketing practices (SEO, content creation, social media, etc.), email marketing, CRM, and any other advertising and marketing projects that we need to drive sales.

I met NBN’s CEO, Kim Harwell, at a Salesforce.com conference in 2012. He sat right next to me during the keynote speech and was wowed by what CRM and online marketing can do for a company. He filled me in on NBN and what he was building and asked to stay in touch to see if we can work together in the future. We’ve been discussing a partnership for a while, and now that it’s been finalized, it’s time to get to work!

I’m looking forward to learning about a new industry and applying my marketing knowledge to help Kim grow his business. And if you are or know a consulting firm or manufacturer looking to do more business with the government, please reach out to me!

The Importance of Empathy

In The Business of Happiness, Ted Leonsis wrote about how empathy for others had such a positive impact on his life and led to many meaningful relationships and activities that helped him achieve more happiness and success. I couldn’t agree more, and I find myself recognizing many situations where empathy has been and will be important.

Empathy at Work

Empathy is really important at work, no matter what your job is. Unless you’re trapped in a chemistry lab by yourself (I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad), you’ll always interact with teammates and colleagues to some extent and will need to understand how they feel, how they do their jobs, and what they need to be successful, even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do. Empathy is especially important for jobs that interface with customers, such as sales, service, and marketing.

When I worked for the Capitals, I was kind of the go-to revenue marketer, primarily because I led our database and email marketing efforts. Email was the most effective channel to drive revenue, and boy, did we send a lot of emails. This is a fine line that every email marketer walks – because email is so effective in driving revenue, when sales are slow, the Sales department always wants to send more email. But the marketer empathetic to the needs and wants of his or her customers understands that they dread when their inboxes are clogged with sales emails. So there were many instances when I refused to send more email, even when ticket sales levels for certain games were subpar; consequently, the Sales department and I had some rifts.

Looking back, I could have been more empathetic to the Sales department and approached the situation differently. If I had put myself in their shoes, I would have understood that they had a ticket sales goal to reach for those particular games and they would look bad if they didn’t hit that number. Many times I did suggest alternate channels to reach customers, such as social media and text messaging, but not before we got into arguing matches. A higher level of empathy on my part could have made these situations go much more smoothly.

You can also read my past blog post about the role that empathy played in my Startup Weekend NEXT experience.

Empathy in Personal Relationships

Having a high level of empathy for your friends, family, and significant other allows your relationships to be that much stronger.

I must admit that throughout the time that my fiancee and I have been together, I haven’t always been empathetic of her, and a few times that almost cost us our relationship. There were instances right after Vicky moved to Washington, DC, where I was a really selfish jerk and didn’t understand how some of the things that I did or didn’t do made her feel. I’ll spare you the gory details but I do think that I’ve become much better at understanding her situation and how she sees things. Obviously this has worked, because she still keeps me around!

Trust me, the saying “A happy wife (or fiancee or girlfriend) is a happy life” is totally true!

Empathy for Those Less Fortunate

I think many times when people see others who are less fortunate, sympathy (recognizing people’s hardships and providing comfort) is confused with empathy. In my mind, when empathy is the key driver of giving, that charity is much more impactful.

I don’t do enough charity work right now, but when I lived in Atlanta a while ago, I was really active with Hands On Atlanta and helped clean up local playgrounds and schools. The desire to help came from my upbringing as a child. By no means were we struggling, but when I was growing up in Queens and Brooklyn as a kid, my family didn’t have that much money (though they did achieve a higher level of income later in my childhood). Thus I attended public schools in New York, frequently hung out at dirty playgrounds, and played sports in the streets. Because I went through the same things as those children in Atlanta, I dedicated a lot of my time and energy to providing better playgrounds and schoolyards for them. I believe my empathy for their situation made me work harder, devote more time, and show more passion for that cause.

As you can see, empathy is really important in all aspects of life. I believe it has helped my life and career, and if it helped one of the most successful businessmen of our time become happier and more successful, think about what increasing your level of empathy can do for you.

Guest Blog Post on ThornTech.com – The Ongoing Battle of Native Apps vs. HTML5 Web Apps

I just posted an article on ThornTech.com about the ongoing battle between native and HTML5 apps and the questions you should ask to make the right decision for your business.

Developing a mobile app is hard and as a business, you need to make the right strategic decisions out of the gate. This article goes over the questions you should ask yourself before building your mobile app.

I hope you find this article interesting!

 

New Consulting Engagement – Block Six Analytics

Block Six Analytics Logo

It’s always been a dream of mine to work for an intern that I hired in the past…and now that dream has come true! I’m happy to announce that I’ll be helping out Block Six Analytics (B6A), a startup founded by fellow NYU Stern alum and ex-Marketing Intern of the Washington Capitals Adam Grossman, as a Sales Consultant. You can read the B6A blog post announcing our partnership here.

I hired Adam as a Marketing Intern in the summer of 2009 (how the tables have turned). One of the projects he worked on was valuation of the Capitals’ sponsorship assets, and B6A was founded shortly after that on the same premise. B6A’s software helps sports organizations clearly communicate the value of sponsorships by using a valuation model that demonstrates how targeted impressions generate new revenue for their partners. I’ll leverage my network to help Adam market and sell this software, among other software and services, to sports teams.

I’m looking forward to working with Adam again and helping him build his company!

2012 was great, but 2013 is gonna be better

2012 was a really great, eventful year. I got engaged and legally married (thanks for the insurance, Vicky!) :) ; saw my friends get married in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; quit my dream job in sports; started and folded a startup; and garnered consulting engagements with innovative companies.

I fully expect 2013 to be bigger and better.

In 2013, I’m getting ceremonially married in Mexico and will have wedding events in NYC and Taiwan, too. I have a few close friends and a sister who will tie the knot this year (not with each other). My entrepreneurial career is going to grow. I’m sure I’m leaving other great things out but that’s all I can think of right now.

And I have some resolutions that I’ll work really hard to keep this year:

  1. I’ll achieve more focus in my entrepreneurial endeavors. After I stopped working on Dokkit in September, I lacked a lot of focus because I didn’t have that one flagship project to work on. I was working on three consulting projects and vetting a multitude of startup ideas. Having so many things on my plate spread me really thin and made me lack a sense of direction. Though some of the consulting gigs will still be there, I really want to focus more of my time on one really interesting, high-potential project with a great team.
  2. At some point this year, I’m going to not have an alcoholic beverage for 14 days. It’s kinda sad that I’ve never gone two weeks without an alcoholic beverage. Actually, I don’t think I’ve gone more than 5 days without one.  It’s not that I’m getting blasted all the time; I just like to have a beer here and a drink there. This should be interesting.
  3. I’m going to run at least two Tough Mudders, Spartan Races, or other similar races. I had a great time at the Tough Mudder I did this past year; my buddies and I pushed each other and worked together to finish an awesome challenge. I’d love to do more of these races this year.

What are some of the things you’ll achieve in 2013? I’d love to hear them. And Happy New Year to all!

Lessons Learned from Startup Weekend NEXT

This past Saturday, I completed Startup Weekend NEXT, which is an in-person class that teaches Steve Blank’s process of Customer Development. Twenty-three other entrepreneurs and I met with our teacher, Eric Koester of Zaarly, and other organizers, advisors, and mentors every Wednesday and Saturday over the last three weeks to learn how to “get out of the building” and talk to potential customers before starting to build a product.

This was an amazing but grueling experience which is awesomely summed up by Eric in this blog post. Over the last three weeks, my partner Wight and I spoke to over 60 potential customers and learned a lot about the process and ourselves. In addition to the lessons learned that Eric wrote about, I’ll add a couple more:

  1. You need a lot of empathy during this process. First, I had to understand how my partner worked and what his thought process was. Then I needed to put myself in my interviewees’ shoes to understand how they would comprehend the questions that I asked, to ensure I’ll get valuable feedback without leading them. Finally, I had to empathize with my fellow students to understand their points of view to provide feedback about their projects. I can think of a couple of times when I wasn’t quite empathetic enough during the process and therefore didn’t perform optimally.
  2. Passion is an absolute must in the startup game.  Because starting and building a company is such a grind, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Part of the reason I took this class was to test the passion that I had for the idea I was working on. I found that I didn’t share the high level of passion that my partner had, so we decided to part ways. If you don’t have a passion for the startup you’re working on, there’s little chance for success.
  3. Change is good. People learned a lot about how they should change their potential businesses, but I think the most impressive part of this class was seeing people actually change themselves. There were people who were initially timid and afraid of talking to customers who blossomed into outgoing, customer-development junkies. There were also people, like me, confident in their people skills who became really humbled by how difficult this process can be. Everyone had something to learn and it was amazing to see such an immense amount of change over only three weeks.
  4. Eric Koester has really cool socks! If you know Eric, you know what I mean. And I’m gonna get me some cool socks, too.

This class was an amazing journey and I’ll definitely use what I’ve learned in my future endeavors. I’d like to thank Eric, Mack, Denis, Barbara, all of the mentors and advisors, and most notably all of my fellow students for a great experience.

Now let’s get out of the building and do something great.