Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

Guest Blog Post on ThornTech.com: Mobile Social Commerce – What’s Going to Happen Next?

Check out part 2 of 2 of my blog series on ThornTech.com: Mobile Social Commerce – What’s Going to Happen Next?  iStock_000017856499XSmall

I make some predictions about what may happen with MoSoCo in the future, how technologies will evolve, and how retailers and brands will implement them.

You can find part 1 here: The Rise of Mobile Social Commerce.

I hope you like it!

NYU Entrepreneurs Festival – A Great Conference That Caused Some Mixed Emotions

ImageThis past weekend I attended the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival in New York City. And contrary to what you may think I meant by the title of this post, I had no mixed emotions at all about the event; it was an absolutely amazing and well-planned conference. I titled this post as such because attending the festival made me feel many mixed emotions about my current status as an entrepreneur.

Some of the emotions I felt include:

Pride

I had no idea how many awesome entrepreneurs attended NYU, and I felt a great sense of pride to have attended the same university. Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame, Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines, Founder and CEO of the Ladders Alex Douzet, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne Haot, and Dan Porter of OMGPOP / Zynga were amazing keynote speakers and all NYU alumni. In addition, I met and learned from so many other NYU alumni who are working on some great startups.

I also felt a strong sense of pride about the entrepreneurial community that is being built at NYU by Frank Rimalovski and his team. The collaboration between staff, faculty and students was amazing and is sure to continue to grow the NYU entrepreneurship community in the future.

Motivation

As an entrepreneur, you’re doing something wrong if you speak with a founder about his or her company and don’t get motivated to start or continue to build your own. The passion that founders have for their companies is contagious, and trading ideas and opinions with them only got me more psyched up to figure out what my next startup adventure will be.

Anxiety

Yes, I was completely motivated by speaking to other entrepreneurs, but it also caused a level of anxiety for me, since I’m not currently working on a startup that I can call my own. I quit my full-time job eight months ago to work on Dokkit and basically have gotten nowhere in the startup world. I’ve really lacked a startup identity, which has been eating away at me for a while now, so hearing that other founders have launched products, raised money, and garnered revenue made me feel really anxious and doubt myself and my decisions.

Excitement

But overall, I felt a real sense of excitement by attending the conference. I’m excited to get to work on my next startup (whatever that will be), excited to grow the new relationships that resulted from the festival, and excited to be a continuing part of the NYU entrepreneurship community (as much as I can from here in DC).

The NYU Entrepreneurs Festival was an amazing event and I’m so happy I attended. Props go to everyone involved in organizing the conference, and I’m really proud to be a part of the amazing things happening at my alma mater.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

You would have been 65 years old today. If you were still with us, we probably would have had our family and friends over to our house in Old Bridge, NJ, to have a BBQ, like we’ve done so many times. After eating, you would have had a few glasses of Remy Martin XO and played Mahjong into the wee hours of the night. You and Mom were great hosts, so everyone would have had an awesome time.

I’ve already blogged about how you’ve impacted my life and career, but I don’t think you knew how much you influenced and affected our family and friends. You knew how to be successful and enjoy life and always wanted to spread your knowledge about how to do both.

I wear your Rolex every now and then, so I have you on my wrist on some days, if not on my mind everyday.

I speak on behalf of everyone we know when I say Happy Birthday and we miss and love you dearly.

Everything is getting smaller and shorter – how small is too small, and how short is too short?

shrinkageseinfeld_300“I just got back from swimming in the pool, and the water was cold…significant shrinkage!”
– George Costanza, “Seinfeld”

Everything is getting smaller and shorter by the minute. True to Moore’s Law, we now have powerful computers in the palm of our hands. Our primary forms of communication are now 160 and 140 characters long. Our “videos” are now 6 seconds long.

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post over three years ago about the bandwidth-sync correlation in communications. It’s clear that the bandwidth of modern forms of communication are now minuscule, which has resulted in an increased frequency of said communications, which has caused stress and angst for us to simply keep up.

There are definite benefits to the shrinking world, but how small is too small and how short is too short, especially when it comes to communications? Facebook has made us less personal. Tweets are written, read, maybe retweeted, then basically forgotten. Text messages come and go. Vine videos are viewed and lost. On the other hand, blog posts, articles, and novels live on, and movies and TV shows are watched over and over again.

As a technologist, I love how everything is getting smaller and more powerful. As a marketer, it’s becoming harder to tell a story. As a human being, it’s difficult to stay on top of everything flying at me, and sometimes I wish life were simpler.

How has the shrinking world impacted you, both positively and negatively? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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.