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I just attended a fantastic, standing room only SXSW panel titled "Why Social Ads Work. Ignore Facebook Naysayers" with Kurt Abrahamson, the CEO of ShareThis, and Brandon Rhoten, the Director of Digital Marketing for the Wendy's restaurant chain. Both Kurt and Brandon spoke very openly about digital advertising, and social ads in particular.
Wendy's is a $9 billion company with over 7,000 locations in US & Canada (although only 150 locations in CA). Its biggest competitors are other QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants) like McDonalds and Burger King, but Wendy's is more interested in what newer chains like Chipotle are doing than these more traditional competitors, since Wendy's biggest business challenge is to have 20 and 30 somethings choose Wendy's over chains like Chipotle (Wendy's does very well with the older demographic, though, since it's a 60+ year old brand). The entire QSR industry is a $519 billion industry.
Here's the video of the event (sorry for the poor video quality; I was barely able to squeeze into the room)
I used to push production code -- back in '99 when I worked at GE, my buddy Jason taught me how to code, and I was fascinated by it. I spent much of the early 2000's building dynamically driven websites with mySQL back-ends for several startups, including an e-commerce website along with its back-end administration and inventory management system (screenshot below). We had to host the e-commercie site at a colo facility. That was way before AWS, or Stripe, or any of the technologies today that make something like that much easier today.
While it's been years since I've pushed any production code, that experience has left me with a deep appreciation for what engineers do. Most business people don't have that, and it hurts them in ways they don't even realize. As Paul Graham wrote in his essay "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule," it's easy for managers to completely torpedo the productivity of the "makers" -- those who are actually building the business and really creating value.
It's for this reason that I really encourage managers to learn to code. It's even in our Socialize manifesto, point #1: "Every new hire has a 'Hello World' in at least one language."
The first thing that a manager will find is that coding is a lot harder than they imagined it would be. Most managers have an attitude like "Yeah I could code if I really wanted to, but I can add much more value by being a manager." That attitude is actually a smokescreen for an insecurity: If it's so easy for you to learn how to code, then let me see you do it. Because it's not easy. It's hard. And it's even harder to do it well.
Tesla stock is down almost 10% today, after its 2012 earnings report became public. Tesla missed its projections and investors hammered the stock in response. So what did I just do? I just bought a lot of TSLA. Why did I do it? Because I'm betting on Elon.
There's a SeekingAlpha analyst report that's very bearish on Tesla stock. The author writes:
Here's the problem with the author's perspective: He doesn't understand Elon's master plan, nor does he appreciate Elon's "relentlessly resourceful" ability to execute on that plan.
Last year I did a keyboard shootout on the fullsize iPad Keyboard. The winner was a ZAGG keyboard (rebadged by Logitech). That keyboard has been fantastic -- I can type on it just as quickly as I can on my laptop, allowing me to bring my iPad + keyboard to meetings and be super productive. (Click here for a related post on hyper productivity on the laptop).
As the iPad get smaller, I realized it was time for me to do a new review, this time with smaller keyboards made for the iPad Mini.
These keyboards are only 7" inches across, not 9" like the fullsize iPad keyboard, and I was curious to see what losing 23% of the keyboard space would do for my productivity. Since I haven't yet purchased an iPad Mini (waiting for Retina display!), I used the fullsize iPad to run the tests, which was fine since I was just focused on the speed and usability of the keyboards.
I tested four different keyboards:
I moved my blog over from Wordpress to SETT a bit over 6 months ago, and I've been absolutely loving it.
@Tynan, the creator of SETT, has given me ten invite codes for SETT, good for either a FREE personal plan, or 40% off a paid plan, for life.
If you want to scoop up one of these invite codes, here's how to do it:
Pick any blog I've written (other than this one) and make a comment on the thread. In your comment, include the hashtag #GiveMeSETT . I'll send the invite code to the 10 best comments I receive. And by best, I mean thoughtful responses to the topics at hand.
Here are a few of my favorite blog posts that you can comment on:
CEOs are busy. It's easy to be distracted with competing priorities coming from all directions. But there's one darkhorse mega-trend that I believe will catch many CEOs by surprise, and even cause some of them be fired by their boards for missing it: The Mobile Crush.
Two years ago, I did an in-depth screencast describing why I believed mobile would be way bigger than most people realize. And now the crush is starting in earnest.
There's a great quote by Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga in an article today by the New York Times:
Three years ago, I wrote a blog post on being hyper-efficient on a computer -- or to put it another way, being so good on a computer that you play it like a virtuoso on a musical instrument. So much has changed in my daily workflow that I realized it was time for me to update that post.
The first order of business is that you can't improve what you can't measure. So if you're serious about being able to use a computer with the speed and zeal of Dash outrunning a flying saucer, first you need to find out how fast (or slow) you are today. Go over and take my GeekSpeed challenge. See if you can break the 1 minute mark.
If you can't, then here are some of the things to focus on to make the 8+ hours per day you spend in front of your computer much, much more productive:
great service from OlarkSocialize
The service integrates seamlessly into my workflow: When I'm online on my laptop (well technically, when I'm online with Gtalk), then Olark shows the "Chat with the CEO" tab pictures above. When I'm not online, Olark automatically shows a "Leave the CEO a Message" dialog. When someone pings me through the website, it shows up as an IM from a Gtalk user named "Olark visitor".
I originally didn't know if I'd get too much spam or intrusive, non value-add pings by putting this on our company website. But I felt that it was worth the risk since a really high-touch user experience is key to the way that we do SDK marketing. And it's turned out to be a really great way for me to stay close to our userbase of mobile developers.
Just today I had a chat with a prospective SDK user that was pretty incredulous that s/he was actually chatting with the CEO. Below is a summary of the chat (every chat is emailed to me for archival after it concludes):
On Tuesday Feb 12th, the US Patent Office is holding a roundtable in Silicon Valley to discuss issues surrounding the patenting of software, and I have an opportunity to get a seat at the table.
I'll attend if I get some opinions from other entrepreneurs on the topic.
The recruiter business is broken -- at least in San Francisco. I get multiple calls each day from recruiters and they're all pitching the same "exceptional candidate" that's perfect for our company's needs. I always politely tell them to take me off their lists, but yesterday I had a recruiter refuse to do so. Then he sent me the email below, extorting me by saying he would take me off his list only if I'd look at his candidate. Below is how I responded to him. I cc'd a manager at his company, and Lowell Isom & Erica Jarmen at the National Association of Executive Recruiters.
If you're a recruiter and you're reading this, you need to re-think your approach. It's not working. And because of bad apples like the guy below, I won't use any recruiter.
If you're an entrepreneur looking to hire top talent, what I do recommend is AngelList's Job board. It's very, very good. And you cut the recruiters out completely, which is a nice bonus.
Here's the extortion letter I received, with my response at the top: