Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Virtual Bait and Switch

I've recently reentered the treacherous world of online dating. The exchanges are often so entertaining, I feel I must share them. I hope this doesn't make me look too cynical and that you'll share in my dismayed amusement.

So, here's an abbreviated exchange:

From the Potential Suitor:

"I think we have quite a few things in common. Let me know if you'd like to meet for a drink one evening."


Well, a little brief and generic, but he has a nice profile and photo...

My Response:

"Definitely! I really enjoyed your profile."


Have deleted the commentary that showed that I had read his profile and found his rather quirky hobby intriguing.

From the Potential Suitor:

"Thanks for replying... How about meeting this Friday or Saturday at 8 PM? I am in the Chelsea area, but you could propose a meeting place that works for you."


I've deleted the witty repartee to protect the innocent. That said, some would recommend against giving up a Friday or Saturday night at prime time for a first date, but I'm so exhausted and busy during the week, I thought this was a good idea.

My Response:

"Friday at 8 is great. I like Chelsea a lot.'


My interpretation of Chelsea was West 14th Street -- albeit a little south of the heart of Chelsea -- as my world now revolves around the Apple Store and the milkshakes in Chelsea Market -- tune in to see what he meant.

From the Potential Suitor:

"How about meeting at

31st & 7th
370 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(212) 967-2041

Hope you have a great day!"


Huh????? Do they serve drinks at Starbuck's? Is 31st & 7th really considered Chelsea????? Is that really a part of town you want to go to at 8pm on a Friday night????

My Response:

"Hi. If you're interested in meeting at Starbuck's then perhaps we could choose one on the upper west side where I live. I don't drink coffee, but I know that there are a bunch of them within blocks of my apartment. I can look into which one is nicest. There are also some nice wine bars and lounges in the area. See you soon."


Can't wait to see how our story unfolds.

Friday, July 18, 2008


My iPod Touch and Apple Air are changing my life. They have opened me up to the daunting world of iTunes -- well, daunting from the pc perspective, which requires software downloads and music library duplication and all sorts of impositions. But now I have an 8 gig ipod iTouch that has replaced my 1 gigabyte Sandisk MP3 player (that used up several batteries a day), and a whole new world has opened up to me. In addition, fortuitously, my client location shifted from Herald Square to Chelsea Market, and my commute went from 15 minutes to 25 minutes. I say fortuitously because I have become a podcast junky.

When I purchased my BlackBerry last August, I thought that I would be reading daily newsletters from and eMarketer on the subway and would be reading the digital version of the New York Times. But, alas, the version of paidcontent that came through to me was predominantly text links to content I could not access underground. It's ironic how I yearned for the days of text e-mails before html became the standard.

In addition, I wasn't always in a position to read my BlackBerry on the subway as I was often pinned against the door with my arms at my sides holding on to my bags for dear life -- the life of my possessions that is. So the increased productivity that came with my smart phone was only partially realized.

The Blackberry 8830 with Verizon coverage had been definitively recommended to me by Shelly Palmer (of and daily MediaBytes). Although Shelly felt compelled to remain at the cutting edge by purchasing an iPhone himself, he did not wish it upon me. And, having been paralyzed by the smart phone options before me for years (I referred to them as PDAs), I was happy to get definitive advice.

Well, my 8830 was life changing. It made me mobile. It made me free. While there is a conception that "CrackBerries" take you captive by making you always reachable and always working, I have found it quite liberating. Instead of feeling compelled to check my e-mail as I enter my home, I can go directly to watching mind numbing television - or eating that chocolate chip walnut cookie from Levain Bakery - without having to boot up my molasses-like Toshiba Satellite Pro. (Now that takes you captive!) Moreover, while I had recently missed out on an engagement because I did not see the e-mail in time (a few hours gave someone else the edge), the Blackberry paid for itself within a week through a fabulous project that would never have closed had it not been for my 24-7 on-the-road reachability.

But, as always, I digress.

The point of this blog is the joy of podcasting. In just the past few days I have signed up for pods from: Knowledge at Wharton (maybe I can retroactively take a class with that most popular professor Jeremy Siegel, whose class I placed out of), NPR (I'll never miss "On the Media" again), Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis (gosh, I hope that cable network pricing study sells!), and the New York Times (Weekend Business section, here I come!). Now if I could only figure out how to (a) sync my ball and chain PC, ipod and MacBook Air and (b) delete the podcasts I've listened to from my ipod.

It's a shame Apple doesn't offer podcasts of its user manuals!

iTouch My Blog, and It's OK

Can I compose a blog entry on an iPod?

I am sitting in the waiting area of Maxwax, a fabulously focused salon directly across the street from my apartment and above the lusciously dangerous Levain Bakery; and I am playing with my new Apple iTouch.

Now, I realize as I write this that that "playing with my iTouch" sounds a bit racy (particularly when I mention that I like to do so in bed), but it's really quite innocent, and perfectly fine to do in public. In fact communicating via iTouch or simply occupying myself with it in a public area is more appropriate I would suggest, than having a personal conversation on a mobile phone, but I digress.

The point of this entry is the synergy (dare I say convergence) among three imperatives:

(1) I have not been able to find "coherent" time to write blog entries. A review of some recent entries from the wee hours of the morning will demonstrate what I mean by coherent.

(2) I am always looking for productive ways to use packets of time such as this one when I had the audaciy to show up at the salon without an appointment.

(3) Use of my Blackberry 8830 keyboard over the past year has resulted in significant physical difficulties (arm, neck, shoulder), which has greatly hindered my yoga practice and cost real money in massage therapy. I am finding the light touch of the iTouch to be quite refreshing.

Whoops - gotta go! Time to get dipped and ripped.

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seven Words

When I was growing up, my parents had a stereo system in our living room. It was made up of a record player, that was white and light blue -- to coordinate with my mother's carpet and sofa -- and two speakers. These sat on a little stone shelf that came out from a fireplace in which she kept dried flowers. The fireplace itself was never used, which is good because the bricks had been painted white -- to coordinate with my mother's color scheme.

I remember several records that my parents had and that I used to listen to all the time. One was "Peter and the Wolf" together with the "Young Person's Introduction to the Orchestra," and three were humor recordings. Of these, there was Paul Allen's collection of humorous songs including "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh," which was our favorite -- I actually made my brother write down and mail me the lyrics the summer I went away to sleepaway camp -- as well as a catchy tune about Louis the XVI's beheading. Another was a recording of Don Imus calling a drive through to order 500 hamburgers. Ok...

And the third was a recording by George Carlin that featured a piece known as "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" as well as some great material about being the class clown in Catholic school and how many sins were rolled into the one sin of wanted to "feel up" a girl in his Catholic school class. "It was a sin to think about it feeling her up, it was a sin to feel her up, etc." (I can hear that one in my mind but can't recall how it went exactly.)

I don't know if I loved George Carlin because of the brilliant musicality of his content and delivery, because of his unequaled timing and insight, because of his playful yet pointed mocking of authority. In fact, I can't even begin - at least not at 11:30pm -- to express why he was such a genius for me. But I knew that he was. In the last few years, I have continued to marvel at how smart he was and how talented he was to write and deliver those long, musical patter-like sets.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to see George Carlin perform at the Beacon Theatre here in New York. I regretted at the time and still regret that my friend and I were a few minutes late because we ran long at a Turkish restaurant nearby. But still I was fortunate enough to see him perform live. The show was themed around suicide, something that few people could pull off, and which, of course, he made hilarious. The most memorable part was the section where he suggested a reality show of people who would like to kill themselves on TV. I think he could have successfully pitched it to a television producer.

I miss him and wonder what he had been working on since I last saw him perform.

Friday, June 27, 2008

FaceBooking the Truth

Social Networking is like going to the gym. The more you put in, the more you get out. And if you don't go regularly, you don't make progress. Now that I've reached critical mass with LinkedIn and have pretty much abandoned the way too vast and, dare I say mass, MySpace, I've decided to spend some time on FaceBook. After all, work colleagues and classmates are joining en masse, and although I've been on for 2 1/2 years, I haven't made much use of it. (I'm being leapfrogged!)

While FaceBook seems to have all kinds of interesting functionality, I actually find it quite cluttered and not completely intuitive. While this may be sacrilege to say, here is a quick case in point.

When I joined in 2006, I used my post college e-mail address to gain membership. At the time, I was one of two people in my class who were members. This put me into a "Harvard" network and, because I listed NY as my home, I was included in a NY network. This seemed advantageous because it meant that people could not contact me unless they had some kind of connection. However, because I had chosen to use my college e-mail, I could not figure out a way to join the Wharton Network, which was somewhat disappointing. And, of course, at the time, high school affiliation was not an option.

Well, over time, FaceBook found a way for me to list these other affiliations, but adding networks is a bit more time consuming and complicated. I'll get back to you when I've mastered that.

In the meantime, I decided to take control and create some groups. One for my college class, one for my B-School cohort, and one for the 7 classes who were at at Ossining High School when I was there. Well, the college one was well-received by classmates, who were excited to join. HOWEVER, because I had checked the Harvard Network when I created the group, classmates who had not registered for that network when they signed up for FaceBook... could not join my group. (It took me a few frustrating days and some reading of the fine print to figure this out.)

So... I've created a new group. Instead of Harvard 1988, which still exists, this one is Harvard Class of 1988 and is not restricted to members of the Harvard Network. I now have three members... I lost a few in the changeover. Once I'm confident there are no other major glitches, I'll start to promote it. After all, the more I put in, the more I'll get out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Twitter Me This

Twitter Me This! That is going to be the headline for my next blog, as soon as I fully determine my point of view about Twitter. After all, I am a new media guru, so I should be fully immersed in, engaged by and adoptive of "Twitter." It's been around for about a year, but it's the hot new thing. I've already started including it in brainstorms for my clients... (wish I could tell you...)

I actually found out about Twitter (and subsequently, Snitter) when I spoke on a panel about Careers in New Media at Columbia University, and the organizer of the event asked the students not to Twitter during the talk. Evidently Second Life and virtual worlds are yesterday's news, replaced by... Twitter. (I do like the name.) Of course, as soon as I had heard about Twitter via the student population, I began to hear about it everywhere.

(Side note: People in new media and in marketing should procreate -- or teach -- just to stay on top of consumer trends.)

Within days, I heard the term mentioned multiple times by the folks at one of my most cutting edge clients: Campfire. And then in the halls of another client -- the digital media division of one of the advertising networks. And I'd only just discerned the difference between a widget and a gadget! I promptly went on to Twitter and signed up to track my Campfire client and some of the Twitterers he recommended. Twitter asked me what I was doing at that moment, and I told it -- it wasn't very interesting.

So... now what? I tracked the conversation of one of the recommended writers, who was flying on Virgin America and reporting that the (very cool) in seat entertainment center now offered blog content. Well, that is kind of cool, but not necessarily the best use of my time in keeping up with important news. (Sidebar: I will someday write about the in-seat on-demand offerings on Virgin America, which are very blog-worthy.)

On a completely different note, I just arrived home from an interesting speaker event with Nina DiSesa, Chairman of McCann Erickson, who discussed her book, "Seducing the Boys Club." (I did mention this on Twitter, so there is a thread.) It was a really nice intimate round table conversation. So little has changed since I was young and struggling with gender differences in the workplace. Oh, except that as an independent consultant, the office politics I deal with have changed DRASTICALLY -- for the better. (Can you tell I'm in a good mood, which means I am very busy professionally at the moment!)

And there you have it. I really wanted to write because I haven't in a very long time. My client's client is blogging -- though in a very different style, so I really should too. I have many topics bouncing around in my head, and I will bounce them onto the virtual page soon. I promise.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fahrenheit 48 -- So Soon?

How time flies when your career spirals beyond your wildest expectations. When last I wrote -- back in August... it was 88 degrees, and I was working on a little -- albeit nearly impossible -- project about high resolution business projectors. The project, by the way, required me to find a handful of experts in France, Germany, the UK and the U.S. who were deeply knowledgeable about high resolution business projectors. People joke that the French are all on vacation in August. It is no joke. The country closes down completely. And my client, who was Japanese, could not comprehend this at all and therefore could not appreciate the difficulty of finding even one person in this field who was not on vacation for the entire month.

Early in the month, I found the perfect person. I could not have asked for a better participant. He had the ideal background and was exceedingly excited about sharing his opinions and seeing what kinds of questions we were asking. The stipend we offered was a complete afterthought and really unnecessary. Then he disappeared. Completely. I called his home number and his outgoing message said that he was on vacation for 3 weeks and directed me to his mobile number, which, in turn, directed me to his home number. The way I understood this, by the way, was by asking a college classmate who is fluent in French to call the numbers and translate the messages. But that is not the point of this blog entry, and I have digressed completely.

In any case, as this project wound down, I was put in touch with a SVP at McCann Relationship Marketing (MRM), the digital and direct marketing division of Interpublic's McCann Worldgroup (which includes McCann Erickson). This introduction was made, by the way, by a recruiter who tracked me down on LinkedIn. Don't underestimate the value of LinkedIn as a marketing tool! A passive marketing tool at that.

The SVP and I discussed several projects, and I met with two other executives, but alas the projects did not pan out for internal and client budgeting reasons. (I was starting to learn about the agency world.) I therefore accepted an engagement with an ad rep firm called Interevco, whom I had helped sell an online monetization strategy engagement earlier in the year. The 6 month engagement was for (The Generations Network) and required me to travel to Utah for the kickoff meeting.

Well, the day after I accepted this engagement, my MRM SVP e-mailed with a project for their Intel client. Ok, so now I had 2 projects plus the tail end of the Hi Res Biz Projectors gig. A few days later, I went to MRM's offices for the Intel project kickoff meeting and was asked to work on another project, this one for MasterCard. Ok, 4 projects and counting.

The next day, I received an e-mail from the Associate Publisher of a magazine at Time Inc. with a very cool strategic audit engagement that needed to be completed in 2 1/2 weeks! I had the initial conversation with the Time Inc. client as I was getting ready to leave for Utah (literally -- the car was waiting downstairs) and wrote the proposal in Utah. (This is where sleep deprivation started to creep in.) For those who are counting, I now had five projects. Oh, and the Blackberry I had purchased in August had already paid for itself by enabling me to book this new business.

So, there I was, happily and frenetically balancing five projects when one of my very favorite colleagues, Trish Hayward of Catalyst Strategies, called with a short project for a new media client with a user generated voice technology. The firm is Razz, Inc. Well, I could not turn Trish down, particularly because the value I gain from working with Trish often exceeds the monetary benefits. I think that we are up to 6 projects...

As Intel's main competitor launched a new product, and as the Intel team began intensive planning for 2008, I was asked to help with two additional projects. 8 projects in total, if I can trust myself to remember anything from this period of time.

I believe that I worked 7 days a week for well over a month, and I hired a colleague I had met at an HBS media guru breakfast to help out with one of the engagements -- wow, I was actually hiring other people. My only respite was when I forcefully dragged myself to a yoga or spinning class to maintain some form of sanity. Oh what a ride it was!