2009 Archive

SM2day Conference Rochester – My Top 5

Fri, 13 November 2009

I spent my Wednesday at a Social Media conference in Rochester called SM2Day. The event was the brainchild of Ana Roca Castro of Premier Social Media. She brought in a very exciting slate of guest presenters including nationally recognized Social Media advocate, Chris Brogan and local CMO Rockstar Jeffrey Hayzlett. Here is Ana’s nice little story using tweets and an app called whrrl to tell how she got the conference together.

More stories at Memorial Art Gallery
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My head is spinning at everything I learned before, during and after the conference. Here’s my top 5.

  1. Chris Brogan is the real deal. He has obviously honed his craft in a couple short years. He is an entertaining and humble speaker who spoke passionately of the need for brands (and more impoortantly the people behind them) to engage in conversation not target marketing. Does anybody want to feel targeted? I’m now subscribed to his blog and probably anything else he creates.brogan
    Blurry iPhone shot with me, Chris and my signed copy of Trust Agents.
  2. Jeffrey Hayzlett really believes in Social Media marketing for Kodak. From his complete support of Jenny Cisney’s efforts as Kodak Chief Blogger/Social Media Manager, to his team’s published thought leadership within the Kodak Social Media Guidelines, to crowdsourcing product names via twitter, Jeff is passionate about Social Media to drive marketing at Kodak. We also found out a few other things Jeff is passionate about too like hunting, and Diet Mountain Dew.
  3. Eric Majchrzak at Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs is making it happen with Social Media and SEO. He actually has a Twitter account for a CPA firm, and a forthcoming billboard that will post the tweet stream.
    He is also showing impressive ROI from his efforts by being able to attribute revenue to his website and increasing it steadily year over year.freed-maxick
  4. Niki Black knows the ins and outs of the legal implications of Social Media on companies. Social media guidelines are a must. She provided some good resources on how to craft a good policy. When her presentation becomes available I’ll post here.
  5. When you go to conferences and sit next to smart people like Matt Ray, you pick up extremely useful information. For instance, my iPhone battery was running low from all the in-conference tweeting I was doing on #SM2day. He suggested I turn off 3G to conserve battery. I didn’t know you could do that. I also hadn’t yet heard the news that I could tweet to LinkedIn. These are minor things, but it shows what hanging out with like-minded people will teach you.

I’m looking forward to the presentations from the conference being available online because there was some really useful content from ALL of the presenters.

Posted in: Marketing Strategy, Professional Networking, Social Media | 3 Comments »

How to Make Ketchup – Lefty’s Way

Thu, 24 September 2009

The first weekend of September after Labor Day is a perfect time to make ketchup. That’s when my grandpa used to make it too. The tomatoes are ripe and the Farmer’s Markets have them cheap. So, it was the last time I made this recipe back in 1998, the year I got married. Tricia and I went to Dunkirk, NY to help grandpa make his ketchup, and to get those ‘damn pears’ off the tree in the backyard. I took copious notes that day on how to make ketchup Lefty’s Way. It’s a good thing I did because his short-hand recipe didn’t capture all of the details.

Grandpa passed away last year, 10 years after I made my last batch with him. I rescued his ketchup-making equipment from his basement then, and it sat idle until last weekend. The following is a video of our first ketchup odyssey on our own. Enjoy…

Posted in: Family and Friends, Leisure Time, Life | No Comments »

A Summer of Last-Minute Firsts

Tue, 08 September 2009

I look forward to every season in Rochester. As we entered the summer – a season that we cherish because it is so short around here, we set 2 simple goals for Mason and Anna.

  1. Tie your shoes by yourself
  2. Learn to ride your bike

As June turned to July (the coldest on record), we were still waiting for some kind of progress on both fronts. Tying shoes was always put off for something easier, like wearing Crocs or going barefoot. When they had to wear sneakers it was straight to the velcro. As for biking, it was like feeding the children ipecac syrup. One teaspoon of bike ride suggestion induced 20 minutes of whiny, complaint-barf.

As we turned the corner into August something happened. It was as if the kids realized their time to be little kids was getting shorter and shorter. Some kind of magic desire welled up inside of them to accomplish their goals. One day, Tricia simply told the children to sit down and tie their shoes. It wasn’t like we hadn’t shown them how to do it many times before. This time was different. Mason nailed the knot on the second try. Not to be outdone, Anna furrowed her brow and set out to tie both of her shoes. Within 5 minutes she had done just that!

Excited, they both untied and tied their shoes 3 more times that morning. With a little coaxing and the promise of a Seabreeze trip if they accomplished their other summer goal, they went directly outside and patiently tried biking with me for the first time. This time it was Anna who took the lead. 20 months younger and gifted with a natural sense of balance, Anna let me run behind her…and run…and run until I was able to let go.

Look mom, I’m riding!

Mason just wasn’t going to have his sister doing better than him. So, with a little extra motivation, Mason got his first assisted start that night too!
Mason on his own for the first time!

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike. Well, Mason wanted to make sure of it. The very next night as I setup to assist Anna with her starting, I turned around to see Mason riding down the street on his own.

To the Persistent Come the Rewards
Tricia and I were absolutely thrilled to see the kids accomplish what they had set out to do for the summer. Coming in just under the wire, we took them to Seabreeze for the last Friday of summer. It was a BEAUTIFUL, sunny and warm September day. For the first time, Mason was above the 48″ height limit necessary to ride the adult rides.

With his newfound biking confidence, Mason attacked rides that he cried bloody murder over just a year ago. I took him on the Bear Trax (kiddie coaster) to which he scoffed that it was too easy.
Mason had a blast. He insisted on sitting in the front by himself

In fact, 3 years ago they were so scared on the kiddie coaster that they vowed they would never ride it again.
Mason and Anna ride Bear Trax in 2006. Anna still won’t go on it :(

So, I proceeded to take him on the Log Flume and then to the vaunted Jack Rabbit. He was a bit scared on that, but didn’t quit and cry like he once would have…

So now, here we are. It’s the end of summer, and the kids are going back to school. Time for some new goals and new learning. They are growing up in the blink of an eye. 2nd and 1st grade wow!

Posted in: Kids, Life | No Comments »

Being the Family Digital Archivist

Mon, 20 July 2009

I have had to take a few steps back to take many steps forward. With all of the new ways to share and consume family memories on Facebook, YouTube, my blog, digital picture frames, etc., there was a whole era of family memories from prior to these tools that that weren’t easily accessible. I have taken some time over the last month and a half to begin to digitize our analog life to make our digital life more fun in the long term.

Family Videos from Mini-DV to DVD
I bought our first video camera in 2001, right before Mason was born. Since then we have captured 25 tapes worth of firsts including the birth and first few years of his sister, Anna. While Mini-DV at the time was the only way to do any digital editing whatsoever, I found that a combination of slow computers and way too much footage just kept me from editing the tapes. We never watched any of the content, because it involved getting out the camera, rewinding the tapes, then doing the old fast forward fun just to get to a little content to show the kids. What was supposedly “Digital” was no easier to use than hooking up a reel to reel film from 40 years ago to project on the wall.

Getting all of the Mini-DV tapes into something digital took a TON of consideration. I briefly checked into having someone do it for me. Wow, was that expensive! The Do-It-Yourselfer in me just couldn’t swallow the thousands it would take to accomplish what I knew I already have the equipment to do, given enough time. I set out to digitize all of the tapes using Firewire into my PC or my ancient Mac. When I plugged in the Firewire cable like I had done many times before, nothing was found. What a disadvantage! Now I would have to find another way. Luckily I had a TV card in my Gateway Media Center PC that also has video input. The only problem is that Windows Movie Maker didn’t recognize the capture card. So, I found a program that would – Roxio Creator 2009.

I went a tape at a time, typically overnight, playing it all the way through to capture the content into the PC. If the computer or Roxio didn’t crash in the process I would have a .mpg file in the morning. In theory, I could have filled up my 1TB external hard drive with all of these files to access any time in the future, or to do all of my editing at once. I have been bitten by a failed MyBook before so I decided to go directly to DVD’s with the content as I went. After a restart, I could open Roxio MyDVD, and import the .mpg of the tape. Next, I would use the Edit Chapters feature to automatically find breaks in the content to set as chapter points, a process that played the entire tape through AGAIN!. Barring any crashes, I then could title the chapters and make a few edits to the simple DVD theme I was using. After all of this work, I could then burn a DVD. This process failed a few times giving me beautiful DVD coasters. I learned to burn a disc image to the hard drive first, which could often take over an hour to encode. The last step would be to burn the disc image to a DVD.

From tape to somewhat edited DVD took no less than 3 hours per tape, and sometimes could take 8 hours if I had to redo more than one failed process. If you do the math, this project took me more than a month of every spare moment of computer time that I had. Do I wish I had all of the files still digitally on a hard drive? Only a little. Ultimately you only watch family movies once in a while. It is actually easier to go find a DVD in a cupboard than it is to worry about managing gigantic 7G files on a hard drive. Do I worry about burning DVDs just as Blue Rays are becoming more prominent in the market? Yes, but all the source content is standard definition anyway, and I’m sure something will be around to play DVD’s for years to come. Now that I’m caught up, I’m hoping we’ll invest in a direct to digital video camera of some kind in the very near future.

Onward to Photos
After all that video work, you’d think I’d be tired of all this archiving. Instead it has only increased my desire to have everything digital. I cringe at all of the photo albums in our basement. Even more fun is looking at photos from our parents and grandparents which are all in boxes and albums scattered everywhere. Again this is something that I know we can pay to have taken care of, but the cost and potential danger of losing photos with a vendor is prohibitive. Instead, I have scoured the internet to find an invaluable tool for scanning old family photos. There is a discontinued Epson scanner (the 3590 Photo) that supports the best family photo archiving companion on the planet, an automatic photo feeder.


I went on Craigslist and found the scanner for about $80, then bought the feeder new from Epson for around $150. We have had this for about 2 weeks now and have been tearing through stacks of family photos 20 at a time. You just load up the machine and walk away. Brilliant! I don’t know why this stuff is discontinued, but I highly recommend it. My goal is to load a good amount of my extended family’s photographic history onto my external hard drive backed up to DVD. This little distraction has taken me from my blogging habit for a bit, but the way I see it, I’m just managing another asset in my digital life.

Posted in: Computers/Video, Life | 4 Comments »

Just Showing Up

Wed, 10 June 2009

When you hear things more than once in a week, you know that someone (God maybe?) is trying to send a message. First, I listened to Father Jerry Appelby’s compelling homily at his Jubilee Mass celebration this past weekend. The punchline to his sermon was that just showing up is 80% of life, and that if you just keep showing up, somewhere during that time, you will accomplish what you were meant to do.

Then, I was sent this compelling video of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love as she spoke at the TED conference on the topic of creativity and divine inspiration. In her speech she suggests that you just show up for the job you were meant to do, and that amazing creative power will pass through you when you invite it to show up for its job too. She referenced the bullfight chant “olé” to acknowledge the inspiration’s presence.

It is so true that just showing up for anything, be it your job, your marriage, or anything you are involved in is 80% of the effort. The rest is waiting on that mystical inspiration. So with that, I’ll start today by saying olé!

Posted in: Faith, Life | No Comments »

How’s YOUR Staffing Firm Intranet?

Tue, 09 June 2009

Well, friends I’m nearing the end of the longest web project of my career. When we embarked on creating a new intranet for Hudson North America over two and a half years ago, I would have never predicted that it would take this long. Sure, we wanted to do it right. We engaged an ethnographic researcher to help us uncover the real needs behind the needs of our users. We took those requirements and handed them to a “real” interactive agency to get wireframes for workflows that would address the issues head on. From there, we chose a platform – Sharepoint 2007, no slouch of a platfom to configure, test, customize, and test again. We designed and branded the look and feel twice as the launch pushed through multiple leadership teams and re-branding efforts. It culminates this week with a “Beta” launch of the system via a link from our old intranet, an email from our President and a splashy Camtasia demo I’ve locked myself in my office creating for 4 days.

I’m excited about the prospects of what a “real” intranet can mean for our firm. It can be such a challenge for leaders to wrangle together a cohesive vision from far-flung offices and disparate work processes. Email just isn’t up to the task, and forget about the dreaded weekly conference calls. To create a truly productive and cohesive professional services firm for the long term, I believe your intranet must be robust, comprehensive, and adaptable to the constant change in the business. How else can you retain knowledge in a business with 40% employee turnover? Yet, when you search online for any evidence of staffing firm intranets, there is little to no information. I found a synopsis of Australian Job Board Seek’s Intranet redesign, but I have yet to come across a true staffing service provider’s (If you happen to see any coverage, please do forward me the link).

Is the lack of information an indicator of the staffing industry’s sentiment toward their intranets? Or, is it that everyone believes they have some super-secret formula for success that they are just unwilling to share? I would wager that staffing firms are currently focused on survival rather than productivity, but there are those who will use their intranet to position themselves for long-term success.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, User Experience Design | 5 Comments »

Twitter is NOT a Job Board. Please TwitterJobSearch.com, Don’t Make It One

Thu, 19 March 2009

Twitter WAS an excellent tool for getting a job the old fashioned way – through word of mouth, networking, and building relationships online. For a few fleeting months, you could go onto Twitter and connect with some really smart people. You could connect with a senior manager, or a drone working the desk at any number of your potential employers of choice. You could build a relationship with a human, and help each other to mutual benefit. It WAS fresh and different. It will now turn into something automated, and dissatisfying.

TwitterJobSearch.com launched very recently. It provides job seekers an easy way to find job opportunities that have been posted to Twitter. That’s not really what it does though. Instead, TwitterJobSearch.com makes it blatantly obvious that there are hundreds of people out there building a mini job-spam empire on Twitter. Clearly, many recruiting firms and job board vendors alike have registered twitter names to game the search engines into believing they are the authority on ChicagoTechjobs, or topjobsinlondon whatever. They load up their twitter accounts with automated feeds from the job board they already have online.


So, riddle me this. How exactly does this make things any better for the job seeker? If TwitterJobSearch.com was aggregating a ton of job related tweets from actual humans working at actual companies and recruitment firms, with actual photo avatars of themselves, THAT would be a great service. Seekers can find plenty of cold, impersonal “job postings” all over the interweb. What they thirst for is the hiring manager at a company who tweets, “We need a marketing mgr to launch a new product for us, RT please”, or the recruiter that says “My client is interviewing for 3 java devs TODAY to build a GPS product by end of Jan, DM me if interested.”

Instead of optimizing FOR all of these automated accounts with “jobs” or “hire” in the Twitter handle, TwitterJobSearch should exclude them on purpose. What do you think?

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Job Boards, Marketing Strategy, Recruitment Industry, Staffing SEO/SEM | 12 Comments »

The Video Blog Camera is Rolling

Fri, 13 March 2009

If you aren’t constantly taking risks in your career, you either a.) don’t work in an environment that encourages risk, or b.) haven’t developed the wherewithal to know that risk is the ONLY way to grow your career. So, I contemplated my career during the dark days of Winter, trying to figure out what my next risk was going to be to keep things interesting.

As if I didn’t have enough big, meaty project launches to do, I decided to figure out how to video blog. This has been a fascinating journey so far, and something that aligns well with the one video class I took in college doing edits on VHS tape. The end result of this fun with the video camera will hopefully be a video resume that I can add to my website. I’m chronicling the journey though as I try to help others accomplish the same.

Here’s my first video blog posting.

You can follow the rest of the series here:


Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Web Video | 1 Comment »

ROC Twestival: a Good Night Out

Fri, 13 February 2009

Last night, Tricia and I attended the Rochester Social Media Club meeting at Solera followed by the Rochester Twestival at German House.

My reason for attending these events is to get more connected in Rochester professional circles. I work from my home in Webster for my company based in Chicago, so I don’t get a lot of face time with pros at my own company no less others in industry. I just want to feel connected. For Tricia, this was an opportunity to get out and network for her business, and get some face time with her husband away from our 2 kids. Mission accomplished!

We met some awesome people. It’s refreshing to know that Rochester has such a vibrant and friendly professional community. The Rochester Social Media Club, lead by Susan Beebe, Mark Frisk and Nicole Black is a gathering of people interested in the use of Social Media especially Facebook, Twitter, etc. Really, it brings together people with a diverse set of professional skills and agendas. The best part about this group is that no one is pretentious, because really if you share a lot on social media, CAN you really be pretentious in the first place? Nope. I’ll hope that this is indicative of all Rochester business people. I think going to some of these events in bigger cities like Chicago would be a bit more uncomfortable than the people here make you feel.

On to the Twestival
All I can say about that is, what an amazingly well put together event for such a short period of time! There were bands, raffle donations, food, drinks, all in a top notch venue. It rivaled any charity event I’ve been to, and this came together in 2 weeks. Most organizations take MONTHS to put together something like that. Charity:Water for whom this event raised funds, could not be more worthy nor more creative with this whole Twestival concept. The only drawback is that it could have used a few hundred more attendees to justify the time and effort that Matt Ray and his team put into it.

Here’s why I think attendance was light.

  1. Rochester to begin with is a small-ish market
  2. The bulk of the marketing relied on Twitter whose adoption is still really small even when compared to Facebook. This will only get better next year, and there will be WAY more people that ‘get it’.
  3. People may have thought it was more about Twitter, than about a great charity, great music, and people. It wasn’t. Twitter was just the tool that mobilized a great many people.

The Rochester Twestival was a great event that rivaled any other city for its ability to provide a vibrant professional scene that motivates people to want to live and work here. Events like this thrive only with consistency and word of mouth, so I’d bet that next year will be even more successful.

Kris and Tricia at the Rochester Twestival

ROC Twestival image by @MatthewRay

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Professional Networking | 7 Comments »

Mason’s First Pinewood Derby. Star Wars, ‘Anakin’s Speeder’ Car

Mon, 26 January 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009 was the first Pinewood Derby for Mason and me. After a few weeks of work, learning about saws, sandpaper, a little physics, tungsten weights, graphite lube, hobby paint, and many more things that no 7 year old EVER wanted to learn, we put Anakin’s Speeder to the test. Here were the results.

Mason with his Star Wars Attack of the Clones, ‘Anakin’s Speeder’ Pinewood Derby Car

This was a fun project to do together, and an exciting race. This is what scouts is all about. Hopefully next year, Mason can do a little more of the car, while Daddy learns a bit more about Pinewood Physics. We have way too many smart parents in our Pack, we’ll not be beaten for lack of preparation. See you next year!

Posted in: Life | 7 Comments »


This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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