Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Importance of Feeling Heard

As we’ve seen day in & day out in the headlines, the Apple Maps that was released via iOS 6 was a big flop.  In many cases, the maps were just wrong.  Lauren and I went to Hilton Head last weekend for a wedding and were consistently frustrate with Apple Maps as we tried to navigate.

The poor quality of Apple Maps led to a media and community up roar.  Countless blog posts were written about it.  There was even a Tumblr blog about all of the app’s mistakes.

When you’re the user and you’re having a problem with a product, the worst feeling in the world is when it feels like the company who made the product is so out of touch that they don’t know that there’s a problem.  That’s when the relationship between the user/customer & the company starts to disintegrate.

Well, I was really happy to see that Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter on their site saying that they realized that Apple Maps for iOS 6 was sub-par and that they were working as quickly to fix it. They even went as far as alerting people to their competitors, as possible alternatives while Apple Maps improves.  He was saying to the Apple community, “I hear you. We screwed up.”

Apple’s not known for being a company that’s overly communicative or transparent.  So, seeing this kind of olive brand extended is definitely a notable moment.   I hope that we’ll see more.

It’s also a great object lesson in crisis communications for us all.

Give me more than just your app.

Every 5 minutes there’s a new startup popping up that’s building some new & exciting app to solve some problem I have.  It’s great but to be honest I get bored with it all.   Yes, your app’s functionality solves my problem but so does a dozen other apps out there.

What can you do to be different?  In addition to solving my obvious problem, solve the deeper problem.   Serve my life in a way that I didn’t anticipate.  Surprise & delight me.  Make my life happier.  Make me feel better about my future.

For example, Fab.com does a great job of helping me connect with & buy from designers & artists.  The deeper problem they solve is that they make my life more exciting & fun.    Additionally, Zillow helps me find houses that are for sale.  Right.  The deeper issue is that I want to find a place for my life to unfold… for my future to happen.  I want some security that I’ll find the right place.  Zillow makes that possible.

Coincidentally, both companies have just put out TV commercials selling this.

First from Fab.com…

Second from Zillow…

 

What I’m Reading – Saturday, Sept 22nd

Here’s just a quick look at some of what I’ve been reading over the last couple days…

What have you been reading?

Community Waiting for the New iPhone

I’ve been having a lot of fun riffing on a topic that I’m passionate about… building communities.  I hope that you’ve been enjoying it.

Communities are funny.  Sometimes they can pop up in places that you would have never thought possible.  TechCrunch sent their NYC intern to the 5th Avenue Apple Store to cover the line as throngs of people waited for the new iPhone 5.

As he was waiting all night long, he asked the question that any rational person would, “why on earth would someone do this for a phone?”   The answered was that it’s not about a phone.  It’s about community.  You’re having this shared experience with like-minded people.   It’s the perfect recipe for a community.

I remember when I waited in line for the original iPhone.  The lines weren’t as crazy as they are now.  I cut out of work at noon and only waited 3 hours.  But… I walked away from the experience with friends.  I still stay in touch with the couple that stood in front of me in line.

Apple fans aren’t just people who use computers.  It’s people who espouse to a specific way of thinking or way of life.   Apple users are creative & curious people.   Not many brands can claim this type of tribe.  It’s not like if you use a Dell that it says anything about your personality but it’s different with an Apple computer or an iPhone.

So… when you get those like-minded people together in a single environment for a shared experience, magic happens.   Communities get built out of standing in line to wait for my new iPhone.

Feel like a lemming.

After watching this video, I especially feel like a lemming for ordering the iPhone 5.  It’s amazing how excited people are getting for something that’s so evolutionary.  That being said, I’m totally excited and think it’ll be amazing.

This definitely leaves open a big opportunity for the other smart phone handset makers.   They need to start thinking outside the box on how they can differentiate.   Someone’s gotta be able to solve some unmet need with a new type of mobile phone that’ll unseat Apple.

The wonders of the mug brownie

My wife and I both have a bit of a sweet tooth.   30 minutes to an hour after dinner, you’ll find us scrounging for something with sugar in it.   It’d be easy enough to make a tray of brownies but I’d probably just eat the whole tray.   I have no self control.  Heh.

A few months ago, my wife introduced me to the wonders of the mug brownie.   You mix all the ingredients for the brownie in a mug, stick it in the microwave, and a minute later you have a hot & delicious brownie.   It’s sooooo easy.

Gentlemen, does your lady love chocolate anything but feel inept when it comes to baking anything?   Try the recipe I’ve been following that over on Babble.

Here’s some mug brownie baking action shots… :)

 

What I’m Reading – Monday, Sept 17th

Here’s a few more cool articles that I’ve been reading…

Rustico Restaurant for Sunday Brunch

If you know me, you know that one of my favorite things is food. Like every self-respecting foodie, I’ve dreamed of being Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl, or David Lebovitz where I could get paid to travel the world, gorge myself on the best food the world has to offer, and share my experiences with you all.  So I’m thinking from time to time I might use this space to wax eloquently about my various culinary adventures. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the breaks from the typical posts about technology, startups, and marketing.

For the last few days we’ve had one of Lauren’s college roommates visiting us. After church in Alexandria, VA on Sunday, we were looking for a good brunch spot. Lauren had never been to Rustico and Buzz Bakery is across the street, so we knew we had to go to Rustico Restaurant.

As context, if you didn’t know, I’m a pretty chill guy. I like to go with the flow and I like going places that are more low-key. Especially in a bigger city, brunch is such a hip cool thing that brunch spots are typically bumping with activity, which makes me usually meh on brunch. I hate having to wait 45 minutes for a table.

When we got to Rustico, I noticed immediately how low-key things were. The restaurant was half full. I was impressed. I’ve been there during the evenings where there’s been more of a crowd. Not sure what accounted for the difference.

As an appetizer, we got the pretzel crusted macaroni & cheese. At $8 and for the size of the bowl, it’s a little expensive. But… Man it’s good. That salty and cheesy together can’t be beat. Plus they used orzo pasta for the mac which was an interesting & delicious choice.

For my main meal, I had the fried oysters eggs benedict. It was delicious. I love the look of wispy egg whites after they’ve been dropped in the spinning boiling water. The oysters weren’t overly incorporated into the dish other than they were skewered into the top of the plate but they were still good. The bread was Texas toast and the breakfast potatoes were sweet potatoes, which were both pleasant departures from the breakfast norms.

Rustico is known for their fine beer selection so I had to find one of their fine draft beers to pair with my eggs.  It was only 12:30pm, so I didn’t want something heavy.  I noticed on the menu “Embers of the Deceased” (what a name) from the collaboration between DC Brau Brewery and BlueJacket Brewery (which is owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group that also owns Rustico).  It’s a pilsner at a <4.0% ABV, so it was light & perfect.

The girls both had the breakfast burger. It was like a cross between eggs benedict and a burger. It had egg & hollandaise but with a burger patty and Texas toast. Oh and it had lots of bacon. It looked and was delicious. It was REALLY heavy though.

All in all I have to recommend Rustico as a brunch spot. They serve delicious twists on the classics you’re going to get everywhere else, it’s a relaxed/chill environment, and you’re going to find beers from across the region & country that you’re not going to get anywhere else. So if you’re more into beer and less into mimosas (which they have too) I especially recommend going here.

What I’m Reading – Sunday, Sept 16th

Thought I’d write up some of the articles that I’d been reading that day…

What time was that show on?

This spring Lauren and I were temporarily living in California while she was in 500 Startups. Instead of signing up for cable tv, we used our Internet access and a Roku box to get access to Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon for our television & movie fix.

It worked like a dream. We watched the tv shows we wanted, when we wanted to watch them. It was easy. The quality of the stream was fantastic.

It’s now funny to come back to a cable tv enabled house & the fall television season starting. My first inclination is “Oh that show is coming back.” Then I’m like, “when is it on?”

What does it matter when it’s on? Why am I holding myself to a broadcast schedule? I lived without it for 4 months.

Maybe it’s time we cut the cable in DC too.  It just seems like such an outdated model.

I wish the final the final holdout television networks would join the Internet era, like CBS and The Food Network.  I also wish there was a better solution for live news or programming online.  I want to be able to watch Morning Joe over our Roku box.