Getting up early 

The kid is starting to sleep in a little bit longer. So, instead of sleeping in, I’ve been trying to get up before him. I can use that time to make a cup of coffee, read the Bible, skim the NY Times and just generally reflect on the day ahead of me. 

It’s hard to get up early. It’s hard to build that new habit or routine. Time is so precious and mornings are some of the only places in my daily schedule where I can adjust things to make for more time. And that time can be just for me. 

I wish there was a way to stretch a 24 day hour day into 28 hours. It never feels like there’s enough time  or energy to get things done.  Time is the most precious resource. 

The morning time is the easiest place to reprioritize. I know some people that just hurl themselves out of bed and rush right into their day. That stresses me out just thinking about it. I need to ease into the day. So, I get up early. 

No wonder Chick-fil-A is always busy.

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Lauren, Miles, and I were out running errands yesterday. Our tummies were all starting to rumble and were excited to see that a Chick-fil-A across the shopping center.  The last few times we went had been through the drive-thru. The kid had just taken a massive poop and we needed to change his diaper. So, we definitely opted to go inside.

When I got into the men’s bathroom, I was instantly excited. There was actually a changing table, which especially isn’t a given for a men’s bathroom. There was also spare wipes, spare diapers, and a stool for little kids to be able to reach the sink.  What kind of magical parenting paradise is this?

We got to our table and one of the employees offered to get us a clean high chair, which was puzzling to us. The one that was there was barely used. But the clean one came with hand wipes and placemat for the kid that stuck to the table. It’s like there’s someone at Chick-fil-A that’s actually been the parent of a young kid before.

Plus plus plus… the meal is decently healthy. It included grilled chicken, a fruit cup, and a bottle of reduced fat milk. I don’t feel guilty giving this to my kid, like every other fast food place. And it included an age appropriate toy. It was a book for kids 2 years and younger. :D

And if all that wasn’t enough… there was an option, where you could order through the drive-thru and then one of the employees would setup a table with your food. You’d park and then enjoy the lovely meal inside.

At any given lunch time, you go into any Chick-fil-A and it’s HOPPING. Go into any other fast food restaurant and it’s up-in-the air, whether it’ll be a ghost town. I’m sure some CFO would cringe at the cost of all the extra amenities that Chick-fil-A is offering. But it’s the difference between in my relationship with Chick-fil-A and anywhere else.

With anywhere else, it’s just a transaction. I give you money. You give me food. But especially when you have a family, it’s never just about the food. The food is one of a hundred things thats running through my mind. If a restaurant can take 20 of those things off my plate, I get to actually enjoy the experience that much more.  Dang Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches are good.  It’s like they’re on my side. And they’ll in the end get more of my money.

(Photo by Mike Mozart)

Reviving Communal Radio Programs

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When I got up this morning, I was excited to see a notification on my phone saying that the new season of the podcast Serial had finally launched.  This season they’re going to dive into the story of solider Bowe Bergdahl, who was taken hostage by the Taliban after deserting his post.

One of the reasons why Serial is so successful is because it’s so successfully edited and produced. Listening to the show feels like you’re watching a great episode of Law & Order. It’s paced so well.

My wife and I both work from home.  So neither of us have a commute where we can listen to the podcast, like lots of our friends. Tonight, we just sat in the living room, around my Jambox speaker, and listened to the first episode of Serial Season 2.

It reminded me of the photos of families sitting around the radio listening to programs, in decades past. Podcasting isn’t new. It’s been exploding for years now. But this is the first time there’s been a podcast where it seems normal to want to listen to it with someone else at the same time.

Season 2 is coming at a great time. Most of the network television shows are on winter break. So I can give Serial audio program the same time that I would’ve previously watched something. The fact that that’s happening

Are you listening to Serial together with someone else?

Webinars Make Conferences Less Worthwhile 

I’ve spoken at many conferences where I’ve traveled far and spent considerable money to talk to a room of 50 people. Over the last month and half, I’ve participated in or produced 3 webinars that reached together over 400 people.  And I did it from the comfort of my own home. 

The ease of holding a webinar and attracting a considerable crowd definitely makes attending or speaking at a conference a little less worthwhile. When you speak at a conference, you just get the pleasure of communicating your ideas and maybe the email addresses of as many hands you can shake after. When you hold a webinar, you get your message out there  and you get everyone’s email address. It’s fantastic. 

For conferences, there’s one thing that online can never fully replicate: the serendipitous connections. A good conference will attract great people that connecting with will be worth the price of admission. For as long as I’ve been going, SXSW has been about connecting with the people over the content. 

How will conferences change over the next few years to accommodate this?  Like could I hold a virtual conference that was a series of webinars? 

Twitter May Be Realizing the Full Stream is Overwhelming

There’s a report in Vice’s Motherboard that Twitter is experimenting with arranging your Twitter feed in a non-chronological order that’s curated by an algorithm.  It’s similar to what Facebook does with showing you the posts you’d find most interesting.

Twitter is trying to find a way to make itself more appealing to a mass audience and grow their numbers. Twitter could be realizing the forcing it’s users to consume the full stream is overwhelming.  Twitter may be the world’s microphone but if you follow many accounts that’s a lot to handle. It’s easier to just show consumers the things they’ll find most interesting.

I’m an off and on TweetDeck user for consuming Twitter. But then I realized that the fact that TweetDeck exists and is useful demonstrates Twitter’s problem. The stream is just too much that you have to break it into different columns. This is great for power users but the eyes of normal people glaze over.

Of course, while curated Twitter streams is better UX for consumers, it’s terrible for people and brands that use Twitter as a means to communicate with their audience. With the way it is now, it’s fairly straightforward how Twitter works and what you need to get seen. If Twitter moves towards algorithm-driven curation, we’ll have no clue if or how to actually reach the audience that we’ve built up, just like Facebook. You’ll probably have to pay in order to reach your audience on Twitter, much like Facebook.

I’m super curious how this’ll all shake out.

 

Remember the scientific method from elementary school?

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The other day I was thinking back to elementary school days. I can vividly remember being quizzed on the different steps of the scientific method. You ask a question, create a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze results, rinse and repeat.

It’s funny how much this plays into my professional career twenty five years later. At work, we’ve done an incredible job building up social, email, and search as inbound marketing channels. We’re constantly asking questions and testing a hypothesis. Trying to figure out how we can squeeze out more juice.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Every platform is providing a better and better analytics. And most of the platforms analytics are real time. You can try something and immediately get feedback from your audience about whether it worked or not, iterate, and repeat your test.

But more than marketing… that scientific method that we learned in elementary school really has become a lifestyle. You ask questions, try new things in life, see how it goes, analyze, iterate, rinse and repeat. I do it with every aspect of my life. It helps me as I work to optimize everything from an email marketing strategy to how to best teach my kid the things he needs to know.

It’s funny how much those early things play such a big important role in your life down the road.

Avoiding Restaurants Without High Chairs and Changing Tables

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One weekend, we took a drive up the Mississippi River. It’s a pretty drive and there’s some cute little towns. There was a winery with a restaurant. We decided to stop there for lunch.

When we get to the restaurant, we have the kid with us and ask for a high chair. They respond with “We don’t have high chairs. We’re a winery.” I was pissed but we’d already made our order and paid. So we stayed and he stayed with the kid in the stroller next to the table.  I felt bad for the other parents of young kids who were in a similar position and were struggling with their wiggly kids on their laps.

There’s a new fried chicken place in St Louis that I’ve been dying to try. But the restaurant has high top tables and 2 booths.  Having a kid in a high chair with high top tables doesn’t really work. Plus the restaurant is always crazy busy. It was a non-starter.

Having a kid changes how you see the world. What you look out for completely changes.  I wish there was an app that’d help me be successful.

The world of local search for businesses and restaurants is phenomenal. Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Maps are incredible products.  But I want more.

I want to ask those apps if the restaurant has high chairs. I want to ask if the restaurant has a changing table in the bathroom.  Is the changing table in both bathrooms or just the women’s? This knowledge would change what businesses I patronize.

Would you find this helpful?