Why don’t more hotels carry craft beer?

This weekend Lauren and I were lucky enough to stay at the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan for an evening. When you walk in the front door, you can’t help but feel the opulence and the history dripping from the walls. I definitely felt out of place.

When we got to our room, there was a basket of food items. In it was a half bottle of Opus One. That’s nice wine… Really nice wine. Was only $185 for the half bottle. Ha. Definitely not in the Thorp budget.

Looked in our mini fridge just cause I was curious. The beer they had was Heineken and Amstel Light. They’re both fine beers just seemed misplaced next to Opus One.

Why don’t more hotels, especially the nicer ones, carry more craft beers? Next to Opus One, I’d think you’d have a bottle of Pliny The Elder in the fridge or maybe Dogfish Head Brewery or even the local Brooklyn Brewery.

Seems like beer (especially craft) still has a ways to go to achieve the same status as wine in world of fine beverages.

Great Product UX is the Foundation of Great Marketing

The other day my friend Jonathan Perrelli (JP), Founding Partner at DC’s Fortify VC, tweeted that he was able to avoid some traffic by using the iPhone app for maps & navigation Waze. I’d been hearing about Waze on This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte but just had never downloaded it.

After hearing about JP’s experiences, I knew I needed to give the app a shot. I’ve now used Waze quite a bit. I’m really impressed. Some of the gamification and crowd sourced stuff they’re doing is really cool.

The experience underlined a principle that having a great product user experience is the foundation of all great marketing. Users need to be able to easily get into your product and see how it’s going to improve their lives. If you fulfill your product’s promise and do it in an extraordinary way then people will talk about you and you’ll naturally get more users.

It’s not good enough to just be good. You have to be extraordinary. The world will start talking about how you’re solving a problem in a new & novel way.

Marketing shouldn’t be manufacturing excitement. They should be amplifying the excitement from the people that are already using it.

There are a lot of entrenched players in the mapping & navigation space. To be a new entrant in the space is kinda crazy. What Waze is doing is different, interesting, and worth trying.

What kind of products have you been getting excited about?

H &Pizza

One of my favorite new DC food finds is H &Pizza on H St NE in the Atlas Neighborhood. My wife and I had just gotten an end of week happy hour cocktail up the street and were looking for a place to grab a quick bite. H &Pizza brings that fast casual “Chipotle-like” vibe to the world of pizza.

We got there and there was a line almost out the door. As we continued in line, it became out the door. Just like Chipotle, there’s a station where you choose all your toppings, they run it through a quick oven and then you’ve got delicious pizza.

The pizzas are delicious. First thing you’ll notice is H &Pizza’s pizzas are long. Perfect size for one person. You can choose your own toppings or you can choose a preset pizza. Looks like they tried to get as many local ingredients as possible. They also had vegetarian and vegan options which is cool if that’s your thing.

I got the Farmer’s Daughter pizza. It had house made mozzarella, spicy sausage, and a farm fresh egg which was the star for me. For ~$9, it’s a great deal for a delicious single persons meal.  We’ll definitely be going back again.

How I Read & Share Articles Online

I love reading and the Web brings a world of knowledge to my front door. I love finding interesting articles and sharing them with my friends.

Thought you all might find it interesting to learn more about how I find & share.

First, in Chrome on my laptop, I’ll have Facebook, Twitter, Hacker News, and the New York Times open as pinned tabs all the time.  And I’ll be honest. I only grok about half of Hacker News but reading it makes me feel good about myself. 🙂

On my phone, in addition to Facebook and Twitter’s native apps, I use Reeder to consume my RSS feeds that I’ve loaded into Google Reader. I’m also a fan of Flipboard plus I scan the headlines of the New York Times iPhone app.

When I find a story I like, if its shorter or timely, I’ll read it on the spot. Otherwise, it gets sent to Instapaper. Instapaper is an app that queues online stories for offline reading. It’s perfect for catching up on reading during the commute home, especially because I don’t always have cell reception when I’m on the subway.

If I find something that’s interesting than ill share it right away to my social network accounts using Buffer. If its more evergreen than ill just add it to the queue in Buffer, where the stories will get dribbled out every couple hours.

Where before, if I saw something interesting then I’d just share it. Now it looks like I always am sharing something interesting regardless of whether I’m actively at my computer. And I’m finding that I get considerable more traction for things I share when I use Buffer.

Its interesting.  Before, I would share everything I found interesting as soon as I found it.  Now, I throw it on the Buffer queue.  I’m finding that I get considerable more engagement/response from the things I share when I use Buffer.

How do you consume & share online?

Communities Get Noisier When They Grow

As I’ve mentioned before, I manage a Facebook group with over 1800+ people in it that discusses the DC tech & startup community. It’s been fascinating to watch the dynamics of the group change as it adds more members to its ranks.

Now that its bigger, it’s much harder to get real in-depth conversation about any one topic. There’s so many people from different backgrounds with different personalities. Everyone wants to take it in their own direction. The group becomes more about broadcast.

Well if you want that in-depth conversation, the key is that you have to divide & conquer. You want to find a subset of that bigger group that has the people who can talk in-depth about the issue you care about and keep that group focuses on that topic.

The bigger group is important.  Everyone needs to know what’s going on across all the sub groups but you need the smaller groups so that people can have more intimate interactions.  For the DC Tech community, we have sub groups for everything from community leaders to user experience pros to people looking for co-working space.

Customer-Facing Employees Need To At Least Have Manners

I met Lauren at her office the other night so we could ride home together. She asked me to run into UPS and drop something off for her.

So I went into UPS and the guy behind the counter never looked at me. I always wait for someone to look up & acknowledge me. When he talked to me, it was in a barely audible tone. It was kinda rude.

If you’re going to hire someone to be a customer facing employee then I think you need to hire someone who’s at least polite. A good prospect is friendly and makes me feel good about the service they’re going to provide.

Isn’t this common sense?

Wish The Nike+ Fuelband Would Kick My Butt

Since the end of July, I’ve been rocking the Nike+ Fuelband on my right wrist. It’s been fascinating to see how some days I’m more active and some days I’m not. It’s easy to be neurotic about constantly checking to see what my score is.

While its easy to check what my score is, what it doesn’t tell me is what my score should be. You know how many fuel points you need to hit by the end of the day but you have no idea if you will.

After a few weeks, the Nike+ Fuelband knows what my regular rhythms are including the days where I’ll hit my goal.  It should know that I’m not on track or not hitting the typical pattern of a goal breaking day and alert me accordingly.

It’s not enough to tell me that I’m not going to meet my goal as I’m about to go to bed.  I want to be told that I’m not going to meet my goal when I still have a chance to meet it.

I’m excited.  Today, Nike announced that they’re working with TechStars to create a Nike+ Accelerator program in Portland, Oregon.   The goal is to build whole new companies around innovating on top of the Nike+ platform.  I’m hoping that these startups will help to add an extra layer of complexity to the Nike+ ecosystem.

I Miss MyBlogLog

mybloglog-new-recent-readers-widgetRemember the web app company MyBlogLog? It was a widget that you’d put on your blog that’d show the face of other MyBlogLog users when they visited your website.

When using it, you really saw first hand how writing about something brought people to your website. When you write about someone, if they’re tracking where they’re talked about, that person might/would actually come to your site and read what you wrote.

I’ve been talking about the advantages of social media with a number of colleagues. Seeing stats from Google Analytics or AddThis are great but it misses the context of who that person is. For example, you might only be getting 10 visitors a day to your blog BUT its the right 10 people. That was something MyBlogLog did really well.

Most visitors to a blog or any online community aren’t going to actively contribute. There visit is they way of passively participating. There needs to be a way of making that visit more meaningful.

When all you see is the traffic from Google Analytics, it’s too easy to get discouraged and quit. Most do.

Shaw’s Tavern

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8478/8238725899_6838b5247f_n.jpgKind of seems like our friends and us have been doing a tour of DC neighborhood watering holes for dinner & drinks.  First it was Tunnicliff’s Tavern in Capitol Hill and then it was Mayfair & Pine in Glover Park.  This time we want to Shaw’s Tavern in DC’s Shaw Neighborhood.

Got there at 7pm for drinks before dinner and Shaw’s Tavern was already hopping.  Definitely a nice vibe.  Everything is very rustic with exposed brick.  Quite a few of the tables were communal, which was kind of cool and seemingly unusual for DC.

Grabbed a seat at the bar, while I waited for everyone else to show up.  Was impressed with their craft beers on tap.   I had the 3 Stars Brewing Company Lime Basil Session Saison.  It was delicious.  At first, I was nervous by the name that it’d be overly flavored but the lime & basil was very nuanced.  It was perfect.    I also had the Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA, which is solid.  Before having a beer, my friend Scott had their rye bourbon cocktail, which I had a taste of.  Delicious!

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8057/8235363712_7e5d36a4a5_n.jpgEventually, everyone got there and we got a table.  Unfortunately, it was near the door so it was a little chilly.  We were all starving so we got appetizers.  Lauren and I got the charcuterie plate.   What can I say, I’m a sucker for cured Italian meat, cheese, and bread.  That’s what they gave us. It was delicious.  The others got the fried green tomatoes and spinach & artichoke dip.   Both delicious staples of any good tavern or gastropub.

For entrees, despite there being a pretty diverse menu, we all got burgers.  I opted for the Bleu Burger.   It was delicious.  I love a good brioche bun.  The fries weren’t anything terribly new or exciting.   I got what I asked for and at a reasonable price.  Next time, I wanna to try the Catfish & Gritcake or Short Rib Ragu.

This is a solid place.   Had a fantastic time.  It had great food, great drinks, and solid & chill vibe, despite being packed.   I’d recommend it.

And yeah… it’s interesting how every neighborhood has their own bar or bars that really starts to become part of the identity neighborhood.   It’s where people come together and live life together.