February 28, 2009

Winter and Her Impending Doom

Filed under: Random — Robert John Ed @ 4:08 pm

I say she because only a woman could hold so much power over me.  It struck my yesterday that the season is getting to me.  The months take so long during winter, I believe that every year a funk occurs where my attitude starts to play limbo.  There’s something to the long cold days, lack of sunlight and ongoing struggle.

Love, life, stress and setbacks for those trying to breathe.

The routine of not getting enough exercise (sweet jessup writing that word is intellectual travesty in itself), staying inside too much, eating too much and a lack of social events just build and bum.  I have a feeling, though not documented, that this happens every year.  I’ll start watching for it now and trying to know if this is SAD or something else, but overall I need to snap out of it.  There are a lot of great things going on now, but I have to go find them.  A good friend won tix (through Twitter!) to the Twolves last night in a suite, it was great (though we got pounded by the Blazers).  I have a kubb tournament in an hour and that will be a blast too.  The point here is that there are fun things happening and it’s easy enough to get out and about if you make the effort.


The type of music you listen to is big as well.  I love Dylan to death, but his tunes are somewhat introspective, purposeful or otherwise, and sometimes that leads to too much thinking.  Trying not to get too introspective is big for someone with OCD.  It’s a trap!  More exercise is helpful too.  The point here is that the weather and inability to get out are causing me distress.  But it’s all a mindset.  Time to get out of it.  :-)  OK, OK, come back.  Sorry didn’t mean to dump on you.  I’ll work something out, OK?  Excellent.



February 27, 2009

Experience, Perseverance and Building

Filed under: Human Relations, Marketing Philosophy, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:06 pm

When you first get out of school, you just don’t get it.  As sad as that sounds (I hate when people say, “you just don’t get it” or “she gets it,” it’s an easy way out, another inclusion group to reference yourself with; if I don’t get it, you need to explain to me what I don’t get and why, not just write me off), it’s true.  There’s a bravado about young 22-24 year old people just getting out of their undergraduate programs.  I know.  I was one, maybe still am.

What I mean is that people at that age are ready to go out and conquer the world, problem is, the world doesn’t want to be conquered.  Additionally, people at that stage have largely no experience regarding their respective industry (if “their” is worth merit here).  I’ll speak to business, as that’s my trade (actually, it’s everyone’s trade, I just acknowledge my hands are no longer pristine out of some illogical idealist rationale).  Developing an understanding in business takes some time.  It also takes some teaching and hard lessons.  It’s a pool filled with intellectual sharks.  So realizing that everyone is out to take share, dollars, ideas and run with them is a tough thing to grasp out of college.  On a base level, I think students understand this, but really “getting it” takes time and experience.  A few good bosses will help a lot too.  My first real boss knows his trade, knows numbers and respects marketing, which is why he respected me.  I learned a ridiculous amount about business from him and how life as an entrepreneur is.  Hopefully that relationship will continue for years and years.  Respect your bosses. There is a good reason they’re where they are, even if it feels like a poor experience at the time.

Experience allows you to understand that the pitfalls, the messups, the office politics, the failed roll outs, production delays and let downs are all part of the game.  There is nothing you can do to completely stop issues from arising.  You can’t let snafus get in the way of building something over the long run.  It’s a long term game.  Perseverance trumps everything in life.  Dedicate yourself completely and you simply cannot lose.

From a marketing perspective, it never ceases to surprise me how long it takes to really build good programs.  You can build tactical initiatives quickly, but you can’t fake a company strategy or paradigm for marketing well.  It just takes a solid amount of time to understand the core values of a company, product or office and establish the programs needed to sustain a vision of excellence.  Companies need quality leaders who can develop and maintain visionary ideas for themselves and their staffs.  If you find yourself working under for someone who you can see strength and ability in, do two things:

1. Thank the heavens for your blessings, because a lot of ’em there ain’t.
2. Get close to this person if you can.  Work your ass off to help her build her vision.  Ask for extra responsibility and do anything you can to work with her on a consistent basis.  You will learn more from her and her excellence than any book would ever teach.  Real experience is worth 10x reading about it.

Building something worthwhile will take time and valuable people.  You simply “don’t get it” before having worked through the scenarios at a young age.  It’s a shame, because the eagerness and alacrity shown by kids out of school is exemplary of what a company wants, in fact, this gets new people by in some situations before they have the know how to get on without.  So don’t lose that excitement either.  Last thing, get all the experience you can.  Take a part time job in the industry or doing the type of work you want while in school.  READ ABOUT YOUR TRADE.  Practice your trade every chance you get and build your skill set, push the envelope on what you are good at.  Talk to people in the industry, go to trade shows, exhibitions, networking events, see and be seen.  These things can make the difference between you and the next guy.

This advice may seem odd coming from a 25 year old in school.  Yep, I know that a lot of these things apply to me still.  But at least I know what I don’t know.  And I think I get it.

February 26, 2009

Holden Caulfield

Filed under: Random — Robert John Ed @ 7:03 pm

Via PostSecret:


Something there is wonderful about literature and art.  It connects us, it shows us how we are all alike, despite our differences.

February 25, 2009

Joining the Consulting Enterprise @ CSOM

Filed under: School — Robert John Ed @ 2:48 pm

Some good news, I’ll be starting what is bound to be an epic and informative travail through the Carlson Consulting Enterprise, which is one of four enterprises here at school.  The other three are Funds which focuses on equity and fixed income financials, Ventures which is more of an entrepeneurial orientation, and Brand which is quite similar to Consulting except is especially oriented around marketing related issues.

What’s that you say?  Robert, why wouldn’t you partake in the Brand Enterprise if you’re such a marketing dork?  Good question.

A few things of note.  First I did apply to brand based on the considerations of second year students and the fact that I plan to spend my career working in marketing and eventually in strategic factions of companies.  The two directors made very good points about the fact that my entire background has roots in marketing and that diversifying my portfolio is a good way to reduce risk.  Additionally, there was a huge amount of interest in the Brand Enterprise this year.  Too much in fact.  Actually, this should have been expected seeing as our class is over 20% larger than typical Carlson classes.  It’s also worth note that previous to being accepted into the CCE, I was very concerned about learning more about critical thinking skills and documenting it so that others can understand the process.  These types of actions often include logic trees, scope of work, fish-bone diagrams, etc.  I believe that my process excels at this type of thinking, but I haven’t actually learned how to implement it.

The person in charge of the CCE, Phil Miller, has consistently impressed me over the first semester and a half when discussing critical thinking and the importance thereof in working in an agency/client relationship…which I tend to project onto any working station, in house or out.

Getting back to the diversification standpoint, I’m learning far more in the classes not about marketing than those that are.  My undergraduate was spent on marketing.  My last five years have been spent working in marketing and reading about marketing and technological advancement (mark. comm., new mediums), so this shouldn’t serve as a suprise.  Coming into school, I looked at all the marketing classes and salivated.  Now that I’m in it, finance has been the most important subject.  Every marketer I’ve spent talking to in the real world with AMM positions or whatnot has said the same thing, learn finance!  So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m also going to start doing industry specific classes and really stay away from marketing classes from here on out (with a few exceptions, particularly pricing).

The CCE begins in the B term, roughly a month away.  I’m excited to get started and soak up some knowledge.  Stay up, young ilk.

Robinson Crusoe

Filed under: Book Reviews — Robert John Ed @ 3:26 am

It has been some time since reviewing a book.  Truth be told, I had almost finished a Kant piece some time ago, but took too long and now must relegate it to reading fully again some later date.  Over the past month, I’ve been reading Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe.  The amount of time it took me to read is kind of astounding, but it seems every book since going to school has taken twice as long as should be.

This is Defoe’s lone classic work, though his proclivity for prolific writing should be noted.  He wrote many kinds of tales and was an ardent pamphleteer, having created over 500 books!  I can’t even imagine the dedication needed.  Robinson Crusoe has been a classic for some very long time and spawned a great deal of adventure books after.

Defoe writes in a different type of tongue, something very old English (well duh) with words that one has forgotten and is unbeknownst to in some cases.  For anyone with inclinations toward understanding every last syllable, a dictionary was necessary forthwith.  I tend to just work through words unknown by piecing together context, but some people have to know.  This book has a lot of words you’ll want to look up if that’s your perogative.  Once again, they are not necessarily difficult words, just obscured by the passage of time and alteration of nomenclature.

The story itself is one of trial and tribulation, resourcefulness and religion. Crusoe tempts fate early on and repeatedly, which turns to a tiger’s tail and leaves him lost upon an island unfamiliar.   It’s not necessarily a page turner, but at the same time, there is something interesting about Defoe and his way of writing this.  It begins as a real time account of shipwreck and survival.  Then moves into short entries of a journal for some chapters and eventually returns to the first person to account for what’s happening.  I’m still not sure why it varies as so, from a literary perspective the journal entries were easier to read, but there is no good reason I can understand to compose it as such.  Regardless it’s well done.

Over twenty seven years are spent by Crusoe away from home.  Much of the time is chronologued over his survival and escapades, some more mundane (basket weaving, making pots and candles, farming) and some exciting (spying on savage cannibals).  I don’t believe that spoiling the finale is a huge disservice as this book has been around so long, additionally Defoe foreshadows Crusoe making his escape from the Island.  The last three chapter or so Crusoe spends saving others and finagling an exodus.  The first thirty or so are spent in solace.

This was a good book.  Well a great book, really.  Yet it certainly was not exciting to me to read, unlike some others’ opinions.  Perhaps it’s over the time I read it, which very much matched the cadence of events in the book itself (significant amount of time between reading, slowly but surely moving forward).  Still, I think it’s an important book and one well worth the time although if you’re looking for more swashbuckling fun or intrigue, I’d suggest Jules Verne or Jack London.


February 24, 2009

Google Timeline Results

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova, Media Origination — Robert John Ed @ 7:36 pm

I love how much new stuff Google is working on and throws against the wall.  I was reading Seth’s blog and he mentioned that Josiah Wegwood invented marketing.  Parsnickles, I say!  How can I not have heard of the person who invented marketing, turns out it wasn’t Al Gore.  Well that was enough for me to look into.

So quick Google search and presto.  Turns out he was a potter and pioneered the sale of them with his name.  I assume this is what Seth is alluding to.

That’s great and all, but Google actually now has timeline results!  Which I found due to searching.  It’s odd how things create synergy by curiosity.  Apparently a mixture of news results and chronology about the subject.  Maybe I’m late to this, but I have to give GOOG some credit, they are always tinkering.

February 17, 2009

Business People Aren’t Inherently Bad

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 9:56 pm

There, I said it.  It seems like that’s the perception though.  Recently more than a few people I’ve met with kind of blanch when I tell them that I’m a business student.  One specifically discounted what I said as biased (what isn’t biased?) because I’m “one of them.”  That’s a direct quote.

First, let’s touch on the big points.  We live in a capitalistic society that depends on the market to provide more so than the government.  Some may think this a bad thing and I disagree.  Though it’s certainly not perfect (humans cannot be), it has worked relatively well for us over the last few hundred years.  So regardless if you like professional business people or not, you rely on businesses every day of your life to provide you the comforts of a modern society.  What’s more, you expect a great deal from businesses as a consumer and most people forget that businesses do not owe you anything.  They exist to make a profit (despite the fact that GOOD businesses and marketing are oriented around consumer advocacy) and must do so to remain in business.  The vast majority of people work for a business of some kind.  Today on the bus someone I was speaking with said, “Well, I’m going to work for the government.”  That is great, but our society couldn’t function as just a government.  That would be communism or some derivative of it.  Now I enjoy Marx as much as the next amateur philosophical hobbyist, but there is a good reason that communist states haven’t proliferated, humans cannot (or have not yet) seem to exist in a communistic state.

Additionally, businesses drive innovation.  What for?  Profitability!  How do you achieve profits?  You build a better mousetrap or create an innovative product or service that the market (that’s us, folks) deems worth paying for.  This is extremely simple and I’m sure some people out there are rolling their eyes a bit, but I feel that people take it for granted.  We all do to some extent.  My issue arises when people are so hypocritical as to think themselves above modern business.  You can’t have it both ways.  Those that openly lament the system are very likely not thinking holistically about the effect of businesses on their lives.

Subconscious and facetious dislike of something is one thing, but openly portraying or addressing business people as greedy of ill repute is another.  I suppose this must be how lawyers feel.  I also am well aware that I’m fighting a losing battle and am very unlikely to alter perceptions of business people as a whole.  But I work with some very nice people every day and consider myself as moral as most others I’ve met as well.  Still, stereotypes are perpetuated for a reason.  There are some very bad apples out there.  I believe that businesses should all be held liable for their actions and seek to be accountable for the products and services they sell.

My apologies for ranting on this, but when the same situation continues to arise (apparent dislike of business and the people who work in it…especially professionals), it makes it quite difficult to rationalize in my own mind.  What is so bad about us?  I don’t get it and maybe I never will.  Maybe under it all the idea that my vocational choice isn’t an ideal way to live shakes me and that’s aggravating?  Doubtful, as I really enjoy marketing and business.

A caveat to this is that I’m not completely sure giving corporations the same rights as a human being is a good idea.  In fact, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I won’t deign to pretend that my expertise warrants an opinion written thoroughly here.  People should not be allowed to hide behind a business, they should be directly accountable.  I may well write on this further as the road continues, it’s kind of a big deal.


Disintermediating Education

Filed under: Ideas, School — Robert John Ed @ 3:41 pm

Recently in my information decision sciences class, I jokingly made the comment that I could disintermediate my teacher because all or near all information today is accessible to many.  This was a half truth.  The teacher shrugged it off and said, paraphrased, “It’s cool with me, I’ll just work on my research.”  I’m sure this is what drives most professors anyway, there are far too many students who don’t really care to make teaching a really stimulating profession.  This is, after all, a mandated class; but it’s a mandated class about technology that I really love.  So I  have actually spent a great deal of my own time having studied it and attempted to understand what is happening in the markets.  Due to that fact, I made a joke about disintermediating the prof, which he understood as a joke, but a lot of truth is said in jest.

Now this particular professor is actually quite good, but I stand by the point that most of the information could be acquired on my own.  There are some difficulties with this as an employment strategy.  My reasoning in class was that though the knowledge is available for procurement, no one in the market (employers) would believe the fact that I’d acquired it on my own.  There are additional problems with actually educating yourself as well as a professor could.  Chances are, I’ll never reach the level of intellectual understanding regarding this subject as the prof.  What’s more, I might not understand how to actually assess what information is truly valuable and necessary for making the subject a viable piece of my intellect in the free market.  The profs do.  Schools and traditional education systems also offer a degree, which is necessary to build credibility.  So despite my joke, it’s obvious that there are reasons we have institutions and that not everything is soluble in terms of education.

Yet these things also pose hurdles to education.  For instance, some people will only take these classes as they are mandated and not truly want to put forth effort.  As such, students who are truly interested in the subject matter will consistently overperform and others may occasionally freeride.  In such instances, it’s possible that lone study would be preferable.  Also, when the system is set to provide certain credibility, many will milk that system instead of focusing on what the real reason for attendance, knowledge procurement.  Essentially this means that some people will be in school to get a degree, not to get the knowledge needed to perform in a vocational situation.  This is how ineffectual people get into positions where they aren’t qualified.

To sum, there are so many things today that can be learned on your own it’s mind blowing.  Languages, advanced sciences, literature, IT, mechanical endeavors, engineering (!), etc.  The knowledge was their before, but not nearly so accessible.  On the other hand, there are a great deal of intangibles that profs and institutions alike offer.  The profs at this school have thus far proven to be the most intelligent people I’ve ever met; I’m not attempting to devalue their practice.  Still, the availability of education online and in other new formats is sure to alter the model.  You could argue it already has in that degrees are now offered online in many places and that degrees of all kinds have proliferated in their number and availaibility.  Education may well disintermediate significantly in the future.

February 16, 2009

New Semester, New Rules

Filed under: School — Robert John Ed @ 1:20 am

The first semester after the core has been especially hectic.  There are such a great deal of group projects.  I have projects on market research, brand management, info decision sciences, finance and another on the Obama campaign and how to leverage so called “new media.”  This along with work have added up to a lot of running around and working heavy on weekends.  Nothing more than what I signed up for, but that’s why the blog hasn’t seen as much action either.

Overall though, this semester has been far more enjoyable than the core, which packs 7 classes into one semester along with all of the networking, career related sessions and more.  This semester (and all after) are self selected classes and extracurricular activities along with an enterprise focusing on consulting projects (four choices here, brand-consulting-funds-ventures, which are marketing, consulting, financial and startups respectively).  There is still just as much going on, but there’s far more variety in the structure.  It’s just a lot more enjoyable than the core.  Although the interviewing process added a lot of stress for most of us students, I think most of the class would agree that having the core behind us makes the time more fun and faster.  Before we know it, we’ll be graduates and be looking back on this.


Off The Market: Dundee With Interviewing, Crocodile Style

Filed under: Human Relations, Meeting Marketers, Personal Branding, School — Robert John Ed @ 1:02 am

I’d been meaning to write about interviewing and such for some time.  The problem is that I didn’t want to write about it publicly while still in the process.  There are some major problems with interviewing and the processes around it.  Every company wants you to be absolutely in love with them.  That’s an issue, because you can’t be in love with every company you interview with.  Every company I interviewed with interested me for various reasons, but there were only a few that I was really dying to go work for.  Luckily, one of them has given me a chance to do so.  And I mean a company that I’d work at for free if given the opportunity.  It’s an incredibly big challenge to go in there and provide value, which is fantastic!  One of the main things I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I need challenges to be happy.  This position will most definitely be that.  Pardon the exclamations and rambling about said company, but I’m truly ecstatic.

Another issue with interviewing is the randomness of selection.  So much of what you get asked is subjective and biased on the perspective of the interviewer.  For instance, in a review of my first rounds with school, one company (I am almost positive of which one) gave me a low confidence score.  Now I’m hardly perfect, but ask anyone who has known me for a significant time period and they will tell you that confidence is not something I struggle with.  Yet somehow, I managed to give off that vibe in an interview.  So that almost has to be some sort of random error, or I was off my game that day.  Truthfully, the negative feedback got my engine roaring again and the next interview went like gangbusters.  Once again, the challenge thing.  I felt challenged and aggressively sought out to smash it.  There is always value to constructive criticism, true professionals seek it out, but when criticism is illegitimate, then what’s wrong?

The problem is that so many people are not necessarily great interviewees.  In fact, I’d argue it’s very difficult to be a “great” interviewee because it’s so subjective.  You can’t be great at it because you don’t know what everyone is coming for.  You can certainly remain calm, offer reasoned responses and maintain a generally affable disposition during the process, but you can’t be everything to everyone.  This is turning into a rant on why interviewing isn’t enjoyable, but interviewers also have a tendency to look for red flags instead of necessarily focusing on positives.  I can’t blame them for this as no one wants to work with a borderline sociopath with mommy issues.  This isn’t really a problem.  Not everyone should be a fit for every position.  That much is true.  But too many impeccable candidates are passed over because they get nervous about behavioral questions and fumble on something that is actually in their wheelhouse.  

 My class still has some ridiculously talented and kind people that haven’t been offered opportunities to interview for positions where they’d do a great job.  That’s a problem for the students.  Something is missing.  Either the resume isn’t up to spiff, they haven’t properly learned about or networked with the companies they’re interested in or something else.  Because all the companies I attempted to speak with (save one or two) reached back out to me and made an effort.  The company I’m going to work for absolutely blew me away.  Every single person I asked for a meeting with jumped at it and gave me great advice.  In a few years, you can bet I’ll be doing the same for my employer.  The people truly make the difference, and it became apparent very quickly that working with those kind of people is more important in a career decision than anything else.

As a whole, the process is really difficult.  I spent more time on networking, reviewing companies, preparing for interviews and whatnot than any one class last year.  That’s actually quite a bit of time.  Human resource work is some of the most exasperating and tough work I’ve ever done, I understand how hard it is for the employers and potential employees.  It just seems like there has to be a better way to go about it, though I’m not sure what that is.

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