March 31, 2009

Joking & Humor in the Office

Filed under: Human Relations — Robert John Ed @ 5:55 pm

I’m kind of a yuckster.  In an odd amalgamation of extreme business levity, of course.  I can’t really begin to describe quite how seriously my career and performance are.  Most people who work with me will understand that the objectives of the company always come first and that building something worthwhile, something that sustains the course of time and really adds value is always priority.  Whether that be a  brand, product, campaign or vision, the company and objectives come first.

Simultaneously, I like to attempt to put people at ease and make them comfortable within a working environment (maybe due to stalwart resolve having a potential for perception as unfeeling, who knows?).  I feel that it helps a working environment when people to feel at ease with the others around them.  So I joke a lot.  And under normal circumstances it works well, but occasionally, I’ll say something that could be construed in poor taste.  It’s never intentional, but it does happen.  One of the best aspects of coming to B-school (for me) is learning more about social connotations and when it’s appropriate to joke around in such settings.  I’m thinking that as I move forward and progress, toning down the humor is in order; not to say fun won’t be had, but attempting to measure wording and use precision in speech.  This is probably a “duh” kind of post for most people out there who have spent significant time in corporations or within very PC environments, but it’s a knowledge curve I’m just now getting down.

Additionally, sometimes it strikes me how writing these kinds of thought processions could have a connotation of weakness or inadequacy to readers.  Some might think that.  I’m of the mind that anyone willing to own up to mistakes is better off for it.  The transparency to do or say such things can have a galvanizing effect on those around you, it certainly does on me.  Recognizing weakness (instead of denying it) is the first step towards doing something about it.  I have worked with an individual that ritualistically avoided fault.  It always struck me as this person was in a position of power and there was little that would have happened to them; in retrospect it seems like a self confidence issue.  Confidence is having the ability to recognize issues as they arise, address them and continue on to complete the tasks and jobs you are brought in to do.  Even if (GASP!) you may have been at fault.  Not that I have an opinion.  Bah-dum-chah.



March 30, 2009

Marathon Month :: Leaving for South Korea!

Filed under: Random — Robert John Ed @ 1:51 pm

I’ve referred to my Mondays as marathons the last few months as I had four classes amidst meetings over the first term of the semester.  This term it has lightened somewhat for the fact that I only have three classes on Mondays, but now I have three on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as a new project for the Carlson Consulting Enterprise.

In addition to this, I’ve recently signed up to take a trip to South Korea for ten days to visit a friend and see the sights.  I haven’t had a vacation since senior year of undergrad and it’s well overdue.  In order to take the trip, I have to front load a lot of group work and prepare travel plans etc.  The next few weeks will be a somber lot, with an incredible amount of work to do.  But I’m extremely excited at the same time.  Initially, I’d planned on studying abroad for my second year, but decided against it when the program didn’t seem conducive to my objectives for B school.  As an addition, I decided to take a few trips over the course of the next few years in order to supplement that experience going fallow.

It should be a great time, if anyone has advice on what to do while I’m over there, I’d greatly appreciate it.  As of now, the plan is to go to Seoul then fly down to Jeju Island and finish up in Busan.

The Hazards of Love

Filed under: Music — Robert John Ed @ 2:06 am

I’ve been listening to the new Decemberists album, The Hazards of Love, all weekend.  It’s a concept album and totally worth buying.  This is actually the first concept album in my collection, and it’s really fun to listen to.  We’ll see how long it lasts in rotation, but for now it’s top of the list.


March 26, 2009

Manager’s Anatomy and Physiology

Filed under: School — Robert John Ed @ 5:45 pm

Not one in particular.  I’m speaking about a class.

A class I just started yesterday night, and I’m quite excited about it.

As I noted previously, the marketing classes I’ve taken aren’t exhilarating me at this point.  It’s not the teachers, it’s the content.  It seems like I’ve already learned it and kind of a waste of time.  There’s still some value to it, but I feel like other classes would be more of an ROO (knowledge procurement).  Pricing and maybe Tech. Marketing are still in my future, but that’s about it.

Manager’s Anatomy and Physiology is all about the human body (anatomy) and how it works (physiology), which is something I haven’t seen since high school.  The subject matter itself is cool, simply for the fact that I’m not well versed in it at all.  Subject matter that is new to me seems like a great challenge, and challenges get me going.   The teacher is an MD, who seems incredible.  Have you ever met someone that obviously gets excited about his/her work, goes off on tangents about things that seem interesting and generally have fun?  This guy seems very much like that.  People such as that make for amazing teachers.  Besides those things, being in a non-business class is kind of a nice break.  Though half of this class is market assessment and understanding for a business, it’s a new twist for me and it sounds like a lot of fun.


Filed under: Human Relations — Robert John Ed @ 4:52 pm

I’ve been listening and reading to management ideas and philosophies lately.  I’ve an inkling that restraint is a very important trait for many people within a business environment, but especially managers.

We all have to show restraint to some extent in our every day lives.  Not overeating every time food is around is an easy example.  There are many others such as waiting for things to go on sale rather than buying at the first chance you have enough cash, or holding out for the best job offer (HA!).  Little economy humor for you there.  BTW if you can’t laugh at much, you can’t live much.  Then again, it wasn’t all that funny.

Anyway, there are a great amount of times in our day to day lives where restraint is needed.  In business it seems much more important to developing relationships.  Yesterday we saw a Target presentation regarding healthy relationships at work.  I won’t attempt to explain why people need to get along when they spend 40-60 hours a week in the same general vicinity looking to achieve the (hopefully) same ends.  I will say that the lead in this presentation made a great point about observation and the importance of stating what was observed instead of what was inferred.  Small, but exponential, difference.

It got me thinking about actually managing people.  I’ve had a great deal of project management experience in the past, as well as a great deal of people reporting their work to me in order to coordinate a group effort.  But I would never have labeled myself a manager and I imagine that will change in the next few years.  So I think a lot about what makes management effective.  Most of my professional life I’ve been expected to deal with ambiguity 75-90% of the time.  A typical project for me in the past:

1.  Develop ideas on marketing and improving touch points through the sales cycle
2.  Pitching that idea to the CEO, working through details and getting buy in
3.  Create a plan and budget (Plan was almost always extensive, budget was not)
4.  Source external needs
5.  Oversee internal functions (design, IT, etc.)
6.  Coordinate all parties and timelines, roll out marketing plans
7.  Diagnose effectiveness either (quant or qualitative)

That’s abbreviated, but it’s a decent picture.  Those are the kind of projects where you’re expected to have a tenacity and drive towards completion.  You pull the train, in other words.  As a manager and in a lot of other cross functional roles, you may not be there to be the engine.  It takes restraint to understand that.  You aren’t always that role.

In management, much of the time you need a great deal of restraint in differing manners.  The event yesterday detailed a situation where functional experts were supposed to discuss avenues for improvement as yearly goals.  As a manager there, you have to show restraint in putting any ideas or thoughts you have regarding the subject; it holds a great deal of sway on the way those that answer to you think.  Your goal should be to get a complete and rational understanding of what the individual EXPERTS (those that answer to you) have to say.  Abstain from speaking your mind.  Listen and learn.  Then go about making decisions for the best outcomes of your organization and people.

Restrain yourself.  Listen and learn.  It warrants reiteration.

March 21, 2009

Feed Withdrawn from Fbook

Filed under: Blog Explanations — Robert John Ed @ 5:10 pm

OK, so that was easy.  I pulled my RSS feed from Facebook.  We’ll see if my stats take a downturn (which isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things).

March 20, 2009

What Am I Going To Do About Facebook?

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Media Origination — Robert John Ed @ 2:59 pm

I’ve got some big plans for Facebook.  Or a lack thereof.  Or a withdrawal.

Facebook has really revolutionized the way we communicate and keep up to date with friends, acquaintances, passerby’s, coworkers, family, secret admirations, detestables, and randoms.  For the most part I really enjoy it.  But when I look at my profile, it looks like this:


One of the things about writing is that it should be done every day.  Whether it’s a blog or journal or whatever, the practice helps you to sort out thoughts and be more creative.  So when I’m not in school (as that takes up such a great deal of time), I try to get something down as much as possible.  So my profile kind of gets spammed like above.  Which I don’t dig all that much.  The bigger issue is that there have to be a lot of people that aren’t all that interested in my musings.  There are certainly people on the Fbook that I get tired of hearing about, my guess is that I’m no exception.

So I’m considering dropping my feed of blog posts into Facebook and just keeping them on Redmarketer.  It’s kind of tough to pull the trigger though.  Rather than write about it, I should probably just yank the plug for a few weeks to see what happens to UV’s and page views.  I also didn’t want to just drop the feed for people who actually do read through Fbook and then have them think I just quit writing.

Next issue, I’m going to work for an incredible company in a month and a half, so I’m considering a sabbatical from Facebook and Twitter.  I spend a lot of time on both, not at work, but they are still a big time drain and I think that the time I spend on them at home would be better spent outside or meeting with people in RL.  Pretty sure I’ll be pulling out of Facebook for the three months of summer.  Just a temporary hiatus, but a hiatus none the less.  I posted this on Twitter yesterday and got a few complaints from friends about doing it.  “That’s how we keep in touch!”  “L.A.M.E.!” etc.  But I did this a year ago and it was actually kind of nice to deviate from the digital.

If you have any thoughts on taking the blog out of Facebook, or you’ve done something similar, I’d like to hear about it.

March 18, 2009

Dylan vs. Oberst (Bright Eyes)

Filed under: Music — Robert John Ed @ 5:15 pm

Watching my page, it’s apparent how much Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band a lot.  My tendency with music is to gravitate toward the good writers.  The lyrics of a song or album often mean as much as the music and more.  So it’s no surprise that Oberst gets so much play.  Same goes for Elliot Smith, John K. Samson (Weakerthans), Ian Bavitz (Aesop Rock) and the holy of holies Bob Dylan.

I’ve listened to roughly 3x more Dylan than any other artist according to the site, which began recording a year and a half ago.  Dylan is not only one of the best musical acts I’ve ever heard, but he’s one of the greatest writers I’ve ever come across.  I say that having read a great deal of American literature over the years.  His writing is obviously a great deal different than novels, but his span of work more than makes up for it when you consider longevity.  Phenomenal writers often will put out a few great works and anywhere from 10-50 others.  The the prolific of the prolific just keep churning out works (Christie, Shaw).  Most writers don’t get that much done, Fitzgerald for instance only had a few transcendent pieces but offered a great deal of other things (such as shorts, like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.)  I could go on about authors for some time, but the point is that Dylan made his mark initially by captivating a nation, but his writing lives on.  He has five decades of work.  Five decades.  So he really is on the same level as a Ginsberg or a Frost (my favorite traditional poet).  His work is different, certainly, but prolific and impressive none the less.

Oberst has been prolific as well.  He started writing and performing music at 13 and consistently has music coming.  His writing is incredible as well.  I don’t think that his writing is on the same level as Dylan in most instances.  Dylan has a timeless feel to so many of his works, people will listen to them as long as music exists.  Oberst, while great, doesn’t have nearly so many songs that I’d classify as age defiant.  He is a special artist of our time though, and this is his time whereas Dylan’s was the 60’s/70’s.  There is a good reason that so many meaningful indie bands today cover Dylan, many exist as an extension of his work.

I buy a lot of albums.  I like whole albums because they paint a time period of an artist and his works then.  The biggest difference that I say Dylan is transcendant and Oberst isn’t on the same level is albums.  The songs alone can’t tell a full story, though that story skews toward Robert Allen Zimmerman too, but albums are how an artist is judged.  Not songs.  Dylan has Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, Freewheelin’, Highway 61 Revisited, Desire and Blood on Tracks (for the love of everything sacred…those are only the absolute best of his albums, others like Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Harding (!), Another Side are things most artists would kill to have made).  He’s about as close to musical deity as possible.  Oberst just doesn’t really have any albums I’d put on that level…other than “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” which ridiculously good.

Last thing that needs to be said is that Dylan truly switched up his style over and over.  He reinvented himself consistently to the point where people really didn’t know what to expect from him.  They were anxious to see his next work because they really didn’t know where he was going.  Oberst has stayed the course.  His music is variant and incorporates different sounds and ideas consistently, but there are some overaching themes that one can pick out.  I’ve heard people say they just got tired of his sound.  His latest album seems to have found a little bit of a different sound though, it will be interesting to see what he does over the years.  Oberst as a writer is potentially as good as anyone I’ve listened to in modern times, but the Dylan comparisons don’t quite ring true.  Take nothing away from either of them, both truly remarkable.  I’ll leave it at that, with a few videos.

Bright Eyes:  Four Winds (Amazing, read these lyrics)

Bob Dylan:  Abandoned Love (Well written and just one gem in his lyrical treasury)

I see my light shining, from the West down to the East.  Any day now, any day now, I shall be released…

March 17, 2009

The Balance of Experience & Skill

Filed under: Marketing Philosophy, Meeting Marketers, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:00 pm

A person with a trade or business skill set often faces a decision when entering a new industry or opportunity.  When to rely on skill and when to rely on experience of others.  It’s not an easy decision.

Most professionals have accrued their own experience and ability over the years.  They understand and trust those things to the extent that they are not afraid to apply them to new situations (at least the good ones, poor ones may be cursed with uncertainty all their careers).

When entering a new situation, these people must figure out where to apply their skill.  Now, anyone foolish enough to not attempt to learn from the people who have already been in a situation will ultimately risk alienation and failure based on hubris.  EVERYONE has something to teach you, one way or another.  But sometimes people have things to teach you that might not be as valuable as the skills you’ve built  over the years.  It’s your responsibility to be intrinsically critical of what other people are admonishing for the betterment of the situation as a whole.

For instance, lets say you are a designer and someone comes to you with a critique of how you’ve placed a logo within the firm you work for.  Despite the fact that this person has good intentions, it’s obvious that they don’t understand an overarching theme toward branding that you do.  In this situation you would certainly have to say thank you for the suggestion and politely refrain from making alterations or explain to them why the proof must stay the way you originally designed it.  That’s an obvious situation.  For marketers, it can often be more difficult to fully grasp the ramifications of suggestions from others.  Some people may not fully understand what they are suggesting and its impact.  Everyone on the planet understands marketing to an extent, we’re all consumers.  But it’s important to understand others and their skill sets too.  Have they ever really had to do copy writing?  Have they designed anything?  Have they ever really sold something to someone?  EVERYONE will have suggestions from you for these types of things, because everyone has preferences for the way they’re marketed to.

The fact that someone has been in an industry a long time doesn’t mean that they’ve necessarily done the work necessary to complete YOUR job.  That’s what you are there for after all.

This is difficult subject matter.  Because you can learn from anyone in any industry, but there are times when people will give you advice that isn’t as strong as the experience you’ve built.  Figuring out when those instances arise is extremely hard.  But you have to figure them out, for the betterment of your campaign, company and career.  As always, focus on the first two as much as possible and the latter follows.

All that said, it’s critically important to learn from people who HAVE done your job.  Put dollars to donuts they are better at it than you are.

March 16, 2009


Filed under: Random — Robert John Ed @ 6:46 pm

It’s always so fun to read, especially with a Don Quixote reference.  I mean who puts H.G. Wells (or if you dig radio, Orson Welles) and Cervantes together?  Luls.  Don’t forget to go to the site and scroll over the images, often those are the best parts of the joke.

Older Posts »

Blog at