QuikTrip, Others Lack Consistency

by Dwayne Kilbourne on August 23, 2013

Let me start by noting that I am not here to get on (chain gas station/convenience store) QuikTrip’s  case, but they, along with others lack some massive consistency. To clarify, there appears to be a massive difference in the way that this convenience store chain (especially the one in Kennesaw, GA) and state regulators view tobacco purchases against lottery purchases. In the State of Georgia, people cannot buy either tobacco products or lottery tickets unless they are 18 years or older.  Certainly, there is this ongoing issue in our culture that younger people seek to smoke and use other tobacco products. Some just want to feel accepted, others are addicted already, and some just want to bend the rules. So, a few will to go stores in Georgia and try to buy before they are legally old enough to do so. Sometimes, a few teenagers fall through the cracks – whether the clerk at the gas station didn’t realize that the purchaser was not yet 18 years old or simply did not care how old the purchaser was. Of course, state and local officials push hard to reduce underage tobacco usage. They restrict tobacco manufacturers, and they make sure that retailers are abiding by the law through undercover activity. But, what about those lottery obligations and restrictions? I don’t see undercover activity by local and state officials to ensure local retailers are following all of those gambling rules.

QuikTrip

The QuikTrip Observation!

There is a local QuikTrip convenience store that is near my home in Kennesaw, GA (metro Atlanta area). It seems like a clerk might have accidentally sold cigarettes to an undercover customer during an underage sting. As a result, this location was fined, and their management team decided that they were going to avoid that risk by carding every tobacco customer, even if the customer appeared to be 70 or 80 years old. Personally, I’m cool with that – the law is the law. But, I feel that there is a lack of consistency. I have not seen them card every lottery customer. I mean… both purchases have the same age requirement, so why the regulatory discrimination? Similarly, I do not see or hear about any undercover lottery stings that deal specifically with the potential underage lottery customer. If you are going to card every customer who wants to buy alcohol or tobacco, you should do the same for adult magazine purchases, lottery, and anything else that may have an age restriction.

The Debate!

If tobacco and alcohol has negative side effects when abused, we must remember that, while different, abusing lottery through addictive purchases beyond one’s budget can have severe, negative side effects. I know that the government and the HOPE Scholarship wins by having more people buy lottery, but shouldn’t the government more actively enforce the age restriction? If they do not want to do that, why not open up lottery purchases to everybody? If they are going to take tax-payer money and resources to conduct undercover sting operations for tobacco and alcohol purchases, they need to make a more concerted effort to do the same for lottery purchases. Otherwise, the law is just a waste! What do you think?

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Silly Silva Caught Clowning

by Dwayne Kilbourne on July 7, 2013

It was UFC 162. The world was watching. After number one challenger, Chris Weidman, had some minor takedown success in the first round, Anderson Silva started to pick his points and also test Chris’ mental toughness by instigating him and daring him to shoot for the takedown or try and knock out the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Silva encouraged Weidman to come grapple with him on the edge of the Octagon’s cage à la his tactics against Bonner. Then, he would throw a jab or leg kick. Silva was gaining confidence while attempting to torment his opponent and win the mental battle, but his luck ran out in the second round. Silva got hit with a glancing blow (a left punch), and he immediately faked a wobble to further get at Weidman, but Chris threw another [four punches], and those landed. Ultimately, it was a left hook that turned the lights out for Silva, and Weidman followed him to the canvas with a few more punches for good measure. At 1:18 of the second round, Chris Weidman is the new UFC middleweight champion!

The Aftermath!

Silva received a good number of boos after the shock set in. The crowd was in an uproar. As the end of Silva’s unbeaten reign came to an end and as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In the USA” piped into the arena, the questions came up. Why? Why did Silva clown like he did? Didn’t he know that those antics would catch up to him one day? Does this ruin his legacy? Many questions do arise, and some hypothetical situations cloud the skies. Still, Anderson is an amazing fighter. He will probably go down as the best MMA fighter to ever lace up the gloves – certainly the best to fight in the UFC.

Instagram Photo by @camden_fontenot

Lesson: Finding Balance

In many ways, we can learn some important lessons from this fight. First, to be an amazing champion, you have to take a risk. Both guys did that during their UFC 162 fight. You have to give credit to Chris for standing firm with his game plan and moving forward with his attacks. You have to also give it to Silva for taking a different approach and seeking to beat him mentally and shifting Weidman’s game plan using those unlikely tactics. In business, brands have to take a risk to win in the marketplace. Playing it safe doesn’t win championships or major market share. Certainly, however, there has to be some balance. Where that exact balance lies is highly debatable. Still, there has to be a little bit of risk management in the mix, and solid decisions must be made. Silva will carry on and surely learn from that fight’s mistakes, and he will be a better man for it!

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Top 7 Coasterthon Riding Tips

by Dwayne Kilbourne on June 4, 2013

Mind Bender - Six Flags Over GA

So, I’m doing my first official coasterthon, and I’m getting ready to endure 8 to 9 hours of coaster thrills, and it is for a good cause – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. As a perfectionist, thrill enthusiast, and challenge-seeker, I’m anxious and ready for this opportunity. I will endure no matter what, for that is the Marine in me. With that said, it is best to get prepared and to do so early on, so Brad Mahan offered up some great tips for anybody looking to ride roller coasters all day long!

  1. Drink Plenty of Water – Water is your friend. Sure, you might feel the need to cut back on your water intake if you worry that you’ll have to run to the bathroom often, but that shouldn’t be your top worry, especially during warmer days. The sun will be beaming down on you, and you will start to sweat out a lot of the water that you take in, so you want to be sure that you stay hydrated. Of course, it is a good idea to start drinking more water as early as possible. It is always a good idea to drink plenty of water, so make this a reason to make it a habit. Lastly, start drinking more water early in the week leading up to the event and not just on the day of!
  2. Get Rest – Your body will want and need some rest, especially leading up to the event. Sure, the excitement that builds before such a challenge is great, but you have to be disciplined and get your rest the night before. If you do not get your rest, your Coasterthon experience won’t be quite so kind. A tired body first thing in the morning [as you hop on a coaster for nine hours] is not pleasing, so you definitely don’t want to make this mistake!
  3. Use Sunscreen – Sunscreen is your friend. It is best to put on a good amount of sunscreen on before you get going for the day. Ideally, use waterproof sunscreen that has a high SPF rating! Then, reapply it throughout the day… even if your sunscreen claims to last all day long! It is always best to be safe than sorry; the sunburn will not be fun!
  4. Eat Light & Clean – It is ideal to keep some food in your stomach, but it is best to ensure that you don’t eat that greasy cheeseburger the morning of the event. Keep the foods solid and don’t over stuff yourself. Keep in mind that the roller coaster will be shaking you around all day long! Also, keep a few mints and a bag of peanuts in your pocket just in case – mints help when your stomach feels upset, and salted peanuts will help retain some water and fight any headaches you might experience!
  5. Wear Eye Protection – If you are riding a roller coaster all day long, you’ll probably go around and around more than 100 laps on the track. As you can imagine, dust and dirt will be in the air, and your eyes will not be thrilled halfway through the event. So, take the time to pick up some sunglasses with a cord on the end (to wrap around your neck so they do not fall off). Otherwise, your eyes will have a greater chance of drying up on you; pain in your eyes is never fun. Similarly, if you wear contacts, maybe you should switch to glasses for the day!
  6. Stretch Before – You will want to make sure your muscles are loosened up and ready to roll! Stretch in the morning and prepare your mind for the upcoming thrills.
  7. Don’t Ride Stiff – Keep your body loose and relax during the ride, especially at the beginning. The roller coaster is safe, so let it take you for the ride! If you stiffen up and hold on super tight, your body will tire very quickly, and you will likely not be able to complete the entire Coasterthon challenge!

So, there you have it – the top 7 tips for your Coasterthon challenge. Did I miss any tips? Have you tried a Coasterthon before? I’d love to hear all about it. Thanks again to Brad for sharing his expertise! Also, I will be sure to report back on Friday’s Experience!

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Twitter Tweaks List Limitations [For The Better]

by Dwayne Kilbourne on June 2, 2013

Talk about a sigh of relief. For quite some time now, I have been pleading for Twitter to reassess its [terrible] list limitations. In the past, they only allowed a Twitter profile to have 20 lists, and each list was allowed to only have 500 people listed on it. If you recall in previous blog posts, I was not overly worried about the number of people/brands I could add to the list, but I was very furious about the inability to organize the people I follow on Twitter into more than 20 lists. For years, I would have to readjust and manually merge lists in order to eventually add another one. It was extremely frustrating, and I have to admit that I found it to be a nightmare.

Organizational Relief!

So, as Mashable reported in recent days, Twitter has now decided to be more list-friendly. Twitter profiles can now have a maximum of 1,000 lists, and each list can include 5,000 Twitter profiles on it. Wow! That’s quite the jump. As noted many times before, limiting to 20 lists was quite cramping, and it seemed to have made me more inefficient. In many cases, for example, I had to make lists more general in nature (i.e. bloggers and vloggers). This meant that I could not get the feed that I needed to at the time that I needed it. Now, that has changed. Now, I just have to go through my current lists and adjust them one by one. That might be taxing and take time, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

Some of Dwayne's Twitter Lists

Keeping It Simple!

I still will be sure to keep the list lengths reasonable. I cannot foresee me having any list include more than 1,000 profiles. To me and for my needs, that does not seem reasonable nor efficient. Since I have more list options, I will just be sure to group people more effectively into appropriate lists in lieu of rushing out to add 5,000 people to a list. Still, I’m thrilled that Twitter woke up and smelled the coffee on this one. Facebook never limited the number of lists you could create, so it was surprising that Twitter did not get smart about this topic long ago. Yet, it is better that they corrected this later than never. While I will not get close to these new limits, it is a relief that we all have more flexibility and scalability when it comes to our usage of Twitter. Of course, I’m not extra thrilled about everything Twitter is doing, but that is a discussion for another day. For now, Twitter made the right call about something important. How will you utilize this new flexibility? How many lists do you think you will have? 50? 100? 500? I’d love to hear all about it!

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CHOA’s Coasterthon – One Week Out!

by Dwayne Kilbourne on May 31, 2013

Okay, so I have to admit that I am very excited for next Friday, June 7, 2013. As a coaster enthusiast and somebody who loves to give back, I’m thrilled to be able to participate in this event! Many people are signed up for the event, and I have already secured my seat – this is all due to your gracious help, support, donations, and sharing with friends and family. Still, while I have a seat, I also realize the great cause that these donations are going to. It is going to children’s hearts! We all know that we need a heart to live, and, with our help, more children will have healthy hearts and improved living after heart procedures. So, this is a vast undertaking. As a result, I’m not stopping my fundraising efforts. I ask that, if you are reading this, you share with your friends and family. Your one post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter could make the difference for one lucky little boy or girl. Also, if you haven’t given to this great cause, I encourage you to do so. Like I mentioned before, skip your favorite unnecessary beverage or snack for one day and donate that to help the children.

TRAINING MODE!

I’m all in, everybody, and I’m ready to rock. Yesterday, many of the riders gathered for the informational session in order to completely understand the event schedule and everything else related to this Coasterthon! We shared recommendations and ideas for a lot of things, including how to tame Mind Bender for 9 hours! So, game is on, and I’m in full training mode. My mind is set on doing all nine hours for the kids, and that is just what I am going to do (barring some unforeseen emergency)! It’s time for me to acclimate my body to what the conditions will be. It’s time to revert to Devil Dog mode and just do it. The way I look at it is that the children have endure far much worse punishment and pain than anything I will be confronted with on Friday, June 7, 2013, so I know that I can do it.

Mind Bender - 9 Hours, No Problem!

How Can You Help?

Please continue to pass along this information to your friends and family. If you or anybody you know wants to donate, please go to http://bit.ly/DwayneCoasterthon and give whatever you can. If you are a company and want to donate, let me know how I can help provide your brand extra exposure as a thank you for your donation! Please pass this along to your friends online, and, if you are in the Atlanta area on Friday, June 7, 2013, please feel free to come out and root us all on!

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Mega Millions Misunderstanding

by Dwayne Kilbourne on May 30, 2013

From time to time, I play a lottery ticket. Sure, the odds are not the best, but they tell me that I cannot win unless I play. Darn, huh? Well, as a business person and somebody who attempts to simply things that should not be complicated, I find myself at odds with the Cash Option feature offered my Mega Millions.

Mega Millions logo

What is Cash Option?

For those not familiar with this feature of the game, you can select if you want your top prize jackpot paid out in one lump sum or spread out annually over a few decades. If you take the Cash Option, you do not get the full jackpot amount, but, again, you do get it all at once in one big check. Still, even with the reduced amount, I’d go for that option and invest it myself.

Where is the Misunderstanding?

Well, many people do not realize that, if you select Annuity Option in lieu of Cash Option, you still have the chance to change your mind when you win the top jackpot. However, the mind-boggling thing is that those who initially select Cash Option cannot change their mind over to Annuity Option if and when they win. How dumb is that? I feel that it needs to be all or none; force people to stick with their original selection or merely offer the change of payout to all winners, no matter the original selection. For comparison purposes, Powerball once had that option to select Annuity or Cash Option at the time of purchase, but they’ve elected to remove the choice at the time of purchase and simply things by just allowing the jackpot winner(s) select Annuity or Cash Option when he/she/they come to claim their winnings! And this brings me to the lesson of the day for all businesses (especially to Mega Millions)…

KISS

How many times have we been taught to just Keep It Simple, Stupid [KISS]? In the long run (and typically also in the short run), you win! Over complicating it does little good, and you risk losing customers as a result of it, and that is not a good thing. So, there you have it. Maybe, Mega Millions will shape up and fix this flaw of theirs, but they may also just ignore this! Time will tell!

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Google RollIt Integrates Desktop, Mobile Experience

by Dwayne Kilbourne on May 28, 2013

Earlier today, Google unveiled an interesting technology that should reduce office productivity and output by just a bit over the coming weeks. Many of us have played a little Skeeball back in our day, but now Google has found an interactive way to modernize this experience; they call the project Google RollIt! Basically, Google is researching some technologies that integrate the desktop [Chrome] browser with your mobile browser and smartphone hardware. In this apparent first iteration, Google brings a new look and feel to Skeeball. Sure, they could have built a quick game using the browser and mouse functionality, but Google innovated. They synchronized the smartphone with the desktop browser in a way that is apparently similar to the Wii or Xbox Kinect functionality in order to allow users to use their phones to roll the skeeball! How cool is that?

Google's new RollIt Game

What’s Next?

It certainly appears that Google is really continuing to innovate, even as they grow into an even-larger company. However, this advancement by Google appears to be quite a game-changer for the mobile gaming experience, and who knows if that is where the applications will stop. As for technology trends, more and more people are turning to the mobile experience. A lot of this has to do with advancing hardware options, smartphone feature competition between various mobile platforms (i.e. Google’s Android versus Apple’s iOS vs Microsoft’s Windows Phone vs the rest), and the demand from end users to have more technology in the palm of their hands. With that said, the next generation of gaming devices and platforms are starting to be unveiled by the industry leaders [Microsoft and Sony]. But, is Google looking to corner some of the market, especially the portable marketplace?

It appears that this could be the first steps of something big or just another big of tinkering by some cool nerds with deep pockets. Certainly, time will tell, but the consumers may now have yet another great option is a highly-competitive and advancing marketplace! Can Google steal a little thunder from Kinect’s greatness? Or does it just not want a piece of that market? There are a lot of new features available, competition is brewing at an all-time high, and the future looks bright! How do you see Google’s gaming research playing out? Will they look to jump further into this marketplace? These questions will be answered in due time; until then, sit back and sync up your phone to your browser!

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Skip Starbucks – Give Back!

by Dwayne Kilbourne on May 23, 2013

Now, before we get started, I am not saying that you should give up your Starbucks Latte or Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee [forever]. No, instead, I am just asking for you to consider taking the money that you’d spend on one or two cups of your favorite beverage and give back to a greater cause. Giving up one cup of your favorite beverage does not sound like too much, right? Many of us have more than one cup of favorite beverage numerous times each day; similarly, many of us like to drink our favorite beverage many times per week, so giving up just one or two cups in order to give back isn’t too much to ask. I will admit – I’m not a coffee drinker, I do not drink much alcohol, and I have not had a carbonated beverage since December of 1999, so maybe going without that one cup in the morning is difficult. For me, I drink water and juice; consequently, I have slowed the amount of juice I have been drinking in recent days and weeks and decided to give back. So, what am I asking?

Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta - Coasterthon 2013

What’s This Coasterthon About?

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has a Coasterthon fundraiser at Six Flags Over Georgia. As a person who loves to give back and somebody who loves roller coasters and other thrills, I am happy to participate. Last year, this non-profit organization came up with this Coasterthon, and it was a great success. I would have loved to participate in it last year, but I learned about this great fundraiser too late in the game. This year, however, is a different case.  On June 7, 2013, I am planning to ride (along with 21 other great folks) Mind Bender (a looping, steel coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia) for 9 consecutive hours!

How Can You Help?

Your donations can really make a big difference. Whether you have $100 or $5 to give, anything you can do will go a long way. 100% of your donations are going directly to the children to provide the best possible medical care for them, something that they might not otherwise be able to get. You can make a difference… maybe a life-saving one! Here is how I look at it – we all have our favorite beverages that we enjoy. Most of those beverages are NOT essential to our health and well-being. If that is the case for you, I ask that you sacrifice one or two cups of your favorite beverage (or more if you like) and give it to the children for things that could prove extremely essential to their health and well-being!  You can go directly to my donation page and donate that amount. My goal is $723, a number that is extra special to me. Of course, the first step is to get past the $150 level, and we’re running extremely short on time. That amount will guarantee me a seat. If you help me raise enough to earn a seat on this ride, I PROMISE you that, barring a life-threatening situation, I WILL stay on the ride for the entire duration of the challenge (and longer if they will allow me)! You can find my donation page at http://bit.ly/DwayneCoasterthon – and if your finances simply do not allow you to donate in such a fashion, I totally understand and just ask that you pass this along to your friends and family. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Lots of Starbucks Cups

Thank You!

If you are in the Atlanta area, feel free to come out and watch all of the fun and enjoy Six Flags Over GA. If you go to Six Flags anytime in June, be sure to use their CHOA13 promo code when buying tickets to the park online. Again, I appreciate your consideration and attention. This organization is a worthy one, and its cause is great! For those who donate and/or share this opportunity, I truly appreciate it! You Rock!

UPDATE (5/24/13 12:30am) – I have reached the first milestone of $150 in donations. While I continue to look for ways to help out (with your help) this cause further, my better half, Elaine is looking to reach her first milestone and sit along side of me throughout the entire Coasterthon! You can contribute in her name by going to http://bit.ly/ElaineCoasterthon - thanks again for everything!

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YouTube To Offer Paid Subscription Channels

by Dwayne Kilbourne on May 7, 2013

As the world of technology and social media evolves, it appears that 2013 will be the year that YouTube adds paid content to its lineup. For as little as $1.99 per month, users will be able to subscribe to select channels. This will provide new opportunities to both the users and content creators. If this trend catches on, this could mean great news for more video content creators because YouTube could very well open up this opportunity to more and more channels. As a result, content creators could have one more method of cashing in on their popular content; currently, they are restricted to advertising revenues.

YouTube logo

Why Now?

Why Not? Well, more and more of YouTube’s competition is beginning to test out similar offerings to customers. Most notably, [while not exactly the same] NetFlix is beginning to offer its own [created] content on its platform, and people seem excited about it. It appears that more people are willing to shell out a few more dollars for premium content. They’ve certainly done so when it comes to other forms of entertainment like music; people are turning to social music media network, Spotify, for great premium music content, and now appears to be an opportune time for the Internet’s top video content service provide to test out the waters.

What Does This Mean Moving Forward?

Assuming this subscription-based platform takes off [and I am confident that it will], everybody will win. Great content producers, big and small, will be able to reach their target market without all of the added noise and added investment that is currently slowing their progress down. For video viewing customers, they will be able to find greater and richer content as content creators compete for views and subscriptions; as we all know, competition leads to better quality and/or lower prices. What about YouTube? Well, I am certain that they will get a portion of the subscription fee from each premium channel similar to how Apple does with musicians on its iTunes platform.

How Will It Do?

Historically speaking, this type of move has been tremendously successful. In many circles, this move from the video social media site has been expected for many months. Having a new layer to the revenue model [for both the video creators and YouTube] is a good fit and one that appears to be widely welcomed, especially by popular content providers. I am confident that this new angle will add great value to all of those parties involved – YouTube, content creators, and end users/viewers! Hence, it is a Win-Win-Win! How do you see this new approach turning out for YouTube? Would you pay a few dollars to subscribe to certain channels? Would you want to create a premium channel under the new platform? I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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Tiddles’ Time – Remembering a Great Family Member

by Dwayne Kilbourne on April 24, 2013

I wanted to take a moment – a pause from regular, everyday posts – to remember Tiddles. Earlier this morning, I got the unfortunate news that my girlfriend’s dog, Tiddles, passed away early this morning. I can only imagine the horrific experience that she went through. He was an older dog, but he had fallen ill just last evening. Apparently, the illness was just a bit too much, and he did not make it through. Sadly, he is no longer with us; forever, he will be missed. Reflecting back, he only came into my life about three years ago when foursquare surprised me / introduced me to Elaine [via the app]. He was always very loving – a true bonus addition to my already-amazing life.

Picture of Tiddles [taken 2-13-13]

I never really had a dog when I was growing up. Many cousins did, but I did not. Instead, I had a guinea pig [Milky Way] and a few goldfish as well, but that was basically the extent of it growing up. While I did not get to spend much time with Tiddles, the time that I did spend with him was great. I will admit that taking a walk up Kennesaw Mountain with Elaine and Jamie will not be the same, and there will be that void on the couch while rooting on the Atlanta Braves and Falcons [and Detroit Tigers… and Peyton Manning]. Certainly, life has its twists and turns – pets and humans alike are merely here for a brief moment. I appreciated these precious moments, and I encourage you to do the same. Certainly, today is a sad day, but it is also one that comes with great memories of the past! We’ll miss you, Tiddles!

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4sqDay Nears; Celebrate, Explore

by Dwayne Kilbourne on March 26, 2013

Another great year has flown by, and we are nearing April once again. We all know what that means – 4sqDay! Foursquare users and fanatics alike will gather, celebrate, check-in, and explore their local areas. The great thing about 4sqDay is that it has always been community driven – started by the overwhelming enthusiastic foursquare users (founded by Dr. Nate) and driven each year by the communities around the globe.

Communities Gather!

For the past four years, April 16th has been recognized as Foursquare Day in many cities, large and small, all around the world. People come together and have a great time. As the years have passed, more and more communities have joined the fun. Some have lavish parties with numerous local and regional sponsors while other cities merely have a small gathering of just a few. No matter what size the party becomes, people come together, network, check-in, and have a great time. In addition, numerous mayors and city officials in communities around the world have officially proclaimed April 16th as Foursquare Day in their cities! How cool is that?

Encouraging Local Business!

This was a great time for the foursquare fanatics to reach out to their favorite local businesses and tell them about the free opportunities that foursquare provides to them. As a result, many more businesses are now signed up on foursquare, and most of them offer extra special [Specials] on Foursquare Day!

Non-Profits!

Along the way, many of the communities of foursquare users wanted to take this gathering opportunity to a new level; they found and teamed up with local charities and non-profit organizations to give back to their local communities.

4sqDay 2013 Logo/Badge

Explore + Badge + SWAG!

Last but certainly not least, there are the goodies – those awesome PERKS! First, we all win by exploring more around our towns and cities! We find new and great local businesses to enjoy! That is quite the intangible gain for all of us foursquare users. Second, there is the 4sqDay Badge! While foursquare might be moving more and more towards the exploration aspect of the social-local-mobile landscape, the day would not be the same without a good ol’ 4sqDay Badge! Be sure to earn yours on April 16th. Lastly, there is a new, super-cool SWAG item this year. Be sure that your community has registered its event with foursquare so they can send you some!

Only Thing Left…

Enjoy!

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Most will not associate technology leaders and innovators who have succeeded as being true artists. Often, Bill Gates does not get his fair dues, and most will only place Steve Jobs in the category of master artist / technologist. Concurrently, the task of turning technology into a masterpiece whereby the technology becomes second-nature and the utility and convenience of it shines through is not easy to conquer. Yet, a select few achieve that feat and fewer are able to replicate that success. One of the latest to do it is Twitter and Square co-founder, Jack Dorsey.

Jack Dorsey at Tech Crunch Disrupt SF 2012

Image Credit: JD Lasica

In a recent 60 Minutes Interview, Dorsey notes that making technology useful without all of the complication to the end user is quite an art. In his recent endeavers at Square, he and his company have found a way to allow people to pay for items at a store without even pulling out their wallets, purses, or smartphones. Simply, they just need to have their smartphones with them and have the Square app installed. The business’ Square app will use technologies to realize that the customers are there and will be able to allow them to purchase with the touch of a screen. There’s no hassle involved at all.

As noted above, Square is not Dorsey’s one-trick pony. He is considered the true creator of Twitter, and we all know and see the success that Twitter has had as it has amassed over 200 million happy users. With Twitter, a good amount of programming and technology is happening behind the scenes… behind the smartphone apps, etc., but the end user is able to use it with great success, minimal inconvenience, and from the palm of his or her hand. It is simple, and simple works.

Learn From Dorsey

You can be the best programmer in the world, but you have to understand how the end users want to do and how your application, product, or service can help them do that (and more) without making it difficult and complex. You have to place yourself in the end-users’ shoes and find a way to make the experience better than anybody else’s while concurrently solving all of the end user’s needs and desires! If you do that, you will be on your way to becoming quite the artist!

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HitTail Is An SEO Home Run!

by Dwayne Kilbourne on March 12, 2013

When it comes to SEO tools, it is critical for the end user to be able to sort through all of the traffic that is coming in to his or her [brand’s] site. At times, many SEO tools are complex and not very user-friendly or, at best, come with a steep learning curve. However, over the past month, I have tried out a new SEO tool called HitTail! The HitTail SEO service provides its users with a better understanding of the long-tail keywords that the site’s target market audience is using to search for their content right now. If the end user (i.e. SEO guru, web developer, content marketer, etc.) wants to reach that audience, HitTail provides him or her with the suggested keywords to optimize on a page or blog post.

Real Time Experience!

What I do like about HitTail is that it provides me real time information. Certainly, I might not always need to see the traffic right as it is happening, but it sure comes in handy. Still, at any given time, I can log in and see just what keywords are driving the audience to a given site. If I find that most of my traffic is based on a small set of keywords, maybe I post more content about those topics and keywords on upcoming blog posts or on various pages throughout the site. If I want to draw in a bigger audience, I can use the details that HitTail provides me!

Some of HitTail keyword hits info from 4sqDay.com site

Multiple Site Functionality!

One big concern that I had going into using this or any other commercial SEO tool is the cost associated with using the same tool across a number of websites/blogs. Luckily, HitTail does not limit me in the number of sites I add. I just get service based on an allotted number of unique site visitors! So, overall, this is a big plus in my eyes; having the flexibility to add and remove tracking for a specific site is critically important for me.

Many Plans To Select From!

Scalability! It is great to know that I have a few plans to select from. Many of the sites that I am testing this SEO tool on do not have a huge number of unique users each month, so I can start off with the plan that provides me with the service for the first 10,000 visitors. But, this tool allows me to bump up to a plan for 30,000 and 80,000 unique monthly visitors. I’m confident that they would quote me a custom price if I required services for more than 80,000. Hence, I can upgrade or downgrade at any time, and I’m not locked into a contract of any sort, so I maintain the power! How cool is that?

First Impressions

So far, I like this SEO tool. I still use a few other tools to take care of some other SEO-related issues, but HitTail is taking care of my keyword-related analytical needs. I’m a huge fan of software and services that do not claim to be the master (or jack) of everything! Instead, I like the tools that specialize in a specific area. So, if you need a new SEO tool that provides insight into what keywords are leading visitors to your site, give HitTail a try today!

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Building Audience, Influence on foursquare

by Dwayne Kilbourne on March 9, 2013

When many people online think of building influence, Klout comes to mind. What is my Klout score? What is your score? Does my higher score truly mean that I am more influential than you? Certainly, what is considered influential can be debated, and the importance of Klout can be argued! Still, some wonder how one begins to build an active and energized audience on foursquare and how a brand or person can be influential on foursquare. Here is my perspective:

Adding Tips

A good tip can go a long way to grab attention on foursquare. People are constantly checking in at new places and seeking out tidbits of information. A nicely-written and useful tip adds value to the network and can build the image of the person or brand leaving the tip in the eyes of the audience. Adding more tips across the foursquare network expands your chances of improving your audience and influence. Still, quantity alone does not supersede tips of high-quality and usefulness. Adding tips for the sake of adding them does little to enhance to foursquare landscape and community. Hence, it is critical to take an extra moment to formulate tips that people will be able to use at the venues. This does not, however, mean that you have to simply stick to strictly (yet potentially stale) useful tips. A little creativity can go a long way.

Organizing Tips and Venues Via Lists

So, you or your brand has a few tips or a group of venues that you recommend; now what? A foursquare list can go a long way to staying organized on the social network. Personally, I love adding new lists on trips or after various experiences. A list can include a group of your own tips, a simple list of venues, and even tips from other foursquare users. When you add a tip to the list, you can even add a photo, and we all know the power of images. When you add a tip or image that another foursquare user originally posted on your list, they are notified, and that tends to enhance the chances that they will either follow your list like some of your other tips. Either way, you are garnering more attention and potentially enhancing your influence on the location-based services network. What if you only share your own tips and/or include just the venues on the list? Well, when you build a list, people can discover your list when they visit a venue page that is included on your list. Again, this enhances your chances of being noticed. As you become more popular on foursquare, your following will turn to you for recommendations, expanding your audience and overall influence.

Visuals Help!

As I briefly noted above, photos are very powerful. Many highly-engaged foursquare users are also connecting their favorite photo-sharing mobile apps (ie Instagram) to their foursquare profiles to add more flavor to their check-ins. Also, it should be noted that tips that include a photo often garner more attention from the foursquare community. So, even a mediocre tip that has a great photo can often get more likes than an awesome tip without a visual aid. So, take an extra minute to extend the tips through related visuals from the venue. Also, you can add photos at the time of your check-in, and this tends to stand out in the foursquare activity feed, harvesting more audience engagement.

Commenting Is Underutilized

Since we brought up commenting, it is only right that we discuss this a bit further. When we think of foursquare, we often do not look to it as a platform to hold a conversation on. For that, we turn to Facebook and Twitter, but foursquare still gives their users the ability to both like and comment on check-ins. I find that commenting and liking others’ check-ins and tips will grab their attention and motivate them to reciprocate, leading to more audience engagement. Commenting is one of the least used features on the foursquare platform, but a conversation can encourage more engagement by a vast number of people, leading to more exposure. In the past, I have met new friends and fans because of this feature and often received more friend requests, brand page likes, and much more!

Being an Active User!

How often do you check-in? I currently average between 17 and 20 check-ins per day. This does not mean that you need to check-in at every stop along your daily drive, but you should be adding a check-in or two from time to time. I recommend that you use all of the above tools to keep your presence on foursquare fresh. Influencing your audience on foursquare is not majorly different than on other social media networks; being absent can lead to being forgotten, even temporarily.

screenshot of foursquare mobile app (Android)

There you have it…

Before you know it, you will influence more people on foursquare with your check-ins, likes, photos, tips, and lists. Being active on foursquare, you might even boost your Klout score and garner a few new sets of eyes. Overall, foursquare is a fun platform, and I recommend you give the above recommendations a try.

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Michael Jordan Turns 50 – 5 Fierce Lessons To Succeed!

by Dwayne Kilbourne on February 17, 2013

Growing up in Michigan while watching my beloved Bad Boys [Detroit Pistons], it regularly gave me great pleasure when the Bulls stumbled in those early years. Sure, Michael was a great player, but I found him over-rated. As he progressed into his career, he started to turn the tables on my Pistons, and that seemed to make me not like him [as a basketball player] that much more. Once the Pistons fell apart and Michael Jordan moved on to baseball, I started to watch the Orlando Magic. Shaq was great, and I was all for them. Suddenly, the Magic were great, but Jordan decided to come back and play.  I was glad when the Magic beat the Bulls that year, but Michael would be back, and he led his Bulls to another 3-peat! Over time, MJ grew on me more and more. Throughout, Michael was a machine; he was cut-throat, and he was THE MAN! While Michael Jordan turned 50 today (February 17, 2013), I’m sure he would still be the best player on the team that he owns. He was (and probably still is) that great! Looking back at Jordan’s domination in the NBA, it is obvious that he knew how to win; accordingly, we can learn from his ways, his methods, and his attitude!

Michael Jordan Statue at United Center - Chicago, IL

[Image Credit: Arnold Gatilao]

Here are five fierce lessons that we all should learn from His Airness!

Work Hard

“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.” [Michael Jordan]

If you want something bad enough, you better be willing to work hard for it. Life’s goals are usually challenging, for they are not just sitting there on a silver platter for you to enjoy. To reach the top of the mountain, you have to work hard – harder than you might imagine and certainly harder than your competition!  Skills do not merely enhance without some hard work and dedication. Jordan’s jump shot and creativity did not just magically appear. To get to where he wanted to go, he put so much time in the gym mastering his craft. When his team practiced, he practiced. When that practice was over, he practiced some more!

Persistence Pays Off

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” [Michael Jordan]

Working hard is only part of it. Life’s challenges are going to throw things at you, some good things and some bad things. You need to be ready for anything that comes your way. Along the way, there will be walls and other barriers that find themselves in your path, and you just need to be persistent enough to keep moving forward through thick and through thin. Like each of us, Jordan endured his share of low times as well as his high times. But, unlike some, Jordan did not allow things to get in his way. Instead, he dealt with the highs and lows and kept moving forward.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” [Michael Jordan]

You can’t be afraid to fail along the way. It is inevitable that you will stumble along the pathway to success. There is no Golden Road that you can take to get there faster or painlessly. You are going to have some form of failure at some point, so you cannot be afraid of it. Instead, you have to accept it, learn from the failures, and keep going! Jordan knew that all eyes were on him, yet he continued to take the final shots of each close game, even if it meant that a potential missed shot cost his team that game. His willingness to take on the biggest challenges at the risk of grave failure showcases so much of his greatness!

If You Fail, Pick Yourself Back Up and Get Better

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” [Michael Jordan]

As I mentioned above, it really is not a matter of if you ever fail because failure comes with the job, especially if you are seeking to become great. Many will tell you that it is not about the failures but instead about how you deal with it and what you do after the failures that exemplify your true ability to succeed! Michael Jordan did this time and time again, especially at the beginning of his career when he was losing to the Pistons and Celtics. He missed a few shots and lost a few games, but he remained determined to achieve championships and the greatness that came with it!

Be Positive and Shoot For the Stars

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” [Michael Jordan]

In an ever-challenging and changing world, it would be easy to dwell on past failures and start a pity party. It appears that much of today’s society struggles to remain positive and instead decides to gather and ponder all of its shortcomings. In lieu of focusing on the negatives, it is always best to instead focus on the positives in life. Imagine if Jordan had dwelled on those conference finals losses to the Pistons. He would have been living so much in the past that he could not focus on today and tomorrow! Simply said, positivity is POWERFUL!

So, SUCCEED Like Mike!

MJ set a good example of how to WIN! Let us take a moment and learn from how Jordan won on the court. It does not take rocket science to WIN, but it does take hard work, dedication, perseverance, and a positive attitude! Happy 50th Birthday, Mike!

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Mobilizing Businesses on foursquare

by Dwayne Kilbourne on February 9, 2013

Finally! For those of you who do not know, foursquare has a separate app for foursquare brands who have claimed venues on the network. This is a great step forward for foursquare as it gives businesses on its platform more convenient and robust features and functionality, especially on the go!

What Can The App Do Right Now?

Currently, the foursquare business app for Android and iOS allows businesses who have claimed venues on the foursquare network to post local updates, check check-in statistics, and monitor specials. In the past, businesses had to pull up all of this content on the foursquare.com website. To accomplish this, many had to be in their offices and in front of a desktop or laptop computer; this added inconvenience to the process, so this new step should encourage more business engagement using the foursquare platform.

What Are The Current Limitations?

Glad you asked. As of this writing, there are numerous features that businesses can do when using the regular foursquare.com website that they cannot monitor or manage and do using this smartphone app. Here are some of the major limitations that I notice thus far:

1.       Inability to Check-in

Sometimes, businesses (especially service-driven businesses) go places, and they’d love to share that experience with their following. Unfortunately, a foursquare business/brand page cannot do so at this time, at least not using the mobile app. Instead, they are limited to having to pull up the foursquare.com site on a mobile browser, log in, switch over to the brand page, and then search for the place you are currently at and check-in! This is far from convenient. Not all businesses will use this, but there are enough that would; let’s hope they add check-in functionality in the VERY near future!

2.       Inability to Create Specials

You can monitor current specials and get some details about the success of each, but adding new specials on the fly is not currently available. However, I must say that it appears that the foursquare team is working hard on this task. They seem to insinuate [on the specials tab] that this feature is coming soon, so this limitation should soon be a moot point.

3.       Inability to Create Tips

Again, when it comes to the service industry and to businesses that sell products at the retail level, the ability to add tips on the venue page of your authorized retailers is a great function of foursquare.  Some brands extend into other verticals, and that enables them to find value in adding tips at related venues (ie a running shoes company might want to add tips at the nearby gyms and track locations). Some of these businesses will be at events or retail locations and have the urge to add the tip right then and there, but the convenience frustrations outlined about (see point 1) remain.  Businesses should be able to add tips and lists on the fly via this new smartphone app, and I’m sure the foursquare team is away of that fact too! Fingers crossed that they fix this VERY soon!

4.       Lack of Multi-Venue Optimization

While the smartphone app allows businesses to post local updates at any of their claimed venues, this app has yet to allow the businesses to post to multiple local areas at once. Of course, businesses and brands can perform that function by going online to the main foursquare site, but that defeats the purpose. While I have yet to need to setup claimed venue groups, allowing multi-venue local update features to optimize through the group feature that is built-in is something that medium- and larger- chain businesses would find advantageous! Let’s hope this is added in a future update!

5.       No Functionality for Venue-less Business/Brand Pages

We cannot isolate and leave out the brands that do not have a claimed venue location. Those brands and businesses want to play too, so let’s allow them! As a service provider, I cannot engage my audience using the new foursquare business app. Instead (and as noted above), I have to log in the traditional way via a laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile browser. Certainly, this must change as new features are tested and molded into the smartphone app.

Conclusions

Overall, I love the idea of having more foursquare business power in the palm of my hand! I have not found too many bugs with the app, and it can only get better with time and new features. If you have claimed your business on foursquare, now is the time to give this Android/iOS app a try. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about it!

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Pricey Packaging – Monster Mangles the Metrics

by Dwayne Kilbourne on January 28, 2013

When it comes to marketing retail items, organizations cannot forget about the power of packaging. For Monster, they take advantage of their packaging to reach the end consumers, but I must admit that I am not thrilled by their methods. It comes down to manipulation of numbers. Sure, many competitive companies look for ways to best manipulate the industry rules and anything else to reflect the best image possible while growing market share and overall profit. Still, some take it a bit further than others, but is that right or wrong of them? Do you recall how JC Penny manipulated and rode the gray line last year? Within every industry, there are some that just take it further than others; sometimes, they win, and sometimes they lose!

My Beef With Monster

Over the past year, I find Monster’s simple method to be quite crafty yet misleading. I’m confident that these packaging methodologies are not new for them, but it is a newly found observation of mine while working with some local clients of mine. Of course, Monster is not alone nor are the types of practices merely unique to them. So, what are they doing? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Normally, retailers buy 24-pack cases of the regular Monster flavors (this only pertains to the normal sized cans, not the Imports, Extra Strength, Java, or mega-sized can products). Their distributors have a set price for these. Every few months, Monster forces these small retailers to buy the same 24-can case but in a 6, 4-pack variation. This comes as an inconvenience for these retailers since they have to then break open the 4-pack boxes to put the cans on the shelves. Along the way, the newer flavors are rarely ever available in the 4-pack variation. Luckily, Monster still will sell the 24-pack of individual cans to the retailer, but the price is not the same; normally, it is a few dollars more.

Monster Energy 4-pack
Fudge The Numbers?

To me, this is pure fudging of the numbers. If you force the retailers to buy the 4-packs [if they want the lower price] when they do not sell them to the end consumers as 4-packs, it appears that it is merely done in an effort to boost 4-pack sales numbers. Sure, your Wal-Mart locations will sell 4-packs of Monster to the consumers, but many C-Stores will not. So, there is a minor issue here; of course, Monster is basically allowed to price however they so please, but it seems a bit unfair, at best. If I was in Monster’s shoes and still wanted to fudge the numbers for product ratings or merely wanted to push the 4-packs out of the warehouses due to inventory issues, why punish the retailer by forcing them to buy their latest flavors (that do not yet come in 4-packs) at a higher price? Either make all flavors available in 4-packs or do not charge a higher price for those products not available in the 4-pack boxes during these sales. If that still does not seem feasible, they need to do a better job of communicating the upcoming deals. If you know that you are moving from the 24-packs to the 4-packs next month, tell the retailers now so they can stock up on the flavors that will not be available in the 4-pack deal. Again, these 6, 4-pack deals are merely the same price as the normal 24-pack deals, so it is not like Monster would be losing sales by being more transparent with their retailers.

It Just STINKS!

Sure, it is business as usual. Like I mentioned above this type of situation appears in every industry – sometimes just in different formats. Is it right or wrong? I guess the answer is in the eye of the beholder. To me, I would not classify this as unethical, but I do not think this is great business practice. To me, it just stinks! What are your thoughts? And what other similar examples can you think of?

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12 Days of Christmas… My Foursquare Gave To Me…

by Dwayne Kilbourne on December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas, everybody! Sure, I have a list of things that I want to get for Christmas, but let’s examine what the important stuff I want Santa Dens and the elves over at foursquare to give to me this year!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my foursquare gave to me…

12 Technology Advancements

Some people want to jump off the foursquare bandwagon while others still misunderstand foursquare and the whole LBS sector. During this prospective time of uncertainty, some might think that foursquare is on its way out. Of course, I do not think that they are, and I certainly am hoping the same because foursquare rocks! Still, I’m hoping that the next few months bring great things from the foursquare team [and community]. My hope is that the 2013 Hackathon in January produces some great stuff to build off of the already-powerful foursquare API.

11 Loosened Restrictions

Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions! Ugghhh! First, each list has a maximum of 200 venues/tips, but I do not know why they randomly picked 200 as the cap. What is the reason? If the list is no good, people will not follow it anyways, so what’s the big deal. From what I can tell, there is not a limit as to the number of lists I can create or follow (and, certainly, I hope that is still the case), but the number of items on the list should also NOT be capped out. And, if you are going to cap out the amount of tips/venues permitted per list, let’s make it a symbolic number like 416, representing 4/16 (four-squared). Heck, even Twitter allows 500 people per follow list, so let’s increase or remove the list cap, foursquare! Second, there is the issue of number of check-ins that count [towards mayorship] within a 24-hour period. Certainly, I am not checking in 30 to 40 times each and every day, but there are some days that involve a lot of check-ins, and I am a heavy user – heck, I’m nearing 22,000 total check-ins, so going one day without checking in is not the norm for me. My biggest issue comes when I go shopping at one or more malls on a Friday night (or any night for that matter) and then follow it up with a busier day thereafter. And let’s not talk about vacation time – the last thing I want is for my check-in to not count. I mean… it is not like I am sitting at home doing these fake check-ins, so, if the check-ins are real, let them count. Bump up the rapid check-in threshold to 50 or some other number. Even thought they appear to be playing with this number from time to time, I want transparency so I know how and when I can check-in. I do have a few places that I have mayorships for that mean a lot to me (ie the gym). Better yet, let’s make some better formula for rapid check-ins. I mean, if the venue is super popular, don’t have it count towards the limit. Maybe, make traffic intersection or highway venues count double. I have ideas if foursquare needs them! Let’s make this happen!

10 Telling Tools

What if an author wants to leave tips at all of the Barnes & Noble bookstores where his or her book is being sold at? Currently, the native foursquare experience forces the author (whether he or she is using a personal profile or even if they have a brand page) to manually locate all of the bookstore locations and add an appropriate tip. This can be tiresome. Can’t we get a built-in solution [for brand pages] that is easy? Of course, we can’t let brand pages go hog wild, so there’d have to be a way to help ensure spammy tips are not saturating the environment, but the upside is great! Providing a tool that would help brands better reach audience with content-rich tips and photos would be a great addition to the business page functionality.

9 New Categories

From time to time, I find some venues that simply do not fit into the mold of a current category. Recently, I found this to be true during my shopping experiences. Whether the venue was new or simply was incorrectly categorized in the catch-all MISC Shop, the venue could be categorized in a better way.  Of course, one of the best ways to sort through this is to engage the superusers and the overall user base in an effort to expand the categories in an efficient, effective, and responsible way. Already, foursquare brings its developers together for Hackathons, and they tend to bring superusers together for a massive merge-a-thon (of sorts) during SxSW, but they need to crowdsource some updated categories. Examples include theme park ride; these rides should not be given regular theme park category status!

8 Exciting Badges

Badges can be exciting. Some might contend that foursquare puts out too many of them at times. On the other hand, there are times when a badge is long overdue. For the past few years, I have requested a USMC Birthday Badge that would celebrate November 10, 1775, the recognized birth date of the Corps. Another two badges that I sought for a while was the Fitbit Lifetime 1k Kilometer Badge and the Lifetime 1k Miles Badge. I bought two Fitbit Ultra devices on the recommendation and exposure via these badges, but these badges got retired before I could earn them. Talk about a bummer for a fitness fanatic like me. Of course, I did have some technical difficulties with my Fitbit device, so I lost a bunch of mileage since August of this year. Either way, I want these badges, man! Plus, I keep hearing about the Gym Rat badge turning into an Expertise Badge, but this has yet to come into fruition. I don’t get it, and it is a big bummer for me, a true fitness fanatic. Also, I’m sure there are a few more badges that will come out that will grab my attention; here’s to a 2013 filled with better and more-awesome badges! Who’s with me?

foursquare Fitbit Lifetime 1k Miles Badge

7 Sharing Options

I want… scratch that… I need more sharing functionality within my foursquare experience. For my personal profile, I’d love if Google+ was somehow integrated. Of course, that request goes beyond foursquare’s control, but I can still dream, right? Also, I am hopeful for more Twitter and Facebook sharing options. Can we get the auto-tweet option for tip posts like we have over on Facebook? I’m just looking for more options; how about some more options for each platform? I could use more flexibility when it comes to auto-sharing tips, list adds, and venue/tip likes.

6 Superuser Features

Superusers are those individuals who have been empowered by the foursquare team to monitor venues, enabling them to merge duplicates and correct venue information where appropriate and applicable. Recently, foursquare built a Connected App that enabled superusers to do some lower-level venue editing (ie add phone numbers) using the mobile app, but I’d like to see this built out a bit more. Since I am on the go a lot, I’d love features or a completely different app that enabled me to work the merge queue or make additional edits on the fly. Since we are talking about superusers and such, I will throw in that I wish I’d be promoted from a level 2 superuser to a level 3… I’m sure that does not truly affect my functionality as a superuser, but it still would add a smile to my face.

foursquare's Superuser Tools!

5 Friend Groups

So, I have the maximum allotted number of friends on foursquare, and there are many that I engage with on a daily basis. Currently, I can use the mobile app to see check-ins around me as well as the most recent check-ins of all of my friends, but I want more! If I could build friend lists or groups, it would be a great relief. These would enable me to filter my viewpoints by various self-defined demographic groups, etc. Maybe, I’d like to see all of my fitness friends’ posts right now, or maybe I would like to look at check-ins from those within my inner circle. I have these types of options on Facebook and Twitter, so it is only right that I could enjoy the same thing on foursquare!

4 Filter Functions

I love how foursquare revamped its history page to enable me to search for check-ins at venues with specific categories, within a specific area, and/or with specific people. For example, this has helped me figure out when I bought specific items at a venue when I did not have a receipt. Now, I’m hoping that 2013 brings more filter options. I’d love to know which venue I have visited the most or the one that I have not been to in the longest. Also, I’d like to know which places I have have both checked in at the most yet have not left tips at. This option would really motivate me to offer even more tips, and more tips would tends to be a good thing, right? Furthermore, I want to be able to search for a numerical check-in; say, where was my 10,000th or 20,000th check-in at?

Current foursquare History Filters

3 Domestic Offices

Yes, I want three domestic foursquare offices here in the United States. Since, they already have headquarters in New York City and a location in San Francisco, it is only appropriate to complete the domestic presence by setting up shop in the ATL. Atlanta offers a great deal of energy and excitement; it is considered the capital of the southeast! Plus, I live in the metro ATL area, so I’d be available to run it. How convenient, right?

2 Tablet Apps

The smartphone apps are looking good, so NOW is the time to make some tablet-optimized applications. Do you know how many iPad users are out there? I know that this has been the talk (and complaint) of many diehard foursquare users, so let’s do this already. Plus, there is rumor that Apple is in talks with foursquare to partner up in order to bring an improved Apple Maps experience. If this is true, an iPad app is a MUST!!! Start by creating a beautiful iPad app, and then you can work on an Android tablet app that is optimized for Jelly Bean (or later).

… And a Follow Status *sung just like the famous song*

I’ve only been asking for this for a long time now. I have lots of people who want to connect with me on foursquare, but I’m already over the friend limit. In fact, at the time of this writing, there are 477 friends/associates who are on foursquare and currently requesting my friendship. Since I’m over the 1,000 limit, I cannot accept their friend requests without first unfriending about half of the people I am already connected with on foursquare. There has to be a better way. So, for the second year in a row, I’m hoping that the great folks at foursquare will extend follow status to me. Hook a brother up!

So, there you have it!

How much will foursquare give to me this Christmas? Who knows? But, I have been a nice boy all year, so I’m hopeful that Santa Dens and his elves took notice and hook me up this year! Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night!

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Last evening, I was running behind schedule but was craving some delicious Smashburger food. Unfortunately, I must report that a fast clock and a lack of customer service barred me from enjoying a tasty BBQ Bacon and Cheddar Big Smash Burger on multi-grain with a side or two of Smash Fries, and it also meant that some of my family members wanting a similar food experience were also left disappointed. But, what happened? How could a clock and some bad customer service prevent this all from happening? I’m compelled to vent my frustration about this disservice and offer some words of advice to companies, big and small.

The Wednesday Evening Debacle

Like most evenings, I went for a workout at my local LA Fitness; it was “Leg Day,” so I was anxious. Plus, I had some extra motivation running through my veins. However, with the holiday season in full effect, I enjoyed a few extra conversations before heading out after my workout. As a result, I did not get to FedEx Office (which happens to be in the same plaza as Smashburger) until 8:47pm. After getting the things done there that I needed to, I knew that I had two more stops to go, and those were not on the way home, so it would be foolish to get my food 35 minutes before heading home. My plan was to go to those two other quick stops (Dunkin Donuts – 9:35pm and Shell Gas Station – 9:41pm) before heading back to Smashburger on my way home.

Now, I respect and understand how business works, so I do my best to avoid walking in at the very last minute and ordering or buying something. So, what did I do as I got out of the Shell Gas Station? Well, at 9:44pm, I give Smashburger a courtesy call. My thinking was that they could be preparing my order while I am driving their way. I’m only 6 minutes away from their Kennesaw location (a location that normally gives me rock-solid customers service), but I still wanted to call so I could save them some time [I’m sure they are anxious to wrap business up for the evening]. They don’t answer my first call, so I called again (still 9:44pm as I drive two exits from Wade Green to Barrett Parkway to their location). And that is when things really got interesting.

A young male answered the phone. I asked him if they still closed at 10pm. He said, “Yes!” I told him that I was driving that way but would like to place an order. At 9:45pm, he indicated that they are not allowed to take orders over the phone 10 minutes before close as he informed me that his clock read 9:55pm. He mentioned that he would be closing in 5 minutes. I told him that his clock was wrong. My car’s clock read 9:45pm as did BOTH of my Android smartphones (which are directly synchronized to be automatically updated with the correct time). I had just checked in at Shell, and that was 4 minutes ago, so I told him that his clock was 10 minutes fast. I told him that I am 2 exits away and am heading his way. I asked what happens if I get there at 9:51pm and his clocks read 10:01pm… will the doors be closed? He said that he apologizes for the inconvenience. Certainly, I am getting extremely upset at this lack of customer service. This guy either does not care about serving me and hence lies about the time or simply is not empowered to service the customer. Sure, enough, I get caught at the red light while exiting I-75 (exit 269) and pull in front of Smashburger to find the lights off, open sign turned off, and unwilling to serve me. I took the photo of the door illustrating this (see below), and it was only 9:53pm.

Proof Smashburger Kennesaw Closes 10 minutes early

Jimmy John’s To The Rescue

As a result of this, I tweet SmashburgerATL at 9:59pm and check-in to Smashburger to spread my frustration with my foursquare and Twitter following (at 10:01pm) and proceed to ask Jimmy John’s (which is now two doors down) if they are still open and willing to let me order. They are more than happy to. In fact, the staff there was happy to and did not question the time. Of course, by the time I ordered and checked in on foursquare, it was 10:05pm, yet they did not mind. Now, I question whether to return to Smashburger in the near future. Sure, their food is great, but they have now left a BITTER TASTE in my mouth.

Jimmy Johns Saves the Evening!

Lessons For Businesses, Managers

Certainly, we can all learn from this misfortune and Smashburger’s missteps.

#1 Customers Comes First

First, the customer comes first, especially when they go the extra mile to save you time and help you get their business. You see… some people will not call ahead to order their “To-Go” order when it is 15 minutes before close. Instead, they will simply show up before closing time and expect you to be open during those hours that you claim to be open. These simple customer expectations must be met, or your brand will be frowned upon and lose legitimacy and respect from consumers. Typically, I would eat at Smashburger sometime between the hours of 4:45pm and 7pm, but the level of customer service should not be different at 9:45pm compared to services experienced at 5pm. Whether it is super busy or super slow… super early or super late, the experience needs to be maintained… and positive!

#2 Practice What You Preach

Second, do what you say, and say what you do! If they want to close at 9:50pm each night, that is fine, but [then] don’t advertise 10pm. Be honest and transparent with the customer. I will admit that this is not the first company to “set their clocks forward,” but I’m shocked that they apparently do so by 10 MINUTES! I’ve heard of and saw 5 minutes before, but this seems a bit outrageous. In fact, this makes me want to request proof from them about what their clocks really read… sure, they can fix the clock issue, but I still remain suspicious. I wonder what my next receipt from there will be time-stamped with… assuming I ever walk back into the restaurant again! Legitimate time stamps on photos don’t lie! So, was the employee merely lying out of customer service laziness, or is it policy and practice to set the clocks forward? I’d love to hear the answer!

#3 Empower Your Employees

Okay, so let’s say that the employee was not being lazy and lying to me about the time showing on their clocks… let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, he did indicate that he would pass along my consumer frustrations with his general manager, so I’m not here to knock him on that. However, management needs to empower its employees to satisfy the customer by giving them the tools necessary to do so within reason. If you have a customer calling from 3 miles away, and your clocks are set 10 minutes fast, take the customer’s order over the phone. If I was prank calling and never showed up, what’s the loss in the big picture? Compare that to the loss of not taking the order and potentially losing a customer. You’ll gain much more, especially in the long-term! Remember that it costs less to retain a valued, loyal customer than it does to get a new one, and the employees are the face of the company; hence, it is critical that they are empowered to act on the behalf of your best interest. Of course, let’s hope that all employees are motivated to provide the best experience for the customers.

Time Will Tell

Well, I guess time will tell. I’m anxious to see if they fix their clocks, if they empower their employees, and if they respond in an effort to resolve the matter and ensure that all customers, vocal or silent, are provided with the best customer service ever! Will I return in the near future? Ever? Time will tell. I’m hopeful that a brand like Smashburger that has some tasty food learns from these type of unfortunate situations and bolsters its customer-centric focus – a balance between quality product and quality service. The ball is now in Smashburger’s court!

 

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5 Factors to Consider When Deciding Between iOS and Android

by Dwayne Kilbourne on December 3, 2012

After watching a recent YouTube video by Chris Pirillo, it had me thinking about the vast differences between the iOS and Android mobile platforms. Both have been and currently are successful, and both approach the marketplace from a different angle. As Chris noted [see video below], you really cannot definitely state which platform is universally better, for it all depends on factors for each individual. For me, I like both ecosystems, but I prefer Android [I’ll explain why soon]. I do, however, use both platforms; I use my second generation iPod Touch when I work out at the gym each day and the iPad from time to time, and I have two Android phones (the Samsung Galaxy S3 that I use daily and the Galaxy Nexus that I use for business). But, which is best for you is entirely based on your mobile needs!

#1 Want Phone Selection?

Do you want the latest trending phone or a selection from many of the latest phones? Apple’s iPhone really stirred up the infant smartphone market segment in 2007, providing the standard of measurement for years to come. Apple provides a consistent phone form that is rarely altered since they produce both the hardware and software for the phone and monitor and approve apps for their devices. This means that few physical features change – therefore, fewer options are available to consumers, but this also means that the user experience on the iPhone is consistent throughout.

On the other side of the argument, Android is created as the foundation of the software from Google, and Google allows third-party phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, and others to build on top of the platform, providing many different phones of various sizes, shapes, colors, and formats. This gives us the consumer a lot of choices. Of course, this also means that some phones might run off of an older version of Android using a different look and feel. Also, Google has control over which apps can be found in their app store [Google Play], but they are not as controlling as Apple is, so download apps with a bit more caution, especially those from unknown sources.

#2 Want Accessories Selections?

While having limited variations (if any) of the iPhone may be a weakness for Apple, but it also is a strength. Having the same physical size phone being sold to millions of consumers means that it is more likely that the accessory (case, adapter, etc.) of your choice will be available to buy. So, if you want that phone case is a specific color, you will have better odds with the iPhone.

#3 Customizable?

When you dig down into the user experience on the phone, Android and iOS differ. Stock iOS provides users with a standard user experience that limits customization outside of the typical moving on the app icons and the all-important wallpaper. On the other hand, Android allows users to add widgets that run on various screens and more settings are able to be customized so that the user can make the phone his or her very one.

#4 Plays Well With Others?

Interoperability is a critically important factor to consider when buying a phone. If you are already a heavy Mac, iMac, iPod, iPad, or iCloud user, chances are that you might want to go with the iPhone. The Apple ecosystem is built so that files and experiences are shared across various devices. On the other hand, heavy Google product users [of Gmail, YouTube, GTalk, Google+, and Google Maps might like to try out the Android platform. Sure, the device interoperability is not completely there yet as the Apple ecosystem is more mature, but many advantages exist when sticking with the platform that molds most closely with those services that you use most. Of course, in either situation, it is important to know that Google apps will run on the iPhone, and there are alternatives to iCloud (like Dropbox and Google Drive) that allows easy synchronization of files across devices!

#5 Who Controls Overall Experience?

Again, this comes back to customization. Apple is very restrictive on which apps are allowed to be on their iPhones, and they have to approve each one. On the other hand, Google allows apps to be added yet will remove the malicious apps as they are discovered. But, ultimately, it comes down to the expected experience of the user. Some will say that the iPhone is very simple to use while others note that Android has a tougher learning curve. Do you want to be able to control most of what your phone does, or do you simply want a phone that can do the basics and more very well without the need to customize? In time, I expect Google to tip-toe in the gray area that is app standardization by enforcing requirements for apps optimized for their various Android-based tablets versus smartphones built on their platform. Of course, this competition is helping everybody enjoy a better, overall experience. Still, you determine how and who should be controlling the phone experience. Does Apple know best or does Google giving you free reign to customize create the best experience?

Which One Is Best For You?

Great question! Of course, that answer is different for each of us. As Chris eloquently pointed out, there is no right or wrong answer! The good news is that, along with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, the marketplace is filled with healthy competition. That means more advancement from the players in this industry for years to come! As a result, we all win!

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3 Ways To Hide Foursquare Check-ins When Buying Gifts For People

by Dwayne Kilbourne on November 27, 2012

You are probably thinking that this is an odd topic, right? I mean; why would you want to hide check-ins from friends and family if they are on your foursquare friend list? If you did not want them to see where you go and check-in at, you wouldn’t have taken the time to accept them as a friend on the foursquare network. But, it is holiday season right now. Heck, this situation comes up around other holidays, birthdays, and special events too, but this is prime shopping season, especially here in the United States. So, how can you check-in on foursquare without giving away clues about what you are getting them for Christmas (etc.)?

#1 – Use Misdirection!

If I know that I am going to be roaming around in a store for a long time, I will delay my check-in until close to the end of my shopping there and then immediately go to a few more stores to push the evidence of the check-in down in the activity stream. This is quite easy to do at a mall; just do some preplanning and figure out some other stores to look at while shopping, and then begin the experience. Also, keep in mind that other things can help make this even more successful. For example, if you plan out your tips for around that time, that will help push your gift-searching check-in down in the activity stream. Also, you could add some misleading photos. If you are a guy buying your girlfriend some perfume at Macy’s, you could snap a photo over in the Men’s Under Armour section when you check-in and claim that you are looking for some new clothes.

Here’s what not to do in this attempt. I’m not recommending that you check-in to a random place for the sake of checking in. There’s no need to do a drive-by check-in. Instead, plan out a few stores to go to if you want to use the misdirection strategy.

foursquare Christmas

#2 – Check-in Off-Grid!

One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to check-in off-grid. This method will still allow you to record your visit to the venue(s), but it will be private for only you to see in your check-in history. Of course, with this comes a downside. Checking in off of the grid does not count towards earning or maintaining mayorship status, and it does not provide you with bonus points. So, if you are trying to be the mayor of the venue in question, this method might not be for you. Furthermore, if you are big into the gamification aspect of the foursquare experience, this might not be for you either. Of course, at that point, you have to weigh the opportunity costs with each potential decision and make your final decision accordingly!

The upside of this method is that you do not have to worry about when you check-in at the venue and how long you wait until your next check-in. Your secret [check-in] is safe with foursquare.

#3 – Unfriend Them Until After Christmas!

Okay, this is a bit extreme, but I had to include it since this is one option for you to pick from. For me, this would not work because I am over the friend limit of 1,000 people, and I am also big on staying friends with people on social media as long as I am friends with them in the offline world. So, basically… if I accepted their friend request or got accepted as a friend from them, we’re locked in. But, for you, this option might be perfect. Just remember that there is no guarantee that they will friend you back right away, so choose wisely!

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Stop Using The “IRL” Acronym Already

by Dwayne Kilbourne on November 21, 2012

Let’s set the record straight! If you’ve only met me and communicated with me through online channels, it wasn’t fake [it was real life]! So, let’s be realistic and use the appropriate term or acronym. What I do online and offline is real, and I can’t imagine anything is different in your case. Sometimes, it simply appears that one or two people create a term or acronym, and it sticks – even if its context is actually incorrect. Before the whole IRL phenomenon, I’d be most frustrated when people use the term “PIN number” when requesting somebody to type in that secret numerical passcode upon making a debit card purchase. That bad habit basically just ate at me because the word, “number” is part of the “PIN” acronym, so saying “PIN number” essentially was saying “Personal Identification Number Number.” Simply, it makes us sound uneducated. Of course, there are numerous other examples of these incorrect acronyms, etc., and we have all made the mistake in saying them from time to time, but I strive to correct myself and make the added effort to reverse these bad speaking habits! When writing on the IRL topic, Alexandra Samuel said the following:

IRL: In Real Life. It’s used as shorthand all over the Internet, to distinguish what happens online from what happens offline. And it’s a lie. If we still refer to the offline world as ‘real life,’ it’s only a sign of deep denial — or unwarranted shame — about what reality looks like in the 21st century.

Avoid using IRL in bad speech

So, What Should The Correct Term Be?

Good question! Certainly, that is up to you to decide, but I offer some options for you to consider.

-          IP (In Person): Essentially, the whole intended meaning behind the current usage of IRL is to indicate when you’ve met somebody in person (IP), so why not just keep it simple and stick with the more direct [IP] acronym? Of course, some would contend that using IP might confuse others  since the IP acronym has already been popularized to mean Internet Protocol. So, there’s a downfall to this option.

-          MIP [Meet or Met In Person]: This option would potentially help ensure that people did not get your use of IP confused (as mentioned above). Sure, it might not roll off the tongue just right, but it would be correct and better than IRL.

Of course, we don’t have to use an acronym just for the sake of using one. If it doesn’t fit just right, don’t wear it! Let’s get back to the basics and say things right. I’ve been talking about this for over one year now, and I sure hope that more people think about the meaning of their words before saying them. So, if you are taking to me about IRL, I will simply assume that you are referencing the Indy Racing League!

 

 

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2 Features Missing From Initial Instagram Profiles

by Dwayne Kilbourne on November 19, 2012

I’m glad that Facebook has unveiled profiles for Instagram users. I find myself sitting on Facebook using the desktop computer at home when a friend or two will share a picture or two on Instagram. When I click on it, I’ve been able to log into Instagram and comment on that individual photo, but I’d always have to then pull out my mobile device to skim through that user’s other photos. For me, that is a bit inconvenient. Overall, I’m not looking to add photos using the website, but I should be able to easily navigate through current and past photos that I’ve uploaded as well as comment on those that others have shared. So, while I like the new additions, future feature upgrades will be greatly appreciated!

New Instagram Profile

Activity Stream

When I log into my profile using a computer, I only get to see my own photos. If you ask me, that option defeats the whole purpose of logging in. I envision an Instagram that brings the activity stream to the web experience. Maybe, they just add a button or tab at the top for the stream, and that would enable me to see a reverse-chronological history of pictures that are uploaded by those people and brands I follow. Adding ease of use in this manner would actually bolster my participation.

Interactive Follow List

Currently, it appears that users are only able to access their follow lists from the mobile app. If you pull up your profile or another Instagram profile using a desktop/laptop/tablet web browser, it will tell you how many followers the profile has and how many it is following, but it does not let you click on that information and pull up an interactive list of those people and brands. When you log onto your profile, the same situation holds true. In the near future, I’d at least like to be able to pull up that information from my profile when I am logged in, and I want to do that with convenience and ease like I can on Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare.

More To Come

Certainly, this is only the first step for Instagram moving forward. With the power and backing of Facebook, I’m confident that many more features will trickle into the Instagram experience, and I’ll be hopeful that those features bolster my experience for the better! Which features are you aching for? And should Instagram have even created web-based user profile pages? Sound off!

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All You Need Is 20 Seconds of Insane Courage

November 17, 2012

Twenty Seconds! In the grand scheme of things, that is really no a whole lot of time. However, how you use a mere 20 seconds here or there can make a massive difference in life! In the movie, We Bought A Zoo, Benjamin Mee told his children the following: All you need is 20 seconds [...]

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Foursquare Helps Me Figure Out Purchase Date

November 14, 2012

Have you forgotten when you bought a certain item? Can you recall the last time you hung out with a certain friend or which restaurant you ate at on a recent trip? Our lives are pretty busy, and we are being pulled in all kinds of directions. Along the way, we might forget a certain [...]

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Happy 237th Birthday, Marines

November 10, 2012

On November 10, 1775, a brave group of men gathered at Tun Tavern [or was it Conestoga Wagon tavern??] in Philadelphia, PA. The Marine Corps was born, and, ever since, our nation has called upon these warriors to give their all and protect our freedoms. Back in 2000, I became a Marine, and, while I [...]

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Trust and Camaraderie Among Marines

November 9, 2012

So often in today’s society, we find ourselves in a pickle. We either have discovered that we are have an uphill battle in front of us or that we need to rely on others to succeed. It seems that the culture within the United States has evolved over the past few decades, and, while that [...]

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Precision. Focus. Learn From USMC Silent Drill Platoon.

November 6, 2012

Attention to detail is an art form that is more uncommon today than ever before, but it is still an art form that, when mastered, produces amazingly great success! One great example of sheer precision is found at Marine Barricks [8th & I] in Washington, D.C. Often referred to as the Marching Twenty-Four, the 24-man [...]

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Quality Beats Quantity Every Time; OoRah!

November 5, 2012

In today’s ever-growing business world, people in nearly every job and work classification need to be well-trained and well-equipped. Many businesses still think that more people equates to more work getting done and better overall results, but mere mass of people will not result in great success. Learn from the Marine Corps – a few [...]

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Use foursquare and Google To Help You Vote

November 4, 2012

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4 Ways To Make Life Easier With Dropbox

November 1, 2012

Thanks to a good friend of mine, [Mo], I’ve been using Dropbox for years. It first started as a way to share files with one client, but my usage has expanded beyond that in recent years, and I have found Dropbox to be a service that I simply would not want to live without. Even [...]

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Friend Your Boss, Others on Facebook Without Fear

October 28, 2012

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Beating Goliath… 35 Times in a Row!

October 25, 2012

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Impossible? Only If You Let It Be!

October 20, 2012

Life is a long journey, and it comes with many challenges. These challenges come in many sizes, shapes, and forms, but it is important to understand that we can achieve anything we put our minds and efforts toward. Sure, the road might not be easy, but giving up rarely solves the situation for the better. [...]

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Testing the Limits | Red Bull & Felix Baumgartner Reach For The Stars

October 13, 2012

Around the world, great people continue to strive to bring the best advancements to science and technology. Each new generation looks to make its mark on society. Today’s generations are no different. On Sunday, Felix Baumgartner will suit up once again in an attempt to break four long-standing records. If wind conditions are right in [...]

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5 Reasons Why I Won’t Buy the Apple iPhone 5

September 22, 2012

Last week, Apple unveiled it highly-anticipated iPhone 5. Much to the rumors and speculation, Apple brought a solid upgrade to the smartphone marketplace. Most reviews [of the iPhone 5] thus far have been very positive while most should admit that some reviews were a bit biased and filled with fluff. For iPhone lovers out there, [...]

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Learn From Lance – Never Give Up!

September 3, 2012

Have you ever had somebody accuse you of something bad? Something illegal? Did others try to tarnish your name or your brand? If others are telling false stories about you, you MUST defend yourself. Now, I am not saying that you have to take to the offensive and entertain a verbal encounter with the other [...]

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What If Facebook Disappeared Tomorrow…

August 22, 2012

… Would you be ready? Would you be prepared? Or have you sunk every aspect of your online life into that one basket? While Facebook’s stock is struggling after investors found out that more than 83 million Facebook profiles are either fake profiles or are duplicates, it is unlikely that Facebook would fold up shop [...]

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3 Ways To Balance Your Tweets

August 15, 2012

Often, I am asked about how to be successful using Twitter. For many, they want to conduct business and get leads through Twitter, and some of those people, clients, or organizations have yet to begin to build their presence on there. As with anything, magic does not happen overnight. For most, it takes an investment [...]

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Acknowledge and Connect: Expanding the Online Relationship

August 5, 2012

So, you’ve written something awesome on your blog or made a cool post on your favorite social media site; you are beginning to get responses and feedback from a variety of people! Now what? Getting an increase in traffic to your content is awesome, but you should not just stop there. If you were to stop there [...]

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Fair And Square – Au Contraire

July 18, 2012

Recently, I read that a New York-based display vendor, Hudson and Broad, is suing JC Penny for $40 million; they are claiming that JC Penny stole their design and had another firm recreate their proprietary design at a presumed cheaper price point. Originally, JC Penny tasked Hudson and Broad to develop and deliver a new-look [...]

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7 Habits of a Bad Manager

July 5, 2012

Being a manager can be a tough task. In many cases, managers are charged with the responsibility of the actions of a number of employees. Every one of these employees has his or her differing work ethic, knowledge set, educational level, background history, cultural upbringing, learning style, and personality. Managers have to multitask and make [...]

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3 Monster Myths About Foursquare

June 18, 2012

While foursquare is now a three-year-old, mature, ever-growing technology startup company that has amassed well over 20 million users. Sure, it does not currently have the user base that Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn does, but it is a global company with very enthusiastic users. In fact, over 750,000 businesses are actively using the platform to [...]

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Don’t Get Caught Up In The Numbers

June 12, 2012

Social media this and ROI that… In many cases, the self-driven stress to gain more followers, additional page likes, and a higher Klout score is unnecessary and a severe misappropriation of time, money, and effort. In this highly-competitive business world that we operate in, there is always going to be that drive to outperform the [...]

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Think About The Link

June 3, 2012

When it comes to building a search-engine-optimized, user-friendly, well-organized website, you cannot ignore the importance of planning for how you will be structuring the site. One of the biggest components of the structure is the permalink. TechTerms.com defines a permalink as the following: “Short for ‘permanent link.’ A permalink is a URL that links to [...]

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Always Remembering – Extremely Grateful!

May 28, 2012

A wise person once said, “All gave some; some gave all!” So many brave men and women laid down their lives so that we can continue to prosper in ours. Personally, I gave some; I served along the side of many brave Marines, sailors, soldiers, etc., and it was an honor to do so, but [...]

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The End of Unlimited Data Plans?

May 21, 2012

When I was a young boy growing into my teenage years, I would often vacation at my grandmother’s in Southern Illinois. She lived in a very small town, one that probably was a bit behind the times. You see, the water company within the city charged a flat rate each month, so the great friends [...]

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Just Stick To The Facts

May 15, 2012

We all have dreams and aspirations. We all want to achieve our goals and reach the top of the highest mountain. However, some people simply do not get it; instead, they want to take shortcuts. They want that easy helicopter ride to the top instead of climbing the peak. Sure, a helicopter ride is fine [...]

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Empire Avenue Endorsements vs Klout +Ks

May 2, 2012

When you talk about the world of measuring online network strength or online influence, there seems to be two favorites leading the pack, Empire Avenue (network strength) and Klout (influence). Some will bunch the two together into one category [of measuring influence], but they actually have two slightly differing paths and approaches. What are Endorsements? [...]

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What Is Your Price?

April 30, 2012

Each and every one of us has a vice or two, and most of us enjoy many great freedoms as well. In some cases, the price of those vices and freedoms are nominal while others are extremely priceless. Now, imagine that somebody was willing to pay you to endorse something like Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. [...]

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Bottlenose: A New Way To View Twitter

April 28, 2012

Recently, I earned a Klout Perk that gave me an early look at the beta version of a new Twitter app called Bottlenose. While I have yet to fully explore all of its features, I have found the new third-party app to be quite interesting and useful. Essentially, Bottlenose gives you a different type of [...]

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Fell Short of 4sqDay Tip Goal

April 24, 2012

Foursquare Day 2012 has come and gone, and it was great to gather with fellow foursquare users in my community (and virtually with fans around the world) in celebration of a great 4sqDay! As I mentioned right before the 4sqDay holiday, I had a few goals planned for that day. Of course, I was planning [...]

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How Are You Celebrating 4sqDay 2012?

April 14, 2012

Wow! We are counting down the hours until it is Foursquare Day 2012, and communities around the world are all excited to enjoy another great celebration. Many communities, small and large, have planned events and worked with local businesses to offer foursquare fans/users a lot of great specials. In addition, many communities (like my community [...]

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Service With a Smile

April 10, 2012

Too often in today’s business world, we find bunches of negative people within the workplace. We see the office co-worker looking at the potential negative side of the job and/or personal life. We see the pessimistic cashier at the local grocery or convenience store who rarely acknowledges the good aspects of the day or even [...]

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5 Quick Twitter Tips

March 21, 2012

Over the years, Twitter has grown to become quite a popular social media network. Its short, text message-like communication mode has struck a great chord with people inside and outside of the technology world. In many ways, tweeting has become second nature to most of those with a smartphone. But, some want to use Twitter [...]

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5 More Facebook Tips

March 17, 2012

As you probably have realized by now, Facebook is the top social media network out there today, and it does not appear that Facebook will be losing that designation anytime soon. So, whether you like Facebook or not, chances are that it will be around for quite some time. As such, it is important to [...]

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My OCD Issues with iTunes

March 7, 2012

As we all know, iTunes is the industry-leader when it comes to music library software. For the most part, it does a nice job of organizing your music by allowing you to add new tracks, create playlists, get music recommendations, and much more. While I am thankful for this software and its close integration with [...]

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What Constitutes a Check-in?

March 4, 2012

In this ever-advancing and maturing age of [mobile] technology, more and more people are checking in whenever and wherever they travel. Whether it is just up the street to their neighborhood gas station or it is at an amusement park while on a much-anticipated vacation, more and more people are pausing to pull out their [...]

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5 Social Media Blogs I Recommend

February 29, 2012

When it comes to blogs, I enjoy a good read just as much as I enjoy posting my own opinions and insight about various [business and social media] topics. Along the way, I have found some pretty impressive blogs that always seem to provide some creative, cutting-edge, and enlightening information. While it would take a [...]

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Smoothie King Fails to Communicate

February 25, 2012

Recently, I was out and about shooting a training video on behalf of one of my clients [Max Muscle of Cobb]. Afterwards, I opened up the foursquare app  on my Android smartphone, and, to my delight, I discovered that the Smoothie King that was two doors down from the gym that I was at had [...]

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Jeremy Lin: Working Hard and Optimizing Opportunities

February 19, 2012

Over the past few weeks, Linsanity has been running wild in New York, in the NBA, and throughout the sports world. Once a little-known NBA player, Jeremy Lin has stormed to the front pages of papers both offline and on as he has led the stumbling New York Knicks to a string of wins over [...]

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Social Media Pet Peeve – Nondescriptive Venue Naming Conventions

January 28, 2012

With more and more people realizing the awesome powers and coolness of foursquare, more and more venues are being added, and more check-ins are being made! This is awesome, but, as a long-time foursquare user and fanatic, I ask that you pause a second or two before creating a nondescriptive venue; it just causes me [...]

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Yo, YouTube! 3 Must Add User-Friendly Features

January 21, 2012

YouTube is the number two search engine, with a user base that is ever-growing and increasingly interactive! Additionally, YouTube has a fresh, new look that many find extra appealing! I love, for example, using YouTube to show more of my personality and hobbies; as such, I tend to upload a good amount of fitness-related videos [...]

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Marketing Through Missions on Empire Avenue

January 14, 2012

Empire Avenue continues to be the network that I like the most when it comes to understanding my placement and worth online. It helps me to better understand which of my social media profiles is doing very well and which might need a little more attention and time on my behalf. As I have mentioned [...]

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Social Media Pet Peeve – Drive-by Venue Mayors

January 11, 2012

Okay, so you pull out of a venue and forgot to check-in. Or maybe you phone died while at the mall, so you put it back on the charger when you get in the car, open foursquare on your smartphone, and check-in to the two venues that you were just at. Well, I am not [...]

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Reserve Your Domains and Usernames ASAP

January 7, 2012

Now that 2012 has officially arrived, some of you might be working to open up a new business venture. If you are, you are probably looking into your marketing strategies as well as realizing that you need a website and a presence on social media. Knowing and realizing that ahead of time is really a [...]

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Resolutions 2012 – Review, Revamp, Revitalize

January 3, 2012

As 2011 comes to a rapid conclusion, I reflect back on what I have achieved within each aspect of my life. While I find that I had some great success this year, it is time for me to renew my focus on the upcoming year. As always, I have very ambitious goals, and I look [...]

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Foursquare – Winning Within The Details

December 28, 2011

So, you recently realized the great powers and opportunities that foursquare possesses; that’s great! You’ve taken the time to claim your venue(s) and start listening to, engaging with, and offering specials to your customers – awesome! Now what? Well, it is time to look at the small details a little further and a little bit [...]

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Dear Social Santa – Christmas Wishes

December 20, 2011

Dear Santa, I write to you in hopes for another great Christmas. In years past, I have truly been blessed with so many intangible gifts. As we approach this Christmas, I have a few items, tangible and intangible, that I would love to receive. Overall, I am confident that I have been a good boy [...]

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Social Media Pet Peeve – Loose Usage of IRL Term

December 9, 2011

Okay, so I am a perfectionist of sorts who really strives to use the correct phrases and words whenever possible. With that said, my body cringes when others consistently show a lack of basic language, grammar, and communication fundamentals. Now, jump into this technology-filled world and look around. People are on Twitter and Facebook using [...]

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The Newest Rave – Pinterest (by Lauren K Gray)

November 30, 2011

Everyone is raving about one of the latest social networks Pinterest. So what is it, and why is it all of a sudden so popular? Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can organize pictures, ideas, and other things you find online into different boards. A lot of brides have been using Pinterest to organize their [...]

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Social Media Pet Peeve – Twitter List Caps

November 20, 2011

I love using Twitter to connect with and engage bloggers, business and technology professionals, friends, family members, local businesses, and everybody else in-between. Since signing up on Twitter, I have found more and more people and brands to follow; along the way, I found that I wanted to better organize those profiles I was following, [...]

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Foursquare Badge Bummer

November 16, 2011

As most of you know, I am deeply passionate about foursquare. I enjoy using the social media network, I enjoy telling others (both personal and businesses) about the power and coolness of foursquare, and I enjoy checking in once in a little while… okay, I check-in a lot! I have set up and coached many [...]

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One Moment of Thanks – Many Moments of Sacrifice

November 11, 2011

While words do not truly and completely do it justice, I merely wanted to take a brief moment to say, “Thank You,” to all veterans, past and present, on this Veterans Day! Thank You so very much!     Related Posts:Always Remembering – Extremely Grateful!

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Social Media Pet Peeve – Not Optimizing Tweet Button

November 10, 2011

As a big user of technology and (specifically) social media, I love to share the content that I come across each day. As with anything you might run into, I come across a vast array of different content and shareability winners and losers! Basically, there are times when I find some great content that is [...]

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Social Media Superstar – Kina Grannis

November 7, 2011

After roaming the social media networks and web as a whole over the course of the past five to ten years, I have noticed many failed attempts by brands and personas at engaging their audience using the technology and social media tools available. Many just have set up a profile on the “in” network at [...]

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Triberr Time – Let’s Help Our Tribemates, Devs

November 5, 2011

As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, I like Triberr as a Twitter Tool. It allows me to build a tribe of inspiring, like-minded individuals in an effort to expand my network, increase my blog’s exposure, and help others expand their audience! For so many, it is a win-win tool. However, for those [...]

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First 5 Twitter Tools I Recommend

November 2, 2011

Twitter is a great social network that enables us to connect to lots of people all around the world; it provides us all with an array of uses. For example, some will use Twitter to share their blog posts and other interesting web links. Other people love to share great photos via Twitter. Yet, some [...]

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Tebow Time – Dealing With Public Demand

November 1, 2011

Tim Tebow is a well-known, highly-popular second-year NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Before that, he was the star quarterback for the talented Florida Gators NCAA football team. After being drafted into the NFL and spending much of the year getting accustom to the NFL demands, the Broncos were in a tough spot. With the [...]

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5 Great Reasons To Use HootSuite (by Olivia Millwood)

October 19, 2011

Why would you be thinking about using HootSuite in the first place? Perhaps, you are just getting into social media management, or maybe you have a business account and a personal account to run on Twitter. Are you on Facebook or LinkedIn? Did you know you can also integrate other social media platforms into HootSuite? [...]

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5 Great Ways to Use Foursquare Lists

October 12, 2011

The foursquare lists feature is one new and great example of how foursquare is allowing you and your brands to share experiences with your friends and followers as well as with the rest of the millions of foursquare users out there. Lists can be short or they can be long; I am unaware of a [...]

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Foursquare CRM Automation Using VenueMachine

October 7, 2011

If you are a venue manager of a claimed venue on foursquare and are responsible for engaging with customers who check-in at your venue, I recommend that you give VenueMachine a look. VenueMachine is a third-party app that came about as a result of the recent worldwide foursquare hackathon! In essence, it helps alert the [...]

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iPhone 4S – A Disappointment To Many

October 5, 2011

Yesterday, Apple announced that it was going to be releasing an updated version of the iPhone in the United States within the coming weeks, but the update comes in the form of an iPhone 4S and not an iPhone 5. For many, it appears that the naming convention alone is a severe disappointment, yet I [...]

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How to Optimize Your Social Profiles (by Gloria Rand)

October 3, 2011

Have you taken the time to optimize your social networking profiles for search? Keywords are not only an essential element of your website. Your profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter should include keywords that describe your business and industry, so your prospects can find YOU online, instead of your competitors. Businesses can essentially “own [...]

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Essentials of Leading: Powerful Responsibility

September 25, 2011

We all walk this earth for a reason, and we all enjoy many different powers. Each of us has a power or influence over another person, and each of us is influenced by other powerful people. Most of us know many of the powers we have while others might not see some. Certainly, each of [...]

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PETA’s Porn Plan – Terrible Misstep

September 20, 2011

So, I am sitting on the couch after enjoying some comedy thanks to Comedy Central’s Roast of Charlie Sheen, and I flip the channel only to hear that PETA is planning to build a pornographic site. What? Did my ears hear what I think they just heard? Wow! Apparently, PETA realizes that pornography is still [...]

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Facebook Page Vanity URL Tip – No Need for 25 likes? Not So Fast!

September 19, 2011

After first hearing about this from AllFacebook.com last week, I immediately looked at some of the new Facebook Pages I was working on for personal use and for clients, and I decided to see if I was able to create a vanity URL for any of them that had fewer than 25 likes. To my [...]

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Facebook Mobile Mix-Up

September 8, 2011

Just like most of you, I have the Facebook app on my smartphone devices, and I am logged into my personal profile most of the time. However, many of my friends and colleagues with whom I connect with on Facebook sometimes get confused when I am online, offline, or merely happen to be logged in [...]

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Why Empire Avenue?

August 22, 2011

As I have previously noted, I am taking a liking to Empire Avenue! This social media stock market of sorts seems to do a solid job of looking at your network value/worth and making it into a game that is enjoyable for many to engage in. Basically, for those who are not yet signed up [...]

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Social Media Chats: Stanzr to the Rescue!

August 8, 2011

I’ve been on Twitter for quite some time now, but I was a little slow to join a few “Twitter / Tweet Chats.” In some cases, it was just a matter of me not knowing about them, and, in other cases, it was more a matter of me not being available at the time a [...]

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SM Birthday Wishes – Part 4: Facebook, Tungle, & Google+

August 4, 2011

Today is my 30th birthday, and I have spent the last week making a list of things I want from my social media networks. Along the way, I have listed some of my top wishes for foursquare, Twitter, and Empire Avenue. Of course, I am sure that I have forgotten a few things as well, [...]

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SM Birthday Wishes – Part 3: Empire Avenue

August 2, 2011

If you haven’t heard, I am turning 30 years old on August 4, 2011. I am quite excited. Over the past week, I have taken a few minutes to reflect on what I really want from social media networks. Thus far, I have outlined a few key things I’d like from foursquare and Twitter. Now, [...]

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SM Birthday Wishes – Part 2: Twitter

July 28, 2011

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I turn 30 years old on August 4. People have been asking me what I really wanted for my birthday; sure there are a few tangible things I would love to have (ie new laptop, workout gear, trip to Cedar Point, etc.), but I really began thinking [...]

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SM Birthday Wishes – Part 1: foursquare

July 26, 2011

Within the next eight days (Aug 4), I will be turning over into another decade as I migrate from my 20s to my 30s. I welcome this new chapter in my life as if it was just any other ordinary milestone; I continue to push towards achieving my many goals and dreams. In addition, I [...]

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Woodstock Social Media 101 Recap

July 22, 2011

It was raining and it was pouring, and the power went out on two occasions, but that did not stop an evening of fun, learning, interaction, and social media IP (in person) networking. The great folks at The Cotton Mill Deli stayed open later just for the event, and I truly appreciated that; plus, they [...]

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Scanning Success at Self-Checkout Lanes

July 17, 2011

In my area, I have three main grocery stores – Publix, Kroger, and WalMart, and each of them (in many of their locations) offers the option of using a self-checkout lane, an option that I like to have as a consumer in a hurry. However, this past week has brought news about the debate over [...]

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Quick Blogging Update

July 14, 2011

Hello, everybody! I am still here, and I am working on some great new blog posts. I just wanted to let you know that more content should be coming within the next day or so! I must admit that the vacation to Orlando was enjoyable, but I have been trying to play a little bit [...]

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Foursquare Shutting Down Standalone Shouts?

June 22, 2011

It was brought to my attention earlier today that version 3.2 of the foursquare app (currently only for iPhone) has removed the standalone shouting feature. Certainly, foursquare users can still check-in to a venue and add a shout, but shouting without first checking into a venue seems to be a feature foursquare is moving away [...]

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TTYS?

June 22, 2011

Okay… first, I must start off by saying that I tend to have a few pet peeves and am probably a tad bit OCD! With that understanding out there, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on communication. As we all probably have realized by now, true communication is a two-way street. It is [...]

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Living Up To The Title

June 13, 2011

Each of us plays many roles in life, and we all wear a variety of titles, but it appears that there are numerous leaders out there in today’s world who just do not live up to their titles. Many enjoy the luxuries of the titles they possess, but some just do not work hard enough [...]

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