Archive for the ‘General’ category

Snowed In – Why Atlanta Is Freaking Out Over 4″ of Snow

January 12th, 2011

I grew up in New Jersey, and enjoyed skiing the slopes of Vermont, NH, Maine, and Canada. We got a lot of snow living on the “ice coast” as ski bums out west would call it… every winter, we’d get some pretty big storms. Remember turning on the TV in 1996 seeing that monster of a nor’easter climbing up the seaboard towards the northeast? I think we got upwards to 35 inches in my hometown of Randolph, NJ.

I’ll never forget that day: we were driving home from Okemo, a ski and snowboard resort in Vermont. We skipped out of town a day early for fear of being standed. We tried to make it back to Randolph, but the storm hit us like a wall when we hit Albany. We had a Ford Station Wagon (you know, the one you could drive in backwards and make obscene gestures at the people tailgating you?). We made it all the way to Mahwah, NJ before we had to pull off and get a hotel room for the night. It was a crazy car ride… I had a blast! My father’s knuckles have never been whiter.

Long Story Short, It Was A State Of Emergency

Despite the roads being closed, we opted to leave the in the early afternoon. The drive were terrible; the 35 minute commute wound up taking 2+ hours. We probably should have stayed another night at the hotel. We parked our car at a neighbor’s house we had never met (we asked first) and walked through several properties and chest-high snow to get to our garage door. It was a war zone; the plows hadn’t gotten to our house yet. They did later that day though, and the next morning, we paid a guy way too much money to plow our driveway. All in all, we were without road access for 2 days.

During the past two years, I lived in Park City, Utah, a ski town known for being nestled in the Wasatch Mountains. It’s not unusual for the Wasatch to get 4 feet of snow with a single storm. I think it’s not uncommon for Snowbird, a local ski resort to the area, to get over 700 inches a year. While living there, I was surprised that I was rarely snowed in. We typically were forced to deal with roads that were always sketchy, but definitely drivable, but very rarely closed state-of-emergency style. That’s because Park City did such a great job to clearing the streets. Once we got a crazy amount of snow and I couldn’t move my car for about 16 hours, but it’s cool, I wanted to ski anyways.

You Can Probably See Where I Am Going With This

Fast forward to the past four days. We’ve been stuck in our homes in downtown Atlanta since the storm dropped 4 -5 inches. It was really coming down for an hour or two… it was pretty awesome! But by the time it was all said and done, we got about 4 inches of snow, and maybe an inch of wintry mix (sleet, freezing rain).

I’m sure we all went outside and danced in the snow between timeouts of the BC / Nevada Bowl game, right? The snow stopped, and was pretty much done for the night. We all knew we were going to get ice on top of that, and we all knew that it would shut things down. Atlanta very rarely gets this much snow though, so let’s enjoy it! But wait, did anyone check to see what the weather would be like for the next 5 days? Below 35 degrees you say? Through Friday? Hmm.

The combination of that much snow and ice was rare for Atlanta. But then you throw in the temperature over the next 5 days and you got what we have… #snowpocolypse2011. I’m sure the city of Atlanta is doing what they can, planning what roads to work on with the limited resources they have. Did anyone really expect this? Maybe. After seeing how cold it was going to be for the next 5 days, I have to admit I thought we’d be stuck inside for a while (onwards, Cpt. Hindsight!). I thought I would have a fun time being snowed in for 4 days. Boy I was wrong there. Pretty bored!

But Can You Point Your Fingers At The City Of Atlanta?

I bet if you spread it out over a ten year time span, Atlanta is snowed in by the hour just as much as Randolph, NJ is, and just as much as Park City, UT is. In my 7 years of living in Atlanta, this is the first time I’ve seen this kind of snow. I would expect the ratio of snowfall predicted in Atlanta would be equivalent to the amount of snow-removal equipment and resources. Could you imagine if Atlanta went out and bought as many snow plows as the city of Boston? Where would we put them all? How much money would be wasted?

I feel like it’s a matter of statistics. The amount of time we’re stuck snowed in (as in can’t-move-from-our-house-snowed-in,) in Atlanta is the same amount of time someone might be snowed-in in Boston, New York, Erie, Minneapolis, Salt Lake, Tahoe, etc. Put some numbers together:

Please statisticians out there, feel free to correct me. I know enough statistics to get by. It’s probably fuzzy math. *Edit – If there’s one factor I failed to include in this, it’s the amount of opportunity cost lost for businesses suffering in this downtime. I guess that’s something you have to throw into the mix.

Bottom Line

All of this being frustrated about being snowed in is out of our control. Don’t point fingers at the city of Atlanta. If we were over-prepared for this, wouldn’t you be suspicious how we were able to clear off all the roads within the perimeter in 24 hours? Just be patient, wait for the roads to clear in the next 24-48 hours, and be happy we only have to put up with this “white crap” for once a decade.

And to the people in Utah, Buffalo, New Jersey, Maine, and other places who are so proud of getting 99x the amount of snow Atlanta gets: dude, the roads here are really bad. I’ve driven some slick roads over the past 2 years in Utah. I drove to Target on Tuesday, and it wasn’t fun. Have you seen the video of the guy ice skating down Peachtree St.? Trust me, these roads are bad.


How To Make Outgoing Calls With Google Voice

September 15th, 2010

Ok – this wasn’t completely obvious to me, but this should clear up how to make outgoing calls with Google Voice.

Here it is – easy step by step format:

  1. Call your Google Voice # with your cell phone
  2. Type in your pin #
  3. Press 2
  4. Dial the number you wish to call
  5. Done.

Totally easy and painless.

‘Delivering Happiness’ Book Review And Thoughts

June 21st, 2010

I was excited when I received a package from Amazon a week ago with a copy of Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness’. I actually got a copy for free because of some contest on twitter or something back in April or May. I thought it was a scam, like one of those banners that say “Congrats! You’re the 999,999th visitor!” Apparently, they gave away many copies to folks who signed up on their website and tweeted about the book. I guess it does pay to be on twitter.

Having heard all the buzz about Zappos for the last 4 years and seeing all the PR that the company was getting, I knew that it was a book that I was going to pick it up. During my several years working at, I remember folks coming to my desk telling me that they had seen Zappos ads running on keywords that we were bidding on. Their ads read something like “Free Overnight Shipping, free return shipping”. I’ll be honest, it’s tough to compete with that! I had to know the deal behind this company in Las Vegas.

The book is organized into three sections and reads very well. The first hundred pages of the book were very entertaining. Tony told a lot of stories about his businesses when he was young, starting with a worm farm, progressing into a button mail-order company. Some of the companies did well, others not so much, but it was fun to read through all of his ventures and what he learned from each one. Hsieh attended Harvard, and had some great stories about his ventures in college as well, which included running a pizzeria in the bottom of his dorm.

Tony was always taking risks, from buying supplies for the worm farm from his allowance to throwing down a few thousand dollars to buy a pizza oven. When Tony got out of college, he took a job with Oracle, only to take another big risk 4 months later by leaving and starting up a web-design company with his college buddy and roommate Sanjay, who also worked at Oracle. Push comes to shove, they focused their efforts on an idea they called LinkExchange, which they built up and sold to Microsoft for $265MM.

While LinkExchange was growing, he realized that he was hiring people who were smart and passionate, but not passionate for the right reasons. I would say this is a turning point in the book where he began to realize that creating a company culture was underrated and would pay off in so many ways in the long-run.

I won’t give a play by play for the rest of the book, but Tony writes a great story of Zappos going through their ups and downs from when they were a small company in San Francisco to the time they sold the company in 2009 to Amazon. He tells us everything he has learned in his 10 years at Zappos; everything from creating a company culture, to the mistakes he’s made, and how happiness plays such a key role in the way he runs his business.

The book flows nicely all the way through the Amazon/Zappos deal in the summer of 2009, which I remember distinctly. When working at, the day they announced this deal, our whole office was buzzing. Everybody in the office that day had their eyes glued to various news websites and blogs, reading the buzz that this acquisition was producing. I would be lying if I said we all weren’t a little envious of Zappos’ tactics.

For anyone out there working at a retail or ecommerce store, I highly recommend this book. On top of it being a fun read, I took away a lot of wisdom. Heck, you don’t need to work in retail to enjoy this book. If you’re interested in wondering how to bring happiness to your employees, to your customers, to yourself, and to the world, pick up the book. I’d put this book up there with ‘Good to Great’ and ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ The book has changed my outlook on a lot of subjects, and I hope to make changes to the way I run my business moving forward based on the stories and lessons found here.

Thanks for writing this, Tony! It was a tough book to put down.

For more info, check out these links:

Zappos home page

‘Delivering Happiness’ website

How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person

Woman Sues Google for bad Google Maps Walking Directions

May 31st, 2010

So a woman got directions on Google Maps from her Blackberry telling her the best walking route in Park City from a residential home to a hotel. She took the directions (about 2 miles from start to finish), and along her way, she was struck by oncoming traffic. She is suing both the driver of the car and Google. Here’s a good link to an article:

I’ve run down this road a few times when I lived in Park City… probably not the most pedestrian friendly road, but I probably wouldn’t go down this road walking from A to B in her case because a) there is free public transportation in Park City and b) while those pictures posted in the article above are nice, there are massive snowbanks on the side of the road in January in Park City… you can bet that dirt path wasn’t there when she got struck.

If she was from Park City, she should have known better (I’ve read other news reports that she is a resident there).

This reminds me of The Office episode where Michael drives his rental car into the lake because the GPS said for him to turn right (also the episode where the employees receive blackberries).

I guess I’ll make it a Memorial Day adventure (happy Memorial Day by the way!) to find “dangerous” directions on Google Maps in the city of Atlanta. If I am lucky, I’ll get hit and then try to sue Google.

Not really sure who is at fault, but I thought this article was funny.

A Career vs. a Job: What’s the Difference?

May 19th, 2010

What is a job?

–noun: a piece of work, esp. a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price: She gave him the job of mowing the lawn.

What is a career?

–noun: an occupation or profession, esp. one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework: He sought a career as a lawyer.

What do you think of when you hear the word “job”? What about “career”? When I think of a ‘job’, the first thing that comes to mind is maybe emptying the dishwasher, or raking the leaves, or shoveling the snow off my driveway. When I think of a ‘career’, I think of a profession, a path that gets you from your college diploma and your off-campus apartment to your Maserati and your house on the golf course.

This is why I cringe when I look at the footer of websites of companies who are hiring, and instead of labeling their available employment slots as ‘careers’, they list them as ‘jobs’. I think you send the wrong message when your site shows ‘jobs’ vs. ‘careers’ (unless you are just hiring for a job, like a seasonal employee at a ski resort for example). If you don’t like either word, then what about using the phrase “employment”?

Anyways, if you are applying for a very specific ‘job’ opening at a company, be sure to ask what the career path is, because job paths don’t really exist. Companies that have ‘job’ listings are looking for a peg to fit a hole, while companies looking for a folks to have a career with them sounds a heck of a lot better. When the day comes and we hire our first employee, I’ll see that ‘jobs’ isn’t listed on our website. I want someone that can be molded, someone who performs a collection of different duties, and someone who is flexible and can learn different subjects, all while keeping their focus on where they want to be in 5 or 10 years. In return, I’ll see that we can offer the ability for the individual to grow.

Ultimately, I feel that it’s the company’s responsibility to give the employee a road map to having a successful career path. It’s the people that make the company revolve. Next time you go to interview for a ‘job’ vs. a ‘career’, play cautiously. Ask very specific questions on how the company helps it’s employees achieve their career goals.

A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals.

A job is an activity through which an individual can earn money. It is a regular activity in exchange of payment.

Career = good, job = bad. Just a heads up!

Back In The ATL

April 27th, 2010

After visiting some friends along the way and a healthy 2800+ miles on my Rav4, I made it back to Atlanta safe and sound. The last week has been hectic, but I am finally settling in. We got a great 2 bed 2 bath apartment in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta… address is:

1080 Euclid Avenue NE, Apartment 804, Atlanta GA 30307

It’s a loft apartment, meaning high ceilings, big windows, and open areas. I am sitting at the local Barnes and Noble right now, getting some work done, researching various utility options for our apartment, and trying to get caught up on e-mails. If you’ve e-mailed me and I haven’t responded, I apologize! Moving is such a pain in this regard…

I miss the mountains of Utah a lot, but the greenery and the warm weather of the south has welcomed me back with open arms. A quick weekend up in the N. Georgia mountains was in store last weekend… after 30ish miles on the Appalachian Trail, I feel at home!

Really looking forward to getting started with being a full time consultant and putting a lot of time and effort into this start-up idea that we’ve been discussing. More to follow 🙂 CEO Niel Robertson on “This Week In Startups” Tomorrow

April 1st, 2010

Well, I’ve been busy packing the last few days. Getting ready to leave Utah in the next week… tomorrow is my last day at Backcountry.

Anyways, I wanted to send a qucik note that tomorrow at 4pm EST, CEO Niel Robertson will be on “This Week In Statups”. About TWiST, from the “This Week In Startups” website:

Entrepreneur Jason Calacanis and a rotating group of guest experts bring you this weekly take on the best, worst, most outrageous and interesting stories from the world of Web companies.  Calacanis, a podcasting pioneer, gives you an insider’s look at what’s happening in the tech industry with his trademark blunt style and good humor.  Looking to start your own company?  Need strategies for improving your business of motivating your team?  Just want to catch up on what’s happening in Silicon Valley and beyond?  Your journey begins here.

Since my review on earlier this quarter, Trada has been gaining a lot of buzz around the SEM industry.I am looking forward to watching the program tomorrow to hear about the recent updates that have been made to the platform, as well as the future of the company.

Should be a good episode… tune in at 4pm EST.


Utah, How I’ll Miss You!

March 29th, 2010

Well, it was a very tough decision, but I have decided to leave Utah and I’ve been out in Utah for two years on the nose… each day has been a blast. Living in Park City was a real treat. From an outdoorsy perspective, it blew away all of my expectations. I’ll miss the many canyons, peaks, ski slopes, and trails that Utah has given me.

To keep a long story short, I am relocating back to Atlanta to be involved with a start up project with two college buddies. We’re very excited to kick this thing into the next gear. More to come on this idea soon!

I had a great time working at I made a lot of great connections and will miss the folks and atmosphere. It was a real treat working there for the last 24 months.

Having said that, does anyone need a Tempur-Pedic bed, big screen TV, or Blue La-Z-Boy? They gotta go quick.

I am due back in Atlanta around the weekend of April 17th… looking forward to getting back in touch!

Charles from Binder and Binder & His Cowboy Hat Commercial: What’s the Deal?

February 23rd, 2010

Before you read further, watch this Binder and Binder commercial (it’s only 25 seconds long):

Maybe you’ve seen these commercials and have wondered the same thing…there is no way I can be the only one that feels a little bit turned off by the cowboy hat. Did he just get back from the ranch? So… what’s the deal with Charles Binder’s cowboy hat dude?

I have the answers… props to my mother who e-mailed Binder and Binder asking these questions. And ‘hats off’ (har har) to the folks at Binder and Binder and their communications department for responding to the request.

Hi Barbara,

I’m the guy responsible for the Binder and Binder commercials. I understand how you feel about Charles’ semi-disreputable hat. The reason he’s wearing it is simple. It was chilly on the day the commercial was recorded. It’s his hat, and he always wears his hat on a chilly day.

His line? We’ll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about,’ was the result of a question I asked him. I said, ‘If I were a client, what would you tell me was the most important thing that Binder and Binder would do for me.’

That line came from the heart. It wasn’t written for him. I think that comes through on the commercial. So we kept both the line, and the hat.

Some people say they don’t want to be represented by a guy who wears a hat. I think it’s what’s under the hat that counts. Nobody wins as many Social Security Disability cases as Binder and Binder. Nobody.

I think that leaves people with a choice: Hire the guy who wears a dorky hat, but gives you the best chance of winning your case, or go with a guy who doesn’t have that kind of track record but doesn’t wear a hat on a chilly day.

I appreciate the time and effort you took to let me know how you feel about our commercials, and I’d like to send you one of our nifty Binder sport shirts as a ‘thank you’ gift. So could you please just return this note with your shirt size and an address so I can send it to you.


Dick Summer
Communications Director

This is such an epic response. To break it down, he is wearing the hat because it was cold. I guess they were filming this outside… after all the Empire State building is in the background. It is Charles Binder’s hat, and he always wears it on a cold day. Don’t ask him to take it off because chances are he won’t (especially on a cold day).

The line that Charles says is “We’ll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about’. Fair enough… I probably would choose to say something else, but this isn’t bad. And if you couldn’t tell, that line came from his heart. There’s no doubt that he completely meant that. You can tell by his tone, his expression, and his hat.

It is true, some people don’t want to be represented by a man in a hat. Does this mean Charles Binder wears his hat to his meetings with the government? Is it common etiquette to take your hat off in a government building? Maybe when he deals with the government, they do it in a neutral location. Or maybe on his ranch. Regardless, it’s definitely what’s under the hat that counts. Are you kidding me? Seems like a fourth grader response (I feel obligated to mention that Charles Binder is bald).

Before being offered a ‘nifty’ Binder shirt, we are given an ultimatum: chose the guy with the hat, or chose the guy who doesn’t wear a hat on a chilly day. I’ll have to think about this one for a bit.

So what’s the deal with this?

I don’t know who is to blame for a botched commercial and a crappy PR response to a question. Should we point and laugh at Binder and Binder or our good friend Dick Summer who appears to be the communications director for Charles Binder and his cowboy hat. Maybe a bit of both.

Google ‘Binder and Binder’. As you type in the search query, look at the suggested queries that Google recommends:

What this means is in general, when people search for Binder and Binder online, folks are trying to find information about scams and complaints based around Binder and Binder, as well as the commercials with his hat. It looks like the commercial is creating quite the stir… about Charles Binder’s hat.

Watch the commercial again. Remember the guy that went all the way to Alaska? Well, it turns out that the picture of the advocate who went to Alaska is a picture of our very own Dick Summer, Communications Director. It wasn’t very hard to find the image on the internet that they used in the commercial. Seriously?

Looking at Binder and Binder’s and Dick Summer‘s website, it doesn’t seem like they’re too web savvy (in case you can’t read, there is an audio introduction to each of Dick Summer’s pages on his site). And judging by what we’ve found, it doesn’t seem like they’re great at producing commercials, either. I guess their target market consists of people who watch the ‘Price is Right’ or late night re-runs of your favorite 70s sitcoms, and people who don’t know what the internet is… it’s easy to find the warning signs of Binder and Binder by several web searches.

How can anyone take this company seriously? No wonder folks are getting scammed by them. I got nothin’ else. I really hope that we get some ‘nifty’ shirts out of this, though! Charles Binder, give me a MacBook and a few hours of your time, and I’ll be happy to create your next commercials. Only next time, we’ll have you wear a cape… after all, we all enjoy lawyers wearing capes. Both Dick Summer and Charles Binder are just a few french fries short of a happy meal.

And don’t forget to join the Charles Binder’s Hat facebook group!

Blog Makeover – the new

February 4th, 2010

Ok – so if you haven’t noticed, my blog has gotten a nice makeover. The makeover includes an updated theme from Cordobo along with a few additional tweaks, several links to my other social sites (twitter, facebook, etc.), as well as a commitment to update the blog on a regular basis.

The blog is going to take a more professional direction, which means I’ll discuss internet marketing more so than I have in the past. I’ll still post about my whereabouts, my travels, and my recreational activities, so no fear! I plan on having fun with this.