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Views: 2487
Date Posted: Jan. 29, 8:14pm, 0 Comments




The pang hit me harder than usual. I felt it deep inside. The picture wasn't particularly special. Just another shot along some dusty African road with the ubiquitous acacia tree. I've seen hundreds of those over the years. But what it reminded me of stopped me in my tracks.


Freedom. Another time, both undefined and ephemeral. Another place, so strange and distant but always calling to my human origins.



I was young then. I was searching for meaning. I was searching for identity. I sought connection with every interaction. My daily concerns consisted of meeting my daily needs of food, water, security and shelter. I didn't concern myself with what would come, nor dwelled on what had come before.



I lived for the moment. I had to. There is no other choice when traveling around Africa. It is a continent that requires constant vigilance to survive. Constant threats come in many forms: weather, food, water, insect, animal and not least of all human. Each challenge you overcame or avoided grew your respect for the opportunity of the next day. Nothing could be taken for granted.



Twenty-five years later, I still treasure every moment. Largely because it was such a departure from everything that followed. Although I've returned numerous times in my 20's and 30's, those feelings of freedom haven't accompanied me.



Responsibilities and consideration have filled that void. Husband, father and provider. I chose them willingly. The past and future play an ever present role in every decision I make. As does alway thinking of my family before I think of myself. I wouldn't ever reconsider these decisions, nor do I want to go back. But I'm so thankful they happened. I can draw from that strength of character built then. I can gain perspective from what I learned. I cherish those I met and the memories made.



The destination of your journey matters little. What matters is you journeyed with open eyes and heart. That you appreciated what you saw, who you met, what you ate and how different it was from what you had known. What matters is you learned there are so many ways to live and love, dance and sing. You may, as I did, return to what you had known, to follow a more conventional path. But you do so with a greater awareness. Of yourself. Of the world and what it holds.

I recognize that the world I built since could crumble at any time. It's so easy to take it all for granted. Those persistent efforts for some designed future are fraught with peril. But I will always take solace in knowing that a new journey would await me.

Views: 2636
Date Posted: Oct. 4, 1:04pm, 0 Comments





I recently had a very unsatisfying series of interactions with my satellite TV provider, DirectTV. While their customer and technical support staff were extremely pleasant, patient and professional, they were greatly hampered in delivering what every customer wants; to be "heard" with responsive and considerate action taken to deliver reasonable value for our investment. I commend them on opening up our talks by thanking me for my 14 years of subscription, but they were never able to demonstrate that appreciation by deviating from dictated processes to problem solve and prioritize me after their own miscommunications. It was more important that they maintained strict adherence to some system-wide procedure than risk angering and potentially losing a long time customer. That poor customer experience caused me to reflect more intently on the purpose and identity of my new position as a Client Success Manager (CSM).





In a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, a CSM takes the reins once a contract or trial has been established. A CSM must be a strong communicator, educator, and problem solver in their effort to be an advocate for the customer. Client satisfaction is your ultimate goal and metric. Beyond the onboarding and support a CSM gives, they must look to deliver value with each interaction. They need to manage expectations while respecting the customers needs and challenges. As the most consistent and responsive client facing member of the company, the CSM helps builds trust and loyalty between the brand and user.



Several weeks into my new role, it is apparent that an effective CSM must:



  • Define and achieve client success by mapping the process and goals

  • Communicate with diplomatic transparency

  • Codify and share best practices

  • Balance technical problem solving with relationship building

  • Beep an eye on how to improve the experience, both for the company and customer

  • Be proactive, rather than wait for issues to arise

  • Deliver customer feedback to inform the product roadmap, as well as sales and marketing efforts

  • Assure that measurable value is consistently delivered from your service


In any business that relies on subscriptions, customer retention is as important as customer acquisition. Acquisition is usually prioritized, but the most valuable businesses long term are those that focus on reducing churn. Churn is the industry term that describes the attrition rate of your customers as they move away from your offering over time. Done right, it often costs you less to please and retain your current customers than constantly driving new customer acquisitions to fill and grow your leaky funnel.



Seven steps to reduce churn:



  1. Identify who and how team members will be responsible for churn. The sales team has a vested interest in seeing their trials converted and their contracts maintained. The CSM team must be responsive and proactive with support from engineering and product.

  2. Establish realistic expectations. Your client needs to understand how much time and effort it will likely take for them to achieve success with the product. A good formula generally is to under-promise and over-deliver.

  3. Look for the right balance of live and automated onboarding and support. Developing written FAQ's and video tutorials are a definite benefit, but don't underestimate the value of in-person onboarding and the relationship building that occurs during that process.

  4. Know and track your customers. What defines success? What are the metrics that matter? Determine the right level of statistics and reporting while understanding the context and individual dynamics of each client's situation.

  5. It is critical to fully understand their use case (i.e. their goals and what they want to accomplish) and tailor your support accordingly. If the product won't achieve those goals, be an advocate for your customer to inform the product roadmap so it does responsively.

  6. Be proactive, as well as reactive in your customer management. Waiting for your client to report dissatisfaction or problems is a recipe for unnecessary churn. Reach out periodically to share updates or see how they are doing. If you receive any warning signs, take decisive action to bring the right resources to attend to their concerns and return their

  7. Nothing irritates a customer more than the efforts companies take to stop you from canceling their service. Companies hide customer service contact points, reduce contact times, and make departing customers jump through needless hoops. In the era of social sharing, that strategy only intensifies the resulting anger and posts of disatisfaction to their networks. Instead, the company should focus on trying to remind the client of the value the product offers that caused them to use it in the first place. Share upcoming improvements that may address their unmet needs or possibly negotiate a better value proposition.



Achieving customer success and reducing churn are much more than saying "the customer is always right." Naturally there are limitations to the amount of resources a company can devote and ensure a profitable exchange. But it's rare that an engaged user with responsive support with leave. Get them engaged. Demonstrate the daily value the product brings to their work and lives. When they have concerns, listen and act. Help them succeed and they will forever be grateful.

Views: 2691
Date Posted: Aug. 29, 12:26pm, 0 Comments

Six months after initially applying, being interviewed, passed over and with multiple follow-ups, I received a brief email that began "I appreciate your tenacity regarding the job at XXXX."


She paid me a high compliment considering for many years of my life I really had no idea what tenacity was.



tenacity (noun)


1. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.

2. the quality or fact of being very determined; determination.

3. the quality or fact of continuing to exist, persistence.



I can recall vividly the lack of tenacity I showed in school, in sports, and in relationships. I wanted to get the most, from the least. When I encountered resistance and disappointment, I tended to pivot and move on. It wasn't that I didn't try, but rather I didn't persevere. Only once I started to learn what I wanted in life, that I started to develop tenacity.



Looking back I can recognize the signs of my developing resolution.



1. When a child is born, you become devoted in a new way to this new life that depends on you. I recall so many nights spending hours walking around my house, singing, rocking and soothing infants who refused to sleep when the rest of the world did. They pushed me to my very edge, but I was determined to never give up.



2. Owning an art gallery is a noble endeavour, but not one you typically enter to seek riches. Many an entrepreneur would have called it a day in the face of our struggles sourcing, securing, and selling, but I steadfastly labored for 12 years to continue our mission to represent the best of African art.



3. Despite taking 3-4 years to recognize I wanted to get married, I naively thought I meant those words for life. The early years are relatively easy when everything is new, fresh, and the whole exciting world is ahead of you. When faced with rejection, disappointment, and life's inevitable grind, it is only then when you recognize your indefatigable spirit.



4. In previous years, I blogged about my relationship with my elderly neighbor Walt. In his final years, we actively looked out for him. He lived until his mid 90's with a determination, independence and tenacity that I very much respect considering he outlived two wives, and three bouts of serious cancer.



The achievements that individuals and society value most all seem to require tenacity. If something comes easily, it usually doesn't last the test of time. Endurance and stamina are essential qualities of greatness. Persistence and strength of purpose must be present to achieve your highest goals. Patience and resolve demonstrate the tenacious qualities necessary to succeed.



I'll lean on some wise minds to develop the notion of tenacity further....



Maya Angelou asserted that "All great achievements require time."



Cal Ripken Jr., the baseball hall of famer who played for 21 seasons and holds the record for consecutive games played said "When you're in the day-to-day grind, it just seems like it's another step along the way. But I find joy in the actual process, the journey, the work. It's not the end. It's not the end event."



Louis Pasteur, the noted French scientist, once said "Let me tell you the secret which has led me to the goal. My only strength resides in my tenacity."



Sylvester Stallone exhibited tremendous tenacity while trying to break into acting. He suffered numerous rejections because he was difficult to understand when he spoke and didn't have classic Hollywood looks. Instead of giving up, Stallone penned Rocky. Many producers rejected the script. One ultimately agreed to buy the rights for $256,000, but only if Stallone wasn't to play the lead role. That money would have helped him immensely, but it wouldn't have achieved his goal, so he negotiated $75,000 and 10% of net profits so he could be the star.



F. Scott Fitzgerald urged us to "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."


Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden said ""Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."



Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote "Water is fluid, soft and yielding but water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield ... what is soft is strong."



Theodore Roosevelt said "Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength."

Thomas A. Edison, the famed inventor who suffered many more failures than successes stated "I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." and "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

Views: 1347
Date Posted: Jul. 6, 11:25am, 0 Comments

The black Uber Escalade sped north from the Golden Gate bridge. We descended into Sausalito, pulling up to a low slung sprawling adobe style building. Although I couldn't see it, I could sense in the air that we were close to the bay. Stepping down from my ride my view was obscured by the high wood fence and bamboo that protected the building. I was met and led into a common room with half a dozen people milling about. We were quickly ushered into the conference room where a fashionable young woman sat at her laptop prepared to take meeting notes. A silver-haired man stood by a white-board preparing some introductory comments. We found seats around a single massive hardwood table that still maintained the bark on the two irregular shaped ends. We were immediately instructed that all computers and phones were to be shut off and stowed away to ensure focus and discipline. Surrounding the table were the core executive team of a San Francisco start-up, along with 4 other consultants who had arrived that morning.



"To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity." - Friedrich Nietzsche



Our mission was both singular and yet complex. Evaluate and define this company. What was its true purpose? Which words and concepts would capture the hearts and minds of future customers. All future product and marketing efforts would be in service to those words. What human and capital resources were necessary? Only a focused purpose might lead to eventual success.



The company had been working for a couple years on several concepts in their industry. They had a team and product in place but uncertainty about it's potential. The five consultants brought well over 100 years of varied high level business experience. We were tasked with sharing our insights on the market and how best to carve out a profitable and sustainable business model. Two full days later, after much brainstorming, discussion, and debate, we had yet to fully embrace a focused purpose so we moved the proceedings to their headquarters for another two full days of meetings in their conference room.



Walking away from the experience it's clear that everything wasn't resolved or fully committed to, but I feel all the building blocks to define a new market, launch a compelling and engaging product, and ultimately create a sustainably profitable business are there.



"Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats." - Sue Grafton

Views: 1583
Date Posted: May. 8, 10:36am, 0 Comments




If you asked most people what the easiest type of questions to answer are they would likely say "yes or no" questions the the one above. With only two possible answers it seems pretty clear cut and doesn't require specific recall. But are "yes or no" questions really easier than who, what, where, when, how or why questions? When pressed to answer "yes or no" questions people often feel the need to clarify or qualify their answer. Depending on the question, only having two extreme choices can be challenging. When you look closer at the range of "yes or no" questions you find it's pretty broad as they can request information, behavior, opinion, test knowledge or be rhetorical.



I read an interesting The Week article recently that emphasized that saying "yes" leads to happiness, while saying "no" leads to success. The impetus behind saying "yes" is that it creates opportunity for lots of things to happen. Keeping busy and staying active are key ingredients to happiness. Although saying yes often can lead to bad choices, as we age we tend to remember the good and forget the bad so that leads to happier memories. On balance, we regret the things we didn't do more than the things we did. There is even some research indicating that saying yes actually makes you luckier.



On the other hand, "no" forces focus. Saying "no" gives successful people the time to accomplish more. Success requires doing a lot of good work which is difficult to accomplish without saying no to other options. The author's suggested compromise between these extremes is to create "protected" focus times where you say "no" that are balanced with times where you are free to say "yes" to opportunity.



The subject of "yes or no" questions intrigued me so I explored the variety of possible "yes or no" questions further.



Many are very straight forward matters of fact or opinion.



Are you married?

Can you drive a car?

Do you like your job?

Have you ever killed someone?

Do we have enough gas to get to Seattle?



Some can be confusing when they include a negative.



You don't like cats? (yes you do, or yes you don't?)

You won't come home for Christmas?



Not all "yes or no" questions can be easily answered with a simple yes or no answer.



Can a man and a woman ever just be friends?

Can money really buy happiness?

Can God create a rock that is too heavy for God to lift?



For some questions, either answer means the same thing.



We are sitting in a room together and I ask you "Can you hear me?"

Are you asleep?

Are you going to answer this question with a lie?



Whereas some "yes or no" questions require a proof you don't currently have.



Is there life after death?

Will I ever fall in love again?

Is there life on other planets in the universe?

Will I ever make a million dollars?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?



Some "yes or no" questions are rhetorical.



Is the pope catholic?

Does a bear poop in the woods?

Can birds fly?

Is rain wet?



With some trickily worded "yes or no" questions you implicate yourself with either answer.



Have you stopped beating your wife?

Have you destroyed your weapons of mass destruction?

Does urine taste bad?

Congressman, is $1000 enough money to buy your vote?

Do your parents know you are a drug addict?



Then there are questions that you get "wrong" or in trouble for either answer.



Do you think that woman at the party was pretty?

Do I look fat in this dress?



Some are even worded so you can't answer at all.



Can you say the word "no"?

The world of "yes or no" questions is more complex than I first considered. As much thought needs to go into the question as to the answer.

Views: 1550
Date Posted: Mar. 10, 2:18pm, 0 Comments



The ACH transfer hit my bank account today. Every American poker player who played on Full Tilt Poker has been waiting these last 34 months since poker's Black Friday to receive their funds back (roughly $82 million I'm told). Mine wasn't a large amount (<$1000) as I had been intentionally keeping my account balance light at the time. Rather it was the principle of returning money that didn't belong to Full Tilt Poker or to the U.S. Government. For me it provided some closure and an artificial but symbolic ending to a decade long journey in poker.






Earlier in the week and for the first time in a long time, I had posted in the CardRunners Swamp forum. Long-time member Wiggy1182 responded "Man I just got really sad thinking about this. Seeing you say that made me think back to how great this site used to be when I was first learning poker. I remember loving your blog and a bunch of other ones as well when this site was really bumping."

He went on to reminisce a bit about his own journey. It made me nostalgic and I quickly envisioned the project of documenting and linking my entire journey with cross-referenced blog posts. But that challenge seemed too daunting in the face of reviewing hundreds of posts (without a reasonable search feature) since its birth in May 2007. Instead I'll share some of my memories from my time in poker.




I don't play poker any longer. Live poker never captivated me like online poker did. The habit and enjoyment in playing recreationally but daily has slowly dissipated over the last 3 years. Who knows when legal online poker will return to Oregon. I have kept abreast of the community and remained employed in various roles in the poker industry until the end of 2013. With employment options receding without relocation I now feel less of a need to cling to the hope of a resurgence.






TV Poker - I remember the wonderment at watching poker on TV with my wife from as early as late 2002. We would watch the weekly spectacle that was the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. We marveled at the entertaining characters bluffing and winning life changing money while listening to the commentary of Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten and Shana Hiatt. In the following years I would watch any poker that I could find; Celebrity Poker Showdown, Poker Superstars, Poker Royale, Ultimate Poker Challenge, WSOP, High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, National Heads-Up Championship, and the EPT.






Early Playing - After watching a few seasons of WPT, I noticed Mike Sexton promoting PartyPoker - the most popular poker site at the time. I deposited $50 on the site; ran it up a little playing $25NL (2BI's...that's some bankroll management, right?) then lost it all quickly. Being risk averse and not understanding why I lost, I took a break before deciding to deposit again.






I bought my first poker book, "Play Poker Like The Pros" by Phil Hellmuth and immediately tried to determine whether I was an Eagle, Mouse, Elephant, Jackal or Lion. I started watching established players on Ultimate Bet (Green Plastic, Jsup, LatestLines2, Stinger885, CTS, Muddywater, Gaucho2121, Denny Lemiuex). I would rail them playing cash games, SnG's and tournaments. A few of them even engaged us railbirds in the chat box. I realized there could be camaraderie in the game. After a few months of railing players, one of them (Stinger885) mentioned that a poker training site run by some of the players that I had been railing was launching -






My New Years resolution on January 1, 2006 was to take poker more seriously and I signed up to be a member of CardRunners. After watching videos, studying the game and understanding the discipline necessary to experience success I decided to deposit $50 on UB. Starting at the lowest possible playing level (.01-.02) I began my real journey. I have never deposited again.






Community - Beyond my own insatiable thirst for mastering this strategy game, what captured me was the element of community and communal learning I experienced. Like-minded players were eager to give time and feedback via various methods (e.g. ventrilo, skype, forums, chat rooms). As the months passed, it became less about a selfish and competitive game for money, and more around connection and support. Some of that early CardRunners community included JTPhila, Brystmar, Bradsmitty, Bdog4, AceCR9, LouPinella (RIP), Fruitypro, Verneer, TrevRob, PrincessDonk and Jeff218. CardRunners also had a strong stable of teaching pros with varying levels of community interaction but whose videos informed or entertained us all (Green Plastic, Jsup, ActionJeff, Stinger, Sbrugby, Brystmar, Sixpeppers, Mr. Menlo, Gaucho2121, Jackal, Schneids, CTS, Daut44, KPR16, Gordo16, Raptor, Timex, nutedawg, p3achy keen, iRock, Verneer, INTERNET POKERS, Skjervoy and 1 video from Phil Galfond).








Later Playing - When UIGEA hit, Party Poker left the US and UB rumors of "funny business" grew. Full Tilt Poker started to gain a lot of momentum with superior software and player experience so I traded some funds with a fellow CardRunners member and began playing exclusively on Full Tilt Poker. A couple years later exasperated after experiencing what at the time seemed like a big downswing (13 BI's), I transitioned to PLO and stopped playing No-Limit Hold'em entirely. When Rush PLO was introduced I found my sweet spot that matched the limited time I had available to play with the level of action and profitability possible. I played Rush exclusively the final months leading up to FTP's shutdown to Americans.






Poker Pros - Some of my fondest memories are from the live tournaments that I was lucky enough to visit. I went to one PCA in the Bahamas, one Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic and five WSOP Main Events. It was often all the events surrounding the tournaments that were most fun (e.g. top restaurant meetups with CCR, clubbing with bottle service, late night house parties, or fun poker get togethers)





Unlike what existed in sports or entertainment, the best poker players in the world were everywhere and accessible. I can't recall of a single notable poker pro who I haven't had the pleasure of seeing in the flesh at some point. For most of those tournaments I had press access which allowed me additional access to meet players, while reporting, interviewing and blogging. More than the proximity to poker celebrity was getting to meet the people behind the infamous but relatively anonymous online monikers.






For me, poker was always about people. Probably due to my inherent risk aversion, I derived as much enjoyment from supporting and railing people as I did playing myself. The ideal example I've shared over the years is of Brian Hastings. We both happened to deposit $50 in the same exact month online. He was a high school kid from my home state of Pennsylvania while I was a married with kids mid-thirties businessman. He went on to make millions with a highly visible career in poker while I made a few thousand playing recreationally. I don't have an ounce of envy, but rather immense respect and pride in having witnessed his journey and development as a person and player. I have greatly enjoyed following players, interviewing them, and railing high stakes games. Some of those players I've had to pleasure to meet or interview include Lee Childs, Laurence Grondin, Jason Mercier, Alec Torelli, Greg Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, Dan Cates, Andrew Lichtenberger, Scotty Nguyen, Aaron Jones, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, David Paredes, Ilari Sahamies, Vanessa Peng, Jay Rosenkrantz, David Benefield, Chris Moneymaker, Ashton Griffin, and Danielle Anderson.








Poker Work - I've had the pleasure and challenge of a number of roles in the poker industry. First as the first Operations Manager at CardRunners during their greatest growth from 1,000 to 10,000 members. Second starting my own community and resource site for beginning players - PokerCurious. After selling a majority of the site, I worked for a Malta poker conglomerate as their Content Manager. I worked as a writer for Epic Poker and a poker affiliate site. Lastly, I served as Operations Manager and Head of Information and Customer Service for Pokertrip, now called Overlay Gaming, that runs AllVegasPoker and PokerAtlas.






The Future - On New Years Eve I was asked to run a multi-family poker cash game. As I was the only experienced player, I was asked to provide the chips and cards, deal but not play, and educate the 9 players between 15-50 years of age. They had a blast playing, despite their lack of experience and some interruptions for fireworks and midnight celebrating. Everyone in the game got to win a decent sized pot at some point, without anyone really dominating. One mid 40's woman was particularly enthralled. She wanted to know everyones hole cards to understand when people were bluffing and what strategies they employed.






Poker in all its variants is a great and stimulating game no matter what experience you bring to the table. While I'm partial to the online version, I hope poker's future brightens in the coming years with the reduction of public stigmatization and government interference.

Views: 1328
Date Posted: Feb. 25, 10:52am, 0 Comments

Another day, another company buys a promising smaller company at a high valuation. AOL recently announced they had purchased Santa Monica-based Gravity for $90 million. Gravity was founded in 2009 and deals in the world of content personalization. After the recent focuses on search and more recently all things social, personalization is one of the hot new trends in web.



The concept of personalization isn't new. Everyone appreciates having personalized attention and service. If I walk into a business and they have automatic doors and someone smiling and greeting me that's better service, but it's not personalizing. Now if I walk in and they greet me by name, with reference to an earlier visit or want and their display of offerings are catered to that need, that is personalization.



On the web, businesses have offered a static one size fits all approach to their offerings. However you arrive at a website, what you see is the same for everyone who arrives at that website at the same time. Visitors are bombarded with a myriad of content, links and calls to action in the hope that visitors will act on some of them. According to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, in this new conceived world "a personal web filter will reshape how consumers get information and services."



A number of web businesses have incorporated elements of personalization into their web presentations for years. Amazon displays recommendations based off your previous history and interests. YouTube recommends additional videos that are 'somehow' related to the video you have chosen. Pandora creates customized streaming stations based off your feedback. Each are created via thematic algorithms. In the world of email marketing, a big transformation was introduced with segmented lists and tailored emails based off customer actions and responses.



For websites, the challenge is to create dynamic website personalization in order to increase stickiness and conversion. The same content and calls to action aren't appealing to everyone equally. So what if you could cater and customize them to your visitor?



The method that Gravity has been employing is to develop "Interest Graphs" which would customize the content you see on any sites you visit. The Interest Graphs are developed from a list of topics and concepts derived from what you've been looking at on the internet. The more you explore and read articles, it learns and then recommends more of what you tend to like. Gravity offers their services to companies for a fee, but you can see some of their actualized efforts on the recently released Google Chrome extension called Highlighter which creates a "personalized newsfeed of what you might want to read on any content site you visit."



One of the concerns with personalization efforts is that it effectively "niche's" out the internet. Is only some content available to you? What if you wanted to be exposed to new content or offerings that didn't previously fit in your Interest Graph? What if you are in a different mood and want to see whatever some site has chosen to offer, regardless of your history or regular desires? Are we only to see a familiar corridor of the internet that conforms to those established personal interests? And what if they get the algorithm wrong? How predictive and customized can they be? For instance, before today, I knew nothing of Gravity or their personalization efforts. There is a wonderful freedom to allowing yourself to wander and learn. Blazing new paths can be energizing. I can only hope that my interest graph is evolving fast enough to keep up with me. Done well, the potential of web personalization is transformative.

As Gravity CEO Amit Kapur states ""Every day we're presented with an overwhelming amount of information to consume on our favorite websites and apps. It's time to move beyond searching for the best content to having the best content search for you."

Views: 1249
Date Posted: Dec. 29, 2:46pm, 2 Comments







Dive down.






Hit the turn.



Feel the G forces.



Whisk through the dark tunnel.



Come to an abrupt stop.



If Toyota is to be believed in their latest ads, riding in a Camry is a true thrill ride. It isn't enough to tout the reliability, gas mileage, safety, and comfort of the car, what we need to be shown is owning a Camry is the roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Dependable isn't sexy. Wild dips and turns are.



The same could be said for the history and marketing of poker. It's hard to sell the grind. The inescapable losing sessions. It's hard to sell discipline and patience. Folding your hands a majority of the time. It's hard to sell the hard work. Analyzing stats and poker hand histories are boring and pedantic. But we embrace the exhilaration of those rare tournament wins. We can indulge in the irrational exuberance seen in the Bet Raise Fold movie when former online poker star Aaron Jones considered buying an island during the height of online poker. On the other side, we are drawn to the humanity of Danielle Andersen, also vividly displayed in Bet Raise Fold, as poker was ripped away from her after Black Friday. We are mesmerized by the huge losses of Gus Hansen or the bacchanalian lifestyle of Dan Bilzerian.



The rags to riches story never gets old in poker. The rags to riches to rags can be even more compelling. We've all become action junkies. As long as there are high highs and low lows, we have a story to sell. The lesson appears to be that extremes enthrall us. Sudden changes in fortune captivate us. While any regular reader of my blog will tell you I'm usually the voice telling you that there's no getting around folding most of your hands and embracing life's grind, I'll admit that most of us are beguiled by these exploits no matter how antithetical they are.

Zoom Zoom

Views: 1085
Date Posted: Dec. 20, 12:20pm, 0 Comments

Being in the state of "unemployed" is an odd feeling for an entrepreneur at heart. I have worked for myself more years of my adult life than I have for someone else. There are benefits from either situation. In the last few years I have sought a bit more security working for others, although most of them have essentially been startups. As I explore my current environment, I thought it would make sense to take a slightly different approach.


Visualize - I have considerable experience after 25 years in the work world. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I know the types of environments I want to work in. I know what things I'm passionate about. Taking time to actively visualize what types of positions and work environments you want to be in is the first step to helping determine your next move.


Vocalize - In the past, I have kept my visualizations to myself. I was uncertain about vocalizing them. Afraid that if I stated them and they didn't happen that I would disappoint myself or others. Vocalizing them doesn't necessarily guarantee achieving them, but it does put it out in the universe to be heard. Much as my blog has served me the past 5 plus years, having the courage to have a voice defines you and connects you differently.


So here are my thoughts on the type of work environment that I want to find myself in next:


  • Collaborative - I like working on small teams where everyone contributes, not just where one dictates.

  • Communicative - The more communication the better. Whether it's internal communication, email, skype/hangout etc. the tools are there for everyone to be connected whether they are physically there or not.

  • Transparent - Everyone should be on the same page about most company issues and news. Lack of sharing breeds uncertainty, suspicion and alienation.

  • Generalist - I find most job listings are seeking specialists. I think that's part of why I prefer small business and start-up environments where everyone has to pitch in as needed and roles aren't so tightly defined. I have experience in most areas of business (from marketing, operations, sales, social media, information, management, development, and strategic initiatives) and I prefer to have a range of responsibilities and contributions than one tightly defined and repetitive one.

  • Problem Solving - Businesses often focus on someone who has done something before instead of identifying ability and decision making over familiarity with process.

  • Empowering - A company should give the tools (training, resources and support) for their employees to succeed.

  • High Expectations - Impart clear goals that you want your team to achieve within a realistic timeframe.

  • Rewarding - Create incentives for your team to achieve .

  • Trusting - Employers invest in selecting top talent, they should create a trusting environment that this talent can utilize their experience and talents.

  • Flexible - Having a variety of tasks and responsibilities keeps workers fresher and more engaged. I'm also strong advocate of flexible hours and the power of working remotely.

  • Innovative - Pushing to innovate and contribute novel ideas motivates me. Question assumptions

  • Loyal - While this is a hard area to predict, too many of today's companies don't feel a loyalty to hard working, well performing employees if it serves them financially in the short term to terminate them. Companies fall in love with their systems over their people, whereas I believe a company ultimately succeeds from quality people over quality systems.

  • Disruptive - I prefer the idea of reshaping an industry or introducing a new one. So much energy goes into preserving the status quo, but I prefer to help shape the future.


Actualize - Once you have vocalized your desires, the next step is to put them into action. Identify and prioritize them. Search and network with contacts and companies that embrace them. There are tradeoffs in every work setting, self-employed or not. In the end you may not achieve all your goals, but by going through this process you are more likely to gravitate to your more ideal work setting.


As complicated as some businesses like to make it, business is pretty simple.


1. Give value, then ask for compensation.

2. Listen.

3. Discover the problem and offer a solution.

4. Don't fear being asked to prove yourself.

5. Give your customer the best product experience imaginable.

6. You are constantly a storyteller, only the mode and medium changes.

7. Once you have acquired the experience and acute perception, your ability to contribute explodes in a myriad of ways regardless if the business looks to capture it or not.

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Date Posted: Nov. 8, 1:19pm, 0 Comments

The past week has been a good one for me. What started out with the sudden and unexpected news of my unemployment has given me the opportunity to touch base with many friends and business acquaintances. Too often I throw so much of myself into my current project that I neglect to maintain those tertiary relationships. I'm excited to explore new opportunities to help build value in businesses in the gaming and gambling sector. Feel free to email me at if that proposition interests you.



For today's blog, I want to discuss elements of another call I wasn't expecting this week. This one came from my last manager from my international art gallery that closed in 2006. He had a client interested in a certain artist and he wondered if I still had any of their sculptures. I have held onto quite a few sculptures over the years that I felt had value and an impressive aesthetic. Luckily, I had just the right outdoor piece for this client. But how to determine its current value?



One of the major life skills I developed from my travels in Africa and running the gallery was the art of negotiation. Unlike most commerce in America, in Africa there are often no set prices. It is part of the culture to haggle. Negotiation and communication are part of your transaction. I have even had vendors refuse my initial higher than expected price because it cut short the transactional experience. They understood at a very base level that if people negotiated, they invested themselves in the process and were more likely to return as a satisfied customer


Zimbabwean artists are very shrewd negotiators. This was observed hundreds of times in interactions with artists who adjusted the selling price of their sculpture depending on who the buyer was. They would evaluate the buyer and determine what they felt they could get out of them. The most noticeable difference being the price offered to a local vs. a foreigner. My partner in the early years of the gallery was a local, but he now lived in the United States. Even though he spoke their language, they were able to notice that he wore clothes or sneakers that weren't available there so they ultimately offered him a middle ground price that wasn't offered to me.


Back in the gallery, American art buyers were all too eager to replicate that experience of negotiating the final price of a sculpture. They were looking for the best deal they could get. Even if you had a sale going on, they wanted more. Although it was a constantly shifting playing field, there were some key lessons I learned from the art of successful negotiation.


1. Everyone wants to come out on top. Negotiating brings out the competitive juices in everyone.

2. Show respect and understanding for where they are coming from. Everyone feels their position is genuine and compelling.

3. Remove your ego, as much as you can, so you can focus on creating a win-win for both parties.

4. Approach your negotiation as if this will only be one of many future negotiations. By making it a positive experience for both parties, it will encourage future business. Drive too hard of a bargain in your favor and risk alienating them forever.

5. Many believe negotiating is all about bluffing and bravado, but showing some vulnerability and honesty can often speed the transaction and satisfaction afterwards.

6. There are times where one party clearly has the advantage and upper hand, but accept that sometimes you need a deal to go through and that next time the dynamic might switch. I can recall numerous times when big bills were due that I sold a sculpture for much less than normal in order to get access to the funds immediately.

7. Elicit their limits, and determine yours. Determining the reasonable range for negotiation cuts out a lot of needless time. Understand that sometimes walking away from a negotiation, despite wanting it completed, is the best option.

8. A successful negotiation increases the respect that exists between both parties.

Focus on the results and not the people. Don't make it personal, it is only a transaction.

The negotiation has begun. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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