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Phoenix, AZ Tech Scene…in 2011

This is a list I compiled about the Phoenix Tech Scene in 2011.

Giants of Jazz Notes

Notes of mine from the Studs Terkel book, Giants of Jazz. 

Joe Oliver: hard not to look at him as a cautionary tale.  People took his ideas and took them to places before he could.   He became contempt with situations. The one positive is that he tried to have his horn resemble the human voice, and people resonated with that resemblement. People always resonate with humanity- be it a horn, a picture, a powerpoint.  Resemble humanity.

Louis Armstrong: Never worried about the words of a song- it’s the feeling that mattered.  The tone.  Whatever he was feeling is what he did.  And the words weren’t as important as the tone they were said with. The tone.  The feeling.  And being influenced by the city.  Makes me want to move to SF.

Duke Ellington: The rhythm of life. Putting tunes to everything that happens in life.  Life is music. You just have to let out the tune.

Bessie Smith: Make one line last a staircase.  In blues, you have your best line, your best word, and make sure everyone feels it. In business, make an idea last a staircase and keep repeating it until everyone feels it.

Fats Waller: Created 10,000 pieces of music in 38 years.  Never stopped learning, never stopped creating.  Creating something new each day is manageable if you’re creating stuff you love or are curious about.

Benny Goodman: Patience, Endurance, Talent wins.  Benny was at it for 5 years, had lots of doubt along the way, and like we see with so many who are pursuing their passion, broke through just when they had nothing left.

Count Bassie: The small things that no one notices except in the end result. “He ain’t playing nothing, but it sure sounds good.” It’s the little things that make the difference. The distinctions. It’s what’s made Count’s music great, Starbucks coffee good.  The little things.

Billie Holliday: Not being afraid to knock on doors when you know you’ve got something unique to offer.

Woody Herman: Relax, have fun, because that’s the only way to express yourself. Especially with jazz music. You can’t swing when you’re stiff.

Dizzy Gillespie: Experimentation leads to innovation- whether that experimentation is with your appearance, or your music.  Constantly experimenting teaches you new things.

Charlie Parker: Drugs and distractions shorten the amount of time and talent you spend on what you’re good at.

The success of these individuals can be attributed to the people they hang with, played with, and lived with.  Networking and location are huge determinants of success.

Johnny Coltrane: Learned through younger, lesser known musicians.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out in your horn.

Jazz is a long link that continues to add to itself.

Notes on Hiring

Social ties are very strong in a company. If he joins, I’ll join.  If he goes, I’ll go.  Looking at the strength of friendship is big.

Interviewing is not enough.  How are they going to get along with an existing team? You can’t interview everyone- it’s too much time.

Locality- within one mille.  People are happier.  They work longer. Facebook paid $2,500 to employees to move within one mile of the office.  1 mile jobs.

How do you rank people?

Drive – how do you measure drive?

Curiosity: do you love what you do?

Writing- what are the majority of their tweets about?

What are their blog posts about?

Reference calls

Positive/Negative tweets signify how happy someone is.

Minus points on job hopping. It costs money to acquire an employee.  You want to increase their long term value. It decreases morale when someone leaves.  It’s self-centered.

Minus points on consulting gigs. Their fallback is too easy if they don’t like your job.  They can make more money consulting.  They’re not worried about their career.

Interviews try to find out a person’s philosophies.

4-6 people make a decision on a candidate. 6 people do an interview.

Bonus points for passion.

The Nissan Leaf Tour

Nissan is doing so many things right with the release of the Leaf.  Why? It’s part of something bigger than the release of a product.  The release is really a complete rebranding and an effort to take market share from it’s competitors.

Here’s a list of what Nissan has done right in the marketing release of the Leaf.

1) They are creating meaningful, lasting experiences with customers.  A 6 month tour with 23 city stops is being executed as we speak.  At these locations, Nissan is answering customer questions, allowing them to kick the tires, and most of all, allowing them to test drive.

2) To test drive, people must go online and reserve their time slot.  This gives Nissan the opportunity to either a) get a customer’s information at sign up so they can market to them at a later date or b) get them to be a part of their Facebook fan page, and market to them continuously.  Either way, it’s a win for Nissan.  (Comparison: Volt, their competitor, just has people show up)

3) Content creation.  At each one of these city stops, Nissan looks like they’ve contracted an agency to do amazing video work.  Like, really amazing.  If they do that for every city, which I’m assuming they will, it will be some of the best compilation of video ever compiled for a project.  Just in Orange County, where they stopped first, they were able to film a man singing his praises for the Leaf along with a minute and a half video that recapped their time in the OC.  Fantastic.

4) Their Facebook page has all that you could ask for.  42 videos.  Fan photos.  A tour schedule.  Events that coordinate with that tour schedule that allow you to RSVP.  A shiny profile photo of the Leaf.  And a bunch of other stuff that makes you feel closer to the Leaf.

5) They are doing such a good job at addressing customer concerns, like how will I charge my car…how much does it cost…how many miles does it get…etc. Going out and answering these questions in person…can’t stress that enough for how important it is to rebrand Nissan.

6) They have tangible benchmarks to try and accomplish, and they’re building that into the videos.  50,000 test drives of the Leaf is what they are aiming for.  At the end of the OC video, they gave out how many test drives they delivered (2,000), and how many test drives they had left to go (48,000).  That’s good stuff that allows you to come along on the journey.

7) Stops coincide with the first markets where each car will be available. There is a methodology to the tour.  And, stops coincide with major events in each city…ie the Street Fair in Tucson.  The more stops you can coincide with events, the better because there will be more people around.  AND, they stopped at major places like Griot’s Garage, a Tacoma institution that encourages people to have fun in their garage.

Hello From Duluth, Minnesota

From Lisbon, Portugal to Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth has one street, which my colleague and I decided to walk on a Saturday night in order to find food.  The first people we encountered were two gentlemen with Insane Clown Posse face paint who tried to bum a cigarette from us.  Odd, but not as disturbing as seeing the senior citizen couple making out in the front seat of their sedan.

Other odd things we witnessed within 20 minutes of being in Duluth: two stretch Lincoln Navigator limos (a completely unnecessary luxury), lots of standard Duluthians, and a woman push her friend to the ground after an incensed one sided screaming match.  It was sad.

Anyways, there’s better places in the world than Duluth…but no better place in the world to enjoy a smoked salmon sandwich than Northern Waters Smokehaus.  My goodness. We were in Duluth three days and the place never stopped smokin’.

We ate at Northern Waters the first day, and then the next day, and then the day after that.

Then, we were smart enough to get away from all the shenanigans going on in Duluth. I’m not sure I’ll ever be back, but the smoked salmon will forever live on in memory.

Talent Will Always Be Hard To Find

I read this book about Magellan and his circumvention around the world.  There was a passage about how he tried to recruit Spanish men to embark on his voyage to the Spice Islands.  I thought it supported the quote that “talent will always be hard to find,” and I thought you’d enjoy reading the passage.

“On the day before the fleet’s departure from Seville, August 9, 1519, Magellan was summoned to testify that he had made every effort to hire Spanish officers and crew members rather than foreigners.  He had, in fact, gone to great lengths to comply, and he swelled with pride as he delivered his sworn statement.

“I proclaimed [through a town crier] in this city [Seville], in squares and markets and busy places and along the river that anyone- sailors, cabin boys, caulkers, carpenters, and other officers- who wished to join the Armada should contact me, the captain, or talk to the masters of the ship.  I also mentioned the salaries stipulated by the king.  Sailers will receive 1,200 maravedis, cabin boys 800 maravedis, and pages 500 maravedis every month, and carpenters and caulkers 5 ducats every month.  None of the villagers born here wanted to join the Armada.”

And that was the truth.  Qualified sailors were rare in Seville, and qualified sailors willing to risk their lives on a voyage to the Spice Islands rarer still.

Desperate to recruit qualified crew members for the expedition, Magellan cast his net even further.  He sent his master-at-arms to Malaga with a letter from the Casa de Contractcion indicating the salaries and benefits those joining the Armada de Molucca would receive.  Other officers fanned out to popular seaports such as Cadiz in search of willing hands, but those willing to risk their lives on a voyage into the unknown proved scarce.

“I couldn’t find enough people,” Magellan explained, “so I accepted all the foreigners we needed, such as Greeks, people from Venice, Genoa, Sicily, and the University of Arizona (j/k).”

Anyways, thought it was interesting that recruiting 500 years ago was a challenge too.  Talent will always be hard to find. 

Hello From Portimao, Portugal

Greetings from Portimao, where the only thing separating the hotel from the ocean is the beach itself.

Portimao, and the Alagarve area in which the town is located, is entirely made up of tourists. This is quite different than how we’ve spent the previous two days and nights, where we mingled, haggled with, and bonded with local Portugesians.

I joke that everything in Europe is old – especially the tourists. Portimao is no exception. Portimao, and the Algarve…where couples and old people go to take a vacation within a vacation.

Tomorrow we will do much off what we did today. The activities of the day consisted of laying on the beach while enjoying a fine Sagres beer and eating a delicious Prosciutto sandwich while reading my 400 page book about Portugese exploration. Life is good.

If you were eagerly anticipating stories about the Chapel of Bones, there is lots to tell. At first, I was amazed at the sight of thousands of skulls, fibulas, and vertebrae. I considered it one of the finest exhibits I have ever seen. And then, in reflection on the 3 hour roadtrip down south, I came to the conclusion that the three guys who built it were a bunch of downers.

They built the chapel to remind the wealthy that they couldn’t take their material possessions into the afterlife. Death is inevitable. Blah blah blah. I think these three guys were just bringing everyone down when they constructed that chapel. Their work still freaks people out to this day. Upon exiting the chapel, there were a row of aforementioned elderly tourists visibly shaken by what they had seen. You could only look at them and read their apparent thought: “Man, my clock is ticking!”

Obrigado!

Hello from Coimbra

Hello from the Harvard of the US, the Oxford of England…it’s Coimbra, the college town of Portugal that houses the 2nd oldest university in the world! (Bologna in Italy is the oldest, built in 1249)

I’m trying to live more Portugese, which means eat dinner at 9pm, go out at 11:30pm, and say words that sound like “Huckslicklavegesh.”

Today we went to the “vin-yards” in the Douro Valley. Amazing scenery driving out there. You have the Douro River running throughout vineyards that rise to the top of mountains. These vineyards are different from those in Sonoma County because they grow different grapes. These vines are grown in ten foot steep increments, so when you stand amongst a row of vines, you see ten feet of rock above you before you see the next row of vines. These vines stack high towards the heavens, and the grapes are ripe for a pickin’. My mom and I plucked a grape off the vine and ate it as we toured the Quinta de Palasca. We also dipped our feet in the Douro River when we were all done because we had a case of the “Dirty Douro Feet.” Fun times.

Tomorrow we are off to a town named Evora, which is famous for being another college town and having a chapel constructed entirely from human skeletons. Should be awesome, and then it’s on to the south of Portugal to get some beach time in.

Takeaways from lunch with Karl Eller

Going into lunch with Karl Eller, I wanted three things:

1) To talk about his time as President of Columbia Pictures

2) To talk about how he wakes up at 3:00am

3) To talk about business opportunities in an evolving media marketplace

The majority of the time was spent talking about the latter.

My takeaways with Karl Eller:

1) He liked my idea of employing a Twitter team in a movie studio.

2) He agreed with me on the idea of having all these outdated forms of media- radio, television, newspapers- need to find a new distribution channel.  This conversation stemmed from my idea of reserving Facebook URL’s and building audiences to control the distribution.

3) His life, at 81 years old, is still active.  He’s working on a deal with Coca Cola that he says will transform the way advertisers advertise.  It’s digital distribution.  Marthya’s in San Francisco is the company he’s going through to get this digital distribution organized, and it will allow Coke to run digital ads to mobile phone users and any place there is a digital interface.  Interesting.

4) Persistence and connections get you farther than anything else.  Karl Eller’s last words of advice to me.

5) He disliked Dean Paul Portney, like I did, because he was too middle of the road.  He hates the way the business school does things.  He hates Democrats with the take from the rich, give to the poor because he feels the stuff he works for gets taken away.  Hates Obama and his healthcare plan.  Hates San Francisco because they’re too liberal.  Says California is going down the drain.

6) Old people care way more about politics than young people because it directly effects them more so than young people.

7) The Ritz is a playing ground you can put someone on to make them feel a bit uncomfortable. 

8) Eller can laugh about the carrier pigeon now.  Laughter says it’s okay to mess up and fail if you try new things because when you’re an old guy, you can laugh about the stupid stuff you did.

Read a full interview with Karl Eller here: https://pursuethepassion.com/interviews/2006/05/16/karl-eller/

Pursuit of Happyness

The movie is constructed on a series of events that can be best described as “disturbers of harmony.” There are 134 of these sequences ranging from small (dropping a bag) to large (letter from the IRS leaves him with $21.33 in his bank account).

The positives in the movie were few and far between. To match the 134 negative events, there were about 15 positive events that happened. These events included:

• Getting one side of the rubic’s cube
• Stock broker who created a Canadian stock market app talks to him about what he does…giving inspiration to Chris to pursue a stock broker job.
• Solves the rubic’s cube
• Gets an interview
• Gets son back
• Sells a scanner
• Sells all his scanners
• Getting a meeting with Walter Ribbon.
• Most interactions with Walter Ribbon were positive, as were the interactions with the son. These were the two positive reinforcements in Chris’s life.

The list of negatives included:
• can’t take the kid to the park because of business
• didn’t know his father
• refusal from doctor #1
• can’t pick up the kid…breaks it to wife
• wife asks him to pay taxes..he can’t
• gets a boot on the car
• refusal #2 from doctor
• car gets towed
• car has a bunch of parking tickets
• taxes when he gets home
• can’t figure out rubic’s cube
• Wife angry
• Regan’s “economic condition” speech blares on radio
• rubic’s cube
• wife’s doubt about being a stock broker…compares it to an astronaut
• 2 months behind on rent
• hippie steals machine
• 20 people get selected for the internship
• Only one person gets selected…
• Application has 3 extra lines for education…he doesn’t need 3 extra lines
• daycare is watching TV
• the need to get a birthday present
• walking into the huge, daunting financial services building
• Mr. Tresell doesn’t want to talk on his way into work
• hippie lady runs by with machine
• gets 2 scanners back..no sales
• neighbor beating rug
• Twiseel doesn’t want the cab
• Twissell says you can’t do it five times
• Twissell doesn’t pay cab fare
• Chris doesn’t have money for cab
• Chris forgets scanner as he makes a dash for it
• Cabbie chases him
• loses machine when on BART
• wife leaves him
• wife takes son
• drops bag on a sprint
• can’t find a pen to take down number
• Wayne spouts out numbers, unknowingly confusing Chris
• wife ignores him on street
• landlord needs rent
• painting
• has to pay each ticket
• put in prison
• can’t pick up kid
• can’t make job interview
• can’t zip up jacket
• partners won’t look him in the eye
• 1st in the class of…12
• 1st in the class of….20
• Internship doesn’t pay $$$
• can’t apply to a brokerage firm for the 6 months during the internship…it’s this or nothing for 6 months
• waiting for wife and kid to return from day at the park
• wife goes to NYC
• “Salesman to intern” is backwards- says wife
• reminder that mom isn’t there
• reminder that they live in a motel
• alarm clock
• hippie has time machine
• hit by a car
• called asshole by guy who hit him
• loses shoe
• faces colleagues without shoe
• faces kid without shoe
• has to get coffee for trainer
• rejected once on phone
• has to get donut for trainer
• hung up on
• bus to the daycare place
• cross town
• 22 home
• motel owner waiting on rent
• hung up on
• had to do what they did in 6 hours, when it took them 9
• hung up on
• hung up on
• has to make it to a spot in 20 minutes
• has to move the car
• jimmy the key
• parking spot gets taken
• traffic
• no money for meter
• cross traffic
• just missed Walter Ribbon
• parking ticket
• keys again
• has to write a check to pay trainer’s ticket
• doesn’t have car anymore, kid says
• why don’t you put the scanner in the car?- Walter Ribbon
• We don’t have a car. – kid
• not a chance to get Ribbon’s business
• letter from the IRS leaves him with $21.33 in the bank
• motel owner yells for rent
• Wayne won’t give him $14
• retrieved scanner is dirty
• doctor won’t meet Chris
• kid is tired
• machine won’t work for doctor
• doctor says 4x he has to go
• stuff is moved out of the hotel, leaving them homeless
• key doesn’t work
• window won’t open
• kid has fit
• leaves stuff
• wayne won’t answer the door
• kids says scanner isn’t a time machine…twice
• kid won’t close eyes
• sleeps in men’s bathroom
• someone tries to get in the bathroom 9 times…it’s the only time Chris cries.
• Where are you going? – Mr. Trissel
• How are you doing? – Mr. Trissel
• Can’t get room because shelter is for women and children only
• huge line at homeless shelter
• guy cuts in front of him
• preacher says to get out of line
• preacher says there are no more spots
• lights go out without warning
• lights go out again while fixing scanner
• has to read book standing up b/c no light
• can’t leave stuff at homeless shelter
• what’s up?- trainer
• catch the bus
• never got the #
• had to give up $5
• didn’t get a room
• slept on BART
• $8 for the bulb
• long line
• Did mom leave because of me?
• dropped the toy

Shed yourself of all the negatives in life, or overcome them, and you’ll find happiness.