Marketing is hard

There are many different functions in companies. Some are engineers and design the products. Some are in finance and manage the money. Some are in Sales and pimp the product to customers. Others are in HR and drive us nuts with their touchy feely bull shit…

And, then there are those in marketing. What do they do? Well, essentially they help develop the message of the product and help communicate the benefits and value of the product to the company’s sales teams who in turn sell to prospects and customers. Their job is hard.

Sure, every function has challenges. Engineers have to figure out how to build the shit. Finance has to figure out how to make the stock price go up while staying out of jail. Sales people have to tell wild stories about what the product does even though it doesn’t. And, HR has to dream up new ways to keep the employees engaged in taking yet another survey on the company’s culture.

But, marketing folks, their job is a lot harder. They have to develop the message and figure out the most effective promotional methods. These messages and promotions often take the form of pictures of the product and service being used by real people.

Often they do a phenomenal job.

Other times, well…sometimes the message is “confused”.

Take this advert on Groupon for example. Marketing folks, I think next time if you are trying to promote people taking a wilderness first aid clinic you might want to have a picture of something other than a grown man putting a child in a body bag.

IMG_2050

Maybe a larger discount would help.

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I’m not a fan of golden showers

It was a long day and I was abnormally tired when I got home. As my lovely bride was making dinner for the family she laughed and said, “what did you not get your afternoon coffee?” Yeah, after all these years she clearly knows me.

After changing into some comfy clothes (shorts and a t-shirt as it’s 70+ degrees here in drought stricken Northern California) I had a thought – I’d take the pooches for a walk around the neighborhood. Heck they’d been cooped up all day and deserved it. Plus, I’d get some well deserved fresh air. And, the pièce de résistance was that I wouldn’t have to do the dishes or laundry. Boom! My favorite Nike cross-trainers on and out the door the pooches and I went!

“Honey, don’t forget the poop bags!”

<sigh> Yes dear. Picking up dog shit and lugging it around the neighborhood is so humiliating.

This wasn’t going to be one of those #mycrossfit adventures up in the hills. No, it was going to be a leisurely 2ish mile walk around suburbia.

At about the half-way mark, we rounded the corner and I saw my friend Tom and his dog Rex in their yard. Rex and my pups are friends so while Tom and I chatted about the latest happenings with our families and the neighborhood drama, the dogs played in his front yard.

As Tom explained the latest with his kid in college…it…happened.

It was warm out, but suddenly I felt a different warmth. “What the fuck? Rex just pisssed on me!” – Me

“Huh???” – Tom

“Look at my legs! They’re all wet!” – Me

“Huh…” – Tom

“YOUR dog…just…pissed…on…my…legs! Both of them!” – Me

“Huh…” – Tom

“Well don’t just stand there Tom, get the fucking hose and wash me off.” – Me

“Rex? Did you do that?” – Tom

“He’s a dog. He can’t talk. Get the hose.” -Me

“Umm, if I wash your legs your shoes will get all wet.” -Tom

“My shoes are full of your dog’s piss already so, I’m thinking the hose won’t ruin them.” -Me

“Huh, guess you’re right.” – Tom

With freshly hosed off legs and dripping Nike’s, I bid Tom and adieu and set off. And, as I walked away I said, “tell your wife hi and I’ll drop the bill for my news shoes in your mailbox.”

Of course we were only half-way through the walk so, there was no choice but to trudge on, wet shoes and all.

Two houses later pooch 2 took a dump on someone’s lawn…while they were in the front yard. And, of course that meant pulling out a trusty poop bag, picking up last night’s dinner and carrying it for a mile. Why couldn’t this be a Wednesday when everyone has their garbage cans out?

As I walked into the house (wet shoes and all), the wife said, “dinner’ll be ready in about 15 mins, how was your walk?”

<Grumble> “Worst walk ever!” – Me

After explaining the details, the wife says, “HAHAHA well at least you have time to start laundry and get a clear shower! HAHAHA!”

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The wrong people are embarrassed

Let’s face it, very few of us have a job that we love. Very few of us truly enjoy what we do and go to work every day thinking this is exactly what I’d spend my time doing even if I didn’t get paid. Most of us would rather be doing something else that’s for sure. But, life doesn’t work that way. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed. So having a job is a fact of life for the vast majority of us.

But, we do have some choice in what kind of job we take. Some are in the carpeted corporate office world. Some are in the dirt and fields. And, some are actually work from home in the jammies, or so the internet would have us believe.

Many people are super proud of what the do. And, rightfully so. Pride in what you do for a living can take many different forms. There are people who protect us, like those in law enforcement and the military. Those who dedicate themselves to helping others, like those who volunteer for charities. There are also people who create things – objects, widgets, services – which make our lives easier or in the least more enjoyable. There are people who serve us food at diners, fast-food joints and gourmet restaurants. There are people who deliver our mail, collect our garbage, mow our lawns and pick our food from the field.

There are a bazillion kind of jobs that people can do. A ton of different things that we want and many that we absolutely need to survive as a society. And, in all of these jobs there are people who love what they do.

But, there are also jobs that many would be totally embarrassed to do. The kinds of jobs that if you went back to your 20 year high school reunion you’d never admit to doing, or more than likely avoid the reunion altogether just to not have to discuss it.

The other day my kids pointed out just such a job.

We were driving somewhere and while at a stoplight saw something that you see in many cities around the us. I call this something, the Dude On A Corner Dressed In Some Weird Outfit Spinning Some Sign guy (it’s usually a guy for some reason…I don’t know why but it usually is).

You know this guy. He’s the one holding some sign advertising a new apartment complex. He’s the one dressed up as a sandwich spinning some Subway sign shaped like an arrow. He’s the one, in the days after the new year, who’s dressed up like the Statue of Liberty dancing with a sign saying “Get $50 Now” or “Get  Your Taxes Done Now!” BTW, what the hell does the Statue of Liberty have to do with paying taxes anyway? I guess it’s easier than dancing with a sign in a costume that represents the massive bureaucracy and bloat of the US government.r620-33b0785e6d5a9f113bf73fe3bdf3087d

When we saw the guy dressed as Lady Liberty, one of my kids said, “there’s no way in hell I’d do that. That would be so embarrassing if someone I knew saw me.”

Now normally, I would have just turned up the radio and listened to some song so I could tune them out. And, also piss them off while I listened to my music. But, then it hit me.

This was a perfect teaching moment.

You see, while I wonder what kind of music that dancing dude is listening to, I actually kinda admire that poor guy dressed as a faded teal lady holding some lamp and wearing a toga-like outfit.

Admire?!?!

Yes, admire. I’m sure that guy would rather not be standing on a street corner breathing in the noxious fumes of all the grocery-getters sitting at the stoplight while he stands in the rain trying to get people to realize, “hey I should use those people that showed up in that dilapidated shop 2 weeks ago and will be gone come April 16th to do my taxes.”

No, I’m sure he’d rather be getting paid more than a minimum wage (at best) to stand there. He’d rather be making 6-plus figures a year. He’d rather be warm in some cozy office. With a desk. And, an assistant. He’d rather not be seen by people he knows while dancing in a toga on 1st and Main.

But, guess what? He’s trying.

He’s trying to make some money. He’s trying to feed himself. He’s trying to feed his family. He’s trying to pay his bills.

He’s trying.

He may be embarrassed from time to time. But, he’s trying to move on to something bigger and better.  He doesn’t want to do this until he’s 50+ years old. Whether he realizes it or not he has ambitions. He’s hoping to move to something better.

He’s trying.

You know what he’s not?

He’s not the guy sitting on his sofa all day watching TV. He’s not the guy who hangs at the liquor store drinking beer all day. He’s not the guy begging for change so he can buy more drugs.

He’s trying.

He’s not the guy with way more kids than he can afford and living off the government payments for every kid he has while his kids starve for food and his attention. He’s not the guy who is just hanging out wasting his life and my tax money…your tax money.

He’s trying.

He’s not the guy who is holding out for something better. Holding out for something that’s not “beneath him”. Holding out and willing to drop out of the productive workforce.

He’s not that guy.

You know what he has? He has pride. His pride says that he should be doing everything and anything he can to support himself and his family. He’s the guy who is willing to stand on a corner spinning a sign, and incidentally getting a pretty good work out while dancing. He knows the value of a hard days work…any work.

There are many things wrong with this country. So many that it would take me a lifetime to discuss. But one of the main things wrong with our society is people have given up on having pride. We have record amounts of people who’ve given up looking for work because too many jobs are beneath them. Oh, and it’s just so damn easy to take the government handouts. We have record numbers of people who have gone on Food Stamps to help feed themselves (buy beer). And, what’s worse is the government says you should give up your pride and take the food stamps. You know why they do this don’t you? It’s because government grows…it always grows and this helps create more government jobs. Oh, and there’s also the issue of when you get a society to depend on you for food and handouts you own them. You’ve effectively enslaved them. Permanent voter base baby.

But, I digress. Back to Sign Spinner Dude. He should not be embarrassed. We should not be embarrassed for him.

That said..other dude/dudet living off those of us who work hard every day doing what little you do, you piss me off.

And, you other dude, should be embarrassed.

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This. Every Day.

And, often two or three times a day. It really speaks for itself.

God I hate meetings.

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Merry Christmas, Shitter Was Full

I hope you’ve left the office and are enjoying some time with the family this holiday week, but before you go, I thought I’d leave you with a few thoughts from years gone by in my world.

Finally, Merry Christmas and here’s hoping your shitter isn’t full.

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When it comes to the holidays, “C” is for Clark

We have a number of Christmas traditions at Casa de CV. For example watching Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve is a given no matter where we are for the holiday.

Another tradition, making the trek up into the mountains to chop down our own tree. Typically, its followed by the Mrs decorating the tree and me decorating the house. It’s reminiscent of the Griswold’s, just to a lesser extent…mostly. Continue reading

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Now Boarding Group…It Sucks To Be You

I recently had the “opportunity” to travel for work. Hey some of us are born great, some achieve greatness and others have the curse of business travel thrust upon them by a boss who sends you instead of himself (that’s known as leadership kids).

I hate traveling for business. Back in the day it was fun. Get to see new cities or even countries. Get to try new food and drink. Get out of the office for days on end. Generally accomplish very little except that good old face-time with colleagues and customers. And, to top it off, all of it was paid for by the man. Good times.

Post 9/11, post economy going in the shitter, it’s very different. And, I got a taste of it recently, so I thought I’d give you the highlights.

This trip was a cross-country jaunt. Many of you are thinking…pfff, that’s easy; it’s not like you flew to Asia, South Africa or the moon. That’s a short trip. Well, the beauty of travel from west to east is you blow a whole friggin day doing it. So, when Sunday night rolled around and I started packing, the wife asked, “what time’s your flight tomorrow?”

I pulled up my itinerary via my trusty smart phone, “that’s a good question…lemme see. Hmm, I must have entered it wrong. I NEVER take a 6am flight. Shit, didn’t enter it wrong.”

“Well at least the airport is only 15 minutes away at that hour of the morning.”

“Ummm, not so much. The only way to get a direct flight meant I had to go outta San Francisco.”

“HA. Sucks to be you. The good news is that having to get up at 3:30 am will make it really easy to fall asleep on the flight!”

<grumble>

Got to the Long Term Parking lot just in time to catch the bus to the terminals. Good thing I left early because the security line was extra long…all the way past where the rope maze started – very reminiscent of my last Disneyland trip. Good thing TSA had all 3 of their 7 stations open. God forbid they actually used their capacity to it’s fullest.

While I waited in line listening to Capt. TSA explain for the 100th time that you can’t have anything in  your pockets, I noticed that I was in Boarding Group 2. Sweet, get on early, stow my bag, get my seat and watch all the other suckers try to stow their bag overhead.

Turns out Boarding Group 2 should be more accurately described as the 6th or 7th group boarding behind, the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Kryptonite groups. Behind families traveling with small kids, people needing assistance (not because they’re stupid, which they are) and military in uniform (I’m very cool with this last one) groups.

I was one of the first 10 people of Group 2 and made my way onboard. Backpack and pullman in tow I made my way to my seat. Row 20 of the American Airlines wide body 767.

Boeing, I don’t know what you were thinking with the design of the overhead compartments. It’s impossible to fit a roller-board bag in the overhead wheels first which we all know is the best way to maximize their capacity. Sounds good anyway. In fact you can get maybe one roller-board and a backpack in each overhead. 00airrage2So, as a result, those of us in Group 2 had virtually nothing left. I ended up putting mine about 8 rows behind my seat, but was happy my bag made it above. Groups 3-8…sucks to be you!

So, as those sucks to be them groups made it onboard dragging their life’s collections behind them the Flight Attendants began their announcements, “there is no more room for roller-board bags overhead, please bring them up to the front of the plane to be checked to your final destination.” Quickly followed by, “As I mentioned, please bring your bags to the front of the plane.” This went on for about 3 more announcements while the aisles were packed. Then, “Folks, we need everyone to sit so we can push back from the gate on time, we need  your bags up front.”

Here’s the deal, I feel for the Flight Attendants. They have to deal with this multiple times a day and with grumpy people who insist on putting their small backpack and/or purse up top so they can stretch their feet out. They deal with the angry asses who think the rules don’t apply to them. I feel for them.

But, at this point, they were getting mad as were the travelers. And, as one flight attendant tried to squeeze by dozens of people and their bags saying, “people we need you to take your bags back up front” one person finally lost it. “Lady, look up the aisle, it’s packed from row  27 all the way up front with people and bags, how the hell do you expect me to get my bag up there?”

Good point angry dude destined for the center seat in row 25. Good point.

Now I’m no expert in passenger loading dynamics, but it would seem to me that if American (and probably other planes) would just say “Bags are Free” like Southwest not as many people would try to carry on their life’s possessions just to save $25. And, until you decide to upgrade your plane’s overheads you might even tell them no roller-boards because it’s physically impossible to get 200+ people and their 2 big bags on-board.

Finally all the bags and people were stowed and we were off. I’d been up now for over 3 hours and had yet to leave the ground for my 6 hour flight. On the bright side, I had plenty of legroom to stretch out my feet even with my backpack and terminal bought lunch under the seat in front of me as directed.

And, I'm barely 5'10!

And, I’m barely 5’10!

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And Then It Rained

I live in California and it never rains here. At least that’s what my east coast relatives think. I remember when I was growing up my relatives from back east would often say, “California, that’s so cool. I hear it never rains in California.”

Clearly that’s not true. I mean, where else would we get our drinking water? From some giant desalination plant? Or, we could be like Southern California and just steal it from the north. Yeah, I went there. We have a bit of a rivalry with our southern brothers and sisters.

In reality, we get rain in California…though often not enough. Witness today. Today was the first rain of the season for all intents and purposes. Add to that it happened during a dark evening commute. And, just like that, all hell breaks loose. So, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the tales from my commute.

  • 19 miles. 1 hour 27 minutes.
  • No fewer than 10 cars running very red lights all at separate intersections.
  • 3 accidents forcing traffic to one fewer lane and making people who are going 15 mph slow down to 5 just because you’ve gotta look at that bent bumper.
  • 2 tow trucks a light’s blazing.
  • 1 ambulance a siren roaring.
  • 2 cars burning rubber while leaving the starting line when the light turned green because the ground was wet.
  • My windshield wipers going whoosh whoosh a maximum of 20 times over that 20 miles. They don’t make an intermittent setting slow enough.
  • Caught up on my 6 podcasts.

I know what you’re thinking. This was an epic downpour and resulting flood. In fact, you’d think the roads looked like this.flooded.road

When in reality it was more like this.images-1Only it was dark. And, the grass was the road. And, the sprinkler was in the sky. You get the point.

It’s going to be a long California winter.

P.S. I know many of you have no sympathy for us as you have “real” winters. But, we have “really” shitty drivers. So there.

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When Shit Comes To A Head

Some weeks are long and difficult. Others, typically those when I’m on vacation, go by all too quickly. Regardless Fridays are usually special. When at work there’s an air of excitement – kind of a muted adult version of when school kids would have a long weekend and their teacher would have “movie day”. Essentially, a free-pass day.

This past week had been particularly challenging. My company is going through what management calls a “transformation”. They proclaim that we are at a crossroads of awesomeness. That, with the strategy they’ve set and hard work by all, we will take our company to the next level.

If you haven’t been around the block much in the corporate world that’s code-speak for management will make lots of money and us worker-bees are gonna put in tons of hours. P.S. Those two things will happen regardless of the company’s success by the way.

Toss in the impending holidays, which make the fourth calendar quarter really only 2 months yet we still have 3 months worth of goals and objectives, and this week seemed longer than usual for me.

********

Friday afternoon rolled around and when my post lunch afternoon food coma began to wear off I started to wrap up for the week. That is until Bossman came by and announced, “Hey CV, don’t forget I’ll be traveling next week, but I’m still going to need your weekly summary done before Monday morning so I can update all the senior veeps. Oh, and have a good weekend.”

A quick glance at the watch – 4 pm. There’s no way I’m screwing up my weekend by writing this report on Sunday so looks like I’ll be at the office a while still.

So with some tunes on in the cube – no headphones needed since I’m damn near the only one left at the office – I started in on writing.

Twenty or so minutes later, I hear the familiar <ding, ding> of my trusty iPhone indicating the arrival of a text. Thankfully this wasn’t another last minute project from the Bossman who had long gone to start his weekend. Nope this one was from my Domestic CEO, Mrs CV.

Her: Hi honey have you left yet?
Me: Nope still trying to wrap some things up here.
Her: Don’t forget we have dinner at Sandy’s for her birthday. Don’t be late.
Me: Yup got it. I’ll call when I’m heading out.

Back to writing a status report that was marginally different from last week’s one that Bossman undoubtedly never read.

So, in summary, things are rocking. I’m taking this role and my activities to a new level. We’re fast tracking the project. And, will be ready for what promises to be a new year launch like no other this company has seen.

In plain English: blah, blah same shit different week can I go home now?

Power off laptop. Head to the bathroom cause traffic’s gonna suck and there’s no way I can hold it. Head down the stairs. Call the Mrs.

Me: Hi honey. I’m walking out now.
Her: How long do you think it’ll take? Will you be home by 6:30 or should I just meet you at Sandy’s?
Me <heads out side door>: I should be able to get home…what the fuck? Oh my god it’s like a scene outta Birds here. There are hundreds of crows flying around!
Her: Wow, I can hear them!
Me: I’ve gotta run to the car! They’re dive bombing me!
Her: Haha! Threats funny! Hope you don’t get shit on!

birds

Run to the car! Jump over dirt parking strip! Beep the remote! Grab the handle! Jump in!

Me: Phew, I made it! I’ll see you in…
<touches head>
FUCK!
Her: What’s wrong?
Me: The fuckers got me!
Her: You mean…
Me: Yes I got shit on. Right on top of my head!
Her <yells> : Hey kids! A bird just shit on Dad’s head! <mass laughter> Haha why don’t you just wipe it off with a napkin and get home to clean up properly. We’ve gotta get going.
Me: Well I would if I hadn’t used all the napkins in my car to clean up the coffee that I spilled all over this morning. I’ve gotta go back into the bathroom to clean up.
Her: OK. Hurry up and <giggle> don’t get hit again!

Well, I successfully made it back into the building to clean up and back to my car without getting hit by further enemy fire. But it got me thinking…

A few weeks ago I had mentioned that the birds were wagging a war with me for cooking one of their own. See, while I was BBQing some chicken a bird shit on the plate I was going to use to carry that night’s dinner back into the house. Thankfully, I hadn’t put the juicy teriyaki breasts on the plate yet.

Now, this attack reminiscent of Hitchcock’s movie.

Ok flying beasts, It’s Fucking On!

And just to show I mean business, in a couple weeks I’m going to invite all my family over, find the largest of your warrior birds, cook that fucker in my 350 degree oven and leave its ravaged carcass on a pike in my front yard!

********

They say that when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. Well when life shits on your head the only cure is a soapy hand towel and the bottle of Jack Daniels Single Barrel waiting for me at home.

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She’ll always be your Mommy

I usually try to avoid phone calls at work (OK home too. And, cell…). After all that’s why God invented voice mail. Plus, nothing good ever comes from a work phone call. See Example 1.

But, here’s one I wish I didn’t miss.

No matter how old you are, she’ll always be your Mommy.

photo

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