Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let It Snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I've bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Out with the Old...

I have yet to find an indestructible toy for Vinnie. The toys at the store that are the most durable and have claims like "guaranteed for life," "Enjoy hours of chewing fun" and "puncture proof" Vinnie has dismantled within about 30 minutes. I think it is safe to say our dog loves to chew...and not just chew but destroy.

He had a very cute little ducky that lasted quite a while. At least, until his grown up teeth came in. Now he looks like this:

Yes, his legs, face and part of a wing are "missing." Poor Ducky.

He has also gone through multiple stuffed squirrels, piggies, lambs and the like. Although he loves destroying fuzzy creatures, it is a pretty short lived game so we switched over to more rubbery, plastic like toys when he was about 6 months old.

Most of the plastic toys lasted longer than the 5.2 seconds it took him to rip the stuffing out of a poor little stuffed squeaky toy...more like 5.2 minutes. However, in my search high and low I found two toys that outlasted them all by about 3 months. The mini Kong and the Greenie's teething bone.

These have been some of his favorite toys for the longest but alas, today was the day to say goodbye as he has chewed them literally to bits and to bring in the new and improved Kong EXTREME "for intense chewers". Unfortunately, I couldn't find a replacement that was exactly like the Greenies bone and well, as you can see the "Blue Bone" lived a short (about 15 minutes) but very much enjoyed life.


It's strange to feel sentimental over things that a dog chews on. I guess I just like the way Vinnie strolls over to his Kong or Greenie bone after a long, hard day for a good gnaw. It's the little things in life that make it sweet.

Goodbye, Kong. Goodby Greenie. You were well loved. 


Welcome to the Dog Pound Kong Extreme. 

 We love you Vinnie, The Destroyer.

Are You Sure You Have A Strategy?

Two strategy experts named Hambrick and Fredrickson wrote a scholarly article titled Are You Sure You Have A Strategy? in 2001. In this article they discuss five key components to creating a strategy. The article isn't that long and really is worth reading if you have time. But if you don't, here's the short version.

When looking at the five, it's important to note that they're all highly integrated. You need to think about each at the same time and constantly iterate until you have a complete strategy.

Arenas: Where you will be active and with how much emphasis
This is all about where you will be competing. Which product categories, sales channels, geographic locations you'll be in. Which core technologies you'll use, and which part of the value chain you'll be playing in. At first, you want to focus heavily in one or two arenas.

Differentiators: How you will win!
Why will a person give you their money and not someone else? You need to create something of value. Be the best in the world at it! This is your secret sauce, that hopefully is very difficult for someone else to duplicate because of scale/scope advantages or unmatchable services/products.

Economic logic: How returns will be obtained
The simplistic equation I was taught: (Price x Volume) - Costs = Profit
Pretty simple right? Not always easy, but simple. This will all depend on your differentiators: One way to make a profit is by lowering costs through scale/scope advantages. Another way is from premium pricing due to unmatchable service or propriety product features.

Vehicles: How you will reach your arenas, differentiators and economic logic
These next two are where Hambrick and Fredrickson made their biggest contributions. Vehicles and staging were two gaps in the literature before 2001.
The examples they give for vehicles are: internal development, joint ventures, licensing/franchising, alliances and/or acquisitions. If possible, you want your differentiators to be from internal development so you own them. Otherwise you could be at great risk in the future if one of your partners changes their mind.

Staging: Speed and sequence of moves
You need to choreograph each part of your strategy. Make sure you can win at each different stage with your resources and talents given the competition. Also, don't just think about your next move. I learned the mantra: "Firsts, Thirds, Fifths". You make the first move, your competition makes the second, you make the third, they make the fourth, you make the fifth. The idea is to anticipate what they're going to do, and have a plan in place for when they do it.

Pretty awesome, right? Each of these five components should be fairly detailed, and again, it's an iterative process. If you do this though, you'll have a complete strategy. When I get up the energy, I'll write more about other aspects, like a value proposition and the 4+ P's of marketing.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

New York City Visit

I spent the first half of this week in New York City for work, which is probably not a surprise to those of you following me elsewhere. Here's how I spent my time:

I woke up at a ridiculously early time to make a 7am flight in Portland. Which, by the way, was also the first day of daylight savings. My body did not like me. Thankfully, I was able to check in on my phone (no printing!) and sleep half an hour extra. Upon arriving I rode the subway into the city. It costs $7.25 (vs $45 for a taxi), is just as fast as a taxi, and I didn't have to stand in line to wait for a cab.

I really like the old-fashion style homes

That eventing I managed to eat a slice of pizza, see Central Park, Times Square and the 5th Avenue Apple Store.

The view from my hotel room

Times Square at night

Meetings took up most of the day. Still, I managed to eat a delicious New York style bagel for breakfast, take a stroll down Wall Street, see the Charging Bull, and admire the new Freedom Tower.

Freedom Tower

Wall Street

The Charing Bull

More meetings. And oh yeah, I started to get sick. So I only got to go to the top of the Empire State Building. The 102nd floor is a very intimate setting. I was even able to call Jessi & my mom and chat while looking down at the city.

The Chrysler Building is in the middle-ish

Lower Manhattan

Classic New York Style pizza... Dinner for 1...

Runny nose. Sore throat. Occasional cough. Fantastic. I decided to take a walk around Central Park. 4 hours, and 8.5 miles later I finished. That park is deceptively huge! Still, it was a great opportunity it relax,  enjoy the sun, and people watch. The weather was absolutely perfect too!

A seriously beautiful day

Not a single cloud in the sky

That afternoon I headed home. While riding the subway, a couple guys put on a performance for part of the ride. I tried to covertly capture some video of it.

It was a fun, whirl-wind trip and I would like to go again with Jessi. Maybe we'll be able to take a summer trip sometime in the near future.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Mustache March Begins

So, Furry February was a success, and now it's Mustache March. Here's what I look like right now. I'll check in later at the end of the month to show the glorious finish.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Furry February Success!

Furry February was a success this year! No blade touched my face for the entire month. Near the end I started to get a bunch of comments too, to which I would reply, "Thanks! It's Furry February with Mustache March coming up!" To which most guys would ask how Jessi felt about that...

Alas, it's time to say good-bye to my furry face.

But fear not! Mustache March is here!