Poking Fun at Print Media

At CitySquares we had an idea to put a Flash video together that properly conveys our feelings on traditional print media like phone directories and the newspaper. We couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate our feelings than by killing a fly with a rolled up newspaper (which begs the question, where did the paper come from?) and by phone books stacked up outside apartment buidings. Of course this video also had to be a shameless self promotion for CitySquares! Well, yeah! That’s the point… 🙂

So without further ado, here is the final product:

[wpvideo 3QjgpTmO]

You can find the original Flash version of the movie here on CitySquares.com. We also threw it up on YouTube and the CitySquares Facebook page.

What do you think?

The Good Times & The Bad

In the eight years or so that I’ve been running businesses, and in the twelve years or so that I’ve been managing teams of people, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve always been able to balance a leisurely work environment, one that’s bullshit-free, and one that’s productive as well as fun, with being a boss, a manager, and sometimes the bastard who doesn’t take any shit. I think the folks who’ve known me longest, and who’ve worked for me longest, know the kind of ship that I run. In fact, we just hired a guy here at CitySquares who worked for me at my previous company and part of the appeal was exactly that, “the type of ship I run.” As a manager, or a boss, or a CEO, sometimes you have to be the bad guy. It just comes with the territory. It’s hard being a manager, and anyone who says that being a manager is easy doesn’t really know management. As a manager, or a managers manager, or a CEO, you’re constantly being scrutinized. Everyone is watching and it can be a very tough crowd, with little forgiveness.

At CitySquares we have a hell of a good time. I’d say that about 80% of the time the mood in the office is good, music is playing, everyone is very productive, efficient, and everyone is communicating well. Everyone gets along well, they take their jobs personally, and they also hold themselves and each other accountable. These are traits in an organization that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to simulate. It’s either there or its not, you can’t fake it. And that kind of morale, productivity, efficiency, etc, starts with management. We’re also fierce and extremely competitive. We’re relentless and we love the scent of blood. That comes with being a sales-oriented business. But we can be hubris too. That tone, and that mood, also starts with management.

For the remaining 20% of the time, the mood can range from stressful (i.e., the end month sales pressure) to downright high-anxiety and tense. Those are the times that you see how tough you are as a company, the times that you see how resilient your staff are, and who rises to the occasion, and who does not. It’s that 20% of the time that tests the will of the company and of those within it. Can it prevail? Can it stand back up, dust itself off, and get the job done?

Things can change very quickly in a startup. One day you can be flying high, rolling along and just steamrolling through goals and achievements, and laughing all the way, with a cigar in the corner of your mouth, and a bottle of champagne in hand. All that can change in an instant. In a startup, there is extremely little room for error. In fact, I prefer to take a no-room-for-error approach. Missing goals is not an option, and missing deadlines is not on the table. Mistakes can happen, they always will, and that’s OK, as long as we learn from them, and apply those lessons to the next day. When we fail to do that, to learn and then apply lessons, the mood can quickly change.

I hold this company, and its personnel, to very high standards. It’s those standards, I believe, that have gotten us to where we are today. Those are standards that everyone here understands and practices. The company can have all the fun in the world, listen to music, have a weekly happy hour, play games, go bowling, have company pools and contests, and eat, drink, be merry every day. But the moment that we stray from the plan, the moment we start to fall behind, that’s also the moment that the seatbelt sign goes on.

Often times people will ask how things are going at CitySquares. My answer, lately, has been the same: “Things are going very well. In fact, things are going so well that I’m uncomfortable.” That’s my take. I don’t want to be comfortable, and I want to be two steps ahead of where we should be. I want to see the clouds on the horizon, not caught in a hurricane, fat and drunk.

So it’s important that at a startup company that everyone keep perspective and remember, it’s a business. It’s OK to have fun, but at the end of the day, you have to take the good with the bad.

Mobile Evolution & Revolution

When the first iPhone came out last year I stayed away mostly because of price, and because I was warned by numerous people, websites and blogs that a) any first generation device from Apple is for die-hards and early-adopters and b) it wouldn’t be enterprise friendly (e.g., no push email, no syncing, no Exchange support, etc. etc.) and c) AT&T stinks. These first two points seem to coincide with Steve Jobs’ analysis of iPhone barriers to entry at yesterday’s WWDC keynote. Aside from those technical details, I didn’t see the iPhone as something that was going to revolutionize the mobile landscape, not yet anyway. In fact, I was quite the skeptic about user adoption, beyond my own, and I think I was right. I was also in love with my Blackberry Pearl, which totally seemed like a mini-revolution all on its own. I am, today, in love with my MacBook Pro, after being an extremely loyal Windows guy since MS-DOS (OK, MS-DOS isn’t Windows, but you get my point) and here and now I find myself ready to make another jump across the street and sell my Pearl (with it’s SureType), then stand in line on July 11th to get my paws on the new 3G iPhone.

Lots of people have asked us (CitySquares) to build a mobile app. One of our board members asked Bob and I this last week actually, at the TieCon East conference, after a panel on mobile. He turned to us and said, “So, when is CitySquares going to build a mobile app?” Bob and I looked at each other, and almost in sync we answered, “when we can free up some resources and when the mobile interface problem is solved.” Here and now I find myself ready to find an iPhone app developer to build one for CitySquares.

It’s my opinion that what we’re finally seeing is a real convergence, for real now. I remember back in the 90’s the buzz and hype (and the underlying cause of the bubble) was the convergence and voice and data. Everyone and their grandmother seemed to be dropping cable in the Earth’s crust, or talking about running voice over the same line you run data over, like a T-1. Wow! Imagine that. Data and voice, on the same pipe? Do you remember that? People were talking about digital voice lines, VoIP, video over ISDN. The Internet, on every computer! Some places were doing it, and they were nuts for it too, cuz it cost so much money. I remember very well!. Anyway, we’d been talking about it for so long that it seemed over-hyped. Then, the bubble burst, the shakeout occurred, and here we are today with Comcast (or insert cable co) digital voice, bundled with HDTV services, bundled with DVRs. Analog? What’s that?! I digress, as usual.

We’re totally there again, here and now. OK, maybe not to that degree, but this is just as exciting to me! We find our ideas of media being challenged every day. Be it YouTube, Last.fm, or the iPhone, it’s converging man! Mobile has clearly already converged with data, that’s nothing new, but now that resulting product is converging with the Internet. This is nothing new to those who’ve thought about it, but if you haven’t – think about it. And I don’t mean that Treo running PalmOS, or Windows Mobile with some WAP browser. I mean, the iPhone + Internet + 3G + social media (to grow your account visit The Marketing Heaven) + local and the revolution that combination is about to ignite. iPhone 1.0 was cool, but it was barely the tip of iceberg. In fact, it was just a glimpse. With the iPhone SDK, the new firmware, the new hardware, 3G capability, that sweet interface, the Internet, plus social media, plus local, we are at the dawn of a new era.

Afterall, social is dynamic, it’s transient, not static. Local is relative and it’s medium is mobile (it’s just not there yet). These concepts are often discussed at the conferences I attend, but the 3G iPhone makes this reality. With the price drop, and with Apple introducing this into 70 countries, I don’t think it will be an explosion however, but a slow and steady trickle that carves a wide canyon. I know, I know, mobile in other parts of the world is way more advanced than it is here in the US, I get it, but I think the convergence that we’re about to see hasn’t even begun, the revolution is just beginning, and it will be global. That’s for another blog entry.

I will be getting a new iPhone on July 11th. I will be switching to AT&T. I will be browsing web pages on my mobile device like never before. I will be watching video on it, and interacting socially through apps I install, among other apps, and geotagging my location and sending geotagged pics to the web. My wife will be joining me too. She’s finally upgrading from her ancient LG VX8100. She’ll be playing MonkeyBall on it, and she’ll be using Facebook to chomp zombies and update her friends, and she’ll be taking pictures and emailing them to her family. Afterall, if my wife wants an iPhone, it’s gotta be cool.

Check out what Walt Mossberg says about the 3G iPhone, already.

Check out what Engadget has to say, they got their hands on it.

This Week’s Ma.gnolia Bookmarks

My Ma.gnolia bookmarks for this past week.

Web Design For ROI

Aquent Webcast with Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus of Closed Loop Marketing on Web Design for ROI – how design i…

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Tags: , , , ,

Tag Galaxy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Tags: , ,

globeandmail.com: Streetwise – Local Matters plans TSX IPO

The most authoritative news in Canada featuring articles from The Globe and Mail, breaking news coverage, national news, international news, sports, weather, Report on Business.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Tags: , , ,

New Borrell Report Tracks Local Ad Spend « Screenwerk

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Tags: , , , , , ,

Online Stopwatch

A Free flash online stopwatch, quick easy to use stopwatch! also an online countdown!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Tags: , ,

CitySquares at NY Venture Summit

CitySquares was lucky enough to be invited to the NY Venture Summit June 24th and 25th. This is our first NY Venture Summit and we’re really excited to be a part of it. We’ll be one of about 40 exhibitors there. It’ll be myself, Bob Leland (Co-Founder and VP Product), and our Sales Manager Kim Hillis. If you’ll be there please be sure to stop by our table and say hello!

As a side note, please pardon the lack of blogging lately. I’ve moved much of the CitySquares specific blogging to the CitySquares Blog, and frankly, on a personal and professional front, I just haven’t had much to blog about. I’ve been getting fired up about a few things lately, so it won’t be long until I get something up. Also, I hope you like the look and feel and organization of the new blog, on WordPress.