We work on a lot of different things and it’s easy to get yourself caught up in the "I want our business to offer everything". I overheard someone getting a quote from someone outside our company for something and I asked the person next to me "Why aren't we doing that internally? We've done it before and we easily could". The person then rattled off a bunch of high profile, very important projects and a reminder of our current staffing levels. And of course my reply was "yeah, but we could do that". And then the person said something, without any earlier mention to the context that came through loud and clear.
"Those aren't the Cool Ranch Tacos, that’s like the side of beans, focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos."
For those living under a rock, Taco Bell had a smashing success with the Doritos Locos Tacos, blowing their projected numbers out of the water, just crazy success levels, according to one report approximately 1M were sold per day since being introduced to the market. From a non-sales perspective, the menu addition added 15000 new jobs related due to the product alone. They then immediately followed up with the natural successor, the Cool Ranch Tacos. Everyone who likes a taco that I've talked to is super excited to try them, just the thought conjures up a tasty sensation for the pallet.
Then there's the beans, how could you possibly have a Taco Bell without beans? The answer is "you couldn't", they're obviously incredibly vital to Taco Bell.
But let’s face it, when's the last time that someone said "hey, have you heard about those beans at Taco Bell, they're awesome and we all need some." No, it’s just not going to happen despite us all agreeing that beans are a crucial staple to the Taco Bell experience.
I'm sure Taco Bell has big awards and kudos conventions like every company... and who's going to get all of the kudos and rewards this year: The guy focused on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the Beans?
And while in 5 years, the Doritos Taco product owner may have moved on to something new and great, the beans guy is probably still focusing on how to drive even lower costs on production line of a product that's been worked on and optimized already year-after-year-after-year.
Which brings me back to our business... when time and resources are a factor and you're working with people who are wowed by the latest and greatest, which then drives your follow-up projects: You can either focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the side of beans, and at this point in our businesses lifecycle the Cool Ranch Tacos seem like a lot more fun.
Business Consulting | General | Marketing
Conversions are the most sought after end-goal for most online advertisers; it declares that their efforts have worked. These often come at a cost, and require hours of effort and optimization to ensure maximum efficiency. But there is one conversion that is so simple and so efficient, that it doesn’t even catch our eye.
The Facebook comment. Go ahead, login to your Facebook, look at your newsfeed, and see what appears under a status update. It is your profile picture and a box for you to offer your wisdom to your friends in the form of a comment. This is the most efficient conversion online.
Why? Because Facebook needs and wants you to engage with your friends, that is why you’re there, right? You see your image, you see yourself already there. Facebook allows provides you everything you need to make that final conversion, you just have to come up with a clever comment. Every time you click a like, or comment on a picture or update, you are fueling Facebook. You are converting and adding value to their Friend Graph.
The takeaway from this example is that is that the use can “see themselves there,” they know what to expect, and they know what they’ll get.
General | Marketing | Social Media
I’ve always felt very comfortable walking up to strangers and starting a conversation. Since I was very little, my CEO father took me to business meetings with him and forced me to walk up to his friends and say hello – most often, I had never met these people before. Sometimes he would go with me, but usually he would just point to someone, and say “now I want you to go walk up to Mr. so and so and introduce yourself. Shake his hand and make sure to say your full name.” Memories of this go back to when I was five or six. I remember being very nervous but it always ended well and made my dad happy, which was obviously why I kept doing it. I hold on to a number of memories like this one, being in professional settings with my dad when I was younger. Whenever my dad introduced me to someone, he always followed the introduction with the detail of where they were from, and what they did for a living – sometimes he would even remember something about the person’s kids or recent news in the person’s life. He has a notably exceptional ability to remember nearly everyone he’s met as well as a detail about them, and this was always well received by those he was introducing me to. Over the years, meeting what seems like thousands of people when I was with my dad meant that I had many opportunities to sit back and observe my dad interact with someone, or watch someone before I met them.Sometimes, my dad would tell me to watch someone from across the room, and “read” them. He would ask me later that day what I observed, and teach me things about that person’s personality from what I told him of their demeanor, body language, and sometimes attire. I’m sure my dad wonders where all of that training went when I started dating, somehow early on in my dating life, those skills didn’t transfer. What all of those experiences did do for me was make it feel natural to approach people, and be able to have a conversation with nearly anyone. It helped me to feel like everyone I met was a friend, with no pressure to accomplish anything during the conversation other than learn more about each other and have a good time. I learned the value of humor and letting your own personality come through. People know when someone isn’t being genuine, is trying to put on a façade or is only saying things to get what they want. This is my advice – be yourself, be interested in getting to know the person you’re talking to, not the reason they are at the meeting, conference, etc. Make your sales pitch or your business need second after getting to know the person, and you’ll find greater success. Not sure how to start a conversation, or what to say to keep it going? Here are some tips from Fast Company
Tags: people skills, networking
General | Marketing | Randomness
Well, here I am again. I find myself back at Exsilio after a 3 year hiatus to see what else is out there in the professional world of software development. I’m lucky enough to live in Irvine, CA. It’s what some people might call a hub for tech. Not as well known as Silicon Valley but still quite active. I’ve been a developer for 10 years and in that decade, I’ve worked at several companies. Some of them were short term contract positions and others spanned years. In Irvine, if you’re a .NET developer worth half your salt, you should have no trouble finding work. But making it past the interviews is just half the struggle.Only a month ago, I was part of a team at a large company. I’ve only been there for a few months but was already feeling empty as I sat down in my cubicle every morning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great company that takes care of their employees and the people there are top notch. But what I was doing there wasn’t fulfilling. I started to think about my career and what I wanted from it. I had thought I wanted to work at an enterprise size company with an enterprise level system and all the niceties that came with it…predictable hours, long standing established software frameworks, and clearly defined teams and roles. It turns out the projects, pace and culture wasn’t for me. I thought back to all the places I had been and where I had thrived…not just worked or succeeded, but thrived as a developer and person.Now I’m going to try to not make this sound like I’m marketing Exsilio. Because let’s face it, developers usually do not make good marketers. But the truth is, working at Exsilio 3 years ago was the most challenging and rewarding position I’ve held. Sure there were time when the hours were crazy and the deadlines were crazier. When the system spec was non-existent but the product was due anyways. Through all the insanity, the gluing force that made it manageable, nay, that made it even fun, was the team. If you’ve been a working professional long enough, you’d know that the people you work with make an enormous impact on your level of satisfaction in the workplace. The reason I asked to come back to Exsilio were two fold; the types of projects and more importantly the culture and people. It’s refreshing to work in an environment with people that are passionate about what they do. How do I know they they’re passionate? It’s not that they talk code all day or wear gear from ThinkGeek. It’s because when things get tough, when things aren’t fun anymore, they still work their butts off to get the best product possible out there. Again, I don’t want to sound like I’m drinking the Kool-Aid but the people here are exceptional. This is why Bryan mentions it and Anthony mentions it. And I’m glad they acknowledge it because they are our bosses…and if they didn’t then…well…the great people would not stay and I probably would not be writing this entry.So, what have we learned here? Probably nothing from this blog. But I’ve learned a ton from working at Exsilio, then leaving, then coming back. I’m now excited again to come to work, to see what challenges lie ahead, and to see what we accomplish as a team.
When I first saw the trailer for the new Ridley Scott film, Prometheus, several months ago, I thought it looked like a pretty good sci-fi film, but I wasn’t “over the moon” excited for it. The film is about a team of explorers that discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey through the universe where they must fight to save the future of the human race. One would think that a film of this magnitude would be able to carry its own weight through the standard release of trailers, clips and website. However, the marketing team had other things in mind.
The first piece of marketing was a TED talk video set in the year 2023 (same time the film is set in). Guy Pierce, playing the CEO of fictional Weyland Industries, describes how he will change the world. Organizers from TED helped Ridley Scott envision what a TED talk from the future would look like and it comes off really well done.
Next, they released a video about David, a robot from Weyland Industries, where we learn about his emotions and the world he lives in. The video is very cool, for instance the robot in the video is eerily life-like. It feels like something Apple would produce to show off one of its new products.
Finally, there’s the film’s website. The website is designed to be the corporate website for Weyland Industries, complete with product list, about the company, and a career page. In fact, if someone stumbled onto this site without knowing about the film, it could easy fool them into thinking that it was an actual company.
With all of this marketing, including the mystery surrounding the plot, and the fact that this might be a prequel to Alien, movie goers will likely flock to it this summer as the buzz heats up.
General | Marketing
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If there is one word I use to describe the people and the work at Exsilio, the first word that comes to my mind is "passion." At Exsilio, no matter what role you play, no matter which client you work for, everyone - and I mean everyone - gives everything they have to make things right. We are not a staffing agency who provides "bodies" to fulfill a business need. Instead, we take each and every project on with passion. We take pride in our work like artist would with their masterpiece. Several months ago, I was chatting with one of our clients who shared how impressed they are with our quick turnaround. He reminded me how skeptical he was at the beginning about our timeline and deliverables, but later became a believer. He also agreed and felt the team's passion and dedication is something that one simply cannot convey in words until he experienced working with Exsilio.As Walt Disney said, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." At Exsilio, that's exactly what we do - we aim big and we set our bar high. It is our mojo and certainly is part of company's culture.
Tags: business, Exsilio Solutions, newsletter
About five years ago, when I was a budding account executive in advertising, my boss at the time told me that I could benefit from re-evaluating my use of exclamation points. He was SO right. I was a major abuser and over-user.
Since then, I've noticed the unnecessary use of exclamation points grow and grow—in business communications and in my personal conversations—among men and women.
Exclamation points have their place, they were invented to show emotion in an otherwise flat medium—words on paper. Exclamation points convey excitement, anger or extreme passion, and are usually visualized with someone talking quickly and a high pitched voice—yelling, screaming, shouting—all of those things warrant exclamation points.
However; most often, I see exclamation points being used in very common email communications where, if said out loud, the tone would never be used the same as it is conveyed through email. People do not normally talk with exclamations at the end of every sentence, so why is it happening on paper? It's my opinion that over using exclamation points can damage the writer's credibility and can even make them sound ditzy.
Bottom line, if you’re excited about something, use your words, don’t abuse the exclamation point – keep it for something that really warrants the tone that you’re conveying.
Tags: Punctuation, Writing Style, Tone, Voice
General | Randomness
Last weekend I attended SoCal Code Camp sessions at CalState Fullerton.
SoCal Code Camp (http://www.SoCalCodeCamp.com) is a regular event held at CalState, Fullerton facilities in wintertime and USSD, La Jolla in summertime. The event is free and is highly supported by software development community. If you are a good presenter and have some info to share with fellow programmers consider signing up as a speaker for the next event.
The topics were quite diverse: for every time slot in the schedule there were at least 2-3 sessions of my interest so the choice was tough. I ended up going to talks on XBox Kynect SDK, HTML 5, Microsoft MVC, T4 templates in VS2010, new Async in .Net 4.5, WordPress, and Tropo API (voice and SMS apps).
Usually all the talks at SoCalDevCamp fall into three categories. Some of them are useful for my current job assignments, covering technologies and practices currently in use by our development team. Other discuss new trends, latest and greatest, something our team might adopt in the future, as well as technologies outside of my current field of expertise (say, discussions on Java or PHP, since I currently work with .NET). There are also talks not directly related to programming. These may include project management, agile techniques and such (how about a talk on “Driving electric cars” – I’ve seen it in the schedule).
A real gem in the last category was Gary Hoffman’s talk on Memory Improvement techniques. Gary is an excellent speaker. You can find his blog about code camp at http://theskillfulbrain.com/?p=101 with the link to his presentation at the end of his blog.
With huge leap in technology lately I find myself memorizing less and less facts and relying more and more on software tools to search for facts when I need them. That’s what we have google, bing and yahoo for, right? Why memorize the capitals if you can look them up online any moment? Why concentrate on the route to your friend’s house when you have a GPS? So does this trend benefit our thinking process? Well, I’ve heard people saying: “Stop filling your head up with junk you don’t need!” But doesn’t our brain need facts and experience as base materials for creative thinking? How many times have you solved some problem you’ve been working on the whole day when driving home or loading your dishwasher or getting ready to go to bed? Vital question is “do we have access to search engines at that time”?
Gary explained several techniques that help you memorize lists of objects (Capitals, U.S. Presidents or WCF configuration settings – why not?), numbers (phone numbers, SSN, street numbers), and even content of the books you read, which is obviously a lot more complex method or rather a combination of several memory techniques.
Tags: Code Camp, SoCalCodeCamp, memory techniques
General | Randomness | Software Development
If you’re like me and scour the various tech blogs and social media channels, you're probably familiar with [or at least aware of] the Ocean Marketing fiasco. If not, you can catch the story's summary from Zdnet here.After discussing the debacle with my colleague, Jason Bennett, he mentioned a takeaway that continues to stick with me: “It’s amazing how much of this could have been diffused with a simple, early apology”.Thankfully, most [hopefully, all] of us are not like Mr. Cristoforo; we don't engage clients in angry, condescending email threads. However, we've all encountered periods of stress where things can become a bit tense. The perspective that Jason gave me was simple; Apologize early, diffuse the situation.A recent study reported by The Alpha Galileo Foundation showed that following a mishap, customers who were sent an apology were more likely to respond positively than customers who were simply offered some sort of compensation. The Nottingham School of Economics, who conducted the research, found that customers of a large Ebay seller were more likely to remove their negative feedback when sent a simple apology, acknowledging the seller's error and regret. This was in comparison to a set of customers who were sent an offer to remove their negative feedback in exchange for a small amount of money.The results are surprisingly definitive. Only 23% of folks removed their negative reviews in exchange for money, while 45% responded to a clear apology by removing their negative reviews.Sure, a solution is of utmost importance and will need to exist, but, a simple, clear, sincere, and early apology should not be understated. When something goes wrong, remember to acknowledge your fault. You may find it to have a surprisingly positive impact.
Tags: Customer Service, beliefs, core values, Relationship Marketing
Client Relationship Management | General | Marketing
Let's help the Make a Wish Foundation change a child's life for the better! For every view of our funny holiday video, Exsilio will donate a small amount to the Make a Wish Foundation with the goal of raising $10,000 by January 31st. Come back every day to contribute more money, and don't forget to share with your family and friends.
Tags: Charity, giving back
Creative | General
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