Archive for March, 2012

Take Your Phone Off The Table

March 9th, 2012

Do you keep your cell phone on the table at a business meeting or do you keep your cell phone on the table over lunch?

Here's a tip: Take it off the table and put it in your pocket.

You look like a fool and you're signaling to me that you value your cell phone more than me.

And while that may very well be true (damn that sounds really pathetic), it's one of the easiest ways to piss someone off who you're about to have a conversation with.

After asking 30 people over the past two days to list out their pet peves, this is one that 15 of the 30 vocalized.

Ya. Ya. We live in a digital age. I get it. Having your cell phone on in case of emergencies is important. You're mother may have a heart attack. You're girlfriend may die in a freak automobile accident. You're brother's head may fall off walking down the street. I get it. Throw that cell phone on vibrate and stick it in your pocket. And if Mom is calling you at 2 PM on a Wednesday afternoon, pick up, because she probably either just got impaled with a sharp object or she needs help finding out how to "get that Google website thing back as her homepage." I get it.

Just take your cell phone off the damn table. Put it in your pocket. Focus your attention on who you're speaking to. And LISTEN to the other person. You may just find that what you can learn from a living breathing human being in real time is more valuable than the data you can pick up in real time news feeds.

Or maybe I'm just old fashioned.

Either way. Take your phone off the table.


Domino’s Online Ordering is the Beez Kneez

March 6th, 2012

Today, I ordered Dominos pizza through their online ordering system for the umpteenth time, and while I still have no clue on earth why I keep eating dominos (it's clearly a sub par pizza in the world of pizzas, even after their complete rehaul of their previous completely, undeniably horribly shitty pizza) what I know is their online ordering tool rocks. IT JUST WORKS.

It works. It works. It works. It's simple. It's easy. It shows me how many pepperonis I'm going to be getting on my pizza. It shows me what my food will look like. It allows me to add and delete shit easily. AND IT IS FAST AS HELL. Great speed. Nice usability. Simple. Crisp.

Good work dominos. Your new pizza is significantly better than your last version. It still isn't the BEST. I'm still going to eat it. But you know what?!? Your online ordering rocks. And I'm going to keep ordering and coming back for more.

If that isn't the American dream right there, then I don't know what is.

See what I did there? Mmm. Clever.


Startup Lessons Learned from Boston Native Fashion Designer Joseph Abboud

March 2nd, 2012

Joseph Abboud is a famous fashion designer. He has led a very impressive life. He grew up in working-class Lebanese family in Boston. He graduated from UMass Boston in 1972, then studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He first started working in the fashion industry as a 16-year-old working part-time at Louis Boston and was later hired by the man, the myth, the legend Ralph Lauren himself in 1981, eventually becoming associate director of menswear design. He launched his own label in 1986 and remained very close friends with Ralph Lauren. Many famous people rock his line including Tom Brokaw, Bill O'Reilly, good ol' Nomar Garciaparra and a bunch of other famous people. You may see him the next time you watch a Red Sox game on television because his seats are constantly in line of the cam. This week he gave a talk to over a 100 people at the UMass Club in Boston as part of Glenn Mangurian's "Someone to Be Proud Of" series, which I love and attend regularly.

I'm about to give you some of my favorite "quick and dirty" takeaways I walked away from... from the mouth of Joseph Abboud (you can buy his suits at Lord & Taylor):

1. "Your clothes should never wear you. You should wear your clothes." - Joseph Abboud, in speaking about what types of suits men should wear.

My translation: It's all about confidence baby. And wearing a suit that fits. Sizing is important. Everything else (vents vs. no vents, 3 button vs. 2 button, pleated pants vs. no pleats) doesn't matter. Things go into style and out of style. And by the time things are out of style, they are back in style again. Wear your clothes. Don't let them wear you. Don't get lost in your style brotha. Make it your own.

2. "You can only build a brand by being BETTER than your competition." - Joseph Abboud, in speaking about the difficulties and successes he's had bringing a new fashion line to market.

My translation: Investing in "the brand" means being relentlessly focused on what falls within the confines of the brand, and what falls outside of it. Building the brand is about being meniacle about how everything you do fits within your brand. Joseph said that one thing Ralph Lauren has always known about  And it also means assessing the competition to see where you fit within the market in your specific niche. If I want to build a car company that focuses on "safety," I better be ready to be BETTER than Volvo. Not on the same level. But BETTER. Significantly better. Same goes for building tech companies as it does for car companies or fashion lines when it comes to the emphasis of building your brand.

3. "I'm really proud of my work." - Joseph Abboud, in speaking about what he is most proud of.

My translation: If you can't look yourself in the mirror and be proud of your work, then you know exactly what that means... it's either time to find something new to do with your life, or it's time to buy a new mirror. But something tells me only one of those will work.

4. "As a great dad." - Joseph Abboud, in speaking about how he wants to be remembered.

My translation: All of this growing companies and building products and hiring teams and selling deals and acquiring users stuff will someday be put into perspective when I have kids.

5. "The reason I have to leave is YOU (Ralph Lauren)" - Joseph Abboud, in speaking about why he had to leave Ralph Lauren's mentorship to start his own fashion line. "If I could achieve 1 / 1,000,000 of what you have accomplished, I would be a happy man. It's because of you that I have to leave now.  There comes a time in life when you have to test yourself to see what you're made of. And that time is now. I have to see what I can do. I have to see what Joseph Abboud can do. And I thank you forever for showing me what I know I have to do."

That, my friends, deserves no translation at all. Joseph Abboud went on to create his own fashion line and outfit some of the most famous people in news, sports, music, and television.

Thanks for reading.