Is it a Root or a Shoot?

There is something about blog titles that ask a question that make me think, “why don’t you just find out for yourself?” Here you will see the Shipe garden – quickly rivaling the Shipe Park that get’s a lot of Google hits.

The first plants I've cared about

The first plants I've cared about

When I wrote the title of this blog I truely did not know if my mango seed was sprouting a shoot or a root, but I have since learned in a manner of 60 seconds that it is in fact a root. Now I have to wonder if my seed is pointing the right way.

I think I was supposed to scratch the hairy layer off the seed.

I think I was supposed to scratch the hairy layer off the seed.

My Avocado plant is doing quite well. Actually, it has been so exciting to watch that I gave up on the germination process on my other two avocado seeds. This was for the better since the cats always try to nudge the seeds off the window sill.

I'm very proud of the little guy's two branches

I'm very proud of the little guy's two branches

If there are any green thumbs out there with suggestions, please leave a comment.

Bash a Face in – Buy a Prayer Cross

Maybe a good product, but could use help marketing

Maybe a good product, but could use help marketing

The other night I was watching Ultimate Fighter Champion Rich Franklin vs Evan Tanner 2 when I saw a commercial that was completely out of place. I see absolutely no connection between a Cross necklace that you can see the Lord’s Prayer when you look through the center crystal and Ultimate Fighter Champion.

The money spent on that advertisement was almost totally wasted. There will never be a shortage of people who are ready to throw money away thinking it’s a marketing opportunity. Please do not put any money towards marketing without at least knowing your target, the demographics and reach of the marketing opportunity. This information is available in any media kit and could have easily saved IdeaVillage the time and money. Or better yet, trade the money spent on un-targeted tv shows for highly targeted social marketing opportunities. You will halve the reach, but quadruple the sales – funny the effect of proper targeting.

To recap: The Prayer Cross & Ultimate Fighter Champion DON’T MIX!

Technology Guru

I don’t often feel like a technology guru, so it is imperative that I brag about being a genius when those moments arrive. For the longest time, I have used my HP desktop running Vista64 in our living room using our Sharp tv. I liked killing three birds with one screen (computer, tv, Xbox). I ran cable through my computer using Windows Media Center and my external hard drive as a DVR. The downside was a lack of productivity on my part, as you can imagine being in the middle of the house and using the tv. Continue reading

Non-Toxic Merchandizing

nontoxicThe other day, this toy section caught my eye while walking through Target. “Certified Non-Toxic”, the ludic toy brags. It is clear Target is experimenting here, but I wonder if this toy’s primary selling point speaks to the struggle fair trade products have in getting on shelves.

Granted, most parents want their children’s toys to be non-toxic, but is “Certified Non-Toxic” that big of a selling point? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. There are more toxic toys in the US than I know of, but that really isn’t saying much. I grew up playing with steel Tonka Trucks that could give you tetanus with one malicious twinge of the hinge.

Here is my point, let’s contrast the “Certified Non-Toxic” with “Certified Fair Trade”. Some parent sees this non-toxic toy and thinks, “That’s nice, but I’ll just get a cheaper stuffed animal. It isn’t certified non-toxic, but I don’t see a scull and crossbones either, so…it’s probably ok.”

Switch the non-toxic to fair trade. The same parent goes to buy the fair trade stuffed animal and thinks, “The bear is certified fair trade, what about all the other toys? Are they made for children by children? Does Target trade fair for this bear, but unfair for the other 99% of the store?”

I suggest, that the mere existence of a fair trade product calls into question all the other products. That’s why Macy’s fair trade experiments (Shop for a Better World) does not emphasizes that it is a fair trade project. They link it to a specific project and highlight how it helps a specific community overcome a specific problem. Because it is an especially project, it does not cast doubt on the fairness of Macy’s other products.

It makes me wonder if highly charged terms like “fair trade” could survive in big box retailers simply because the brain too easily goes from “fair” to “unfair”. As technology makes the world smaller, consumers will want more evidence that their money is bettering the world hence the rise in corporate social responsibility(CSR). More and more retailers will be experimenting with green-fair-organic-non-toxic products trying to find exactly what consumers are concerned about.

All We Know About Retail is About to Change

The title reminded me of chatter when e-commerce was ramping up. However, there is a growing tide, a silent tsunami that will be a greater game changer than online retail. The greatest opportunity for differentiation has been price, it has been quality, it has been convenience but it will soon be responsibility.

The responsibility requirement is not coming because consumers are starting to care. It is coming because consumers will soon be able to easily find out which companies are showing leadership in responsibility and which ones are profiteering. The phenomenal growth to 75 million fair trade shoppers shows that the caring consumer will soon be the primary consumer.

I am excited for the day when retail clerks will need preparation to answer questions like,

  • “Were the people who made these shoes paid a living wage?”
  • “Does the factory where this was made meet international standards?”
  • “What has your company done to improve the world?”

My guess is that within 3-5 years, genuinely responsible companies will start taking market share from companies content with status quo. If responsibility is little more than a polite velleity, your company will miss the responsibility boat – a sizably larger boat than e-commerce.

Golden Rule of Link Building

Upping your position on the left side of search engine result pages is the cheapest form of internet marketing right. Aside from the cost of achieving a higher ranking of course. But having a high position does not cost a thing. So we found out that inbound links up our relevance and all of the sudden building links became the thing.

It is no wonder it became the thing. Building links is relatively easy, inexpensive and kind of fun for the swivel chair marketer. This spawned a whole slew of irrelevant opportunities to build links. Thankfully, search engines weight the importance of each link by the quality and relevance of the site providing the link.

Thus the Golden Rule of Link Building:

Establish links as if there were no search engines.

Practical Atheist

Our Church, Crosspointe Church, is three weeks into a series called Practical Atheist. A practical atheist is someone who claims to believe in God, but lives as if he doesn’t exist. Each sermon has a similar gist:

Millie wrote a post about last weeks message which included a very interesting vlog of Penn Jillett, the magician and entertainer. You should take a look at it. I contributed a little to this week’s message with a short video of Jon and I explaining briefly how money can resemble idols in our lives.

Our pastor, Chan Kilgore, did an excellent job covering 1 Timothy 6:6-10;17-10. Here are some excerpts:

  • “Has something or someone besides Jesus Christ taken title to your heart’s functional trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight?”
  • Idolatry is not one of many sins. Idolatry is at the root of all sin.
  • “All our failures to trust God wholly or live rightly are due at root to idolatry”. This is similar to what Martin Luther said in his commentary on Romans, “the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart.”

Chan then talked about “near idols” vs. “far idols”. Far idols being power, approval, comfort, control, etc. They are roots in one’s life, They are driving forces. They can work through near idols and “are dealt with mainly by a process of repenting and rejoicing.”

Near idols are more tangible like money, spouse, career, car, Chan’s iPhone, etc. Near idols are good things that need to be detached from far idols. Meaning, if the far idol approval is using your career to supersede Christ, then you must deal with the idol of approval and separate it from your career. The career is not a bad thing, it is a gift form God and should lead you to worship Him, not replace Him as your object of your worship.

“Idolatry leads to additions, severe anxiety, obsessions, envy, conflict, and resentment.”

“The cross creates a counter culture in which money ceases to control us and is used in life-giving and community-building rather than destructive ways. The cross leads us to look to Christ instead of idols to give our lives meaning, purpose, value and significance. It leads us to a radical change of heart. You will become strangely content and outrageously generous.”

I don’t feel like I struggle with making money an idol in my life, however, being several months unemployed, I can see that only a scintilla of trust in money can lead to anxiety, obsessions, envy, conflict, etc.

There is Only One of These Days Each Year

There is only one Sunday a year like today. Without fail, every year there are a couple families that show up to church at the end of the service with a surprised and confused look look on their faces.

Today is also the kick off to the fortnight struggle so many people go through as they try to remember how to reprogram the clock in their car. Some people just let it be an hour off for 6 months. I got lucky this morning and set my clock on the first try!

StartUpNation Elevator Pitch

Startupnation has a contest going on for entrepreneurs to upload an elevator pitch. People rate the business idea and their business experts bring the best 5 ideas together to present to venture capitalists. So, here is my elevator pitch:

Follow this link to rate it: http://www.startupnation.com/elevator-pitch-2009/contestant/5355/index.php

You can rate it everyday until March 20th.

Turning the corner

I follow enough blogs that I’ll go through 100 articles in a day and enough tweets that I’ll see 300 in a day. So when I take a few days off, it really hurts.

The ESPN promo shoot was fun, though most of the time I was bored senseless. But I am glad to be back in the saddle and catching up on everything. I finally feel like I am turning the corner on everything I to keep up on.