Happy Birthday Will!

Dear William,

As you turn two years old today, you should be proud of everything you’ve accomplished so far.  Similar to my post for you a year ago, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorites:

  • a total of 5 trips ‘back east’, Cape Cod was a regular stop for you on 4 of those trips
  • 2 trips to Texas to see your grandparents there (and numerous visits from them to San Diego)
  • you’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge, Monterey Aquarium, and several hours of the Pacific Coast Highway
  • you’ve swum in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean (and a few fresh water ponds in Cape Cod)
  • you can count to 20 in two different languages and count to 10 in a third
  • at only 16 months, you could correctly identify all the letters of the alphabet
  • you can say your ABCs in both English and French
  • you can run really fast
  • you never want to get off of the swings at the playground
  • you’ve been to Sea World, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Disneyland
  • one of your first (and favorite) words was “outside” – for good reason – you love to be outside
  • you can sing several songs start to finish
  • your favorite foods are oatmeal, yogurt, “yummy” bears (also known as vitamins), and pancakes
  • you’ve discovered rock and roll
  • you know all your colors
  • you had your first trip to the emergency room (sadly, we don’t have a video from this evening)
  • you’ve starred in a (minor) motion picture trailer
  • you’ve become very curious, taking things apart and putting them back together
  • you’re a great dancer
  • you’ve been boating
  • you’ve walked around our block at least a hundred times
  • you love water
  • you can play the guitar
  • you always stop and smell the flowers
  • you’ve almost mastered the downward-facing dog (see below)
  • you have a great sense of humor
  • you’ll be a great big brother!

Most of all, you’ve made your mother and me laugh out loud every single day for the past two years.  Your smile is infectious, your dance moves unmatched, and your love for others an example for us all.  As Daniel Tosh would say, “and for that, we thank you.”

Here’s to another great year.  Happy birthday, buddy.

Love always,
Dad

An Instagram Tour of Austin

I was recently in Austin, Texas for a conference on marketing and web development for higher education. I snapped lots of photos with my iPhone. Here are a few of my favorites.

Austin Bergstrom Airport

Austin Bergstrom Airport

Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue

Chicken Truck

Austin Shoe Store - Allen Boots

South Congress - Quirky stores, candy shops, and great food

Austin Architecture

Austin Motel

Great food at the Trailer Park & Eatery

Austin Grafitti

Jo's Coffee Shop - South Congress

SRV standing guard over Town Lake

Treasures from South Congress

Live Music on 6th Street

Downtown Austin View

Trails Around Town Lake

Trailer Food Festival

Stubb's

Leaving Austin

My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

Fourth of July Road Trip: San Francisco and Monterey

My family and I traveled to San Francisco and Monterey Bay for the Fourth of July weekend this year.  You might call us crazy to attempt a 1,200-mile road trip with a 15-month-old over one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year – and you’d probably be right.

We did, however, have an awesome time despite some of the crowds.  Monterey was incredible.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon walking around the bay and had a cloudy, cool time the next morning at the aquarium.  San Fran had the best weather we could expect – sunny and mid-upper 70s the entire time.  We opted to take the ‘long’ way home from San Francisco, driving the PCH all the way to Santa Barbara.

A little late getting this out, but here are a few of my favorite photos from our adventure (click for a larger view):

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cannery Row

Cannery Row

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Tomatoes

'maters in SF

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Do you recognize any of these landmarks?  What’s your favorite spot in San Francisco?

Where I’m From

So from time to time, I figure I’ll throw in a blog post about what I’m up to in my off-time (not that I get too much of it). Recently, I traveled with my wife and son back to my hometown to visit my parents, who still live in the house where I grew up.  It’s pretty cool to think that my Dad did most of the construction work by himself on his days off from fighting fires in Dallas.

Even though I lived there for as long as I can remember before going away for college, I still notice new and interesting things each time I go back.  Most of what I found, I re-discovered when I looked up –  ceilings, roofs, and more.  Here’s a look.

*Please note:  I don’t mind if you use these photos for other projects – would only ask that you provide proper attribution.  Thanks.*

Tin Roof on the Garage

Pressed Tin Ceiling Throughout the Family Room

Barn Loft Doors

Etched glass of our signatures when the house was built in '84

My parents must have had a thing for pressed tin - here's another type in the master bath

Rain barrel at the corner of the house

Wood burning stove and brick hearth

We used real railroad ties just as we found them

Here's an old soda box on the back porch

Our old bikes - mine is the blue Huffy second from the left. Rad!

What do you think?  Want to come for a visit?

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?

Traveling with the Most Interesting Professor in the World

In a little more than six weeks from now, I’ll be departing for Buenos Aires with a study abroad group from the University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program. The group will be taking a global business strategy course with a professor I’ve always enjoyed – Dr. Jaime Alonzo Gomez.

Dr Jaime Alonzo Gomez - The Most Interesting Professor in the World

 

Dr. Gomez would definitely be in the running for the “Most Interesting Professor in the World.” Consulting for global companies like Dell, WalMart CitiBank, and many others, Dr. Gomez actually has stories of his face-to-face meetings with company CEOs to accompany many of the HBR case studies used in class.  Students will have a chance to meet with execs from the Latin American headquarters from WalMart and discuss the challenges of bringing the American idea of the big-box superstore to Argentina.

Study abroad participants will also have plenty of opportunities to soak in the local culture through a city tour, a tango show, steak and red wine dinners, and a city bicycle tour.

I had a chance to go on this trip three years ago, when I was a student in the program and enjoyed it immensely. Here are a few pictures from my first time around. Best part is that my wife will be joining me for a week in the country and we’ll get to do a lot of things together. Stay tuned for a post in January with new pics and stories!

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The Value of Travel

I’ve been a fan of traveling ever since I can remember.  When I was young, my family would load up in the big red Suburban at least once or twice a year and hit the great American highways to another state – many times that meant several states.  Starting in Crandall, Texas, we were able to reach most destinations within a couple of days.  I recall enjoying the different foods, accents, and attitudes we encountered around the US.  We soaked in the local flavor, staying in modest highway motels and travel lodges.  We perfected the 10-minute gas/bathroom/dinner stop so we could always keep on truckin.’  As a result, I had visited nearly 40 states before I graduated high school.

John on the Alpine Slide, Durango, Colorado

My Family at Grand Canyon

As I grew older, we traveled further – including a trip to the (now former) Soviet Union when I was only 12.  I vividly remember trading “American” items like blue jeans and bubble gum that Russians didn’t have and couldn’t get for Soviet memorabilia and black market items.  It’s funny to think how even at that age I had a mind to negotiate with the traders and had to overcome cultural obstacles, language and age barriers.  I ended up with a few really cool items: a full-size Soviet flag, a Ushanka hat (complete with earflaps and the hammer & sickle pin), a set of matryoshka dolls, and a sailor’s dress uniform hat.  All that for some branded clothing that no longer fit – Reebok, Levi’s, and Nike.  I’d like to think I drove a pretty hard bargain, armed with the knowledge that they simply couldn’t get American clothing in the USSR.

A few years passed before I was overseas again – this time in Japan, Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia.  These were all port calls with my first Navy ship, USS RUSHMORE (LSD-47), in a pre-2001 terrorist attack world and it couldn’t have been more fun.  As a more mature person, I began to see the fundamental differences in the way many people outside the US live.  I remember encountering incredibly friendly people in each country.  I also got to try some new and interesting foods and had (what seemed like at the time) several near-death experiences with wild taxi drivers.

Since my time in the Navy, I’ve had a chance to travel even more. With USD, I was able to study abroad in Buenos Aires, where we looked at international business strategy while immersed in the local culture. We enjoyed visiting the South American headquarters for Wal-Mart and hearing their take on the recent currency crisis, dealing with Bentonville attitudes towards management, and stocking their discount stores with more food items than everything else combined (over half the store was food – fresh fish, wine, cheese – and all great quality!).

Also while at the University of San Diego, I participated twice in the Global Leadership Conference in Shanghai, China.  Both times the conference was preceded by a visit to Beijing, where we visited with an American expatriate who had lived and worked in China for nearly 20 years.  He expressed some of his highs and lows while working in China and gave some great insight for those who were considering making a career overseas.  We had a unique opportunity to visit the GM headquarters in Shanghai, where we heard a German manager speak about working for an American car company in China.  The entire trip reminded me of Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat and just how small today’s business world really is.

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Global Leadership Students at GM Shanghai

Between my family trips, graduate school, and the Navy; I’ve seen several countries and 44 of the 50 United States. Here’s hoping I can add more to that list very soon. One thing that stands out from a conversation in Shanghai in 2008: no matter where you are in the world, people are more alike than they’re different.