Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Adam: Row 8 or 16.

In Travel on 06/28/2012 at 5:01 pm

I’ve known Adam for a couple of years. I think he’s the only attorney I know who actually litigates. Every time I see him, I tell him, “You can’t handle the truth!” and I slam whatever I have down on the ground. (Just kidding.)

Adam used to travel between Chicago and Kansas City on, like, a weekly basis for work. He always flew Southwest and realized that if he sat in row 8 or row 16, he’d be first in line to get his drink.

“I’d get on the plane and see if there were any open seats in row 8. If not . . . I cruise all the way to row 16.”

I confirmed this theory with a Southwest flight attendant and learned that eastbound planes tend to be row 9 and 17.

Good tip if you’re feeling particularly thirsty on your day of travel, right?

Gerry: Claim the Sales Tax.

In Driving, Money, Super Helpful Info on 06/27/2012 at 5:24 pm

My car was totalled in May 2011. The party who crashed into me, their insurance company was going to write me a check for the KBB value of my car. So I decided to go look for a new car.

When I walked into the dealership and explained my situation, Gerry (who was the salesperson helping me) gave me some pretty useful information:

“When you get that cash-out check from their insurance company, make sure you also claim the sales tax. That’s something that you have to pay when you get your new car, and since they’re buying your totalled car from you, they should pay you too.”

I’m not sure if this is a State of Illinois thing, or a by-insurance-company thing, but when they wrote out a check, I casually asked about it. And guess what they did?

The wrote me another check for the sales tax.

Hey, it never hurts to ask.

Dan: Everything Is Relative.

In Be logical, Business, Human behavior, Marketing, Strategy on 06/26/2012 at 6:06 pm

I met Dan Ariely at The Market Research Technology Event in Las Vegas. I spoke on the last day at the last possible time slot. Dan spoke on the best day at the best time slot. So basically, he is seriously legit. He’s also a behavioral economics professor at Duke and has a ton of fascinating studies on human behavior and consumer habits.

In part of his presentation, he discussed relative pricing.

Which subscription plan would you choose?

You (and 68% of people) would probably pick the $59 subscription, because it’s cheaper and gives you what you think you need. Right?

Okay. Now imagine that you had seen this offer instead of the first one:

With this scenario, you (and 84% of people) are probably thinking, “Oh, MAN. I could get Print + Web for $125, when print on its own is $125? What a deal! I’m totally going with the $125 option.”

And just like that, the Economist just doubled their revenue, just by throwing in a martyr price point.

From Dan’s book:

“Most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context . . . We don’t know what kind of speaker system we like – until we hear a set of speakers that sounds better than the previous one . . . Everything is relative, and that’s the point.”

Frickin’ brilliant.

Kate: Support Your Knees.

In Health, Sports, Super Helpful Info, Travel on 06/25/2012 at 9:01 am

Kate and I met via Twitter; she was one of Foiled Cupcakes‘ first customers. She (along with many, many other inspiring women) also became my running muse, encouraging me to run my first 5k (she’s the one with the white visor). Since then, I’ve worked my way up to thinking I might be able to actually run a half marathon, all with Kate’s support. (I’m registered for the Allstate 13.1 series in East Boston this September. Yikes.)

A couple of years ago, I told Kate that my knees were starting to crunch. Blah. Her reply:

Support your knees … I use KT Tape, but there are lots of other braces that could make a big difference.”

She even went so far as to bring me a handful of KT Tape strips the next time we were going to the same event, and told me which sites to check out so I could figure out how to put them on properly.

Oh. So running doesn’t have to be a miserable, knee-grinding, painful activity. Really?

I invested in two hardcore patellar knee straps and compression sleeves for shin splints when I feel the need. It’s ridiculous, but this <$50 investment has changed my entire outlook on running.

Thanks, Kate, for making me realize I don’t have to be a whining running martyr and I can actually just enjoy it. You’ve inspired me to explore new cities on foot (the best way to discover a new place) AND the confidence to click “register” for a 13.1 mile run. You rock my world.

Julie: Chin Down.

In Be memorable, Super Helpful Info on 06/23/2012 at 8:54 am

Julie was my summer camp counselor in, like, 1993. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember how long ago it was. We ended up staying in touch a bit here and there, but like anything back in those days, it took a lot of effort (handwritten letters, long distance phone calls, etc.) So eventually we lost touch.

But the one gem she taught me which has stayed with me for 20-ish years?

“When you take a picture, instead of pointing your nose in the air, bring your chin down and look straight into the camera. You’ll appear more confident and your face will look slimmer.”

It’s true, even for celebrities.

Disclaimer: this automatically slimming effect could also make you look like an evil seductress, so be careful.

Jennifer: How To Cure the Hiccups.

In Health on 06/22/2012 at 6:14 pm

Jennifer Wong and I were best friends through elementary school. Once we hit 7th grade, we had to go to different schools, and since the internet didn’t exist at that time, we didn’t stay in touch. I don’t know where she is now, but I do remember this trick she taught me about how to cure the hiccups:

1. BREATHE OUT. Exhale all the way and hold your breath until you think you’re going to pass out.

2. HOLD IT. Keep holding your breath and then exhale with three short puffs. Hold your breath again until you think you’re really going to pass out.

3. BREATHE IN. Right as you’re about to die, inhale all the way and hold your breath until you think you’re going to pass out.

4. HOLD IT AGAIN. Keep holding your breath and then inhale with three short puffs. Hold your breath again until you think you’re really going to pass out.

5. RELAX. Relax and just start breathing normally.

It works. Try it!

*It’s okay if you hiccup while holding your breath. Just don’t stop holding your breath so you can hiccup. That kind of defeats the purpose.

Tony: Don’t Outsource Your Core Competency.

In Be authentic, Business, Experience, Strategy, Tech on 06/21/2012 at 7:53 pm

I met Tony Hsieh at a 37signals event (seems like I meet a lot of people there). He was doing a national tour to promote Delivering Happiness, and my friend Jason invited me to join them. There were only 30 or so people there, so it was a pretty intimate setting, which was great.

Tony talked about his experiences with growing Zappos, and one of the biggest operational hangups he experienced was when they trusted an external company to handle their warehousing and fulfillment. After losing money, losing customers and losing time, Tony writes in his book:

“It was a valuable lesson. We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning.”

People think our core competency is cupcakes. But it’s not. There are a million cupcakes in this city. What sets us apart (according to our clients) is the service level that each of them get with each order. Yes, the cupcakes need to be pristine. They need to be impeccable. But what we’re GOOD at, what sets us apart from our competitors, is our personal service.

So taking Tony’s advice, we will never outsource that. You have my word.

Gene: Be a Good Public Speaker.

In Be memorable, Super Helpful Info on 06/20/2012 at 5:46 pm

Gene Honda (PA announcer for the White Sox and Blackhawks) was an honored Asian American community member in Chicago at the AAI’s annual awards night. He was honored not only for being a well-known voice in Chicago, but also for his contributions to the community.

During his acceptance speech, he said:

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten from anyone was from my father. He said, ‘If you’re going to do well in life, you HAVE to know how to be a good public speaker.’ So from that point forward, I buckled down and learned how to be a good public speaker.”

I’ve always enjoyed speaking, but I remember being told by my high school speech/debate teacher, Mr. Cates, that I use “like” and “so, yeah” way too much – and I talk too quickly, too. The truth is, nobody’s ever as good as they think they are when they’re on stage. So this was a good reminder that I really need to keep practicing and learn from each presentation – and that more opportunities come from being dynamic than being a dud.

Paul: What VCs Look For.

In Business, Create, Networking, Tech on 06/19/2012 at 3:04 pm

I met Paul when we spoke at an entrepreneurship dinner last fall. He’s a partner at Lightbank (which invested in some local coupon company and I guess did okay with that.) When I met him, we joked that we were the Asian invasion. I also told him that I never have and didn’t plan on going after any external funding. He said genuinely, “Okay, but if you ever think differently, you know you can reach out.” So I do, regularly – but just to talk shop and get his feedback.

The last time I lunched with Paul, he said he hears hundreds of pitches on a monthly basis. I asked him how he even starts to figure out what would be a good investment.

“When I’m looking at a business idea, I check to see if it’s relevant, non-obvious, and robust. That’s it.”

As I’m (finally, sort of, timidly) contemplating talking to investors about expanding our current offer, I’m for SURE making sure that it’s


Easy enough. Time to get back to work.

Marlys: Find Your Season.

In Clothes, Just plain fun, Shoes, Super Helpful Info on 06/18/2012 at 9:47 pm

Marlys and I know each other from when we both worked in the youth organization for our church. It was our responsibility to plan activities that were both wholesome and entertaining for 12-18 year olds. Phew.

One week, Marlys taught the girls that everyone has a color season. With the right colors, your hair, skin and hair will all glow, your imperfections will be diminished, and you’ll look bright and vibrant. With the wrong colors, your eyes, skin and hair will look drained, your imperfections may be highlighted, and your face will just be blah. You can figure your color palette out here on this website for college kids (they really should teach this concept earlier than college, but whatever.)

This was monumental information for me. I immediately went home and purged all of my white and black, and started replacing my wardrobe with beige, chocolates, oranges, and fiery reds. When shopping, I now quickly scan the racks for colors in my season, and ignore anything that doesn’t fall within it. It saves me hours of sifting through racks for no good reason. And I never buy t-shirts in every color anymore, ever, just because they’re 3 for $25.

Marlys, my wardrobe thanks you for the orange scarf, turquoise earrings, gold sequin tank top and mustard cardigan that’s now a part of it.