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Moving is Fun and Easy, Moving is Fun and Easy, Moving is Fun and Easy Self.Newsletter - Issue #26

Dan Hugo
Dan Hugo
Like last month only better!

Time to Move. Again.
The day has arrived, and come Monday afternoon I shall commence loading the truck to move back to Las Vegas. This time is fairly straightforward, since the truck size is the same and I barely moved anything already-boxed, so a simple rewind scrub should suffice.
I mentioned in the previous Self.Newsletter issue that my destination plans had changed slightly, since the company that owns the apartment complex that is my destination took my reservation money 85 days ahead of time and let me know 13 days ahead of time that they did not have the unit in question available. A series of disappointing and clueless interactions followed, but ultimately I have made it clear that the company has placed all of the penalties for their taking my money for an uncovered apartment option on me. That is, the person who did NOT vacate their apartment as planned simply continues their lease, the property company is renting apartments in a crazy market where they have no worries, and they would not honor the terms of the reservation across the board (basically price per square foot and lease term).
I have some thoughts about what comes out of this on my end, and one of the assistant property managers is trying to get a concession from the company as a token gesture, but at the end of the day it is clear to me who I am doing business with, now the question is where I go with my education.
For the moment, though, there are two very busy days in my immediate future, from 4pm MST Monday in Phoenix to 4pm PDT Wednesday in Las Vegas. My back is already tired.
That Marketing Detective Book
I mentioned in last week’s Light Reading section that I had read a book that reminded me somewhat of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why book, if in concept only. The book I read, aside from being an illustrative work of fiction, takes a very hard line approach to designating customer bins and then placing customers in those bins (that is not a literal mental image you should be forming there, I mean the term used for grouping and separating into groups). I re-listened to the book twice more while out walking and I captured two things that I glossed over on my initial listen:
  1. The bin process is more heavy-handed than I came away with on that first listen. In that I mean, there are very few people interviewed in the process they go through to understand their customers and their market in general, and from this very small population sample they make some fairly substantial presumptions. I actually think this happens frequently and takes various forms but this is probably actually accurate, but for the fact that it probably should not be portrayed as a good methodology by default (alternatives are hand-waved).
  2. The take home message, and in fact that part that ties directly with Sinek’s world view, is saved for the very end, appears to come out of nowhere, but in fact becomes the focus of the resolution of the business strategy concerns when they bring one regular customer (arguably their best-known regular, and I know that is a real thing) to an offsite board meeting, listen to his story, and decide the fate of the company. I have simplified, but not by much.
I point this out not because the book is worth the extra effort (read Sinek’s books, he is a bit more genuine, if not more repetitive, and he tells real stories with company names), but because I found it interesting that the author dedicated an entire book to pointing out how people in too close, or perhaps simply too distracted from their own reality (that is, in this story, the founder and CEO of the fictitious coffee company is lamenting the fact that that regular does not come to the shop anymore, and right at the end it all wraps up nicely with a bow and happy ending). Literally, the first paragraph and the last page (give or take) of the main book are wrapped around a waste of time.
Wait wait wait, let me clarify that slightly. Not a total waste of time, because people operating a business, especially a small business with retail customers, and especially that sort of business where lingering is part of the business, should not be so completely blind to how their business is operating that they require this consultation and ensuing investigative process. The take home is summed up by the founder toward the end, that she (they in management) had lost sight of why the first shop was founded in the first place, so Sinek is still correct, and there is an entire book dedicated to other people spending time explaining your core values to you.
Mean enough? Probably not.
How Funny
Let us take a brief comedy break with some stand-up found on YouTube! No shorts this time, I think they are funny or entertaining or sometimes tragic, but this is really stand-up here, and so are these:
I Married An Irish Guy and Chinese Is Too Hard For Him To Learn | Dawn Wong
I Married An Irish Guy and Chinese Is Too Hard For Him To Learn | Dawn Wong
Crazy Ex Boyfriends (Stand Up Comedy)
Crazy Ex Boyfriends (Stand Up Comedy)
The Weird Stuff You Do When You Live Alone - Kyle Kinane
The Weird Stuff You Do When You Live Alone - Kyle Kinane
Naked In Front Of The Mirror - Megan Dunn Stand Up Comedy
Naked In Front Of The Mirror - Megan Dunn Stand Up Comedy
Do You Technology?
Something has been bothering me more and more over the last, say, two years. Probably kicked off by the jolt that was pandemic lock-down and mitigation and misinformation and whatnot, I am really getting the full sense how technology literally resting in our pockets daily is almost completely vice and not value. We are leaving a ton of potential on the table for, well, YouTube shorts (which are mostly TikTok videos re-posted, let us be honest), trolls and insults, rants and pandering, to monetize monetize monetize.
I was sitting in a restaurant in Campbell, California speaking with Jim Reekes (if you ever owned a Mac back in the day, you are familiar with the infamous Mac Bong sound it played rather ominously on boot… That was Jim) and he was attempting to convince me that Google Maps was absolutely not worthwhile and was, in fact, a complete waste of effort on Google’s part. Maybe that was his fanboy speaking out of turn, but how wrong could one person be? Let us illustrate by an example from two days ago, wherein I told my mom how to see her location history so that she could see when they had gone to a therapy facility in Phoenix within some time frame… and wow, look at all that detail! But hey, Google maps provides real value, and having that location history was useful, so it isn’t completely evil, right? Also quite far from useless, definitely not a waste of time.
The utility falls off pretty quickly from there, though. Have you waited on hold to speak to a customer service representative lately? Why? Have you found a piece of software (a mobile application, desktop, or maybe just a website in any browser) difficult or even broken and you are trying to find some customer support? Have you received a bill or invoice or some other statement with incorrect or confusing information on it and a DoNotReply email address to reach out to?
If you are looking at the job market lately (and I extend my condolences now, because yipes that is another series of posts entirely), you may find a lot of effort goes in to market analysis, business intelligence, new customer acquisition… basically a lot of the stuff that was in that book I mentioned, in the middle. How many jobs focus on current customer retention, customer experience, relationship management that is not a quip posted on Twitter… again similar to that book, not really such a focus, but in the end, so much value!
As someone who has at least one eye looking at projects and gaps to fill and value propositions, I personally like the idea that people using what I create and, ideally, derive revenue from, actually like or at least value the thing in question. If the Food Truck thing (you may have heard about that at some point, call it the Mobile Vendor Platform and move on) sucked like the rest of the tools that are already out there, why bother? So I can make my slice of the disappointed customer revenue pie? If I speak to someone who us using what I made (they may have no idea who I am) and they tell me that this thing they try to use sucks and is awful and they wasted their money or their time or their sanity, well, should I just count my money and move on? I fear this is the state of our technology today, driven by growth and reach and revenue, not really by value and positive outcome.
There is simply too much left on the table nowadays. Phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, identity theft, deep fakes, and eventual danger such as utility shut down or maybe actual active destruction are all on the other side of people consuming Tik Tok videos and playing games and ghosting each other without any idea how the tech they have works and allowing the lack of tech that would actually improve and protect life and some sort of happiness is too hard.
A flat tire cannot be fixed by turning up the stereo, but that seems to be where we are lately. This needs to change.
Thanks For Your Support!
If you take the time to read this, great, that counts. You can forward it to others, or suggest subscribing, or you could actually share links to the web page versions. Why not?
I have learned something from newsletters (there is this one, the former Substack version, and the newsletters for Hugo Floss, Quoggling Sand, and FFS Talk podcasts), which I intend to apply to some of the projects that may yet see the light of day once I am settled in at home.
One of the things I have relearned, is something I used to tell food truck owners when we formed the first owner’s association in the Bay Area back in about 2012: Go where your customers are. Physically in their case, but in their engagement outreach as well. Did everyone use Facebook back then? No. Does that mean customers who enjoy your offerings should lose out because they are not using Facebook? Probably not (you may differ in your view). Similarly, I have found that newsletters (or email in general) are good, and useful, but not always ideal, and not every time. There are too many options generally available now, though, which means leaving people out almost seems like a conscious act. This is a personal newsletter, but if I were operating a business, I would suggest these thus far:
  1. Real website. No reason not to have one, at least one page, to point people to. Yes, I use the Buy Dan a Coffee profile page for this, but for commercial branding it is all about owning online presence, starting with a landing page.
  2. Proactive self-promotion. Anyone who consumes YouTube videos is already familiar with the Like Share Subscribe and Ring That Bell mantra in its various specific forms, and it is something that needs to be done relentlessly. Be your biggest fan and let that rub off.
  3. Go where they are. Email newsletters, RSS feeds, easy-to-navigate web content that is easily shared and re-shared. These are the baselines, and I actually think RSS needs to give way to rich metadata html (schema.org, opengraph, and a few other minor approaches to this are all better than RSS, but that is yet another series of posts). From these, make use of social media to link back to the home site wherever possible so that the community you are building is not beholden to someone else’s rules and policies, and whims!
  4. Keep at it. If your tools are frustrating or work against your efforts, it will show. I do not care for Revue, I have to be honest, and while I have learned a bit from trying out Substack and Revue as free newsletter platforms, I think there are opportunities I could leverage to deliver a better outcome to those interested, without having to work around tools that do not appear to want to work around me. I hate to complain, but letting the tools do the work is a lot easier if the tools work.
This newsletter has a few weeks left in its future, but I will start extending some thanks now for being a part of this learning process, and maybe as more things on my project list gain some links and launches (see that BMaC page link above), maybe the fruits will ripen for you as well.
Light Reading
I mentioned the Lord of the Rings trilogy on my Holds list, and I did get the first of the holds, which was actually The Two Towers. I would not mind consuming them out of order, but I learned on giving that one a go out walking the other day that these are not really ideal for casual listening while exercising or facing other distraction. I cancelled the holds, returned the one, and will put this off for some long flight plan some day.
I also spent more time than I probably should have on two more passes of that marketing detective book, which I am now tripply glad was a library book now returned.
I am presently three chapters in on an interesting book about the founders of the USA (I don’t care so much for the term forefathers), and their influences from Greek, Roman, and other philosophers and thought leaders. Just getting to Jefferson, it is refreshing at least to get some editorial from the author that is not completely sanitized, so far so good. More on that as I reach the end, eventually.
Whoa
This went long, my apologies. A proper online outlet to publish some things will make long newsletters into shorter previews, or maybe that is not the way to go? A preview-only option (like a news feed on your favorite social media platform that you would then click through if particular items warranted your attention), and a full-articles option would be doable, and would be in keeping with the notions I mentioned above.
Either way, this particular newsletter went long, almost certainly because I am trying to put off thinking about the moving process. Thank you for joining me in that distraction.
Artwork Attribution
Photo by Benny Rotlevy on Unsplash
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Dan Hugo
Dan Hugo @DanHugo

Various topics of the day, whichever day, from home or abroad, about this and that and the other thing.
Engineer in Las Vegas, working on a variety of cool projects; Maker of Friends, Friend of Makers. Answers to most pronouns, you can call me Al.

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