My Mom, Rita.

Mom dad wedding
Rita was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on a date that is a very closely guarded secret. Her parents were a young brave couple who had recently arrived from Genoa, Italy, Carmella and Joseph. Rita was so proud of that heritage.
Italian wedding
She married a dashing young serviceman Vernon Paul Gentemann from Burlington, Vermont a few years after the great war. After several postings from Rome, New York to Nome, Alaska the couple ended up at Gunter Air Force base (an Italian from Jersey in the heart of the deep South).

Rita worked at Montgomery Fair (for those who remember), then Fuller and Dees (she is still in touch with Morris Dees after all these years) and then as an assistant for Dr. David Dunn until she landed a job at the State Highway Department where she worked for many years forming fast and firm friendships with so many of the people here in Montgomery.

She was proud mother of Gerald and Debra, grandmother of Katherine, Jeremy, Lindsay, Jenna, Allyson and Jordan, and a new great grandmother to Ansley. But as everyone who knew Rita knows, she was a little bit of a “mom” to countless friends and family members all over town and all over the country.
Mom passed away peacefully Wednesday evening February 13, 2013.

Former K-State head football coach Vince Gibson passed away.

Former K-State head football coach Vince Gibson has passed away at the age of 78 at his home in Kenner Tuesday morning.

My sympathy goes out to the entire Gibson family as we lost one of our great coaches and ambassadors. I came to know Coach Gibson when as a young boy in Montgomery, Alabama I somehow finagled my way into being allowed to be the Blue Team manager for the annual Blue and Gray All Star game.

Coach Gibson was the closest I came to experiencing NCAA football and he made that experience a special one for me…I even was allowed to handle the headsets on the sideline at the game…a big honor for someone just 15 and wild for football.

Coach was from Alabama and was born in Birmingham. He played college football at Florida State in 1954 and 1955.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at South Georgia Junior College in 1956. Gibson coached with and became good friends with Bobby Bowden, who made sure he referenced Gibson while speaking at the BCS National Championship Breakfast, sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes last Friday. Two great characters for sure. Gibson became an assistant at Florida State in 1959 before moving to Tennessee as defensive coordinator in 1964.

Gibson got his first head coaching position at Kansas State, where he served from 1967-1974 before becoming the head coach at Louisville from 1975-1979,

Gibson was the Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1970 at Kansas State. Gibson is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Coach was gregarious and fun. He became known for his gambling style as a coach and earned the moniker “Vegas Vince.” His two wins over LSU were quite memorable. One came against an Orange Bowl-bound Tiger team. I am sure he was a lot like Les Miles.
He loved purple and insisted that all K-State fans wear it to the games…no one would in those days especially since before Coach went to K-State the team had gone two years without winning a single game. Before he coached his last Blue-Gray Game he gave me a K-State jersey which I kept until it was too thread bare to wear.

Winning at K-State wasn’t even in the conversation with seasons of 0, 0, 3, 2, 0, 2, 1 and 2 wins in the eight previous seasons before he arrived.

Vince said, “We Gonna Win…I don’t think K-State people realize what a great school they have and the potential it offers in the competitive area of collegiate football. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is an impossible job because of the losing tradition here. Now is the time when Kansas State can become a legend in the annals of collegiate football. But let me assure you, this job is not for the timid, the skeptic or the lazy.”

A memorial service is set for next Tuesday, January 17 at 4 p.m. at Christ the King Church, 1001 West Esplanade Avenue in Kenner.

Drive-in Movies

Tonight I passed an empty lot where my childhood drive-in theater used to be….I am visiting my old home town and the whole experience brought back lots of great memories.

The drive-in theater was the creation of Camden, New Jersey, chemical company magnate Richard Holiingshead Jr. whose family owned and operated the R.M. Hollingshead Corporation chemical plant in Camden.

In 1932, Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue in Riverton. After nailing a screen to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak Projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen, testing different sound levels with his car windows down and up. Blocks under vehicles in the driveway enabled him to determine the size and spacing of ramps so all automobiles could have a clear view of the screen.

Following these experiments, he applied August 6, 1932, for a patent of his invention, and he was given U.S. Patent 1,909,537 on May 16, 1933. That patent was declared invalid 17 years later by the Delaware District Court.

Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard. He advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” The facility only operated three years, but during that time the concept caught on in other states.

Early drive-in theaters had to deal with noise pollution issues. The original Hollingshead drive-in had speakers installed on the tower itself which caused a sound delay affecting patrons at the rear of the drive-in’s field. Attempts at outdoor speakers next to the vehicle did not produce satisfactory results.

In 1941, RCA introduced in-car speakers with individual volume controls which solved the noise pollution issue and provided satisfactory sound to drive-in patrons.

The drive-in’s peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with some 4,000 drive-ins spreading across the United States. Among its advantages was the fact that a family with a baby could take care of their child while watching a movie, while teenagers with access to autos found drive-ins ideal for dates…some of my best dates of all time were at the drive-in…I won’t mention any names but you know who you are.

During their height, some drive-ins used attention-grabbing gimmicks to boost attendance. They ranged from small airplane runways, unusual attractions such as a small petting zoo or cage of monkeys, actors to open their movies, or musical groups to play before the show. Some drive-ins held religious services on Sunday morning and evening, or charged a flat price per car on slow nights like Wednesday. The price was a dollar per car during “buck” nights in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the UK a pseudo-drive-in has been launched where the cars are provided by the theater. It’s sponsored by Volvo. The urban Starlite Drive-in is inside the Truman Brewery in hip East London where the urban population will get the chance to watch classic films in a fleet of convertibles served by roller-skating waitresses.

Love it…maybe it will catch on…

If You Remember the Sixties You Weren’t There?

If you remember the ’60s, as the joke goes, you weren’t there. It was the perfect storm of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. A hippie haze of happy days. And a few not-so-happy days.
Dozens of books have been written about the decade, but 40 years later, author Rob Kirkpatrick has narrowed it all down to one epic year: 1969.

The subtitle of his new book, 1969: The Year Everything Changed (Skyhorse Publishing, 288 pp., $24.95), may sound hyperbolic, but Kirkpatrick makes a good case that it was a year “of landmark achievements, cataclysmic episodes and generation-defining events.”

“A lot of people talk about 1967 as ‘The Summer of Love’ and 1968 as ‘The Year the Dream Died,’ but there wasn’t one book about 1969. It fills a gap,” says Kirkpatrick, 41, who was 1 year old when rain fell on the throngs of rock fans at Woodstock.

1968 had seen the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Then came 1969, which Kirkpatrick calls “a year of extremes.” It was a tumultuous time when it seemed as if history were being made almost every day:

The top ten songs of 1965 were incredible…does anyone know them? All classics.

1. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
2. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
3. In The Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett
4. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown
5. My Generation – The Who
6. Mr. Tambourine Man – Byrds / Bob Dylan
7. Yesterday – Beatles
8. The Sounds Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
9. Ticket To Ride – Beatles
10. The Tracks Of My Tears – Miracles

A President With a MySpace and Facebook Page!?

As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.
Judging by Obama’s savvy use of social-networking sites during his campaign and the interactive nature of his transition team’s Web site, Americans can expect a president who bypasses the traditional media’s filters while reaching out to citizens for input, observers say.

“The rebooting of our democracy has begun,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. ” Obama has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy.”
During the presidential race, Obama’s campaign won praise for its innovative use of social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and, to announce events, rally volunteers and raise money. Facebook has more than 150 million active users, and the average user has 100 friends on the site, according to the company.

Obama has more than 1 million MySpace “friends” and more than 3.7 million “supporters” on his official Facebook page — some 700,000 more than when he was elected in November. His campaign also has a database of almost 13 million supporters and their e-mail addresses.

Transition officials hope to transform Obama’s vast Web operation and electronic list of supporters into a 21st-century tool to help accomplish his goals as president. They even have a name for this ambitious effort: Obama 2.0.

“Obama has invented an alternative media model,” said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. “In the old model, the president talks to the people on television [and] the people talk back in polls. In the new model, communication is online, and two-way.”

Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter didn’t exist when George W. Bush took office eight years ago. But since last November’s election, Obama has wasted no time embracing these online communication portals. In recent weeks he has taped weekly video addresses and posted them to YouTube, where most have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Obama’s staffers also have stopped posting information to social-networking sites since the election, preferring to reach out to constituents through YouTube and, the official site of the president-elect’s transition team. Visitors to can read a frequently updated blog, post their ideas on issues facing the country, and rate others’ ideas. Top-rated ideas will be gathered into a briefing book and given to Obama after he takes office.

“They want information going not just from them to the voters, but from the voters back to them,” Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said Wednesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “Thirteen million people pushing a button, sending an e-mail to their elected representatives, making a phone call, taking action, is a powerful, powerful lobbying tool.”

“It’s a very smart use of the Internet, to get people to offer ideas,” said David All, a Republican Internet strategist. All hopes that Obama and his staff take a similar approach to, the president’s official Web site. The current site, operated by the Bush administration, contains few interactive features.

A statement on the president-elect’s transition site says that Obama hopes to “use cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens.”

It’s fitting, then, that Obama’s inauguration next week could be one of the most watched video events in Internet history. Rasiej expects that hordes of users will be watching online when Obama takes the oath of office, visiting and refreshing their browsers to capture the moment the site switches to proclaim Obama, not George W. Bush, as president.

As president, Obama will likely not just rely on but use multiple Internet sites and technological tools to build grass-roots support for his agenda, observers say.

Obama is using the tools that are available to him today. The next president will be using some of the same tools, and also some tools that haven’t been invented yet.

Marketing in 2009, Don’t Panic.

Don’t panic.
The earth will keep spinning on its axis and marketers of all stripes will need to communicate and persuade customers and prospects. Focus on the basic issues in your business. Invest extra time and energy to find new ways to conceive, craft and transmit messages that better differentiate and more clearly communicate the value and the urgency of your brand.

Don’t Get Distracted.

The economy is in a free fall. Most of us hope Obama knows more than we do. We pray that he and all those new appointees have a really good plan. He might.

But whatever he’s got up his sleeve won’t make things better on January 22nd. So focus on the stuff you can affect yourselves. Ignore things you have no control over. We all have to assume the notion that most things are out of our control so we have to use our time and energy wisely to impact the handful of things we actually can exert control over; mostly ourselves. Take a short-term focus. Cover each month’s bills. Take one step forward after the next. Try to ignore the daily doomsday screeching and then endless warnings that the sky is falling down.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.

Great relationships are forged in adversity. Now is the time to stick close to your clients and your people. Mine and harness the energy, the goodwill, the advocacy, the insights and the ideas that often go unexploited during the normal course of business. Invest in each other. Hold up your value proposition to a 360 SWOT analysis. Find new and better ways to reach out your customers.

Don’t Ignore Your Network.

Social networking demonstrates that we are linked together. We are navigating this crisis together. So leverage your connections. Reach out to others. Ask questions, share ideas and share resources. The whole is stronger than the sum of the parts, so leverage the whole. Remember that the value of a network expands exponentially with use. An unused network degrades rapidly.

Don’t Bring Coupons to a Party.

Social media is evolving, emerging and morphing everyday. You wouldn’t come to a party at my house and pass out coupons. We’d think you were rude and gross. Facebook, MySpace and others are the digital online equivalents of that party. Understand the media and enter cautiously recognizing that the brand is NOT in control, consumers are. Take your cues from them and respect their sensibilities.

Don’t Stop Experimenting.

We are in the “wild west” phase of social, mobile and online video media. There are no ideas that are too crazy especially since our technologists are inventing, extending and mashing up new things daily. The recession makes these platforms and the creative content to fuel them affordable and measurable. So get below your competitor’s radar and play around with images, messages and media. Who knows maybe your “wild” idea will become the new “best practices”?

Don’t Ignore Mobile Media.
The new generation of Blackberries and the iPhone are important steps on the evolutionary path toward a single multi-purpose device that combines, integrates, synchronizes and aggregates computers, the Internet, telephony, credit and debit cards, digital photography, and who knows what could be next. And while it might take a few years for the number of daily users to reach hundreds of millions, this phenomenon will be upon us before you know what hit you. That means NOW is the time to get familiar with mobile media. Begin thinking about the idea of constant access to the Net and constant consumer motion and communication. This development will forever change they way we stimulate brand awareness, preference and purchase and change shopping expectations and behavior in ways we can’t yet predict..

Don’t Write Off Direct Marketing.

When marketing money gets tight, bean counters rule. Direct marketing continues to enjoy great public acceptance, strong ROI, measurability and an under-exposed degree of creativity and inventiveness. Direct mail, DRTV, telemarketing and other DM tactics are proven result-getters which can be pulsed or turned off, and on at will. Expect smart marketers to default to direct marketing and look for smart DM players to do well in hard times.

Don’t Forget to Measure What Matters.

Most marketing is assessed two ways. We measure effectiveness in returning profitable business results and we count efficiency in terms of the value received compared to the cost, usually expressed in some form of ROI calculation. There are millions of other distracting and partially relevant things to count, sort and calculate. But in a recession focus on two simple questions; “How much profitable new business did this drive?” and “Was it worth it?”

Don’t Abandon Customer Satisfaction.

Acquiring new customers costs a multiple of delighting and retaining existing ones. In tough times you need the efficiency of happy customers referring their friends. Focus on customer service. Talk to customers. Listen to them too. Solicit their ideas and feedback. Institute loyalty and reward programs. Do whatever you can to encourage them to buy more. Emphasize customer service and include the voice of your customer in your product and marketing plans.

What Obama Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing. Part I.

obama nikes
Baby boomers and Gen Xers declared mass marketing dead long ago. We live in a world of fragmented media surrounded by cynical consumers who can spot and block an ad message from a mile away. But what Gen Xers and boomers may not realize is that the unabashed embrace of select brands by millennials, from technology to beverages to fashion, has made this decade a true golden era of marketing for those who know what they’re doing. And when it comes to marketing, the Barack Obama campaign knows what it’s doing.
Mr. Obama’s brand management, unprecedented in presidential politics, shows pitch-perfect understanding of the keys to appealing to the youngest voters.
Snapshot 2008-08-12 09-58-49
Perhaps inevitably, among the first apps introduced for Apple’s new iPhone — the latest success from another millennial mass marketer — was an Obama “Countdown to Change” calendar that ticks off the seconds until Election Day.

So what’s the appeal to the under-30 set? True, the youth vote traditionally skews Democratic, but the difference this year is that Mr. Obama has actually motivated turnout. His success, it seems, is a result of both product and the branding behind it. The qualities he projects — a cool, smooth aura, the communal values of hope and unity, his teeming crowds and his campaign’s seamless graphics — are the essence of appealing to millennials.

“Millennials want someone smart, funny and with a slight edge,” observes Allison Mooney, who tracks youth trends for Fleishman-Hillard’s Next Great Thing. Mr. Obama’s occasional prickly moments, as when he dismissed Mr. McCain’s recent ad comparing him to Paris Hilton — “Is this the best you can do?” — shows them he gets it. “Obama’s kind of mellow. He doesn’t have polarizing views.”

Microsoft Makes Deal with Facebook

Microsoft recently failed in its pursuit of Yahoo. It is paying people to use its search engine. Now Microsoft thinks it has found a promising source of users for its foundering search service: Facebook, the social networking site.
Microsoft said Thursday at a meeting with financial analysts at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., that it would soon begin providing Web search services and associated advertisements by the end of the year on the American portion of the popular social network.
It makes sense in business the adage location, location , location is the mantra retailers use as one of the keys to successful business. “One of the issues with Microsoft search is that people just haven’t been exposed to it,” said Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm. “Familiarity and inertia keep people using what they use on the Web.”
To Microsoft, Facebook is a quick way to expand the audience for its search engine. More than 29 million people actively use Facebook in the United States. They will soon see prominent displays of Microsoft’s Live Search box on their friends’ and their own Facebook pages.

The agreement augments an existing advertising deal that the companies struck in 2006 and later expanded globally. Microsoft already sells and manages display advertisements on Facebook. Last October, the companies inched even closer together when Microsoft invested $240 millionfor a 5 percent ownership stake in Facebook.

The search deal could be a lift to Microsoft as it seeks to catch up with Google and Yahoo in the search business. In June, Google accounted for 61.5 percent of search queries in the United States, dwarfing Yahoo, with 20.9 percent, and Microsoft, with 9.2 percent of queries, according to tracking firm comScore. One of the reasons Microsoft pursued Yahoo so doggedly this year was to increase its share in the overall market.

The deal marks the second important distribution agreement for Microsoft’s search service in as many months. In June, Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest PC maker, agreed to put Microsoft’s service on its desktops.

Chinese Revolution Fueled by Capitalism?

Snapshot 2008-07-07 06-11-21
In 2003 Communist leaders planed to amend China’s constitution to formally enshrine the ideology of Jiang Zemin, the recently retired leader who invited capitalists to join the Communist Party. Despite sweeping economic and social changes, the political status of China’s entrepreneurs is still ambiguous.

They included the communist era’s first guarantee of property rights. Certain amendments are still needed to promote economic and social development, said the party newspaper People’s Daily. It said the changes were meant to cope with accelerating globalization and advances in science and technology.

Jiang’s theory, the awkwardly named “Three Represents,” calls for the 67 million-member party to embrace capitalists, updating its traditional role as a “vanguard of the working class” and for the constitution to formally uphold property rights and the rights of entrepreneurs. Anyone who has visited Shanghai since and saw Beijing last summer will attest to the populace there embracing capitalism for sure.

As someone who has more than a passing acquaintance with China, I see this is as a big change indeed. Even under most dire oppression you cannot entirely stop people exchanging goods and services.

And so it was in the countries of the former Communist bloc, although the private sector was not officially recognized, there were shades of grey in the ‘socialist worker economy’.

Former Yugoslavia, for example, ventured furthest in its recognition of private enterprise and some semblance of property rights and in return relatively prospered. Also in practice, Poland and Hungary were kinder to their small landowners and tradesmen than the communist ideologues allowed.

Nevertheless, there was no question of formally acknowledging property rights and any form of private enterprise by governments whose grasp of economics was based entirely on Marxism. It was one thing to tolerate existence of non-state markets and even benefit from them, but changing their opposition to individual’s property rights, so firmly embedded in political systems that were barely surviving, would have been a political, ideological and social suicide.

China’s development has been very different to that of Eastern Europe, politically and economically, although both were waving the Red Flag. The proposed change to the China’s constitution may have amounted to a symbolic amendment given that China’s entrepreneurs have driven its two-decade-old economic boom. But then, symbols can be very powerful. Once the gates are open as they were during the Olympics it will be nearly impossible to close them.
Snapshot 2008-07-07 06-13-23ts
The young Chinese love and embrace capitalism, heck they have downloaded Avril Lavigne’s music and images 38 million times. And that love affair with consumerism has created a new non-violent and more powerful revolution than Tiananmen or the West could ever have hoped to achieve with sanctions and posturing.

This blog was inspired by two icons I pinched from “Wheretonext_quotes”…thanks again for finding them
Snapshot 2008-07-07 06-12-22

Remember the Adage, “Location, Location, Location?” Starbucks Forgot This Gem.

Remember the adage, “Location, location, location?” Starbucks forgot this gem. Starbucks was so determined to meet its growth promises to Wall Street that it relaxed its standards for selecting new store locations.

In some cases, brokers say, Starbucks misjudged the risks of putting stores close to each other, leading to the decline in same-store sales that the company started reporting for the first time in its history this year.

It also overextended itself in certain regions, like in the South and in Southern California, which are among the hardest hit by the housing crisis, and whose older demographics and hot weather are not generally conducive to creating long lines of customers eager to pay $4 for foam-top lattes.

“The economy exposed all the flaws in their thinking,” said one commercial real estate broker, who, like some others interviewed for this article, did not want to be named in order to preserve his relationship with the company.

That “flaws” and “Starbucks” are even in the same sentence when it comes to commercial real estate is a reversal for the company. For much of the last 15 years, Starbucks commercial real estate executives were known for their rigor in selecting locations.

In evaluating locations, Starbucks looked past commonly used community demographic information to analyze nitty-gritty specifics, like the education level in various neighborhoods. It also studied traffic flow on both sides of each street, to make sure drivers could make an easy right turn for their java fix on their way to the office.

“Starbucks rewrote the book on expansion and how to grow multiple store units, really in the world,” said Craig Sweitzer, founder of Urban Works Real Estate in Portland, Ore., who has worked with Starbucks for 18 years. “No one had ever done that before, and now everyone copies them.”

Not so fast all you “copy cats”

Extra point…now that Starbucks has raised the bar for what is accepted as a good cup of Joe everyone can attack the seattle boys! I would like to thank “wheretonext2 for this telling icon!
Snapshot 2008-07-06 14-26-01