Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to publish your own book as a hardcover or ebook

A couple weeks ago I published a post with the suggestion to write a story for a child for the holidays.

This year for Christmas I wrote stories for my two older kids. It was a real thrill to watch them open these presents and get excited about a book written for them.

For my daughter I wrote a book about a trip we took that included many family photographs as well as some pictures I got off the Internet. This book I created using Shutterfly, which has improved its online tool since I last made a book a couple years ago.

The other book, for my son who is older, was a longer work, about 23,000 words with no pictures. I published it on a site called, where I was able to get a nicely bound hardcover. They even gave me a coupon for $15 off the cost of the first copy, so I could have had a bound copy for about $8 plus shipping. I also published an ebook version, just to see what it takes to do that. You can download a free ebook version of the book by clicking here or by copying and pasting this link into your browser:

How to publish your own book:
I was surprised at how easy it was to publish a book, and wanted to share the steps I followed with to produce a hardcover and ebook version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

1) First, you need to write the book, of course. You can write it in any word processing program that you want. I used Word. If you are going to have images, then you need to embed images in the document itself. If you are going to just produce an ebook, there aren't limits on the size of your book, that I am aware of at least. If you are going to produce a hardcover book, then it needs to be at least 110 pages. My book was just barely long enough.

2) Sign up and create an account on

3) Decide on the size of the hardcover book you want to create. I chose the 6"x9" version - a standard size for hardcovers. Then I downloaded a Word template from that was set up for that. I could have used my own template, but the template had the margins just right, and had the page numbers in the right place.

4) Copy and paste your book's text into the template. (I wouldn't find their template very convenient to write a book in, but you could if you wanted to.)

5) Create a table of contents page. You don't need to do any fancy formatting if you are going to just produce a hardcover. If you want to produce an ebook, you need to find the Chapter titles of each chapter, and highlight those in Headline 1 format, so the ebook reader will be able to create a hyperlinked table of contents.

6) Create a copyright page. gives you an example. They also give you an ISBN, which you are supposed to include on the copyright page.

7) Upload your document to The website converts it into a pdf for you and gets it printer-ready.

8) Create a cover for your book. You can design your own cover from scratch, or use's design tool, which lets you upload photos. I used their tool.

9) Write the "publisher's description" of your book, and follow a few more simple instructions, and you are done.

If you are publishing an ebook, it becomes available on immediately. If you are publishing a hardcover book, it will take about 10 days to get your book in the mail if you chose expedited shipping. My books aren't available on yet, but says that it takes about 6-8 weeks, since updates their inventory only monthly.

Through the site, I'm not sure exactly how to get the ebook onto a Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, so I haven't been able to test it. I did successfully download the book onto an iPad, though.

Pricing: lets you set your own pricing for your hardcover book. They have a minimum cost that depends on the type of binding and the number of pages. My book, for example, with a hardcover and 110 pages and a color cover, had a minimum fixed cost of about $23. You can set your own royalty, and just adds the royalty plus some margin to that minimum fixed cost.

For the ebook, you can choose to make the price equal to zero. I was worried that I might have to pay something, but the whole process was free to me. So if all you care about is getting your work read, and you aren't trying to make money off it, you can publish an ebook for free and your readers can download the book for free. If you choose to charge something for the ebook, then takes a cut of the price.

I was very happy with as a platform for getting a hardcover book printed at a relatively modest cost. I expect there are plenty of other services that are just as good and easy to use. Given that gives you $15 off the first copy of your book, even if you produce a hardcover, it will cost less than $20 including shipping.

Now that I know how easy it is to publish an ebook, I have a few other writing projects in mind. Next time, I might see if there is another platform that can get the book listed on Amazon more quickly.

Here is a copy of the hardcover version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Yelp as a challenge to Google

When I need to find a pharmacy, or a Starbucks, or a gas station, my starting place is usually the Google Maps app on my iPhone.

But my wife finds herself using the Yelp app more and more often as her default starting place in searches for local businesses, and definitely when searching for a nearby restaurant.

Google isn't about to lose its #1 position in search anytime soon, but the rapid rise of Yelp within the local business category shows that Google's predominance won't necessarily last forever.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ideas for real estate agents

I've lived at four different addresses since I moved to New York City a decade ago. I suspect that moving every two to three years in New York City is pretty typical, or at least within one standard deviation of the norm.

What strikes me is that I've used a real estate broker for each of my four moves and that none of them ever contacted me after the move. Some ideas for real estate agents:

1) I imagine that customer acquisition cost is a significant fraction of your total expenses. That is the main function of a real estate office, after all. It would probably be cheaper to retain past customers than to acquire new ones. Ways to do this:
- Follow up with a phone call a month after the renter moves in to a new apartment - how did the move go? Is everything working? Happy with the new place?
- Send a personal holiday card
- Send out a periodic email, not so frequently to be annoying, but often enough so that you stay on the renter's radar screen. Probably once a quarter would be ideal. You could say, "Over the past three months I've helped __ families move into the neighborhood; I'm currently showing the following apartments at the following rates. If you know anyone moving in to the area who needs help finding a place, I'd be glad to help them out." Include a link to your website.
- Give something of interest / value: Include in that periodic email an update on rental prices and sale prices in my neighborhood. Many people who rent in our neighborhood might be thinking about buying a place eventually. If they got an email from you once a quarter with prices, who do you think they would call first when they do decide to buy?

From time to time I'll see an email on one of the alumni lists that I subscribe to, from someone looking to move to New York City. If I got contacted regularly by an agent, I'd connect the two of them.

- Build relationships with other real estate brokers in other parts of the city. If one of your past customers decides to move to lower Manhattan, you could be the one to put them in touch with a trusted broker there.

Transform your thinking about the job from a transaction-based role to a relationship-based role. Think about lifetime customer value. How many more times in the future might that customer need to move and use your services?

2) A much broader area of opportunity is moving beyond the narrow role of real estate broker to be a broker of relationships in the community. When someone moves into the area, there are a lot more things the person needs beyond a house or apartment:
+ Car mechanic
+ Pediatrician
+ Dentist
+ Accountant
+ Attorney
+ Financial advisor
+ Insurance
+ Babysitter
+ Connection to the local political establishment
+ Advice on schools
+ Handyman
+ Party rental space

Reviews on the Internet may eventually cover these categories in a comprehensive way, but I suspect that is still several years off. In the meantime, we'll still turn to our neighbors and friends for referrals to people they trust. Real estate brokers could play that role of connector.

I'm not sure what the best business model is. Should brokers give the referrals for free, hoping that referrals come back? Should there be an explicit commission?

3) Groupon and similar sites have demonstrated the power of highly targeted local advertising. Real estate agents could curate and offer to past customers deals that are tailored to their situations. The value to the businesses is that the deals could be hidden from the market, made exclusive to these customers, and so not impact their regular prices.

This option could be managed by a third party, and I can imagine someone building a business based on real estate agent customer lists.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Life is like a river. Or maybe it is more like a tidal strait

The idea that life is like a river seems so natural, it hardly makes sense to question it.

Back around 500 BC, Heraclitus said "You cannot step twice into the same river," and that seems a pretty decent aphorism about time, and about life.

The most powerful modern image of this idea that I'm familiar with is the young boy sitting on the bank of the river.

But what if life is more like a tidal strait than a river? That thought has occurred to me several times in the morning as I run along Astoria Park on the Queens-side of the East River.

The East River is poorly named, because it is not a river at all. It is a tidal strait. It connects Upper New York Bay to Long Island Sound. During parts of the day, you can see the East River flowing south, towards New York Bay, in the same direction of the Hudson, and this matches one's intuition of the direction the East River ought to flow.

But then at other times during the day, the direction reverses. As the tide changes, you see the water start flowing to your right (from the Queens perspective), or to the northeast.

It isn't a smooth transition, either. The East River doesn't slowly come to a standstill, then start flowing slowly in the opposite direction, then pick up its pace. No, the current starts to flow violently north, but along the edges it seems like the East River hasn't got the memo, and the water is still trying to flow south, and you see dangerous eddies where these two currents meet.

And it is quite dangerous. The biggest single loss of life in New York City before 9-11 was the General Slocum Disaster, a passenger steamboat that caught fire in 1904 in the East River. 1,021 out of 1,342 people on board died.

So what if life is more like a tidal strait?

People come into your life, then the tide carries them on. But some of those people, the tide brings them back into your life. The current is confused and dangerous, not flowing in one direction. Rather, multiple currents are flowing in both directions, interacting, twirling, competing. The flow doesn't fit your intuition, and the direction depends on when and where you try to measure it. You can dip your toe into it, and you just might dip your toe into the same tidal strait twice, if you time it right.

A tidal strait isn't as tidy a metaphor as a river, but seems richer with possibilities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Needed: Netflix meets Yelp; Netflix meets TripAdvisor

This post based on a suggestion by my wife:

The reviews of restaurants on Yelp and of accommodations on TripAdvisor are a great start - they help us discover places we might not have found otherwise. And they are giving a boost to the locally owned business as opposed to the chains.

The extra value you are paying for at Panera or a Marriott, after all, is that you can trust the place to be pretty decent, just like the ones you've eaten at or stayed at before. But if you can get this level of trust in an independently owned establishment from Yelp or Tripadvisor, you don't need that brand quite as much.

But for this transformation to truly take hold, we need Yelp and TripAdvisor to mature to the point where we can see the reviews from people like us. We need a Netflix-style recommendation engine that takes into account our preferences as expressed in our past reviews.

If the person reviewing a local restaurant also gave Subway five stars, I don't trust that person, and I want their opinions filtered out.

When Yelp and Tripadvisor can take my past reviews into account, they will dramatically increase my willingness to contribute reviews, because then I'll be creating value for myself. The more places I review, and the more thoughtfully I review them, the better the site will work for me.

If Yelp and Tripadvisor don't do this, some site surely will.

Same goes for Amazon: I want to the book reviews of people whose preferences are similar to mine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cover letters - how and why

Cover letter tips:

Include the contents of your cover letter in the body of your email, even if you want to go ahead and attach it as well.


1. Person receiving it might be reading your email on their smartphone, where opening attachments is sometimes a hassle. If you don't have the cover letter in the email itself, it might never get read at all.

2. Some positions get so many responses, that people don't even have time to open all the attachments, even if they ARE at their desktop or laptop.

3. Some people are wary of opening attachments, since they are concerned the attachment might have a virus. Prove you are a real person by writing a tailored cover letter in the email.

4. And include your contact info - all the relevant coordinates, in the body of the email. That means cellphone, email address as a minimum, and Skype, Twitter, instant messaging etc. if relevant.

Is writing a good cover letter a lot of work? Yes. And that is a good thing, because it is a filter that will separate you from the chaff - those people who email resumes out willy-nilly.

I used to wonder, "What is the point of a cover letter? They'll see my resume and see that I'm qualified." What changed my perspective has been posting several dozen job posting over the past several years, both to help clients fill full-time roles, as well as hiring subcontractors and to do various odd jobs. The employer isn't particularly interested in the leadership positions you held in college, or the responsibilities you successfully executed as the Assistant Associate District Area Manager. The employer wants to know:

A) Who are you, in just a few words?
B) Why are you a good fit for this particular role we are trying to fill at OUR company? How can you help us?
C) Do we know anyone in common who will vouch for you?
D) How did you hear about the job posting? [employer is curious which method of advertising the role is working]
E) Where do you live? Are you going to have to relocate?
F) When are you available? Can you start right away? [If you are available, that is good, because the employer needs you to start tomorrow, but it is also bad, because no one wants to hire the guy who just got fired for cheating on his expenses.]
G) Why are you available?

Answers these questions in as few words as possible.

Read your cover out loud - does it sound like a human wrote it? Or does it sound like a cut and paste job from a book of cover letter examples?

Check to make sure there are no grammatical mistakes or typos.

Didn't find any? Check again - odds are you missed one.

Now send the cover letter.

Attach your resume as a PDF, so what they see is what you see. Otherwise, they may have a different version of Word, and the formatting will be all cross-eyed. Also attach a PDF of your cover letter. If possible, combine them so the employer only has to open and print one file. (Remember, they just received 100 emails. Do you like to open 100 emails and print all the attachments?)

Oh, and finally: think about the naming convention you use for your cover letter and resume.

Good: Will_Bachman_Resume.pdf, Will_Bachman_CoverLetter.pdf

Not so good: WillBachman_Resume for high tech firms.pdf
[Oh, so this is your customized resume, and you are applying to a bunch of industries?]

Even worse: Resume-final-high tech firms- with edits from Mom.pdf
[Someone may be trying to detach these files and save them in a folder. Not including your name makes it hard to find your resume.]

Okay - last point:
Send from a respectable email address. Your own email address. Not your girlfriend's, or your son's. Yes, people do this. You'd be surprised.

Monday, December 19, 2011


A brand on the shelves in a store in the Galapagos, Ecuador.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Visit our wilderness

Something poignant about an advertising campaign encouraging people to go visit a wilderness.

"the largest wilderness in the Southeast.... but not if we can help it."

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Geotagging the Tourists" in New York magazine

Great piece in New York magazine: a map of the city that plots all the photos taken by tourists (and which were geotagged and uploaded to Flickr.

Eric Fischer, who made the graphic, has created similar ones for many other cities. These graphics can be found on Flickr.


Friday, December 16, 2011

In case of emergency

This is the tram that takes passengers from one end to the other of Terminal D at Miami International Airport.

I wouldn't want to be inside the car in the event of a fire with loss of lighting. To open the escape hatch, all you need to do is follow steps one through eight.

Here, with the lights on, how long does it take you just to find the cover to the button you have to press in step 1?


People taking pictures

It is usually more fun taking pictures of people taking pictures of something than taking pictures of that thing.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I think this is an interesting approach.

I looked at the sign and said to myself:
Cones - OK.
Burgers - OK
Fries - OK
Hot Dogs - OK
Sundaes - OK
Concretes - Huh?

I assume that is exactly the response that the marketing team hoped I would have. "What is a concrete? Is that a term I should know? Let me check it out and see what that is."

If all the other terms were also unfamiliar, it wouldn't work.

It didn't manage to lure me into the restaurant, but in case you are wondering, I did look it up on their website:

Q: What is a concrete?
A: A concrete starts with three scoops of Frozen Custard blended at high speed with any of our Shack-made mix-ins. Order one of our specialties or make your own!

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Math

I just discovered the site New Math, which uses equations to describe the world.

Definitely worth checking out.

Here is an example:

Placebo = Pill - Medicine

In case the link above doesn't work, the site is:

Monday, December 12, 2011

The two-day "one-day sale"

Macy's "One-Day Sale" is running on December 13 and December 14. I guess it is a "Two-Dale Sale" at 50% off?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The new iPad 3: it bends!

For a moment, I thought, well Apple has done it again. An iPad that you can bend and flex! It is revolutionary! This will change everything!

And then I realized that the billboard was just bent.

What gave me pause, though, was that it was easy to believe that Apple had done it.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The "don't bring a spare" rule

If you are worried about losing a widget that you need, don't bring a spare.

It seems to be a general rule that you are far more likely to lose both widgets, since you won't keep track of either one of them with the attention you would if you just have one.

On the other hand, if your widget is likely to break, or run out, then by all means be prepared and do bring a spare.

Short version of this post:

Worried about loss? --> Bring just one
Might break/die? --> Bring spare

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two recommended ebooks, both free, released this week

1. Seth Godin's Domino Project has just released a free ebook called
The Flinch, by Julien Smith. The short book, really a longish essay,
is a close cousin to Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. (Steven
Pressfield's "Resistance," which Seth Godin refers to as the "lizard
brain," is here known as "the flinch.")

The book includes a set of exercises designed to train you to get over
"the flinch," that fight or flight instinct that was useful in helping
us escape from bears, but not so helpful in the modern world where it
keeps us from accomplishing our dreams. The first exercise, for
example, has you take a cold shower. As you stick your hand in and
feel the cold water running, experience that instinct in your chest
telling you to skip this stupid exercise. Really savor that feeling.
Then step in. Do this seven days in a row. The goal is to learn that
you won't die from pain, and to train yourself to face the
uncomfortable. After day one of trying this experiment, I will attest
that I felt the "flinch" while still in bed, dreading that cold
shower, and that the cold water in December in New York City is not
making me look forward to day two of the exercise. The next exercise
is to take a mug (empty / not your favorite one), hold it out at arm's
length, and drop it on the floor. That one should be a little easier
than the cold showers. Here is a link to the book:

2. Chris Guillebeau, the writer and travel hacker who is on a
five-year mission to travel to every country in the world (19 left),
has released a new manifesto about leaving a legacy. It is free and
available for download at:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Please smoke (??)

Two questions:
1. Is this a request to all students?
2. 50 feet from the entrances to the school, or 50 feet from ALL building entrances? (Might be interesting to see what percent of NYC surface area meets that condition.)

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Write a story for a child this holiday season

A piece that I wrote has been published on, and is reprinted below. For Christmas this year I've written stories for both Alejandra and Samuel, but shhh! it is a secret. Once I can figure out the technology, I'll publish the story I wrote for Samuel as a free ebook and announce it on the site here.

[Update on December 14:
I've published the story on You can download a free ebook version here:

I can't imagine anyone other than me would want to buy a hardcover version of the book, but it is available here for $23.44

Publishing the book on was free, and they even gave me a credit to purchase one hardcover copy of the book for free - that is the one Samuel will get for Christmas. I'll be writing a post on how the process works and providing a link here within the next day.]

Is there a young child in your life? A son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandson or granddaughter? Consider writing that child a story this holiday season instead of buying a gift. The suggestion applies especially if you do not consider yourself a writer. First we’ll talk about why, then how to do it.

Why write a story?

The world is full of children’s books, why write another children’s story? Four reasons:

1) If you write the story, you can include the child in the story, along with the names of her friends or family members. You can set the story in a location the child is familiar with. It is a real thrill for a child to be read a story in which she is a main character.

2) You’ll serve as a fantastic role model, giving the child a message that anybody can write, and that it is fun to write. There is a good chance the child who receives your story will want to tell her own. If she doesn’t know how to write yet, you can take a video of her telling the story, or offer to transcribe it. Then ask her to draw some pictures to accompany the text. If the child is older and already knows how to read, watch out for her to go off and try her hand at writing her own story.

3) As you challenge your mind, it will do wonders for your own creativity. If you don’t think of yourself as a writer, particularly as a fiction writer, you may surprise yourself at what happens if you allow your imagination to roam across a page. You could very well get some creative juices flowing that get you picking up an old hobby you once enjoyed, or coming up with more creative ideas at work. When you get your creative engine working in one area, it doesn’t observe boundaries.

4) The child gets the message that the best way to show your love with a gift is not to buy another gadget in a store, but to make something.

How to write a story for a child

1) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Try customizing a common story or fable. Think “Sophia and The Three Bears.” Or “Frog and Toad and Julia.” You’re not going to get prosecuted for non-commercial use of a story at home. So feel free to incorporate favorite characters from whatever source. Your daughter could join Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund on a trip back to Narnia. Or fly to Neverland with Peter Pan. Or head to Wonderland with Alice.

2) Younger children particularly seem to like stories with a refrain that gets repeated multiple times, because they can help recite the story. The Eric Carle books are a great example of how to challenge your mind.

3) For younger children, incorporate pictures. You don’t need to draw illustrations: you can use family photos, or perhaps postcards that you purchased on a trip.

4) As noted above, place the child in the story, along with her friends or brothers and sisters, or pets.

Once your creative engine has completed the plot line, added photos or artwork, and arranged the layout, here’s how to present the story.

The best way to show your love? Give the story to your children and read it together.
1) If you want to keep it simple, and you are including both text and pictures, you can just tape it up and put the pages in page protectors in a binder.

2) If you get more ambitious, you can create a book on Shutterfly, Blurb, or one of the numerous other print-on-demand services.

Don’t worry about creating a Newbury Medal-winning masterpiece. The fact that you wrote a story will mean a lot more to your child than the literary quality. They’re almost certain to treasure the gift for longer than anything you could buy on Amazon.

Shortest detour in New York City

At nine feet, three inches, this may be the shortest detour in New York City. Or perhaps anywhere, ever:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bic headquarters

I happened to wander into the Bic headquarters in Shelton, CT, slightly lost and looking for another company, and just had to take these pictures to share.

In the lobby, they've got a chandelier made out of Bic pens: awesome!

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

And the whole building looks like a Bic product:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The speech I wish Joe Paterno had made

In the speech Joe Paterno actually gave on November 8, 2011, he said, "The kids who were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you." And then Paterno indicated he was resigning effective at the end of the season: "I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can." I can't find a link to the full text of his speech, but if someone sends in to me, I'd like to include it.

Here is the speech I wish he had made instead, on November 6, the day after the Grand Jury indictment against Jerry Sandusky was made known:

[Scene: press conference on the lawn of Joe Paterno’s house. November 6, 2011. Joe Paterno approaches the microphone]

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming. This will be my last press conference as the Head Coach of Football at Penn State.

In 2002 I made a terrible mistake that has haunted me to this day and will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.

As you now know, I was informed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary that he had observed our defensive coordinator at the time, Jerry Sandusky, perform “incidents in the bathroom” with a young boy. The next day, I informed Athletic Director Tim Curley of what I had heard from McQueary. I also subsequently informed Gary Schultz, director of business and finance, who oversaw the University Police. At the time, I considered that by informing my supervisors, I had done what was legally required of me.

Of course, there can be a large gap between doing what is legally required and doing what is right.
It is clear that I should have been far more aggressive in questioning Mike McQueary about exactly what he saw. It is clear that I should have not only informed my supervisors, but should have ensured that the police were immediately informed and that the incident that McQueary reported to me was fully investigated.

Jerry Sandusky has now been indicted by a Grand Jury, and it is alleged that he molested other boys after I was informed of this bathroom incident in my program’s own locker room. If I had acted with more moral courage, if I had done what was right, these boys would not have been molested, I am convinced.

It is difficult to live with myself, knowing that I could have, and should have, prevented the harm that occurred to these boys.

Throughout my career at Penn State, I have always sought to follow the highest ethical standards, even when not absolutely required. I have taught my players, and believed myself, that there is not a trade-off between following the more difficult, more ethical route and being successful on the field or in life. In fact, I’ve taught and believed that doing the right thing is not only the right thing to do, but the best way to win.

So I’ve worked to run a program with high graduation rates, because I believe that students should come to college to get an education, and not just play in a minor league for the NFL.
So I’ve kept our uniforms free of doo-dads and endorsements and stickers, because I want the team to play as a team, not an advertisement.

So I’ve adhered to the spirit and not only the letter of recruiting requirements, even if it meant we lost a player we would have liked to have had.

And now, with my failure to act in 2002, with my failure of moral courage, I’ve disappointed the many people who I’ve tried to inspire with my own example over the past five decades.

Why did I fail to act?

I have wrestled with that for nine years now.

There are reasons, none of them adequate.

It was difficult for me to believe these accusations against Jerry Sandusky, who was not only an important part of my team, but a good friend.

I am ashamed to say that I must have been influenced by a fear of tainting my program if word of this crime were to get out.

Within days or weeks of learning about the incident, I quickly came to believe that I should have done more. But then it became even harder to act. People would have asked me, “Why did it take you five days, five weeks, five months to come forward?” The more time passed, the harder it became to ensure these allegations were properly addressed.

For years I have known that this day would come, when word would get out, when Sandusky would be caught, when my failure to act would become known. I have dreaded this day at the same time I could have taken action to prevent it.

And now that my own failing has come to light, I have no choice but to resign as Head Coach, effective immediately. I can no longer effectively serve as the leader of the program and as a role model to my players.

While this step is obviously a deep disappointment to me, I would ask that no one write or think that it is a shame that my career has ended this way. What happened to those boys that Jerry Sandusky molested is far, far worse than the feelings of an old man.

I hope that my resignation today, in my last act as Head Coach, will serve as one final lesson to the players that I’ve coached and the fans that have supported our team.

If you are informed that someone may be molesting a child – don’t just inform someone. Follow up and make sure that the monster is stopped. Do not relent.

More broadly, when you have a choice of following the letter of the law or doing the right thing, do the right thing. There are very few times in your life, really, when you get tested in this way. It is a difficult thing to prepare oneself for. Perhaps the example of my own disgrace will help my players and fans find the courage to act when they themselves face this test.
These are my plans now:

Once the media circus has died down, I would like to be able to apologize, in person, to each of the boys that Sandusky molested. I want to look them in the eye and tell them how deeply sorry I am that I did not prevent what happened to them.

I plan to transfer a significant portion of my estate to a fund that has been set up to provide some compensation to the victims of Jerry Sandusky. While my attorneys assure me that I am not legally liable, as I did what was strictly required, I think that I am morally liable to these boys. While money won’t take away what happened to them, it’s the best way I can think of. Put your money where your mouth is, as the saying goes. While I will be providing the initial funding for this fund, I will not be in any way associated with the management of it.

I’d ask supporters of the Penn State Football program to consider adding a contribution to this fund.
To current students: don’t rally in my support. I failed to stop a child molester. When you have kids, you’ll understand.

My last request to the University is that inside Paterno Libary a display be set up with the facts of this case, as a reminder to current and future students that your moral integrity is something you need to work at maintaining every day of your life.

I’m an old man, with not much time left on the clock and no time outs. I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer.

In life, as in football, you can’t control the timing of when a replacement is sent in and you get called off the field. But when it is your time to go, go.

My resignation is effective immediately.

I won’t be taking questions today.

Thanks for your attention, and goodbye.

[Paterno walks back into his house.]

After I wrote this, when I was searching for the full text of the speech Paterno gave, I found that right after the another writer had the same idea of writing a "speech he should have given."

Suggestion to immigration officials around the world

The immigration form is the first impression of your country that travelers get.

If you want to take a first pass at the translation into English, fine. But it would be worth the investment to have a native English speaker take a second pass. There are plenty of places to find such a proofreader, but one source is Scribendi, where for a one-time cost of $50 or so you could have some high-quality proofreading done.

Not to pick on Ecuador, but I just traveled there and have a copy of their immigration form. It isn't any worse than most countries that I've traveled to. Here are a few excerpts that could have benefitted from the services of Sribendi:


The following will be considered personal effects (new or used):, imitation jewelry, personal and house ornaments

...photographic printed material and, written or handwriting documents

...wheel chairs, crutches, orthopedic elements, and similar objects, only used for one person [no tandem wheelchairs!]

...Phonographic records, recording tapes, video-cassettes, laser discs, music or data discs, roll film, carried by one person [Daddy, what is a laser disc?]

...a maximum of 2 life house pets [sic] [no dead house pets, please] and accessories may be transported normally by one person [no unusual transportation of toys allowed]

[my favorite] It will not be permitted to nationalize through International Passenger Lounge, MANY merchandises whose FOB value is over US $2,000, for they will have to be transported to a temporary store for its regular dispatch, previous customs formalities messures.

The traveler can not declare as its own, third party luggages or transport goods that do not belong to him/her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Travel tip - take a picture of your luggage

Travel tip: take a picture of your luggage.

You could do this either right when you are checking in, so you have the photo readily available on your phone (that's what I do), or if you are more sophisticated you could create a contact in your address book called "My Luggage" and attach the photo as the contact's photo ID.

Then, if your luggage gets lost, it is a lot easier to fill out the lost luggage form, on which they ask you to describe the luggage.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

No dial tone

OK, so I'm trying to figure this one out.

Who makes a sticker that says "No dial tone" and puts it on pay phones?

Was it the company that owns the phone? Why wouldn't the company just fix the phone? Or if they aren't going to bother fixing it, just remove it?

Or maybe the phone actually does have a dial tone, but some prankster is going around putting on these stickers so people who do need a pay phone won't try this one? This occurred to me just now, as I'm writing this. Next time I'm on 125th St. in Harlem near 3rd Ave, I'll see if it really does have a dial tone.

Who uses a payphone anymore, anyways? Any predictions on how much longer they will be around?

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Credit card update

Followup on my recent post about trying to stop credit card offers:

Over the past week, received two credit card offers, both from Chase, both for a Continental Airlines card.

Also, I got notified by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that my complaint to them had been received:

Thank you for contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We have received your complaint and will send it to your bank as soon as possible.

You can track your complaint at:

Thank you,

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
(855) 411-CFPB (2372)

but when I went to their website to check the status, it says no record found. Hmm, still some bugs to be worked out there:


Monday, November 28, 2011

What is going on in this advertisement?

From 2011-11-10 111110 iphone

I'm trying to figure out what is going on in this advertisement by Lufthansa on the back cover of a Fast Company magazine.

The woman is taking a picture of herself with an iPhone 4, but she is taking a picture with the rear camera.

It isn't that easy to frame a good picture of yourself with a camera phone, particularly with an iPhone where you have to hit the shutter button just so with your finger. So any iPhone 4 user would almost certainly use the front facing camera. That way, you can see the image as you frame it up, and you can also more easily see the button to take the photo.

She ought to have the back of the camera toward us. Of course, then it wouldn't be so obvious what she is doing.

So any iPhone 4 user who sees this ad, even if they don't really think it through, may feel that something is off, and sense the lack of authenticity.

I sympathize with the ad designer, though: how do you show in an ad someone using the Internet?

My solution would have been to draw the reader in; tell more of a story. Instead of just showing the woman, show the text messages back and forth to her significant other (who may be waiting for her on the ground.) Or show a whole field of text messages from the air.

Might not show the message that probably gets sent most frequently, something like: "Hey, my flight was delayed 2 hrs. New ETA for pikup at baggage claim is 9 pm."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop unwanted credit card offers

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Sending unsolicited credit card offers to consumers that don't want them is bad for several reasons:

1. Annoying to the consumer
: takes time when sorting through the mail. You could calculate the economic cost assuming at a minimum in the U.S.: 100 million consumers * 1 unsolicited offer per week (probably too low, I'm being conservative) * 50 weeks per year * 50% truly don't want another credit card * 30 seconds to identify the offer and deposit it in the junk mail * $20/hr wage

My back of the envelope math suggests there are 2.6 billion unwanted unsolicited offers per year (I'm being conservatively low, I think, but I couldn't easily find a quantified figure on the web.)
If the average person's opportunity cost of their time is $20/hr (maybe too high)and it takes 30 seconds to dispose of the junk mail, that is $0.17 per envelope.

So the opportunity cost of consumer's time is $430 million.

2. Bad business for the banks
If you assume that the cost to print the mailers and send them is $0.50-$1.00, then the cost to the banks is $1.3-2.6 billion.

3. Bad for the environment. 2.6 billion ounces of mail equals 81 tons of landfill.

You can OPT OUT of receiving most unsolicited credit card offers. I was a bit skeptical of the site, but I've registered and it really does work. I no longer receive credit card offers from any banks that I don't already have an affiliation with. You an register too at

Unfortunately, that won't eliminate all offers. Companies that you have a relationship with, i.e., airlines, hotels, banks, still send me offers. Over a three month period, I collected all the offers I received. Even though I have tried to opt out, I still got 38 offers in 3 months:

I've taken steps to stop these unwanted offers, but so far I haven't been successful. I've sent emails to their customer service and to their PR office and gotten no reply in most cases.

While I don't support folks who recommend sending back the mailers filled with a wood shingle, I'm currently trying a technique that I hope will work. I've printed out this form, and I mail it back to the banks in their prepaid envelopes. You can download the form, put in your own contact info, and try the technique too. Perhaps if enough people send it in, it will cause the bank executives to change their processes.

Here is what the letter says:

Please stop sending me credit card offers. I've registered on because I don't want to get credit card offers, and yet you send them to me anyway. Please remove my name from your mailing list, and send me a letter confirmation when that has been done. My contact info is:
[Include your contact info]

I strongly would encourage you to allow consumers the opportunity to opt out from credit card offers when they register with your loyalty program, or at any time on your website. Even better, have customers OPT IN to receiving credit card offers when they sign up by checking a "Please send me credit card offers" box.

This would not only be friendlier to consumers, it would also save you money, since you are surely sending offers to a lot of people that absolutely, positively don't want them.

By the way: I care about the environment, and sending me all these offers in the mail gives me a bad impression of your environmental stewardship.

Please stop sending me credit card offers -

Incidentally, when I looked at all these return mailers laid out, it was interesting to me that even though I got offers from a bunch of different airlines and hotel companies, 20 out of the first 28 mailers I sent back were going to the exact same PO Box in Wilmington, DE.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

I've also sent a letter to my Congressional Representative and to Raj Date, who is the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can download these letters, add in your own contact info, and send a letter too.

I'll post a follow up on any responses that I get from these two, and whether my return-envelope scheme is successful.

Stop credit card offers -

Stop credit card offers - Carolyn Maloney -

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Answer the phone

What if I told you that I know of an airline where you can just call them up, and a human answers the phone within two rings?

Well... I don't. But if I did know of one, I would tell you about it. The experience would be remarkable, so I'd remark about it.

The airline would have to add to the call center budget, of course, but they could reduce their marketing expense, because I would start marketing for them.

Same thing if I could call up a bank, an insurance company, an online retailer, a car rental company, a hotel chain.

In this fantasy of mine, I wouldn't even need to authenticate before asking a simple question that doesn't pertain to my own account.

Instead, companies work hard to avoid being contacted. You click on the "Contact Us" button on their website, and instead of getting some phone numbers and an email address, you get a bunch of FAQs. (Message: "We're going to do everything in our power to avoid having you actually contact us.")

Meanwhile they probably have a separate team working on a social media strategy and "how to engage the customer and build trust."

How about picking up the phone?

How about answering my email right away, instead of sending me an automated message that says, "We've received your email, and we'll get back to you in 3-5 business days."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Make it easy to contact you

I recently spent some time on the phone giving some job search tips to senior marketing executive who is in search mode. We were introduced by a mutual friend, and I was impressed by his background (he just left an EVP of Marketing role at a $2 billion company). My first piece of advice (maybe the most valuable) was to make it easy for people to call him back.

We were scheduled to talk at 3 p.m., but then my schedule cleared up earlier and it looked like I would be busy at 3, so I figured I would try to call him. When I looked at his email, there was no phone number in the body of any of the emails we had exchanged. I had to open his resume on my iPhone, and then copy and paste his phone number.

Particularly if you WANT people to contact you, make it easy for them to do that.

Here are some simple steps to take:

1) Web-based or computer-based email: Create an automatic email signature with all the contact info you want to share. Consider including:
+ Phone numbers
+ Email address. Often neglected. Yes, the recipient will know your email address from the "To:" line, but make it easy for your recipient to copy and paste your email signature into Outlook contacts.
+ Skype ID
+ Link to your LinkedIn profile
+ Website address, if you have one
+ Link to your blog, if you have one
+ Link to whatever social media presence it makes sense to share (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Outlook or any web-based email program makes that easy to do.
(And don't make your contact info an image - then people can't copy and paste)

2) Smartphone email. Change the default signature setting on your smartphone email to match the signature set up in step 1 above. Apple has enough brand recognition for their products, and you don't need to help them by having your email end with "Sent from my iPhone." Ending your emails with that tag says, "I'm not technically savvy enough to change the default email signature on my iPhone. If you choose to hire me, don't expect me to take much initiative to learn your systems. You'll need to hold my hand."

3) LinkedIn profile: Include your email address in your title, which everyone can see. I do this, and I haven't had a problem with email scammers scraping my email and sending me a lot of spam. If you are worried about this, you could use a disposable email address that you forward to your real address. Also include your email and phone number on your LinkedIn profile. Only your contacts will be able to see that.

4) Alumni sites. Let some synchronicity happen. Could be that just as you are working on a job search, a long lost friend from college is trying to reach out to see what you are up to because she has an opening at her firm... So update your contact info on whichever apply:
+ College alumni site
+ Grad school alumni site
+ Former employer alumni site

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hiring a sales rep to sell healthcare market research to hedge funds

An innovative healthcare market research company with a product unlike that any other on the market is seeking sales representatives to sell the service to hedge funds and other buy-side investors.

The service is already being rapidly adopted by pharma and medical device companies. The service is less expensive that other market research and faster, and is a straightforward sell.

Ideal candidate has prior experience selling market research or other services to hedge funds.

If you know any folks who might be interested, please let them know about this opportunity.

Send a cover letter and resume to

Client: The company we are recruiting this role for is called Truth on Call. Check them out at

Finding health insurance for a small firm in New York

I reached out to my network recently to solicit advice on getting health insurance for a small firm in New York. Here are all the responses I received. I'm not making representations or recommendations on any of these, but I hope this may be helpful to someone in the same situation:


I highly recommend Scott Martin - his firm has given me great service for several years:

Scott L. Martin
211 East 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10017
p.212-818-9570 ext.224

Check out HealthPass:
Dianne Corsbie is the person who has arranged for my personall and my
wifes life insurances. Very knowledgeable and highly recommend. I cc
her here.
When I went through this a year ago, the cost-effective choice was freelancers. I'm using an extended cobra so am not on them, but my understanding at the time was it's the same blue cross that I had under cobra, and only slightly higher than my cobra payments are. I plan to switch over once the cobra runs out.

we did go with freelancer's for dental and it has been fine so far, about a year now, with claims paid without issue (guardian dental) and not feeling restricted on the choice of practitioners.(i guess the freelancer's bit is actually not so relevant as the providers they contract with as my interactions with freelancers are in the form of auto-payments each month.)

Liberty is awful. Better to be on Medicaid
My wife and I were on both Liberty and Freedom - the big difference is the network. In the end, the question is which network the physicians you prefer are in. If you can do everything in the smaller network, Liberty is not a bad way to go. On the other hand, you need to weigh that against the price difference and how important it might be in the "what if" scenario. All hospitals take either plan (not sure about MSK or HSS, but all the others in NYC do).

As for other options, the other major carriers in NY worth looking at are Aetna and Cigna. I had just one employee on Aetna a couple of years ago. She had no complaints, but I don't know much about it. I would avoid GHI because their provider rates are terrible, so no one wants to take them. I also don't know if Blue Cross offers a small business product, but they are a good carrier.
We use HealthPass. I can't recall the qualifiers, but it's worth looking into if you haven't already.

I outsource all of my benefits, including Health Insurance, to ADP Total Source. They get prices that no small business could get buying direct. Also, they do all of your benefits admin and provide a host of other services. The only catch is that you have to use ADP for your payroll.

I suggest you contact Ken Krill of the Varsity Group who is a health insurance broker I've used for many years for my small biz health insurance.
There is a difference between catastrophic coverage and having a very high deductible. I run a small firm and also have had some problems making exactly the same choice. The Freelancers program is really not a health insurance program. It sets a cap, should someone undergo a catastrophe, but I cannot seriously recommend it. Moreover, I am not clear how many physicians are willing to deal with their carrier or what true coverage anyone who makes claims on it can expect.

I currently use the Oxford Freedom, but have now eliminated coverage for out-of-network providers, as the difference between the monthly premium paid and the amount I pay my out-of-network doctor when I pay him a visit made it much better for me to pay a lower premium and then pay such bills directly. That, of course, depends upon the doctors utilized, and their policy toward health insurance payments, as well as the relative health of the insured.

If you like, I can recommend a firm which specializes in helping small businesses to choose a group health insurance policy:

Marc Herold
Benefits Consultant
Michaels & Associates, Inc.
80 Business Park Drive
Suite 306
Armonk, New York 10504
(p) 914-273-4723 ext. 119
(f) 914-273-4728

We were on Oxford Liberty in 2009 - family of 5 (3 young kids).

A few comments;
• GP for wife and I were in the network, so no problem there. However, my kids' pediatrician was not, so my wife had to hunt around for a new one. It took a while, but she found one she was extremely happy with (in some respects preferred it to our original pediatrician)
• We didn't incur any out-of-the-ordinary treatment/expenses so cannot speak to the coverage or level of service.
• it was very expensive - we paid $2,700/month in 2009. Despite no unusual claims, they wanted to increase it to $3,200/month.
I just moved my family from Oxford Freedom (paying $2250/mo for a $1,000 deductible and 80/20 for out of network). I thought the ins was outrageously expensive. I switched to Freelancers Ins PPO3 and now pay $890/mo for family of 4 ($16,000 deductible and 70/30 out of network). I dropped dental too as its not worth it in my calculations. Like you, I thought money was better in my pocket than having a lower deductible. So far, its been a month, we are happy enough. We seem to have a larger pool of doctors, surprisingly, than Oxford (meaning I was able to chose from the two top ENTs for my kid in Manhattan vs Oxford who only had 1 of the two on the Oxford plan). We stayed with all our same doctors as they take the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Freelancer's Ins). Copays are slightly more: $35 vs $25 for GP and $55 vs $40 for specialist. No pre cert required. Again, the $10/$15 more for a visit is meaningless when I save $1,360 per month. Calling Freelancers Union is fine - people are helpful enough. Can pay online which is nice - good web experience.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina was both the best value and the least expensive coverage that I found when looking for health insurance. I would venture to say that checking into Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York, might be worthwhile.
We moved from Oxford high end plan to Empire high deductible HSA on the advice of:

Joe Cortelli
Managing Partner
Cell - 917-301-7560
Toll Free - 1-866-976-3977
Fax - 1-888-726-8397

They will show a financial model of why this makes sense.

The trick is to stay in network.

I believe that the savings in premiums more than outweigh the out of pocket in network doctor fees as you pay down your deductible.
Ironically, I am in the same boat with having to look for group health insurance plans. The only difference wrinkle here is that I live in NJ so I know I cannot get the Freelancer's Union health insurance. So, I would appreciate you passing on any comments that you do receive on health insurance. Thanks and much appreciated given the not so little investment you need to make to have coverage these day.
One other thought for you. I would highly recommend the following insurance broker, although I am not sure if in writes in NY but he is excellent, really knows his stuff:
Alan Salowe, CLU, RHH, CLTC, President of Midatlantic Resource Group at 732-922-6300, ext. 114;

I know that at my old venture fund we chose to use
TriNet and they handled health insurance and benefits for us. We had
about 12 employees.

Seem to specialize in small businesses.

At our company we use Liazon as our "high tech insurance broker" that lets each employee choose a different plan. Pretty neat and the company is run by a McK alumnus.
- Bryan Kelly
212 879 0122 tel
212 879 3557 fax

Visit our website:

We use Emblem, it's a 20k deductible for a family but the monthly cost is only $650. I believe their network is more limited than Oxford, I have no experience with their customer service.

We have had the Oxford Liberty (gated/HMO) plan for the past 3 years. Haven't felt any constraints with respect to doctors although haven't had the need for any kinds of deep specialist to test depth of doctor pool. Plan covers employees in NYC and NJ. We have a zero deductible plan. Overall other than the fact that premiums have risen on average 20-40% per year the plan has been satisfactory. Let me know if you are looking for specifics.

I have attached an overview of our program and benefits package for your review. We are also undergoing annual enrollment so these plans and rates will be good until the end of the year. Aetna has been our provider for the past ten years. I am available to answer any of your questions and look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Kevin Casebier
Advanco, LLC
o: (404) 496-4050 Ext 701
c: (678) 558-0058 (Direct)
f: (404) 496-4050

As a note of background, last year my wife was on OXHP Freedom and I was on OXHP Liberty. Here are some of my observations:

1. Out-of-network usage
OXHP Freedom, like almost all plans due to ObamaCare (not a political comment, just relaying facts) has moved from the UCR reimbursement method to X% of Medicare. From a 50,000 foot view this basically means if you used to go out of network and were responsible for ~33% now you will be responsible for ~67% (happy to deep dive on this and explain but for our current purpose I assume this is sufficient). Combine this with OXHP maintaining monthly premiums or slightly increasing them means if you like going out of network your costs have skyrocketed as your premiums are still high and your reimbursement got slashed. OXHP Liberty offers no out of network reimbursement.
2. In-network usage
I have found few cases where I was limited in my choice of Drs compared to my wife's choices due to our differing networks. That being said, many of our old Drs, when we were on UHC, were no longer in-network when we switched to OXHP. As a point of reference UHC bought OXHP and rebranded it as UHC everywhere except the NY area as OXHP had a better brand name here. While only companies with 50+ employees are eligible for UHC, OXHP does small companies and competes with UHC on large companies.
3. Travel
OXHP Liberty is limited to the NY area, if you travel everyone is out of network, which means no coverage as Liberty has no out of network coverage. OXHP Freedom has in network Drs around the country. Have never had a need to utilise them so don't know if the out of NY area network is robust, regardless they have out of network benefits so you aren't SOL.

I have no direct experience with the Freelancer's insurance but it sounds like catastrophe insurance which is much cheaper but like home insurance something you don't use often if at all. Only way to bust through their out of pocket limits is to have some major accident and need surgery.

I believe only 3 companies compete in the NY area in the 2+ employees small business space and OXHP is the best of the bunch.


If its a family plan, check out Golden Rule (United Healthcare). I know - don't like the idea of the 800 pound gorilla. I looked at everything, and Golden Rule won. We are a family of six, kids age 8-16. $10k deductible, (HSA) - $588/ month. Pretty free to see who we want - but check out who's in the network before you sign up. Call if you want to discuss anything. 203-247-3312 - happy to share.

A contract template for consulting projects

I'm not an attorney, and I make no representation whatsoever that this template will pass legal muster or protect you. I highly encourage you to consult an attorney to draft a contract that meets the needs of your specific situation. I suggest you use this template only as a guide to some of the paragraphs, though by no means all, that ought to be included in a contract.

Consulting Agreement Template -

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to start and run your own consulting firm

Here is the presentation I gave last night at Columbia Business School.

For those who attended, I particularly appreciate the critical feedback.  I consider your feedback a gift, and I'll be taking it into account in revisions to this material should I be asked to give a talk like this again.

On that note, I'm open to giving on talk like this in other venues: if you'd like to have me speak to an organization you are involved in, let me know.  Email:

To join Consulting Bootcamp on LinkedIn:

We made an amateur audio and video recording of the talk, and I'll post those within the next few days once I have time to get them uploaded.

You are welcome to share, reuse, and remix this material - a link back to Innovation Bootcamp would be a nice touch.

Here is a PDF version. It is 6.4MB. The PPT version is below.

You should not have to pay to download these files; please let me know if you have any problems downloading them.

Click on the DOWNLOAD button, not the DocStoc button. You should not have to register with DocStoc.

How to start and run your own consulting firm -  

And here is a Powerpoint version. Note that this is ~11MB so may take longer to download.

How to start and run your own consulting firm -

Saturday, October 8, 2011

If you are calling from a rotary phone....

... you've be placed on hold while you go to the drugstore and buy yourself a touchtone landline phone for ten dollars to join the modern world.

Friday, October 7, 2011

You (will always) have an update available

Why is it that no matter how many times I agree to install the latest Adobe update, the next time I start my computer, I've got another update available?

Does Adobe make an update every hour to their software?  All it seems to do is read PDFs.  How hard can that be?  Why do I have to install something new every day?

If there were another way to read PDFs and get rid of this Adobe Reader, I'd do it.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Know any great sales reps? A client is hiring

Helping a client fill a need for sales reps:

An innovative healthcare market research firm with a patent-protected service unlike that offered by any other company today is seeking sales reps with experience selling to hedge funds and other financial services firms.

So far, sales have been relatively easy once the company gets in front of a potential client. Clients immediately understand the value proposition, and the pricing is far below that of other types of market research. The only factor limiting sales to date has been bandwidth of the company's founder.

The company is privately held and has been an an intense growth trajectory. Opportunity to generate substantial, uncapped, commission based revenue. 

Sales reps can work remotely and set their own hours.

To apply, email

Include your cover letter IN THE BODY of your email, not as an attachment (honestly - we won't read it otherwise.). Attach your resume. Client believes the right candidate will have experience selling market research to hedge funds and other financial institutions. Healthcare industry experience is helpful but not absolutely required, as the product is very simple to explain. Very helpful is if you already have a deep network in the hedge fund industry.

Save 10% at FEDEX

Went to FEDEX this week to send off a document.  I wanted to include a prepaid overnight mailer so that the recipient would be able to ship it right back to me. The interaction with the sales rep (given below) was a lesson in how NOT to upsell, but the final lesson that I learned is: if you want to ship something with FEDEX, just open an account with them. All it takes is give them your ID and a credit card, and you immediately get 10% off list price.

FEDEX Office sales rep: We don't have prepaid mailers.

Me: Oh, OK, is there any way that I can make this happen?

FEDEX: Well, do you have a FEDEX account?

Me: No

FEDEX: Then you'll have to put your credit card info on this mailer.

Me: I'd rather not do that if I can help it, I mean, I don't know exactly who is going to see this mailer at the recipient. Is there any other way?

FEDEX: You'd have to open an account.

Me: Oh, OK, well, what would that take?

FEDEX: Do you have an ID and a credit card?

Me: Uh, yes. I usually do carry those with me.

FEDEX: Okay, that's all it takes.  I'll create an account for you right now.  With an account, you'll actually save about two dollars on this mailer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to set up and run your own consulting firm: event on October 11, 2011

Have you considered starting your own consulting firm?  You are not alone.

More and more professionals are establishing their own independent consulting practices. A variety of factors make it more feasible than ever:

+ More and more alums from top tier consulting firms have joined their clients in industry. These executives with a consulting background are more comfortable hiring and managing independent consultants without the support structure of a big firm.
+ Technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected, build your own brand, and set up your own shop with your own branded email, etc.
+ Firms such as Business Talent Group play a valuable intermediary role in connecting the right talent to client needs

My own strategy and operations consulting firm is now in its fourth year of operation. In addition to running my own firm, I've built Consulting Village, a network of more than 150 other independent management consultants. I regularly use this group to find subcontractors as required, and I hope the other members find it helpful as well.

On October 11th, I'm going to lead / facilitate a free discussion in New York City on how you can start up and run your own firm. The presentation will be based on my own experience as well as a survey I conducted of the members of Consulting Village. The event will be highly interactive.

Topics we'll cover:
+ Practical matters (LLC, branded email with Google Apps, health insurance, templates for contracts)
+ How to generate business: what seems to work, and what doesn't
+ Negotiating fees 
+ Taking charge of your own ongoing professional development
+ Other topics by request

Event details:
Title: How to start and run your own consulting firm
Date: October 11, 2011
Location: TBD. I'm looking for a spot that we can use for free. If your company would be interested in hosting, please let me know.
Time: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. (Mingle time from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m.)

To attend:
+  The event is free, but please leave a comment to this blog post if you would like to attend so we'll have a headcount and so I can send you the location details. If you have any questions or topics you'd like to see covered, please let me know in your comment. 

+  If you are interested in seeing the written materials but can't attend in person, in your comment write "Request materials" along with your email address.

+  If you are an independent consultant and would like to join Consulting Village, follow this link:

Consulting skills
This event will be focused on setting up a firm and generating business, not on teaching actual consulting skills.  Last May I ran a Consulting Bootcamp that was focused on building consulting skills, and a summary of what we discussed that day can be downloaded here:

About The Bachman Group, LLC:
The Bachman Group is a strategy and operations consulting firm that has served over 15 clients on 4 continents across a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, manufacturing, financial services, for-profit education, private equity, and high tech.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My latest guest post on Mojo 40

My latest guest post on Mojo 40 provides some advice on how to prepare for and what to bring to a job interview.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

List of books on data visualization

I've started following several blogs this summer on data visualization, including


Flowing data

Information is beautiful


Today on the blog, the author posts a list of recommended books on data visualization.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On summer vacation

Innovation Bootcamp is on vacation for the summer.

I'm busy building a throne chair in a tree, taking care of the pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, guinea hens and pea hen at our farm, weeding the garden, and thinking about blog posts for the fall.  Will return to active posting then.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Save 20% on your hospital bills

Had to go to the emergency room a month ago for an issue that was urgent, but no means life-threatening.  (A cut finger that was a little too deep for a Band-aid, but not so severe as to need stitches.  They ended up using this special wound glue.)

Insurance covered a portion, but my share still seemed excessive.

The first person I spoke to in the billing department told me that based on my type of insurance policy, the hospital policy is to not offer any kind of negotiated discount.

I asked what were some of the line items on the bill, and was told "splint, pulse..."
"Oh, pulse - how much was that?" I asked.
"$100 to take a pulse?  Doesn't that take about 20 seconds?"
"Well, I'm not sure, but this was using a stethoscope."
"But it still takes about 20 seconds, right?  Doesn't $100 to take a pulse sound a little bit excessive?"
"These charges are approved by New York State."
"Well, that might be true, but I'd like to speak to a supervisor."

So I spoke to the supervisor.

At first was told the same thing.  So I told the supervisor I would need to see a detailed line item break-down of the bill, but not just with the insurance codes; I wanted to see an actual plain-language explanation for each line item.  "That's reasonable, isn't it? To provide me with a description of what I'm actually being billed for?"

Then I asked, "OK, just one question.  Have you ever, in your history of  working in the billing department, ever provided a customer with a negotiated discount? Maybe said, 'Look, OK, if you pay now in cash we'll take 50% off.'"

"Our maximum discount that we offer is 20%," the supervisor told me.

"Great - I'll take the 20%, and I'll pay now on the phone."

Who knows, perhaps I could have gotten an even bigger discount, but I thought that the time invested to the payoff received was the best I was going to get. Perhaps if I had been willing to demand that plain language explanation, write some letters to the CEO of the hospital, challenge each line item, the final discount would have been even greater.  In this case, it took 10 minutes to get 20% off a $600 bill: $120 per 10 minutes, or $720 per hour.  That is a call I'm happy to make.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Today I'd like to celebrate my dad.  He's got a PhD in nuclear engineering, but now that he is retired, he does what he loves, which is puttering around as a handyman.  His slogan is "no job too small." He doesn't bother to advertise, since he isn't really interested in growing the business.  I think he's happy to have an excuse to spend other people's money at The Home Depot a few times per week.

A year ago my dad was about to replace the kitchen spray nozzle at our farmhouse and agreed to make a video.  We posted it on Youtube and it has received 2,542 hits so far, and several appreciative comments.

  • Thanks, now we don't have to hire someone to fix the tenants sprayer!
  • Thank you soooo much...i couldnt figure out how to get the sprayer off not knowing about the little C ring.....u made my life easy well be watching more videos of you
  • Thank you! A number of other DIY videos didn't show the details, skipping the bit about the metal c ring that was preventing my sprayer hose bits from coming off, driving me mad trying to figure it out.
  • Thanks, Bill! That little metal C-clip was totally hidden on mine. Your video showed me where it was, and how to take it off.
  • Thank You! I successfully for the first time ever fixed my sink sprayer watching your video, YAY!!!!
Nice work, Dad.

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