The excitement. The chase. The roar of the engines. Tires falling on people. Engines flying through fences. What’s not to love about NASCAR? It’s an exhilarating sport, whether you’re watching from home or you’re right on the track, inhaling the smell of burnt rubber.
Ray Lewis Waves the Green Flag to Start Daytona 500 2013
This was my fourth or fifth NASCAR race, and I’ve never been to Daytona, “The Great American Race,” which is arguably the race to watch in person. I had a chance to watch two races first hand: the Nationwide Race – Drive for COPD300 on Saturday, and the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup race on Sunday. Better than just being there, I also have what are called “Hot Passes” and had the opportunity to be in the garages and pits with the teams and drivers, and stand with them and their families during opening ceremonies.
Saturday was the day with the crash heard around the world.
I witnessed the terrifying crash that sent rookie Kyle Larson’s car hurtling into the crowd. Huge pieces of debris sprayed into the upper and lower sections of the stands, injuring 33 fans. My dad, who accompanied me on the trip, had the camera out during that last lap as you’ll see below.
The “Great American Race” turned out to be the highest-rated and most-watched since 2008—an estimated 31.6 million Americans watched at least part of the race.
I saw Danica Patrick make history as the first female driver to lead a lap at Daytona under green flag conditions and even finish with the most laps led. I saw the patient Jimmie Johnson lock up another victory, cementing him as one of this generation’s top drivers.
I like to think I helped out because during the intro I looked him in the eye, and through telepathy (I am an uncertified black belt in telepathy), told him to be patient and that this was his race. Don’t tell Jimmie, but I verbally told Carl Edwards this was his year to make a come back and be a top driver (you can see his photo response below, a confident appreciative smile). But having me and my fellow tracker, my dad standing a few feet away from Jimmie and his family during the invocation and National Anthem really sealed the deal for Jimmie. At least that’s my take on it.
I also tried out some professional photo gear while in Daytona – the NASCAR mecca. Here are my top 15 NASCAR opening weekend 2013 moments in photos. We used either the Canon 5D Mark II (full frame, but slow on the highspeed photos) and the Mark 7D (great on high speed action shots) with Either a 24-105 Canon L Lens or a 400mm Canon EF Lens.
NATIONWIDE DRIVE FOR COPD300 Saturday February 24, 2013
Turn 2 pile-up — Nationwide Daytona 2013
3 car pack — Nationwide Daytona 2013
Brad Keselowski with Sam Hornish Jr. on the bumper! –Nationwide Daytona 2013
Wreck about to happen
Kyle Larson car pre-tow away Nationwide Daytona 2013
Chaos in the stands – Nationwide NAscar Daytona 2013
DAYTONA 500 – February 24, 2013
Danica – all 5’2″ of her – Go Danica
This is your year Carl!
Dale Jr. holding on for the Ride — Daytona 500 2013
Standing next to Jimmie Johnson – Daytona 500 2013
Last practice lap prior to Daytona 500
The start of the Daytona 500 2013
Early in the race Harvick’s Bud Crew watches the Sprint Vision jumbo screen
The Blur – Daytona 500 2013
Jimmie Johnson’s Lowes 48 team jubilant with Daytona 500 2013 win
Winner Jimmie Johnson Nascar Daytona 2013 — burn out on grass
More than 11 years: That’s how long it’s been since terrorists invaded our soil and killed nearly 3,000 people. Yet the World Trade Center area of New York City continues to be referred to as Ground Zero.
Isn’t that a bit insensitive? I think so.
It’s almost like we’re commemorating the attack with a special name for the area where the twin towers collapsed. It just doesn’t feel right. Ground Zero conjures images of destruction—not construction and revitalization.
So, why did we even call it Ground Zero in the first place? The term was first used at the end of World War II to describe the detonation site of atomic bombs. Within hours after the attack, the media began using the term to describe the destroyed World Trade Center. The name just kind of stuck.
But Ground Zero is also a term that people use broadly to mean a center of activity. That’s exactly what it is today. The World Trade Center area is a hub of revitalization—not devastation.
In fact, lower Manhattan has thrived since 9/11. The area has gained 4,000 new school seats, 19 new hotels, $250 million in new parks and more new residents than Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia combined, according to the Association for a Better New York.
Lower Manhattan is also welcoming newborns at a higher rate than any neighborhood in the borough—17.8 births per 1,000 residents—according to city figures. If that’s not a sign of new life, I don’t know what is.
I’m proud to have our new ePromos.com offices just a few blocks away, and for me, it will always be the WTC – World Trade Center.
It’s time for New Yorkers (and the world) to nix the “Ground Zero” nickname. We won’t ever forget the place where the towers fell, but we need to start calling it something else.
Promotional products have a way of waltzing right into people’s lives, entertaining, informing, surprising. Sometimes the waltz is right into the living room in the form of a coffee table book. EMC Corporation, the global data storage company, sponsored the creation of its own promotional product: a coffee table book called The Human Face of Big Data.
It’s nearly five pounds and 233 pages of the most fascinating data visualizations. It aims to show, via 200 stunning images and essays, that the planet is developing a nervous system that will soon rock our worlds—even more than the internet.
EMC, along with five other sponsors, funded the book, which was created by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt. The project began in March 2012, when approximately 100 of the world’s top photographers in more than 30 countries sought out images to illustrate The Human Face of Big Data.
The book is packed with inspiring stories about how people are positively using the accumulated data. For example, Google is using big data to create a flu-trends web page to predict flu outbreaks. Engineers in California are using data to create a program that uses people’s laptops to detect earthquakes. It’s all captivating stuff that has practical, real value.
From a promotional products standpoint, books are a great segment. We typically reprint a book’s cover with a company logo, but this one takes the cake. Not everyone can commission their own book, but when you can, it’s impressive. Actually, in this case, it’s brilliant. Great job, EMC.
Can I get a free book? I promise not to just use it as a decorative piece in my living room.
As a businessman, wait correction, business person, I have always thought that having product reviews on a website was an honest way to open the kimono and let the customer’s voice really speak.
Ideally, the customer’s review should help you. It’s good for social media, SEO (search engine optimization), and even good for your brand image to be open and honest. But when you are a brand and all the reviews suck, you have a problem.
After my recent experience at Lenovo.com, I think I’ve changed my mind about product reviews. They are not for everyone—especially mediocre brands.
Lenovo sells 15 flavors of laptops right now on its site, and its reviews are an average of 3 out of 5 stars. Many products have only a couple of reviews—and several have none. That makes the whole review function kind of pointless, and it’s also embarrassing to have so little interest in writing a review.
In contrast, Apple doesn’t have reviews. It doesn’t really care what you think; it’s already told us that it knows better than the consumer what we want. Maybe Apple is a bad example. If any company wouldn’t have reviews, it’s Apple, but if it had reviews, it would likely have higher scores than Lenovo.
If, on average, you are getting a failing grade, why flaunt that you suck? When you have too few reviews and people don’t really use the review function, it can make your pages look busier and actually perform less effectively.
When choosing reviews, I think it comes down to your brand. If you know through your surveys that your customers are proud fans and like you (think restaurants, hotels, etc.), you can expect those positive reviews to grow organically on your site.
If you use Net Promoter Score, the customer loyalty metric that divides your customers into three categories, and you know it’s good, you are probably safe. Additionally, if others can rate the review, the better the reviewer’s ratings or the most helpful reviews can be shown first.
If you don’t have a popular brand or you are susceptible to powerful negative feedback that can turn people away, I would say no to reviews. I was on the fence about purchasing a Lenovo, and it was a review of 2.5 out of 5 stars that sealed the deal for me to choose another brand.
So which laptop did I purchase?
I went for the 15” Retina Display MacBook Pro—a bit heavier, but the display is worth it. Even though I had been a proud owner of Lenovo laptops for years (I had the tablet edition long before the iPad was around), the crappy reviews on Lenovo’s site turned me off. They just reminded me of the problems I’ve had with poor service and the bureaucratic nature of the company.
Retailers need to pay close attention to their product reviews. Oftentimes, they would sell more products by not even allowing reviews. If a product is less than exceptional, at least let consumers find out on their own. Don’t give them the opportunity to broadcast it on your site. That’s a quick way to turn shoppers away. I’m proof.
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the Aston Kutcher of Motorsports, 2010 Nascar Nationwide Series Champion, Brad Keselowski. The driver of the Number 2 Miller Lite Dodge, had his phone in his car at last night’s historical Daytona 500 and during a two hour “red flag” stoppage started tweeting. The publicity on TV and in social media outlets gained him 100k follower in just two hour.
The Sprint Cup Race weekend was rained out on Sunday after a five and a half hour delay. The race was expected to start at noon on Monday, but due to weather was further postponed to Monday Night at 7:13pm. All in all, the race was completed 36 hours after its scheduled start time. Fans of House and the Simpsons were probably pretty surprised to find their favorite shows preempted by The Great American Race. This was the first Nascar race in Primetime.
A freak fire caused the already delayed race to be further held up for 2 more hours. Check out the Daytona 500 Fire footage here. During a standard caution where drivers are allowed to drive around the track at reduced speeds to get back in race order, the driver of the Number 42 Target Chevy, Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and it slid up the track crashing into a Jet Dryer. These Dryers are nothing more than actual jet engines strapped sideways to a trailer and are used as massive blow dryers to dry the track or otherwise quickly blow away debris. They also hold about 200 gallons of jet fuel and boy what a scene it was. It took about an hour to put out the fire and clean the track. There was fear of damage to the asphalt due to high heat, but fortunately the race was able to continue.
Enter the opportunistic and charismatic Brad Kesolowski, who started the night with fewer than 100k followers and as of this morning has 205,000. He took an on track photo and started tweeting and bantering back and forth with his old and new followers, turning the “red flag” stop into a twitter event.
Some of the drivers, perhaps jealously, grabbed Keselowski’sphone so they could actually see what caused the crash and checked the weather as more rain was looming. While Brad crashed in the final laps 187/200, it was a good night for the Brad Keselowski brand; he’s now the Aston Kutcher of Motorsports. Use your fame wisely my friend and easy on the Kyle Busch comments. Follow Brad here @keselowski
I was very impressed with this 2 minute video from Mozilla, it really positions themselves as a social concern, anti establishment working for the good of the community. It’s interesting to watch this type of tech competition. My favorite line in light of in the midst of reading the Steve Jobs book which I recommend is:
“We’re quite content to be the odd browser out. We don’t have a fancy stock abreviation to go along side our name in the press.We don’t have a profit margin. We don’t have sacred Rock Stars the we put above others.”
“I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college. And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.
It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.
Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
My third story is about death. When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now. This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:No one wants to die.
Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Thank you all very much.”
I just saw this Ellen show ad on the NYC subway Oct 2011 and it got me thinking about how the imprinted coffee mug has become a prerequisite to having a talk show. You’re just not a talk show without a cool mug. If you look at the Ellen ad you can see all you need is a couch and mug and the viewer knows it’s a talk show.
It’s great business for me an ePromos but more importantly is speaks to the power of logo merchandise – which is tangible, tactile and has utility. You can’t drink from a TV ad.
Other Mug Examples:
Here’s my friend Justin Stangel, co-head writer of the Late Show with David Letterman sporting his Late Show Mug.
I didn’t expect to find the manufacturer’s name in my “unbranded” generic Allegra OTC Allergy medicine from Target.
It looks like Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (NYSE: RDY), the India-based pharmaceutical company know for its generic drug business, has decided to step out of the shadows. In this case they are branding themselves to end users through private label packaging. What’s next – consumers building preference for one generic drug manufacturer over another?