The Aids Epidemic 1985 and The Job That Made Me Face Death

SF Aids Foundation It wasn’t the sweat labor, working as a janitor for a local newspaper, on my hands and knees peeling pieces of glued copy paper from a wretched Berber carpet, scrubbing toilets, or removing the stale, dank food in the fridge on Sundays only to serve that “cuisine” to the homeless couple living on the roach infested couch in the back alley behind the building. And it wasn’t the preposterous gig delivering balloons, in an embarrassing clown suit, to couples in restaurants during my high school years.

The Darkest of Ages Before the Internet Circa 1985

Those were memorable, and completely humbling, jobs but not the types of jobs that make a mark on your life. No those were the type of jobs that reminded you that education is a good thing! The most impactful job I ever experienced? Territory Sales Representative for Moore Business Forms. Moore was my first job out of college in 1985, paying the kingly sum of $19,200 per year, and it was most certainly a crash course in life.

The setting, a simpler caveman like time of dark ages sales tactics and pressure, was a simple crash course in survival of the fittest. My job was to cold call door-to-door (15 times per day) to businesses in the San Francisco produce district, including Hunters Point and 3rd Street, all the way to Candlestick Park. No cell phone, no laptop, little communication. The level of rejection was epic and the dangers, sometimes imminent when gunshots would ring out on a lazy Friday afternoon deep into the Point, kept you on your toes.

A. . . B. . . C. . . Always Be Closing, Always Be Closing!

Many a Monday morning we endured a Glengarry Glen Ross style sales meeting where pressure was exerted, jobs were sometimes threatened, and laughter was a scarce commodity. In the end, we would huddle up for a pep talk that would somehow take the edge off the ass-chewing we had just received. Gender was not a shield as male as well as female reps were “called on the carpet” in front of their peers to “explain themselves” aka what the hell happened out there last week?

None of this would impact me as greatly as an assignment I was handed 3 months into my job on a manic Friday in the middle of summer. My assignment was to go out to a new account, for which I was being given the chance to manage, meet the principal and make a good impression. The business: The San Francisco AIDS Foundation in the heart of the Castro district.

My Life Was About to Change But I Didn’t Know It Yet

I had vaguely heard of AIDS but I was completely unaware of the magnitude of the epidemic that was about to slam into our country ferociously killing friends, family, and neighbors alike. Instead I was nervous, having been unabashedly ripped and teased by my colleagues, about heading into the Castro the preeminent gay neighborhood in America. And me  a straight kid with little experience or knowledge of what it meant to be gay. All we knew, and I am talking about the collection of friends and colleagues, was the paranoid stereotypes.

The life altering impact of my visit began as I opened the door and was greeted with the gaunt frailty and far-away stares of catastrophically sick men appearing more like Auschwitz victims than citizen of a vibrant growing San Francisco. The sight of open puss oozing sores, both dark and large, were visible on many of the men who were seated in the waiting room. The receptionist, seeing my innocence and shocked reaction, quickly ushered me into a separate room to wait on the office manager who would be my contact.

My contact greeted me with a kind smile and handshake of reassurance. He told me he greatly appreciated me visiting and he related how difficult it had been to get other vendors to service the account let alone visit their clinic. Prior to entering the building, I had experienced the first catcall I had ever received – by a man. It both scared me and acted as a reminder – I never catcalled a woman in my life. I thanked my new customer and assured him I would be visiting once a month to check on their printing needs.

I visited the AIDS Foundation offices throughout 1986. And each visit was a reminder of how lucky I was, the devastation I was seeing first hand, and the maturation process I was undergoing.

Today, having lost two friends to the AIDS virus, one gay man and one straight man, I look back on that job with Moore and rejoice in the lessons I learned, cringe at the abuse I endured, and marveled at the relationships I made.

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Blue Angels’ Fog Cancelation Perfect Example Why Newspapers Are Failing

In what became a perfect example of why newspapers are failing business models, the Navy’s Blue Angels were forced to cancel their show, in San Francisco, yesterday due to fog conditions. The simple fact that fog was present forcing the Angels to cancel is not the reason American newspapers are going to go under–it’s the lack of breaking news delivery speed. Even worse? I wake up this morning and buy my local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal a Gannet property, paying $1.25 for my “news.” Yet the news I wanted to read about, the most dominant story in the Bay Area, was not covered. Not even a mention in my Sunday edition.

Why Newspapers Will Fail

  • Mobile News: while a crowd of thousands stood around waiting for the Angels to reappear (after an initial flyover) one of the audience members announced that the show was canceled due to fog–he received the information off of his iPhone
  • Real Time vs. Their Time: if the “IJ” had run a story the next day on the show’s cancellation it would have at least been the opportunity for the paper to be more thorough by providing interviews or additional information.
  • Google Indexing-Where Are They?: In the most telling reason why newspapers will lose, a Google search “Blue Angels Cancel show” the top 10 results:
    • SF Chronicle #7 with no other newspapers in the top 20 first two pages of results
    • CBS, ABC, and bloggers dominated the news capturing the other 9 spots on page one

#1 Reason Why Newspapers Will Fail

Newspaper braintrusts do not understand that breaking news is not a commodity for monetization any longer. Bloggers and more agile online sources are crushing the newspaper industry at their own game. Even the name newspaper is no longer accurate. There is very little news in the papers that has not already been reported hours or even days before online.

Conclusion

Newspapers should monetize and sell their ability to create valuable commentary. Produce expert opinion, how to, or resource information. In essence, newspapers should follow the model of the most successful bloggers who have built audiences based on their ability to be perceived as a go-to source of information important to the audience

Golden Gate Computer Society Presents Tony Stubblebine of Crowdvine

The Golden Gate Computer Society is a fantastic group designed to help educate people, provide networking opportunities, and create a forum for new ideas and trends in the computer industry. Keeping with it’s long standing practice of presenting important speakers and information, tonight’s event, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in San Rafael, showcases Tony Stubblebine of Crowdvine. Watch the video to learn more about Tony and his innovative company:

Win $1 Million California Home for $150

The auction and contest trend for selling a home in a tough real estate market continues with the latest edition. The Bahms of Tracy, Ca have created a contest with a twist. For the price of a $150 entry fee and the answer to their own word question, you can be the lucky owner of their ranch style home.

The Deal

The Bahms make make money on their contest by selling 11,000 entry fees at $150. That is the minimum number of tickets necessary to make the contest official. With that number the Bahms would be looking at a cool $1.6 million. They decided to cap the number at 13,000 which would mean $1.9 million payday.

The Charity

The Bahms have been quoted, by the Contra Costa Times, as stating they would like to donate $300,000 of their fee total to the charities of their choice. In any economic times, that is a noble gesture.

California 1 of 5 States With Worst Unemployment Rate

Flag of California

FoxBusiness.com published this deansguide article 1-11-09
The Courier News member of the Chicago Sun-Times News Group published this deansguide article 1-11-09
Post Tribune member of the Chicago Sun-Times News Group published this deansguide article 1-11-09

California has 1 of the 5 highest unemployment rates in the country according to a new report from the Associated Press Ray Henry and Christopher Rugaber. The most telling factor is that each state has something in common “a heightened exposure to the root causes of this downward spiral.”

Factors in Common:

  • Housing collapse
  • Auto Industry implosion
  • Financial Services meltdown
  • Manufacturing decline

5 Worst States by Unemployment Numbers and Symptoms:

1. Michigan: Auto industry’s near collapse and uncertainty.

2. Rhode Island: Manufacturing decline and construction stoppages

3. South Carolina: Manufacturing decline, construction losses

4. California: Housing market implosion, lender meltdown, builder losses, foreclosures

5. Oregon: Timber industry hurt by housing stall

Real Estate’s Role in California’s Economic Woes:

A very telling fact is  California’s unemployment rate of  8.4%, third highest in the nation, has been primarily due to the collapse of the real estate market. Nothing surprising in that statement but “in the year ending in November 2008, 71 percent of the nonfarm jobs lost in California were housing-related.”

Guy Kawasaki’s “Reality Check”: How Not to Choke

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Guy Kawasaki

In Guy Kawasaki’s wonderful book “Reality Check” we are treated to a two, that’s right 2, page chapter titled simply “How Not to Choke.” Choking may be the worst possible word to have attached to your career, athletic performance, and any moment that is meaningful in your life. To choke is to blow it by not having the nerve, losing your cool, blanking, freezing in the moment, or any number of horrific things a mind can do when it goes on lock down at the worst possible time. H3re are Guy’s ways to avoid choking.

Three Ways to Avoid Choking:

1. Avoid Negative People: stay away from negative people because what they say about you “can lead to you becoming what people say about you.”  Guy’s advice is to simply avoid them or “create product and serve them like hell.”

2. Invoke Positive Stereotypes: Positivity can “enhance performance.” Guy notes that Silicon Valley is a fantastic place for young people to start companies and that the “wunderkind” tag is a great example of a positive stereotype.

3. Frame or Reframe Yourself: Guy quotes Dr. George Lakoff  “you can control which groups identify with and the strength of that association.”

In essence the company you keep, the attitude you exude, and the perception you create are the most powerful ways to avoid choking in any situation. If you want more great advice, check out Guy’s favorite books. For even more great information, investigate Alltop.com Guy’s latest user content resource.

Real Time Airline Flight Tracking System: Holiday Time Management Tool

Do you have family and friends visiting you this Holiday Season? With the crush of travelers around this time of year, flight plans often get delayed or even canceled due to a number of issues. The ability to follow your family’s flight in real time, without the hassle of an airline 800 phone automated prompting system, can be a relief.

One of the greatest tools to follow your friends and  family’s airline travel progress is the Flight Tracker by myrateplan.com. This is a quick tool that tracks flights in real time providing a map of the plane’s location, departure times, any delay information, and estimiated time of arrival.

Time management around the holidays can be a challenge. With the Flight Tracking system, you can check one more task off your list.