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.

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

My Photo

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.

San Jose Mercury News Soliciting Twitter Users For Obama Inauguration Coverage

Courtesy San Jose Mercury News

In another example of mainstream media adopting a Web 2.0 social media tool for instant breaking news coverage, the San Jose Mercury news announced today that they are looking to partner with Twitterers who are attending the historic Obama inauguration ceremony. Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media sites; Twitter allows users to “broadcast” mini press release 140 character messages. It is a vital breaking news tool for both the mass media and the growing blogosphere. Thank you to Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter, for the tip that led to this article.

The Offer

The San Jose Mercury news offer is exposure for any Twitterer attending the inauguration:

1. Exposure Offer #1: According to the paper “You could have your tweets (messages) seen by thousands of Mercurynews.com readers.”

Tip: The “Merc” is asking for a short itinary of your plans for inauguration day. If I were attending, I send in my itinary and make sure it was compelling, interesting, and provided the most exposure for the newspaper.

2. Exposure Offer #2: If you are chosen to “work with” them your Tweets “could be published in the paper.”

Tip: The San Jose Mercury news is the driving force for business news, at the newspaper level, in Silicon Valley. In order for you to have your tweets chosen for publication, I would suggest this approach. Consider the most interesting factors at the inauguration and tweet about them. Identify the historical surroundings, describe the energy, compare it to MLK’s famous speech, be observant of any “celebrities” in the crowd, and provide any breaking news if you can catch it.

How to Qualify

1. Send your Twitter ID.

2. Write a “brief description inauguration day plans” to phockaday@mercurynews.com.

3. According to the Merc “We will take a look at your Twitter feed and determine if you qualify for our inauguration day coverage.

Emily Chang’s eHub: Tool For Bloggers, Web 2.0 News

Emily Chang, MIT graduate, award-winning web and interaction designer, technology strategist and co-founder of Ideacodes, a design and web consultancy in San Francisco has a very cool tool for you to keep up with new applications at her blog: emilychang.com. This tool announces new Web 2.0 applications and provides a short description as well as reviews.

eHub

eHub is a listing within EmilyChang.com that is a stream of fresh news about the latest and greatest applications to come out of the minds of entrepreneurs. Why is this so important to bloggers?

1. Great content ideas provide constant information valuable to your readers

2. Great tools to help you in your business

3. Features and Reviews

4. Cutting edge and timely information on Web 2.0

5. Interviews with entrepreneurs and industry superstars

6. Submit a Site allows you to send your site or your favorite new tool for exposure

7. Tech Events and News

Example of Great Content

Project 10 to the 100th: According to the latest post on eHub this project is a very important event that anyone can become involved in:

“A call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. “Here’s how to join in. 1. Send us your idea by October 20th. 2. Voting on ideas begins on January 27th. We’ll post a selection of one hundred ideas and ask you, the public, to choose twenty semi-finalists. Then an advisory board will select up to five final ideas. 3. We’ll help bring these ideas to life. We’re committing $10 million to implement these projects, and our goal is to help as many people as possible. So remember, money may provide a jumpstart, but the idea is the thing.”

Follow Emily on twitter

profile image twittering: finishing up a style guide. it’s cool to be working with someone again that i worked with ten years ago.

Suspect Sought In Hell’s Angel’s ‘Frisco President Slaying

Newsflash 11:08pm September 11, 2008

Christopher Ablett, a suspect in the slaying, is being so...

One Christopher Ablett of Modesto is being sought tonight in connection with the slaying of San Francisco Hell’s Angel Chapter President Mark “Papa” Guardado according to KRON TV newscast. The only details to this point, according to the report, is that police have searched a house in Modesto, California and found evidence connecting Ablett to the crime.

Details are forthcoming and little is known. The report flashed a picture of the suspect who was reported to be 35 years old, brown hair, with little other information available.