Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google Gets It

Google gets it when it comes to making online search a breeze. By creating an algorithm based on relevancy and recency Google search became a household name. How many times have you said, "Google it" in reference to an online search? To quote William Leaker in his article published in Adotas on Nov 19, 2008, "Google now owns a vast percentage of what could be described as the 'content discovery' market."

And Google gets it that a company can never rest on its laurels. With products like Google Adsense and Google Analytics it provided a single source for advertisers to track how well their keywords are doing and modify their website strategy by tracking website visitor behavior. Google has also recently added the ability to track the number of hits on flash media on websites. During the past several years, I have used Google's competitive products - Webtrends, HitBox/Visual Sciences. I find Google Analytics more user-friendly, highly intuitive and actionable. I set up goals for my company's website and am able to track how well our keywords are doing and track conversion rates, visitor loyalty, bounce rates and how marketing activities are impacting visits and conversions. Through its AppExchange, Google has also provided integration into's CRM so that all the actionable reporting is in one place.

Other Google's services are: Google Maps which are far better than Mapquest in getting driving directions and Google Earth gives us a view of any address in the world that we typed in.

Let's face it, when most of us are surfing the Net, we don't want to spend too much time looking for information. So, to make it easy to stay abreast of topics that interested us, Google gave us the ability to set up alerts on Google News, so we could get notifications when the keywords we selected appeared in any news media.

Its recent product Google Reader is an online RSS feed reader by Google, which allows you to share combined feeds of shared, starred or tagged feeds. You can create your own dashboard so that you are getting updates on your favorite sites and blogs fed directly to your Google home page. Or, if you prefer to use your blog home page instead of Google's, by downloading the widget, you can create your dashboard on your blog home page. See

Just when you think it could not get any better, Google gets it right again. Its newest product SearchWiki gives you the ability to personalize and markup your searches so that you control the rankings of your search results. See

The fact that Google offers all these services at no charge makes it even more appealing. Yes, Virginia, there really is a free lunch! All that, with the convenience of having it on one page suits me just fine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Teamwork = Chemistry and Physics

The best teams have a common trait - willingness to work together. That trait trumps each individual's strengths and talents. It is the link that bonds the team together. I was fortunate to be a member of teams like that several times. One team that I would like to highlight had a chemistry that was fostered by our marketing leader. This team was made up mostly of strong, opinionated women and a couple of amiable men.

Our fearless leader had very strong opinions as well, but he wasn't intimidated by strong women, so he let us all express ourselves and manage our own projects. We had frequent status meetings to report out on progress and inter dependencies and we pitched it to help each other out without counting the cost of its impact to ourselves because we knew we were working together for the common good and common goals of the company. We enjoyed a healthy repartee and a free flow of ideas and disagreed while maintaining respect for each other.

As one of the more experienced members of the team, I was often looked at as the unofficial leader nicknamed "Care Bear." Some of the others were "Funshine Bear," "Polar Bear," "Gummi Bear," and "Teddy Bear." And, just for fun, as we talked about our spouses, we referred to them as "Angry Bear" if they had done something to deserve the moniker. What held this team together was chemistry.

In teamwork, it is not only chemistry that is important - it also involves physics. The important thing to remember is that keeping the balance in teams like these is an art form. Think about a juggler who is constantly moving several items with precision to keep them in play. If he is off by even a second, the items succumb to gravity. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened when our leader was reassigned to another role in the company.

The "Bears" went into hibernation as the team splintered. As the old saying goes "When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it."As our structure changed, I tried to maintain strong relationships with many of the team members. It seemed like the molecular structure or the chemical elements were out of sync.

I learned many things from that "experiment" and I cherish the strong friendships that I still maintain today. Most importantly, I learned that the secret to a strong team is empowerment. It is the ionic bonding that connects positive cations to negative anions. The position of each atom is determined by the nature of the chemical bonds by which it is connected to its neighboring atoms.

Life is a Tapestry

Life is a tapestry of interwoven relationships we start weaving the day we are born. The design we start out with will not be the one we end up with as we adjust the threads with the tweets, posts, IMs, blogs, emails and every other touchpoint we use to communicate and weave relationships. The intricacy of the pattern depends on the number of relationships and the knots that sometimes are inevitable. It doesn't matter how different the design is from where it began to where it is at any given point. It is the quality and strength of the fabric that matters.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heightened Voyeurism on TV

I hate reality TV! There, I said it. It has made "voyeurs" of us as we watch the intimate details of lives of "newlyweds," "wife swappers," "bachelors," and "Living with ..." the list goes on. I have spent a few minutes from time to time trying to watch some of them so I could participate in the water cooler banter. My feigned attempts at interest were called out by the die-hard fans of each reality show I suffered through.

However, I must admit that I am utterly and completely a slave to "Dancing With The Stars" from season 1. In fact, I was on JetBlue returning from a business trip to New York on the night of the semi-final results show. I was openly devastated when I learned that JetBlue did not carry ABC! To my surprise, I was joined by a chorus of passengers who were equally disappointed that we could not watch the results show while traveling. Interestingly, a majority of them were Emmitt Smith fans so there was mass bonding on that flight. I picked out the winner and voted for each winning couple for every season except the last. I knew Kristy Yamaguchi would win, but I thought she had an unfair advantage over the rest. I voted faithfully each week for Jason Taylor and his partner Edyta Sliwinska. He impressed me each week as he got better in each category. Edyta is such a delight - not only as a dancer, but also as a person. Her smile lights up the dance floor and she's gracious even in defeat.

So, if watching DWTS makes me a hypocrite, so be it. To me, DWTS is truly family entertainment - despite the somewhat risque outfits that some of the dancers wear. It is true poetry in motion to watch two people in total synchronization after only a week of practice.

My brother Anton taught me to dance when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. He told me that to be a good dancer, one has to feel the music moving through one's body. So I live vicariously through the celebrities in "Dancing with the Stars" as I recall my younger, single days when I had won a few amateur competitions with my brother.

And, when I want to get really into it, I play some CDs and dance around my home, as I vacuum. Helps the chores become more bearable.

By the way - this season's DWTS Finals is on Monday night 8/7C on ABC. Watch and please vote for Brooke Burke and Derek Hough. That's my plug ... after all I am a marketer at heart!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Exotic Pets

Growing up as the youngest of a large family (mostly brothers), we had a wide variety of pets - ranging from the regular cats and dogs to turtles, monkeys, snakes, guinea pigs, squirrels, chickens, turkeys, ducks and even an alligator. I usually stayed away from the unusual and exotic and played with the cats and dogs.

My husband and I never had pets until a few years ago, when we bought a German Shepherd dog and then at my daughter's insistence, we bought two floppy eared bunnies. Despite taking good care of them, the two bunnies did not last longer than two years. I took their passing so hard that my husband and I swore we would not have dainty pets again. Our adopted family grew as we adopted another German Shepherd puppy in 2004.

Fast forward to late 2007 and we have a new baby hamster that my daughter snuck into our home without our permission. Needless to say we all fell in love with "Ivan the Terrible." My husband calls him "son' and spends hours playing with him. He has become our baby and not my daughter's as we gingerly take care of him. We have sheltered Ivan from our doggy kids who are blissfully unaware of his existence.

Last Friday, I had a hysterical call from my husband saying something was terribly wrong with our "baby" Ivan. We took him to the vet (yes ... we actually did). Upon examination, the nice Vet told us he had an infected cheek pouch. I have been diligently feeding him his antibiotics twice a day with a syringe and his Gerber Baby carrots and peas every four hours (including at night). With our love, care and prayers, I am happy to report that Ivan the Terrible was running around like Maurice Greene yesterday.

Love has no bounds. And, to think I could never fall in love with a hamster!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is that a crack or a hole in the ceiling?

During the election campaigns, we kept hearing about cracks in the proverbial ceiling. Looking at the results, I am not sure whether we would call it cracks or a blast through the ceiling. Whether you liked the candidates or their parties or their platforms, you have to admit this was a year of advancements.

Hillary called her accomplishments 18 million cracks in the ceiling and perhaps paved the way for a woman to be the Republican VP nominee. And, Barack's accomplishments are monumental.

Whichever way you look at the results, it paves the way for women and the minorities and handicapped of any ilk to pursue whatever they wanted to, but were afraid to.

It's certainly given me new found courage to pursue my writing and I am taking my first big bold steps with this blog.

I have been inspired by President-elect Obama's victory speech, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible ... tonight is your answer."

So, watch out world ... my laptop has become my new best friend.


As the shadows danced … and changed shape … on the wall… My daughter’s voice … like Christmas bells … accompanied … each varying shape … of my hands … Suddenly … I am back in time … I watch daddy’s fingers … and handkerchief … move deftly … to change shape … as donkeys … rabbits … and crocodiles … and other animals … prance their way … from a makeshift screen … to my toddler heart …
All at once … back in the present ... I see dad’s knowing wink … on my daughter’s face … saying it’s OK … to continue his tradition.

(dedicated to my late dad who always had time for me) - written in 1991


I was fascinated … at a germinating bean seed … that my son had planted … In weeks … I saw the split bean … come out of the ground … and the dicotyledons … proudly giving of themselves … to the growing sprout … The dicots stood guard … to protect … the young … and nurture … and … after all the nutrients … had been sapped out of them ... shriveled … and fell … to the ground … Parents ... are like dicots … They share values … and wisdom of experiences … through years … of loving nurturing … And once their wisdom … and strength … are sapped … they pass on … to the ground … But … the young sprout … grows stronger .. tapping into … the vault … of parents’ quotes … that somehow … parents never really die … but live … in the children … they leave behind

dedicated to my late dad who taught me the beauty of poetry (1991)

The Red Stiletto

Someone once said that in today’s increasingly homogeneous world, the last bastion of personalization is a pair of shoes. That being the case, I own the red stiletto. My shoe symbolizes my passion, my sharp wit and sense of style.

I am into integrating media - my shoe has a tasteful blend of patent and suede. I am into details - just like my shoe's little red bow on top, I like to finish everything with that little extra applomb.

Shoes have played a role in pop culture ... even Forrest Gump said so, "you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes ... where they've been ..." and who can forget Dorothy clicking her heels. And, there were movies titled "Shoes of the Fisherman" and "In Her Shoes."

Some people think you are what you eat. I say you are what you wear on your feet.

Life's a dance ... whether it takes two to tango or you're tripping the light fantastic ... wear the right shoes!

P.S. And, if you ever find yourself with your foot in your mouth, you'll be glad you had on a good shoe!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Woman of Many Hats

When I was very young, my sister used to work at a textile store that had a tailor and a milliner on premises. She got along very well with the tailor and milliner and very often they offered to make me dresses and hats with the material left over from their jobs. As not many kids my age wore the sophisticated and artsy hats that the milliner made me, I felt self conscious about wearing them.

As I grew up and studied drama, I learned that costumes are so important in character portrayal and that hats denote so much about a character - about occupation, personality and status.

Today I wear many hats - career woman, mother, wife, friend, counselor, aunt, sister. Each hat comes with its set of responsibilities, but I cannot always compartmentalize my time, so I have to juggle the hats and responsibilities.

Looking back I see that I had the right type of head for hats. I am definitely a hat person!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The glass is always half full

Life has taught me that attitude is the key to winning. Some people are perplexed by my Pollyanna attitude, but I have come to realize that winning is a self-fulfilling prophecy. if you think like a winner, you will win in the end. It may take time, but it will happen. I keep a healthy dose of optimism in my purse at all times, which I take right after my daily pill of realism. Seems like that optimism endears me to people and they like to hang around me.
Trust me, it isn't easy and with everything I have gone through, I am amazed at how strong I have been to survive without resorting to therapy, drugs or alcohol. Thank you to my mom, dad and those Catholic nuns at Good Shepherd Convent for inspiring me.
So, when life gets you down, remember the song from "Life of Brian" - ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE!