Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best Email I've Seen In Months

It's no secret that I'm strongly opposed to the SOPA and PIPA bills currently winding their way through the House and Senate.  There's no shortage of my thoughts on this awful piece of legislation on all of my outlets on the Interwebz, and here is a summary of what the bills would do.
I have a number of web domains, some openly registered and some registered for clients.  Most of them are hosted by GoDaddy, a company who has publicly shown support for the SOPA bill.  Earlier this week, their unfortunate support for the bill came to light and a formal boycott of the company began.
I began to pull all of my sites from GoDaddy today, and I just got the greatest e mail:

Dear Mark Edwards,
This is to confirm that the following domain names have been successfully transferred away from Go Daddy to NAME.COM LLC:
If you require additional information, please contact Go Daddy.
Domain Services
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Copyright (C) 2011 Go Daddy All rights reserved.
Done.  See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.  That's what you get for siging with Big Pharma and Hollywood and opposing an open Internet. 
My first domain is out of their hands, and therer are many more to come.  PC World says over 70,000 people have already dumped GoDaddy, and while it's a small number for a huge company like that to lose, it's only the beginning of the damage GoDaddy has inflicted upon itself.
It's a huge pain to transfer a domain to a new host, but I think it's worth the time and effort because GoDaddy is supporting a bill that could Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE fundamentally change the way the Internet works.  They claim to have backed off on their support, but they refuse to provide proof that they've told Congress that they aren't supporting SOPA, and they even are on the record as being in support of the PIPA bill during Senate hearings.

I urge you to find out about the SOPA law and how it might affect you, and if you're doing business with GoDaddy, to move your services to any of the companies who oppose this chilling legislation.
Sometimes you just have to do the right thing, even if it's a little costly or inconvenient.  THIS is one of those times.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tis The Night Before Christmas, Here Are Some Stocking Stuffers

My last post featured some of my favorite Christmas and Hanukkah videos from over the years.  Of course, I posted that before some "fresh product" appeared on the TV sets and computers of scores of people across this great land of ours.

From Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on NBC, a "Mad Libs" version of  "A Visit From Saint Nicholas", better known  as "The Night Before Christmas".

And if you prefer audio, an amazing rendition of the piece (as written by Clement Moore in 1823) by 31 of the best voice actors in the business.
  TwasTheNightBeforeChristmas by ptvoicesforchildren
The recording will be released this week and all sales and donations to Voices For Children will benefit Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. The entire cast will assemble at the hospital on Christmas Eve for a live performance and donation.  Entertainment Tonight has the story and video from the voiceover session.

Here's to a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmastime Is Here, And So Is A Multimedia Extravaganza Of Christmas Joy

If you're like many people, you're working this week before Christmas, but you're really not working.  You're having cookie exchanges, Secret Santa time, and generally not thinking about much more than Christmas.  On a side note, if you're a Hiring Manager, you should be giving me a job for Christmas.  Just sayin'.

But that's not why I wrote this post.  As the person known as "Santa Jew", I'm sharing some audio and video to make your spirits bright.  Let's face it, most of the Christmas music on the radio kind of sucks and is full of commercials, so I've created special Christmas With Santa Jew channels on Pandora and Spotify, free for your listening pleasure.  Simply click on the service's name and you're IN.  You can  put them on at work, at home, or wherever you want to enjoy some cool Christmas carols.  And since I don't have a job, that's about the only gift you'll be getting from me this year. 

But wait, there's more.  And this is a GREAT way to kill time while you're pretending to work, watching some Christmas videos.  I've assembled a few of my faves for your consumption.

Mariah Carey created what many consider the only Christmas Classic song of the 1990's, "All I Want For Christmas Is You".  Being that I'm Santa Jew, I kind of prefer this version of the song.

Darlene Love is a living legend, from her work with Phil Spector in the 1960's, and the classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".  She made a new Christmas song a few years ago for Saturday Night Live.

For a bit more solemn take on the holiday, South Park's Eric Cartman is your man, uh, boy.

I'm a huge Michael Buble fan, and already knew he had a new Christmas CD this year.  What I didn't know is that he had a SECOND Chirstmas CD!

I'm not the only person with too much time on my hands.  There's this person who did quite the mashup of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and The Police.

What's the Holiday season without a good old fashioned Flash Mob?  This one was led by "Mr. Christmas", Darth Vader.

Flash Mobs are not the games of the young.  Here are some Senior Citizens taking over what looks like a Target store.

And no celebration of Christmas is complete without Nat King Cole doing The Christmas Song.  Here's the real thing, and it just doesn't get better than this.

That ought to give you plenty of things to do while you're running out the clock waiting for whenever the boss lets you out of work for Christmas. 

Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe, Happy New Year!

From The Late Show With David Letterman, two great videos, the story of my favorite TV moment of the year, Darlene Love's annual performance of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and a mashup of all her performances over the years.  Thanks to CBS and Worldwide Pants for sharing!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds [Infographic] | Geekosystem

There’s no doubt about it, social media has drastically changed the way we, as humans, interact with each other. The question is, though, is it changing the way, or destroying the way? This infographic, curiously made by the folks at Assisted Living Today, suggests that social networking is shortening our attention spans and rewiring our brains and brings some science along to back it up. It’s worth questioning though, if we’re living in a world where things are making us have a shorter attention span, is that a bad thing? I mean, maybe having a short attention span was only bad before it started becoming a necessity. The world is changing, guys. Maybe we’re just changing with it.
TL;DR It’s an infographic about why you just read the TL;DR instead of the paragraph above.
Relevant to your interests
What? Huh? I wasn't paying attention.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

St. Louis Doesn't Suck-Forbes

I’ve lived a somewhat nomadic existence in my adult life, moving from Richmond to Miami to New Orleans to New York to Raleigh to St. Petersburg.  Six years ago my wife and I reluctantly moved to St. Louis but very quickly found it to be a great place to live, work, and raise small people.
St. Louis has its problems like anywhere else, but there’s a lot to like: good schools, nice parks, great public institutions, competitive sports teams, strong corporate base, the world’s largest mustache (Gateway Arch), and plenty of places that make delicious beer.

The world's largest mustache - St. Louis' Gateway Arch
In the last two weeks, however, two stories have taken pot shots at my adopted hometown.
First there was a farcical piece in The Onion that the Labor Department reported 4 million new U.S. jobs in October, “though government officials hastened to add that the new positions are all located in the St. Louis…” I love The Onion but it essentially delivers the underlying message that people outside of “The Lou” think it’s not so hot.
Then there was something a bit uglier.  Yahoo! Health reported St. Louis to be among the 10 saddest cities in America based on suicide and unemployment rates, the percentage of households that use antidepressants, and other factors.
Oye gevault!
I’ve got to believe St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, the Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA), or St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley can’t like pieces like these.
The trouble being that nearly every political or civic entity in the region working to fix metro-St. Louis’ reputation is doing it on their own, in a silo, with little coordination with other partners. There have been some quiet efforts to galvanize private sector forces, but nothing has materialized primarily due to the political infighting that seemingly lies beneath the surface.
Why do you think that despite being a relatively safe place to live, St. Louis crime statistics are listed by the FBI as being four times higher than the national average and the city is routinely noted as one of America’s most dangerous? It’s because as the city and surrounding county battle for turf, they refuse to do what most other major metro areas do in combining regional crime statistics which leads to better rankings.
Thank you Mssrs. Slay and Dooley.
So with all of this in mind, as my holiday gift to St. Louis, I’m going to outline a strategy for altering St. Louis’ reputation on the national landscape.
St. Louis Doesn’t Suck
Let’s begin with the foundation — one that’s a bit edgy and disrupts the same conservative Midwestern sensibilities that caused the city to foolishly pass on hosting Red Bull’s popular Flugtag event a few years back.
You see, despite a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch report citing that the city attracted more young people than it lost for the first time in eons, the city has a long way to go in drawing the younger workforce that leading edge employers crave. And as my partner Brian Cross wrote on his blog, natives are still looking elsewhere for post-graduate jobs.
After all, a recent Stanford or Univ. of Miami graduate doesn’t really care if St. Louis is “Perfectly Centered. Remarkably Connected.” They want to live and work somewhere that has a thriving downtown with a great night life and is perceived to be progressive.
Which brings us to the St. Louis Doesn’t Suck campaign, focusing on delivering four key messages that support any thriving metro area:
  • St. Louis has affordable housing: According to the Cost of Living Index Calculator, greater St. Louis has the lowest cost of living among the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas for 2010.
  • St. Louis has a collection of outstanding education resources: The cities of Clayton and Ladue have two of the finest and well-funded public school systems in the U.S., there is a nice collection of high ranking private and parochial schools, and a several leading colleges including Washington University — regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally.

    Danforth Plant Science Center
  • St. Louis has a strong employment base: Did you know there are more plant scientists in the St. Louis region than any other concentrated area in the world? We do a great job telling each other that here — just not the outside world. But thanks to the likes of Monsanto, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and a host of mid-size and smaller plant science related entities in the region — and the fact that the city is located within 500 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop — St. Louis is arguably the center of plant science research and innovation worldwide.  Add that to the fact the region is also home to 21 of the Fortune 1000 companies with leading employers like Anheuser-Busch/InBev, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Boeing, Mastercard, Nestle-Purina, and Build-A-Bear — and the case is easy that there are good jobs to be had.
  • St. Louis has rich cultural resources: Let’s start with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and the team’s fine downtown ballpark. Then there’s one of the top ranked zoos in the U.S. that also happens to be free of charge to enter, a symphony that is highly respected worldwide, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., a very healthy and diverse collection of restaurants, tremendous live music venues, acclaimed art and history museums as well as a City Museum that is beyond explanation, and the list goes on.
Sot sucking at all thus far. But now comes the hard part. How do we best deliver these messages? It takes a comprehensive approach that not only touches the manner in which people seek and find information today, but then compels them to take action.  
St. Louis Doesn’t Suck harnesses the most meaningful marketing communications channels and surrounds working adults ages 22 to 55, delivering a consistent message that St. Louis has the housing, education, employment and cultural resources that encompass a great place to live, work, visit, and play.
The tools the program leverages include:
  • Digital centerpiece: While the Regional Chamber has tried, there’s no digital centerpiece or website that represents the region in a way that makes you want to stay on the site for more than 30 seconds. It’s an ADHD world people, and to keep an audience — especially today’s 21 – 35-year-old young professional — you need engaging and fresh content that is comprised of the people and entities that enrich the region telling the story in first person.  No one really wants to read, “Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers, we have a tradition of leadership in transportation, distribution, and logistics.”
  • Video speaks volumes: A strong message in 60 seconds can potentially say far more than 1,500 words of text. Let’s see CEOs George Paz of Express-Scripts, Hugh Grant of Monsanto, Energizer’s Ward Klein talking about their vision. How about young employees from Arch Coal, HOK, or Brian Cave showing people their favorite haunts around town?  Remember the “I’m a Mormon” campaign from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints? Very strong stuff.
  • Social media: Yes, have a Facebook page. Sure, a Twitter account is nice. More important, however, you’ve got to understand how to use these tools other than to simply have an account or page, like the Regional Chamber’s Facebook page that has 140-some fans. How about livestreaming a free concert from the Pageant music venue on Facebook; or get a group of CEOs from mid-size companies engaging in a Google Hangout with some top college students talking about what they are looking for from the local workforce; or take suggestions from city residents via Twitter (and actually use one of them) on how to improve a public park.  Just spend some time looking at how Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak engages constituents on Twitter. It’s not your standard press feeder.
  • PR: Once you’re doing some of these things and there’s an actual a story of change to tell, take some leaders of influence on the road in tandem and visit some national media. And by “leaders of influence,” I don’t necessarily mean the Mayor and head of the Regional Chamber. It’s about the sum of the city’s parts — a coalition of leading CEOs, the heads of the five local angel investors group,  a handful of leading entrepreneurs.  Or, how about pitching a recurring HuffingtonPost column from the mayor or a collection of local CEOs. Why not ask InBev CEO Carlos Brito or one of his top lieutenants to write a column on beer.
  • Mobile: There are more cellular phones in the U.S. than there are people, and at the very least any centralized website for a coordinated effort should be mobile enabled. But think bigger: an app that serves as a virtual tour guide, has push notifications for events, and includes searchable capabilities for activities meeting specific criteria.
  • Paid media: Look at a small, controlled program of paid media — traditional and digital. How about a Letter to America ad in the Wall St. Journal about the needs of American business co-signed by a group of local CEOs, but more important use Google Adwords and Facebook cost-per-click to drive to engaging video content telling first person stories about the region.
  • SEO: I saved this for last because online search is the magic bullet. It’s what everything drives towards. And if you don’t have an SEO component as part of an integrated marketing plan, you lose. Think of it this way: you own a business in Miami and you’re tired of all of the fair weather sports fans there so you tell your director of facilities it’s time to find a new headquarters town. What does that director do? He puts together a due diligence committee and they all start doing research — online — using search engines and terms like “best cities to work” and “best cities to live” and looking at tax incentives and quality of life, etc. In short, all the other stuff you’re doing in the marketing channels are filling the SEO funnel that needs to be filled, stacked, stuffed and overflowing with good news.
St. Louis isn’t perfect — the local  style of pizza is horrendous, our NFL football team should not be playing in a dome, the airport is an embarrassment, and the traffic lights aren’t timed.  More important, we still struggle to create, attract, and retain more skilled workers.  It’s an old-time, Mississippi River-based manufacturing economy that’s yet to fully reinvent itself that last year lost 14 percent of its professional services companies (law firms, architects, ad agencies).
 Without question, St. Louis does not suck. But with the exception of one very smart tourism campaign developed by the CVB, we typically do a terrible job of externally articulating what those offerings are.
Perhaps by stepping out of our comfort zone, moving beyond silly turf battles, and developing a comprehensive approach to marketing the area, St. Louis can better promote a region that has much to offer.
Happy holidays.

Great read by Aaron Perlut on I agree with him on most points, and know that sometimes the region's worst enemy is itself. He lays out a great marketing program for the region, and I agree that its something that should be done. But will it ever happen? Probably not because of the powers that be around here. But we can dream, and for now keep our little secret about how, believe it or not, St. Louis (County) doesn't suck.  For more, check out the article and my comments there.
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Are There Any HONEST Job Search Websites?

I'm learning some hard lessons in the job search.

I've already written about the challenges companies put in the way of job seekers by using online application and evaluation systems and how hard it is to speak with a hiring manager because they hide behind these bots.

Today, I applied for a job and had to answer a few questions, would I take a drug test?, am I cleared to work in the USA?, do I have at least a Master's Degre?  When I answered "no" to that one, I was told I didn't meet the minium requirements for that job and the application process stopped dead.  They wouldn't even let me submit an application or talk in a cover letter about how some 35 years of work experience taught me a lot more than a Master's Degree.  Thank YOU, Anheuser Busch, for being so open minded.

I've signed up for quite a few job sites, and I know they all want to show the people who list with them that they can deliver the best candidates, but sites like send me e mails every day with a list of jobs I'm neither qualified for or interested in taking.  Yeah, I'd be a GREAT over the road hauler.

Sites like seem to exist only to take job seekers' money, not to really help them. Many of the jobs the list are already filled, when I sent a note asking for customer service, got an auto-response saying it would cost me at least $25 to interact with someone who could help me. This is what bounced back to me:

10:26 AM

to me

Dear Reader,
This is an automated email. Thanks for writing in!
Live support from one of our Job Search Advisors is reserved for Premium members, but don’t worry – there’s lots of other ways you can get support.
If you’d simply like to make a change to your membership please visit:
The best way to get any membership questions answered is by chatting with us. Please click on the link below to start chatting now:

If you’re experiencing technical troubles you can reach out to the tech support team directly by calling 1-877-302-4239.
TheLadders Team
I know we're all in business to make money, but it doesn't seem right for The Ladders and other job sites to bait and switch job seekers like that.  Since they wouldn't even look at my note without money changing hands, I posted a note on their CEO's blog (which has since been removed) explaining how I felt about the way they do business.

I did get a call from some flunky in The Ladders office who confirmed that therre were indeed dead ends and jobs that didn't exist on their site and that he had personally seen that one of the jobs they sent me was not an actual listing.  Then he offered me a two week trial of their "Premium Service" but I'd still have to give him a credit card and be responsible for cancelling the special trial or I'd be billed up to $25 a month automatically.  Are you KIDDING me?  You treat me like dirt and then try to extract money from me?  An amazing case of indifference at best, predatory taking advantage of the unemployed at worst.

I just want to find a job that will let me keep my house and feed my family.  Why does it seem like the online job sites are all so sketchy, or seem like they're running a scam?

BLATANT SELF SERVING PLUG: By the way, if you or someone you know is looking for an experienced online and broadcast content person, check out my profile at
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tales From The Beach-Month Two Begins

When you hear the term "on the beach", you think of hanging out near the water, resting and relaxing.  As long as I've been in the radio business, "on the beach" was a euphemism for "unemployed", which is what I am these days.
This post isn't to ask for a job, I've tried many ways to do that and am looking hard for the next big thing.  Rather, this post is a series of thoughts that have been rattling around in my head since I was summarily dismissed from my position in Kansas City on October 27th.
So I'm in St. Louis with my family and after the last experience (moving and working in KC for just under a year before being labeled a "Budget Cut") I pretty much am sure my next job will be here.  Which brings me to a story from The Onion last week.

U.S. Adds 4 Million Jobs But In St. Louis

November 29, 2011 | ISSUE 47•48
WASHINGTON—The Labor Department reported Monday that the U.S. economy created a staggering 4 million jobs in October, though government officials hastened to add that the new positions are all located in the St. Louis metropolitan area. "New employment opportunities are emerging in the fields of engineering, medicine, and manufacturing, but, to be clear, one would have to move to and live in St. Louis to fill these openings," said government spokesperson Stephanie Bergsen, noting that the city has a high crime rate and not much in the way of culture, so be sure to take that into consideration. "Though this much- needed job growth would bring our unemployment rate down to a far more manageable six and a half percent, at the end of the day, it's St. Louis, so…" Republicans strategists are reportedly already planning to use President Obama's record of creating 4 million jobs in St. Louis as the basis for numerous attack ads.
They didn't pick St. Louis for a random reason, I think it's the best place I've ever lived to raise a family, but I live in the suburbs.  The city, well, does have some issues.  And those issues are keeping businesses from coming to St. Louis or expanding their operations here in a big way.  But that's a different blog post.
That being said, I'm looking for work in St. Louis or for something I can do from my home in the safer suburbs of America's Most Dangerous City 2010.
The process of finding a job has always been excruciating, but technology has made it worse.  Almost every job posted in the area involves applying online.  Now, that's an adventure unlike any other.  It takes between 90 minutes and two hours to fill out one of these online applications, where they want to know every detail of your life, the exact start and end dates of each of your jobs, and a full description of your duties and skills used on each job.
In some online job application systems, like the hot mess made by Taleo, once you've manually entered every detail of your life, THEN they ask you to upload a resume, which pretty much has the same information you JUST entered.  Other systems put you through the same kind of hoops of fire in order to apply for a job, and many of the systems scan your application for keywords and automatically send you a rejection e mail within a couple days of your application, most likely with your information never passing before a human eye.
This is the video Taleo uses to convince companies they're the best way to find talent.
It certainly is easier than having to have a live human scan all those resumes, but it doesn't take anything about the applicant that isn't written in computer-friendly terms.  Speaking of friendly, the rejection e mail from Monsanto was so nice, I thought I'd share part of it with you
After careful consideration by our Talent Acquisition team, we have decided to pursue other candidates who more closely reflect the overall qualifications for the position.  We encourage you to visit our website and continue to apply for positions that best fit your qualifications.  We will retain your candidate file in our database and may inform you of job openings that match your profile if you select this option.
The rejection e mail from Scottrade actually came three days after I applied online for a job, but it wasn't nearly as friendly as the one from Monsanto.  I can only assume "the system" decided I wasn't qualified for these communications and social media jobs and spit me out like month old gum.
Add to this one of the great scams of the Interwebz, the sites that aggregate job listings and have you apply through their site.  One site in particular that seems to post jobs from the Clinton administration and represents them as new postings is JIBE.  I've applied for numerous jobs from their site, and none of them seem to be current.  Check out this note I got from them after applying for a job earlier this week.  Remember, this is a note from the website that had posted the job as "new".
Thank you for your application for District Employee Communications Supervisor at UPS. Unfortunately, we cannot submit your application because that position is no longer available. We do our best to update our site as soon as companies remove positions, but sometimes a slight delay occurs. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.
Please browse JIBE's many other positions, and apply to any that might be a good fit for you. Applying again will be easy now that you've uploaded your resume and basic information.
Please call or email me if there's anything else I can help you with.
Seth Handler, The JIBE Guy
212-380-1771 ext. 701
I did exchange e mails with Seth, and all he could tell me was:
Mark - I appreciate the email.
Jobs automatically come down off our site as soon as they are taken down from companies career sites.  Sometimes, it takes a few hours for it to come down if it was posted on another site (,, etc.)  and that's usually where the problems arise.
We are actively working on it and than you again for your input.
So it's not really JIBE (or should it be jiVe?) that's wrong, it's all the websites they're reposting jobs from.  And there are a LOT of sites that are like this.
It's hard enough to be out of a job, especially in today's economy.  But making it harder for those who want to find a job by putting them through the ridiculous online application process isn't just wrong, it's mean and demoralizing.
I'm hoping there won't be any more posts "from the beach" and I hope I don't have to spend half of every day applying for jobs I can do but don't even get considered for because I didn't get the right keywords in my application or I've worked in the radio industry for three decades and many companies don't consider radio to be a legitimate business.
Most of all, I hope that everyone else looking for a job doesn't feel as beaten down, humiliated, and frustrated as I feel right now.