Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quoted about business blogging - Princeton Business Journal

I was quoted in this article in the Princeton Business Journal, about business blogging. Comments are welcome!

Fire a whole truckload of wait...hire a bunch of

From the "Hmm...that's strange timing department" at one of the world's largest financial institutions, comes this email that crossed my desk today. The only thing you can say is, that might be a very very short career indeed.


If you're an established performer with the ambition to realize a higher level of success, we have opportunities near you that will allow you to reach the next level of your career.

Opportunities of interest for experienced professionals:

  • Personal Bankers
  • Lending Consultants
  • Relationship Managers
  • Business Bankers

get started now

Forward this email to a colleague Text "Citi" to the word CAREER (227337) to receive employment updates!



2981 Ford Street, Ogdensburg, NY -13669

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some good ideas for marketing programs in 2008 from Chief Marketer

Drew Neisser, president of, a New York agency, wrote Top Ten: Marketing Ideas To Consider in 2008. Some excellent thoughts on tactics and strategies for marketing in the new year.

Anyone want to add to Drew's list or challenge anything on it?

Going Bicoastal...

Fired Microsoft CIO re-emerges as operations chief at mortgage firm

If you have any doubts about why there is trouble in the subprime mortgage market, consider this...

Employees are our greatest asset...except when.

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Employees are our greatest asset...except when they are our greatest liability...

So this story is moving on CNBC, and Citi is making only the limp, prepared statement denials. It appears that as many as 45,000 Citi employees will soon be introducing themselves as "recovering" bankers.

Citigroup Plans New Round Of 'Massive' Job Cuts - Financials * US * News * Story -

Expect these folks to be hitting the street before December 15, because that's the traditional day that banks close the books on the year's finances (I'm sure Citi wishes it could have closed those books back in August before the subprime market blew up like an exploding dye pack of stolen money). The more important reason to Citi to have these folks exit then is, as Charlie G. points out in the CNBC report, that will X them out of the bonus pool for the year, which is already likely to be microscopic.

And the bank also managed to sell another big chunk of its equity into the Middle East, to a venture fund owned by Abu Dhabi. It's so comforting to know that the largest bank in the U.S. is majority owned by interests that are not always aligned with those of the US economy or -- heaven forbid! -- US workers.

There is a silver lining, though. People at Citi with entry level titles like vice president and senior vice president will almost certainly end up as executive vice presidents at smaller community banks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Appreciation for a headline writer who took a few extra minutes...

Story appearing in today's Press of Atlantic City, major South Jersey newspaper, about the impending retirement of Jim Saxton, longtime congressman, and his legislative support for fishing industry in New Jersey. You have to admire a headline writer who took the time to develop this pun-laden "hed."

Anglers will miss Saxton in House

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Writers Guild of America is, deserves a new does IATSE - stagehands

To borrow a phrase from a labor organizer (see image) from way back, there is a spectre haunting American business and it is the spectre of renewed interest in organized labor.

Karl Marx

I think it's probably time for white collar workers in our knowledge-based economy to take a hard look at the situation.

Being nonunion used to have some advantages, like the possibility of advancement, more compensation, etc. But those advantages were always illusory. Companies always managed to find a reason to cut merit increases for nonunion people, (we can't give anyone more than 3%) or bonuses (we're cutting bonuses in half this year -- even though last year was already cut in half from the previous year) get the idea. And oh, by the way, we're laying you off because you still make too much money, or you're too old, or whatever, we don't really need a reason.

The economic changes wrenching many "knowledge-based" industries call for some renewed push for greater equity in the labor-management equation.

Look what's happening in banking and finance, where mistakes made by highly compensated managers and CEOs are punished how? The people who created the mess get to leave with huge "retirement" packages, and then the company lays off 3,000 or 4,000 working stiffs to balance the messy books the "retired" executives pooped on. And by the way, the people who "retired" were really only doing what they were expected to do, maximize profits by engaging in risky transactions that hopefully wouldn't blow up before they sold them to the next unsuspecting investor. But once the music stops, someone has to lose, and it's not going to be the board that authorized the transactions. How is that right?

The entertainment industry has run headlong into this buzz saw by picking two fights that it is doomed to lose, at least in the court of public opinion.

I'm talking about the Writers Guild strike and the Stagehands union in New York.

Write Once, Get Paid Little

Take the Writers Guild. The simple mathematics gets lost when the studios and networks accuse the writers of greed.

The reality is very different. At any given time, nearly half of the WGA's members are technically unemployed. The WGA has made a very straightforward short video that explains their position, and it's worth watching.

They are also urging supporters to send pencils to the studio heads as a form of protest and support for the writers. On the WGA's unofficial blog site, you can click a button to buy a box of pencils for $1 using PayPal. You can even tell the studio "moguls" which show's writers you are supporting. I think this is a good idea, and I've ponied up my dollar. I hope you will also.

At the DeadlineHollywoodDaily Blog, a press release announces that some high profile actors have joined the WGA's strike efforts.

Let's have a hand for the stagehands, too

Meanwhile, if you haven't been following the stagehands' strike in Broadway theaters, here's an NPR update on that. The gist of it seems to be that the producers and theaters want the stagehands of various crafts (electricians, carpenters, etc.) to be on call at the theater, but not actually go on the clock until it's physically their turn to screw in a light or hammer in a nail. Excuse me, but if you have to be at the place of employment ready to work, you ought to get paid. As one stagehand union official pointed out, no one ever suggested that actors should just be paid for the time they are on stage. More information at the IATSE website.

As a sometimes creative professional, I have to support these folks. Their contract demands are not unreasonable. They are very important to the entertainment industry, and unless you want to watch reality-drivel shows for the next decade, let's ratchet up the pressure on the theaters, the producers, the networks and the movie studios to settle this fairly.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Steve Lubetkin's first Utterz - a video

BusinessWeek Vindicates Lubetkin

I have been making this observation in my presentations on social media for over a year and a half: despite all the fabulous buzz about user-generated content and the joy of watching people whack themselves with a rubber chicken on YouTube, the reality is this.

When people go to the Apple iTunes Music Store for podcasts, the top 100 podcasts they download are heavily weighted in favor of professionally produced content by well-known media companies, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, ESPN, C-SPAN, etc.

In the latest BusinessWeek, the article Web Video: Move Over, Amateurs vindicates my argument.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Even ComputerWorld magazine thinks the Emperor of Linden Land may not have any clothes on...

Gary Anthes, a veteran columnist and reporter for ComputerWorld, went on assignment in Second Life recently. (This isn't Gary's avatar.)

His report on what he found -- and what he didn't find, appears on the ComputerWorld site, under the headline that vaguely sounds like what I've been asking for along time..."Second Life: Is There Any There There? After a week's sojourn, our virtual traveler isn't so sure."

Neither am I.

Stories you won't see on the network "network" even relevant any more?

I go to a lot of networking/social events where I meet very creative, talented people working in the new social media, and I learn a lot from them. Last night at the regular monthly "CreativeConnects" mixer sponsored by BOSS Group, I met Brian Conley, a filmmaker and freelance journalist who recently relocated to Philadelphia after spending quite some time in Iraq and other hot spots.

Brian is one of the leaders of a citizen-journalism project called Alive in Baghdad. They have professional, native Iraqi videojournalist teams on the ground in Iraq, filming stories of everyday life in Iraq by actually (note to Brian Williams and the rest of the MSM) going out and TALKING TO REAL PEOPLE. They don't do their nightly reports from the balcony of the hotel while waiting for room service to bring dinner.

Alive in Baghdad's latest video is a story about a Baghdad printing plant that employs 900 people, including what seems to be a fair number of women, but the government has decided to shut them down for some reason. They've done other stories, like on the scene features about how Sunni Muslim Iraqis are now partnering with the US to fight the so-called "Al Qaeda" insurgency. We don't see much real reporting on these stories on ABC, CBS, NBC, or CNN.

AIB supports itself like public television, through viewer sponsorships and donations. You can subscribe right on the site and even make monthly donations through PayPal.

If I have any quibbles with the approach, I'd like to see some voice-over context that explains the story -- they do this in the show notes on the site, but there needs to be some narrative beyond the subtitled, cinema verite video style, to make it a more contained report and less free-flowing, but the point is this.

With creative, resourceful, indigenous journalists able to produce stories this well crafted, why can't the mainstream media, with all of their vast resources, keep up? What are they thinking up at 30 Rock and these other temples of mainstream broadcasting?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Banks Are Creating a New Kind of Customer Intimacy With Web 2.0 and Social Networking

Banks Are Creating a New Kind of Customer Intimacy With Web 2.0 and Social Networking

Interesting story from Finance Tech Wire about Wells Fargo Bank jumping feet first into the Social Media. Wells has a Second Life-inspired online world called "Stagecoach Island," which sounds like it may even have been a white-labeled version of SL, because the descriptive info about it encourages people to have their online avatars "fly" as the most convenient way to island hop in the world. Sound familiar, Second Lifers?

Wells also has an interesting blog, Guided By History, that actually draws on the Wild West past of the bank through the research efforts of professional archivists. (Unlike the other big banks that want to eradicate every memory of their history, Wells actually discovered earlier this year that helping high net worth customers trace their families could lead to more business!)

I think the headline goes a bit far. There are few banks creating this kind of social network. And would you REALLY call an online virtual world "customer intimacy," when they still process all their loan applications in a distant factory that just looks at credit scores, not at the person sitting in the branch?

Nevertheless, I think it's great that Wells Fargo, alone among the major banks, is making an effort to understand these tools of the social media. This gives them a leg up in understanding how younger customers (read "the customers they will need to be nice to over the next 20 years") use banks and use technology.

Wonder if any of the other major banks is taking note?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NJBankers/New Jersey Bank Marketing Association Video Pod #2: Matthew Harvey of Financial Institutions Consulting, "Business Development on a Sho

This is program #2 in the NJBankers/New Jersey Bank Marketing Association's Fall podcast series. If you'd like to see all the programs in the series, visit or our video feed at

This is the second of three podcasts produced from the BMA's October 2007 seminar, "Business Development on a Shoestring." In this episode, we offer a presentation by Matthew Harvey of Financial Institutions Consulting Inc.

FIC works with financial services firms on engagements related to growth, productivity and profit improvements. This program runs approximately 17 minutes.

This program, the second of three, runs about 17 minutes. Produced by Professional Podcasts LLC. A DVD of all three parts of the seminar is available for purchase. Contact