Helping College Grads Save Time & Misery

Over at McLellan Marketing, Drew "Top Dawg" McLellan is trying to put together an e-book that will assist recent grads in landing that first job.  He's soliciting nuggets of wisdom from his readership and I'd encourage you to add yours.  I've created a top 10 list for general career strategies to share with him.   Click on the above link to see his post and to add your comments, stories, or advice.

Doug's Nuggets - College Advice 13: 6-33

I graduated in 1994 with a degree in International Business.  I knew that I wanted to have an international flare in my vocation but I had no idea what that meant.  Like many business majors, I spent the first 5 years of my career in sales jobs that were fairly unfulfilling.  However, I spent those 5 years thinking, planning, learning about myself, improving myself, and building relationships. The time was not "wasted". 

Then, in 1999, I had a conversation with an early twenty-something guy that I'd built a relationship with in my sales days, "I'm looking to get venture capital financing for my start up company, He said, "I have one month's salary to give you to write the business plan.  If we succeed, you're in.  If we don't, that's it."  I took it, we did it, and the rest is history.   

So here are a few nuggets I've crystallized from my experience:

1. Always build relationships in everything you're involved with.  You NEVER know when that person might be EXACTLY what you're looking for in an employee or advisor.  These relationships will likely be the ones that either provide you jobs, financing, or business partners.  I haven't had a resume since 1999 and wear that as a badge of honor.

2.  Foster relationships with mentors.  I didn't do this early enough.  Create an honest self-assessment.  I call it a "Life Resume".  When you find someone you truly admire for their skills, business acumen, relationship skills, etc...ask them for a formal mentor/mentee relationship.  Structure it and meet monthly. I found a venture capitalist and said, "I want to know what it's like to be you and what you do all day," and that's been over 2 years now.   

3. Shift your thinking to solutions and you'll be a winner.  Everyone has problems.  Meetings are filled with idea killers and lamenters. Have you noticed though that many leaders are aware of the problems...but driven to break through to solutions without harping, getting down, or developing negative energy?

4. Become very comfortable in your own skin.  Speak in public, get terrified and overcome it.  Conquer that inner voice of doubt and break through to excellence.  Nothing will serve you more than being able to communicate to large numbers of people. 

5. Write. Become an effective writer by having your prose torn apart by someone good!  Don't be afraid of the red pen!  Learn to embrace it.  Say more with less (I should listen to my own advice).  Blogging is a great way to accomplish this.  Please keep the party photos and youthful indiscretions off the myspace pages though.

6. Follow your passions (hint: they may change). I'm not particularly passionate about a subject like real estate, economics, or art.  But I have discovered that I'm extraordinarily passionate about growing small companies into bigger ones NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBJECT MATTER.  It took me a while to gain the perspective and breadth of knowledge to grasp this. But when I did, doors began opening for me.  If you love an industry or segment, you may want to get some experience in any part of the value chain you can.  I bet if I took a job sweeping the shop floors at a NASCAR team's garage just out of school, I'd be a marketing executive by now. 

7. Embrace technology and be an early adopter.  This does NOT mean become a programmer!  Learn how to use all of the technology tools that successful companies use.  There's nothing more powerful than "the girl who just seems to know how to do it all".  It doesn't seem like it, but it will become harder keep up when you get older so consciously extend beyond your comfort zone throughout your career or you'll get passed by.  

8. Consider the option of NEVER getting a "real job". Self-employment may not be everyone's first best destiny, but you may not know until you try.  It may seem safer to be employed by someone else, but I'd beg to differ.  If you have it in you, do it.  I'd rather see try and fail vs. never try. 

9. Dress Well.  It's advice that seems to be missing from the "Golden Rule" list when growing up these days.  It's NEVER harmful to be the best dressed person in a room.  You will command more respect by being well dressed.  If you don't know what looks good, seek help. 

10.  Have initiative. Take on tasks and roles that extend beyond your comfort zone and knowledge base.  This could be the largest single factor in your success.  Immerse in something new.  Passionately obsess about something until you know more than most about the topic.  Do this enough times, and you'll find yourself able to participate in a much larger sphere of influence.  Nothing pleases me more than hearing, "I don't know how to do that, but I'll figure it out and have it done shortly."

In need of graphic artist

Hello all.  I'm looking for:

  1. A graphic artist on the cheap.
  2. A struggling student artist who will do something for me and reap the credit when everyone sees his/her work.
  3. Someone that can take a scene, let's say with two people in it, and turn that scene into a "line drawing" or curvy outline image that conveys the same scene as in the movie but only with outline.  I'm sure there's a term for this in the business but I don't have a clue.
  4. I'm trying to create a graphic that will go onto a t-shirt and other logo type items.

If you can help or direct me toward these persons, I will be most grateful.  Budget is $50-$100.  I have a very clear vision of what's needed so there won't be a lot of "paid discovery" time.

Thanks all!

The Secret

Secret Let me begin by saying that I've ordered "The Secret DVD" and the audio book too.  I'm totally into all manners of self-improvement and believe in the concept of attraction and positive energy that I've read about previously, heard tidbits about around the blogosphere, and seen on TV (I've glanced at Oprah as I walked by my wife but you'll never get me to say in print that I watch that show).  However, what fascinates me MOST about "The Secret" are the following nuggets:

  1. It seems that society was "ready" for its next Tony Robbins.  There were many before him too but he was probably the most prolific guru of the 90's.  His tapes, CD's, etc. sold millions of copies around the world via the viral media of the time:  INFOMERCIALS.  Robbins did what many gurus do, repackage many teachings into a "new paradigm" that's easier for folks to adopt.  Throw in a flame thrower personality, huge white teeth, and put him on 24x7x365 and you have a commodity that a bunch of people really wanted and were willing to pay for.  His program was quite a bit more expensive I think though maybe a couple hundred bucks vs. $30 for a DVD.
  2. The Secret has been marketed expertly via viral word of mouth media.  It's not the first product/company to do use these methodologies, but perhaps the first "self-improvement" system to do it.  I started getting YouTube clips and such here and there and honestly, I had built up anticipation about what the heck it was (and still do since the products haven't arrived yet).  These marketing campaigns don't happen by accident usually and mega kudos to The Secret staff for orchestrating this (or rather for emitting the positive energy that attracted the positive attention, etc). 
  3. I really like the realism that many gurus have taken with regard to life's little pleasures.  Many gurus skim over things like drinking, nice clothes, and fine automobiles.  The abundance mentality accepts and embraces the fact that there's nice things in life to be had and that utilizing these things is part of a full life (if you want them to be and they don't throw your energy off in the other areas of life)...i.e. don't get plowed and crash your car.  The abrupt end of many a program for me was the "drinking is bad and must be stopped" part. 

Those are my pre-watch thoughts on the off to the mailbox to see if it's there!

NASCAR Unleashes Technology To Further Enhance the Brand

48 As the NASCAR nation readies for its Daytona 500 fix, more details are emerging on the technology and coverage enhancements for your viewing pleasure.  Full article in USA Today.

These guys and gals really know how to do things right.  As NASCAR's viewership began to taper a bit last year and new broadcast mediums, marketing channels, and demographics were explored, all parties seemed to spare no expense to ensure growth for the next 10 years. 

Here's a sample of what's deployed this coming season:

  1. 60-75 cameras used to shoot the NASCAR Busch Series races (does the NFL use that many?)
  2. Carl Edwards will act as an "in-car reporter" as he races.
  3. HD In-Car cameras.
  4. 3-D virtual coverage using black box telemetry in real-time with 3 virtual views available including above, behind, and front of cars.
  5. DirecTV is offering 10 "Hot Pass" channels allowing the viewer to see and hear everything from 10 teams per week in a "select a driver" format. 
  6. Sirius is offering 10 in car channels each race as well.
  7. offers "track pass" where you can get much of this real-time telemetry and team communication via the web.
  8. Finally, you can now purchase Sprint-Nextel's FanView for $415 (or rent one at the track) that give an LCD screen with real-time audio communication from all the team pre-programmed for your convenience.

Now with all of the pre-season cheating drama and all of this glorious technology...I think most NASCAR fans are sweaty and waiting.

Go Jimmie.   

Get A LIFE Bloggers!

I hope the headline has captured you and left you wanting more.  When you read this post, please keep in mind that I'm not attempting to discredit the internationally known author and speaker involved...rather I'm trying to make some observations about the fit of blogging into marketing tactics for any business. 

I recently participated on a panel discussion and presentation on heavy equipment GPS monitoring and tracking at the American Rental Association show in Atlanta.  My session immediately followed one on Guerrilla Marketing for the Rental Industry presented by Orvel Ray Wilson.  Mr. Wilson has authored many books and his "hit hard and hit fast and be different" approach is awesome.  His company is called the Guerrilla Group and I recommend you explore what his company could do for your business.  His seminar was by far the best I saw, full of energy, humor, and valuable marketing advice.

The equipment rental industry is somewhat old school...but the perfect playing field to stand out and be different right?  Mr. Wilson's discussion had included only a mention of email marketing...but had zero mention of social media or blogging.  Anytime someone stands in front of me and ignores something that I believe to be incredibly powerful, I feel obligated to discover the big "why".   

I approached and asked the question below and I'm paraphrasing the best I can recall based on notes taken immediately afterward.

The Chat
Doug:  "I didn't hear you mention anything about blogging during your discussion, what role do you believe it plays in the guerrilla marketing equation?"
Mr. Wilson:  "Ahhhh blogging...well I don't blog...basically because I have a life...(chuckling)...I mean there's a million blogs out there and there's a lot of garbage.  You have to know how to write...write editorial copy...and write well....(he got busy and began doing some other tasks).
Doug:  "Interesting...I really wanted to see your take since blogging is a powerful tool for some."

Mr. Wilson was busy cleaning up his laptop, etc. from his speaking session and was interacting with many of the A/V staff so I stopped asking questions and tried to take in what I'd just heard.  Of course, the first thing that fired off in my brain was, "This is going to be a good post for discussion among my readers". 

So I'll leave you with a few observations and questions that are still resonating in my travel fogged head.

The Takeaways

  1. The belief that blogging is something for only good copy writers is a serious miscalculation.  Blogging exposes the writer's true voice and reveals their style, tone, and method doing business very often.  Anyone that reads my blog "already knows me".  They know my positions, my pauses, my emphasis and my passions.   Many of my top 10 marketing blogger friends around the U.S. often use "real language" to communicate their vision/passion/point.   Editorial blogging is typically as boring as "mainstream media" know the media that folks are paying less attention to.  Although many bloggers write well and with clarity, others destroy the English language and its grammar and do just dandy.  Should everyone blog?  I'm sure there are reasons why some shouldn't...but one of those reasons should not purely be the editorial quality of the writing.  Should everyone read blogs or have searches automated to see what folks are saying about them?  Yes.  In fact, Mike McLaughlin who wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Consultantsblogged on this same topic a while ago.  Interesting.  Mike says, "If the purpose of a business blog is to reach your targeted audience, it’s best to know someone out there would want to read your stuff. Any one of us could rattle off a number of industries where blogs are still an oddity, not a fixture."  No and Yes.  How would I have ever known that finding a certain part number for an internal air card on my Dell laptop could help so many people around the world? happened, because I blogged on it.  I had absolutely no idea that anyone would find that valuable...but they did, by the boat load.  In the heavy equipment rental space, I bet there are few blogs if any.  If yours was the first and you blogged with even a modicum of skill in tagging or linking, you'd be found.  Trust me.  Why must the only value in your blog come from your direct industry?  I've achieved higher search engine rankings and first page results on many key topics that I blog about often like customer service and relocation.  In many cases, my more popular blog entries show up well ahead of the company's intended marketing message.  Old school business models may benefit from a blog more than more high tech businesses.  There's more cutting edge technology and marketing taking place in some seemingly old school segments than one would imagine.  GPS technologies and telematics are taking this industry by storm and allowing equipment rental companies to provide an unparalleled level of service. I'd bet that within 90 days, I could place higher than most when searching for "equipment rental" if I put my blogging efforts toward it.
  2. The belief that blogging is relegated to those that don't "have a life", is putting it lightly...ignorant.  AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I received a phone call from someone that knows Mr. Wilson suggesting that his comment about "not having a life" was likely geared towards his own personal schedule...meaning that "He'd not have a life if he were to try and blog". I have updated my post to reflect that I can see this point of view.  I had been quite fair that the comment was probably just a passing commentary lacking much context, but the rest of my post stands on its own and I hope the larger point is still the overriding one)  I'm pretty sure that Mr. Wilson's comment wasn't meant as a direct derogatory commentary on me, Seth Godin, Brad Feld, Tom Peters, Mark Cuban, and Guy Kawasaki.  Likely it was a humorous off the cuff remark that we all make from time to time.  I could list a thousand other blogs written by not so known names but the point holds.  We have a life.  In fact, we've taken on blogging as a means to communicate in an unfiltered way with our customers, potential customers, and casual observers.  We're using our real mojo and experiences in the life-business ecosystem to provide value for others.  We've all simply put a priority on understanding a new technology and new media platform.  It's the platform that our future employees are very familiar with.  It's the platform that can bring thousands of visitors scrambling to see what you think about the business trends and emerging issues.  Undoubtedly, this post will reach Mr. Wilson because of linking and tagging, and will probably be forwarded to him by a blogger with a life. 
  3. At the very least, interpret "blogging" as maintaining automated blog searches and tag searches to find out what people are saying about you when you're sleeping.  Nothing is more powerful than receiving an unsolicited "Thanks" or "Ooops" from the CEO of a company because they were paying attention.  If you're paying attention you have a serious competitive advantage vs. those who aren't.  Leverage that and odds are, you'll do better than "the rest".  Period.

The essence of guerrilla marketing for me is doing what isn't normally done, doing it cheap(er), doing it different.  Blogging is the pinnacle of cheap, different, and REAL.  It's worth an hour long workshop to understand the basics.  Then, if the CEO can't seem to put a coherent thought together, then find someone in the organization who can or hire someone. 

I think next year, you'll see a seminar by Doug called, "Social Media and the Heavy Equipment Rental Industry:  How To Get A Life Through Blogging!".   I invite your commentary.


Istock_000000401371xsmall I'm not sure if I've heard the term "De-Branding" before, but it appeared today in a piece from the NY Times.

AT&T is going to eliminate the Cingular brand over the next 6 months since buying the cellular phone company a while ago.  It's hard to keep track of the acquisitions/mergers in this space...but basically, AT&T, broken up many years ago into regional "Baby Bells" has come back to life after one of those baby bells bought AT&T.  Huh?  Exactly. 

At the end of the day, I know their are many well paid analysts that decided this was the way to go but here's my focus group of one.

  1. AT&T equals old, stale, high priced long distance, and failed customer service
  2. SBC, the baby bell that bought it's former mother ship (AT&T) back, had plenty of name recognition and did better at customer service, but SBC is a boring name and never really took off as a brand.
  3. Cingular is "hip" and new.  It represents the future (wireless, connectedness) and now, even the iPHONE by Apple announced a couple of days ago.  Doesn't Cingular just sound good?  Like the "Cingular source for X, Y, and Z?"

Of note were these quotes by Wendy Clark, a Senior VP of Advertising for AT&T,

“What consumer and business customers want is a single provider of services for the way they live and work today,” Ms. Clark said, “and if it’s one company, they want it under one name.”

Also from the piece

As for the opinions of some brand-identity consultants that the Cingular brand appeals to youth more than the venerable AT&T name, Ms. Clark said: “The youth market is incredibly fickle when it comes to branding. If you give them what they want, the brand is secondary. It’s incumbent upon us to keep delivering what Cingular offered its customers.”

These are very powerful statements!  And their weight should not be "mis-underestimated" (It's Friday let's have fun!).  Think about what Ms. Clark is saying.  I think she's hinting that they went with AT&T vs. Cingular even though they knew better.  The brand is secondary!  So what you deliver (the most important thing) apparently "Isn't the brand".  Interesting.  I think they're missing the mark here and valuing "unity" over "reality".  That darn fickle youth market (and probably the one that drives a massive portion of their revenues since most over 30's don't use their cell phone for music, TV, or texting) is not as fickle as you think.  Those "Yutes" love a good brand and they'll spend endless sums of their parents money supporting it.  Just ask Mr. Jobs.

I'd love to hear the experts chime in on this deal. 


Argh!  I sent this email to the Marketing Manager, Laura Manatt at the Iowa Speedway, our new and wonderful raceway here in Newton Iowa. 

Hi Laura:
Do you have any plans to offer RSS feeds of news and upcoming events on the site? It would extremely helpful and is a great marketing tool.  Thanks for letting me know.

Below is the response I received:

Please sign up for ou fan club out on the website.  We will send you updates from time to time regarding activities out here at the track.


I understand the response and I'm not angered at it's simplicity and redirect...but it didn't answer my question...and I'm sharing the way in which I'd like to be marketed to!  How valuable is that?  I have signed up for the "Fan Club" already anyway and I've not received jack since I did.  I don't want to sign up again...besides email updates are NOT the preferred method of receiving information for me, nor is it for throngs of hungry bloggers and others that had NO IDEA that NASCAR Nextel Cup teams were practicing at the Speedway today and through this week!  I found out from a friend who visits daily (even though they don't offer feeds...he still goes there religiously which is more than I'd do)  It's so darn simple to capture an additional stream of people's attention if you use a tiny bit of nearly free technology to market yourself. 

Rusty Wallace, please find this post in the blogosphere and get a blog and some RSS feeds going...I want to spend money and attend your facility...but I don't know what's happening there.

Mediacom's Continued Service Recovery

Last week, I posted on a Mediacom Cable VIP program customer service experience that went from bad to good....while pointing out some serious marketing program flaws that I assumed larger companies like Mediacom had the smarts to avoid.

Here's an update since my phone service was out for a day until I reset my router last night.

1.  I called the VIP phone number that was given in the marketing documentation: 1-877-304-7466.  It now identifies as "The VIP customer service line". 

2.  The website for VIP's is working now.

I'm not sure if my post had anything to do with these victories...but at the end of the big beefs have been resolved.  Power to the people.

Honda Airtaxi Is Here

Will over at 2-Speed posted on one of the most awesome developments in aviation history...the release of the Honda VLJ (Very Light Jet).  I'm not a pilot, nor do I intend to become one.  However if there were a fleet of these babies offering me a hassle free business trip along with Honda's safety and reliability to back it up...I'm on it.  Of course Honda will be about 30% more fuel efficient than its competition...standard fare for Honda.  Honda's design will provide a quieter ride and more interior space too.  Sound familiar?  I'm just wondering if they'll keep their concept of packaging options in the LX or EX models.  "I'd like the 420 knot, 6 seater, EX model...does that come with A/C, leather, and navigation?"

As reported by Will, "The big news is that Honda just announced that they have taken orders for well over 100 of these piloted missiles in the first 30 days of sales.  At $3.65M per plane, it appears that their move into the aerospace market has been validated by potential customers.  Honda is applying for FAA approval now and expects to be shipping planes to customers in 2010."

When we have fleets of thousands of these jets in the air...the business models of traditional air carriers will be challenged yet again.  I don't think they'll survive the next salvo without massive disruption and business model flux.  The only problem I see is pilot training and safety.  Some of these jets are so "easy to fly" from what I've read and require less hours than their larger cousins, that I'm afraid we'll see a bunch of them making boo boos that cost lives.

Follow Up To The Iowa VC Conference

I'd like to add an addendum to my previous post on the Iowa VC and Entrepreneur Conference put on here in Des Moines by the Iowa Economic Development Department last week.

Here are some observations / personal preferences:

  1. If you're at the conference pitching yourself or your brilliant idea, invest the $30 for 1000 real business cards.  I know the technology, look, feel of self-printed and perforated ones have gotten better, but I get the impression that this is only a "thing that you're doing on the side".  Besides, if I spill my conference coffee on the card, the ink will run and ruin my shirt.
  2. Even more importantly than number 1, at least have a business card.  Some really interesting people and I will never cross paths again unless they contact me (because I gave them a card.)
  3. Buy a domain name and use the free email account they give you to have a more professional image.  Visit GoDaddy for a really cheap domain registration, great management tools, free email account, and lightning fast account modifications.  You can even forward your new fancy domain email to your regular account if you'd like.  I've recently dumped all of my Yahoo and DNS Central domain registrations in favor of Go Daddy after Mike Sansone at Converstations turned me onto it.  I remember the revealing super bowl commercial a few years back but really didn't explore it after that.  It's just a bit more validating to see something other than @yahoo, @hotmail, or on your card if you've invested the $8.99.
  4. Don't leave home without your cards.  Carry some in the car, your wife's car, and anywhere else that ensures you'll have them when you need them most.  I have a leather business card holder that goes most everywhere with me + back ups in the car.  I ran out the other day since Mr. Sansone introduced me to more people than I had cards in reserve :)  A quick visit to the car in the Panera parking lot made sure that I was back in action.

So there we have it.  A total investment of $38.99 + tax to reinvent yourself, your business, and your image.  Oops, I forgot to add the $1.39 for the cup of coffee at the Panera University Virtual Office and Social Networking Club. 

Marketing & Customer Service Fumble and Recovery: Mediacom

It seems like I'm attracting customer service incidents these days.  I'm a walking trouble ticket apparently.  I'm really not trying, but as an advocate, watch dog, reporter, blogger, dad, concerned netizen, value conscious consumer and evangelist...I must do my duty.

A few days ago, I received a very impactful direct mail piece from my cable company Mediacom.  This piece was shiny opalescent light blue and had the words "Open to explore your VIP benefits".  I'm hugely in favor of being treated well by them since I get my TV, Phone, and Internet service from them...resulting in a monthly bill upward of $120.  I shrieked like a school girl and ripped the envelope open with eager anticipation.  Then I read this....see below.  Read the sentence marked with an arrow at least 2x and get yourself in the state that you get in when you're given something pretty darn cool..absolutely FREE!

I was about to actually PAY FOR THE UPGRADE to the higher bandwidth about a month it was being handed to me as a VIP!  I was told back then, "It would be $59.99/mo (versus the $29.99/mo I am paying now) and that my equipment had to be upgraded along with an installation fee. (I have a VOIP Aeris telephony modem)....Now all costs were to be waived...oh joy! 

I decided right away to visit the special web site that had been created just for me!
Wow, my very own special place.  Notice that there's an 800 number just for me too.  I figured the website would likely answer all of my questions and allow me to upgrade at will (after all, cable companies are big into "ON DEMAND").  I typed in the URL and found this:

Not good.  I tried again and again...and at the time of this posting, the website still doesn't work. 
Next I called the 800 number.  It's nice to have your own "hot line" and I let the website issue slide.  When I dialed in, there was nothing special about the menus or the options.  It was simply (so it seems) a generic 877 number created to track response to the direct mail piece. 

Fine.  So I reach a human.  He was very kind and I explained my new VIP status and asked for my free upgrade.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  After 5 minutes of explanation, he put me on hold for about 5 minutes (not feeling much like a VIP now).  He came back on the line and proceeded to explain that actually, what automatic free upgrade means is that my price is going up to $59.99/mo and that Mediacom is only waiving the "fees to upgrade".  When asked what's involved, he said he said he simply "changes a setting in his software" and my speed is upgraded those "installation fees".  Even though I've cropped the letter in this post...there are NO fine print sections and no small * sections explaining that free is actually quite expensive.  For once, I really thought I had scored big.   After reading my letter verbatim and having the rep politely say that he checked with 2 supervisors and 2 managers and that I was wrong and he was correct...I informed him that I would not be taking my "free upgrade" today.  (He did refund a pay per view movie that I had purchased quickly and efficiently that had awkward pauses in the audio recording on the DVR).

After two days of stewing in my own juices and discussing this offer over and over again with my lovely wife, she said, "The way I read it, you don't even have to DO ANYTHING!" rather this upgrade should just happen.  After another 10 reads...I concurred! 

I called back my VIP hotline again and a nice woman answered the phone.  (A+ for politeness).  This time I took a new approach.  Instead of being verbose (my curse)...I simply said, "I'm calling in for my VIP free upgrade to the faster internet connection" and shut up.  The woman proceeed to handle the change and when asked about why I'd been derailed a few days earlier..she told me explicitly that this offer was not explained to anyone there and that she had peformed the same customer service labotomy on a few people before realizing that this offer was REAL and had been sent to potentially thousands of subscribers.  She (like the other rep) had to go through many layers of management before getting to the truth.  The upgrade was requested and I was a happy customer once again. I did have to email after 48 hours since tests confirmed that I was still at the slow speed.  By morning, a tech had replied and apologized that things didn't happen the way there were supposed to but it was done.

Here are some lessons that I would have thought were learned a long time ago by big highly profitable companies:

  1. If you send out a direct mail piece with a marketing offer, make sure your people actually know about it.  I don't care if they're trained directly...but at least have this in the "intranet or customer service wiki (yeah right) so the reps can access the details and find the "codes" they need to authorize things.  Nothing is as embarrassing as having no clue, then confirming with 4 different supervisors that you really don't have a clue, nor do they.  Goodness.
  2. When you publicize and send out a URL for VIP's make sure it works!  Marketing 101.  Don't buy the super bowl commercial and give the phone number and URL...when the website doesn't work and the phone number is piped to a single line somewhere in Peoria.  Companies don't often get a second chance so get it right the first time.  I guess cable monopolies get two chances..but I was within 48 hours of switching to DIRECTV or DISH.
  3. If you say it's a special toll-free number, make it so.  I want to be acknowledged for my big check every month...not the subject of a direct market "response percentage".  I was very disappointed and expected to reach a human upon first ring since I'm their "golden child"  Where's the gravy?

I'd like to personally thank Jill at Mediacom for making this upgrade happen.  My video conferences are flying now and I'm on top of the bandwidth world!  Close call Mediacom...but you still have me.