What’s Your What If?

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Last night I drove a lot of miles away from the hustle and bustle I normally fight through on a daily basis to coach my son at his baseball game, a little town called Granite Falls. It’s about 50 miles north and east of Seattle and off the beaten path. I arrived with my son, and as they warmed up on one baseball field, I watched as the high school team wrapped up their practice on an adjacent field. It was classic small town America. They had some rock-n-roll playing as they finished up their hitting drills, and I peered up to the scoreboard to see a sign that said “2006 State Champs”. I thought about how cool it must have been for this small town to celebrate such a thing. I thought about what it must be like to live in this town away from everything…knowing everyone, a simpler life. And how much I wanted someday to have that.

22 years ago I was at a crossroads in my life at college. I was going through motions, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was blindly taking college courses without a true sense of what career I wanted. But the fact was, I did know. I wanted to make movies. My whole life was defined by the art of movies. Watching them, studying them, the dialogue, the music, all of it. I loved writing, I was pretty good at it. I knew that was what I was born for, but it seemed so celebrity to me. So out of reach. But on whim, I applied to a fairly significant film school in Chicago just for the hell of it. My grades were terrible, so I had no shot there, but I poured my heart into an essay and sent it away. I didn’t think it had any chance of getting past anyone, nor did I imagine I could even afford to make it work.

I was shocked to find that it did get past someone. Not only that, but I got in. My memories of that day are a little faded, but I remember being quite surprised. I remember taking a week or two to mull it over. I remember allowing the fear of such a monumental shift cloud my judgement. I remember the comfort of staying the course wash over me. 22 years later, just about every year, I wonder what would have happened had I found the courage to go for it.

Life can’t be about what ifs, I’ve learned that. I have a good life now, 2 amazing boys, kick ass wifey, great job, and I live in an amazing place. But I can’t help thinking about that particular what if. Seeing this small town last night triggered a vision that I hope is still within my grasp later in life. I want to live in a small town. I want to coach a small town high school baseball team. I want our neighbor Mrs. Simmons to stop by and drop off one of her killer apple pies just because.

And I want to write. So many concepts and ideas I’ve sat on, fearful of writing due to the sheer commitment and dedication it takes to see something like that through. I know I have it within me to actually write something that could sell. I may not get behind a camera anytime soon at this point in my life, but I’ve got killer stories to tell, and they are desperate to get on paper.

And what better time to pull the trigger than now? Countless screenwriting events and venues to submit work to, and more importantly, the rise of content providers like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Studios…the world is opening up to give more people the opportunity to submit their work.

I normally write about topics with calls to action, or lists to help people with marketing, etc. But today, I just wrote. Maybe the first step in holding myself accountable to actually kick my ass in gear to get writing more. Maybe because there’s others that might read and can relate.

Or maybe Red said it best:

The Humanization of Search & Why Business Owners & Marketers Should Care

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This post brought to you by Bing Network . The content and opinions expressed below are that of Jason Yormark.

The speed at which technology is evolving is at breakneck speeds. We’re living in an unprecedented era of technical evolution, and it shapes practically every facet of our daily lives. It was only a few years ago that people only owned one or two connected devices, but now that has evolved into people owning an entire ecosystem of connected devices…phones, laptops, tablets, TVs, even our cars. And at the center of all this technology is a concept that even pre-dates any of this tech; the ability to search and find information.

The landscape in the search game is changing. What once was dominated by traditional keyboard/desktop based search is being replaced by natural language. While desktop searching is averaging a -1% decline, smartphone and table search growth have grown 17% and 28% respectively (Year-over-year search growth, by device. From comScore’s “2015 U.S. Digital Future in Focus” white paper. Q4 2014). Voice powered search is the future as more and more people get comfortable and are beginning to trust the technology. Look no further then Cortana, Microsoft’s voice powered virtual assistant where over 2.5 billion questions have already been asked.

In addition, it’s not just the technology we use to search that is changing, but also the way we use it. Natural language is becoming more and more common when it comes to voice powered search which demands that the technology keeps up. Terse, keyword based searches are no longer the norm as people become more comfortable with asking more common language styled questions in their voice powered searches. Searches such as, “Who is the best hitter on the Chicago Cubs?” or “Show me the best prices for hotels in Seattle.” are queries that are much more common these days.

So what does this mean as a business owner and why should I care about this shift in the Humanization of Search?

  • Ensure you are always re-evaluating your digital content strategy around natural language as more and more users are searching for information in this way. Always think about how a user would ask a question about your products and services, and use that as a guide.
  • Continue to familiarize yourself with emerging technology as users leverage multiple platforms in their digital lives. Technology such as virtual reality is a good example of an emerging tech that is sure to become more of a driving force in consumer engagement.
  • If you sell products online, always be thinking about how to help search engines better match relevant queries to products in your data feeds. Optimizing these feeds ensures the right people find your right products.

Like any small to medium sized business owner, you have to manage your time and money wisely. So anytime you can take advantage of an opportunity to maximize both, you jump on it. The combination of the Bing Network’s reach and technology advances is unmatched. Windows, Xbox and Office, all backed with Cortana are delivering industry leading technology in voice powered search, and all the data that comes with that usage. Syndication partners such as Yahoo, AOL and the Wall Street journal add to their reach of 170 million searchers of which 56 million are exclusive to the Bing Network. The breadth of high quality data the Bing Network drives ensures your investments reach the right people at the most affordable cost.

Learn more about Bing Network 

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Decision Fatigue. Yep, it’s a thing.

Difficult choices of a businessman due to crisis

Wifey: “What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “I don’t know, whatever you want.”

or

Me: “What do you want to watch?”
Wifey: “Whatever. You decide.”

The above are fairly common occurrences in our household, and I would imagine in many others. There’s been plenty of instances where we’d frustrate each other because neither of us could make a decision for such seemingly simple decisions. So why is it that I can’t just make a decision around what I want to eat or watch at any given time?

Because by the time I get home from work, I don’t want to make any more damn decisions. I’m decisioned out. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned that decision fatigue was actually a “thing”. Decision fatigue is officially described as:

In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.

Just think for a second how many choices are available to you in this day and age when it comes to anything in life. Food, medicine, technology, it’s massive. We’re forced to make a tremendous amount of decisions in quantity and quality every day. It takes it’s toll.

In my case (and many others), decision fatigue can actually lead to decision avoidance. All day at work I make decision after decision, and by the time I get home, I just want to turn my brain off when it comes to having to make any sort of decision no matter how simple it may be. Not only that, but the quality of the decisions made can deteriorate over the course of a day. Case in point is this crazy study about how prisoners who were scheduled earlier had a higher percentage chance of early release.

It all can seem easy to just write off as bullshit, but I actually think there is a lot of truth to how this all works out. Once I learned about psychology and research behind how decision making effects our lives, I immediately began to think of what I could do to better handle it all. Everyone will tell you rest, eat well, exercise, etc. All the things we should be doing anyway. I’ve taken it a step further at work be better delegating decision making. You have to trust your team, and the people you work with and extend decision making power as much as you can. I’ve found by doing so, it lessons the amount of decisions I have to make in any given day and increases the quality of decisions I make.

Below is a great TED talk called The Paradox of Choice that dives a bit deeper into all of this in an interesting way and is worth the watch.

 

5 Reasons Your Business Absolutely Needs To Consider the Bing Network

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This post brought to you by Bing Network. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Jason Yormark.

I’ve had a lot of experience on both sides of the fence when it comes to paid marketing strategies and execution. Whether it’s been with an agency and working with larger brands and companies, or running a small business, it can be very daunting to figure out how to drive targeted traffic and leads, not to mention, expensive. But the good news is, there are options out there that you may have overlooked that can be affordable and effective.

Not many folks probably expected Bing to stick and around and challenge Google in the search game, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. The Bing Network has evolved quite a bit over the years. From their integration of Cortana, their voice recognition technology, to their Xbox and Office integrations, there’s some serious opportunity for businesses to take a closer look at.

To get started, here are just 5 reasons why you should take a closer look at the Bing Network:

  1. There’s a whole lot more search queries happening on Bing then you may think. Did you know that there are 170 million searchers in the US of which 60 million are exclusive to the Bing Network? That’s right, there’s more than one search player in the game. That’s 35% of searches that you may be missing out on. Not to mention 25% of clicks on the Bing Network come from queries only searched on Bing.
  2. Bing Search is powering some serious networks. Combined with Bing’s syndication partners such as Yahoo, AOL, WSJ, adMarketplace amongst others, are able to reach 1 in 3 PC searches in the U.S. That’s 170 million searchers in the U.S., 56 million which are exclusive to Bing network. And these searchers spend 22% more than the average internet searcher. A full 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queries only searched on Bing. That’s exclusivity that you can’t beat.
  3. Bing is Social. Bing powers Yelp local search options, Twitter translations and Uber mapping. All additional exposure opportunities for your business outside of traditional search engine platforms.
  4. Xbox One, Windows 10 & Office. Bing powers some of Microsoft’s leading innovations, from Cortana to voice search in Xbox One, from the search experiences in Windows 10, to searching directly in Office so you stay focused on doing, not finding. Bing is in phones, in PCs, and in new devices every day. Many of the industry’s leaders trust their most valuable assets—their users—to Bing, whether it’s search inside Amazon’s devices, web results for Siri and Spotlight Search on Apple devices or maps on thousands of leading websites. Bing’s technology is increasingly being adopted across the industry.
  5. Being the underdog means better service. Like most service based businesses, Bing is the up and coming challenger which means you get better tools, more competitive rates, and better service. Bing backs customers by a team of specialized experts that can bring key insights to every aspect of your business. Bing also connects customers and partners at events around the world to deliver unique insights. All reasons to seriously consider the Bing Network in your online ad buys.

The landscape of search and digital advertising is a moving target, and without great tools, platforms and support, it can be a daunting task to make any progress with your digital spend. Using platforms like the Bing Network can help navigate some of those challenges, and bring some much needed savings and results in your online marketing efforts. I’ve had great experiences myself throughout the years, and you can too.

Learn more about Bing Network and what it can do for you.

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Top 5 Things You Can’t Do If You Want To Be Friends

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I’m starting a new tradition of highlighting 5 things that drive me nuts every year. 5 things that if done, disqualify you & I from being pals.

  1. You own or are considering a selfie stick. Can you even imagine what people in previous decades would think if you tried to describe this? If you feel that you have to carry a stick to attach your phone to around, so that you can take pictures of yourself…that’s a problem.
  2. You copy/paste Facebook posts saying you will win millions of dollars by posting it. Remember seeing all those Mark Zuckerberg posts about how if you copy and paste his message into your timeline you have a chance to win millions? Yea you do. UNFRIEND.
  3. You use or have ever used the word “bae”. Exceptions include you are Danish and are referring to pile of shit or have said something to the effect of, “Don’t ever say bae again or I’ll kick you in the neck.”
  4. Vaguebooking. Definition: An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going on, or is possibly a cry for help. Just stop. I get that social media has created a stage for everyone, but just get to the point and stop over-dramatizing your life. Unless you’re a celebrity. Then you’re supposed to.
  5. Passive Agressiveness. To me there is no greater cowardice then people that act passive aggressively. It’s basically admitting that you don’t have the courage to confront people directly and rather than keep it to themselves, find subtle ways to still get their way or get in a dig indirectly. Facebook is a breeding ground for it.

What say you internet? What can you add to the list???