Perseids and embedding video

perseids_stardateWho knew there was a connection between the Perseids meteor shower and JW Player? I was hoping to embed this cool animation of where to look for the Perseids meteor shower late Tuesday night  (thanks But while I’m still getting the hang of how best to embed video in WordPress (suggestions welcome), better to put the information out there than worry about perfectly nailing the aesthetics. Besides, it gave me a chance to experiment with a quick post about something I find interesting yet non-industry related. Does this fit here? I hope I’m able to stay up late and may drive to an inland valley or mountaintop to see the shower. What about you?

Perseids Stardate


Plugged In, Charging Up

la_skylineThe Los Angeles Business Journal article referenced in my last post came out yesterday and I thought Charles Proctor did a superb job profiling the current state of the technology industry in Los Angeles. The article, entitled “Special Report: Plugged In, Charging Up” goes into great detail comparing employment trends in the technology sector in Los Angeles with that of Silicon Valley, including how our diversified market helped LA recover faster from the dot-com crash and the way aerospace engineers transfered their expertise to industries like computer science and medical devices in the post-Cold War era.

Carrying the technology industry in 2009 is a robust games industry, alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy and digital media and marketing. I’m quoted as saying “This is a major media location and it has a big, big talent pool,” said Tony Winders, a vice president at Westlake Village-based ValueClick Inc., a publicly traded Internet advertising company. “So the tech community settled in here as a hub for the digital advertising business.”

It was fun being asked to contribute to this piece, but even more encouraging to read an article with some quantifiable details about how well our local technology community is faring these days. Hats off to Mr. Proctor for his thoughtful, quantitative analysis, and A BIG THANK YOU to Nicole Jordan for the introduction.


Marketing Evolution in Los Angeles

onlyinla2Preparing for an interview yesterday with a prominent Los Angeles business journal, I didn’t have to walk more than five feet from my office to get some great insight on the evolution of marketing in Los Angeles, reminding me once again what an amazing and experienced team of digital media professionals I get the pleasure of working with each day. The reporter was interested in my thoughts about why LA has increasingly become a hub for marketing companies in recent years, and my colleagues Matt Boyd and Brian Stone had plenty to add to my understanding of the topic. Thanks guys!

The short answer is that LA has always been a hub for marketing activity because it’s a major media market and home to the largest and most diverse creative community in the world. Digging a bit deeper, at least from a digital perspective, in the mid 9os, smaller agencies were building out online advertising expertise that today is now dominated by large agencies like OMD, Initiative, Carat, Starcom and Mediavest — in many cases as a result of acquiring those smaller, more specialized shops.

Another reason marketing has  found success here in recent years is that the Internet is no longer the exclusive domain of technologists, as was the case for the Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom years. The tools are now fully in the hands of creative and media professionals all over the world. Also, unlike the financial and tech focus of San Francisco, LA is home to some fairly recession proof industries, including entertainment, games and (at least compared to domestic manufacturers) some innovative foreign automotive brands. 

Another thing LA has going for it is a thriving marketing community which frequently circles its wagons around the popular thinkLA organization. The Los Angeles Advertising Agencies Association, the Ad Club of Los Angeles and the Magazine Representatives Association merged to create thinkLA in 2006. Since then, it has successfully brought us together as an industry and I’m particularly impressed by its “Only in LA” campaign to promote Los Angeles as a center for creative thinking and innovation in marketing and media.

We’ll see how much of these thoughts make their way into an article and I will report back when it’s published next month.


The Importance of Downtime

dsc_0819bOf what value is a good work ethic if it is not held in balance with a healthy lifestyle, quality relationships and putting family first? While I’m far from reaching such a balance, it doesn’t mean I don’t strive for it. I was reminded of the importance of downtime during our family vacation to Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week. It was one of the few times in my career I’ve taken 10 consecutive days off and the vacation served its purpose. Being [mostly] unplugged and away from the daily routine, made me more grateful than ever for family and close friends.

The highlight of our trip was distant cousins hitting it off as though they lived next door, followed closely by spending time with my sister and experiencing firsthand how she and her family live. Water skiing, a nighttime thunderstorm and seeing Night Ranger perform at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair were my personal highlights.

But a more salient point that stuck with me was something Don Grainger said as we sat on Lesley’s front porch. As he relayed a story about someone who taught him the importance of leaving one’s work at work, I was reminded of people  I’ve known who appear to do that well, and more importantly how much I need to get into that good habit because ultimately it’s better for business and better for life. 

That includes turning off the computer at a reasonable time and getting enough sleep, so with that I will take my own advice and head off to bed!


A Living Master


dscn2657I was delighted to see my old friend Master Charles tonight at a talk he gave in Los Angeles entitled “One Source – Honoring the Sacredness of Life.” I wouldn’t otherwise wax philosophical here, except for being reminded again what an impact he had on becoming the person I am today. We met 19 years ago when I was a recent college graduate working for Paladino & Associates Public Relations in Hollywood. Master Charles (then Brother Charles) Cannon, is founder of The Synchronicity Foundation and creator of high-tech meditation, audio technology that induces the same brain waves created naturally in meditation.

I was a 22-year-old recent college grad from Missouri when Phil Paladino took me to meet my new client for the first time. That particular evening the program also featured a channeler, which I admit was a bit freaky, but set the tone for an unforgettable job that would provide a colorful start to my career – welcome to LA!

Paladino had a profound effect on my life in his own way as mentor and father figure, but unfortunately became ill and died in 1993, only a short few years after I met him. It is our shared connection with Phil that ceratinly binds my relationship with Master Charles. But he too had a lot to do with both shaping my belief system and eventually my discovery and passion for the Internet.

His talk tonight was consistent with the message of oneness and the celebration of life he spoke of nearly 20 years ago. Our idea for a “one world network” preceded commercialization of the Web, but the idea and execution fell flat at the time, largely because his focus was on his successful meditation foundation and retreat in Faber, Virginia. Mine was on establishing a foundation for my career.

What then was a message about our universal connectedness and a Buddhist philosophy that we are all one, tonight he expressed as a call to spread the conversation about “life’s sacredness and beauty.” He quoted Confucious and Buddah, and spoke of how the mind so often gets in the way of our hearts. He spoke about finding balance by accentuating the positive and living in the “essential now” and reminded the group of  approximately 100 attendees how that life is in fact supposed to be pleasurable. Naturally participation in his meditation retreats and buying his CDs are another way followers can find bliss!

Imagine my excitement when I first learned of the Web in 1993. I was instantly swept away by the possibilities. Here, plainly written in the pages of the Wall St. Journal, was was promise of everything Master Charles had been talking about! The Mosaic Browser being developed at the  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, it said, would connect the world’s computer networks via the Internet with a new world of pictures, video and sound. Wow! The connectedness of humanity brought to life on a global computer network! In that powerful moment, I decided to shift all of my professional energy toward a career on the Internet, whatever that meant. I still get goosebumps thinking about it today.

That experience led me to follow a mantra of “making a positive impact on the world through media.” Whatever that means, it has become a personal mission statement for my life, and tonight Master Charles helped me remember that everything I do is leading me toward that end.

His parting words to the group tonight were “we can transform the world, and now is the time.” An inspiring conclusion to an enlightening evening.