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.


Self Regulatory Principles for Behavioral

selfregKnowing firsthand the logistical and political issues creating industry guidelines can create, I’ve been impressed by our ability as an industry to move quickly in response to the FTC’s mandate earlier this year for more industry self regulation around behavioral advertising. A consortium including the IAB, DMA, 4As, BBB and the ANA this week published its Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising. Though many details and the motives of various segments of the industry are understantibly excluded, the document is evidence that the industry is truly aligned behind these important trade organizations.

Much more water needs to travel under this bridge, and it’s difficult to know if the principles as outlined will keep federal legislation at bay, but they are straightforward, comprehensive, well-intended and easily digested.

Speaking from my own bias, I am encouraged that service providers required to get permission to track behavioral data does not appear to include display advertising networks. Whatever happens next, I’m confiden our collective education efforts will result in Congress understanding that companies that do not have access to personally identifiable information should not be held to the same opt-in behavioral targeting standard as those that do.


Cow tails, taxes and politics

about_arnold_img3 Thanks to David Lewis for bringing to my attention Arnold Schwarzenneger’s sense of humor and appreciation for political theater. In the video below, which he tweeted about yesterday, the governor calls out legislators for debating about expansion of an existing law that makes it a misdemeanor to cut the solid part of the tail of any horse in the operation known as “docking.” Senate Bill 135, introduced by Dean Florez, would likewise prohibit the docking of cattle.

On a more serious note and more relevant to online advertising, Governor Schwarzenneger yesterday announced will reinstate California-based internet affiliate advertisers. This is great news for the affiliate marketing industry, which is fighting hard to avoid the so-called Amazon Tax from being introduced in California.


ValueClick Media Update

main_photoI have been looking for the appropriate context in which to post something about ValueClick Media. After all, it’s where I spend most of my waking hours and devote nearly all of my professional energy and expertise. After sending off our quarterly newsletter for advertisers, The Point, earlier today, it occurred to me that there is some great information about the best of what’s going on in our business today that the four readers of this blog might enjoy (yes, including you, Mom!).  From a positioning update from our GM Bill Todd, to insights on how to maximize performance from one of our product managers, Adolfo Cortes (and everything in between), this is a good snapshot of what we’re communicating to our advertiser clients and just a few of the reasons I’m excited about working with the impressive group of online advertising professionals that make up the ValueClick Media team.