As I recently read his biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I’m not a big Apple fan (as some of you know) but Jobs was a very successful businessman and the book came highly recommended the book, so I thought I would give it a try.

I found almost nothing praiseworthy in the first half of his life. He all but rejected the Christian religion he was raised on. He did drugs, and he slept around with many girl friends.  He was a jerk, selfish, difficult to work with, arrogant, subject to extreme mood swings, condescending, stubborn, rude, immature, a control freak, obsessive compulsive, and overly critical.

Yet Steve Jobs was one of the most successful business leaders the world has ever seen. He had remarkable aptitude (and plenty of luck) in the business world which paid great dividends when he did eventually mature somewhat. He built Apple into the world’s most successful company, and he ended up making a very positive impact on the field of design, technology, and many other industries.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from or about Steve Jobs and Apple:

design is how it works Design

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together.” -Steve Jobs in Fortune magazine, Apple’s One-Dollar-a-Year Man

”Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” says Steve Jobs, Apple’s C.E.O. ”People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” The Guts of a New Machine, Rob Walker, November 30, 2003

Simplicity

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Apple II“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci and the headline of Apple’s first marketing brochure in 1977

“The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”  -Steve Jobs, How Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Fueled A Design Revolution, Smithsonian Magazine

“You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential…We wanted to get rid of anything other than what was absolutely essential,” he said. “To do so required total collaboration between the designers, the product developers, the engineers and the manufacturing team. We kept going back to the beginning, again and again. Do we need that part? Can we get it to perform the function of the other four parts?” -Jony Ive describing one of Apple’s Power Macs, Smithsonian Magazine.

Focus on Great Products

“I remember very clearly Steve announcing that our goal is not just to make money but to make great products.” -Jony Ive, Smithsonian Magazine

make great products - brandautopsy.com“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.” - Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” - Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

Soon after returning to Apple in 1997, Jobs was at a big product strategy session. The previous CEO had been urging Apple to develop more and more products. “‘Stop!’ he [Jobs] shouted. ‘This is crazy.’ He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. ‘Here’s what we need,’ he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro”; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant. ‘The room was in dumb silence,’ Schiller recalled.” - Walter Isaacson

“The product review revealed how unfocused Apple had become. The company was churning out multiple versions of each product because of bureaucratic momentum and to satisfy the whims of retailers. “It was insanity,” Schiller recalled. “Tons of products, most of them crap, done by deluded teams.” Apple had a dozen versions of the Macintosh, each with a different confusing number, ranging from 1400 to 9600. “I had people explaining this to me for three weeks,” Jobs said. “I couldn’t figure it out.” He finally began asking simple questions, like, “Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?” When he couldn’t get simple answers, he began slashing away at models and products. Soon he had cut 70% of them.” - Walter Isaacson

Working Together

“[Jobs] never worshipped at the altar of consensus.” In 1997, when Jobs returned to Apple as CEO, he “was not tentative in his actions. He was in charge, and he did not rule by consensus.” – Walter Isaacson

“Despite his autocratic nature… Jobs worked hard to foster a culture of collaboration at Apple…He had the Pixar building designed to promote encounters and unplanned collaborations. “If a building doesn’t encourage that, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” he said. “So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.” The front doors and main stairs and corridors all led to the atrium, the cafe and the mailboxes were there, the conference rooms had windows that looked out onto it, and the six-hundred-seat theater and two smaller screening rooms all spilled into it. ”Steve’s theory worked from day one,” Lasseter recalled. “I kept running into people I hadn’t seen for months. I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.” – Walter Isaacson

“I realized that A players like to work with A players, they just didn’t like working with C players. At Pixar, it was a whole company of A players. When I got back to Apple, that’s what I decided to try to do. You need to have a collaborative hiring process. When we hire someone, even if they’re going to be in marketing, I will have them talk to the design folks and the engineers.” – Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

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I read The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker in 2012 at the recommendation of a good friend. It is a great book on leadership, not just for executives, but for anyone regardless of your title. The book was originally published in 1967, so I was reading it 45 years after the fact. Yet, by and large, the content was as relevant for today’s business leaders as it was when it was first written. Here are some of my favorite quotes (I apologize for not having page numbers for the quotes. I read it on the Kindle, so all I have is the Kindle “location.”):

Strategy and Productivity

  • Working on the right things - Peter Drucker“There are few things less pleasing to the Lord, and less productive, than an engineering department that rapidly turns out beautiful blueprints for the wrong product. Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective. This is not capable of being measured by any of the yardsticks for manual work.” – Location 108
  • “There is no lack of ideas in any organization I know. ‘Creativity’ is not our problem. But few organizations ever get going on their own good ideas.” – Location 1587
  • “A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between ‘almost right’ and ‘probably wrong.’” – Location 2094
  • “[The effective executive] always assumes that the event that clamors for his attention is in reality a symptom. He looks for the true problem. He is not content with doctoring the symptom alone.” – Location 1878
  • “Brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work.” – Location 76

Priorities

  • “[Effective executives] concentrate—their own time and energy as well as that of their organization—on doing one thing at a time, and on doing first things first.” – Location 1528
  • Priorities - Deciding What Tasks to Tackle - Peter Drucker“The reason why so few executives concentrate [on priorities] is the difficulty of setting “posteriorities”—that is, deciding what tasks not to tackle—and of sticking to the decision.” – Location 1615
  • “It is much easier to draw up a nice list of top priorities and then to hedge by trying to do “just a little bit” of everything else as well. This makes everybody happy. The only drawback is, of course, that nothing whatever gets done.” – Location 1637
  • “Effective executives know where their time goes…They gear their efforts to results…They force themselves to set priorities.” – Location 385
  • “Concentration—that is, the courage to impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters and comes first—is the executive’s only hope of becoming the master of time and events.” - Location 1656
  • “Act or do not act; but do not “hedge” or compromise. The surgeon who only takes out half the tonsils or half the appendix risks as much infection.” – Location 2298

 Goals and Results

  • “If the executive lets the flow of events determine what he does, what he works on, and what he takes seriously, he will fritter himself away ‘operating.’” – Location 225
  • “The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: ‘What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?’” – Location 795
  • “The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank.” – Location 809
  • “The man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, ‘top management.’” – Location 810
  • When there is confusion on results - Peter Drucker“When there is confusion as to what [results] should be, there are no results.” – Location 847
  • “The ones who are enthusiastic and who, in turn, have results to show for their work, are the ones whose abilities are being challenged and used.” – Location 1233
  • “People who get nothing done often work a great deal harder.” – Location 1521
  • “Effectiveness, in other words, is a habit; that is, a complex of practices. And practices can always be learned.” – Location 374

Testing and Proving Productivity

  • “[Programs] will not produce results as long as we maintain the traditional assumption that all programs last forever unless proven to have outlived their usefulness. The assumption should rather be that all programs outlive their usefulness fast and should be scrapped unless proven productive and necessary.” – Location 1561
  • Putting all programs on tria - Peter Druckerl“Putting all programs and activities regularly on trial for their lives and getting rid of those that cannot prove their productivity work wonders in stimulating creativity even in the most hidebound bureaucracy.” – Location 1588
  • “One starts with opinions. These are, of course, nothing but untested hypotheses and, as such, worthless unless tested against reality.” – Location 2097
  • “Everyone is far too prone to … look for the facts that fit the conclusion they have already reached.” – Location 2109
  • “We know what to do with hypotheses—one does not argue them; one tests them.” – Location 2114
  • “Feedback has to be built into the decision to provide a continuous testing, against actual events, of the expectations that underlie the decision.” – Location 2044
  • “[The effective executive] had better go out and look at the scene of action, [or] he will be increasingly divorced from reality.” – Location 2082
  • “He insists that people who voice an opinion also take responsibility for defining what factual findings can be expected and should be looked for.” – Location 2119

Focusing on People’s Strengths

  • “[The effective executive] does not make staffing decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strength.” – Location 1071
  • “Before he chose Grant, [Abraham Lincoln] had appointed in succession three or four Generals whose main qualifications were their lack of major weaknesses.” – Location 1077
  • “Strong people always have strong weaknesses too.” – Location 1087
  • “The less we know about his weaknesses, the better. What we do need to know are the strengths of a man and what he can do.” – Location 1256
  • “The task of an executive is not to change human beings. Rather …the task is to multiply performance capacity of the whole by putting to use whatever strength, whatever health, whatever aspiration there is in individuals.” – Location 1475
  • “[Executive effectiveness] raises the eyes of its people from preoccupation with problems to a vision of opportunity, from concern with weakness to exploitation of strengths.” – Location 2474
  • “No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were strong and effective.” – Location 1091
  • “It is only too easy to be misled this way into looking for the “least misfit” —the one man who leaves least to be desired. And this is invariably the mediocrity.” – Location 1136
  • “‘What can this man do?’ was [General Marshall's] constant question. And if a man could do something, his lacks became secondary.” – Location 1348

Meetings

  • “The meetings were far too large. And because every participant felt that he had to show interest, everybody asked at least one question —most of them irrelevant.” – Location 603
  • “[If] people in an organization find themselves in meetings a quarter of their time or more—there is time-wasting malorganization. [Though] there are exceptions.” – Location 688
  • “Too many meetings signify that work that should be in one job or in one component is spread over several jobs or several components. They signify that responsibility is diffused and that information is not addressed to the people who need it.” – Location 695
  • “The effective man always states at the outset of a meeting the specific purpose and contribution it is to achieve.” – Location 1049
  • “If executives in an organization spend more than a fairly small part of their time in meeting, it is a sure sign of malorganization.” – Location 683

Personnel Decisions

  • “He has learned the hard way how many men who looked like geniuses when they worked elsewhere show up as miserable failures six months after they have started working ‘for us.’” – Location 1581
  • “An organization needs to bring in fresh people with fresh points of view fairly often. If it only promotes from within it soon becomes inbred and eventually sterile.” – Location 1583
  • “Executives everywhere complain that many young men with fire in their bellies turn so soon into burned-out sticks. They have only themselves to blame: They quenched the fire by making the young man’s job too small.” – Location 1237
  • “[Effective] executives take time out [to ask]… ‘What should we at the head of this organization know about your work?’” – Location 478
  • “[Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., former head of General Motors] was reported never to make a personnel decision the first time it came up. …Only when he came up with the same name two or three times in a row was he willing to go ahead.” – Location 501
  • “People-decisions are time-consuming, for the simple reason that the Lord did not create people as ‘resources’ for organization. They do not come in the proper size and shape for the tasks that have to be done in organization.” – Location 521
  • “One hires new people to expand on already established and smoothly running activity. But one starts something new with people of tested and proven strength, that is, with veterans.” – Location 1578

Delegation

  • “As usually presented, delegation makes little sense if it implies, as the usual sermon does, that the laziest manager is the best manager, it is not only nonsense; it is immoral.” – Location 579
  • “‘Delegation’ as the term is customarily used, is a misunderstanding—is indeed misdirection. But getting rid of anything that can be done by somebody else so that one does not have to delegate but can really get to one’s own work—that is a major improvement in effectiveness.” - Location 593
  • “An enormous amount of the work being done by executives is work that can easily be done by others, and therefore should be done by others.” – Location 593

 Organizational Structure and Communication

  • “In a lean organization people have room to move without colliding with one another and can do their work without having to explain it all the time.” – Location 668
  • “The larger the organization, the more time will be needed just to keep the organization together and running, rather than to make it function and produce.” – Location 757
  • “We have been working at communications downward from management to the employees, from the superior to the subordinate. But communications are practically impossible if they are based on the downward relationship.” – Location 989
  • “The needs of large-scale organization have to be satisfied by common people achieving uncommon performance.” – Location 2466

Designing Jobs

  • “Jobs have to be objective; that is, determined by task rather than by personality.” – Location 1139
  • “Structuring jobs to fit personality is almost certain to lead to favoritism and conformity.” – Location 1158
  • “The effective executive therefore first makes sure that the job is well-designed. And if experience tells him otherwise, he does not hunt for genius to do the impossible. He redesigns the job.” - Location 1201

Government

  • “At least half the bureaus and agencies of the federal government of the United States either regulate what no longer needs regulation… Or they are directed, as is most of the farm program, toward investment in politicians’ egos and toward efforts that should have had results but never achieved them.” – Location 1551
  • “There is serious need for a new principle of effective administration under which every act, every agency, and every program of government is conceived as temporary and as expiring automatically after a fixed number of years.” – Location 1555
  • “A country with many laws is a country of incompetent lawyers,” says an old legal proverb. It is a country which attempts to solve every problem as a unique phenomenon, rather than as a special case under general rules of law. Similarly, an executive who makes many decisions is both lazy and ineffectual.” – Location 1895

Others

  • “Efficiency; that is, the ability to do things right rather than the ability to get the right things done.” – Location 84
  • “Unless [the executive] changes it by deliberate action, the flow of events will determine what he is concerned with and what he does.” – Location 217
  • “A common cause of time-waste is largely under the executive’s control and can be eliminated by him. That is the time of others he himself wastes.” – Location 597
  • “[Many an executive] resign himself to having at least half his time taken up by things of minor importance and dubious value.” – Location 749
  • “If a man wants to be an executive—that is, if he wants to be considered responsible for his contribution—he has to concern himself with the usability of his ‘product’—that is, his knowledge.” – Location 946
  • “The effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. “What are the things,” he asks, “that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?”” – Location 1449
  • “The distance between the leaders and the average is a constant. If leadership performance is high, the average will go up.” – Location 1470
  • “There are two different kinds of compromise…’half a loaf is better than no bread.’…’half a baby is worse than no baby at all.’” – Location 1985
  • “I always stop when things seem out of focus.” – Location 2316
  • “He needs opportunity, he needs achievement, he needs fulfillment, he needs values. Only by making himself an effective executive can the knowledge worker obtain these satisfactions.” – Location 2525

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Email Marketing Best Practices

by Jimmy on August 13, 2013 · 0 comments in Online Marketing

It’s 2013 and email marketing is alive and well in the online marketing sphere. Most businesses find it to be an effective component of the overall online marketing strategy. Exact Target, in discussing consumers’ preferred direct marketing channel has called email “the number one direct channel in terms of daily use and consumer preference for both personal and marketing communications,” saying 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.

In 2005, I joined the FedEx marketing department and was heavily involved in their email marketing for several years. FedEx has email marketing best practices well integrated into their processes and ingrained in their corporate culture. The management and my co-workers at FedEx would never have dreamed of doing anything other than permission-based email marketing because no email campaign was worth potentially offending a customer, losing their business, and hurting the company reputation. In recent years I haven’t been as heavily involved in email marketing, but I do it enough and consult (internally and externally) on best practices for email marketing that I thought it worth while to document the following email marketing tips.

Top 10 Email Marketing Best Practices:

  1. Only Email People Who Have Given You Their Permission
  2. Only Email People with Content They Have Requested
  3. Have an Online Email Subscription Center
  4. Send Emails When Your Audience Will Read Them
  5. Send the Email from a Recognizable Source
  6. Use Accurate and Compelling Subject Lines
  7. Honor All Unsubscribe Requests in a Timely Manner
  8. Keep Your Email List Clean
  9. Build Your Email List At Every Opportunity
  10. Have a Clear Call to Action in the Email

1. Only Email People Who Have Given You Their Permission

FedEx email subscription center

First and foremost of my email marketing tips is to always practice permission-based email marketing. This does not mean you can email anyone you want for any reason until they opt out of your list. This means you should only send messages to people who have opted in and requested to receive them. Unsolicited emails wore out their welcome long ago. As one writer put it, permission-based email marketing “has become standard practice for legitimate email marketers because it is a key component for optimizing deliverability, return on investment and recipient trust.” (see bluesite.lyris.com, Permission Email Marketing: Permission is Not Optional).

2. Only Email People with Content They Have Requested

The second major principle of email marketing is related to the first: only send emails relevant to the type of content the person has requested. When you collect email addresses, whether through the Web, paper forms, or otherwise, it should be clearly communicated what type of content the end user will be emailed about: product updates, promotions, contests, newsletters, etc. Be vigilant about only sending your customers emails concerning the type of things they have requested.

3. Have an Online Email Subscription Center

An email subscription center is a page on your website where new people can provide their email address and give you their permission to send them emails. This could be an independent section of your site or it could be a section of a user’s profile. If your company only sends out one kind of email, this could be simply one check box on the user profile page. To the right is a screen shot of the FedEx E-mail Subscription Center, which, if you’re a large company like FedEx, with numerous types of email alerts, can be quite detailed.

4. Send Emails When Your Audience Will Read Them

(Warning, the next sentence is a candidate for the obvious statement of the year.) If you send your emails at a time when your audience is more likely to read email, your email has a greater likelihood of being read. If your target audience is business professionals, and you send your email over the weekend, it is likely to end up at the bottom of a pile of other emails and may never be opened or read. Business to business emails, have shown to have the best open rates on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. According to iContact Best Practices for Email Marketers, personal or consumer targeted emails have the best open rates “between 5pm and 8pm Tuesday through Thursday or between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.”

5. Send the Email from a Recognizable Source

Many people will only look at the the From line in the email before deciding whether or not to read it. The From name for your messages should either be your company name or the name of a recognizable person at your company (could be the president of your company, or the candidate’s name on a political-type email, etc.). You’ll also want the from email address to be intelligible and memorable, i.e. something@yourcompany.com.

6. Use Accurate and Compelling Subject Lines

Compelling subject lines are a must have if you want your email opened and read. Subject lines should also accurate describe the contents of the email; deceptive subject lines are deceptive, will hurt your company in the long run, and in some cases may be against the law.  If you have the opportunity, it’s always good to test potential subject lines on a small group to see which gets the best open rate before sending the email out to all recipients. Do not use all caps, multiple exclamation points, or excessive dollar signs in subject line or body text because doing this will likely trigger SPAM filters. Some words and phrases like “Free” “Act Now” “Cash Bonus” “Please Read” and “While Supplies Last” also have been known to cause SPAM filters to block emails.

7. Honor All Unsubscribe Requests in a Timely Manner

Not only is it good business to to provide and quickly honor unsubscribe requests, but it is the law. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that each email message you send contain a visible and operable unsubscribe feature.  At a minimum, the unsubscribe mechanism should be either to send a reply email message or to visit a single page on the Internet. This doesn’t mean that you can’t also encourage recipients to visit your email subscription center. The law also requires that opt-out requests be honored within 10 days, but the sooner the better in my view. At FedEx we occasionally got unsubscribe requests via phone or even via snail mail, but regardless, we opted those people out immediately.

8. Keep Your Email List Clean

Keeping your list clean means taking steps to ensure the email addresses you have are accurate. At FedEx, we kept our email lists very clean and we averaged open rates over 90%. An un-scrubbed email list, on the other hand, can be much worse. You don’t want to think you are emailing 1,000 people, when due to bad data, you actually only have 500 good email addresses.

The undelivered, or bounced, emails generally fall into two categories: hard bounce, and soft bounce. A hard bounce back indicates that the email address is invalid. A soft bounce-back typically is an indication that the recipient inbox is full, or is caused by some temporary situation. It is best to have rules in place such as removing bounced email addresses. A hard bounce back is generally grounds for immediate removal, while you may want to wait for 5 or 10 soft bounces before removing an email address.

Keeping your email list clean also means taking steps up front to ensure the email address is correctly formatted. Electronically this is usually done with scripts that make sure the address has an “@” symbol and such. Looking for and correcting common misspellings (“hitmail.com” instead of “hotmail.com”) is also a good practice.

9. Build Your Email List At Every Opportunity

Typical email address churn can be 20% to 30% a year, which means if you don’t continually build your list, it could be cut in half in two years’ time. Numerous opportunities exist, online and offline, to build you email list. If you have a retail location, have an email sign up form at the point of sale. At conferences or events, bring a paper signup form or have a laptop opened to your Email Subscription Center for interested parties. Prominently promote your newsletter signup form on your company website. Include a link to your Email Subscription Center in all of your emails and encourage users to update their information if it ever changes. Run a promotion each year offering the chance of a prize to people who visit your Email Subscription Center and update their information. These steps will build your email list and also help keep it clean.

10. Have a Clear Call to Action in the Email

Last, but certainly not least, is to have a clear call-to-action in every email you send. The email will, ultimately, only be successful if it effective in getting users to do what you want them to do (i.e. achieving the business objective of the email campaign). You must be able to convert browsers into buyers, or whatever the call-to-action may be, and you will do this by focusing on goals, measuring, and improving.

Designing a good email is a lot like designing a good landing page on the Internet. Think about why you are sending the email. What business objective does it support? Even if it is just a newsletter meant to be read, what action do you hope visitors will take after reading it? Perhaps your call to action is to get readers to visit your online store, or watch a video, or request a catalog. Whatever that call to action is, be sure to measure it. Most email marketing platforms have built in tracking features, but you can also do this with a web analytics solution such as Google Analytics.

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Freedom or SecurityThe debate concerning the balance between freedom and security has been a hot topic in US politics this summer of 2013. The topic reached a boiling point when Edward Snowden leaked information about how the US National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on the US’s own citizens.  Two NSA surveillance programs were revealed, one that gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records each day, and one that taps directly into the servers of nine major Internet companies to gather usage information. Here is a sampling of the news articles:

Miss Alabama: I would rather feel safe

The debate between freedom and security even spilled over into popular culture when a question on the subject came up in the Miss USA pageant. Miss Alabama, Mary Margaret McCord, was asked this question: “Government tracking of phone records has been in the news lately. Is this an invasion of privacy or necessary to keep our country safe? Why or why not?”

Miss Alabama’s response was: “I think the society that we live in today, it’s sad that if we go to the movies or to the airport or even to the mall that we have to worry about our safety. So that I would rather someone track my telephone messages and feel safe wherever I go than feel like they’re, um, encroaching on my privacy.” (see the June 17, 2013 Washington Post article, Miss USA interview questions and answers)

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this quote. The fact that this attitude is so excepted and prevalent in our society makes me fear for our freedom. Our freedoms are already slipping away and if the American people so easily give up their freedom, before long they will have no freedoms at all. Why? Because, as has often been said, a government big enough to give you everything you want, including security, is a government big enough to take away everything you have.

Benjamin Franklin: Those who surrender freedom for security will have neither

My sentiment on the matter is shared by one of our great founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. He said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” The Wikiquotes entry on Benjamin Franklin says that statement is a common paraphrased derivative of the actual Benjamin Franklin quote, ”They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”, but the point remains.

Barack Obama: The NSA’s encroachments on privacy are the right balance

Of course our 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II, seems to side with Miss Alabama. In the days after the NSA surveillance programs were came to light, he is quoted as saying, ”You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. … There are trade-offs involved. …[The] modest encroachments on privacy (by the NSA) …[are] the right balance.” (See the June 7th story from Reuters, Obama defends surveillance effort as ‘trade-off’ for security)

Thomas S. Monson: They wanted security more than freedom and lost it all

With these political and popular culture quotes on my mind, I was quite surprised to recently hear the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints weigh in on the issue. Thomas S. Monson, in his July message to all the people of the Mormon faith, said: ”We forget how the Greeks and Romans prevailed magnificently in a barbaric world and how that triumph ended—how a slackness and softness finally overcame them to their ruin. In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security and a comfortable life; and they lost all—comfort and security and freedom.” (See his July 2013 Liahona magazine article, The World Needs Pioneers Today)

Where do you stand? Security or Freedom?

Do you stand with freedom or security? Do you stand with Barack Obama and Miss Alabama? Or do you stand with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas S. Monson? As for me, I stand with the latter group. I side with freedom. If we have to err on one side or the other, I would err on the side of freedom because if we don’t, history and logic show, that we will lose both security and freedom.

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A Successful Life

July 16, 2013

I love how Mitt Romney defines a successful life in the article quotes below. It’s not according to how much money, power, or fame you have. That’s how the world defines it, but not Mitt. For him, it’s about living in consistency with your core values. Worldly success is allusive to some and comes easily [...]

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Using Information Scent to Improve Web Usability

June 29, 2013

One of my favorite Web usability principles is called information scent. I like because, when properly applied, this principle makes websites tremendously more usable. Information scent has great correlations to search engine optimization and landing page optimization, and it uses the just plain fun and funny analogy of information foraging. Information Foraging Theory The theory [...]

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What Defines a Website?

June 28, 2013

What is a website? Where does one website end and another begin? These questions about what defines a website are basic and may seem inconsequential to some people, but I have observed that the answer has a major impact on website usability and performance management. I have seen countless times in my career that the [...]

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Website Menu Principles and Purposes

June 27, 2013

Creating a website menu or navigation system is one of the most fundamental and crucial tasks in the Web development process. The menu and other navigation is a road map people use to find their way around your website, therefore it must be well constructed, easy to use, comprehensive, and intuitive. A poorly constructed navigation [...]

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Site ID: The Indispensable Element of Usable Web Navigation

June 24, 2013

Site IDs are a part of what defines a website and they are an indispensable part of providing a good user experience to visitors.  A site ID tells website users where they are more quickly and succinctly that any other technical or design element. In the world of the internet, where different websites are just [...]

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Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader

November 11, 2012

Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader is a great book by Dinesh D’Souza, a former policy analyst for the Reagan administration. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and particularly, the leadership principles that can be gleaned from Reagan’s words and actions. After being shot in a failed assassination attempt, Reagan was visited by Mother Teresa who [...]

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