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Category: Business (Page 1 of 4)

Adding a YouTube Vid as a Blog Commercial

I am trying something new using something old to attract some additional traffic to my new political blog.

I have an existing subscriber base on a YouTube channel, where I have not been active recently.  So this morning, I created a 60 second video commercial for my political blog to upload to that existing YouTube channel.

The ad has three purposes:

  1. Try to convert some of those YouTube subscribers to the blog,
  2. Serve as a no additional cost commercial on YouTube for the blog by leveraging YouTube’s internal search and related videos traffic to attract new eyes, and
  3. Become a video element on the blog’s sidebar to increase conversions from referral and search traffic into subscribers.

From Mixergy, an interview podcast featuring lessons learned from successful entrepreneurs, I understand that YouTube videos are one of the most successful methods for attracting traffic that will convert.  In addition, one of the ads often running at the beginning of Mixergy interviews touts the A/B tested benefit of video embedded on a site for increasing conversions.

I created it as a draft quality piece because something is better than nothing and I can polish after testing with the draft.  For the script, I just took the content from my blog’s About page and abbreviated it down to identifying the problem and the solution plus a call to action.

While I would have liked to get the video down to 30 seconds, I am pleased enough with the 60 seconds run time given the length of my typical You Tube videos.  For my narrated part, I had to speak at about twice my normal (aka slow) rate to get the commercial down to a minute.

Given that selfishness is part of the branding for the blog, the commercial starts with a short video of Obama saying “You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness.”

If you have tried something like this, what lessons learned do you have?



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Writing Better Headlines?

Search traffic to my new blog has NOT been happening.  Yesterday, I was surprised when I started getting search hits from Bing and Yahoo on the term “FY 2013 Continuing Resolution”.  This was exciting because: (1) I was seeing search referrals, (2) I had just posted the piece in the morning, and (3) I found that it had the #1 position for those terms on those search engines.  Meanwhile, I was nowhere for those terms on Google.

While I think about search engine optimization (SEO) as something that I ought to think to do, I don’t really try to study the best practices and apply them when I edit, if I edit a post.  But this difference in search position in Bing, Yahoo, and Google raised my curiosity, are headlines really much more important to Bing and Yahoo for search results?  While Google is bigger, what if I did something small as a test to target these other search engines?  I might actually get more search referrals just by putting a little more thought into my post titles; just as I had been testing with my posts to Reddit.

According to Adam Bauthues, I am actually seeing Bing credit the keywords in my post’s URL, which is auto generated by WordPress to match my headline.

Included in a post full of blog writing tips,  Annabel Candy shared some specific ways to write better headlines, which really focus on the theme of making headlines more useful and informative for potential readers considering your post from a long list of other options…be explicit about your post’s value to them.

She also recommends breaking up a long post with subheading to make the post easier for readers to scan quickly and highlight the value available by reading all that text.  I do recall a solicitation for SEO consulting services that shared the tip that such subheadings, using header tags in HTML, increase the visibility of our writing on search engines.

I have noticed that successful channels on YouTube often change the headline for their videos, which I assume is to increase visibility and attractiveness.  Have you tried changing your headline on posts with disappointment traffic?  If so, what did you find from your effort?

In doing an autopsy on my least successful posts in attracting traffic, I have tested them by gauging general interest for the topic using simple Google searches, or getting metrics for those ideas using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool.  In addition to identifying alternative terms with better metrics, I have sometimes found that there was not much interest in those ideas.  Do you perform any such testing either before or after you post?  If so, what did you learn?

Personally, I am going to give a bit more thought to my post headlines and test the results.  It is a small first step that is not too difficult to implement.

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Nine Lessons Learned from Using Reddit

Starting a new blog focused on politics, I decided to try reddit as a source to kickstart some traffic.  As reddit referrals are now 50% of my traffic, I think that the experiment has had a successful start, so let me share some of my lessons learned.

  1. Self-promoting blog content on reddit is easy and without significant friction.
  2. The reddit post title attracts the interest as that is what the users primarily will see, so experiment and test.
  3. Reddit’s system for voting and comments are used actively and provide insightful metrics when feedback is not being left on a new blog.
  4. Older evergreen blog posts that are not attracting traffic can be resurrected with a reddit post.
  5. Subreddits are great for doing segmentation testing as you can target specific communities and tailor titles to that community.
  6. Posting the same post to different subreddits on different days can keep posts active overtime and allow for easy differentiation of traffic from different subreddits for results tracking.
  7. Subreddits have their own personalities and can sometimes respond differently than their name would suggest.
  8. Controversy resulting from matching a post with a subreddit can help traffic to your site even if it is not helping your link karma.  Highly recommended.
  9. Reddit offers a good opportunity to reach new potential readers from outside your usual circles of communication.

If you have not been using Reddit to promote your own blog content, using the above lessons learned, I have a suggestion for how to start with a test using the traffic stats already tracked for your blog.

  1. Start by picking seven of your posts that you think deserve more eyes.  In doing so, do not ignore older posts that still have timely information.
  2. Brainstorm types of people that you think would be interested in each specific post.
  3. Use the search feature on reddit to find subreddits that are a community for those types of people.
  4. Throughout the week, submit links for your posts to various subreddits and track the results using your own blog’s traffic stats.
  5. At the end of the week, review your own lessons learned and plan how you could use reddit to promote your blog content.

You can check out reddit’s FAQ for how-to details.

If you try this experiment, please share your own lessons learned.

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The Panic of 1819 and Rothbard

My readings the biographies of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe sparked an interest in the Panic of 1819, America’s first depression following the adoption of our Constitution. This panic had parallels to our present economic problems in that it was caused by credit policies of the Second Bank of the United States, federal credit policies related to the sale of western land, and changes in world trade resulting from the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Searching for a book on the event, only one kept popped up: The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies by Murray N. Rothbard. Frankly, this set off my crap detector. I have never read any Rothbard, but reference to his name left a bad taste in my mouth. Doing a quick Google search to investigate my reaction, I found the he had something to do with Libertarianism and was a critic of Objectivism. Not a ringing endorsement for his judgment and knowledge.

Thus, I decided to find an alternate reference by reviewing the sources and footnotes of Dumas, Ketcham, and Ammon from the biographies of the above referenced Presidents. I was surprised to find that, in addition to volumes of primary sources, both Dumas and Ammon cited Rothbard’s book. Further, Ammon praised it in a footnote by saying, “See the excellent study by Murray N. Rothbard…” As potential alternative sources, Ammon lamented the lack of a scholarly biography of Sec. of Treasury William H. Crawford, which I understand to still be true; and, he suggested Smith’s Economic Aspects of the Second Bank of the United States (Harvard Press, 1953) as a source on the public sector operations of the bank.

Lacking a better focused and concise alternative, I purchased and will read Rothbard’s book. If I can critically read authors as vile as Marx, Foucault, and Fanon, then sorting the Rothbard errors from the facts should not be too difficult of a task. I understand that this book is founded in his dissertation, so perhaps there was sufficient oversight to prevent biased analysis and omission of relevant facts. Plus, I will be able to assess Rothbard’s cited sources, if need be. I plan future posts related to the book as I read it.

Note to self: perhaps the Miller Center at UVa should organize a panel on the Panic of 1819, as it has interesting impacts upon our Presidents: Jefferson and Madison as former Presidents, and Monroe as the acting President; I suspect the same to be true of John Q. Adams as Sec. of State plus later President and legislator, and the subsequent presidencies of Jackson and Van Buren, who served during the Panic of 1837. I cannot recall any discussion associating Jackson’s veto of the Bank of the United States and the Panic of 1819, which seems like missing the elephant in the room; perhaps Remini’s trilogy on Jackson will offer me some information on that point.

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Dear App Monkeys

When my Mom worked at a local grocery store, she used to complain about doing inventory a lot.  The key issue was a lack of resources…the price guns that they used were in scarce supply and were sometimes hidden by other departments.  Productivity was hampered by a physical resource constraint.

Yet, employees without price guns had smartie phones.

How tough would it really be for a smartie phone or even an iTouch to have an app to read the bar code, accept input of the shelf count, and update the back end system with the revised inventory?

Just sharing an idea for the app monkeys…go create some productivity.

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Good to Great, Draft Discussion Description

Join us for a discussion of a bestselling study about organizational greatness in business. The book is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins.

Challenged to identify how good companies become great, researcher Jim Collins identified three themes that differentiated organization that had made that transition: disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action.

Through his examination, Collins introduces us to real world Ken Dannagers, Lawrence Hammnds, Dwight Sanderses, and Ed Neilsens. Although Collins recommends Atlas Shrugged , he was surprised to find that leadership matters. Yet, Collins is unable to reconcile a contradiction in what he calls Level 5 Leadership.

Just as Dagney Taggert found as she lost her best employees, a successful organization requires the right people. Collins found that selecting the people with the right characteristics had to come before deciding what they were to do, or as he described it: “First who…then what.”

Collins book expresses issues particularly suited for discussion by Objectivists, such as: evaluating the strengths and limits of Collins’ methodology, comparing the role of values and virtue to Ed Locke’s discussion in The Prime Movers, the role of the primacy of existence as a differentiating factor for the great companies, and differentiating the Fannie Mae in the book from the one that went broke.

More than a business book, Good to Great examines how an organization can bring individuals together to achieve shared values.

Jim Collins has a resource website with articles, videos, and audio; including, questions that you can consider in your reading .

Update: DCOS will hold this discussion on July 31.

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Open Letter to Freddie Mac’s Paige Wisdom

EVP Wisdom,

As you are the Chief Enterprise Risk Officer for Freddie Mac, I write to advise you of a symptom of significant risk to your organization and the public investment in housing GSEs.

April showers have brought a curious bloom of orange and white to Jones Branch Drive.  Perhaps you recognize them as the Freddie Mac loaner umbrellas that the company provides to employees walking between buildings on your sprawling campus.

Now here is the point:  If your employees can not be counted on to check the weather report in the morning and bring an umbrella to work as needed, how can they effectively manage risk for the company?

By not holding employees responsible for the short term risk of today’s predictable and widely known rain, Freddie Mac handicaps their capacity to plan for the complex and long term risks associated with your business.

These umbrellas are symptoms of a flaw in your corporate culture related to risk management and employee responsibility.  I urge you to end the umbrella loaner program with a loud and precise message about the responsibility of each employee for risk management.


Your Neighbor

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Honduran Charter City

Honduras is in the process of amending its constitution to authorize a “charter city” insulated from Honduran economic regulation.

Originally, they investigated allowing a foreign country to establish an “embassy” the size of a city, so that the new city could operate under foreign law as a center for investment and development.

The current plan is based upon economist Paul Romer’s idea of creating new Hong Kongs in developing countries with investment-friendly foreign controlled administrations and insulated from potential local political turmoil.

The idea is reminiscent of 19th century treaty ports. It sounds like neo-colonialism, and I do not mean that as a pejorative.

Frankly, I do not like the idea, because I prefer that the protection of individual right that would be instituted in these charter cities be available to everybody in the country. Localizing the protection of rights, reminds me of Jack Kemp’s promotion of enterprise zones, which were simply a temporary removal of the disincentives that government imposes upon production through the violation of individual rights.

However, compared to the status quo and a culture unwilling to respect rights, the ephemeral and local toleration of individual rights is an improvement….as Purgatory might be considered better real estate than Hell.

Would I be willing to invest risk capital in a charter city? Probably. Would I invest my life it one? Not likely.

Charter Cities: New Options for the Bottom Billion” by Paul Romer, Council on Foreign Relations, 1/25/2011

The Quest for a ‘Charter City‘” by David Wessel, Wall Street Journal, 2/3/2011

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Tunisia Needs Capitalism, and So Do We

Related to the abdication of Tunisian President, the Washington Post reports:

The simmering discontent erupted into the open Dec. 17 in the inland city of Sidi Bouzid after an unlicensed fruit vendor identified as Mohammed Bouazzi set himself afire. Bouazzi acted after a policeman confiscated the wares off his cart and, according to news reports, after he was slapped by a female city hall employee to whom he had turned to complain.

Thus, concretely, this political change in Tunisia was a response to the oppression of a businessman who attempted to trade without government permission.

As demonstrated by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto in his book The Mystery of Capitalism, in developing countries, excessive regulation of business activity fosters corruption, extra-legality, and obstructs capital accumulation.  Modern South American history demonstrates that moving from authoritarian regimes to democracies is insufficient as the failure of these democracies led to popular calls for authoritarian leaders.

These concretes demonstrate that young Tunisians who want real change need to demand laissez-faire capitalism as the antidote to government corruption; of course, the same is true of young Americans.

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Return of the C Podcasts

I must be in a rut as I’m not sure why all the sources for these podcasts from Friday again begin exclusively with the letter ‘C’, but they do.

As before, the following is a list of podcasts that I consumed the other day.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) The Trader Principle (2010-06-04 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Kelly): Helping a child manage her frustrations, Topic: The Trader Principle (begins at 5:51), and Q&A: Toothbrushing Tactics (begins at 17:07).

Related to the Trader Principle, the Ayn Rand Lexicon identified the following passage from her novel Atlas Shrugged:

The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice.

2) After Words: Mia Bay, “To Tell the Truth Freely” (2009-08-01 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy B, Quality B+ – Mia Bay, associate history professor at Rutgers University, recounts the life of 19th century suffragist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells in her book, To Tell the Truth Freely.  Ms. Bay recalls Ida B. Wells appeal to the Supreme Court after being removed from a seat on a train due to her race, her assistance in founding the NAACP in 1910, and her international campaign against lynching.  Mia Bay discusses her book with Elsa Barkley Brown, associate history and women’s studies professor at the University of Maryland.


3) Organized Crime and Transnational Threats (2009-11-18 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – This session was part of the CFR symposium, Organized Crime in the Western Hemisphere: An Overlooked Threat?, undertaken in collaboration with the Latin American Program and Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and made possible by the generous support of the Hauser Foundation, Tinker Foundation,  and a grant from the Robina Foundation for CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program.  This panel featured: David Holiday (Program Officer, Latin America Program, Open Society Institute),  William F. Wechsler (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, U.S. Department of Defense), and Lee S. Wolosky (Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP; Former Director, Transnational Threats, National Security Council).

Wechsler and Wolosky are coauthors of Terrorist Financing.

4) Local and National Policy Responses (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – This session was part of the CFR symposium, Organized Crime in the Western Hemisphere: An Overlooked Threat?  This panel featured:  Ramon Garza Barrios ( Mayor, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico) and Rodrigo Pardo García-Peña (Director, Cambio; Former Foreign Minister, Republic of Colombia).

5) After Words: Harry Stein, author, “I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican,” interviewed by Stefan Kanfer, City Journal (2009-07-25 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy C, Quality B – In I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican, Harry Stein uses humor to describe being a conservative locked in a community of liberals, both in his neighborhood and in his professional life.  He details the difficulties he’s had with family members since crossing the political spectrum from left wing to right, and he talks about being misrepresented as a racist by the Dallas Morning News.  The interview was conducted by author and journalist Stefan Kanfer.


6) Academic Conference Call: Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Paul Stares is coauthor of CFR’s special report “Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action.”  Few would dispute that preventing conflict, instability, and humanitarian disaster is preferable to confronting these problems after they arise. Preventive measures are generally less expensive than remedial ones. They also allow policymakers to address potential crises before they threaten international stability, U.S. interests, and human lives. Building an effective U.S. government capacity to take preventive action, however, has proved an elusive goal. And the challenges to achieving it have perhaps never been greater.

7) After Words: Joe Scarborough. “The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise” (2009-07-11 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy C, Quality C – From BookExpo America in New York City, Joe Scarborough on his book, The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise.  The former Republican congressman and current host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe presents his thoughts on the Bush administration, the current state of the Republican party, and the Obama presidency.  Joe Scarborough discusses his book with Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal.


8 ) Foreign Aid, Civilian Capacity, and U.S. National Security (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality C – U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (Chair, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs) discusses how if only more money was spent on diplomacy and development through the subcommittee that she leds, then there would be less conflict for the military to resolve.  Isn’t it always the case with the cardinals of the Appropriations Committee: the key to a better world is more money under their domain.

I could not find a book by her as evidently ideas and words make her head hurt.


9) How Should Governments Drive Industry Change? Lessons Learned from the Global Automotive Sector (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality D – Carlos Ghosn (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan Alliance) and Steven L. Rattner (Former Head, U.S. Treasury Department’s Auto Task Force) discuss government led industrial policy in the auto industry.

Ghosn is author of Shift: Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival.  Rattner is author of Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry.

10) After Words: Edward Humes interviewed by Matthew Kahn, UCLA (2009-07-18 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy F, Quality F – The Pulitzer Prize winning author profiles the multi-millionaires and high-profile people who are trying to take the planet green.  The episode was filmed on the C-SPAN bus at the L.A. Times Festival of Books about his latest book Eco Barons:  The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who are Saving Our Planet.


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