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Greg Kyte 2One way to get me to do almost anything is to call me a chicken. As a matter of fact, just inferring that I’m a chicken is usually enough. I even do it to myself to motivate me.

Which is how I ended up asking for a 100% raise and a $10,000 bonus.



Back Story: Last summer my board of directors asked me to take on additional responsibilities with no additional pay. I knew we didn’t have any money for raises at that time. (Being the company comptroller,¹ I know crap like that.) I’m also a team player, and I didn’t want anybody to think I’m a chicken, so I agreed.

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Other Thoughts, Uncategorized

REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBOver the years, I’ve developed a skepticism of brands, a healthy one I hope. And I would venture to say you have too. One ad after another, all making claims to be the best thing ever. Common sense tells us it can’t actually be — we all want to believe that particular cologne/perfume is going to make us instantly magnetic, but we know better. And then there’s one purchase after another; many don’t live up to the hype, some do, some do to begin with, but don’t last. Each of these experiences eats away at our ability to believe, to trust.

Brands can be so impersonal — marketing messages connect us to the brand, and humans become merely the means to get to the brand. Ads create a desire for Cheerios, and supermarkets and checkout registers are just a delivery mechanism to acquire Cheerios for ourselves. The quicker and easier, the better. Products, not humans, are the end. (Or perhaps more accurately, the emotional state promised by the products.)

But brands are real, right? I mean, after all, there’s Coca-Cola, Apple, Southwest, and Rolls Royce. They must truly exist. Or do they? Maybe they’re just made up. Maybe they only exist simply because we all agree they exist. Sorta like language — we all agree this scrawled shape on a piece of paper constitutes a letter, “d” we’ll call it. And we agree that it makes a particular, recognizable sound formed by our mouths and tongues. And when combined with the two other scrawled shapes “o” and “g,” signifies those panting, four-legged furry creatures in our homes. Read more

Marketing and Branding

Jason BlumerI’m a Peter Thiel fan. He is a contrarian, and there is power in contrarian thinking. In his book Zero to One, Thiel talks about Secrets in Chapter 8. It’s one of my favorite chapters.




In his book, Thiel contrasts secrets between conventions and mysteries. He contends that conventions within business are easy to uncover (like, you should use a CRM to manage your client’s information), and that mysteries are impossible to uncover (like, you will make a lot of money if you can predict what the stock market will do tomorrow). He makes a point that secrets are not easy to discover, yet they are not impossible. You will not stumble into secrets – if they are to be found, then you must search for them.

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CPA firm, Customer Experience, Innovation

Greg Kyte 2Moe Szyslak is a crappy entrepreneur. He’s crappy at lots of things, but he’s a really crappy entrepreneur. The only reason his tavern hasn’t gone out of business in the past 26 years is because it’s not real. That being said, sometimes he comes close to not sucking.



In the middle of Season 3, Moe says to Homer, “Business is slow. People today are healthier and drinking less. … If it wasn’t for the junior high school next door, no one would even use the cigarette machine. … Increased job satisfaction and family togetherness are poison for a purveyor of mind-numbing intoxicants like myself” (“Flaming Moe’s”). However, people’s aversion of rats, cockroaches, and Hepatitis B are also poison for Moe’s business. His bar is a dump, but he pins the problem on the business environment. It’s easy to blame business troubles on external forces: competition, stupid consumers, changing regulation, etc. Read more


REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBIt’s right before tax season, and I’m sitting here at a table in my office’s front room, typing away on my laptop. This moment has significance.

We moved into this office space in February 2012, right as tax season started that year. It came after an unexpected offer to change suites at our office park to a ground floor spot. It’s not a big space, ­­1100 square feet +/­. But I got to design the floor plan and had been working with the contractors on build­out, colors, flooring, network placement, etc. There was a concept then for how we wanted to decorate the front room, but we had to settle for the basics at the time so we could go full swing into tax season.

And now it’s three years later. And we’ve decorated the front room to welcome our customers into a relaxing coffee shop ­style feel that was its original plan. And I’m sitting at a pub­style table here. Read more

Other Thoughts, Strategy

bryanOnce you’ve leapt off the cliff, you have to adjust to the sensation of free fall. Like any good rollercoaster, the majority of the fear that you feel is in the moments leading up to that first huge plunge. After the drop, the feeling is exhilarating, but it’s all too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security.

I definitely felt a lot of excitement knowing that I was officially self-employed. All I wanted to do was go on the road show and share the news with everyone. I do think that this is a necessary first step. Part of any good marketing campaign is getting a buzz out there, but that’s not your only job. In fact, now you have EVERY job.

It can become very hard to keep your eye on the prize. Here are a few things that I learned in the first month of being on my own: Read more

Cliff Jumpers