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The Xennials: A Micro-Generation of In-Betweeners

November 7, 2015
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So, as I’m sure some of you may have heard, or read, or seen somewhere online, be it social media, or a chain email (if you still get those), the idea of this micro-generation between Generation X and Millennials known as Xennials. I always thought this was Generation Y (my generation!), but I guess I was wrong as people believe that GenY is, in fact, the Millennial Generation. It’s believed that GenY was just an oversight, or under-sight, however you’d like to classify it is fine with me. The reality is there has been quite a bit of controversy around this subject as of late. I’ve been reading more and more articles on what peoples’ opinions are surrounding this non-existent, imagined, and underwhelmed generation. Yet, here I am, and here we are! We stand together, however far a part we may be, those of us born between 1978 and 1984, have got to be recognized. Because it is us GenY-ers, now known as Xennials, that made the transition between Generation X and Millennials possible. We are the Homo naledi that bridged the evolution of big generations together. We are, essentially, the missing piece that allows every other piece to fit nicely together in the puzzle of America’s living generations.

“And these children that spit on you, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations – they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” – David Bowie

Taking a look at the Living Generations…

Let’s start with a quick history lesson of the generations that are still represented in this nation right now. There is usually common ground amongst the “generation and generation gap” experts with the first four representative generations.

They are:

  1. G.I. Generation (1901-1926) – Needless to say, this generation is super old! But there are still a few left, and I would like to tip my hat to these people because, let’s face it, they’re awesome! They are considered the “Great Generation.” They fought the Great War and survived while never speaking a word about what they saw or experienced. They raised their families in the Great Depression and persevered in the face of overwhelmingly hard times.  They built an incredible infrastructure for our nation and never took credit for it. They’re loyal, honest, hard-working people, and I hope we don’t forget this generation. They deserve to be remembered, and remembered well.
  2. The Silents (or The Matures) (1927- 1945) – Considered the nation’s last innocent generation, they were a little quieter than their GI predecessors (hence silents). They didn’t make a huge splash and they didn’t have much to say. They got corporate jobs, they lived normal lives, and their dreams were that of the “true American dream” – getting married, buying a house, having kids, and retiring well. They listened to Big Band music, they read the newspaper every morning, and they were cautious people.

  3. Baby Boomer Social Security CardBaby Boomers 
    (1946-1964) Ahhh, my parents…your parents… all of our parents. The Baby Boomers boomed and, apparently, they did it in two different styles. 1). The love and peace revolutionaries of the 60’s/70’s. 2). The career-climbing Yuppies (young urban professionals) of the 70’s/80’s. I love this generation, there was so much diversity! There were hippies and hard workers. Woodstock, civil rights, and climbing the company ladder. Rock and roll was huge and non-violent protests were popping up all over the country on college campuses. They were the “me” generation and a generation of firsts. The first TV generation, the first divorce generation. They are now considered the Golden generation in the workforce, many of them close to retirement, but most of which will not retire at 65. The differing decades they’ve lived have made them incredibly wise and incredibly important.
  4. Generation X (1965-1980) – Also known as the “latchkey kids,” they were left to fend for themselves. Street smart, but closed off. Partied all night, but still got up in the morning. They were individuals, there was no “greater good,” there was only themselves. They were the forgotten ones, the ones that society left by the wayside. They did drugs in high school, cut class more than any generation and listened to the Sex Pistols, INXS, and Tears for Fears. They abhorred big business, didn’t care for the government, and at times, even hated themselves for being born. The were creative kids that gave way to real jobs, and they’ll have an average of 7 careers in their lifetime.

Now this is where it gets a little confusing…..and interesting!

According to many, the next generation is the Millennial generation, some call it “the first-wave” Millennial generation. Well, I think that’s crap! But for continuity, here are the remaining two generations:

5.  Millennials (1981-2001) – There are so many things we could call this generation – the 9/11 Generation, the Echo Boomers, the Boomerang Generation, some say GenY, others call it the MTV Generation (I disagree with these last two). They lived in an era of fast falling crime rates all over the nation. They had parents who wanted to be present and involved. They prefer to work in teams and collaborate with one another. They keep impeccable schedules, they have an overly optimistic outlook on life in a dim, no-real-prospective-opportunity reality. They get all their information from the internet. Libraries don’t exist. They sexted growing up, they had mobile phones in high school. Britney Spears was their idol, along with the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees (or is it 97 Degrees? Doesn’t matter!) They’re hopeful, they process the world as fast as they can, they’ve been told their uber special and expect something for nothing. They’re spoiled, and they don’t give a shit.


6. Boomlets (born after 2001) – I had never heard of this before, some call this generation Generation Z (cute!) or the Technology Generation. Apparently, they will change the way the American melting pot is viewed in terms of behavior and culture. Most of them will grow up with TV’s in their bedroom. They will have never known a world without computers. They will always be connected. Their status in life will be determined by how many Twitter followers they have and how many Instagram likes they acquire. Apparently, they will also be tired of hearing about “saving the planet” – known as Eco-fatigue, they won’t give a shit about recycling. This is the generation that will no longer have a childhood that’s played outside or played with toys, they won’t explore the woods and neighborhoods close to their homes. They’ll be in front of the computer and their parents will call it “learning.”


Childhood by the Lake

My Childhood:

Time for Adam to add his two cents…or three.

I have fond memories of my childhood. A time without technology and without the worries of everyday life. We played flashlight tag, and “guns & commandos” in the woods next to my house. I was able to pickup the phone and dial my friends’ numbers by rote memorization.

I remember how excited I was when my sister and I discovered we actually got MTV on our television set (and how disappointed my parents were with that discovery). I think the first video I ever watched was Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. We were the MTV Generation, we watched movies like The Breakfast Club and The Goonies 10 years after they were released and fell in love with them. We grew up with one computer, we had to use the phone to connect with the internet (dial-up). We had one TV, and we fought with each other because we all wanted to watch something different. Full-House, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then as we aged we watched shows like Blossom, My So-Called Life, and Dawson’s Creek. And we ate dinner as a family, but still went outside afterwards.

Talking ’bout my generation:

My generation is different, I assure you that! And we, cannot be lumped into these above buckets. I had angst as a teenager and believed in my individualism, but always knew there was the greater good. When I went to high school, cell phones where used by stock brokers, and they were enormous, I mean, seriously, they were as huge as your face and you could not fit them in your pocket. I remember I bought a beeper and thought I was the coolest kid ever! Man, did those things go outta style quick. I had a walkman, for years! And I used it, for years! I always knew technology was important, but I never really cared about it until much later in life. I have a lot of friends on Facebook, but let’s face it, I probably only keep in touch with 10 people on there. I still read books and consider them timeless gems, they will be the art of our generation and eventually become precious commodities (in fact, I’ve always wanted to write a novel about the dying breed of books, but I’m sure that’s probably been done before!). We grew up as the in-betweeners, and that’s a great place to be. The middle child, not too high, not too low. We weren’t experimented on and we weren’t held too tight. We were in the right spot at the right time and will always be able to adapt and change with the evolving tide.

For those of you who were born in between 1978 and 1984, you are the Xennials, and you will forever have the upper hand in the generational flow because you’ve lived the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Stand with me now, and stake your claim, we are here to stay!

 

A History of Sales

October 1, 2015
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I’m giving a presentation at WordCamp next weekend on establishing a sales process. The WordCamps that I’ve been to are heavily focused on developers and freelancers. So, I asked myself, where does a presentation about sales fit in to this event? My talk is geared towards several different types of people, either for a 100-person agency that has a dedicated sales team, a 10-person company that has one salesperson, but I really want to focus on freelancers who don’t have an established sales process to their business. So, I’ve been reading a lot about the history of sales and I’ve found some pretty interesting things. I’ll share it with you.

Before I begin I would like to say that I believe sales to be a noble profession. There is such a stigma associated with sales and I’m pretty sure being a car salesman classifies you as the least trusted professional out there, Congressmen rank a close second! But sales is the 2nd oldest profession in the world, next to the oldest profession in the world as the adage goes. Go ahead – google “the oldest profession”, but I would argue that there is an element of sales to “the oldest profession”, so sales is technically the oldest profession!

As time has progressed, the industry that changes the most is sales. Sales needs to adapt not only to the market, but the buyer as well. It’s a delicate feat to sell things. I don’t care what it is – cars, commodities, services, solutions, warranties, carbon fiber, umbrellas, whatever – it takes skill to continually do it well. There are so many moving parts to sales. There’s the market, this fluctuates quite regularly depending on what industry you’re in. There are the buyers, consumers, prospects – and they all have different personalities, different thresholds, different emotional triggers. Then there’s the company you work for – this fluctuates – new people come aboard, new features get added to your product or service. And then there’s you – the salesperson – who holds all that together, and still manages to close business month after month. Kudos!

So let’s look at the history of sales:

Big Bang Burst

The Beginning of Time

At the beginning of time, there was the bartering system. You give me three cows and I’ll let you harvest an acre of my corn field – fair deal? Maybe. Maybe not. There has been some form of selling since the birth of mankind because the human instincts of wanting and needing have always been around. I doubt whoever made that first transaction of the acre of corn and those three cows knew they were making the first sales deal, but it created a system for improvement.

Before the Common Era:

Roman CoinWe fast forward all these years later to right around BC(E) and money was born. Now money was really born well before this, I think somewhere around Mesopotamia and coinage had been introduced by the Greeks. But the Roman Empire and Roman currency, which consisted of gold, silver, bronze, and copper had their own system and it was quite sophisticated. They started minting coins and used it as a way to keep track of debts and sell items worth value. I don’t want to take any credit away from the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Celts, the Chinese, and so on. The point that I want to make is that the invention and implementation of money developed the bartering system into markets and helped initialize sales.

The Industrial Revolution

Centuries later we move into the 1700’s and 1800’s, the Industrial Revolution is in full swing. This ushered in what we know today as the “modern day salesman” – the traveling salesmen (a.k.a. the snake-oil salesmen). Now for those of you who do not know what snake oil is, well, it’s the cure-all potion that turned you into a new person. Snake-oil started being used by the railroad workers who would lay track all across the country. Their bodies would hurt, their muscles were sore, and their bones would ache – so, they
Snake-Oilneeded something to cure that pain. In comes snake-oil and the traveling or exaggerated salesmen. They were showmen, they made big, exaggerated claims, sold the snake-oil elixir, then would high-tail it outta town and move on to the next one.

To give you a little background on snake-oil, originally it had rattlesnake venom in it that would numb a worker’s body when he rubbed it on himself and claim to calm their pain. At that time, snake-oil soon became synonymous with miraculous healing powers, even though, often times the ingredients weren’t made public. Due to rival salesmen in the medicine profession there was a huge push to uncover the ingredients and a century later snake-oil became synonymous with hoaxes. And the snake-oil salesman was the equivalent to a charlatan, a hack, a fraud, etc.

But there were other salesman of this time period and they sold everything. The Industrial Revolution was a time of growth. Products were mass produced and manufactured – textiles, clothing, etc., and all these things didn’t sell themselves.

Time for tactics and techniques

How to Win Friends and Influence People – this book written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie was the first of its kind. It’s a self help book but naturally, salespeople gravitated towards it. It really started the techniques of selling – how to connect with people, how to persuade people, how to influence people. It talked about how to get people excited about things and have a winning attitude towards life and your job. And… it was all in lists – 12 ways for this, or 6 ways to do that. A great, easy read and most of what Carnegie writes is still quite relevant today.

But this sparked a movement in sales, you could actively use and improve your techniques to get people to buy your products or services. You, as a salesperson, could control the outcome of a consumer transaction by implementing psychological tactics. It wasn’t rocket science, but it was still pretty genius!

The Fast-Talking Salesman:

(hello, Kirby vacuum cleaners)
KirbyVacuumAlso known as the Kirby Vacuum cleaner salesman, they were introduced in the 1940’s and 1950’s. These were the gentleman salesmen who would go door-to-door and invite themselves into the homes of housewives and put on a presentation of the benefits of their product. This really is the dawn of the retail age. And at this point in the sales industry, the seller held all the information. The consumer was only told what the seller wanted them to know. So, the seller could say whatever they wanted. If a consumer asked a question, the salesmen could lie or not tell the entire truth. It made for a one way street where salespeople held power over their customers and if a consumer was remotely interested in a product (such as a Kirby vacuum) the only information they could get on it was right from the salesman’s mouth.

This didn’t last very long because consumers got wise to the information exchange and their reactions to “The Fast-Talking Salesmen” changed (yet again) the face of the selling world.

The 1960’s

This was a time of cultural divide, opposition was growing for the war in Vietnam, racial tensions were stirring, class issues were
Peace Symbolstarting to get noticed, and great music was born! But, selling was also taking a drastic turn. Instead of the salesman having all the information, we started to see this shift from “ask me a question and I’ll give you the answer” to “here’s some information, let’s figure out what you need” – and in comes Strategy Selling in the 1970’s – a salesman was trained to do an effective analysis of their consumers’ business or company and would make the consumer more a part of the process of selling, so the consumer would feel like they were making a sound decision with the help of their salesperson who knew about their business.

We see SPIN Selling – Situation, Problem, Implication, Need, then payoff! Or Consultative Selling in the 1980’s which was really about asking as many questions as you could (being a salesman), this would build rapport and uncover the true meaning of the consumer’s inquiry into your business (be it product or service). SPIN selling is an interesting methodology. Situation – understand the facts about the customer’s situation. Problem – focus the buyer on his actual, current problem. What is it now that we need to solve? Implication – discuss the implications of a). what happens if the customer stays with their current service or product, and b). what happens when they switch to your product or service. Then finally, Need – you want the customer to tell you about their needs, having them articulate their need is better than you articulating it for them! Remember that – people buy when you ask questions that get them to uncover their own needs, people resist when you tell them what they need. The 1980’s was when Glengarry Glen Ross (the play) came out and Always Be Closing started gaining popularity moving into the 1990’s. This is when we see a shift from uncovering the problems of the customer to being a well-liked salesman by building trust through connection, relationships, and your willingness to provide the right solution.

The 1990’s

In comes Solution Selling – the salesperson focuses on the consumer’s pain and addresses that particular pain point. But there is a huge element of connection with salespeople. They want to know about their consumers’ lives, they ask about their kids’ little league games, they ask about the extended family. Solution selling was about the solution, but it was also about the relationship. People do business with people they like – bottom line – still holds true to this very day! But the 1990’s brought with it the confident salesman, the detail-oriented salesman, the salesman that would build strong relationships with the buyers to encourage them to commit to buying, but also working with them side by side to understand all facets of the solutions and which one would be the most appropriate fit. The economy grew in the 90’s and it was a good decade for salesmen!!

GordonGekko

Gordon Gekko – the ultimate solution seller (not really!)

The information age totally rocked the selling world:

And then the internet came and took with it the old school salesmen of the last 3 decades and a new breed of seller was born. This new breed of salesmen had their own way of doing things, it was all about acknowledgement and understanding that the buyer already had the information. Salesmen had to adapt literally overnight. I mean, if you think about, you can walk into a dealership tomorrow and say “Hey, that Hyundai Accent on the lot, well, I want for $12,000 because it says right here (holding up your smartphone) that I can get it for this price.” – Rock the boat a little more why don’t you. This is when I got into sales, we were right on that cusp of “old way” tactics to developing pitches and strategies that would let our customers see we were all about diagnosing the problem and working with them before any contracts were signed. Salesmen had to give up more of their commission because they spent more time in the life cycle of the sale.

Now, a great deal of effort goes into selling complex, big-dollar, high-stakes sales. That’s just the way it goes. In order for companies to compete in this landscape, they have to forfeit more time in the beginning to nurturing the relationship, diagnosing the problem (and essentially bringing more employees to the table) with their buyers, and having some type of deliverable before any contracts are signed.

But that’s how people win these days. They give something for nothing. Salesmen are generous and authentic. There’s a stigma because we still see cold calling, knocking on people’s doors, email blasts, Linkedin inmail messages piling up, solution after solution coming out, cloud-based SaaS products that people need (or don’t). But the bottom line is, in order to be a salesman in this game, you actually have to want to help people. The sales guys who are super slick are laughed out of the room these days. No one buys anymore from a pushy car salesmen, I wouldn’t. But I would buy from someone like me. I’m invested in getting people the right solution, even if that means it’s not from my company.

The face of the selling world has taken on many different looks over the years, and I guarantee that it will continue to evolve and change. I see the sales industry going in one of two directions. 1). Sales people will become more commoditized, and they’ll be ranked by number. The great sales people will be getting offered large salaries to come to work for the buyers of the industries to help vet other salesmen trying to sell them something. Or 2). The effort salespeople put in will continue to increase, the demands of the buyers will increase, and the information out there will increase, therefore turning the decision-making process into a lengthier lifecycle. Because either way, the market and the buyers now own the selling world. Information is there, people just need to take the time to sift through it. But great salesmen are like chameleons, they improvise and overcome, and trust me when I say – the last man standing on this earth will be a salesman!!

My Movie List – The Top 5!

September 4, 2015
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I was coming in from New York last week with two of my co-workers when, unfortunately, the train we were on lost all electricity. We slowly glided into a small outdoor station somewhere in the middle of the Connecticut coastline and we had several hours to kill. So, what did we do? We decided to look at all these top movie lists – Top 100 Movies of All Time, Top 250 Movies, 100 Year List, and so on.

All the classics were up there like Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind. And those are all fine, I mean, they are great cinematic period pieces that will forever be loved and admired. There were other ones like E.T. The Extra-TerrestrialBack to the FutureJawsRaiders of the Lost Ark. And those are also very fine movies too! But I have a top 5 list of movies that I absolutely love. You might say that at the time I watched these following films I was either going through a certain phase, maybe feeling nostalgic, or just liked the story line, but I’ll explain my love for each of these movies and hopefully you’ll understand why they are my top 5. My co-workers did not agree with all of these films.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

1. Big Trouble in Little China

This movie is awesomeness wrapped up in 1 hour and 39 minutes

Lopan

It starts with a truck driver named Jack Burton (good ole Jack Burton always says….) who is in San Francisco with his big rig. He’s playing dominoes (or the Chinese version of it) with a friend (Wang) of his who ends up losing and owing Jack a lot of money. But the friend has to pick up his fiancee at the airport and Jack, not trusting his friend, decides to go with him. Then chaos ensues.

It’s a great story about mystery, intrigue, black magic, good magic, good vs. evil, love, romance, and adventure.
Goons ThugsAfter Jack’s friend’s fiancee gets kidnapped at the airport by some hard looking (geeky looking) Asian gang member thugs, Jack and his friend run all over San Fran’s Chinatown looking for her.

They end up face to face with Lo Pan (that scary looking character above) and basically have a good vs. evil showdown with him, but in the end… SPOILER ALERT …they end up kicking his ass, getting the girls (there’s another one that comes into the picture) and surviving the mean streets (and underground) of Chinatown. In short, this movie is amazing.

It’s a combination of the great one-liners Kurt Russell’s character (Jack Burton) says, the seedy streets of San Francisco, and the fact that good over powers the evil (and unbeatable-but-actually-beatable) Lo Pan is just great. There’s also a scene where one of Lo Pan’s foot soldiers (aka one of the Three Storms) gets soooo angry, his head actually explodes, it’s awesome!

Two thumbs up, I’d give it three if I could!

 

2. The Goonies

Hey youu-ooh, guy-eyess!! Sloth was the man, Chunk was the man, Data was the man, Mouth – the man! Mikey and company brought us on a spectacular journey filled with pirate fights and adventurous nights.  Hands down one of the best PG movies of all time, The Goonies had it all.

Goonies

Mikey is an asthmatic kid who uses his inhaler all the time and can’t speak the right words (“I’m dictating myself…..You mean, dilute yourself, dummy. Yeah, that’s what I said”), but this was one hell of a cinematic experience. The Fratellis are a family of criminals and they own a small restaurant on the coast in a town called Astoria (maybe somewhere in Oregon). Mikey and his older brother, Brand, along with all of Mikey’s sidekicks (see above) are messing around in their attic when they find a treasure map. Mikey and friends tie Brand up while he’s working out (exercising) and take off in search of buried treasure. Goonies Fratellis

The Fratellis come in when the kids find their restaurant as the starting point for their adventure. In the basement they also find something else – Sloth, the horribly disfigured mammoth with a heart of gold! Yes sir, it’s a movie for all ages and all kinds! But the kids go on the hunt and they are also running away from the Fratellis, they need to find the treasure to save their neighborhood from being turned into a golf course and escape the clutches of the evil Fratelli family!

My love for this movie is twofold. One, it reminds me of my childhood. I used to play in the woods next to my house and I was always looking for adventures and buried treasure. Two, it’s a super feel good movie. It’s suspenseful, but it ends up just fine. People get what they deserve in this film and it’s just such a happy movie to watch. Well done Richard Donner, well done, sir!

 

3. The Last of the Mohicans

More on the dramatic side than the humorous, The Last of the Mohicans is a story about Nathaniel (aka Hawkeye) who’s the adopted son of Chingachgook, a Mohican Indian. Along with his son, Uncas, the trio roam the countryside hunting for food and living off the land. They are real men, with real survival skills, and they can fight!

But this movie is set around the French-Indian war of the 1750’s, and Hawkeye along with his adopted family get tangled up in Britain occupied New York, where the French were trying to reign in on the Brits’ territory (or tear-eh-tree, said really fast).

Hawkeye

 

What I can say about this movie is that Daniel Day-Lewis is phenomenal as Hawkeye, he gives an awesome portrayal of a man torn between his love for this new woman in his life and his life as a frontiersman (and also someone who doesn’t get involved with wars, especially other’s). As the story progresses, we realize that the trio has a huge bond between them, but Hawkeye finds true love with a colonel’s daughter and that women gets taken by bad Indians, the Mohawks – the mortal enemy of the Mohicans (I’m not sure if that last part is true). The Mohawks take the kidnapped girls (the one that Hawkeye fell in love with and her sister – who Uncas ends up falling for), and brings them to the sachem. The sachem is a very wise tribal member and tells the Mohawks what to do with the girls. Needless to say, Hawkeye and his band of brothers is not a fan of the outcome and goes out to rescue one sister.

There is this awesome fight scene with Magwa (a Mohawk Indian leader) killing Uncas. Chingachgook gives a serious ass-whooping and kills Magwa ever so splendidly. But not before one sister jumps off a cliff to her death. It’s a super sad movie, but well worth the watch if you have not seen it! Mohicans Running

I like this movie for a few different reasons. One is the cinematography, it’s awesome, these sweeping shots of the Black Mountains (I believe it was filmed in North Carolina, but I could be wrong), the cool forest shots and lake scenes. Two, is the music! This movies has got one of the awesomest scores I’ve ever heard. It’s theme music is really cool to listen to – violin and then symphony!! Three, is the chase scene when Hawkeye is running up the face of a steep rock – it’s just a really cool scene and any time I’m in the woods I look for a rock like this and run up it humming the theme song.

 

4. The Crow

Now this was a cool movie. Granted, it may have been better had Brandon Lee not been killed while filming this movie, but none-the-less, it was still superb! But the fact that he died was kind of odd because the movie is about a guy who dies then comes back to life as a crow. Hence, The Crow. Now, what made this movie really good are a few key scenes, they are pretty much all the revenge scenes.

Eric Draven - The Crow

To give you a little back story, Eric Draven (Brandon Lee’s character) was engaged to his very beautiful fiancee, but because they lived in an almost condemned apartment building and complained to management, they got “taught a lesson” by some Detroit thugs. “Does it get you sweaty” said by T-Bird, the leader of the gang, who rapes and beats Eric’s fiancee and kills Eric by throwing him out a window. This sets the scene for Eric Draven’s awesome revenge scenes.

AGAIN, SPOILER ALERT …The first to go is Tin-tin, a knife wielding maniac, who has a knife fight with Eric and comes out on the losing end, big time! “He put his knife’s in all his major organs in alphabetical order, man” another line said by T-Bird. Then comes Funboy, and Funboy likes to play with needles. Draven shoots him full of morphine and all Funboy can say as he slowly dies is “stop, you’re wasting it.” – Seriously!?! Then comes the best scene of all with the revenge on T-Bird. There’s a nice long intro to T-Bird flying off a dock into Lake Michigan in his T-Bird car. There’s a point where he realizes who Draven is and his acting is pure genius. “No, man, it’s you. It can’t be you. We put you threw a window, man. This is the really real world. There ain’t no coming back. THERE AIN’T NO COMING BACK. Abash the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is. How awful goodness is.” Check out this awesome seen here on YouTube. And then Eric lights the sketch of a crow on fire!!

I would have to say that I would watch this movie over and over again for this one scene, it’s that fantastic!

5. The Shawshank Redemption

And last, but certainly not least – The Shawshank Redemption. Originally, a short story by Stephen King called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, because Andy Dufrane used Rita as his coverup to a long tunnel through the prison. This movie starts off with a falsely convicted man who ends up in prison being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He did not do it, he was going to do it, but decided not to. He goes to prison and doesn’t make friends right away. The prison guards are tough, the warden is even tougher, not to mention “the sisters”, but Andy manages to find a friend in Red, one of the wise ones of the prison and a guy who knows how to get things.

Andy and Red

This is a story of redemption, obviously! But it’s also the story of one man’s struggle to make it and survive in an unlikely place and one that he never should have been privy to. It’s got some great scenes from Andy getting 3 beers a piece for everyone tarring the hot roof of a new prison building, to Andy getting a month in the hole for playing an Italian opera on the loud speaker to everyone in the yard. It’s a story of friendship and perseverance, survival and hope, and finally escape and peace!

I could sit and watch this movie over and over again too just for that one scene at the end where we realize he’s not dead in his cell, but that’s he’s actually escaped! I remember the feeling of adrenaline I had when the warden’s finger went through that poster of Rita Hayworth and he ripped it down with the pull of his arm. Thus exposing the tunnel and the secret Andy had been keeping from his prison buddies. A great feeling of pride and relief swept over me when I saw that scene.

Then the end of this movie made it the perfect ending. Red skips out on bail, finds a tin can in a hayfield and takes a bus to Mexico where he finds Andy working on a boat. I imagine the two best buds living out their glory days on the Pacific ocean and it’s magnificent! “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Honorable Mentions…

There were many films I did not include in this list but will say their names briefly. Glengarry Glen Ross, Goodfellas, PeeWee’s Big Adventure, In the Name of the Father, The Neverending Story, Office Space, The Town, Flatliners, Young Guns I & II, Real Genius, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, L.A. Confidential, Aliens, The Matrix, Carlito’s Way, Groundhog Day, man, I could go on and on!

I LOVE MOVIES!!

I hope you enjoyed the breakdown of my top 5 movies list, feel free to give me a shout and let me know if there is anything I missed!!

 

The Black Book of Web Terms

December 31, 2014
Comments Off on The Black Book of Web Terms

For those of you who are in the business of talking tech, you’re probably familiar with certain web terms like SEO, Full Stack Developer, Adwords, HTML, FTP, Above the Fold, CSS, etc. I’ve put together a list of the most common terms used when talking about everything tech from computer programming to open-source platforms to blogging. I’ve tried to make them as relatable as possible so you can explain these terms to your cyberspace-challenged family at the next Thanksgiving dinner and sound super tech savvy. Terms, acronyms, phrases, and slang are all in the mix, alphabetically ordered for your convenience. If you need more clarification, fill free to reach out!

 

A:

Above the Fold – this refers to anything that can be seen on a webpage without having to scroll down. It stems from the newspapers where anything in the top fold was considered prime real estate for content and ads.

Adwords – this is the most commonly used ad service powered by Google. It allows account holders to bid on certain keywords relevant to their website and create ads which appear on SERPs. It places ad copy usually at the top or to the right of the search engine result page (SERP). If you look closely at the first two or three results on your next search, you’ll see a little yellow box that says “ad” directly to the left of the link, that is if you use Google. Bing has its own ad service, surprisingly called Bing Ads.

Ads

Adsense – this is a little different than Adwords, but connects with it. Adsense allows bloggers and other webmasters to display ads on their sites which can generate income through a CPM (Cost per impression, aka PPM) and CPC (Cost per click, aka PPC). An account holder can get paid through Adsense by taking the ads from Adwords that companies create and pay for and displaying it on their websites. I know this is a little confusing, but all you need to know is Adwords costs money, Adsense can make you money.

Analytics – services that generate statistics about a website’s traffic, patterns, and has the ability to measure conversions. These tools basically track activity on a website.

API – Application Programming Interface – it’s a way for one technology to interact with another technology. Like a Twitter API let’s developers incorporate Twitter data into a website or application, same thing with a YouTube API. This maintains a level of cohesion in the building process.

B:

Back End – refers to everything on the “back-end” of a website, basically what goes on behind the curtain. Back end functionality are the inner workings of a website or application. Also known as server-side, back end is the stuff you don’t see when you look at the webpage. (EX: Have you ever filled out a contact form online? Where does that information go and how does it get there? That’s back end!!) Back end may also refer to a person, he’s a back end developer.

Bandwidth – is a resource in use. If a website has millions of users viewing the site, it will be using a lot of bandwidth. Bandwidth can also be used to describe someone’s availability – a developer just finished their project and has some “bandwidth” to help out on different projects.

Beta – we always hear this product is currently in beta – that means it’s the first “live” phase of a website or a platform. The product is ready for use but the kinks are still being worked out and it’ll improve.

Black-Hat – used to refer to malicious hacking or aggressive SEO strategies.

Blog – if you don’t know what this is, you’ve got problems. But just so you know, blogs started as sort of an online journal and now blogs have turned into complex inbound marketing tools. The internet is like an ocean and companies use pieces of bait called content (blogs) to reel people in with.

Bounce Rate – used in analytics to represent the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from that site after viewing only one page. This is when visitors come to a website and then “bounce” off never going to another page than the one they landed on – hence bounce rate – a low bounce rate is usually good, a high bounce rate is usually bad – usually!!

Browser – this one’s easy. A browser is an application we use to surf the web. (EX: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer (do people still use that, ha!))

C:

Caching – this is when your computer stores a copy of a webpage you previously looked at so it can deliver that page to you faster the next time you view it.

CDN – Content Delivery Network – CDN’s are normally for websites that have lots and lots of images, videos, and rich media. CDN’s will store cached versions of the website on different servers at different locations around the world. This enables the site to be served up quicker when trying to view it. Depending on your location, the server closest to you will show you the website.

CMS – Content Management System – software that makes the management of a website easier for those who aren’t developers. A CMS can have a number of different users, usually called admins, that access the website through a login portal. The user interface opens into a dashboard where admins can publish, edit, and update the website’s content. Examples of CMS’s are WordPress and Drupal, both open source!

CMS View - DashBoard
This is the CMS view of the page you’re ready now!

Cookie – stored in your web browser, a cookie comes from a website you visited. When you revisit the same website, the cookie will send data back to the server to notify the website of your previous activity.

CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization – the practice of creating great experiences for a website user with the goal of converting them to paying customers.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – this is a stylesheet for sprucing up your website pages and making things look pretty. With a .css extension and linked from an HTML (seen below) page, it is the decoration of a website.

D:

Deep Web – a part of the internet that is not indexed by regular search engines. The internet is an ocean as in 90% of its contents are below the surface. For every page a regular search engine indexes, there are many more that are not being indexed. See TOR – the software for trolling the deep web.

DNS – Domain Name System – a unique user-friendly name that identifies a website, like beingajile.com and essentially converts the number of the IP address.

DOM – Document Object Model – let me preface this by saying this will be hard to understand! There are objects in an HTML page called elements, things like <title> and <header>, the DOM is basically a representation of the document (often times in the form of a tree) and determines how objects can be manipulated.  It can be considered kind of a theory, and it’s technically an interface. Told you it would be hard to understand. Google it – I dare ya!

Domain Authority – honestly, no one really knows what this is. It’s a secretive algorithm that measures how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Moz has the info you need on Domain Authority.

Drupal – free, open source content management system used to build websites and online communities leveraging modules for functionality.

E:

Element – the components in HTML, they represent content and are wrapped in tags EX:  <p>Paragraph tag</p>, <h1>Heading with the most weight</h1>, <h6>heading with the least weight</h6>, <img src=”this shows an image” />

F:

Favicon – these are the tiny little images and icons that are displayed in the tab of a window next to the title of the actually webpage.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol – a way for files from one computer (usually a personal computer) to be transferred to another computer (usually a server) to be viewed on the internet.

Framework – in development, a framework helps by having a defined collection of tools to pull from for creating websites and web apps. Common activities (e.g. – fixed layouts, responsive markup) are put together and available for use instead of building something from scratch.

Front End – development that involves everything a user sees on a website, sometimes called client-side. Also refers to a person, she’s a front-end developer.

Full Stack Developer – a developer who knows both front-end and back-end development, these developers are extremely skilled and demand a high salary!

G:

GIF – a format file type used most times for animated images and graphics.

Git – a version control system which enables developers to work on projects simultaneously from different computers and store revisions of development history. It’s really good for holding developers accountable!

H:

Hack – there’s two meanings for this. One – is the traditional meaning where your computer gets hacked by a hacker for profit, gain, or notoriety. The Second – is when files are customized by a programmer, but not coded properly. You’ll often hear, “the core files are so hacked we’d have to start from scratch.” – this could mean that the files were hacked by a hacker, but it probably means that some developer who had access to those files changed the code to get the website or program to run the way it needed to run, but they didn’t use best practices.

High-level – this is a business term which means very basic, an overview, not specific or detailed. Your boss comes to you and says, “I’d like a high-level overview of your department’s business objectives for Q4 this year, just something simple.”

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language – one of the first languages in website building, it leverages components known as elements wrapped in tags (surrounded by angle brackets shown here – <title>My Website</title>) to render certain types of text and images in a file with the extension .html. When rendered on a webpage, the above example would only show My Website. It is the skeleton of pretty much any website and contains different types of content.

HTTP(S) – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (Secure) – it’s basically a set of rules for transferring information over the internet between browsers and servers. HTTPS is the secure transfer over an encrypted connection.

I:

IP Address – Internet Protocol Address – this is the number associated with a web address or computer.

J:

JS – JavaScript – a scripting/programming language used to create dynamic websites. It can handle user events and movements, alter content, and make for an overall great user experience. JavaScript has become very popular these last few years.

jQuery – a JavaScript library to simplify creating animations and handling events. It’s the most widely used JavaScript library today, and it’s got a great API.

K:

Keyword – any term, phrase, or word typed into a search query in a search engine that shows results.

KPI– Key Performance Indicators – companies use KPI’s to gauge and compare performance, they usually come in the form of some type of data-driven metric like social media reach, profits, or analytics.

L:

Landing Page – a webpage built within a website for the purpose of being “landed” on, usually from email marketing or social media. A landing page is built in hopes of converting users into customers.

Link Bait – content on a website that other sites link to because they find it interesting, unique, funny, and want to link to it.

Link Building – getting other websites to link to your website in hopes of improving your own ranking in a search engine.

M:

Markup – another way to say code, HTML is a markup language. See also syntax.

Meta – often heard in line with the word data, metadata is literally data about data. It helps search engines read parts of your website to determine what type of data it is.

Microsite – this is an individual website with its own domain/subdomain and as its own entity, but often times associated with another larger website. A microsite is usually used to showcase some type of event or new product.

Mockup – a design that shows a user what a website will look like without having to build any of the functionality.

MVP – Minimum Viable Product – for a website, the MVP has just those core features that allow the site to be deployed live. It’s the absolute bare minimum a website can be and still be used.

N:

NAP Consistency – Name, Address, Phone Number – a company’s NAP should be the same across all different local listings and other listings. This will help with local SEO.

O:

OOP – Object Oriented Programming – is a fundamental of computer programming that centers around objects and the methods or functions that control them.

OS – Operating System – are you using a Mac, Windows, or Linux OS? The iPhone’s operating system is iOS, go figure!

P:

Panda – this was an update to Google’s algorithm that aimed at lowering the rank of low-quality sites aka “thin sites”, and return higher quality sites at the top of the SERP.

Penguin – this was another update to the Google algorithm that aimed at decreasing search engine rankings for those sites that were still practicing Black-Hat SEO tactics.

PHP – PHP Hypertext Preprocessor – what?!? yes that first P stands for PHP, it makes no sense, I guess HP was taken! This is a programming language that is normally used with a database like MySQL to build dynamic websites and web applications. Over 80% of the web is written in PHP.

Pogo-sticking – users who search for a keyword and click on the first result they see. Then they don’t find what they want and hit the back button to the results page and click on the second result they see. Then they don’t find what they want again, and this can go on and on, hence the pogo-stick.

Post – an article in a blog.

Q:

QA – Quality Assurance – the act of making sure something works properly. In development, massive regression testing, unit testing, browser testing, and cross-platform testing is usually done.

Query – any question, whether that’s searching in a search box or querying a database to get back info from that database, a query is simply a question.

R:

RFP – Request for Proposal – this is a business term, but it’s when companies contact a web agency in hopes of finding a solution to their web challenge. If a company wants to build a website or do a redesign, they’ll put together an RFP (which basically describes what they’re using now and what they’d like to change about it – high level stuff) and send it to a web firm to get a proposal.

Rich Media – this can be different things, a few examples are images, videos, and animations that usually involve some type of user interaction. Or it can be an image, video, or interactive advertisement.

River – on a blog, it’s the main section of blog posts, not the sidebar.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication, actually it’s Rich Site Summary – RSS feeds allow a webmaster to syndicate someone’s content from a blog or news source to their own site and link back to that blog or news source, the feed will automatically update with any new posts.

S:

Scope Creep – adding incrementally to a project plan or statement of work (SOW), and realizing that the project plan has gotten way too big! The creep refers to adding small things (features, functionality, etc.) to a project and then realizing that the scope (what the project entails) is way over budget or the timeline’s too short.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – for lack of sounding obvious, this means optimizing a website for the search engine. It’s an organic (meaning free) process of affecting a website’s visibility in SERPs. The strategy for this is extensive and constantly changing, you can check out some of my previous posts on SEO and Search Engines to get a basic look.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – increasing the visibility of your website through paid advertisements.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – it’s the page that has all the results on it after you enter a search query and hit enter.

Server – simply put, a server is a computer, but it’s a big one that houses a bunch of different websites.

Sitemap – this is a list of all pages within a website that can be crawled by spiders or by users, normally showing the taxonomy of a website.

Spamdexing – slang term for the use of Black-Hat SEO strategies like invisible text (hiding text between the markup and rendering it invisible), keyword stuffing (stuffing a webpage full of the same keyword), and doorway pages (landing on a page and then suddenly being redirected to another page) for the purposes of high visibility in search engine rankings. This is a very bad thing to do and it’s like committing SEO suicide.

Spider – a program designed to crawl (read) web pages.

SOW – statement of work – a document that tells the client what you plan on doing for their project.

Syntax – properly structured code.

T:

Table – a slang term for putting something on hold. EX: “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so why don’t we table this month’s content strategy and circle back at a later date.” I hate this term!!

Taxonomy – this is the procedure of organizing and categorizing the different web pages on a website. A website’s hierarchy.

TOR – The Onion Router – this is a free software for online anonymity. It let’s users surf the web much like Google or Bing does, but with no threat of placing cookies on your computer or tracking your movements. TOR is often used to surf the Deep Web.

U:

UI/UX – User Interface / User Experience – UI is what we use when we’re doing some type of action online (e.g. – viewing a website, purchasing an online product). UX is the feeling we get from doing those actions.

URL – Uniform Resource Locater – URL’s are a website’s unique address so that it can be found online.

Usability – criteria that assesses how easy a user interface is to use including learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction. The Nielsen Norman Group has a great post on this topic – Usability 101

User-friendly – this just means that something is easy for us humans to understand! EX: beingajile.com/blog is much easier for us to understand than beingajile.com/wp/13286-aXeS3.3428.php

V:

Virus – much like a cold virus or the flu, a computer virus is a malicious program that likes to harm and reproduce in other hosts (computers).

W:

Webmaster – any person who develops or controls a website.

Widget – a small piece of functionality in WordPress usually found in the sidebar or footer areas.

Wireframe – this is kind of like a blueprint for a website, often done with boxes, it represents a visual framework.

WordPress – an open source content management system designed for developers and non-developers. It has a vast community of developers/non-developers who regularly contribute to making it the best blogging platform out there. It utilizes plugins which are pieces of functionality that help the end user accomplish something (e.g. – embed a twitter feed). This is such an immense platform that the codex has got all the documentation you need to get started.

X:

XML – Extensible Markup Language – defines a set of rules for encoding documents in both human-readable and machine-readable format, it’s also designed to carry and store data.

Y:

 

Z:

 

I couldn’t find anything for Y and Z, but I’m sure this will be a constantly updated list. I literally keep a black book of web terms right next to my computer so that when I hear someone say a term I’m not familiar with, I write it down. Please feel free to reach out if you have any input or want to know something more about a certain term. Hope this was helpful.