Can’t wait for christmas?

Written by Verne on December 9th, 2007

If you’ve noticed that you haven’t heard from me in the last few days (since my Inspired post), it’s because I’ve been completely submerged in the wonders of WordPress! I had the hang of it after the first night, but I’ve spent the last few days diligently perfecting the ins and outs of this underestimated platform.

Most of my time has been dedicated to building out my new agency site. The technical development progress has now sped far beyond the development of the content for the site, so it’ll still be some time before it’s ready to launch.

But to give some proof of my progress, and to alleviate some of the WordPress energy, my buddy and I decided to run our first project marathon last night – 24 hours of pure creative magic with the end result being a polished, functional, and stylish website. With that, I present to you the launch of cantwaitforchristmas.com!

In light of the holiday season, Satish and I decided to build a simple site that would celebrate all the things everyone is looking forward to come this Christmas. For extra umph, we added a giant timer so that we could countdown the days, hours, minutes, and even seconds left til all the wonderfulness of Christmas would arrive.

I will do a follow-up post soon to share some of the tricks and techniques used in the development of this site. But in the mean time, I hope you guys can go and support my first marathon project and join us in the countdown to the official best day of the year!

If anybody is particularly feeling the holiday spirit, you can also help spread word of the site by blogging about it or sharing it with friends.

Looking forward to seeing what you’re all looking forward to this Christmas!

Inspired

Written by Verne on December 2nd, 2007

WordPressI met with a local distinguished graphic and web designer this past week and came out of a two and a half hour enlightened, thought-filled, and inspired. It was great to get the perspective of a formal designer (by formal I mean someone who has gotten formal education in design – whether it helped them or not) on the industry and how businesses operate in the marketplace. For the past 4 years, I’ve been running a design agency as a business professional (it may or may not come as a shock to you that I have no formal design training – just a business degree and a passion for creative work), so comparing my outlook and heuristics to that of an actual designer running a design agency was refreshing, to say the least. I’d like to think that my twist in perspective was also helpful to him, so all in all it was a enjoyable chat for both of us.

We left the Starbucks with a few takeaways and potential areas of collaboration to think about. One thing that excited me the most and made me want to rush home and get straight to work was his expertise on using WordPress as a full-fledged CMS. That’s right, the same platform that runs this simple blog used as the backbone editor for an entire website. If you haven’t already labelled me as being slow to jump on this bandwagon, then you may be skeptical about the concept like I had been prior to this conversation. I’ve read about it, but always doubted its potential to be flexible and adaptive enough for sites that require more than just the blog functionality. I stand corrected!

Eager to add a new skillset to my arsenal, I dove into the WP infrastructure the next night and came out sometime between 3 and 4 am feeling on top of the world. I’ve learned a lot in this short amount of time, and I plan on sharing a lot of these lessons soon. In the mean time, I’m happy to say that there is hope for those who’d like to believe that WordPress can be used as a CMS, and I’ve possibly figured out a way to finally advance the development process of our new agency site. Score!

Stay tuned to see what I’ve been playing with in my sandbox. :)

A lesson for HR on being human

Written by Verne on November 26th, 2007

Note: The following is a rant. And if you’ve caught on to anything about me on this site, you’ll know that it’s not about me. But let’s call it an after-thought to something that I have had experience with, and have recently been reminded of. Lastly, remember that just because it’s a rant, it doesn’t mean there isn’t an important message that comes with it.

Being a new graduate, most of the people I surround myself with have either recently gone through the job hunt or are currently involved in the process. And it’s definitely a grueling one, to say the least - resumes and cover letters flying out of holsters and networking events filling up your calendar, leaving you just enough energy to smile and keep a firm handshake as you make your valuable first impressions.

Getting the interview used to be half the worries. You’d get the phone call or email and half of you would jump for joy while the other half faints out of panic as you try to pick the best time slot (the whole primary vs. recency effect thing). You’d prep your ass off on situational questions and you’d walk into your interview with that same smile and firm handshake. On your way out, you may or may not still be holding that smile, but even if you did, you’re still going to meet that other half of the worries as you wait for the verdict. And if you thought that was tough, think again.

Most modern corporations today are moving towards multi-round interviews. That’s right, so you can expect to have everything described above done up to 3 times – if you’re lucky to get past each subsequent round. Standard procedure usually begins with a phone interview. If you make the cut, you’re granted the opportunity to visit the office and have a face-to-face interview with a panel of scary people. If you make that short list, then you’re invited back once again to write a case and do a presentation (or in some cases, a simulation of some sort). Following that, you may be grilled again in another interview.

No matter how many questions you ask in a single 30-minute interview, you’re always taking a bit of a risk when you decide to invite that individual to join your team. The truth is, you can’t learn everything about a person in 30 minutes. And that’s why doing these multi-round interviews make sense. It throws the candidate into different stress environments and lets you see them under different lights. Many aspects, like the case competition or simulation demonstrate the candidate’s ability to think on their feet, giving you a glimpse of how they’d survive if they were to be tossed into the fast-paced environment that is your company culture. It’s a great way to really judge the adequacy of your candidates and put their loyalty to the test.

And now jump onto the other side of the desk for a moment and consider this: after the stressful, grueling, and torturous month of tests, interviews, and other superhuman tasks a candidate has done to try to prove that they are worthy of your company’s acceptance, how do you think it makes your company look when after all’s been said and done, you send them a generic and impersonal email that says “after careful review of your qualifications, we have chosen to pursue other candidates at this time”? Firstly, like crap. But secondly, and most importantly, like they wasted a month of sleepless nights on a company that doesn’t care enough about their people to give them a personal call to tell them that they didn’t make the cut.

Here’s the lesson (and sorry it took so long to get here): take care of your people, even those you don’t hire. Because if you don’t, sooner or later, you won’t have people to hire anymore. They say a negative impression spreads ten times faster than a positive one, so for your own sake, tie up those loose ends. 

Be human, and most importantly, remember that your candidates are all human as well. Yes, even those you don’t hire.

/rant.

Niche marketing

Written by Verne on November 24th, 2007

I came across this Volkswagen ad tonight starring my music idol John Mayer (who seems to get a mention in every one of my music-related posts). I’m not sure when the ad aired or where it was aired, but it targets car buyers who are also music enthusiasts. And not even regular “I like to listen to music” music enthusiasts, but very specifically “I like to rock out with my guitar” music enthusiasts.

If this ad had aired in Toronto in August, I probably would have taken a second look at VW’s. I too was in the market for a new car at the time, and I am also very much a guitar-playing music enthusiast who may or may not have ever had the urge to plug into my car’s stereo system and rock out on a white backdrop and be cool like JM. But the question is, how many of us are there?

We see car ads targeting audiences as specific as soccer moms, construction workers, and extreme athletes. Are guitar players (or musicians in general… I suppose you could plug in a keyboard too) out of sync (hah! pun was actually not intended) with these audiences, or did the marketers at VW see them as a natural (and profitable) segment of their typical audience?

If anybody has any info on the ad or campaign, please share!

A bad domain name

Written by Verne on November 23rd, 2007

While trying to make a point to a friend, I went looking for the Student Price Card (SPC) website. I was shocked to find that the URL is www.spccard.ca. That’s right, it’s student-price-card-card-dot-ca.

Somebody didn’t think that one through.