Weird Work Travel V. 2: The Armpit of ‘Merica – Jacksonville, FL

“Both fragrant and moist” America’s Majestic Armpit, Jacksonville FL. Jax Bidniss Trip: December 2011

Walking across the street from my Springhill Suites suite to a TGI Fridays in Jacksonville for the 2nd night in a row, I realize I may have hit rock bottom. My marriage is pretty much over and I’m in Jacksonville, ‘doin’ business’ with some pretty vague directives and very little initiative. It’s pretty lonely here in Jax; and in my 48 hours I’ve yet to meet anyone doing anything particularly worthwhile.

Companies that distribute restaurant POS (Point-of-sale/ not necessarily Piece-of-sh*t) all seem to be located in tucked-away and dilapidated office parks. They also all seem to be run by sales guys. In my experience many of these sales guys tend to be over-sharers. Or perhaps there’s something about my personality that makes people want to drop way to much personal information on me within a short period of knowing me — it’s hard to say.

They share their financial difficulties (strange behavior with a new business partner) and how both the bottoming out of the real estate market and the unfair settlement their ex-wives received have decimated them.  They share the triumphs of their kids sports teams and prestigious educations taking place a long way away from wherever we are as well.

That being said, on a “get-to-know-you” trip like this they aren’t completely negative!! :) They’re “real excited” not only about this new technology that’s both disruptive AND revolutionary! But most of all — that recurring revenue!!! I paraphrased some actual email communication there.

Jacksonville guys only want to talk about jaguars. Both the local NFL football team, as well as the plethora of 40-50 year old platinum blondes that overrun the local BW3s (more on that magical place, later).

The interim President of the company I’m working with has a background in the NFL and some vague connections to current and former players. Timmy Tebow was a part of his youth ministry. “I was his youth pastor.”

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Weird Work Travel V.1:  Experiences in the ‘Merican Underbelly.


Your fearless travel writer in his professional office setting, pretending to “make it rain”. There were multiple dollar bills in that stack.

A couple of jobs ago I used to fly to various non-glamourous North American destinations to set up a reseller network of companies to slang our software – a channel to our end-customers. In that endeavor, I visited about a city per week. These were what we called “2nd and 3rd tier markets” and what many of them lacked in charm, they more than made up for with staggering obesity and gorgeous physical surroundings. Who cares if most of the inhabitants and people I worked with never actually saw the hometown beaches of Jacksonville or the vistas of Pittsburgh, I made sure to see them for them.

I learned a lot about places I would not live (Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Columbus, Mesa, and Portland, Oregon for example)  and a couple that were pretty cool (Toronto, Los Angeles, SF, Miami, Pittsburgh).


reseller map

Here are the tactical outposts of my reseller network. Some real backwoods spots here, like Portland Oregon.

resellers detail - mesa

Here is a more detailed map of one of my reseller markets. “Mesa, the Phoenix suburb, is really quite lovely” – said no one, ever.

I selected, courted, and onboarded these partners (a truly elite squad) based on some simple market research. Simple is generally both the most elegant -AND- most brilliant path in any exercise, and it is also the only type of market research I know how to do.

My formula for determining partners:

Not staffed currently with our field sales in market + strength of our traffic/brand in market + prospective partner current install base – install base of our competitor / raw instinct + “gut”.

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Chapter 2: Snaps and Sauce: Scandinavian Travelog

Continued from Chapter 1: Sauce & Snaps:

At the Swedish dinner table sauce accompanies fish, potatoes, roe, pork, anything, and I for one, love it. I’m incorporating Swedish dippin’ sauces into all of my meals at home. I will probably hit 400 pounds around Easter.  Dairy. Man oh man do the swedes love their dairy, but they also have a lot of non-dairy available too.

2014-08-10 08.37.48 2014-08-05 19.53.50


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Snaps and Sauce: An Uh-Murican’s Guide to Scandinavia (Chapter 1)

It’s pretty hard to make a travel piece about Scandinavia sound real(ly) interesting. There just isn’t that many real(ly) interesting things about the place. In the parlance of our country, it’s just real good.

Good food (hello cheese at every meal and bountiful seafood), Good weather (in the summer), Good people (that are pretty damn good-looking), and Goodliness (they are pretty nice). The only really interesting thing is the expense. To a red-blooded Uh-Murican like me, that Scandinavian-expense could be QUITE SHOCKING!!!!

This marsh-MAY-lo, just like its home country, is real good

This marsh-MAY-lo, just like its home country, is real good

Yes is it really expensive, it’s just not interesting-expensive like Moscow or Tokyo where you are competing for goods with Oligarchs or people are just happy spending more because they are so infrequently let out of their work//life/shower/eating stall to enjoy consumerism.

No, Scandinavian-expensive is just a balance to provide boring things like healthcare and education, and other un-Uh-murican things that no self-respecting Walmart shopper would dare want if IT WAS GOING TO RAISE MY TAXES OR THE COST OF MY GOODS EVEN FURTHER?!?!! We can build our own damn dams and do our own medical procedures now, thank you very much OBAMA!!!¹

The English Language:

The above is not quite true; there is another interesting thing about Scandinavians – they speak better English than we do. My girlfriend, Fina, is from Denmark and people are always shocked when she tells them — because she has no accent. She speaks and writes perfect English… and her Uh-murican ain’t too shabby, neither. She talks real good in both a professional and relaxed casual environment (aka the boardroom and the bedroom ;). She’s better than me in every way! :(

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My Opinion? Happy to Share, Just Let Me Consult my Phone

Today I was at an event where our CEO was speaking about technology advancements for health research and patient-engagement (the holy grail of cashing in on PCORI funds allocated from the Affordable Care Act). She referenced in her speech an off-handed comment I made in a planning meeting– that “our phones have become our brains” , and after she finished she joked to me about using it (without proper citation!!).

I didn’t get the joke, mostly because I’d been on my phone the whole time she had been speaking. I had to jog my memory of this hilarious joke about phones being our brains, so I had to check my phone.

Did my meeting notes reference this off-hand joke? Checked my evernote: Nope

Did I just regurgitate someone else’s joke? Google search: Nope

Was it that funny? Crowdsource the answer with a tweet: Consensus, certainly not funny. You shouldn’t joke about your phone.

It's not uncommon when out to dinner with friends to spend a little time pondering deep in thoughts n' stuff.

It’s not uncommon when out to dinner with friends to spend a little time pondering deep in thoughts n’ stuff.

This illustrates that this “joke” is in fact not a joke at all. It’s reality. I’m helpless without this phone. I’m incapable of formulating an opinion or thought without it.  Or am I? Consulting webmd: consensus, smartphone addiction is real and afflicts so many of us. Oh f*ck you webmd, you sanctimonious website. I’m going to have my phone block you after I consult my phone on how to do that.

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Adult Spring Break! Bad for your short term health, good for your long-term outlook

Hey you, yes you, the one with the job and the responsibility and the kid (that you may or may not know about).

Do you yearn for the days when you could drink too much and stay up late without caring about the repercussions?¹

Do you remember fondly the days when you could forget to wear sunscreen (or only apply sunscreen haphazardly to your left forearm and neck before getting called away for an emergency volleyball session) and then laugh hysterically at how purple your burnt skin looked?

Do you long for those mornings when you wake up unable to speak and only then realize how much you were yelling over terrible loud “bass-y” music for hours upon end?

photo 3

While this place did miss some of the charm of a spring break in Mexico in the 90’s (alas, no whistles followed by mandatory pours of strange red liquids), it carried the air of spring-breakery quite well (crowded, loud, and generally a meat market).

If you are, then you are not alone.²

Guess what? There’s a place for you. Nestled in the valley of the sun, just outside of Phoenix, with sweeping views of endless golf courses and upscale strip malls, lies Scottsdale, Arizona – Home of the Ultimate Adult Spring Break™ or UASB for short.³

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Observations of the Ultimate Business Power Moves

I am a student of both verbal and non-verbal cues and pride myself on picking up on them faster than the average person… who is communicating in their 2nd language or is a toddler. That is to say, I’m quite dense in the moment, and frequently pick up on them in the shower days or weeks later. Usually as I’m running back the encounter in my mind for the 3rd or 4th time. SO, THAT’S WHAT THEY MEANT!?

One such “recentish” encounter brought this to light and got me thinking about the most exciting game in all of business. Power moves. These power moves can only be pulled off with the proper training and enthusiasm and are not for the faint of heart (or really anyone with a conscience).


I’ve frequently worked in startups and have had regular encounters with the CEO (not just because I’m a big shot).  At one such meeting at a previous employer I was meeting with the CEO recounting the merits and tactics I’d employ in pursuit of various targets from a trade show. During my 15 minute recap it was pretty hard not to be distracted by his behavior. I thought that he must surely be on some  powerful medication because he frequently (and progressively more violently) yawned.

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