Saturday, January 31, 2009

Curry Chicken

There are a lot of curry chicken recipes from different countries, but this recipe is Jamaican style. Perfect with Rice and Peas.



Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken, cubed
  • 3 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2 branches of fresh thyme
  • 1 or 2 scotch bonnet peppers, whole
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup oil for browning water

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large, non-stick pot on medium heat and add onions and garlic.
  • Add a little bit of the curry and let cook for a about 1 minute.
  • Then add the chicken with some more of the curry and brown the meat on all sides.
  • Add potatos and enough water to cover.
  • Then add the rest of the curry and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.IIncrease heat to medium-high and allow to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low medium, cover and allow to cook for at least 30 min.
  • Remove from heat and take out thyme branches and scotch bonnet peppers. Then serve on top of Rice and Peas

Enjoy!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The wrong signal!

Just read the story carried in MacLeans about the over $18 billion in bonuses being paid out for 'performance' in 2008.

Absolutely incredible. And not in a good way.

Check the story out for yourself at: http://blog.macleans.ca/2009/01/29/wall-street-crumbles-but-bonuses-don%e2%80%99t/. Please join the discussion. I did.

Anger. Disappointment. Frustration.

All their expensive marketing and advertising efforts just got blown out the window.

Makes me want to stop doing business with them. In fact I actually did that a number of years by joining a local credit union, http://www.parama.ca/. Friendly service, no fees, and they give money back to their members. Nice business model. Their marketing: "treat their customers as people first".

Works for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The continued adventures of a Newbie blogger

It has been quite the active week. And the results continue to increase.

First, had an interesting email exchange with an individual about my goals and objectives of blogging. He had originally responded to a post I had submitted on Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/). We moved to direct communication. My answer has remained the same since the original posts: I wanted an outlet to express myself, promote my business and life philosophy and make money. Got the first two well under way…still lagging on the making money part.

Another email exchange led to me revising and modifying all three of my blogs to improve search engine results. Came from a friend, JY who also was kind enough to forward a post (‘You get to play again tomorrow, http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/).

Two key results came from the modifications. First, it really ramped up my creative juices and led to a burst of writing and posting. Thanks JY. Second, he sent a link to a blog that promised to improve results http://www.ssi-online-marketing.blogspot.com/. It worked almost immediately after I implemented a number of suggestions including key words in the title, site description and blog roll. I experienced the most impact after adding the blog roll. And it gave me permission to contact a number of other bloggers and ask for a reciprocal link. Great resource.

Also had some good exchanges with other bloggers:

I know I have not explored twitter to its fullest yet, but it is an excellent way to update my followers with new posts. As I continue to explore it further, I am learning that I can enter into conversations with my followers and comment on what they have posted.

One specific example of using twitter: saw a post from MacLeans Magazine http://blog.macleans.ca/. They had posted a story about some guy who spent over $1.5 million to renovate his office. The ridiculousness of this prompted me to add my comment about a story right here in Canada that struck me as similarly wasteful: Home Depot Canada spent $11 million to get out of a lease in Toronto. To NOT build a store! Guess who pays. Will now start shopping at Home Hardware, a Canadian company based out of St. Jacobs Ontario.
http://www.homehardware.ca/index/splash. (Confession: we shop at the local Home Hardware store, Beach Builders and are big fans of their customer service).

Enough ranting for the week.

The journey continues.

Thanks for following. I look forward to your comments.




Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Response to ‘You Get to Play Again Tomorrow’ post

Wow! It really is possible for an individual to change the world.

After I posted the story, ‘You get to play again tomorrow’, on Jan 20, I expected the usual response: some emails, normal level of site visits.

This time I received an unexpected and very pleasant surprise.

First I noticed that the number of hits to the blog jumped significantly. I did my usual promotion:

Then I started getting emails. All complementary. Unusual. At first I chalked it up the giddiness of the day: January 20, Barak Obama’s inauguration http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjnygQ02aW4

Later that afternoon though, the answer was revealed. It came in the form of an email chain from a friend who had found the topic particularly relevant. He had not only forwarded it on to his staff, but had also sent it on to his associates in his company across the country!

This blew me away. I started blogging last fall as a rant (I had just lost my job at the time) and while it has morphed and changed over the months, I did not expect that it could be influential. Pleasant surprise.

As I reflected on this during the evening while watching Obama’s Inauguration Ball (yes, I watched over 8 hours of inauguration coverage that day!), I grew to appreciate the significance of what had happened. I was humbled and reminded of the fact that there are decent people in the world. It re-affirmed my personal belief system: act morally, ethically and treat others with respect at home, work and play.

As a final comment on this, here are two responses that from the email chain (I have removed the identities to protect their privacy)

  • “Great (and edifying) story and made me think immediately of a few times both my kids and kids I coached said something similar, BUT, never took the time to write down”
  • “This arrived at an opportune moment yesterday as doom and gloom was being spouted by some people in the office. This provided perspective and I've tuned the doom and gloomers out! We are playing again tomorrow!”

Thanks for forwarding the email, JY. And thanks again Andrew for teaching us that we do get to play again tomorrow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jerk Pork & Chicken a la Court



This is perhaps Jamaica's most famous dish and certainly my favourite. It's moist and loaded with Jamaican flavour and spice.

Have a cold drink handy in case the spice is too great.

Making your own marinade from scratch can be tedious and time consuming, so a cheater's way, is to buy Walkerswood Jerk seasoning http://www.walkerswood.com/ (as pictured) and just add to it.







Ingredients:
  • 1 jar of Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. Pickapeppa sauce or a mild bbq sauce

Method:

  • First, prepare the meat the night before cooking by making slits into the meat that can filled with the marinade.
  • Then, in a large bowl, mix together the entire jar of Walkerswood seasoning with all the other ingredients.
  • Rub into the meat well and make sure seasoning stays in the slits you have made. If seasoning a pork, it helps to tie it tight with string, so the pork stays together with the seasoning.
  • Let the meat marinade over night and take out half an hour before cooking.

BBQ Cooking Method

  • Heat the BBQ to 375 degrees Celsius
  • Reduce heat to low - medium heat
  • Place an aluminum pan under the grill and fill with boiling water, this will keep the meat moist and prevent it from burning.
  • Place chicken on grill and let it cook for 45 min. to an hour
  • Check to make sure meat is cooked to correct internal temperature for either pork or chicken

Oven Cooking Method

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and place meat in a deep pan or dish with and wire rack, so the meat is not touching the bottom of the pan.
  • Fill the bottom of the pan with boiling water and cook for about 45 min. to an hour
  • Check to make sure meat is cooked to correct internal temperature for either pork or chicken
  • Let meat stand for about 10 min. before serving to enhance the flavours further

Serve with rice and peas and enjoy!








Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Latest installment in the Social Marketing experience

I posted a story on January 20 one of my other blogs titled, “You get to play again tomorrow” (Check the story out at http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/).



The response was overwhelming, unexpected and positive. Good learning. Gained confidence. Still not over the threshold where the blog grows organically, but I am on the right path!

My usual promotion after posting:





Response:





  • Visits increased over the usual response.


  • Received email informing me that the URL had been forwarded on to others (never had that before).


  • Received positive comments that inspired me to write this post.


  • A couple more people began following me on twitter


  • The number of visitors to the blog have not dropped off as significantly as in the past


  • Received an email with a link on how to market blogs more effectively. Check it out at http://www.ssi-online-marketing.blogspot.com/


Learning:





  • The article was a very personal story about something I experienced in my life…appealed to people


  • It was a positive story. I suspect however that I got a reaction because the story struck a chord with the readers. It was not wallpaper that was easy to ignore. Need to write more stories like that.


  • It energized me!


  • Gained confidence in my writing style. I have been blogging since October 2008 and this is the first time I experienced this type of response


What I did next





  • Gained more confidence regarding my writing style


  • Focus my stories: lessons I have learned from my experiences in life


  • Modified the blog title and description based on the information contained in the blog above


Please feel to comment on this story or contact me directly at chris.morales@sympatico.ca

The journey continues…

Breadfruit...Simple but delicious!

One of Jamaica's unique fruits, breadfruit is not really sweet, but is a refreshing and simple treat in the morning.

Breadfruit grows on a tree (as seen above) and is shaped like a melon. It is the perfect side dish to a hot plate of ackee and saltfish.



  • Ingredients:
    1 whole breadfruit or canned breadfruit.

Method:
The traditional way of preparing breadfruit is to take the whole breadfruit and roast it over an open fire, until the outside is charred. Then, simply peel away the skin, slice and enjoy.


For an easier option, especially in winter up here in Canada, you can buy the canned breadfruit and simply boil it until soft, or roast it in the oven at 375 degrees F.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Baby Steps to Change the World

Stating the obvious: you can't accomplish the big goal without breaking it into smaller steps.

This video was forwarded to me in an email from my sister. I stuck with it and experienced one of the most innovative and motivational stories I have encountered recently. This is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA

You Get to Play Again Tomorrow

Advice can come from anywhere and anyone and any time. You just have to listen carefully.

A great observation about coping with unexpected challenges came from my son, Andrew. He was 12 years old.

At the time both he and his brother played baseball on a rep team. Lots of regular season games during the week and tournaments around southern Ontario on the weekends. This particular weekend we travelled to Stratford.

Trip started around noon Friday afternoon. Lived in Mississauga at the time. Wanted to beat the traffic and get there early for the early evening game.

After the usual pre-game drill, settled down to watch the game.

The team played well. Pitching was good, fielding solid. But the boys couldn’t buy a hit that evening. Ended up losing the low-scoring game.

In the car later that night on the drive home I of course offered my usual ‘armchair coach’ critique expert that I felt I was…not!

Me giving advice, the kids quiet, tired, not paying much attention. More interested in playing Tetris.

Somewhere along the 401 with the innocence of youth, and in a bid to shut me up, Andrew casually uttered, “I understand you are upset that we lost, Dad, but we get to play again tomorrow”.

Stopped talking immediately fortunately.

"You get to play again tomorrow".

Those words have stayed with me over the years. Have gotten me through some tough times. It is good advice for the challenging times we are currently experiencing.

Yes, sometimes despite your best efforts you loose. Did your best, did nothing wrong. External circumstances beyond your control. You’re out!

But unless you have committed a crime, you do get to play again tomorrow. Life provides opportunities for getting up, dusting yourself off and moving ahead. May not be exactly as it was before, but if you listen carefully to what you really want to do, you do get to play again tomorrow.

Thanks Andrew.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twisted Rum Punch

Its cold outside.

Snowing.

Winter!

For those of you who do not get to enjoy the warmer temperature of JA, this recipe for Rum Punch (with a twist) is sure to warm you up. We enjoyed this at dinner at Candice and Peter's in the Beach last Friday. We hope you do as well. Thanks for the recipe, Candice.

Ingredients
Recipe
  • Bring water, lime juice and Splenda/Sugar to a boil. Cool to room temperature
  • Add rum
  • Add Nutmeg, Allspic, cloves
  • Add Bitters to taste

Enjoy over ice!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Blogging Newbie

Friday morning.

Settling in at my home office with the first cup of coffee. Tim Horton's Fine
Grind http://www.timhortons.com/ brewed with an authentic Bunn machine http://www.bunnomatic.com/.

OK, enough with the plugs.

To business. Read the online newspapers. Checked the weather: cold and more snow. Checked in with Adsense once again to see what traffic happened overnight on my blogs. I am obsessed with this. Do it multiple times each day.

Wow! Pleasantly surprised to see that the # of unique visitors running significantly ahead of where I hoped to be. Hmmm...

I started blogging last October with a couple of things in mind. First, I wanted and needed an outlet for my writing. Done: posted stories on business, running and driving experiences: http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/. Originally began with one blog, expaned up to three then consolidated back to one. Seems to be working.

Second, true confessions: I wanted to make money from blogging. Signed up with Google's Adsense https://www.google.com/adsense from the beginning and have been experimenting continuously ever since with ad placement, sizes, type, etc. Yes, it would be great to make a living from this. To get to this point has been a journey into the wild frontier of social marketing. And yes, I have make all the usual newbie mistakes.

In no particular order, here are the steps and learnings to-date:

  • Hard work. Slogging daily through the various social marketing networks, setting up profiles on endless web sites and blogs. Signing up to receive endless newsletters.
    Go back to the ones that work for me and update them every time I post new material
  • Twitter http://twitter.com/. Follow me at Chris_Morales. I post an update with a link to the blog I am promoting every time I post new material.
  • Facebook http://www.facebook.com/. A number of things here. Update my profile of course with the new post and blog URL. Then post the same update in one or more of the relevant groups. If I have story on driving, I post in the driving groups I belong to. Same for the running or business posts.
  • Send emails to 30 or so contacts/friends. Thank you for putting up with the intrusion :)
  • Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/. More subtle here. I post a discussion only in the relevant groups I belong to.
  • Tribal Running http://www.tribalrunning.net/. Recently joined this group. Not many members yet, but all seem dedicated to making the site work. Like it. Have received great response from the posts. An interesting note: I was prompted to join this group because of a connection I made in a Linkedin group, 'Running in Business'.

That's about it. No silver bullet. Just hard slogging building one-to-one relationships. Duh!

Stay tuned..

(Article originally posted on http://giraffemarketing.blogspot.com/)

Generating traffic to blogs - A Newbie Primer

Early Friday morning. Settling in at my home office with the first cup of coffee (Tim Horton's http://www.timhortons.com/ made with an authentic Bunn machine http://www.bunnomatic.com/).

OK, enough with the links...

Read the online newspapers.

Checked the weather: cold and more snow.

Checked in with Adsense once again to see what traffic happened overnight on my blogs. I am obsessed with this. Do it multiple times each day.

Wow! Pleasantly surprised to see that the # of unique visitors running significantly ahead of where I hoped to be. Hmmm...

To be perfectly honest, I started blogging last October with a couple of things in mind. First, I wanted and needed an outlet for my writing. This I have done in spades and have covered business, running and driving. Stories about the off-beat experiences I have observed and participated in: http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/. I organized my previous three blogs into this one site to consolidate my work. Seems to be working.

Second, I wanted to make money from blogging. I signed up with Google's Adsense https://www.google.com/adsense from the beginning and have been experimenting with ad placement, sizes, type etc. continuously. I have daily goals for traffic and have a goal for the end of 2010 to be earning significant dollars from these blogs.

And the good news (that is shared below) is that I am on track!

Enough self congratulation though. Here are the steps I have taken to get to this point:
  1. Hard work. Slogging daily through the various social marketing networks, setting up profiles on endless web sites and blogs. Signing up to receive endless newsletters.
  2. Go back to the ones that work for me and update them every time I post new material
  3. Twitter (http://twitter.com/). Follow me at Chris_Morales. I post an update with a link to the blog I am promoting every time I post new material.
  4. Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/. A number of things here. Update my profile of course with the new post and blog URL. Then post the same update in one or more of the relevant groups. If I have story on driving, I post in the driving groups I belong to. Same for the running or business posts.
  5. Send emails to 30 or so contacts/friends. So far they have put up with my intrusion :)
  6. Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/). More subtle here. I post a discussion only in the relevant groups I belong to.
  7. Tribal Running (http://www.tribalrunning.net/). Recently joined this group. Not many members yet, but all seem dedicated to making the site work. Like it. Have received great response from the posts. An interesting note: I was prompted to join this group because of a connection I made in a Linkedin group, 'Running in Business'.

That summarizes the basic plan for me on promoting my work. The key is connections (dun!). And doing it honestly: I approach most new situations by asking permission for my post. So far the community has welcomed me. It has been a positive experience.

Stay tuned..

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Festival!

This golden treat can be enjoyed with any meal, but is especially delicious with breakfast. It has the texture of a donut, but is not as sweet and is delicous when dipped in gravy.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 Tbsp. margarine

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 tsp. lime juice

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup oil for frying

Method:



  • In one large bowl, sift flour and baking powder.

  • Add cornmeal, sugar, nutmeg, salt, margarine, lime juice and enough water to bind mixture to a manageable dough.

  • Leave to stand for two minutes.

  • Heat Oil in a pan, shape festival into fingers and fry.

  • Drain on absorbent paper.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reaction to "Stop Drinking the Koolaid" article

Received significant feedback overnight regarding the article I posted yesterday. One email in particular caught my attention because it reminded me that we can never, ever give up! To steal a line from the movie, "Apollo 13", "Failure is not an option!

Below is the email followed by my response:

Email from JY:

"Funny we were speaking of the same thing in our sales meeting this morning. It is just one bad thing after another isn’t it. Where is the good news? I remember when we first graduated from college in 1981 and things were pretty rough then as you might recall, with few jobs and interest rates around 20%. At the suggestion of one of our salespeople who was like you we started a good news only newscast at 4p every day. It featured only funny news stories and good news and the response was…..listeners hated it!!!! After less than two months we took it off the air. I guess people like to be told of the grim, the gruesome and just plain bad news. Give em what they want!"

My Response:

"No, we must not give in to the lowest common denominator. Just because the idea did not work then does not doom it to the failure bin. Try again. Do it differently this time: get all the announcers and news people to look for good/positve angles on all the stories and commentaries. Demand that when they have to report a doom and gloom story, they balance it with a positive commentary. Don't wait. Do it now!"

Now I'll wait and see if anything happens...

Really Great Car Ad

I know, I know, everyone says that. Well this one from Audi (http://www.audi.ca/audi/ca/en2.html) literally rips apart the cliche saying, "out of the box".








Thanks NM for bringing this to my attention. Enjoyed it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ackee and Saltfish...a National Delight

This delicious and vibrant meal is Jamaica's national dish and is often referred to as Jamaica's version of North America's omlette.








Ingredients:
2 cans of ackee
6 slices of bacon diced
1 onion diced
2 green onion diced
1 scotch bonnet pepper chopped
2 branches of fresh thyme
2 cups saltfish (boiled down)
2 tbsp oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  • Put oil in a non stick pan or pot and add onion, pepper and green onion and saute over medium heat.
  • Slice bacon into 1/2" pieces. Fry separately, drain on paper towel.
  • Add ackee and bacon and mix around.
    Then, add tyme, cover, reduce heat to low-medium and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Then, add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.
Can be served with sliced avacado and Festival.

Stop Drinking the Koolaid!

"I have had enough!"

Of the negative news that the papers, websites and various other media channels have been flooding us with over the past number of months. Now don't get me wrong, ignorance regarding the situation facing the finance, housing and automotive industries is not bliss. However, the constant, daily and unremitting negative reminders every is not going to magically get people to become positive.

I am NOT going to read newspapers!

Actually I will continue to read the paper each day. Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/) that is delivered by 7 am each morning and the on-line version of the Globe & Mail (.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/) Horoscopes, entertainment, sports (go Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles!( http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/index2.html). I will not read the Business section: all the news is negative and all those 'negative vibes" are getting me down. And I am tired of being down.

Forget TV news!

Haven't watched one in years. Don't plan to start any time soon. The 'pretty faces' and endless talking heads do nothing for me in terms of giving me information I can actually use. And if I have to witness one more perfectly coiffed head trying to be sincere...

Local Radio News...NOT!

True confession here: I do actually listen to news on a couple of local stations. 97.7 The Beach ( http://www.977thebeach.ca/) in Wasaga Beach and Rock 95 in Barrie (http://www.rock95.com/). Need the local weather and traffic. Don't need the latest story about local politics or the minor sports teams.

What I am looking for is information and stories about people and companies who while having to deal with the realities of the economy are trying to grow their businesses. By launching new products, by talking up the benefits of their current products, by being realistic and staying positive. I need my new sources to do that for me.

A good example of a media outlet doing that for me is MacLeans Magazine (http://blog.macleans.ca/). This blog provides the information and thoughtful analysis that allows me to stay informed without being negative.

Any other media outlet or company who does that will grab my attention and make it more likely that I will want to do business with them.

It's time for a new drink...!

The Beach

14 kilometres.

Warm water of the southern shores of Georgian Bay lap gently most mornings. Stiff offshore wind stirred up whitecaps occasionally. OK, more often than not.

Wasaga Beach. Billed as the longest stretch of sandy beach in Ontario has been the location for some of my most favourite runs over the past couple of years.

Most people think of Wasaga Beach as the noisy, crowed, loud hot stretch along the Main Beach area. Situated near the mouth of the Nottawasaga River beside a Provincial Park, this area is what you would expect : lovely soft white sand leading out to gently sloping water.

This is not my beach.

Further west the sand reverts to a flat, hard pack surface. Stretches for nearly 14 kilometres west of the main beach area past numerous provincial park areas. Stunning beachfront mansions dot the shoreline.

The peaks of Blue Mountain are clearly visible to the west. Spectacular!

Down to the beach past the numerous cottages that line the small streets north of the main road. In the summer, lots of cottagers enjoy their early morning coffee on their porches. In the winter mostly deserted.

I hit the Beach and usually head west to enjoy the rising sun illuminate the slopes of Blue Mountain in the distance.

Because it is flat and crescent shaped, distance and perspective is deceiving. Shoreline cottages that appear close take longer than you think to get to them.

Running on the hard packed sand is a treat to the knees. And increases the workout.

Most mornings I run alone.

My beach!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blogging Experience, January 12, 2009 Update

I began blogging in October 2008 as a way to publish material I had written over the past 5 years or so about buzzwords in business. I was also at a point in my life when I needed to express thoughts and feelings that were buzzing inside me that I needed an outlet for. The blog seemed like the perfect place to start.

I consider my experience as a newbie blogger no different from other newbies: I went to blogger.com and signed up. Started my first blog, http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/ to post the chapters of the book I was dying to publish. Did everything wrong of course. Sent emails to unsolicited contacts, didn’t promote it effectively. Kept pushing material out and getting limited feedback.

But feeling excited, I started another blog, http://myfavouriteruns.blogspot.com/. This one to post stories about places I have. Seemed like a good idea. But now I had to write two posts each week.

Whew, this was turning into work. Thankfully I was out of work.

Had another idea for another blog. This one about my car driving experiences, http://carsihavedriven.blogspot.com/. Now three blogs to manage each week.

This progressed merrily along for a couple of months. I had a lot of material I had previously written so even though I was posting only three articles once each week, it seemed as if I had a lot of material. Quickly found out that this was not the case as the older material depleted.

Also of course signed up with Adsence https://www.google.com/adsense/login/en_US/. Making money seemed like a really good idea.

The week looked something like this:
Write articles over the weekend or early in the week
Revise mid-week
Post Friday: send email to 30 or so friends, update Facebook page, Twitter, Zimbio

Results: 70 – 80 page visits within 24 hours. 20 – 30 cents in earned revenue from the few folks who clicked on the ads.

Whew, a lot of work for a little money. Not going to pay the mortgage at this rate

Then took the next step: condense the three blogs into one. So in late December I exported all the stories from http://myfavouriteruns.blogspot.com/ and http://carsihavedriven.blogspot.com/. Used labels to identify the story categories. Seemed to consolidate nicely all my efforts. Also decided to post earlier in the week. Still sent out the emails and did the other promotion.

Flat. No increase in visits or click-through. Frustrated.

Got feedback separately though that the writing style was good. Some people enjoyed the stories. No interaction on the blogs though.

Now at the point where I need to understand what I need to write to get people to respond…

Friday, January 9, 2009

Marketing a Running/Cruise Vacation idea


This is an idea that has been percolating for a number of years. It involves two of my loves: running and travelling. At its core, the idea is to appeal to runners who want to take a cruise vacation and give them something extra: escorted runs on each island stop. I called it the 'Caribbean Marathon': 4 stops, approximately 10 km at each stop = Marathon.

Pitched the original idea the 'old school' way to The Running Room. Not interested at the time. I let it slide. As the economy has become more challenging over the past few months, the idea came back to me as a way to generate business for not only the cruise lines but for sponsors who want to target runners.

This time I am experimenting with 'new school' marketing: exclusively using social media. And the response after day 1 has been interesting.

Here is what I have done so far:



The message in all of these postings was to ask for advice on how to execute this idea. Did not try to sell anything.


First response:



  • What a great idea. Here are my comments:
    -Will you have an attraction on each run? Maybe a little tour or information when you get to each attraction.
    -Make a scavenge hunt and have the runners take a picture of the item.
    -Arrange strength workouts for runners in the gym when not on an island.
    -Get the runners to be able to dine together at the meals on the cruise ship.
    -Don’t run laps on the cruise ship as a group. BORING!
    -What about a contest of some sort. Guys vs gals…number of miles run during the cruise.
    -A raffle for running stuff. Or an auction of running stuff and proceeds go to a running organization like Girls on the Run, or some organization that helps kids, people get into running.

Second response:



  • I have seen your note prosted on Linkedin.
    I really like the idea on running a caribean marathon. In Europe there is a concept like this, see http://www.cypruschallenge.com/, maybe you can take a look at this website (this is a four day run on 1 island, most people combine this with their holiday or even honeymoon!!!).
    I would add some extras to the trip like while you are on the ship some presentations about running you could invite some experts who do a presentation about topics that are related to running.

For me, this is excellent. Targeted message, asked for something specific, got response that I can use.



My next steps are to post the above responses on the Facebook group, continue to monitor feedback, refine the concept, identify sponsors and think about how to promote and sell the trips.



Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Early morning and it snowed overnight

Whew! The bloom is certainly off the rose in terms of dealing with the snow up here in the Beach. We bought a snow blower last fall in anticipation of this and after having to shovel by hand last winter. Felt proud of ourselves. Not feeling so delighted after another night of snow and with the forecast calling for snow every day now for the next week. It is becoming a real pain-in-the ass to keep the double driveway clear.

Today I feel disoriented. I know I need to get a lot done. I certainly have put a lot of 'to do' items into my calendar today. No enthusiasm or energy to tackle anything today.

I know I have to clear the snow though.

So what if I don't do anything in my calendar that I don't want to do today? Is that just me procrastinating? Aren't you supposed to 'work through it'? Isn't that what successful people do?

Maybe I should go for a run and then clear the snow.

I know I have to initiate a new project today that has been sitting on the shelf for over 5 years. It is a radio idea, 'Overheard/Overnight'. Never sold the original idea, now thinking about a blog. Conference call with my partner today to discuss it...again.

OK, go for run early, clear the snow, then make call.

And oh yes, I should still continue my job search. This feels utterly hopeless...the advertising business is contracting (at least for jobs in large, US-owned agencies in Canada); they are looking for 'digital specialists' (experience I do not have); and younger, cheaper talent (over 50!). An outsider would call me crazy for continuing to look for work within the agency world.

Hmmm....once I get finished running, clearing the snow and conclude the call about 'Overheard/Overnight' I should look into companies that I buy stuff from.

To get this started this morning, going to have my coffee now.

There, made my first decision of the day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Motivation and Marketing

Participated in a conference call today hosted by Jack Canfield (of 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' fame). Wow. While he doesn't talk about anything that you don't already know, he reminds and challenges you to get back to the basics. His web site and monthly seminars are worth checking out: http://www.askjackcanfield.com/

Some background. Way back in a previous life when I was at a low point in my life personally and professionally, I attended a live seminar. At its conclusion I bought the set of books he was selling that night. Read them all in the process pulled myself out of the doldrums and got on with life once again. At the heart of the experience: setting goals. Writing them down. Lots of them. Then breaking them down into small steps and working daily to achieve them.

Some were long term, others more immediate. All painted a picture of life in the future.

To my surprise, as I kept at the daily discipline of reviewing them and working on 'baby steps', I actually started to accomplish them.

Then I lapsed. And now I find myself once again going back to the basics: setting and writing down my goals. And once again, the positive energy begins to flow as I get to work on creating my own future.

This is analagous to the business of marketing. I was taught a long time ago that you can basically break any business down into the following: Objectives, Strategies, Tactics. Essentially this is the business plan, the marketing plan, the communication plan, the advertising plan...even the operations plan. The objective is where you want to go, what you want to achieve. The strategies are how you want to get there. The tactics are the specific, 'baby step' things that you work on each day to get there.

And the motivation? Knowing that you are living each day working toward achieving your objectives.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rodeo Road Trip

The three kids and I had planned this cross-Canada road trip from Toronto to Calgary for a number of months. We were all excited about the prospect of spending two weeks on the road. Heading west to visit friends in Saskatoon and Calgary with a sidebar to Banff. Just the boys

Started in Windsor. I had been on a business trip in Detroit.

My wife drove the fully loaded Isuzu Rodeo down to Windsor with the boys. Said our good byes at the Tim Horton’s and dropped her off at the Windsor Airport for her flight back to Toronto. Headed toward the tunnel to find I 90 for the first leg of the journey through downtown Detroit, across Michigan into Illinois and through Chicago in rush hour. Continued on up to Wisconsin for our first night’s stop in Madison.

Long first day. Coming after a night of no sleep due to the ‘celebration’ that concluded the business trip. Exhausted. Happy.

The Rodeo had been a surprise addition to our fleet. I am not a truck guy, but we felt flush after my recent job promotion and decided to get on the SUV bandwagon early. Black. Aluminum rims. 2.8 L V6. 5-speed manual…even then I chose oddball vehicles. Either that or the Dealer saw a sucker coming…

Effortless drive to be honest. Packed to the roof behind the rear seats. We stopped every two hours to rotate the boys through the seating. Ensured that everyone got to ride shotgun. Rodeo ran very smoothly along the Interstates. Long wheelbase, highway tires, 5th gear overdrive all contributed to the comfort.

Day 2 started early. We wanted to make it to Minot, North Dakota by day’s end. Same routine. 2-hour stops. Breakfast, lunch and dinner on the road.

Stopped in Bismarck, North Dakota around 6 pm for supper at a Jack in the Box. 3 hours to go to Minot.

Headed north from Bismarck on a two-lane highway. Sun began to sink into the horizon off to our left.

Gorgeous light.

Stereo tuned to a local rock station.

Everyone relaxed

Then the moment: opening chords to ‘Life is a Highway’ by Tom Cochran.

All four of us broke into the chorus.

Magic!

We were ‘on the road’!

Took the Dog for a walk today


Actually our 4 lb. Yorkshire Terrier took me for a walk. This is one very determined animal who simply does not know how small her physical body really is. She has a huge personality and works ceaselessly to protect us. She teaches many lessons...



  • Size doesn't matter. Her bark is definitely louder than her bite, but she is proud and fearless.

  • Personality counts for everything. Through sheer force of being 'cute' she attracts attention where ever she goes.

  • Enthusiasm is critical. Enough said

  • Boundless energy. Always ready with a wagging tail to go out for a walk.

  • Devoted and loyal. We repay this by allowing her up onto the big sofa to watch TV

My new year's resolution for 2009: actively seek out people with personality like our 'Tia'

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas and Blogging

I found that it was nearly impossible to generate traffice to any of my blogs over the Christmas/New year's break. Seemed that people were exhausted: all the bad news in the media and in their jobs took its toll and people simply 'checked out'. Took the time to update the template and condense all three of my blogs into one: http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/ I now have my running, car driving and business stories all in one place that seems to make sense now as my blogging evolves. Stories with a message I guess would be the best way to describe it.

To launch 2009 properly, I decided to go against the grain this morning, January 5. Got up early and went skiing. Mount St. Louis north of Barrie was the destination this morning. Hit the lifts right at 8:30 am. Had my choice of over 25 runs virtually to myself for three hours!! Fantastic machine groomed runs. Light flat, but temperatures mild. No waiting in lift lines! Living north of Toronto has its benefits.

Finally, looking at the advertising industry for 2009. Don't like what I see for the mainstream agencies based in Toronto. Especially the ones with automotive accounts. People will work harder and be under even more stress. I see health issues coming for some. Myself...I am going to continue to blog, experiement with social marketing and work with smaller, non-Toronto firms where much of the action seems to be.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Master Chef

His name is Court.

Yes he has wings...


And he knows how to cook!!!

Not sure where he learned it but suspect his late Grandfather, Carl had a lot to do with it.

This blog is something of a tribute to his Grandfather and to the fabulous food that he always prepared for get togethers with family and friends. Now, he was a master!


We will be posting recipes focused on real Jamaican cooking. Of course, we will be posting stories as well...what would a real Jamaican cooking blog be without stories?

Love to share your recipees as well. Send them to moralesc.beach@gmail.com

The legacy continues

Pictures from my exhibition








January 1, 2009

The first day of 2009.

And after a year of supreme challenges (closed a business, lost a job, buried my Father), it is time to move on.

Spent some time yesterday cleaning up my other blogs. I had gone wild writing and posting to three separate blogs:

http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/ a blog that originallybegan as a place to share the buzzwords I had heard in various business meetings over the years.

http://myfavouriteruns.blogspot.com/ another blog to share my running stories

http://carsihavedriven.blogspot.com/ the final blog where I posted stories about various cars I had driven and experiences from road trips.

Decided that they all had something in common: shared experiences and life lessons. Felt appropriate to put them all in one place.

This will be a book someday.

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