Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've been Tagged

Really I got double tagged... by my friends Brian Webster and Becky Nibe - and I've been really slow to respond. So here goes...

What was I doing ten years ago?
Pretty much what I'm doing now only in Illinois. At that time, I was an Assistant Director for Information Technology and Communications Services (ITCS) for Extension and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. A few things have changed... my kids are older and pretty much out of the house. I started swimming again instead of just running. And I feel like I'm more into management than doing the hands-on technology work.

Five snacks I enjoy:
  1. Dark Chocolate (not sure what Brian is thinking)
  2. Mixed Nuts (not hot on cachews)
  3. Cookies
  4. M&Ms
  5. Corn Nuts

Five Things on My To-Do list today:
  1. Move son into the dorms at ISU
  2. Send daughter a gift box
  3. Get car fixed (struts and AC)
  4. Learn MS SharePoint (been on my list for a long time)
  5. Work on Accountability presentation (wish me luck)

Five Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
  1. Take care of the debts for my family
  2. Help others (not sure who, but wouldn't it be fun)
  3. Change my name?
  4. Beach property
  5. Feel guilty
Five jobs I've had:
  1. Paperboy
  2. Pizza boy
  3. Garbage man
  4. Air Force
  5. Programmer
Five bad habits:
  1. Procrastination (note late post)
  2. Staying 0rganized
  3. Poor diet (see snacks)
  4. Good intentions (which can get you in trouble)
  5. I need to read more
Five places I have lived:
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Texas
  3. Missouri
  4. Colorado
  5. Illinois
Five random things:
  1. I've been married to a wonderful woman for 23 years.
  2. I have two children, as different as night and day. I love them both. One is currently in Singapore and wants to see the world. The other would be happy living in my basement.
  3. I love to swim and do so about three times a week - wish I was better.
  4. Tall buildings scare me (just not right)
  5. I love good southern seafood.

Swimming Endures

I'm so happy to see how well the U.S. swimming team performed at the 2008 Olympics! It was amazing and inspiring - with a number of spectacular swims. While Michael was the star of the competition, there were other great swims by Natalie, Katie, Jason, Rebecca, Dara... and all the other U.S. swimmers.

I hope their performances will inspire and excite more young people around the country to consider swimming as a sport. And I really hope it will also inspire more athletic directors around the country to support swimming as a sport.

Unfortunately, while Americans are extremely proud of our U.S. swimmers and the swimming events took center stage, I'm afraid that pride and interest will quickly fade. I'm just amazed at the quality of swimming in the U.S., we continue to be a powerhouse of swimming.

In 1978, I was a senior in high school and part of a winning swimming team - winning our state meet all four years. I wasn't a great swimmer, but I loved the sport and was considering my options for college. This is when I learned first-hand about the decline of swimming programs around the country. Oklahoma State, my first choice, dropped its swimming program that year. In the end, I decided to attend Southeast Missouri State University and continue swimming for this small Division II school. SEMO dropped its program my second year in school. As an example of the decline in swimming programs, believe the Big 12 now has only three men's teams remaining.

Just in case you think you know where this post it going... I don't believe the problem is with "Title IX". I think Title IX has been used as an excuse to close programs and in fact, if it weren't for Title IX, we would have probably lost most of the women's swimming programs as well.

While I would like to put the blame on athletic directors who can't see past football and basketball, it really isn't about blame (OK, I still blame them). America has great professional sports, and I believe it is their success that overshadows our amateur programs.

So, I'm not sure there is a real solution, but I'm very thankful to our Olympic swimmers who have certainly inspired me to get back into the pool.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reaching New Audiences

One of the primary objectives of our recently "on-hold" portal project is to reach new audiences, primarily the under 40 age group. This may sound fairly straight forward using technology, but it has raised some interesting questions.

I can think of three target audiences to meet this objective.

  • Individuals who would be interested in the services you provide, but are unaware that you exist - a marketing issue in which the online environment may help you engage some of this audience (the segment which is online and should include the under 40 target).
  • Individuals who know you, but demand new models of engagement; non-traditional communications. Again, you might expect this to include the under 40 age group.
  • Individuals who are looking for new services/products, possibly not your target audience, but also possibly a relevance issue.

In the context of an online audience, specifically under 40 years of age, I will suggest that audiences #1 and #2 can be combined. My reasoning is that techniques and technologies to reach both these audiences will be the same, each are non-traditional audiences.

I'm willing to ignore audience #3 at this time since it suggests that we are in essence "selling Cadillacs" when we should be "selling hybrids". If this is the case, I would hope that audiences #1 and #2 will give us this feedback.

The next question is "how to engage these individuals?"

Over the next couple of months, we are going to attempt to answer this question, hopefully in partnership with the program teams.