Friday, February 27, 2009

Wahoo's Has A Birthday Party (And I Get Invited)

Wahoo's Has A Birthday Party (And I Get Invited)
By: Jake Kilroy | February 27, 2009 2:18 PM

I don't get invited to many special events.

No, no, it's true. I know you think us bloggers regularly win dance competitions and date socialites on and off, and sometimes spend weekends in the Hamptons. But for the most part, that's all just myth. Really cool, awesome myths.

So when Sarah Unke of Echo Media Group invited me to "Wahoo's Fish Taco 20-Year Milestone Event," my breathing pattern changed. I was going to be like a freshman attending prom with a senior. To calm my nerves, I decided to bring along James Park, research editor here at Entrepreneur.

Though I am only 23, I sometimes feel very much out of touch with hip events. Where are my dress shoes? Should I score myself a cummerbund? Do people under 30 still wear bow-ties? Finally, I just asked Sarah.

"Should we wear tuxedos?" I asked in my e-mail.

"The event is open to the public, so most will be in casual attire. However, you are welcome to wear a tuxedo. Might I suggest the ever-classic tuxedo t-shirt?" she replied.

But I decided against it. I've seen Step Brothers. Tuxedos don't always work out the way you want them to. Instead, I went for the college professor look: jeans, decent shoes, a button-up shirt and a sports coat. James showed up in shorts, so we looked like typical media: there for free food.

Not only was there free food for starving reporters, but there were a whole lot of Wahoo's fans in the parking lot Sunday morning. It actually looked like a small job fair, with several booths and globs of people scattered around the very first Wahoo's Fish Taco in Costa Mesa. What started as this one fish taco shop on a less-than-noisy street corner in 1988 is now more than 50 stores in California, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii.

Wahoo's Fish Taco, for those not in the four states where it holds locations, is a preferred choice among beach-goers. The menu is a mix of Mexican, Brazilian and Asian cuisine, and the atmosphere is Hawaiian North shore.

It actually took me years to learn that Wahoo's was a chain. As a kid, my father took me to the Wahoo's in Laguna Beach a couple times. And it had the vibe of being its own little world. I thought the cooks might have be the owners. That's how small and detailed everything felt. I thought it was just a cool, little hole-in-the-wall that my dad knew about.

And even at the 20th anniversary this past Sunday, when I spoke to co-founder Ed Lee, he had that same sparkle of Wahoo's being almost a pet project or hobby, not a thriving chain.

"When you first open a taco shop, you're just thinking, 'Flip some tacos, we'll go surf in the morning, take turns in the afternoon.' And then 20 years later, you're still doing it, and it's 54 stores," Ed says. "It's not something you see coming."

Ed co-founded Wahoo's with his two brothers, Wing Lam and Mingo Lee. Though they were young surfers when they started the business, the three brothers were already quite well-versed in restaurant politics. While growing up in San Paolo, Brazil, the three brothers would peel shrimp or wash dishes at their parents' Chinese restaurant every day after school. And when the family moved to Orange County, Calif., in 1975, the parents opened Shanghai Pine Garden Chinese restaurant on Balboa Island.

And Wing, Ed and Mingo have built a good reputation through a local appeal. From their parents' restaurant to Wahoo's, even to college. The thee brothers all graduated from Southern California universities--Wing at SDSU, Ed at USC and Mingo at UCI. They built a strong local network, with family and friends always ready to help out.

"We had a handful of friends that actually came in around 3 o'clock in the afternoon to watch the store, so we could go surf a little bit," remembers Ed. "Most of them weren't employees. They just came to help us out."

Soon, however, the brothers welcomed professional help in 1990. Steve Karfaridis, now partner & COO of Wahoo's, started off as the unit manager of the Laguna Beach location, following years as a consultant to many Orange County's restaurants.

It was just a few years after Steve was brought on board that Ed realized things were really taking off. "After we opened our third store, it sort of became a business," says Ed. "I started having to worry about inventory controls, scheduling people. I mean, we didn't have any of those things in place, so we started having to do that, get up in the morning and meet, actually, to try to organize ourselves."

For Wing, it caught him some years later. "I actually didn't realize it until we were operating about 12 or 13 stores," Wing said in an e-mail interview. "We were a part of a Merrill Lynch commercial and it was a launching pad for Wahoo's. It put our company in the national spotlight. It was then that I realized that the Wahoo's philosophy could 'travel well.'"

And the menu and protocol was set up with that in mind. "We wanted to keep Wahoo's very simple so that anyone of us could handle all duties and make expansion easier, just in case that day came," Mingo said in an e-mail interview.

Throughout the expansion, Wing, Ed, Mingo and Steve developed the business, but were still learning how to do all of it.

"Every couple years, you sort of double-up in size and you go, 'Oh, we need human resources. We need CEOs.' As you grow, you learn, and you fill those spots that you think you need help with," says Ed.

"When working at my parents' restaurant, we worked a number of jobs," says Wing. "Taking orders, busing tables and washing dishes. This was very helpful when opening the first Wahoo's because we had to do all of those jobs ourselves. There were also a few things I had to learn, such as taking inventory, learning how much food to order and how to keep toilet paper stocked."

And now, 20 years after its initial start, there's a big PR event with a line of customers and fans around the corner, complete with Red Bull and Archie's Ice Cream vehicles staked out in the parking lot. The mayor of Costa Mesa was there. Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler was there. Even my old friend Julie was there.

But it all started from three brothers that happened to be surfers that happened to be the sons of restaurant owners.

"We used to shower right out here," Ed tells me, pointing over his shoulder to the back lot.

There's a long pause, as it all sounds slightly familiar.

"You know, I'm pretty sure you're living my friends' dream," I tell Ed, recalling how many of my friends surf, rinse off and then have their fill of rice and beans following a good session.

"I'm still living my own dream," Ed says with a small laugh. "I have to pinch myself every day."

But even in an entrepreneur's dream job, there's still work. "In 1988, I would work from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the restaurant, 7 days a week. My jobs included prep cook, cashier, cutting fish. We all did a little of everything," says Mingo. "Today, my schedule is 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in my office or home office 5 days a week. My job functions are now about strategic development."

Ed and Wing had the same kind of responses. They worked a lot when they started Wahoo's, doing everything from preparing the food to closing the store, and they work hard today, 20 years later.

There's just some slight differences.

"I'll go down check out the waves, and if there's no waves, I'm in my office by 8 o'clock. But now I deal with contracts, attorneys, accountants. It's not what I thought it would be. It's 54 stores later is what it is. It's a business now, but it's fun," says Ed. "And we're still surfing."

"I wish I could still be behind the counter. I miss hanging out with our team members and guests," says Mingo.

"To this day, I still take pride in making tacos and then serving them to customers," says Wing. "It has been hard to let go, but with events like the 20 year milestone celebration, I get to interact with guests and enjoy the satisfaction of years of hard work."

And the hard work comes with lessons in entrepreneurship, myths vs. truths. "Myth: Owning your own business is fun. Only if you think working 15-hour days, 7 days a week, and personally guaranteeing all the company debt is fun," says Mingo. "Truth: Owning your own business is rewarding. Just like raising a kid. Once your baby grows up and is a contributing member of the community, you are all smiles."

Wahoo's certainly has been a contributing member of the community.

"The first group we gave back to was the Estancia High School water polo team. Estancia was my alma mater and I learned work ethic and hard-work from my coach. It was only natural to want to give back to the people and customers who helped us achieve success. Today, we work with a number of organizations, including but not limited to: Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Surfrider."

Some of the non-profit organizations the three brother have served as board members or active supporters of are (and again, not limited to) Share Our Strength, Vocational Visions, Children's Hunger Fund, Humane Society, World Wildlife Fund and Doctors WIthout Borders.

And, after 20 years, the three brothers are still friends.

"You're married to these guys," says Ed. "It's hard, especially with family. You can say things that you wouldn't say to a friend. But I trust these guys because they're my brothers. I mean, I have to see them at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and you can't stab somebody in the back and then have dinner with them. So it goes both ways. It's hard work. As long as you understand that in your four walls, it's going to be this, and outside, it's going to be that, I think you can make that marriage work. If you can't separate those two, don't do it."

"Always remember, keep it separate, no matter what," suggests Wing. "It's inevitable to have differences, but always understand that business and family are two separate entities."

"Always remember to try and not cross the line," suggests Mingo. "Make sure you understand that the hierarchy at work may be different than in the family circle. Don't use family as an excuse to not act professionally."

And then it works.

"My greatest accomplishment in 20 years is that I can still surf with my brothers," Ed says with a smile. "Twenty years doing business, but even better, surfing with my brothers."

Wing, Ed, Mingo & Steve

This is a cake. But I don't really need to tell you that, I guess.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jake Finally Learns What A Color Strategist Does (Part II)

Jake Finally Learns What A Color Strategist Does (Part II)
By: Jake Kilroy | February 23, 2009 1:36 PM

On Friday, I finally learned what a color strategist does and how she does it in Part One of this two-part series.

But I wasn't quite done with Kate Smith, founder of Sensational Color and active member of The Color Marketing Group.

The idea of being so in touch and observant with colors was still quite interesting to me. I was also still waiting for Kate Smith to tell me that she rides a rainbow to work. Yes, riding a rainbow to work does seem silly and ridiculous, but maybe it's the best hyperbole you've ever read...?

Because Kate Smith has in fact long been harnessing the power of colors.

I mean, Kate Smith has seen beyond colors her whole life. She has seen the responses and reflexes that people have to colors through every stage of growing up. As a kid, this enchantment with colors compelled her to lay out her crayons in an arrangement long before using them. As a teenager, this led her to a fine arts degree in college. And, as an adult, her fascination pushed her to taking up a career in color.

"I saw how a product color or its packaging color could dramatically affect its success in the marketplace. When I learned that was more than just an instinctive idea and that it could be confirmed through pragmatic, tested information, it was like putting the final piece into a puzzle," remembers Smith. "From that point on, I knew that my primary focus was meant to be on color and in 2001, I started my own company to consult primarily with corporations on color trend forecasting and developing color strategies for their product lines."

But before that, Smith had "worked for many years in product management and marketing before pursuing color solely as a career." Smith adds, "This experience, along with my background in fine arts, gave me a good foundation of trend forecasting and color management to build upon, as I continued my exploration of color."

What you want your product to convey to a consumer may be different than what it actually is conveying. And it could very well be the product's color.

And although consumers may not be as easy to come by these days for those selling the brands, those hired on to analyze and cultivate the brand aren't doing so bad.

"Color plays such a critical role in the success of a product or brand, and so many companies are in need of a strategy based on solid color knowledge that there is room for more people to enter this field. However, I think one of the areas with the greatest potential for growth at this time is in the Residential Color Consulting business and my company is actively training individuals in this field as an entry point to a career in what I believe to be the exciting world of color," says Smith, who will be launching an interactive online platform for color education that will include information and insight from Smith, as well as her colleagues, in March.

And not only does the color industry seem to thrive in any economy, Smith finds her work exciting and gratifying, a lucky combination for any entrepreneur. "My biggest reward comes when I am able to share my expertise in a way that has helped someone feel more confident in their own ability to use and enjoy color," says Smith. "It is at that 'ah-ha' moment when a homeowner figures out how to find the perfect color or a student discovers that color wheel really can be a practical and valuable tool that I feel I have successfully shared my gift with others in the way I believe was my purpose in finding my way into this field."

Though Smith has a number of corporate clients, who also keep her on retainer as a consultant and sometimes a public speaker, she has a good deal of interest in helping entrepreneurs.

"My services can also extend into working with [entrepreneurs] on their overall company identity and image. Since the business branding is often tied to the owner's image and personality, I also take that into account when making recommendations for their colors. I also distill down trends and share with them how they can use that information very specifically to improve their business."

So, as an entrepreneur, hiring on a color strategist like Smith may improve your company's appearance, like a new girlfriend who takes you shopping and betters your wardrobe.

And Smith had sold me on her ability to improve images. I decided to take Smith up on her talent. I suppose I also simultaneously decided to add "life consultant" to Smith's lengthy resume.

I needed Kate Smith to help me impress a bunch of strangers.

Allow me to explain.

I shall be attending my girlfriend's high school reunion in a couple weeks, but I don't know what shirt to wear. I don't want to ask my girlfriend, because there's a slim chance she would want us to match. And I think that's silly. Also, I'd like to appear as a charming, independent manly man to all of her old friends.

With some Microsoft Paint magic, I did up and sent some pictures to Smith, asking what each of the four primary colors would represent to my girlfriend's former schoolmates.

I need to know which colors would impress and which ones would depress. Also, I remain fascinated with what Kate Smith does and how she does it.

And of Jake, with commentary by Kate!

YELLOW - You are letting the world know you are energetic and have high spirits. You will catch attention with bright yellow and it is the perfect color if you want to share your creative spirit and original thinking because you'll attract curious listeners all evening, just like bees to honey.

RED - Are you wanting to let your girlfriend's former classmates know that you are popular and powerful? Then red is the way to go. It will also let them know that you like to have fun and at the ready to take charge of just about any situations, even the reunion party, if it isn't as lively as you'd like it to be.

GREEN - You'll come across as a very social person, yet as someone that places value on status and may even have a tendency to talk about people or judge them by their appearance. Not a color that will put people at ease with you right away. Choosing a yellow-green might be better, as it says you are a high energy, adventurous person that is too busy for gossip.

BLUE - Blue will have you looking cool and confident. It is a color that is naturally appealing and on you, with those blue eyes, it will be that much more attractive. Be careful, though, as blue lovers are susceptible to flattery, so don't let the admiration of those former cheerleaders and beauty queens go to your head.

Blue it is!
Thank you, Kate Smith, for teaching me what a color strategist does, how the job gets done and helping me be the smash hit of a high school reunion that I may or may not have wanted to attend in the first place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jake Finally Learns What A Color Strategist Does (Part I)

Jake Finally Learns What A Color Strategist Does (Part I)
By: Jake Kilroy | February 20, 2009 11:54 AM

Admit it: you don't know what exactly a color strategist does or how they do it.

There's even a part of you that thinks a color strategist just throws darts at brightly colored balloons and chooses the popped ones as market trends.

I mean, surely, you can wager a guess, you can speculate, you could probably give a vague description of what they may or may not do.

But I know.

Or at least I do now. I finally just asked a color strategist what their job was and how they did it. Actually, I was fact-checking an article, and I spoke with Kate Smith, color strategist, trend forecaster, consultant and delightfully warm personality. And for some clients, she remains a corporate spokesperson as well.

After making sure that we had her name, title, company and location correct for the magazine, I mindlessly added, "You know, I really don't know what you actually do."

And I certainly didn't mean any disrespect. There's an entire laundry list of consulting jobs I don't understand. However, Smith laughed it off, as apparently I'm not the first. I suggested I contact her later on to finally figure out what she does, whether for this blog or my growing interest. She was on-board from the start and quite accepting of who I was as a blunt journalist.

So I sent her some questions to:
1) help you
2) help me
3) fill my inbox with her name and further fuel speculation that I am indeed friends with the ghost of the other Kate Smith, the old-timey radio singer, often backed by Jack Miller's Orchestra in the 1930s and '40s


Kate Smith is a chairholder as well as an active member of the Color Marketing Group, the premier international association for creating color forecast information for professionals who design and market color. She is also the founder of Sensational Color, where she maintains a blog.

And it turns out that she does exactly what you think she does: she predicts what colors will be popular.

But it's not as if her office is stacked with coloring books and colorful balls of yarn. There is not only serious work that goes into recognizing color trends, but there's also a impressive talent to recognizing the world in colors.

I can only assume that Smith sees colors like Neo saw numbers at the end of the first Matrix.

"Every trend is the result of a convergence of many influences, but what drives a trend forward can usually be traced to one or two key factors. For example, often what catches our attention is a geographical location, something in the world of entertainment or pop culture, or even a major international event," says Smith. "It's not difficult to make that connection between color and the environmental movement, but sometimes understanding how what we think about translates into style and color trends is a bit trickier."

Accurately assuming that I was confused, Smith gave me a simplified example.

"From President Clinton to Martha Stewart and Arthur Andersen to the medical community, our faith in those we trusted was shaken as investigations, charges, arrests and convictions shook the nation and similar events were happening around the world," says Smith. "This prompted a global demand for transparency as we would no longer blindly trust those in charge. With so much talk about and desire for transparency, it wasn't long before delicate sheers, soft pale colors and pure white found their way onto the runway and into our homes."

And the color industry doesn't just thrive in times of moral crisis. It stays in tact through recessions, depressions and concussions. Maybe even the 10 Plagues of Egypt. In her blog, Smith suggests that the color industry will always stay buzzworthy.

"Regardless of whether we're feeling optimistic or pessimistic, happy or sad, upbeat or downright gloomy, we seek out colors that enhance or help alleviate our current mood," says Smith. "It is for this reason that over the holidays, while consumers were concerned about the economy, it was reported that the only two things that were selling were bargain prices and color."

"This is also why when doing a color forecast it is important to have an understanding of issues affecting us all on a global level. Color is the last thing I consider when putting together a forecast report. One of the first things I look at is what's making headline news," adds Smith.

But Smith didn't just wake up one day and notice that the sun was yellow and the grass was green. This subtle color obsession is an epic saga.

Well, OK, maybe not an epic saga, but she's certainly been indulging herself in colors since a rather young age.

"Unlike most kids, when I got a brand new box of 64 crayons, I wouldn't simple make pictures, but would arrange the crayons into color families or color combinations. In fact, it was often quite a while before I would actually use them to make a mark."

And then college...

"The joy I found in color led me to pursue a fine arts degree. Yet even in college, I found as much pleasure in the process of understanding color as in creating with it."

And then work...

"Upon graduating, I combined my knowledge of color and design with my growing business savvy in a career in product development and marketing that spanned many years with several major corporations, including American Greeting, Fruit of the Loom, Reebok and America Online."

And this brings us to this moment, where Kate Smith will tell us what colors will be popular for 2009. Maybe you should write this down. Or at least give a head's up to your web designer and whoever is in charge of product development. Because Smith is about to tell you what your customers want to see this year.


PURPLE - A color that has been hot in fashion for women, gained popularity this year among men and will remain strong in 2009. From a bold blue-based purple to a flirty red-infused purple to a hue so toned down it might be considered gray purple will show us its many moods.

YELLOW - We will be drawn to yellow, the color of sunshine and happiness because it will give us the positive lift our spirits need. Plus, it is a color that can open our mind to innovation or new thinking. As the complementary color to purple, these two trend colors will work beautifull together across industries.

BLUE - Blue will also be seen in a range of hues, from a tint so clear and light that it's almost white to one with green-gray undertones that is as deep and mystifying as the ocean or as clear and fresh as the sky. Bordering on purple to deep midnight or black, many shades of blue in 2009 will combine traditional elegance with sexy sophistication.

GRAY - In times of uncertainty, there is a renewed respect for solid foundations, ancient structures and colors that conform rather than confront. Neutral grays, color-infused grays, greige (gray beige) and an entire range of complex neutrals to the forefront as we seek stability in turbulent times.

METALLICS - During economically challenging times, we also have a renewed respect for the durability and permanence of metals. Metallic and faux metallic finishes often with a hint of color will adore everything from couture gowns to plastic plates.

WHITE - A color as ubiquitous as white isn't usually included in my trend forecast. However, in 2009, it is going to be an important color for several reasons. White, associated with cleanliness, purity and neutrality, is a color that encourages us to clear obstacles and clutter, which is exactly what may be on the minds of many as we move into the new year. With technology making just about anything possible, white now has a depth. Luminosity and an ethereal quality were not possible on most surfaces in the past. White surfaces will undulate and vibrate. Pearlescent white will replace single color surfaces and highly reflective surfaces will contrast with matte finishes.

And there you have it, the colors of 2009, perfectly predicted by a color strategist.

But if you're looking for colors beyond the primary rainbow, fear not! I came up with my own. And I asked Smith to weigh in on the colors I made up for 2009: Toasted Marshmallow, Pizzazzberry Pink, Tan & Fuschia Fusion and Wishy-Washy Blue.


TOASTED MARSHMALLOW - I like Toasted Marshmallow. You have a very definite idea of what the color is and who doesn't love the idea of warm gooey marshmallows and the sight and smell of a crackling fire? Yum!

PIZZAZZBERRY PINK - Pizzazzberry Pink is good, too. You may not know exactly what the pink looks like just from the name, but who wouldn't want a bit of pizzazz (berry) in their life?

TAN AND FUSCHIA FUSION - Hmmm...would that be 1/2 a glass of Raspberry Kool-Aid and 1/2 a glass Harp Ale? Not a fabulous name for a color...or recipe for a drink, for that matter.

WISHY-WASHY BLUE - Maybe a good name for a dishcloth or a shirt for the indecisive, but probably wouldn't be a very enticing color name for most products.

But my curiosity most certainly didn't end there. Since my pitch for a children's book called Jake Finally Learns What A Color Strategist Does didn't exactly pan out, Part II will be next week here on The Daily Dose.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love! Romance! Desire! Ecstasy! ....Business!

Love! Romance! Desire! Ecstasy! ....Business!
By: Jake Kilroy | February 13, 2009 2:10 PM

Romance is everywhere.

Especially this weekend. Obviously.

And there are businesses out there that are in the business of romance. However, beyond See's Candies and 1-800 Flowers, I'm not sure what or where they are. There's an outstanding plethora of entrepreneurs out there dealing with love, romance, desire and ecstasy: the very essence of "wanting" someone.

Let's call them "wantrepreneurs." And I'm regularly stoked on "wantrepreneurs," those who pioneer a product or build a business on the grounds of people wanting each other to be happy.

I mean, my father raised me on classic films, so I've learned to appreciate the old school folklore of good romance. I was watching The Quiet Man, where John Wayne fights his wife's brother for her honor, while my friends were watching Jurassic Park, where Sam Neill fights dinosaurs for his survival. I saw Casablanca when I was 12. So I was developing a sentimental side at a young age. Clearly.

Wanting to learn more about "wantrepreneurs," I spoke with Victoria Napolitano, CEO of the luxury publication Hopelessly Romantic. I inquired about her favorite "wantrepreneurs."

Napolitano's Top Three "Wantreprenurs" (in no order):
1. "Eva Danielle romantic feminine clothing is customized for each of her customers. She is a phenomenal designer and we have just teamed up to create a line of Hopelessly Romantic Couture. Eva has a passion for her business that is unique and contagious."

2. "I also love PhiloSophies, a romance-based greeting card company. Joanna Alberti is the designer of some very creative and sometimes irreverent cards. I just love her sense of humor and how she makes romance fun. She uses glitter and other special touches to accent her wonderful cards."

3. "Passion Island is another unique romance business that is just exceptional. Tana Marie, founder of Passion Island, is also one of our contributors. She offers products, seminars, and lots of information about romance and relationships. She is a joy to talk to, and she offers fantastic products and services."

I flipped through the online version of Hopelessly Romantic, and it seemed clear that the romance industry was flourishing. I wasn't surprised though. Isn't romance always flourishing in some fractured facet, if not entirely whole?

And what's to stop an entrepreneur from swimming through the red, pink and white waters of the love market? You just need to understand that if there's any industry where personal touch and general care or interest helps, it's in the romance industry.

"Entrepreneurs need to know that while they are up against hundreds of online dating services, nothing can replace personalized service," says Steven Ward, co-founder of the Philadelphia-based matchmaking service Master Matchmakers. "Clients will appreciate any added value that you can offer them, and that begins with taking a genuine interest in their needs."

In fact, Ward co-founded Master Matchmakers with his mother. "Realizing her intuitive matchmaking skills after marrying off several family members and friends in the 1980s, my mother [JoAnn] honed her skill set while working as a professional recruiter and executive at several dating services before founding Master Matchmakers 10 years ago," Ward says.

Even there, a woman took her skills of understanding people and romance in her spare time and turned it into a profitable career and business with her son. Understanding love, helping friends and utilizing the skills of family helped the entrepreneur start a business still running a decade later.

Another entrepreneur love story gone right: Sue Sweet founded a company with her husband Patrick. The company, Bed Hog, offers bed sheets with a line down the middle, to playfully help keep partners on their own side. Married couples going into business together can bring a sensibility about romance that one person or a platonic business partner may not catch.

"When starting the business, we encountered a lot of problems that we ahd to think creatively to solve, especially since we were on a tight budget," remembers Sweet. "It was great to be in full-on creative brainstorming mode with my husband, which is a side of him I may not ordinarily see."

But there are also downs: "When working with your spouse, business can invade all times of the day," Sweet says. "When you are lying in bed at night, and one person can't sleep, he or she will ask, 'Did you follow up with so-and-so?' So there is no respect for business hours."

However, many times, the ups outweigh the downs: "It's great to feel like you are building something together, and something that you are both invested in," says Sweet. "If only one of you is interested in the business, and it requires significant investment of time and resources and does not immediately go well, it can be hard for the other spouse to remain fully supportive. But when both of you are involved in the business and committed to its success, it is easier to support each other through the frustrating times."

You need to know a good balance of not enough and too far when in business with someone you love. Actually, you should know the same balance when working for others that are in love. And even if you're an expert on love, dating and relationships, how do you get others to notice you?

Retailing involves objects, while retelling involves objects of affection. It's a harder sell.

Now, I know how to tell a girl, "I'm here for you" or "No, I have no idea where that sandwich could have gone, but the important thing is that I love you." However, how do you market yourself as an expert on the massive heart attack asteroid that is almighty love? How can an entrepreneur become a marketable expert?

Well, if you're as successful as DC-based life coach and relationship expert Amy Schoen, MBA, CPCC, then you're doing everything short of juggling chainsaws and doing motorcross through hoops of fire, it seems.

"I've studied [love] for ten years, read books, attended seminars, worked with a coach myself. Then I went to coaching school and took the relationship systems course as well, "says Schoen

Schoen now provides local workshops, holds monthly free teleclasses, runs a dating resource site, puts out a monthly ezine on her website, sends articles to submission sites for online distribution, runs a blog, is a member of women business owner's group, women's business networking and Chamber of Commerce, learning to use social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and appears on television, on the radio and in print.

Working for love is hard, like John Cusack in every one of his '80s films (we'll always root for you, Lane Meyer). But, apparently, working for the love industry may be even more trying on your body and mind.

And with the recession, you never know how anything's going to go. Everything seems so crazy right now. Everyone talks about the recession like it means we're going to have to burn down malls for warmth and sell off certain states to foreign countries (I'm looking at you, Delaware...).

But if there's anything that everyone seems to need during a recession (besides money and motivation), it's love. Or something with similar bows and buttons. Even someone just rubbing your shoulders and telling you that the market's going to pick up is something you didn't have that morning. Why not have faith in something beautiful and free?

"Things have slowed with the economy, but we keep moving forward. Romance fans like to escape by reading the articles, short stories and poems," says Napolitano.

"Matchmaking is one of those few 'air and water' categories--the act and art of matchmaking has been happening for 1,000 of years--we are simply leveraging today's best technologies. Dating, relationships, companionship--the need to connect--this will never go away," says Duane and Cindy Dahl, married founders of, a dating service that saw a 47 percent increase of new members over the last quarter.

Now, if you're an entrepreneur, the recession might be drastically hurting you and you can't pull off the great Valentine's Day weekend getaway that you did some years ago. So, if you're not in the romance business, but still want to enjoy the business of romance, you'll have to look into cheap ways to make good on the great.

Don't worry. I've already done it for you.

Enter Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, licensed psychologist, dating coach, creator of My Dating School and author of 100 Ways to Treat Your Mate like Royalty: Under $10. Because there's no way you really thought you were just going to hand over a Hallmark card with a note that read, "Sorry, honey, business was bad...well, see you next year!"

I asked Dr. Sherman to give me her favorite 10 under $10 from her 100.

From Dr. Sherman:
1. Make something: Write your mate a song or poem or create a sketch of him or her. Make a mixed tape that you can dance to or create a photo album of the wonderful times you've had together.
2. Have a romantic night at home: Make him or her dinner, light candles, rent a romantic movie, slow dance, exchange massages and share a bubble bath.
3. Spend time in nature: Bundle up and walk the beach, make a snowman together, go camping and look at the stars (if the weather is right) or ride the ferry together just to be out on the water for a change. Sometimes, a change of scene can be very memorable.
4. Give the gift of future gifts: Create an IOU for a certain number of foot rubs, dinner, house cleaning, romantic serenades, etc. This gives your mate something to look forward to and she knows that your love and care will extend into the future.
5. Create something that nurtures your relationship together: Write our your dreams for your relationship together and put it in a wine bottle it and throw it out to sea or bur it. You can also create a shared vision collage so you have a picture of what you want to create together in the future.
6. Do something sentimental: Visit the place you first met. Tell he or she about all the ways your love has grown since then!
7. Personalize: Things mean more if you show that you have thought about them. Don't just give a nice gift. Make it something that shows that you know your mate. For example, if you're shopping for a woman and she loves pink, let that be the theme of what you buy for $10. You can create an assorted basket from the dollar store with her favorite small items by giving her a package of her favorite candy, a poem from her favorite poet and put in some other small tokens and other creations from your heart.
8. Be aware of special deals: Here's an example: We just ate at a great restaurant at half price during restaurant week.
9. Go somewhere new: It is fun to go somewhere new on a date.
10. Think out of the box: Some ideas are: go to a free poetry reading and read one of your poems, sing karaoke, go to a great restaurant with a piano bar to split a dessert and dance, get a $5 palm reading and visit a pet store to hug the puppies.

Schoen offers some similar tips:
1. A heartfelt note handwritten on a card--just don't give a Hallmark card and not write your own sentiment.
2. Flowers--a single rose or some simple bouquet.
3. Either a low-key dinner out--at a quiet restaurant with a romantic private table, like at a Thai restaurant or some reasonable price. We have an Italian restaurant that is well-priced. That can be romantic!
4. A gift can be meaningful but not costly. A beautiful sterling silver necklace (it doesn't have to be diamonds) with her favorite color stone.
5. Chocolate, if he or she likes it and not on a diet!
6. You can cook a romantic dinner at home if you don't want to spend money at a restaurant.

And if you're on the other end, where money isn't the problem, but time is...don't worry, I've got you covered again. And so does Manisha Kothari, founder of WishWrap. On WishWrap's website, you can wish someone joy, love, passion, success, laughter or a combination of several, as there are 27 sentiments to help you pick out the perfect present, says Kothari.

I asked Kothari for a step-by-step guide to helping my last minute friends.

"If someone's shopping for a last-minute gift, they can use Wishwrap as a one-stop shop for a gift that will look like it took months to plan," says Kothari. "Just go to the Valentine's Day page from the top navigation bar, under 'Holidays and Celebrations.' The first several gifts represent our Exclusive Gift packages. All the thinking has been done for you - the wishes have been selected, the card has been written. Just find one you like, add to your cart and you're done! It's a quick way to go when you don't have much time and there's something at every price point, so you don't have to spend a lot of time or money to still send a meaningful gift."

But there is a depth to the romance industry that goes beyond matchmaking and dating services: honest, sincere, genuine, overwhelming love. Real love is serious business. It has all of the wonderful butterflies that dive-bomb your stomach on first dates and the wonderful comfort of you've-seen-me-in-worse-morning-conditions. And if you want it to work, you need a professional.

So I again contacted the Dahls of Why? Because they have Duet, a personality assessment based on more than 35 years of academic research.

In my email, I wrote: I'm in love with a girl, and I was hoping I could use Duet to help me out. The girl was a competitive figure skater as a child. She worked at a McDonald's for three summers. Is a vegetarian. Irish descent. Likes vintage clothing stores. Doesn't own a car. Is allergic to horses. Dabbled in acting. Had starring roles in The Notebook, Wedding Crashers and Mean Girls. How can Duet help me here?

The Dahls replied: Note--we have provided access to many celebrities and media types - let us know if you want an access link--and we can do a full profile for the both of you. Duet analyzes the characteristics that most affect long term compatibility. By both taking the test, we can find out which characteristics you share in common and which are different. Then you talk about which of those are a strength of your relationship and which might cause some conflict--each would know yourself better and be able to look out for bumps in your romantic path. If that isn't possible, then at least find out your own characteristics and take and educated guess about how Rachel (how did they know!) would compare.

- Are you a risk taker or risk averse?
JAKE KILROY: I'm business. Kind of like that one movie...can't think of the name right now...
JK: No, Glengary Glen Ross.
HVORM: Oh, well, I worked with Rob Schneider on a movie without kicking him in the groin, so I guess I'm a risk averse. But I do love Jake and that's pretty risky.
JK: Yea, "Danger" is my middle name.
HVORM: No, it's not. It's Patrick.
JK: Oh Rachel, you so get me.

- Are you intense and always busy or laid back?
JK: I'm intense like camping.
HVORM: Oh, Jake, you're so funny.
JK: Thank you, Rachel McAdams.
HVORM: Jake, for the last time, just call me Rachel.
JK: Will do, Rachel....McAdams. I love you.
HVORM: Did you say my last name again?
JK: No...I said, Ryan Adams...I love you...

- Are you an optimist or more cautious about life?
JK: I'm cautious about the lives of others.
HVORM: Like that bird you nursed back to health like a hero?
JK: Yes, exactly, darling.

- Do you prefer a life with predictability or like new experiences and a lot of variety in your life?
JK: Craziness, all the time!
HVORM: Jake, that still doesn't justify setting my couch on fire for fun and excitement.
JK: But...
HVORM: But...I admit, it was pretty fun and exciting.
JK: Woohoo!

- Is one or both of you a leader most of the time, or do one or both of you like to follow someone else's lead?
JK: Well, I'm a big fan of jump hi-fives.
HVORM: And I really like hugs.
JK: I suppose we find a good balance between leading and following.

- Are you temperaments passionate or calm?
JK: Passionate about Rachel!
HVORM: I love you.
JK: And I you...
HVORM: Awww....isn't he so poetic?

- Do you go into yourself when troubled or do you seek counsel and comfort? Do people tire you out or energize you?
JK: I like to say, "Rachel is my rock."
HVORM: And I like to say, "Jake, I, Rachel McAdams, will love you until I'm as mindlessly delirious as you are."

In the end, the Dahls added: These are important points to consider and work on in a relationship. To know them about yourself and the woman you love will go a long way towards creating love and maintaining it.

Too true. This love business is funny business. And sometimes, wildly profitable.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Video Conference vs. Neo-Confidence

Video Conference vs. Neo-Confidence
By: Jake Kilroy | February 6, 2009 8:33 AM

Ashley Biever contacted me last week. Biever is media relations for Vidtel, a video communications service provider.

And she's sneaky.

The subject of her e-mail was "Trying to buy a baby to put to work on," referencing a previous entry of mine here on The Daily Dose. In her message, she added, "I know it's not a watch phone, but still cool for entrepreneurs," a reference to another recent entry.

My, how she played to my ego. I told her, "I'm always open to pitches, especially any that come with a sense of humor." But alas, I went on to explain that I'd pass along her pitch, but I didn't think I could write anything I don't have an interest in. I couldn't think of an angle for the blog, I said.

Referring to yet another previous entry, Biever wrote back, "Besides, what was your angle going to be on that 'hat' story...maybe I should tattoo a phone on my neck and show up with some beer and nachos, hmmmm?"

Then I realized that I had been exchanging e-mails with a PR person. I felt dirty and used. My diary would hear of this for weeks!

I kid, I kid. Since working here, PR has been hit or miss with me. I either want to be their worst enemy or their best friend. If they're too pushy, I want to pull them down. If they're easy-going and charming, I want to rely on them forever, like a sturdy wall holding my home together, constantly going back to embrace the painting hanging there in the dining room.

I get more than 20 pitches a day and I delete most of them without reading more than the first sentence. So, for Bevier to even get me to respond to her two or three times was something oddball.

Yet, I remain entirely guiltless whenever I drag a PR person through the ringer.

So I replied, saying that I'd consider writing a blog on Vidtel if she could answer the following three questions:

My Questions:
1) What is the best song to start off a road trip? I mean, as soon as you hit the highway, what song should be playing?
2) Why does everyone love American Idol?
3) What country does the following flag belong to?

Biever's responses:
1) Anything by Eric Hutchinson...or, "Life Is A Highway."
2) Because we put money down on how many toothless people would try out.
3) Mozambique.

Biever scored 1 out of 3 correct, and I thought that was good enough (the answer to #1 is "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, and the answer to #2 is "It remains a total mystery why everyone loves American Idol."

Also, I don't write enough about anything tech because I don't think I know enough about anything tech. I went to Best Buy two or three days ago and actually said something along the lines of "I need something to connect this to that," pointing to my father's video camera and a random computer display. When the Best Buy employee asked about the computer I would be using to transfer video, I stared at him as he used letters and numbers in an order and format that seemed like a foreign language to me. He could've been speaking French or Chinese and I would've understood the same amount, nodding stupidly as he spoke. Every once in a while, I mumbled, "Oh yeah...that thing...I would need that..."

However, nonetheless, there remains a practical opportunity to use Vidtel in the workplace. And I know enough about working in an office and using phones to be able to finish this blog accordingly.


Earlier this week, WBS Connect, a Colorado-based global technology services company announced its partnership with Vidtel.

The promise of the partnership is to provide an easier form of video-conferencing among small and medium businesses.

According to a press release, Vidtel says, "In addition to video calling, customers can also use their robust VOIP phone to make and receive regular voice calls to anyone in the world with a telephone number (i.e., mobile, international, local and long distance calls)."

"Small and medium-sized business have been lost in the shuffle between traditional phone service, high-end video conferencing services and low-quality PC-based video chat options, said Scott Charter, managing partner of WBS Connect, which has a network through North America, Europe and Asia.

But you have to wonder how many small and medium businesses have big enough arms to reach to farther continents and customers. Even domestically, can you substitute a business trip that includes a face-to-face meeting for something similar to avatar-to-avatar? And what exactly is "the shuffle" anyway?

Have smaller businesses been overlooked because of video-conferencing? I doubt it.

However, what Vidtel and WBS Connect are looking to provide may be a good way to consider business. Or at least in moderation. Video-conferencing seems to be the last bit of battling between too much involvement and not enough in the business world.

In some cases, yes, something as simple and casual as periodic video-conferencing can mean a more reassuring relationship between company and client/customer. It has the potential to provide the charm and warmth more often. No matter how many emoticons you shove in every sentence, a conference call can top that, as long as you actually are a charming and warm person.

But there may be a reason that smaller businesses aren't video-conferencing. For most, it's kind of unnecessary. Once a business grows, however, there comes a question of face time.

A small company can rely on its size for trustworthiness. A large company has to rethink things.

However, once a company starts growing more into a brand than a person, maybe video conferencing can be the saving grace. I mean, you're not going to call each customer and wish them a good morning. No, of course not. But you can let them know that there's a captain at the helm of the ship and not a machine.

But even then, you can't overuse it. Overusing video-conferencing is obnoxious. However, using it just the right amount can be pretty cool. Just practice on your family or coworkers first. Find your voice, find your facial expressions and find a comforting distance.

And most importantly, video-conferencing should be more of an addition, not a substitute. It should rarely replace meet-and-greets, face-to-faces, hand-to-hand high-fives.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Figuring Out Facebook ( update #2)

Figuring Out Facebook ( update #2)
By: Jake Kilroy | February 3, 2009 3:52 PM

Everyone has down time at a desk job. And you can't always build a fort out of your cubicle, as it's a little obvious to your co-workers (believe me, I've tried). So, you end up finding alternate ways to entertain yourself.

Some spend their down time aimlessly Googling their own name. Others play online Scrabble. A few run their own small website or blog.

I, however, do all three.

The last one of the three is the only one that generates revenue though. You see, last October, I discovered Photoshop on my computer. Needless to say, I didn't do very much work for two weeks. All I did was make fake book covers.

Turning the hobby into an addiction and turning that addiction into a legitimate operation, I became the proud owner of, where I now also write fake excerpts and sleeves.

In November, I decided that Fake Book Covers could make a delightful training project for a lackluster business star such as myself. I would use Fake Book Covers as a way of dissecting the pros and cons of different online advertising venues. And I wrote an entry proposing my plan to online readers accordingly.

Weeks later, I signed up for Twitter for my first update. I scored the name "FakeBookCovers" and learned what Twitter was about. I evaluated how it works for small businesses, new companies, CEOs, etc. You can still follow me on there. This inane project is ongoing. I wrote an entry about it.

Most recently, however, I attempted to figure out advertising with Facebook.

But before I cracked the official Facebook Advertising, I thought I'd give it a go at advertising on Facebook, meaning something small that involved a handful of my friends. Just to see if social networking can be social advertising: something casual with formal results.

So, during the last week of November, I posted a note on Facebook asking all of my friends to change their status updates to something in reference to on December 1. I would remind friends about the coming campaign.

And so, on December 1, 38 of my friends on Facebook changed their status to things like Valerie can't stop reading or Cameron says you should go to

The average view count for the month of November was 50, and the highest view count I ever had before was 115.

But on December 1, my view count for the day was 399.

Though December 1 still remains my highest day, I saw some good fallout. The next day was 227. The day after that was 129. Finishing out the week, the numbers were smaller, but usually still larger than my previous average (day counts like 49, 53, 86). A week later, I had a random day of 216 and another one at 196. The numbers were good. But more importantly, they were better than what I had.

My friends promoted my product and some of their friends stayed on as frequent visitors. All you really need is one good visit to turn a friend's friend into a regular.

And that's what social advertising can offer: a reassurance. Advertising is blank space. Quite often, advertisements run as parodies of themselves; cold and white vs. flashy and obnoxious. Big money ads are just a blank stare of empty eyes with a mouth moving and the words coming out in wrong time. Sometimes, billboards can read like 1984 propaganda.

But what will actually convince you to go see a new movie: a big poster and tagline or your friend suggesting you go see it?

Social advertising is word-of-mouth with your fingers. Instead of fliers and promotions, which may cost some money, ask your friends to play their keyboard like a piano. Let them get the word out. It hardly takes any effort. It honestly takes less than a minute. And if your friends aren't willing to help your business out with just a minute of their time at a computer, then...well, delete 'em.

I mean, social networking sites don't have to be some faux-website, a cooler and hipper version of whatever you really have. Social networking sites are the new grassroots. If you mobilize your friends as well as your "friends," you could see some new people on your website. It's like pyramid advertising and you want your campaign to look like Giza.

As the good trail following December 1 started to slow, I decided it was time to take on Facebook Advertising.

Halfway through December, I bought $10 worth of a day's ad time on Facebook to run along the right-hand side.

Or let's say I bought a day's worth on purpose, as I bought 29 accidentally.

That's right. I somehow missed the end date option of my advertising. I wanted to purchase $10 of ads for the day, just to see if my numbers would skyrocket, and I ended up spending $300.

I didn't realize this gigantic error until I read my credit card statement in January. Every three days, there was a roughly $30 bill from Facebook Advertising for the month. I don't check my personal e-mail that often, so I missed some messages from Facebook.

Yes, I accidentally spent $300 on a website that has only generated $19 worth of revenue to date.

However, I contacted Facebook Advertising, letting them know that I'm new to online advertising and that I was only trying to buy a day's worth for an article and that sometimes I do things without thinking (like putting a fork in a toaster as a college junior).

Pam of Online Sales Operations at Facebook Advertising e-mailed me, asking questions such as, "When you created a daily budget for your ad, why did you think you were selecting total campaign budget?" Her e-mail also asked what other steps Facebook could take to improve the system. I replied accordingly.

Days later, Pam wrote me again, "After reviewing your situation, I have gone ahead and refunded your account for all but the first charge of $30.50 due to your confusion with our product."

This is what I expected from a company founded by a guy who's only a year older than I, and I was very happy. I imagine that a company run by a 24-year-old understands that mistakes are made, screw-ups occur and accidents happen. And because of Pam's generosity and professionalism, I plan to advertise with Facebook again in the future. Just with less money. And a better understanding of what I'm doing.

Since deleting the ad, I've noticed some significant drop-off in previous weeks. On the day I bought my first Facebook ad, my view count for the day was 106. From mid-December to mid-January, when the ad ran, I rarely ever saw under 40 for the day, even on weekends, when I don't update Fake Book Covers.

Now, without Facebook Advertising or advertising on Facebook, my average has been 24 views per day. I'm in a rut, like Constanza pre-Summer of George.

But at least now I know the capabilities of Facebook, whether advertising through your "friends" or through the actual site. You, as an entrepreneur, are always looking to get people back to your website. Facebook proved to be useful, though Fake Book Covers may not have had the big increase you were looking for when considering your business website.


* If you're not on Facebook, get on there. You have friends and the ability to advertise. Also, you can play Word Challenge, Geo Challenge and Who Has The Biggest Brain? So, it's win-win. If you think Facebook is a phase and that old-school business dudes and dudettes don't do it, get with the program. And the program is Facebook.
* Really, consider your friends. I assure you that your friends have friends. Don't tell them to change their status or post a note. Ask them politely to help you advertise. Grassroots means utilizing your circle of friends before a new network. Make it seem like a team effort. Helping you is helping them. If they are good friends, they'll want you to succeed. And taking a minute to change their status from "John had a good breakfast" to something regarding your company and website won't seem as hokey as you may initially worry it will be.
* Know your audience. Know who you're looking to advertise to. Facebook Advertising allows you to be specific on who's pages your advertisement will run. I screwed up by letting my ad be directed at anyone over 18. My advertisement brought up names like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears. Maybe not the ideal pitch for certain demographics. Be specific when advertising on Facebook. Facebook lets you know how many people you will be advertising to every time you change your demographics' age, sex, relationship status, interests, workplaces, locations, etc.
* Ask questions. If you have trouble understanding the whole ad setup, contact Facebook Advertising. If I've learned anything from my initial $300 fiasco, it's that I should always ask for help when I'm not 100 percent. Seriously, Pam was gracious and helpful, and you can avoid problems by just asking what any option means.