50 Hours In Haiti

LightQuest Media and Love A Child A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Haiti with our LightQuest Media clients, Bobby and Sherry Burnette, founders and executive directors of Love A ChildWalter Warren, our EVP at LQMI was with me.

It was my first time in Haiti, not just since the earthquake, but ever.  I still remember our relief on January 12 a few hours after the quake when we reached Bobby via Skype and were able to confirm that Bobby and Sherry were alive and their orphanage, medical clinic, and ministry center were all intact.  In the days and weeks that followed, the Love A Child compound was converted into a field hospital with the help of Field Hospital the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative as the injured streamed and were hauled into the little town of Fond Parisien.

Bobby and Sherry moved to Haiti in 1991, to become full time missionaries.  Little did they know that all of their efforts, sacrifices, and heartaches were preparing them for the day when the entire country would be transformed in less than one minute’s time.

During my 50 hours in Haiti, I witnessed and heard the overwhelming mass of the problem.  Over 220,000

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An Old Hero and a New One

Wooden This week past for me was one of losing one hero and quite unexpectedly finding a new one.

Coach John Wooden’s feat of ten national championships stretched from my seventh grade efforts to walk and chew gum at the same time well into graduate school.  Many of those years through high school I played ball under a streetlight at the south dead end of Fifth Avenue in New Brighton, PA.  In the winter we’d bring our snow shovels to clear the street, though the slick spots made a jump stop an amusing spectacle.

I grew to love and admire the UCLA Bruins and while marveling at their accomplishments I wondered how they managed to maintain such a high level of play over such an extended period of time.  John Wooden was indeed a remarkable coach and teacher, but first he was a man of character…a fierce competitor but always under control.  For someone I never met, he had a most profound influence on my life. My love of the game of basketball and my tendency to apply its lessons to most of life is probably his fault.  He was a man of grace in victory or defeat, and I’ll always be grateful to him for his example.  He died last Friday at age 99.

Some 48 hours before Coach Wooden’s passing, another drama was unfolding in Detroit that would bring me to the edge of tears, much as would the news of this great coach’s death.

The runner was out.  The game was over. We all saw it.  Over and over.  From every angle. Out. Out. Out.

Galarraga In what will likely be remembered as one of the most unfair moments in sports history, the veteran umpire at first base called him safe, snuffing out one of the rarest accomplishments in all of sports – the perfect game.  Armando Galarraga was the victim, and while that is a word I rarely allow myself to use, if it is to ever be used in the arena of sports, this would certainly be that occasion. 

But it was not the blown call at first base that brought the mist into my eyes, but the amazing grace displayed by Armando Galarraga in the wake of a sudden, massive, and universally unfair disappointment.  While the rest of us yelled and screamed and possibly cursed the umpire, Galarraga smiled, kept his composure, went back to the mound and got the final out.  What a display of grace in a moment when he was robbed of a place in baseball history not only by losing his bid for a perfect game, but also losing out on several other firsts in the record books.

It didn’t end there.  Being interviewed after the game by voracious reporters Armando smiled and said, “We’re human, we all make mistakes.”  What?  Are you kidding me?  What kind of response is that when you have clearly been shafted with all of sports America witnessing and decrying the unfairness of the umpire’s call.  And then there was umpire Jim Joyce who seeing the replay after the game sought out Galarraga to apologize for blowing the call and costing the young Venezuelan his place in baseball history. 

090 The following day Joyce would draw home plate duties, and rather than one of the managers or coaches taking the starting lineup out to the home ump, Galarraga asked for the duty.  Joyce once again apologized and when Galarraga gave him a respectful pat on the shoulder, the gracious umpire wiped his eyes, once again overwhelmed by the character displayed by this young competitor from South America, and gratefully returned the respectful gesture.

With the mess in the Gulf, in Washington, and on Wall Street it was good to be reminded of those who remain big when smallness is so prevalent.

Goodbye Coach Wooden. 

Hello Armando Galarraga.

And thanks to you both.

PS. And to umpire Jim Joyce a grateful "Well done" also.


Inside Online Video Advertising

Online-ad-v-tv While online advertising fell overall in 2009, ad spend on online videos grew 41%.

And, with good reason.  Nielsen Research has recently released a report based on 14,000 surveys to measure the impact of video advertising online vs. video advertising on television. 

The patterns they uncovered were consistent:  video ads run during online full-episode TV programs yield deeper brand impact than corresponding on-air TV ads, with the difference most pronounced among younger viewers age 13-34.

"What accounts for this variation in impact between online video and traditional TV? Data shows that web video viewers are more engaged and attentive to the programs they are watching, which is likely a function of the viewing environment and the oft-required active mouse-clicking to initiate and continue content. Online video is also still a relative novelty compared to traditional forms of media.  Further, and most significantly, reduced ad clutter and the inability to easily skip ads are considerable recall-enhancing factors."

Another conclusion - "online video ads help to reinforce and strengthen the impact of a traditional TV campaign."

More data and analysis here.


Change.gov - Share Your Vision for America

Change cropped I dropped by the Obama transition site, Change.gov, where I found a request to share my vision for America on this page.  Their request seemed sincere - "Start right now. Share your vision for what America can be, where President-Elect Obama should lead this country. Where should we start together?" -  so here's what I submitted  (with a tweak or two) -

"I envision an America that returns to its Constitutional roots.  An America which eschews spread-the-wealth talk and instead emphasizes personal responsibility.  I see an America that takes care of those who truly are unable to take care of themselves, but insists that the able bodied be self reliant, rather than ruminating on what their government can do for them.

I envision an America with a Federal government scaled down to its Constitutional boundaries, not interfering with the lives of its people, but providing for the common defense of its citizens, including those in the womb.  I envision an America far from the current disaster created by the Demopublican party and their cronies and contributors from Wall Street. 

I see an America where racism has been dealt a mortal wound with no hope of recovery.  I long for an America where all lame excuses for dependence on the government have passed away.  I hope for an America where the schools are controlled locally, insulated from federal mandates.  I dream of an America where the government spends no more than its income, where pork barrels are shattered and earmarks are not tolerated.

I cry out for an America that has shed the false responsibility of policing the world, instead defending its own borders while warmly welcoming guest workers and legal immigrants who carry their fair share of the burden of taxation in return for sharing the benefits of this great nation.  I envision an America where people love their President, pray for him daily, and oppose him or her when their philosophies and policies inflate the power and role of government at the expense of the freedom of its citizenry.  I hope for an America that will reward entrepreneurs and those who create jobs instead of punishing them with incentive-suppressing tax policies. 

I pray for an America where politicians can be trusted and an America that realizes its greatness comes from its people, not from its government.

President-Elect Obama, my vision may differ from yours, but you will have my prayers during your tenure.  

Congratulations on your historic victory, and may God bless America and you!"


Why don't you go share your vision too, and then cut and paste it into the comments below?

If I get a response from the Obama team on my vision, I'll post it in a future entry.

And a quote from Winston Churchill - The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.


Warren Buffett on the State of the Economy

068 Thanks to Ben Bennett at 29e for the point to this OpEd piece in the New York Times by Warren Buffett.

Buffett is moving his private funds gradually into 100% US stocks.  Why?  "A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

Interesting reading.


Tracking the Bailout - Follow the Money

Bailout1 So we've got 700 billion dollars going to bailout the institutions who, along with their willing accomplices in Congress, are largely responsible for the current financial catastrophe.  Unless you are one of those 40% of residents in the US who pay no federal income taxes, you might have some interest in how your taxes (and ultimately those of your great grandchildren) are being disbursed.

Mark Cuban over at Blog Maverick has given us a point to Bailout Sleuth, a site tracking the Treasury Department's execution of the bailout.  And, while I know this might stun you, the first documents released relating to the Treasury Department's contract with the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. - well, they actually blacked out the compensation amounts and terms.Bailout2

Since we're just taxpayers, maybe we don't need to know such details.  You can click the images on this post to see a larger version of these "censored" documents.  You may want to download them and send them to your Congressman and Senators and ask them if a shroud of secrecy between the Treasury Department and these financial institutions is what they had in mind when they handed over $700 billion of our money?

Seems like a reasonable question.


Nobody Likes a Bailout

The Treasury Department's financial rescue bill suffered loss in part due to bad branding.

I mean, who among us wants to actually fund a "bailout"?

If only they had called it a "work-out," like the banks do on their own bad loans, then maybe it wouldn't have seemed like such a bad idea.

Not much of the bill would need to have been changed, but once it was dubbed a bailout, it was doomed. Especially during an election season.

Congress is taking a couple of days off, probably to cover their short positions before someone introduces a Workout Bill. 


Buy When Blood Is Running in the Streets

...unless it's your own blood, of course.

The quote "buy when blood is running in the streets" is attributed to Baron Rothschild as his advice to accumulating great wealth.  Today the Dow dropped 504 points, Merrill Lynch is being rescued by Bank of America, Lehman Brothers files Chapter 11, AIG is on the brink, and General Motors recently traded under $10 per share.

I'm not sure how deep the blood has to run, but this could either be an historic opportunity, or the beginning of the end.  I'm guessing opportunity.  Don't mortgage the home and dump it into mutual funds, but don't be too scared by all the storms in the Gulf and on Wall Street.

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs..." - Rudyard Kipling

Tomorrows big stories are germinating in obscurity today. 

Perhaps you are one of the central characters?


Tragedy in Haiti

066_2 I've just read a first-hand report on the tragic aftermath of the multiple storms that have hit Haiti.  I know there has also been a lot of destruction along the Gulf Coast as I follow the relief efforts there through friends in Baton Rouge.

Our company, LightQuest Media, represents Love a Child Ministries and their founders Bobby and Sherry Burnette who are full-time missionaries in Haiti.  Sherry has been keeping a journal and if you have the stomach for it, you can see some glimpses of the terrible toll the storms are extracting from the Haitian people by reading her latest entry, Hurricane Ike's Deadly Blow to Haiti.

If you have any desire to help the Haitian relief effort, you can donate by going here.

My suggestion for helping the people of Baton Rouge would be HPC.


Opportunity Doesn’t Always Knock

064 I’m still waiting to hear if we are officially in a recession.  In a strange way, I hope so.  For one thing, it would be a shame for so many to endure the financial malaise of the last year or so without some official label to validate the experience.

But, one of the truths about recessions is that many opportunities are born in the midst of economic darkness. 

I’ve found over the years that it usually pays to be optimistic, especially when things appear really crappy.  In the early 80’s there was much doom and gloom being purveyed by gold bugs like Howard Ruff.  He was right about some things, but the economy boomed and gold tanked. 

Many conservatives were sure that the election of Bill Clinton would spawn an economic Armageddon, but the economy surged forward.

Then there was the rapid rupturing of the dot-com bubble in 2001-02, followed by yet another recovery, even if more tepid than the 90’s.065

My point is this – it seems that every time the economic forecasts range from dour to dismal, smart leaders are preparing for the next boom.  Preparation may entail some pruning, but while you are wielding the shears be sure to keep your senses probing for an obscure opportunity.

Tomorrow’s success stories are often conceived in the thick of difficult days.