July 11, 2012
Trading Places

It occurred to me the other day that I kept having to explain to people what happened to old posts at BradMcCarty.me after I switched to Svbtle. I then realized that there was a better option than having all of those old posts disappear.

If you want to keep up with the stuff that I’m writing, you can now do so over on Uptake.co. Once upon a time I had grandiose ideas for that URL, but I think it will serve a better purpose by playing host to my Svbtle blog. As for this site? It will update occasionally, perhaps with more personal stories, but you can expect for it to largely remain untouched.

There has to be a separation between your work and your personal life, no matter how passionate you may be about both of them. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while searching for balance, it is that this fact is immutable.

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March 23, 2012
Overcorrection: How Marriott has won my life-long business

In August of last year, Candace and I got married. We haven’t had the chance to do an actual honeymoon yet, but we did spend a couple of lovely nights at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. The stay was great, overall, with 2 minor problems. First, Candace found fish hook in the carpet, but she found it with her foot. No harm was done, but it happened. Second, an order to room service wasn’t exactly right when it arrived.

We notified the hotel of the fish hook. It wasn’t because we expected something in return, but more from the standpoint of “hey guys, you should really be more careful when cleaning rooms”. For the room service, we were given a follow-up call to ask how everything was, and we told the caller of the mixup.

This is where Marriott went above and beyond. We were put in touch with the corporate office, which directed us to the local manager. We didn’t ask for this to happen, but Marriott nearly insisted that they be given a chance to “redeem” itself.

We were offered a complimentary night, and I was told by the hotel manager that I should call him when we were planning to come because he wanted the “opportunity” to see if he could make an upgrade available. Tonight, we’re going back, in a Concierge-level room. If you’re not familiar with Marriott, this is their higher-end accommodation, typically directed at white-collar business travelers.

Now here’s the kicker - The hotel in which we stayed books for around $140 per night. We got the room through Priceline’s name-your-own-price option, and paid a bit over $60 per night. Yet at no point during our talks with Marriott did that fact ever get raised.

If you’ve ever done a name-your-own-price deal through Priceline, chances are that you’ve been stuck in the least-desirable room in the hotel. I absolutely have, numerous times. But not at this Marriott. We were in a beautifully-appointed room, not located near an ice machine, the elevators or any other distraction. That was a pleasant surprise in and of itself. But then to have Marriott go above and beyond, to hear them speak as if they were genuinely let down by what happened? That’s earned the company a customer for life.

There’s a lot to be said for under-promising and over-delivering. But Marriott never under-promised. We expected greatness, and we got it (for the most part). At no point did the company owe us anything, yet they acted as if we were the most important customers they had. Maybe this isn’t the right answer for every company, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to try.

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March 22, 2012
A Svbtle challenger (and new blogging platform) appears

If you’ve been a reader of this site for any length of time, you’ve seen it go through a few iterations. One of the challenges that I always face is trying to find something that looks good while still focusing entirely on what I’m writing. WordPress as a whole isn’t very good at that, on the back end.

Dustin Curtis, a rather renowned designer and developer, was looking for a way to blog the way that he thinks. The result is called Svbtle, and it looks incredible. Instead of being pushed to publish, Svbtle encourages you to use it as a notepad for ideas, only publishing them when they’re complete.

I won’t snag screenshots or anything else from what Curtis has done, as I think it’s equally important to read why he did it, as it is to see the end result. So head over to the Svbtle site and take a few minutes to enjoy the work. And yes, Dustin, I’m absolutely interested in being in the network if you’re reading this.

Svbtle

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March 21, 2012
Will you please join me at Big Omaha?

When I attended Big Omaha last year, I came away calling it “the most important conference you’ve never attended.” I also swore that I’d be going back for this year’s event, even if it meant that I paid my own way and took vacation time to do it.

You see, Big Omaha is one of those rare opportunities that you’ll have in life to surround yourself with a few hundred people who want to change the world, and are actively working toward doing so. To say that I came away inspired, motivated and changed would be so much of an understatement that I really can’t do the conference justice.

Tickets are on sale for this year’s Big Omaha, and you need to get involved right now. Last year it sold out so fast that over 300 people were on a wait list. This year, Jeff Slobotski and the Big Omaha team are doing ticket sales over different periods, in hopes that more people will have a chance to buy them.

Please, if you believe in entrepreneurship, join me at Big Omaha. If you read this blog, I want to meet you, to hear what you have to say and to have the chance to find what you’re passionate about.

I promise you that you’ll never be the same. Yes, I’m completely serious.

Big Omaha 2012 from Silicon Prairie News on Vimeo.

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February 25, 2012
Why didn’t 71lbs win SuperConf’s Startup Blast Off?

I’ve had this question a couple of times today, and so I figured it’s only fair to answer publicly and to the best of my knowledge. 71lbs was widely thought to be one of the strongest competitors in the Startup Blast Off at SuperConf. The truth of the matter is that it was indeed a strong contender. So strong, in fact, that at least 2 of us had it for our top pick.

But perhaps 71lbs was actually a bit too good. Now, I know that’s a head-scratcher, so bear with me while I explain.

Just as investors and accelerators have to judge the length to which their assistance will help further a business, so too did the judges of the Startup Blast Off. In the case of Jose Li and 71lbs, there are some hard facts:

  • 71lbs has a fantastic business model
  • That business model has next to zero chance of going away
  • Cash could help Jose live more comfortably, but only a larger amount will notably accelerate the company
  • The services offered wouldn’t benefit 71lbs as much as they could another company

That’s how the judging went down. In the end, CodeMeet won the big prize because we had to ask a difficult question: Which of the two companies, if you handed them the check, could do more with it? This time around, that answer was undoubtedly CodeMeet. Dev needs a co-founder, he needs services and he has a huge plan with a working product. That’s a grouping of really big problems that can go a long way toward being solved by a simple injection of cash and prizes.

So to clear the air, there’s no doubt in my mind (and I believe I can safely say no doubt in the minds of the other judges) that 71lbs is a winning company with a huge future. It’s simply a matter of, apples to apples, the prize is more beneficial to CodeMeet’s future than it is to the future of 71lbs.

If you’re an Angel or VC looking for a really strong investment, get in touch with me. I’d love to introduce you to Jose.

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February 24, 2012
The conveniently forgotten truth of Apple (and what you can learn from it)

It’s natural, I suppose, to emulate those people (or companies) that you admire. Right now we’re seeing a lot of companies trying to work the way that Apple did (and does), in hopes of achieving some level of the same success.

But there’s a point to consider about Apple that most people conveniently forget - it shouldn’t have survived. It should have died, many times over, and yet it didn’t. Not always because of something that the company did. A few times, Apple simply got lucky.

There’s a nod that has to be made here to the adage of “chance favors the prepared mind”, and Apple certainly played many of the right cards in order to make sure the it was prepared for whatever would come its way. But to be on the brink of destruction, to lose your founder and nearly disappear, only to come back and eventually be the most valuable company in the world is simply beyond the scope of good planning.

That’s not to say that we (as entrepreneurs, company owners and the like) couldn’t learn some things from what Apple has done. It would be fool’s talk to say otherwise. But there’s a point where preparation gives way to chance and Apple has seen that point more than a time or two.

What we absolutely can learn from Apple has more to do with the human aspect of things than it does with business decisions:

  • Be relentlessly devoted
  • Learn to say no
  • Enjoy long walks
  • Take pride in what you do
  • Follow your dreams

Interestingly, as much as these are human aspects, they are also pretty solid business advice.

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February 12, 2012
"There’s still good work to be done."

I won’t go into a long diatribe here, but this is one of those times when I have to respond to something. MG Siegler, over on his personal blog, put together a post that essentially talked about the death of blogging because of chasing page views. While it’s no secret that almost every top blog lives and dies by advertising revenue (therefore, by views on a page) I have to agree with my friend and co-worker Matthew Panzarino: “There’s still good work to be done.”

In fact, that’s one of the very things that we’re trying to work toward at TNW. Yes, we still cover breaking news and we try to do it faster and more accurately than anyone else. We do this because our readers have shown us time and again that it’s something that they want. But we also do more in-depth, “feature-length” pieces (see Courtney Boyd Myers’ piece on the future of Hipmunk) because we respect that many of our readers want that content as well.

What’s frustrating is that often times the longer, more important pieces don’t get the attention that they deserve. We live in a society that wants bite-sized information, with few exceptions. The challenge then becomes this: How do you provide what the reader wants without becoming the next Business Insider?

I specifically mention BI/SAI because there’s probably no site that’s worse about taking an in-depth story, ferreting out a nugget and then publishing a 100-word “post” based on it. There’s merit to this method, but the merit is given no justice when it rapes the original content down to nothing more than a shadow of its former self. We challenge our writers at TNW to dig in to longer content and to find those morsels, but to do justice to them by providing more context than what was originally given. For us, this has worked as a method of balance, and we will continue to do it.

MG, we met once.  You probably don’t remember. At the time, I told you congratulations on the acquisition from AOL and wished you the best. Obviously things have gone well for you, if not for the property for which you once worked. But now that you’re on the outside, I’ll say that it’s exceptionally easy to sit in the stands and take shots. I understand your frustration, because I deal with it every single day. But I deal with it from the inside; a place you once were.

The wisest of my former employers once told me words that I still preach today: Come to me with any problem that you want, but do so only if you have at least one possible solution. For us at TNW, the solution is simple, if not the manner by which to achieve it. Do good work. There’s still good work to be done.

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January 14, 2012
I love the White Sox…and Windows Phone. It’s essentially the same thing.

I’m not big into sports, but I do have some favorites. I’m a big fan of the Denver Broncos. This started when Elway was a great quarterback but had no offensive line. It continued when the Broncos got a line and won a couple Super Bowls, then it continued when the Broncos sucked again for the next 15 or so years.

Original Article

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January 13, 2012
CES 2012 retrospect - The good, the bad and the fugly

CES officially ends tomorrow, but I’m done as of today. The only thing left to do is finish writing up some pieces, which I plan on doing at the airport tomorrow, where there’s at least WiFi. It’s been a rough week, as my feelings about Vegas in general remain mediocre at best. But we’ve pulled through it, found some cool stuff and gotten some great stories out there. Now, it’s time for the redux.

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January 7, 2012
2012 - Maybe I’m amazed…

Two uninterrupted weeks with my wife and kids. Though things have been hectic lately with my mother-in-law’s wedding and preparing for CES next week in Las Vegas, I’m amazed at  how nice it is to just have time to spend with my family.

Original Article

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