Communications, customer service, quality content writing, the greatest of these is service

Control Central, 2020. Working from home lacks a level of personal communication, quality product is alway an expectation, but customer service is a difference maker.

Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” – a term used often in Charlotte – as a leadership thought deal, but while giving myself and writers of many descriptions credit for writing ability, the customer service aspect is what makes one-shot clients into regular gigs.

While perhaps a stretch as political commentary, I’ll take the COVID-19 vaccination program – 309M doses given, 145M/43.8% of population fully vaxxed – as proof we elected a President who has delivered maximum customer service on a MAJOR promise.

Me, 6/14/21

Customer service-wise, if your Wellington’s somehow sprung a leak, just tell them, they will gladly send you another pair, is an example of Excellence. The Home Depot person who can lead you directly to the product you’d already walked by twice is A Cut Above, the gas attendant who feels empowered to comment about your tee shirt slogan because he’s already got your money, much closer to the bottom.

‘Getting stuck’ March 18th – for an investment of 26 minutes – with the COVID vaccine, instead of worrying it could take until mid-May, you’ll have to believe that cemented my concept of delivering customer satisfaction.

Dysean at T-Mobile delivered too. When he didn’t know the deal with my phone making a constant notice noise, he was willing to call a guy who might. Bazinga! Turn the phone all the way off periodically, not just screen off.

Getting my phone back doing as it should brought an appreciation of the service effort, but c’mon, the day a Novant supervisor at a clinic around the corner from my place – no extra effort to try – said to 64-year old, Category-5 person me, “Sure, let’s get you stuck,” that’s going to be tough to top as customer satisfaction.

How matters get handled

The point is, those who emphasize the customer’s satisfaction of the service delivered gain loyalty – business might have changed over the years, but its not an outdated, ‘used to be’ philosophy.

As a creative I can deliver written content that hits specific points I’ve learned from a client during interviews. With plenty of extra experiences communicating through Q&A to determine wants and expectations from sales situations, the truth is, the happiest people will ever be is when “Is that what we decided to do?” or similar matters get handled right.

A different POV

Having umpired Little League baseball the last two weekends, I’ve had three situations with balks resulting from batters that I didn’t allow a time out to just because they asked for it. Managers want to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm when he’s working well, but I very seldom grant any requests when the pitcher is ready and a batter gets in the box.

Specific point: Unfortunately, the pitcher has to release the ball or yes, it’s a balk, even though one stopped because the batter was stepping out, without knowing I hadn’t given him a time out.

Late in a semi-final game, I have to allow the runner from third to score that way, and there is a third hoo-hah! with a particular coach. Best outcome: The ‘customers’ are really the spectators, and with that correctly handled balk call – even against their team – and two others in a wild game, one guy calls me to the fence with a “Hey Blue! I want you to know, I’ve told the tournament director he needs to do something about that screaming coach who charged you. You’re running things right, and we all got your back out here.”

THAT’S what I’m talking about! Customer satisfaction seal of approval.

Thousands of places across America…

Cycling along the Greenway in 88 degree Carolina heat, the fact I might be literally without a roof over my head in a week was sobering.

Having commented numerous times the last few weeks, that “This scene is being recreated thousands of times across America at this same time” – meaning family baseball – it’s a more sobering https://vocal.media/unbalanced/a-week-of-blue-was-umping-charlotte-baseball-now-its-panthers-blue-with-darnold-c-mc-moore-and-defense reality to recognize I may literally be homeless in a week.

Umpiring has been good extra cash – $400 last weekend – which helps make things happen like this move back into the Real World, after brother Mike and his two dogs head off into the sunset in his 37′ RV.

It’s always been his clear goal, and I knew this day was coming from the moment one of those “guaranteed cash offer” people briefly toured the house over three months ago and he signed immediately.

No, I didn’t get serious about the search until this month, and while its true some of the online operations – Roomster leaps to mind – are bona fide (mostly) scammers, I’m confident the cash from three full weekends income will allow this move to be smooth.

My point in mentioning this is how stressful such situations are for others, too.

Staying awake from before 5:00am, that’s never been a problem before. Like during the Great Recession years, I wonder how parents with tuition, car payments, and mortgages made it on retail wages. I was single, chiseling every nickel, and still wound with significant credit card debt. Others used their accumulated cushion to get past the last economic problem, and it won’t be available this time around.

My time essentially runs out in this house on the 23rd. I’m about half-packed, and while I don’t *think* I’ll wind up sleeping in my Hyundai, it’s going to make a difference how soon a real person responds to my phone messages. It’s also going to be an upheaval of way large proportions for MILLIONS. Families large and small are going to experience some REAL dislocation the end of June, when the protections of the pandemic social net expire .

Having stayed one overnight a month during the colder months for a Room in the Inn ministry for many years, I didn’t question that, with only minor changes, I could be some of those people.

Umpire-wise, I’m neither out nor safe in the moment. On the good side, I do have cash in hand now…

Panthers take care of business – GM Fitterer lands QB Darnold to get rolling

Without burying the lead, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer made an impression with his first major move, delivering pretty much the arch-typical Hollywood story of a QB unloved getting moved to a new place, where he flourishes as The Guy We Needed.

That would be Signal Caller and Arm version, CMC will be back on Ground Attack. It could be a video game-type stats year when a highly motivatd McCaffrey gets paired with a quarterback that can make all the throws.

Newton threw nothing but fastballs, Kyle Allen and Teddy B. knew how to lead receivers, putting DJ Moore in elite company and making Curtis Samuel kind of rich.

It was the obvious need and Fitterer put up a mission accomplished sign.

Fuggidaboudit, Charlotte & Darnold Works

Good young QBs traditionally get torn up, because they often went to the worst teams to start careers. The Jets continue as an NFL franchise.

  • Vinny Testeverde, Heisman winner, to Tampa Bay Bucs. He said he threw so many picks because he was color blind – Tampa had orange jerseys, the same as his collegiate team, UMiami.
  • You can get more local – Chris Weinke, 2000 Heisman winner, Carolina Panthers. https://www.heisman.com/heisman-winners/chris-weinke/ The only thing he couldn’t do was lift the Panther from a shipwreck win-loss season. He wound up with stats that triggered incentives for yards, TDs, total snaps, and they hadn’t invented the $5MM Backup then.

The bigger problem was, he’d played six years of minor league baseball before going back to college at 26! Those were glory years at FSU, but on the calendar, Weineke was almost thirty quickly. Terrific passer, but Panthers gave the keys to a caretaker, Rodney Peete, instead.

I didn’t care about Sam Darnold with the Jets. “Everybody” knows he was #3 overall pick three years ago out of USC, and sorry to say, high pick QBs often go to ungood teams. Major points, has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson coming to Panthers last year meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Darnold wasn’t wanted where he was, the Panthers definitely wanted more from the role than 15 TD/11 INT production Teddy Bridgewater put out as a $21MM caretaker. The price in draft picks was nominal, Panthers problem (theoretically) solved.

It has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson contributing to Panthers last year https://www.panthers.com/team/players-roster/robby-anderson/ meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Just so happens the Panthers have a resident genius with quarterbacks – Sam, Joe Brady; Joe, Sam.

Mr. Tepper took care of business

Having seen something by sportswriter Ian Rapaport about New York taking the new guy in Carolina to the shed on his first deal – Sam Darnold ain’t a busted down mule. The asking price – a #6 in upcoming draft, a #2 and #4 next year – isn’t anywhere near the mother lode Minnesota gave Dallas for Herschel Walker in October, 1989.

Heck, the Rams and Lions recently moved a bunch of #1 draft picks around, and the Panthers wanted/needed a #1 thrower so bad, they were in the sweepstakes for DeShaun Watson, but his $177MM contract cooled most potential takers. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/02/05/watson-would-work-wonders-for-panthers-25-free-agents-a-concern/

Fact about Mr. Tepper, he’s already analyzed factors relative to what he expects the Panthers to be as a product, and there’s no reason to change his tactics. He invested in facilities, and absolutely, bought some REALLY good football minds in Head Coach Rhule, Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, and Defensive Coordinator, Phil Snow. He gave Christian McCaffrey a contract like his production rated.

A season after having iconic players like Newton, Kuechly, and Olsen depart, the Panthers had three-1,000 yard gainers – none of them named McCaffrey – and the defense moved from bottom three in almost every category to 18th overall, with a secondary that was right on the league average in yardage. Without Watson’s contract, the offensive line will get paid – four were part of 25 Panther free agents.

In 2021, Darnold is set to get $4.775MM, and team will have to decide about picking up a 5th year option in May for another $18MM, making him marginally more expensive than Bridgewater. It’s a two-for (years) that’s not tough math for Tepper or Fitterer.

Give the Panthers very high marks for respecting Teddy Bridgewater, who they’ll allow to possibly make his own deal elsewhere.

Resurrection on the Cheap

In a season-year that will be more memorable for playing before empty seats, the Panthers were an entertaining 5-11 bunch that let at least two games slip away late (Minnesota was the worst). On a team where playoffs would have been on the line, the injuries McCaffrey suffered, and mostly recovered from, might have pushed them to use their $21.3MM man late, but there was no reason to test ‘the franchise.’

Most Panther fans have moved on from Cam Newton thoughts, and I thought Bridgewater did a decent job distributing most of the year, but 15/11 are numbers that don’t lie. Kyle Allen had 17/15 the year before (yeah, and those fumbles) and didn’t get invited back. We’ll see if Mr. Samuel finds someplace to use his special skills, he was fun to watch.

So the business of the Carolina Panthers is moving forward. Mr. Fitterer appears to have put a satisfactory conclusion to the question of who’s going to run this team, on and off the field. As for that New York thing, heck, LOT of us will probably say, “Gawd bless ‘im, he must feel like he’s made it to the promised land,” and leave it at that.

Job scam warning – “Too good to be true” almost certainly still is

As much effort as I’m putting into gaining a next gig, I imagine a kid somewhere, with M&Ms or munching a churro, kicking a battered soccer ball, then checking responses.

Three weeks ago, I started an online interview with a Human Resource person from a major international corporation, and barely an hour later, after consulting with a vice-president, Mr. Malcolm said “regarding your standing in a customer service online role, you are hired!” 

To acquaint with, I’m Mr Greg Malcom. I’m located at Huston Tx, I appear to you as the Hiring Superior/Client Services of Doosan Group

While two out of three brothers congratulated me on what seemed like a legitimate late touchdown of economics, my Wells Fargo Director brother, Steve, opined that money seemed steep for a customer service job, and when I got back from walking the dog, I tagged him for expertise. 

Later in online session, after I was ‘hired,’ there was a significant listing of technical gear I’d need. Along with two weeks training @ $30 an hour, (I’d start at $40+ an hour, benefits after thirty full days), there was a niggling negative about how I would get a check, then withdraw funds to pay for equipment within 24 hours.

Just so you know when you see it…

“Below are the list of materials and softwares needed for this position since you’d be working from home: 4 in one (fax, scanner, copier and printer), Zebra ZM400 Bar-code printer and cards, 4 drawer cabinet and office desk,Apple-(Macbook Air), Blu-ray Drive, Vista Premium), myob business essentials software 2005,For Peach Tree premium 2010 US Patent Single Users Pack, simply accounting 2009,Adobe Photoshop 52011,Adobe Acrobat 8 2012,Ariba 8 2012ASP 32007,CSS 6 2012,Dreamweaver 7 2011,HTML 11 2011,Illustrator 3 2009. Are you familiar with any of those software programs ?

The funds for the software’s and your working materials will be provided to you by the company via check You will be using the funds  in making purchase of  your equipment from the company certified Vendor and All equipment will be labeled on them with the company name, they will have you connected to the company database UNDERSTOOD?

“The check will be covering up for both your working and training materials as well as setting up a mini office in your home which i believe you do have a space provided for that ?

Once you receive the check you are needed to have it deposited in your bank account via Mobile Or Bank teller. Then the funds would be credited in your account immediately or within 24 hours for cash out.. Do you understand me ?

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 

It’s an age old truism, that what might seem so super incredible juuuust might be Too Good/Untrue, and this is why accessing real expertise in the clutch is always a good idea.  

While discussing the tone of ‘interview’ – especially never actually talking to a representative – you bet he smelled something wrong. His international experience with Koreans was that they’d die if professional communication was read as anything less than ‘regular English’ – the online stuff I saw wasn’t up to that standard. ‘Malcolm’ had apparently misspelled his own name and Houston (no ‘o’) in first line of introduction online, another wiggle of doubt. 

The kicker was, while on the phone with me, Steve found *exactly* the company scam I’d been enthused about at 9:30 am, was running, at least referenced by FBI, since 2015. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/scams-work-from-home/

BIG POINT – Recovery 

What could have been a small disaster then, in what is at heart a CHECK SCAM, is worth putting out as a warning for those eager to return to economic goals in this surging economy, extra glad their skills are coming to the fore again.

That ever-lovin’ $1,400 stimulus check many were waiting to get passed by Congress, it got to my bank account on Wednesday, and depositing the company funds – which are inevitably declared NSF – electronically lets ‘them’ into your account is the heart of the scam. 

I had enough sense to investigate what seemed too good to be true, more like Reagan’s “Trust but verify.” That made a disappointing ending to a singular ‘fake event’ three weeks ago easy to bury. There’s a light in tunnel now that doesn’t feel like another train. Don’t make hasty decisions or imagine a Disney ending to the challenges we’ll all still face in 2021, but hey, ask someone you trust about something TGTBT. 

Of course, having facts that others can see and believe has been a problem for some lately, but journalistically, I go with believe your experts. I deep-sixed further contact with ‘Doosan Malcolm’ by 3:00. They sent a notice the next morning that I was supposed to be online at 8:00. I laughed, and will continue thinking I dodged a bullet. Be aware people. 

Information Everywhere 

It’s problematic that, despite 930,000 job growth last month, the U.S. still has some 8.4 million dislocated workers in a year of panemic, even those like myself, who were essentially WFH (work from home) types thinking of being ‘inside.’

Year Three of CDTalent Enterprises https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey/ company growth suffered in 2020, and putting irons in the fire or RFPs (requests for proposals) in 2021 means our personal information is often available.

I actually gave last four of my SSN to a different interviewer recently, but you had damn well better know ANY information out there is a nugget someone wants. 

Check extensions for a fake contact. While e-dresses should be the company’s, mine had 3296 after it.

“Sure, let’s get you stuck.”

Thursday will be my 2nd shot (Pfizer), the first coming a couple days after that job disappointment on Monday. Amazingly, the stimulus check was on time Wednesday, and while still officially a Category-5 person in North Carolina, I got a vaccine shot right around the corner, coming back from grocery store.

No extra fuss, the whole event took 25 minutes, from parking lot to post shot departure, an effective flow from first temperature check, to a supervisor appearing just as I talked to a young lady at a laptop to register and saying, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.” 

March Madness has provided a mass catharsis

Honestly, it should be stated what a non-scientific boost this years Madness was compared to zero in 2020. Reducing the usual travel to sub-regionals, the NCAA did the bubble thing amazingly well.

The Stanford ladies team story was beyond compelling – When the Palo Alto campus was CLOSED to them, they spent almost forever – 86 days! – traveling as true road warriors. They decided that only WINNING the title would make all the discomfort worthwhile, and that’s now a 54-53 fact.  

In both the semi and championship finale for Stanford, the other team’s final shot was just off the iron, the ultimate difference between victory and defeat. South Carolina’s was a put back at the buzzer that didn’t go down. Haley Jones for Stanford ‘only’ had 17 for the winners, and looked like a star on every one. Aari McDonald for Arizona – I couldn’t have been the only person surprised she only had 22 after stroking multiple bombs – including a miss on last shot, with three Stanford players hanging all over her.

In the Gonzaga-UCLA men’s semi-final, Bulldog freshman guard Jalen Suggs banked in a half-courter at the buzzer to win 93-90. Who hasn’t done 3-2-1… EHHHHH! a thousand times in back yard? Super tournament, and tonight a worthy men’s Final. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwX4yHytLJU

We’ve seen heroic efforts by all, and (for once) Charles Barkley was right, two players for UCLA were unstoppable, and who doesn’t appreciate a superhuman effort falling just short? 

Normalcy

A LOT of clouds got less threatening that shot in arm day. Getting four solid calls from recruiters, two discussions (1 still not rejected, 1 rescheduled because I was headed for visit to Mom pre-Easter), and even having gotten out 4x for rides and shooting hoops regularly, I still sincerely applaude how March Madness has provided a mass catharsis in this country.

I’m also glad to have participated in a fish fry with another church organization last week. We served about 350 dinners between 4-7:30, most of them at drive through, and there was great sense of comraderie and community with those who came and sat down inside. Normalcy? We’ve always provided ‘beverages’ at our events, and those who enjoyed that and some ice cream for dessert were reminded what our Men’s Clubs can do.

That it came together in barely a week, that’s community action.

We’ve certainly seen the ultimate in team play during March Madness, and Easter is always appreciated as a time of optimism and renewal. That one small negative three weeks ago, I’m still AWARE stuff like that is out there, and that when it showed up, I questioned ‘Too good to be true.’ Be aware America.

I’m still a Boomer, flag recently replanted in 2021, and now days from fully vaccinated. What’s Next?

Hey hey, Boo-Boo! Check the skills basket, an extra sandwich could make the picnic

Two recent technical writing recruiters, who supposedly know how certain skills may fit with work orders, told me Monster and Careerbuilder were places they found most of their placements and possibilities. I’ve never liked those chronologically-oriented sites, and there have been plenty of possibilities on LinkedIn and FlexJobs, including remote options. 

Two basic points: Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals, and my expectation is that perceived “talent gaps” could be mitigated if recruiters AND people with skills try moving the job needle differently. I’m a Boomer with a “Smarter than the average Bear writer” attitude, and I’m looking.

No Goldilocks recruiters?

Of the tech callers, one was totally in left field, because he was trying to chat about an Careerbuilder resume from 2015 . Trying to steer him to my current information, like LinkedIn, seemed futile. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t reality.

Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which  represented nothing  I was trying to accomplish in 2020 – just, no.

Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, left me far less confident about success. Compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years in 2019, was he describing a totally different job from what I’d responded to?

A month later he proved right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level regarding *real* technical expertise. While a third recruiter had sounded better, he was ultimately wrong about the role.

On the bottom line, there’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way, design for multiple layers, starting from scratch technical writing vs. something closer to compilation and interpretation of content with “editorial and technical values.” I’m generally the later.

KEYWORDS – BIG DIFFERENCE

It’s worth noting that early searching for ‘Writer’ roles on LinkedIn often produced more Underwriter and Service writer possibilities than creative positions. Putting ‘content creation’ and ‘writing’ vs. writer in the keyword box, that went from barely a handful to over 100, and often included marketing and editorial manager roles. 

Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search.

One recruiter indicated a training period, so that contract people were all trained in Open Text. Picking up skills on gigs is always career enhancing expertise for content people. I haven’t been intimidated about using systems listed in job descriptions, and knowing about up front training, that’s nothing but good business.

Recruiting #3 – Online with Clevertech

I’ve made the analogy before, of how better info makes better matches, be it potential clients or dating. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/05/content-creation-client-needs-same-as-dating-info-to-righter-decisions/ and nothing has changed my opinion on that.

Yeah, bald along the way, but not now.

Having previously declared The Super High end of good information was represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one company’s Content Marketing position, backing off of that doesn’t make it less desirable. A statement of corporate positioning, responsibilities, the necessary skill set, personal qualities, and some bullet points regarding the compensation situation that would be worth knowing, that’s beyond solid stuff to learn, but there’s a new sheriff on my RFP (request for proposal) sending front.

Content creation types understand that every CV or cover letter sent involves a judgment of our writing skills.

Almost without question – whether pursuing dates or a potential client – you’d invest more effort in something A-B-C, 1-2-3 clear about extra details to start. From the content creator side, responding to that well-defined description with an equally well-defined reason to investigate further is fundamentally right.

When you’re close to a like mind with what Clevertech CEO Kuty Shalev is dishing, going through some hoops in their information gathering process proves something for both parties. I took a couple hours to answer an 11 question panel that addressed several operational tasks, 300 character responses as I recall.

I ran across their ‘You’re not a Robot’ video on YouTube post-application, and I appreciated the searching questions. I want to put my Boomer journalistic skills to work for this operation, and coding isn’t even on my list of qualities. But, as an element of unique, I got to put my best shots FIRST THING.

What a difference – PRIMO space for ‘Extra’ Good Stuff

Have you wondered if your LinkedIn profile, and how real estate skills regarding database and research translated into project skills, actually got read?

How about blogs that linked job titles regarding career variety, like my “Smarter than the average Bear writer” line? Getting to lay out MY best links, is more than a little gratifying, a major difference maker. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/ I sing their praises, I’d gladly do two a week like that, and its a multi-part process from here, but I got confirmation my info is in their vault, and that’s part of ‘in it to win it,’ right?

The point is finding a totally online company, with a total reversal of standard recruiter ‘interview’ and 8-second rule scanning. Mr. Shalev isn’t rubbing it in anyone’s face that they’ve tricked people into responding in his videos, he does believe they’re above average on unique, especially being totally remote since 2000. Dammit, THESE guys will read what I send!

I still can’t code, but I believe in this process. If it’s a must have, I’ll learn it. Me, 2/20/21

One question involved a social media campaign – Was it successful, how could you tell? My year as VP Community Development of the (Albany, NY) Junior Chamber was a taproot of professional skills development through my thirties. How I recruited members to honcho career-enhancing extra projects instead of just raising $$$ by doing ‘thons, I got it in there.

How could I tell? Because the ‘Chairman’s Planning Guides’ (CPGs) were part of the documentation process for gaining three State-level awards. You rarely get asked about things people don’t know are possibilities, and all I had to do was paste good links? DONE!

COMMUNICATION is always the deal, and showing volunteers how this project had succeeded before, touching them with good follow-up was part of understanding how things worked. Having some fun while improving your resume and-or recognition factor is chicken soup for the soul. Try mentioning being a flying witch for a legendary Haunted House – people will know you’re a good kind of different by Tuesday.

When the bell is rung

Many freelancers and creatives like to think its just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker to ‘get in’ someplace. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise,  or depth of expertise required, but if there’s not an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.

Uhh-huh.

That would be amazingly naive of the one picture dating profile to think, and just as unproductive for a content writing candidate. Don’t ignore the relative clues in a well-written description of  how to impress any ‘date’ appropriately. 

Immediate, verifiable info regarding  candidate

Verifiable intell regarding an All That candidate doesn’t always happen, but a pre-pandemic date was interesting, attractive, way better than just fit, a look-you-in-the-eye type with a compelling story about spirituality (including tarot, the hook in my books) that kept conversation flowing. OMG! she also wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.

Here’s hoping Clevertech looks at me the same way.

All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for content writing (with exceptional verbal dexterity) people like me.

Never let it be thought you only did the least that could be done. Quality communications don’t need to be all-revealing bikini shots of one’s career, just promote the belief that we as responders might be that terrific person you’ll want to discuss a future relationship with.

Our Pierogi Dinner was about collaboration, but food related events won’t return soon

There is plenty of collaboration in successful community events, its even easier with Zoom and Trello.

My community group has historically done large eating-oriented events that brought out 600-800 paying customers, often (over) filling the school cafeteria. Our fish fries have been legendary forever, Oyster Roasts an October tour de force our members and others loved.

The original pierogi event came from one member (Stephen Fogg), who suggested it as a substitute for a not well-attended spaghetti night in late January. Noting that, “Every Catholic church in Cleveland has pierogi dinners every Friday in Lent,” was math many former Yankees in our club could imagine. He served about 50 of us those buttery, cheese and potato filled Polish delicacies, what most describe as like ravioles. For many, it was comfort food from childhood.

It’s truly a Collaborative Process

We decided to do a test run the week before the dinner, and besides cooking the kielbasa and slivered onions that would make workers familiar with production tasks and timing, we made 1200 kolacky cookies. It took about 2 1/2 hrs. dedicated effort, turning balls of dough into, smaller, thin squares, dab a blob of jelly in the middle and fold cookies.

Those cookies were THE inspired hit. Only two at a time rationing, unforgettable. We were short of *everything,* bought out the nearby Harris Teeter on supplies, including turkey kielbasa, more onions, and sour cream.

https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/11/06/pierogis-as-content-collaboration-success-model/ I’ve used this as ‘thought leadership’ several times. From first presentation of pierogi possibility to counting the dollars that went with massive group pride in the successful operation, it was four months total. The speed of ‘best practices’ collaboration between remote workers involved in any project today hits a ‘reach out and touch’ standard with Zoom.

When our marketing, essentially just church bulletins as far as Rock Hill, produced wild response, people coming down the stairs at 5:01, we started ringing the register at all levels. Customer satisfaction? Highest rating every time.

Like the Oyster Roast (October) and what had been a 34-year tradition of selling Christmas trees starting after Thanksgiving, we’re not doing pierogies this year, and didn’t last year, because really good crowds are not how we break COVID-19’s grip on being together.

Fogg & minions= collaboration

Job Two Counts Big

That means, at the most basic level of collaboration, masking up as an act together for a common goal. Call it best practices overall, IMHO, Pandemic is Job One.

Job Two is putting some economic levers back into full play, and WFH (work from home), the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into a creative flow, has proven that connectivity and productivity can maintain high standards.

Naysayers might point to ‘job encroachment syndrome’ or something similar, because widely diffused sources don’t always slot easily with time on task vs. ‘dark hours.’ For every ‘The Intern,’ where a go-go executive learns the human cost of constantly being ON regarding business, you’ll find dozens who have found a rhythm they can live with.

Perhaps not including those who swapped drive time with at home schooling concerns, or might have to consider paycheck alterations – If we’re ALL tele-commuting, sending contributions to a central point, able to SEE the results in real time, should there be a location differential?

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

Boost to best practices was time well invested for Week Two of COVID-19 “in place”

20200318_124259
Brother Mike was originally going to be at home on two-week rotation – now kitchen is his office.

The premise of “picking against homeys” question on my landing page, with a Final Four date in April for CDTalent Enterprises to write 1,200 word Leadership Thought blogs for two readers, has been extended. If you still want to leave a comment, feel free.

As a mostly remote worker, and someone who does a number of physical, outdoor activities solo, this world-event virus hasn’t changed that level of lifestyle, nor my operational effectiveness on a contract basis. Personally and professionally, there are still any number of effective projects to go forward with. Case in point:

During Week Two of “staying in place,” I edited a 73,000 word previously self-published book onto the wattpad application over six days, and adding pictures! I pushed my favorite project, CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent into a much better orbit.

What would jumping awareness of your corporate being 500% mean for your “operation?”

Work at home, THAT’S legit “Deal with it” bone

Saying it didn’t affect my active lifestyle or professional effectiveness, which has been primarily an electronic vs. site specific operation for several years, there’s still no doubt that COVID-19 is the overriding topic of the times. (Mulvaney who? but yes, deal with it.)

While often quoting Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) about how much energy we spend on worrying about things we have no control over, I’m believing that doing what you can, worrying can’t be 24/7.

I’ve done the plan on wash, wipe down, minimal contact-no crowd events, have food in the house, gas is like a buck-eighty, but the whole country is about to be in semi-deep freeze. Speaking for myself, I’m informed and still worried. That stock market screaming in the background, I don’t have a dog in that reallllly serious fight to worry about.

Please, I have toilet paper, but those front line medical people need protective gear. Things do not work out well if there’s less personnel.

I’m generally considered very fit, a Boomer who decided to keep on right side of Nature with eating and exercise. Might not get to show that off at 45th reunion, scheduled for October, but it also means being in upper age group most effected by virus.

I’ve relied on ACA for two major events – bicycling accident, knee replacement – and am beyond satisfied with the health care I’ve received. Part Two, yes, I’m worried about whether this bringing down the curve will help as much as necessary.

Doesn’t it sound like any kind of success when all sports leagues, the NCAAs, NASCAR, (eventually) the Olympics, *CHURCHES* in Charlotte, the buckle on the Bible Belt, two of the most populous states, have said “stay put,” and have the political will to do what’s best ASAP?

How many people KNOW Cuomo is doing a helluva job, or that Trump won’t allow that Dr. Fauci to say he was wrong too many times, even when Trump spreads mis-information in the most dangerous ways. World pictures show famous places with nobody in sight – so we’re maybe doing something right?

Yeah, I know, and then there’s Spring Break. That the Spanish Flu was primarily spread by all the soldiers coming back from WWI is a fact, and another is that a LOT less concern for social distancing on the beaches by millions of relatively young, is going to be equally dramatic in terms of the communities they return to.

First shot at tracking

One company tracked the location of cell phones in use from ONE beach during that period, and how those blips redistributed across most of the East was enlightening. Somewhere along the lines, you’re always taking a chance. Early scourges for my generation were herpes and AIDS, and certain behaviors mattered. Right now, almost nothing does. Not apocalyptic, but LOTS to think about, right?

Will that invalidate the safety factor I tried for by staying close to home for over three weeks, or how much longer beyond 6-8 weeks? Puts a dent in the idea for sure. A certain poll shows 81% to 8% NO WAY people go back to work “just because.”

Back to the idea of The ONE Thing

Recognizing that I accomplished the rejuvenation of a major project, elevating ‘Cards’ from bargain bin status to a platform with a terrific array of potential outlets – links with publishers, movies! – is still only two-thirds of an actual achievement. Admitting the look and feel of the online product surpasses even having first 60 copies in hand a while ago, is easy though.

Its also important to me, because the days after I put everything right on that site as a “creative,” the What’s Next? marketing persona took over. A number of options have been uncovered, one of which requires having a second 50,000 word book completed on the site. Long-form informational blogging and time on creative all put Writing back in prime slots of my schedule.

Which is an essential part of ONE Things – While you do an array of tasks in pursuit of the overall plan, your effort is on the result, not just movement. Putting minimal spin on the idea of “in place,” sending request for proposals information is part of the remote worker process, and time on task (creative) moves the overall project as well.

I don’t actually need to get out of the house for food, and I just picked up another video interview. Cap’n America slugging it out with Iron Man, “I can do this all day”? Might have to.

There’s been an immediate, dramatic change in these United States. We’re going to find out about having flattened any curves pretty soon, and no, not everyone is going to make it safely to “the end of this.” Realistically, the Spanish Flu was even more deadly when it came back around the winter of 1918-19.

But, just in case you haven’t got anything great to read socked away, come on back here, or check out that link. For now, my ONE Thing can be good for both of us.

   
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704)502-9947

Content Analytics – Site measurables, behavior, politics, environmental activism

20200204_135445

I’ll admit being a little late to the party about website analytics. How measuring what matters – traffic sources, interaction with content (ie. Clicks) signups, purchases, ROI, demographics (age), by channel (YouTube) searches, and the grail of TIME ON PAGE – and how customers use your site and what can be adjusted to increase impact are righteous nuggets.

The time-honored concept this follows is “You have to inspect what you expect,” and that includes surveys, checking yourself against other sites and traffic analysis, KEYWORDS,   website analytics, website terminology, tools, and RANKING.

If you’re not paying attention, or got wrapped up in the necessary creative efforts for business and doing RFPs without actually money-tizing your blogging, take credit for production, that always counts. 

GOP political events in D.C. showing a refusal to entertain actual facts aside, accepting those Google Analytics now is because you should know what you’re looking for in professional blog analytics. 

  • Predictive – Is using statistics and modeling to determine future performance based on current data. After Iowa unscrambles itself from an informational snafu, there will be extrapolating and predicting on the numbers au nauseum. Through Tuesday evening, the (62%) numbers looked like Mayor Pete slightly ahead of Sanders, Klobachar with 13% of the delegates.
  • Behavioral analytics – Geared toward providing insight into actions of humans. The Senate “trial” was brutally bad right off the rip. Activism has been re-engaged. 
  • Site Analytics – to make conclusions about information. What changes can- will move my rank onto Pg.3? What words are peers using in their being selected? 
  • Algorithms – Are a set of instructions for solving problems or accomplishing a task, like assembling the physical elements of ‘dinner for six mac n’ cheese’ recipes. Computer trading relies on algorithms to buy/sell at a pace humans couldn’t process. Users set the parameters and events go to resolution, with desired functional output, when securities meet specified “this AND this AND this…” criteria.

Engagement and what people do NEXT is the #1 measurable.

Reworking my site’s top fifty keywords, upping a click factor or checking what the using public thinks of my professional offerings is more productive in terms of time and effort than tuning in to DJT’s blather. Didn’t watch his or Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ads either.

While this was actually a short – only seven weeks – process from impeachment charge to today’s window on US process, with “four more years” political crowing during State of the Union event, it’s doubtful Trump will have any awareness of having dodged a well laid-out bullet of impeachable facts. Like fixing the environment, any next times will be tougher to deal with.

“Don’t confuse progress with results” is a reminder from my real estate days, and if you’ve signed on as “Blue No Matter Who,” then just keep working the process. Admitting to a measure of interest about “Mayor Pete’s” numbers in Iowa will only require – well,  they’ll be in New Hampshire, and Sanders just became the rhetorical 500 lb. gorilla, so we’ll see what Pete’s got for game.

Thanks for visual of how Iowa caucuses work, Katie

The analytics of how the Iowa caucuses worked was a journalistic gem done by MSNBC’s Katie Tur. She dove deep and enthusiastically with the people sitting courtside in candidate corral areas, showed candidate areas with on-screen balloons, explained ‘not viable’ (less than 15%) and moving to another group, a process that proved problematic in what was supposed to be a three-stage operation of moves. 

Knowing things didn’t work right, owning up to it and keeping the bright lights on the situation, how can there be anything less important, when data security is on everyone not named (insert GOP name) list re: upcoming electoral processes? Had a long time to make sure? Yep, yesterday’s news now. Today isn’t ‘Groundhog Day.’

NOTHING indicates this extended hoo-hah was due to hacking, just a newer, incredibly never stress-tested process. There was-is a paper trail, the results will be accurate, that’s the word from the guy at the mike, repeated again and again. This system was trying to improve over the caucus in 2016, when data from Bernie-Clinton split  49.6% to 49.4%. This time it went seven candidates deep.

Working it slower-right will mean looking hard at what clunked so badly. Fixing gaps and examining alternatives is what legitimately comes from post-event review, and like site reviews, the answers may not always be warm-fuzzies. Yeah, physical site-ing (cinder block basements) could’ve caused trouble, yeah the ‘Pubs will slap that “disorganized, just like…” thing around.

Whatever Dems might’ve put up with for three years, taking lumps your people brought on themselves definitely beats not having any, or just not regular, ‘circular firing squads’ thus far.

Duke Energy rate hike, environmental factor involved witnesses

20200126_145228

 

Using optical analytics between two events as something measurable and that matters, let’s consider the difference between “the fix is in, with full facial slaps for the Constitution” Senate white-wash, and a simpler, very American event many remember from earlier days – Civil protest against a monopoly regarding environmental badness and corporate economics. 

After going to an environmental meeting led by Sanders people on Sunday, Thursday involved going to a well-attended hearing about a proposed rate hike for Duke Energy and $8 billion in coal ash cleanup costs vs. THEM paying. There was more than a whiff of environmental activism in the air, and just like the first time around, lots of AMERICANS remember fighting for “better” and a fundamental right that might require even more effort this time, because the clock is ticking.  

Why is Sanders favored so heavily by first time voters? He’s got a long term streak of consistency about caring for the world they’re going to get handed. The analytics say they’re the biggest bulge in the snake now, but there were silver foxes aplenty at the Duke hearing, people swearing in about truth in testimony, about the public not getting tagged for previous bad management decisions by Duke being data to pay attention to. 

It seemed inevitable, when those Stoneman-Douglas kids amped a large chunk of America two years ago, to say the demographics of what’s likely a two-issue group – guns and the environment – which still hasn’t been seriously counted, may be announcing itself in Iowa. 

The Senate ‘trial’ chose not to pay attention to massive data about public support for witnesses – safe_image

79% of anything is a HUGE slice of plurality and common cause

in an impeachment trial. Both public knowledge and recognition of some particularly troubling FACTS should have gotten additional comment on. 

Duke rate protestors handled their public duty 

“Think global, act local” isn’t just about recycling, it IS the Bigger Picture

They did it three minutes at a time, as often as not with documentation, filling all the bench space in a room on the 5th floor of the County Courthouse, with cops at the downstairs entrances, a metal scanner, four or five TV vehicles, and directions to the correct room from those polite cops. 

People got there at 6:00 to sign in. I stayed until after 8:30, watching them make their thoughts 100% known in open court, hand on the Bible about the environment and that $8 billion in cleanup Duke Energy should be paying for, not regular people. 

The coal ash situation is big-time costly and un-legal, and people kept testifying after I left. That outside of Washington  we’re *talking* about genuinely BAD events, with a more desirable outcome, it made me feel things should STILL work a certain way in America. 

The audience waved strips of green paper, forty or fifty giving a good shake of approval for certain thoughts expressed  

There was a white-haired woman with a doctorate in Ecology, several had red armbands saying “Extinction Rebellion”; a long-haired and bearded (just a fact) deep-thinking guy had copies of a multi-page document. A gentleman spoke from a Presbyterian minister’s view, noting the taxes on the 100-year old family farm, and solar being an under-utilized asset by Duke Energy.

You had to pay attention to another gentleman, a past chair of the Sierra Club, who used Dicken’s “Best of times, worst of times” intro, and yes, especially to the one who stated straight up that the specific pipe breakage that caused the whole coal ash situation to lay waste along the Dan River when it failed, had been cited every couple years since 1988.

That, to put an extra fine point on it, is hard core “oppo-research” from people who care, and are willing to plant a flag about it. The behavior analysis looked like 100% against the rate increase, as the commissioners occupied the 10-12 seats in the middle of the area and listened.

“Think global, act local,” this is a situation to physically get involved with, especially when it’s a right here effective option. You can’t think one meeting with a five person panel of Sanders people and voting to ban plastic straws constitutes commitment. 130,000 tons of poisonous coal ash went into the Dan River-eastern North Carolina in 2014. 

Shining all possible light on this goes to the core of corporate environmental responsibility.

Panthers ugly 2019 ends with questions on broken D, head coach, Olsen, Cam

20180806_093910
There won’t be any pilgrimages to Wofford in 2020, but the fans will still be faithful.

Here in “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” its quite possible that more than a couple fans put some time into praying that Christian McCaffrey didn’t get hurt, especially during the eight loss spiral that ended in a soggy 42-10 whipping by the Saints at BOA Stadium.

Color commentators often opine that defensive backs best assets are speed and having a short memory about negative plays, and if a belated Christmas or Hanukkah gift could be given out to end the year, may Charlotte be so blessed memory-wise.

There was a whole lot of ugly going on after Kyle Allen started throwing INTs and the defense showed they couldn’t stop anyone, and not replaying it all is legitimate. Yes, it was smile-worthy that McCaffrey became only the third player in NFL history to post 1,000 yards-plus rushing and receiving, and Moore seems to have arrived as a premier receiver in only his second year ranked 9th, with 87 catches, 1,175 yards and four TDs.

As a two-time Coach of the Year, Ron Rivera will probably find another job in the NFL (Redskins?), although except for the 15-1 regular season the Panthers posted in their 2015 Super Bowl season, he wouldn’t be the franchise’s career leader in victories at 76-63-1.

Rivera arrived the same year as Cam Newton, and defensive bulwark Luke Kuechly became an instant star at middle linebacker the next year, but good luck to him working any instant magic for the 3-13 ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder.

Do NOT expect many of the Panthers coaching staff to remain in Charlotte. While owner David Tepper gave Rivera an above average amount of rope during a second straight year of defensive under-achieving, he’s not going to let that become the sort of malaise that infects Detroit, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. How Cam Newton’s status looks after a bad shoulder (2018) and foot (missed all but first two games of 2019) injuries is an especially big question for fans this winter, and Allen’s turnover woes (16 INTs, 13 fumbles) don’t come across as the answer in the QB arena.

Is it really the thought that counts this time of year?

20191225_105530-1

Having given a brother several bags of mulch and some pea gravel – along with a promise to render his front garden area more presentable – and the roof of his house being done just before Christmas, the analogy of the back yard being a mess *right now* is a legitimate one for the Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, although the 470 (29.4 ppg) points they surrendered was ahead of only the Dolphins (494, 30.9 ppg). The 143.5 average they were gouged for on the ground beat only Cleveland (144.7), Washington, and Cincinnati’s (2-14) bottom of the list 148.9. That made their 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air look comparatively lofty, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

While that only proves numbers aren’t always the whole story, especially in a pass-happy league, the Panthers were pushed around plenty, with runners consistently picking up necessary first down yardage. McCaffrey was third in rushing with 1,387 yards and 15 TDs (287 carries) plus 1,005 receiving (4 TDs); Derrick Henry (TN) won the rushing title with 1,540 (16 TDs, 303 carries).

Although many fans, especially in the Carolinas, would consider C-MC’s efforts worthy of MVP consideration, his exploits the second half of the year were almost a curiosity to the rest of the country, though his 116 receptions and productivity were crucial to fantasy owners. Nobody doubted he gave his best effort every week, even when defenses were often stacked to stop his contributions along the way.

Mr. Tepper isn’t Yoda, but fix things he must

The Panthers boss man not only put his considerable $$$ where his mouth is while buying the Panthers at the beginning of 2018, he’s also added an indoor practice facility and a major league soccer franchise ($325 million), while targeting a rejuvenation of the former Eastland Mall area off Central Avenue with a practice facility and team offices for the soccer franchise. That goes beyond good thoughts, but fixing a great many lagging factors before their 26th season is uppermost on Panthers fans minds.

Recently released lesser performers like Gruden (Redskins), Kitchens (Browns), Shurmer (NYG) and the like will probably not be of interest to Tepper as a head coach, but former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy’s success makes him a possibility, along with a list of high profile college coaches. McCarthy apparently also wanted the GM role when he was considered for the Browns job, but Marty Hurney has done a good job on that front.

While the Panthers have always had a reputation for promoting from within, two years of negatives will probably call for new, pedigreed blood.

Whether a “defensive minded” head coach will get the call – based on the last two years of getting undressed regularly – as a deciding factor is iffy, although a strong defensive coordinator to replace Eric Washington is a 99% certainty. Sticking with the 3-4 or going back to the 4-3 is not the #1 question right now, with a small thanks for not being as pitiful on the pass rush as last year.

College coaches don’t have a great track record in the pros, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks being an obvious exception, and Chip Kelly, who nearly wrecked the Eagles before Doug Pederson took the reins and led them to a Super Bowl win, being the more normal result.

 2020 will be turn the page time

Charlotte was thrilled when its first professional sports franchise, the Hornets, came to town because it proved the city was major league. They bought PSLs (personal seating licenses) to build the football stadium when they gained an NFL franchise in 1993, the first time that route was utilized in the sports world, and gladly (??) chipped in major tax dollars to help refurbish it a couple years ago.

Charlotte now has about every pro sport covered, with the Knights (baseball), Checkers (AHL champs in 2018 season), Hornets, and Panthers. There’s also the historic enthusiasm for the college programs, which now includes the UNCC 49ers (7-6) after the first trip to a bowl game and taking their lumps as a newbie D-1 entrant for five years. The Tobacco Road hoops schools, Wake Forest, South Carolina’s Gamecocks, and of course, Clemson football, all have a dedicated following.

Keep wearing your Olsen, Newton, Kuechly, and McCaffrey jerseys proudly, even if Olsen decides he’s had enough after 2019. Cleveland (6-10) made only marginal progress in two years with Baker Mayfield despite a lot of talking, but count on Mr. Tepper not taking a back seat to anyone on getting results. He’s not Santa Claus, but he’ll deliver sooner than that merry old gent.

And if you want to keep working the beads for McCaffrey’s good health, that’s not a problem either.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Thoughts for Panthers 2019 are a mixed bag for ‘fruitcake’ 5-9

Would Christian McCaffrey tell you, “Honestly, this ugly sweater is going right to the bottom of any drawer I can find space,” if you’d gifted him so? Doubtful, but there’s no reason to believe he’s doing anything less than giving each game his best effort. As a team, there’s also no reason to believe otherwise, even if the defense was sliced and diced by Seattle, dropping the Panthers to 5-9.

Fruitcake season? Just because you hear someone say “It’s not that bad” doesn’t mean you want any more of it. (Gonna have to use that one again…)

Everyone will point to McCaffrey as a bright point in a sub-par season, but holy moley! DJ Moore has 86 catches for 1,174 (4 TD) in his second year. Nobody is “happy” with six straight losses, and yes, eyes goes naturally to Kyle Allen’s 15 INTs (and 3,027) yards as a replacement for Cam Newton after two games .

It wouldn’t be any glaring sign of giving up if 3rd round pick Will Grier got a chance at QB the last two games.

Its pretty certain the Panthers have had a look at Allen after twelve games. Rookie name of Gardner Minshaw II did fine in Jax’ville, its not like they’re clearing the bench to give everyone a couple plays to consider over the winter, but a time when Panther fans will hear about LOTS of changes.

KEY PLAYERS

Doesn’t everyone have a favorite nephew, whose exploits you like to remind others about? McCaffrey is obviously as productive as anyone you can think of, and if he gets 186 yards receiving the next two games, “The Legend-Weapon that is Cee Mac” will be firmly anchored.

Like the kid who demands Santa’s “sled” in the commercial, Dad saying, “He was pretty good this year,” is very legitimate. C-Mac needs those 186 yards to hit 1,000/1,000 level, so I hope that item gets wrapped up real nice and arrives, FedEx or whatever. You’ve heard only two guys have done that, so expect some serious effort to deny him.

Speaking of favorites, congratulations to Drew Brees, a GOAT of GOATS. *That* is a team needing one LESS maximum negative a play in the clutch at some point, but they’ll play an extra inspirational bit harder for that/Drew’s championship this year. Topper on the tree stuff.

Most would agree the O-line has done its bit. Despite constant churn at positions with injuries, McCaffrey doesn’t get all those yards himself. Allen does hold onto the ball at times, so while the line has given up quite a few sacks, eliminating throwing errors (one hopes), although his mistakes, including fumbles, have clearly hurt offensive production.

Curtis Samuel got some different looks in the Seattle game, and using him as a runner like they do with Moore is always intriguing, because he’s a bolt coming at defenders. If he continues to learn how to evade, he could become a devastating slot receiver. Whether Ian Thomas is able to take the tight end job after an Olsen retirement is open to question.

Joey Slye has made seven 50-yard plus field goals this year, but he also missed some kicks that cost games. Overall, do you return cheap gifts and maybe stick with a higher priced version, like a $17 million kicker? Ahhhh! Something has gotten into the egg nog…

The Newton question is the big package hidden in the closet. He may have everyone’s good thoughts for recovery, the question is whether his injury and style – as a passer, all he has is a fastball – and price tag work for 2020.

20190910_114439
Panther fans won’t be sure what they’re getting for 2020, but ‘D’ will need to look less undressed.

The Turner offense certainly put certain players (Moore, McCaffrey) on a very strong path, just like it was designed to, and with a relative newbie at the controls to boot. Newton was +10 pts. over his career passing percentage last year before the shoulder really crimped his production, is he really-really going to be “okay” (you know the commercial) when games count again?

If someone doesn’t pay for Allen to attend some serious camp committed to cutting down his turnovers (13 fumbles), its because he’s getting that proverbial hunk of coal on the way out.

Yes, there needs to be something small but appreciable in the “Running back, besides Christian M.” under the tree for Panther fans to rest assured he won’t be toast in two more years.

DEFENSE WAS LIT UP LIKE CHRISTMAS TREE

If Mr. Tepper keeps Eric Washington as Defensive Coordinator after the way the front was repeatedly gouged for yardage all year, it would be a massive surprise. While the sack total is back up to historical levels, and Kuechly is #3 in the league with 131 tackles (17 against Seattle), Chris Carson went for 133 yards and 2 TDs last week.

Stats: The Panthers have given up 386 points (27.6 ppg) thus far, ahead of only Miami20181223_220242 (29.6 ppg). Pitiful Cincinnati (325, 23.2) was #22: Cleveland and Indy were middle of the pack (311 pts/22.2 ppg); New England (157, 11.2 ppg leads the league).

In 2018, the Panthers started giving up 100 yard rushers regularly, and it hasn’t stopped. It was suggested that opposing QBs didn’t mind throwing against their secondary either, and an improved rush didn’t lessen effectiveness going long. Whether the 3-4 alignment or standard 4-3 is better will require examining the potential of 2nd, 3rd year players like Brian Burns and Marquis Haynes.

Eric Reed was every bit the hitter they wanted at safety and run support, but a lot of people (not just Falcons, Saints; Jax had a receiver get 2-60 yard gains out of 383 total v. Panthers) seemed to be running free far too often. Give Dante Jackson credit for “make up speed” and no lack of confidence, but even when he gets there, people are still making catches. With expectations that he will blossom into the A-1 cover guy Panthers obviously need in 2020, lets hope the Big Boy pants under the tree fit right, or he acquires ‘sticky’ vs. anything figgy by next season.

Shaq Thompson is the speed linebacker many expected him to be with more playing time, but Dontari Poe doesn’t appear to  be a run stopper by any $9 million definition, and I didn’t hear Butler’s name often, that probably can’t stand either. Mario Addison might be trade bait after another decline in sacks.

While Fewell got the nod for interim coach, as the coach of secondary, he might not be around for New Years either.

If some Panther stockings are still hung by the chimney with care after New Year’s, look for when “Bonus $$ for on roster – (X date)” about decision time. James Bradbury’s stocking has something in it, hopefully a situation he can share with Ross Cockrell, who had a quietly good year after a broken leg kept him out all of 2018. Most probably its just a thank you for keeping things respectable with most receivers.

Nobody wants to see Greg Olsen ride off into the sunset (with or without a Man of Year award), it will be up to him and family to decide whether 2019 was enough.

Philosophically and realistically speaking, its going to be an uncomfortable winter for Panther fans. Mr. Tepper has big plans for his soccer franchise, but his NFL franchise will need considerable tending too.

 

“Real Writers” still best option, AI or 1 million chimps on computers creativity aside

david-statue
Artificial intelligence and computers can do amazing things based on previous analysis, but can they imagine a perfect David without that?

After being fed a trillion-gazillion bytes of previous human blood, sweat, and tears involved in artwork or literature, Artificial Intelligence is becoming/has begun to be judged capable of original production.  Professionally speaking, that sounds more reasonable than a million (or 10 million?) chimpanzees on keyboards knocking out even a couple verses of Bill Shakespeare-worthy prose by accident.

At the current time, I’m a way better writing alternative.

Without going deeply into whether its a good idea or not, the AI future has been coming almost 70 years,  and the chimps haven’t produced anything noteworthy.  Having read on LinkedIn about AI “knowing” how to make hiring decisions though, that’s a belief I can’t get on board with.

Having a “presence” – something that might push a magic button for a potential employer of my talents – and result in a tah dah! moment HAS to be better, because its worked that way before. Many sites still don’t recognize MSOffice includes Word, or journalism as somehow lacking “media and communications.”

Case in point, the recently concluded series SUITS.

Could the Zen of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross coming together on the basis of – well, a busted drug deal – and Mike’s statistical memory out-dueling Harvey’s ego on trivia happen with AI? I think not.

Far above the vast area between accidental genius and synthesized, analytical material becoming heart-breaking romance, discovering the answer to someone’s pain about any number of factors is what INTERVIEWING is about, and where writers of all stripes wear the sales hat.

Sports writing is easier than CBD content creation

Of course there are the numbers, the stats, the win-loss conclusion and opinions of the result, but sports have their own voice, and quotes are usually the most compelling part. If we have or haven’t seen the event, can you appreciate how a journalist presents it, accurately and colorfully?

That’s part of what interviewing does for “client voice.” Putting them together, with the proliferation of websites and blogs that require on-going production, is what long-form informational blogging has become.  Although not as direct as words from a winning coach, corporate voice is THE voice.

From high school journalism on, the need to set the hook with readers in the first paragraph was considered paramount. Now its the click value of the headline, because people scan vs. read.

Relative to value, while Charlotte pays above the national rates (as reported by Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale), its often a case of job title-category being a determinant.

Copy writers at $26.38/hr, content writers,  and writers generally are close to $50k (Payscale says $47k is 10% above national avg., Glassdoor pegs avg. @ $55k), while content creation, including editors and social media types, are in the middle-upper teens per hour. Indeed puts these North Carolina rates at 15% below national averages.

Obviously there are ranges.  ‘Freelancers’ is a relative term ($22.46/hr., Payscale), tutors average $23/hr. (I usually bill at $30) and technical writers lead the overall pack at $32/hour. While descriptions for all have terms in common (white papers, blogs, SEO), writers seem to involve more interfacing with other creatives. Content creation is often  list-cicles or amalgamated research and rehashing as a group effort, with the focus on Google positioning.

*Everyone* wants copy/blogs/thought leadership that “meets and exceeds customer expectations.”

Technical Writing

“Thought Leadership” style has become a strong part of long-form informational blogging, and contrasting two previous projects with a recent sketchy client description highlights the importance of interviewing.

According to a Thumbtack lead, the client had an ESL (English Second Language) situation, and to his credit, knew he needed some expertise to make a business proposal sound right.

In hearing the project was “between 2,000-10,000 words” represented an awful lot of territory to offer overall pricing. Informing the client my blogs are often 1200-1500 words, so 10,000 was a lot, is a concrete example of both parties knowing what a project entails. Whether this business plan was going to include enough budget for technical writing was also a consideration.

jensenprocedOn the other hand, writing procedures for Parts Ordering and Returns was for “guys in the pits” using industrial laundry equipment (driers, folders, belted delivery systems, timing), not front office people. The primary point was well-defined, especially how plucking a part off a machine and reading the number was actually the third best option when ordering.

Two pages of specific information only took 945 words, and fact it included addressing issue of returns, so extra junk didn’t clog up the back dock area, was gravy.

Interviews as sales calls

Because client-facing verbal understanding is at the core of all successful work interactions, my mantra is that the Q&A to be most effective is always about determining those factors most important to clients, not an interrogation. Good information makes for better decisions.

During several other career stages, interviews were more accurately sales calls, where I was providing the information aspect, and how other people reacted was a measurable outcome.  “Interviewing” with the lawyer of someone whose property had a billboard I represented was another slice of interpretation – most would consider that “negotiation” though.

In scholastic fundraising, there was essentially 40 minutes to build rapport, present information and possibilities, (hopefully) get the green lights and signature that meant putting it on a calendar.  Most interviews focused on “fixing” a sponsor’s group problem in tough economic times.

That (fix some pain) remains the central theme for all kind of ‘gigs’ now, and Writers understand that every RFP (request for proposal) type of content we send should  be intended as a statement of what we bring to the table.

Without denigrating ‘foreign competition’ on the content front – because getting ideas across in writing is not bound by location or time zones – language differences when I’m just trying to make a point with outsourced service operations are multiplied in complexity when clarifying a corporate tone or voice.

ESL clients require extra attention, and grammatically and professionally, it still seems like some corporate material has been put through a Google translator called “English” that comes off as stilted in “American.” That might be where AI can makes inroads.