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

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

AI or 1 million chimps on computers creativity aside, ‘Real Writers’ still the best option

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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.

Content collaboration as a successful business model – Pierogi Dinner Study

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Men on a mission: 1200 kolacky cookies.

In the overall success of the internet, the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into the creative flow ranks high, especially for those who are participating in the booming sector called ‘Remote work.’

Cell phones, laptops, Skype, time-task tracking software, of course, texting, are the norm and eminently useful. Communication should never be lacking with real world clients. 

Time zones? Pssshhh! California is always going to be three hours difference.  You signed up for that when you responded to the online Looking For.

Bringing resources together

With content creation, there’s always “The SEO People” who drill managers in must-have markers in getting material created. There’s always a director, a corporate or personal ‘voice’ is determined, ideation becomes a product through a process of submissions from sources tasked to websites, blogging, and media-click counts.

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.

Pierogi Dinner Study

Anyway, the Pierogi Dinner Study. A community group I work with does several primarily eating events a year that maximizes our manpower. We also have an annual Christmas Tree Sale that starts the day after Thanksgiving. There are about 85-90 active members, across wide age range, with most having a significant amount of professional expertise of one kind or another.

Last year, a member originally from Cleveland (Stephen Fogg), suggested a pierogi dinner as a late-January replacement for a less-well attended spaghetti dinner. His pitch was, “Every church in Cleveland does pierogi dinners in Lent, same with Pennsylvania, even New York. It’s relatively cheap, great family event, week before Super Bowl. There are plenty of non-Southerners around who know the deal with pierogis.”

Without any track history in Charlotte, NC on this particular Polish culinary item – a shredded cheese and potato-filled ravioli is the common description – the original goal was 450 paying customers. On the bottom line, it was an exceptional success; people started coming down the steps and into the cafeteria at 5:01, and it was 2 1/2 hours slamming time for our workers.

We served about 800, and not an unhappy camper in the lot. The planned dancing area wound up taking ten more tables instead. We have established a terrific foothold in a dynamic niche market. Our biggest problem might be handling any Year Two increase, a subject for another day perhaps.

The time logistic

The time logistic, from original idea presentation to a client (the club officers) to killer event as a scheduled, documented success was four months. The analogy of how its similar, and possibly even easier, to gain consensus with remote workers on any  creative projects is where I’m going. It’s the software, baby!

The ideation was transmitted to the necessary work group months in advance of the post-Christmas event by an obvious product evaluation: He made the dinner, including slivered sauteed onions, kielbasa, and sauerkraut.  BIG success, everyone buys into the project, its recognized as comfort food from many of their early years.

Sound like where you’d want a project to be on the enthusiasm meter? Right, and the KPI people will be tracking enthusiasm.

The simplest idea became a central force in the success. The project director’s knowledge and previous expertise (“every church in Cleveland”) was an A-1 asset, the group history in scaling up became an ‘all you can eat’ invitation in area church bulletins, and as noted, huge success on that communication front.

The product itself was exceptional, including 1200 kolacky (jelly filled-folded) cookies. The notion of “too many chefs” in a creative kitchen as a negative still translates, you can only follow one strategy. It’s still a fact, however many workers it takes, the product has to be there when scheduled-necessary.

The empirical A/B, more-most effective way

There was a test-firing of the process a week prior to the event dinner attended by about 15, factors from time necessary for outside cookers to grilling and adding trimmings were nailed down. Making the cookie dough took four countertop mixers. Our expertise used the empirical A/B  more-most effective way to get desired outcomes, pragmatic without techie-ness.

The steering committee understood how kitchen and service roles needed to be handled, including the facility prep, launch (5:01) and overall capabilities of volunteers, and the addition of secondary support people (middle/high school students doing service hours) ensured downstream reaction and course correction were highly linked.

Our community projects are considered “good duty” service hours by students, fun and fulfilling, a good rep to have.

Its easy to see challenges like garbage removal from tables in any production directly in front of you. The point is that elements of a project are all within a couple clicks and keystrokes of any content coordinating person.

Today’s online collaboration possibilities simplify a project director’s ability to see any and all associated materials, to know what they want changed, and connect with specific vendors about content.

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Few things are more satisfying than a project done well, with all the parts contributing as expected. Pierogis were hard core “content creation.”

That one, crucial, must-have piece that moves projects forward

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I might have thought I had problems with a camera, but Mike was the boss with heat all around him before Oyster Roast.

Before packing up the laptop  and sending it to Memphis over a camera not functioning – and recognizing I’m sometimes behind the curve tech-wise – there was recently a quantity of angst over getting a specific video off my phone and attached to a Google document that needed to be sent for a proposal.

After performing the operation three times myself – then tapping Librarian #1’s understanding for forty minutes – I’d expected a $99 visit with the Microsoft people would move things from “Does not recognize camera” error message to productive asset again. Being able to move forward because I stayed on the problem until it was resolved, that’s what I call my Matt Damon in “The Martian” moments.

Sweating further delay regarding that proposal made the relief of getting some necessary help a moment worth sharing with others. Anyone who has been on group calls where a certain person – with the element that everyone is gathered to learn about – is late, knows both the feelings of frustration and relief.

Your patience factor definitely counts

Trust me, people who have dealt with someone who gets frantic about a computer snafu and wants to make it *their* problem too, probably won’t be gracious by a third time around. That two different library workers tried their darnedest, and eventually found an effective option, is also a (small) credit to submerging my often squeaky wheel style.

Journalistically and as a content creator, my expectation is that equipment should do what its supposed to – I require a keyboard and access to information. Getting many, many things in-out of electronic media daily, even as a realtor, the message was always, “Make sure your technology works.” The least gratifying thing I hear when enterprising a solution is, “Well, that should’ve worked.”

While “should’ve worked” is an affirmation that my being stymied was perhaps appropriate, it still involves a dammit! because its a sticking point unhandled.

Searching for help works best without extra attitude. Bitching about the inconvenience to you isn’t going to motivate others to provide answers or assistance. Getting to the point is like using your Elevator Speech, or that first paragraph in any article – give potential helpers a reason to keep listening, or maybe point you in a right-er direction.

After a steady extra examination with Librarian #2, the BINGO! moment came with his suggestion to utilize YouTube to download the phone, and copy the link from that into my document instead of Google Pictures/video.

After three previous attempts, bam! that simple option-change was The Right Piece, with the focus on getting a crucial detail handled a very real result. No telling how things roll now that I’ll have to use library for a couple weeks because I don’t have a backup at home, but I’m not scared they’ll consider me a dummy for asking why my machine doesn’t work.

FYI – Backed up and packed up

Sending 99% of everything a potential client asks for with position descriptions might not even be enough, so paying attention to details counts. That video I wanted so bad? It was :58 because the gig description said “No longer than 1:00 video.”

Reviewing the proposal, and recognizing some notes for a social media element hadn’t been turned into specific post samples. While stating the importance of getting that one, crucial piece handled, its always a good idea to check the details one last time.

While this unit goes into the box right after this blog, its contents have been backed up. Tomorrow I’ll go back to that refurbished library in SouthPark and thank Ed again.

Oh yeah, saying Thanks! is still a simple courtesy that makes helpers happy. My tutoring in reading and writing keeps a positive attitude about sharing expertise to carry forward, so there’s no reason not to send that outward when you’ve gotten the necessary results.

Recruiter read ‘tech writing’ experience as intended, but wrong on client needs

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I recently had three very different chances to interface with recruiters regarding the same possibility, in this case, for technical writers. While  that’s generically “a club in my bag,” it didn’t get much play until I added a resume on DICE site.

So, Basic point: Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals as freelancer/copywriting resource.

Two people, 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 top of my list consideration, remote options. 

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 nearly 100, and often included marketing and editorial managers. Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search effort.

Another phrase that bears examining is ACHIEVEMENT as part of Administrative/Executive Associate submissions, but I’ll save that for another day.

It’s been proven throughout this pandemic, when working remotely quickly became a negotiable factor. There are frequent online opportunities to contribute from a laptop – good content can be created any time or place.

I’ve held certain opinions about recruiters, but the constancy of online searching  leads to the continued  opinion about whether current “talent gaps” could be mitigated if finders of people for positions did a better job of interviewing.

Admitting first contact appointment-getters – with fairly heavy, difficult to understand accents – threw me a little is true. Repeatedly asking callers to slow down, and yes, thinking scams often flourish with confusion, being on guard is a legitimate state. We’re all aware that “others” are constantly phishing for data.

I admit being less nice to him, but fixing my attitude about different groups of people contacting me out of the blue with “I saw your resume…” came through just in time. 

Key in recruiters getting what they need

One caller was totally from left field, because he was trying to work with an online resume from 2015 (Careerbuilder). Trying to steer him to more current information like LinkedIn seemed futile. Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which  represented nothing  I was trying to accomplish now – just, no. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t a reality.

Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, left me far far less confident about success, compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years. Maybe he was describing a totally different job, which it turns out he was, compared to Recruiter #3.  I found out a month later #2 was actually right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level regarding previous technical expertise.

There’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way design, info for multiple layers of starting-from-scratch technically sound, subject matter expertise  writing vs. something closer to compilation and interpretation of content and “editorial values,” and again, I’m not a coder. Continue reading “Recruiter read ‘tech writing’ experience as intended, but wrong on client needs”

What do Andy Neumann, Trump, you, and Sweltering Charlotteans Have in Common?

Year One, the year Panthers went to the Super Bowl. We'd waited out an ice storm before starting our string of successful oyster roasts, The HedgeHog concept: making $$$ is fine, the community event rocks, and the box burning is an official ending.
Year One, the year Panthers went to the Super Bowl. We’d waited out an ice storm before starting what’s become a string of successful oyster roasts with 2500 oysters – this year its 7000. The HedgeHog concept: Making $$$ is fine, the community event rocks, and the box burning is an official ending.

Answer: Most of those didn’t blow up a $47 billion IPO valuation, get tagged with “nonsensical” about real estate economics, or get kicked to the ”CEO No-longer” curb. Yeah, it sounds a bit snarky, but the razz-berries started early on WeWorks IPO.

The old expression – just ask Biden -“Three on a match” was a tribute to South African Boer (Dutch) farmers accuracy as snipers at the beginning of the last century. It might be elementally bad luck for the last one when English soldiers tried lighting three cigarettes to conserve scarce matches. Neumann walked into that analogy last week, covered in Silly String.

Investors have been memorably slapped silly with Theranos (diabetic testing, aloof and combative executive) and Lyft (yet to make a profit, plenty of corporate drama) as essentially empty bags, and Neumann’s WeWork’s IPO represented, well, “creative content” way beyond my pay grade. With regular mentions in the press about tequila-fueled days, pot smoking on the corporate jet, self-dealing over a corporate trademark, and then submitting shoddy SEC paperwork – that never offered a timeline for the company to turn a profit – failing economic sniff tests made him a stupendous third, bigly.

Personally, from a series of sweaty 4-on-4s at regular Monday night hoops, through about 35 minutes of shooting in 91 degree Charlotte humidity on Saturday, last week involved a lot of real physical heat. It’s just a fact here, 78 days of 90-plus this year (34 is the average), with expectations for more of the same coming. Sunday it was 96 – so while semi-lazy by only doing a pair of videos for proposals – and ballin’-out with a couple cold ones, watching local Panthers play excellent at all levels again, Slye blasted one 55-yards! – here’s betting it was a qualitatively better day than those other guys had.

Neumann and Trump – the Prez, obviously, with an official House impeachment investigation – is experiencing HEAT at a whooooole ‘nother level.

Neumann, who has burned through many SoftBank BILLIONS with WeWork’s concept of premium office rental space – obviously never read or considered leadership thoughts from Jim Collins iconic management book, ‘GOOD TO GREAT.’ Top three reasons that seems true, in no particular order: (not) Facing the brutal facts (of economics), “(not) Getting the right people (lots of relatives though!) on the bus, in the right places,” and ultimately, not deciding on a HedgeHog Concept to work from.

Before finally taking the HedgeHog Concept – doing one thing particularly well, being the best at it – to be the heart of a leadership thought, the bus analogy held a lot of early consideration in my weekend blog writing. There’s no doubt such references will be used soon though, since who’s on, still in, driving, or under any buses in the next week or so in that other “nonsensical” (political) world is going to be worth watching. “Right this way Mr. Guliani; Yessir Mr. Secretary, that seat is definitely meant for you.”

IT WAS EASY TO SEE, RIGHT NOW, IN BLACK AND WHITE

‘Good to Great’ is only 210 pages long (plus appendixes) and Collins labeling of traits and consistencies that statistically created Greatness are often esoteric – which as a management theory staple, such books rarely flow – always makes it incredibly readable. My CDTalent Enterprises business features content creation and community-level projects, and the Hedgehog definition hits a legitimate chord:

To simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything.

Content creation is way not the same as “sound bite” or Tweets, and right now my tone is set for “Leadership Thought.” Those two video projects last weekend – one involves marketing of the legal community – and Leadership Thought (LT) is an arena where ongoing experience in creating a ‘voice’ counts. Although I’ve done that ghosting route before, it could still be a next challenge for wordsmithing.

A Unifying Concept

HedgeHog-wise, CDTalent Enterprises’ unifying concept includes a half-dozen topics I have specific expertise about (including CBD), and proposals for articles is an easily achieved expansion – it already earned a three hour schedule block on Tuesday. That concept allows for nailing down an 8,000 words (with synopsis) book proposal before Thanksgiving, which I have a running start on.

The difference between not actually wishing someone dead, but being glad about the opportunity to read their obituary, is a Mark Twain-ism worth stealing.

Trump’s week was warmly spotlighted politically by Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday, even if  his blowing off a major environmental session at the UN gained a hairy eyeball look from 16-year old super-activist Greta Thurnberg of Sweden.  He wasn’t the guy *I* would want to take handshake pictures with, and his address at the United Nations wasn’t actually newsworthy.

Really, after announcing an impeachment inquiry at what approximated a national level by Pelosi, and setting real, fast-moving Congressional goals, I still wonder how much of the country ie.- FOXers -would know whether Trump spent time at the UN or played golf.

The Twain theory of obit reading seems in line with postmortem sympathy for a crispy ‘baked’ (nyuk nyuk) Adam Neumann, and Trump’s people are really not looking forward to “some grilling time” after vacation. Having three proposals generate additional interest would still make this coming week ‘hot’ on content as business front, but bet on fact us sweltering Charlotteans are waiting to smell what Congress might be cooking over the next couple weeks.

Hey, that’s a good hook for my Oyster Roast on October 19th!

Content creation, client needs are close to dating – better info turns into ‘righter’ decisions

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Typical selfie in bathroom mirror doesn’t move the needle much.

Certainly, online dating and sending RFP-level material to potential clients is a legitimate analogy. Wanting a good professional or emotional connection, one that satisfies a recognized need, works best when everyone is honestly trying on the information front.

Three specific examples of “finding the other”  involves a high, low, and medium set of informational points, and how it affects the successful matching up of elements desired by both parties.

On the low end would be a personal ad lacking any imagination or effort – one picture (the bathroom selfie), minimal written, or “If you want to know more, ask” slackery. That’s an unsatisfying combination from among hundreds of other possibilities, and its headed for the Out Bin almost as a reflex, right?

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

On a lovely, cool Monday morning, I declare that The Super High end of information is represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one recent company’s Content Marketing position.

A statement of their corporate positioning, an introduction to expectations of a new team member, responsibilities, necessary skill set, personal qualities (hmmm…humility?), and finished up with bullet points about extras in the compensation situation you’d probably want to know about – whew!

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.

The best middle ground is a match that shows up as a 100% as advertised stud or stud-ette.  Great attitude, desired attributes sharp and documented-explained, articulate enough during the meet-greet time over coffee or a beverage raising expectations of possibilities. If all is in tune over introductions, coffee, post-concert or snacks perhaps – its much easier to discuss what Next might look like.

What needs to be done when the bell is rung

Many of us think we’re the middle group professionally, that it’s just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise,  or documented depth of expertise required (Six years? Whaaaat?), but unless its an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.

Uhh-huh.

What would be amazingly naive of the one picture profile to think, is just as unproductive for a content creator candidate to ignore in how to impress that ‘date’ appropriately with clues in a well-written description . 

That Super High end information provider is a remote location possibility vs. office situation, as welcome and positive as a bright smile from across the room in such iffy times. The role responsibilities included a versatile style across several channels (bingo!), engaging with subject matter experts (sales career and all previous freelance writing featured interviewing as a strength), and some esoteric pieces, like “the gumption to wrestle with a problem until a thought-through solution is achieved.”

Immediate, verifiable info regarding  candidate

Meeting my date Saturday provided immediate, verifiable positive intelligence regarding an All That candidate that doesn’t happen often. She 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! also wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.

Having seen the up-close reality of that option, it would be terrific if there was more to discuss in the near future. Hold onto that thought, because a real meeting of people vs. just minds included almost two weeks of texting, and both of us had multiple pictures and profile writing positively affirmed from conversation.  Elementally, the dating system worked, and leaving out that information makes it sound like luck.

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

All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for a content creation person.

 

Following up is *Always* the Most Productive Element to Success

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Having previously opined about how many, many job candidates could become better represented by recruiters if  job search firms explored how certain extra experiences might improve their view about a ‘skills gap’ better, let’s draw attention to “us.”

Specifically, more in line with what candidates see as strengths regarding listings, when a recruiter doesn’t know about that factor at all.

A central point is that candidates should, and BETTER, make all extra efforts to keep themselves proactively involved in job search opportunities. I haven’t heard about any great improvement regarding the 8-Second Rule, the time an average resume gets attention.

Having reworked my LinkedIn profile the last few weeks, I *know* it strongly and specifically highlights my abilities and experiences MUCH better now. It includes about a dozen high quality blogs and content creation examples, and features a more personal 1-1 reading style versus, well, just an electronic resume for many.

I listened to a guy—Tyron Guiliani, an Aussie—on a couple podcasts, and signed up for an hour phone session with him, specifically about creating a more productive site.

FREE is ME! was part of that decision to listen to Tyron as a coach, as was sticking around for three minutes, when the next online session was starting.

While declining to go further with what he described as “high four-figures coaching help” at the end of a terrific sixty minutes phone session, clarifying my expertise with a smooth, conversational, Story of Me on LinkedIn was suitably engraved.

I point everybody at that profile—I’m proud of it being both a good read and accurate in conveying my background. Here I am.

Starting the clock on Success

New Year’s Eve afternoon, right before heading out for a little fire pit action and brewskies in Charlotte’s South End, I clicked Fast Apply to send that good profile for a Content Specialist position. The next day, Happy New Year! for real, there’s an e-mail from a Marketing person, about setting up a time to talk.

Next day, instead of talk, there’s another e-mail from company stating I wasn’t going to be considered going forward. Say what?

Old school still works

Early the next morning,  I did some copy-paste of  their site material and hand-edited it, pointing out perceived flaws. I wrote (IMHO) a fine cover letter with bullet points, and suggestions about certain things I’d circled. Putting those five pages in a manila envelope, I drove it across town, getting to the front doorbell just as the HR person was leaving for lunch.

It’s 12:15, I tell her what the contents are, and that I’m sort of not taking fugedabowdit for a final answer.

I’m asking you this seriously— Do you know what you’re worth when you sit in front of a person with the potential  to determine your paycheck, yea or nay?

At 3:30 there’s an e-mail from the Director of Content—he’s impressed enough by my follow-up to give me an assignment for the weekend: 750-1000 words about a specific topic relating to the CBD industry. I nailed it with 900, plus numerous links.

Two minutes into a phone  interview Wednesday, he says, “We don’t need to do this– are you available tomorrow?” and Thursday, after a period of exchanging views about career experiences to date (he’s a 2014 grad, I had better stories) we got to the money question.

20200211_151948Take it seriously – Yea or nay, Do you know what you’re worth? when you sit in front of a person with the potential to determine your paycheck? Most of my career, probably not, but research shows the average salary for Content Specialist job titles in Charlotte is $56k, still about 6% less than the national average.

I got a job offer that’s going to reflect an economic value for my professional skills, and the reality of a barely two year-old company. That company is about to catch major momentum as a result of Senate bill (S.2667, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018) getting passed before the impasse with Trump’s wall. The company is well-financed, its dead-red on my expectations, and my content creation arena is a decent challenge.

That benefits thing vs. gigging

Oh yeah, and that benefits thing. I’ve enjoyed a physical renaissance since knee replacement and rehab last December-March (God bless the ACA), but there’s no problem having healthcare paid for by an employer.

Straight up, getting the 100% okay on the anniversary check-up of that left knee Tuesday, how it has fared is just soooo damned reassuring. (Yeah, this was a LEFT knee, the grotesque, pre-replacement 2017 version.) 

bad knee pre surg12-18cut

As a life-long athlete, the twelve years I was kind of a gimp has become ONE as a well-preserved sixty-one year old guy with a terrific, year-old knee. I’m immediately cooler, no more skipping across the street so I don’t get run over.

I’ve promised myself about joining a tennis league in 2020.

Fact: January 3rd I hand-delivered a letter to a company regarding a specific Content Creation situation I’d felt strongly enough to originally quick-click as a LinkedIn application just before New Years.

Fact 2: After some back-forth described in that letter, Diligence was rewarded on January 10th. From ground zero to within an acceptable background check of a greatly enhanced, much better compensated professional mission, results came directly from ACTIONS in doing the follow-up, right? Old school still works.

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