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Dear Arizona – Hello; from Dad

Dear Arizona,

As the time grows closer for you to enter this world, I often think whether or not I will be a good father. I hope I am the man you need and I can live up to the idea I have in my mind of what a father should be. I hold myself up to a high standard and I hope that I live up to the expectations I have set for myself. While I know there is a sediment that most new dads want to live up to the standard their fathers set before them, in this new day and age, I want to exceed that standard and I know I will simply because we are totally different people. Our family hugs, we kiss, we cuddle, and we tell each other often how much we love each other. You are coming into my life and you have no idea how you are about to change my entire world.

I bet you are wondering what this letter is about or even why I am writing it. I have decided to write you something for your entire life. It may be just a note here or there or it might be a full blow letter. Maybe a life lesson or two or the background and history of our family.

So here is my first entry and I just wanted to say hello. Hello my beautiful daughter, this is dad. I am going to be your biggest fan, supporter, and champion you will ever have. You will never wonder if or how much I love you. You are my miracle, my greatest creation and the best thing I have ever done. I will protect you and I will never hurt you. I hope one day you will tell your children how awesome I was/am and as the saying goes, you will definitely be daddy’s girl.

I can’t wait to meet you, to kiss you, hug you, and sing to you every day. Hello Arizona, this is dad, I love you.



Thank You 2015! – A salute to my friends

2015 was the year of video and pictures for me. So I put together a video of all of my random selfies from all of my races. Okay, okay, I know it is close to 11 minutes long…but there are over 200 pictures! I couldn’t leave anyone out!

So enjoy and I hope you made the video! If not, then you need to find me at the next race!

My Name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Has Foursquare Become a Micro Managing Tool for Employers

By: Travis E. Blythe

As long as I have been in sales, one thing has been pretty consistent.  That is the utilization of sales reports for a sales team.  Although companies have different methods of tracking how their sales teams report on sales efforts, the most common way is to have the sales person submit a sales call sheet at the beginning of the week, followed by a subsequent report outlining the success or status of the meetings.  I have also been involved where that method is implemented along with a CRM program.  Most of us know the reason for so much reporting is for accountability.

Accountability, is the single most important part of the sales program.  The need to make sure our sales team is out performing and actually calling on customers or clients is what drives sales managers batty.  If you have ever worked for what we call a “micro manager” then you know exactly what kind of constant communication is needed to prove you are working.  Many micro managers have the need to know where you are every instant of the day for their own piece of mind.  The above outlined system is what I was a part of years ago.  Taking time to match all three reports and make sure the person went where they said they were and not actually goofing off or laying by the pool or on a beach somewhere.  We actually went as far as to follow-up with some of the clients, ask them about the sales person and how everything was going.  We even tried out GPS systems to carry in the car and have a printout at the end of the day where they went.  I know that seems a little radical, but the owner of that particular company felt that if he was working hard to make the company successful, then his employees had to be working just as hard.

Now that location-based apps are becoming more and more popular, how long will it be until employers start utilizing programs like foursquare to keep track of employees?  Making mandatory checks all day long to prove you were where you say you are.  It would be quite hard to falsify that report, unless you have someone checking in for you all day.  I probably just gave programmers everywhere a great new app to develop for sales forces everywhere.  It makes sense, if you are supposed to be somewhere, or you tell your boss you are going to be somewhere, then you actually have to go.  Now that an app like foursquare has the ability to work with numerous phones, the “I don’t have an iPhone” excuse won’t work to well.

Will this be the death of Location based apps or will this make them more popular than ever in the business world?  Stay tuned in and we will see.

Trade Show Marketing 1.1

By: Travis E. Blythe

In an earlier post, I outlined what I thought were the three main steps or stages involved in a trade show conference.  In this section, I am going to talk about the first step.  This is normally called the “Planning Stage”, and hopefully you don’t wait until the last-minute to schedule your conference or trade show.  With that being said, the planning stage is one of the most important stages.  It is here, you create the awareness of your company being in attendance and where people can find you at the conference.

Okay, you signed up to be an exhibitor at the best trade show of the year.  You sold the powers that be, this conference is the “be all to end all” conferences your company needs to be at and needs to have an exhibitor/booth space.  Everyone is usually skeptical (I mean the CEO/President/Owners) because they think they are throwing money away and no one really works a booth or they can’t measure the ROI.  Well, you haven’t met me or my tactics for trade show marketing yet and I can usually always bring home some business.  One of the first items of business is to make sure you post on your website exactly what conferences you plan on attending for the year.  This is important, especially if you have a strong client interaction with your website, some clients may see you going to a particular event they didn’t know about and will thank you.  The second step is to get the attendee list once you pay your money for the exhibit space.

Now that you have the attendee list, item number one is to send out the “Email Blast” to all the attendee’s telling them exactly where they can find you and what prizes you have to offer to get them to stop by.  Make sure you entice with a big-ticket item (something they think they can win) and an awesome give away item (like a cool, hip t-shirt).  Just don’t SPAM the email though, address them individually and don’t let them know you mass emailed it.  There are several programs out there that do this. If not, then send them all separately if you have the resources.  With today’s Social Media taking off the way that it is, you should try to look up all the people you want to target, or all the attendee’s you want business from on Linkedin and Twitter.  Send them invites to connect or follow them.  I would also include in the email ways they can find your company on social media. Engage them to connect with you.

When you have the proper time to plan for the conference, study the schedule and whether you will have time to entertain clients.  Find out what current clients or potential clients are going and set up dinners.  There is nothing worse than to arrive to a conference and have nothing lined up or trying to do it the same day.  Most everyone will have plans and you will end up waiting for everyone to return before you can engage and entertain them.

The next part of the planning stage, which is important is packing up all the materials you will need to be successful.  The number one item is obviously the business card.  Make sure you have all of your company’s literature, a nice 1-page graphic of the prize you are giving away, a bowl for business cards, business card holders, pens, and what I like to call the contact sheet (for those who forget or run out of business cards).  Because I never trusted the other sales reps who attended the trade shows with me to be as responsible as I am, I usually brought all the stuff with me even though some of it is packed inside the booth already.  Somehow the trade show booth fiery always lost or broke something.  Also, don’t forget to have all the “swag” shipped to your conference so you actually have stuff to give away.

One last food for thought is to make sure you have booked your travel.  Scout ahead of time to see if you need transportation from the airport (if flying) or if there is a shuttle to conference site. Show the boss you saved money by booking 2-3 weeks out. Same for the hotels, most conferences offer a conference rate to stay at the hotel where the conference is located or one relatively close.  I understand there maybe cheaper places to stay just down the road, but remember you have to be traveling back and forth sometimes and it can be a pain if you are 5 miles away.  Especially when you are lugging around supplies, laptops or want to change your clothes when the exhibit hall closes for the day.

If you follow these steps, you should be very prepared for your conference or trade show and ready to conquer!

Enjoy your conference and safe travels!

Next up Trade Show Marketing 1.2 – The Show

Things I Think – Thursday 3/18/2010 – SXSW Edition

Nothing says good times like a road trip!  Since Austin, Texas is a mere three-hour and some change drive, the plan was simple, road trip to South by Southwest (SXSW). I have looked forward to this for months, I was not even sure I was going to get to go, then in the 11th hour I got the nod. Since everyone in the industry kept saying how fantastic this event is, my mouth was watering for the experience of SXSW.  It was like nothing else, geeks, techies, directors, actors and musicians all descending on little ‘ole Austin, Texas for nearly two-weeks of good times.  Since I was a SXSW virgin, I was hoping the event would take it easy on me.

So we loaded up the Broscalade pointed the GPS south and mozied on down highway looking for adventure.  Why is it that the first leg of the road trip is always the best? Jamming out to some great tunes and having great conversations, versus just loud music and 20 min naps on the way back.  So we jammed to Rob Base-It Takes Two which was our mantra for the trip (did I just date myself?), drank some coffee and energy drinks all the way down, and arrived ready to rock.

So here is what I think about SXSW. As a whole it is a great concept, there were a bunch of people and cool things happening.  But, I think most of the class sessions were over rated.  It seemed more to me like social media for dummies than anything else.  Although I left some very dumb classes (Zombies, Vampires, & Monsters: Fostering Loyal Genre Communities), I did manage to learn a ton from some of the good ones. One of the more interesting sessions was about Citizen Journalism. I thought a Jerry Springer episode was going on or we were being punked, because the arguments which ensued were comical to say the least.  Are journalist really worried about a blogger like me or citizen journalist taking their job away? I guess so, they were pretty heated, I was waiting for the chair to get busted on someone’s head.  Good Times!

I have a few favorite quotes from the long weekend so I thought I would post them.

  • Hey man you dropped your shank
  • You can never have too much flatware when out in Austin
  • What is it Amateur night? (friends dragging limp body of a friend)
  • It’s kind of like a dating website without the dating
  • I wasn’t that drunk was I? No, except for the part when you fell down
  • We are kind of like Entourage, no I am not Turtle! (and the Not-It’s begin for the “Turtle” designation)
  • Yeah, Brogan didn’t make the list of celebrities to earn the “Name Dropper” badge – Foursquare Dennis Crowley

I got really excited when I saw through my twitter stream the “The Oatmeal” was in town.  I hit him up a couple times and told him I wanted to meet him.  No I am not a crazy stalker guy, I just thought his stuff is really funny and since he is from Seattle, it would be cool to meet him.  Yeah, about that…he dissed me.  Didn’t even get an acknowledgment. Oh well, one day he will be asking to meet me because I am that cool (yeah right), in the meantime, still check out his website The Oatmeal.

Foursquare came/saw/kicked apps! Yes the Foursquare group lead my their Fearless leader and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley brought their own ball, invaded Austin and took on the local favorite Gowalla.  I am sorry Gowalla, but you were TKO’d again this year.  Everywhere you went you heard people checking into this class, creating the line to get into a class or event or how to get this badge and that badge. I ended up with 8 out of 16, may I suggest Mr. Crowley you add a “See the Bats” badge for next year, I couldn’t convince anyone to check them out.  Did I mention that I ran into Mr. Crowley while in line waiting for…ahhh just in line and he is actually a cool guy.  I was asking the secrets of obtaining an elusive badge and he actually told me. I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts on how to make Foursquare better…

I also was able to meet Mr. Mashable himself Pete Cashmore, I even had a cool picture to prove it.  Unfortunately the SXSW Camera monster ate it and I am afraid it will be lost forever.  He actually asked my thoughts on social media and we were conversing until these two chicas (not even very hot) so rudely interrupted for their picture. Can you believe the nerve of them? I mean really, I was talking out of my ass to MASHABLE!!

So, all in all I thought this conference was just…okay, maybe 3 out of 5 beakers.  I think they had too many classes going on at the same time and none of them were ever repeated. So,you basically had to choose and if you picked wrong, then you had to haul ass across the convention center, cross the street to the Hilton, up the escalators 2 floors and get to another session.  At least it felt that way to me.  I never walked so much in my life, me feet still hurt! I think the SXSW producers purposely held the nightly events across town from each other to keep the rickshaw bicycle guys employed. But I am cheap so I walked everywhere.  I met some great people and future leaders of our country (yes I have faith in all of you!) as well as learning about what is to come for 2010…Location, Location, Location.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Trade-Show Marketing 1.0

I recently attended a trade show event and afterwords I had to laugh at the wasted opportunities I felt were left behind.  I was actually getting mad at these vendors at the lack of initiative. I put my card in the bowl of opportunity and was shocked at the lack of follow-up. This prompted me to give my opinion or advice, depending on how you take it.  It seemed to me at least, as I was walking around this particular trade show, the purpose the vendors was to promote the product or service and attract new clients and customers.  What kind of ROI can you expect if you don’t follow-up?  I am no stranger to the trade-show or conference events as I was once labeled the road warrior of conferences.  I have a system in which I feel, if you follow these simple instructions, you will be successful.

This is more than likely going to be a several part series as I don’t want to bore you to death in one long post on what you need to do to develop and nurture your business. So I am going to break them down in to sections and speak about each one. For me when I attend a conference there are several stages which make it successful:

  1. Pre-Conference planning
  2. The Show
  3. The follow up

So you decided to attend a conference or trade-show as a vendor.  What I mean by the term vendor, is that you paid to have a vendor space or booth space.  So you ponied up the money (hopefully you got the early registration in order to save the company a few bucks) and you are ready to pack up the booth or table top display and head out.

As I outlined there are three major steps in planning for your trade show.  The first step can either be one of the most important or least important.  It will depend on who your target audience is.  The show itself is where all the magic happens and where you can be a “sales superstar” and brand yourself and your company.  The final step, I call the follow up is where you make your money.  I will break down all three steps on an individual basis, so stay tuned on how you can become the “Conference Superstar.”

Things I Think Thursday – Valentines Day Edition – 2/11/10

Valentine’s Day, oh joy, my absolute favorite day of the year. NOT!  There is nothing like a made up holiday to get us to spend our money to tell the person in our lives that we actually do care for them.  Shouldn’t we be doing this more than just one day a year?  IF you were expecting a lovey dovey blog about Valentines Day and you were expecting a Kumbaya love fest, well think again.  My cult following would not allow it, they have come to love my honesty and straight forwardness.  Hey has anyone noticed that the Acronym of my blog says TITT? Funny I noticed the week of Valentines.

Pop quiz hot shot, can anyone actually tell me how this day came to be how we know it today? No? Well, I did a little research and here is what I came up with.  There was actually a priest named Valentine and the poor sap happened to cross Emperor Claudius and died in 269 A.D. by having his head cut off. What was his crime you ask? Why, he continued to marry people against the order of Emperor Claudius.  See they had this little festival called the Feast of Lupercalia, where the girls of the villages put their names into a jar and the boys drew the names out and they were then coupled for the duration of the feast.  After he was arrested for still marrying people he was jailed and oddly enough fell in love with the jailer’s daughter.  On the day he died he left her a note and signed it “Love from your Valentine.”  From this moment on, it was believed that people started sending notes and poems to loved ones on February 14th.  There are many versions of this story, but that is the nuts and bolts of it.  Later in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British models. My Oh My how this day has evolved in to this commercial powerhouse revenue maker of a day consisting of cards, candy and flowers.

Here are a few thoughts I have regarding Valentine’s Day.  Let me start with the disclaimer that I am a hopeless romantic who loves everything about old fashioned courting and romance.  I still love the idea of surprising your loved one with something that does show you care and I have been know to go over the top at times.

With that being said, I have serious issues with this “Hallmark Holiday.”  I guess I have to start with the fact that I think it is unfair the guy has to do everything! I mean I can understand the courtship ritual that society has placed as the “norm” consists of the man doing everything, paying for everything, but come on. How nice would it be for the woman for once to plan the valentines day and schedule a trip or pamper the man?

My advice for new couples, is to set the bar low! I heard this phrase last night and I had to incorporate it, because it hit the nail on the head of this point.  If you set a level of expectations to high then you always have the pressure of topping what you did the previous year.  I am the victim of my own advice…sometimes it is hard to keep coming up with a grand idea or plan.  Not only do we risk the fear of not doing enough for our loved one, but failure and humiliation play a huge role on what we are going to scheme.

Here is another reason I don’t like Valentines Day, gentlemen, tell me if you have ever heard this phrase after you planned, plotted, stressed and put together the perfect romantic event only to hear “How many other girls have you done this for, I don’t feel special”  Oh really?! I’m sorry I wanted to pamper you and make you feel like the princess I think you are, and don’t worry that I probably spent more on this day than I did at Christmas. Love you to.

I think if you really love your significant other, you should be giving flowers, candies and cards more than just on the sacred V-Day.  It actually goes a lot farther if you have “just because” days. Yes, I can say that because, I have done all of the “over the top” Valentines Day.  Everything from the rose pedal snowstorm to a dude ranch getaway to the horse draw carriage marriage proposal.  I am here to say, you can scale back and still have the romance involved.

I think roses are OVER RATED (chanted like at a hockey game).  Find out what flower your significant other likes and get her those instead.  Not to mention how much they jack up the prices for them on V-day.

I think it is pretty funny I keep seeing these KY jelly intense and yours-mine commercials promoting HOT bedroom activities.  What do you know, just in time for V-Day!

I think I am going to read my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that came today.  Happy Valentines to me!

My Name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Who’s Rolling the Dice with your Social Media?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and numerous blogs have been written on the topic.  But who is running your Social Media campaigns?  I am not talking about whether or not you hire a company to do it and “who is behind the curtain” or if that matters. My friend, Cynthia Smoot, with Gangway Advertising wrote a perfect blog on that topic a couple weeks ago.

What I really want to know is, if you are a small to medium sized business and you cannot afford to pay someone to sit in your office and run your social media, then how are you getting it done?  My guess is, you know you had to throw your hat in the ring and “get with” the social media craze, but were not too sure how you were going to do it.  So you started up a Twitter account and created a Facebook fan page and then turned it all over to an hourly employee.

At first it was great, you were feeding your employee content on what to send out to the world. Not a bad start, but I am assuming the brains behind everything was the CEO or President of the company who actually dictated what content they wanted out there.  So let me guess, you hit it really hard for about 2-3 weeks and then the “powers that be” stopped providing you content.  They got “too busy” to assist you and you have your own job to do after all and you didn’t have time.

So who is rolling the dice now? Is it the hourly employee? Did you put your faith in that person hoping they had the right sense of mind to get what you were trying to accomplish?  Or did your hourly employee not know what to do and the whole thing just got shelved?

It is kind of like static on the radio when the station fades. You just committed social media suicide. Dead air, what do you think your customers or consumers are saying about you now?  If you thought it doesn’t matter, then I would disagree, I think your brand and company are very important to you and that is why you wanted to use social media anyway, isn’t it?

How can social media suicide be avoided? One step is to develop a strategy. From everything on what your goals and objectives are to the 5 W’s and how.  Develop your 3-6-9-12 month plans at a minimum to start and don’t be afraid to consult someone.  Plenty of companies are just as eager to consult you on how to run your social media as they are to run the show for you.  Here is one company that offers no strings attached!

2009 – Ending with a BANG or a BUST?

By: Travis E. Blythe

The year 2009 will be a year to remember for the ages.  I know I will always remember it.  This year we had our first Black President of the United States, we had one of the biggest economic downturns since the great depression, and social media has captured the marketing space.  Hold please while I send a tweet.  Not only are we ending a year, we are also ending a decade. I think back on the last 10 years and wonder where the time went.  I definitely had some happy times, some sad times and some years that just ran together.

As I reflect on the last decade, I lost some very close people to me, my Grandmother and my best friend. I also had one family pet pass away and another I had to put to sleep due to illness after 11 1/2 years together.  I am not saying all of this to have anyone feel sorry for me or to be sad.  It is true what they say, time does heal; however, all of those people and pets are still missed very much.

I also look back on all of the happy times of the past 10 years.  I met a wonderful, smart, beautiful woman and married her, I have grown closer to my father (still a serious mommas boy though), and my relationship with my brother is getting to the point of where we were like when we were kids.  I have met some wonderful people I consider to be my friends and I have had a opportunity to do some pretty cool things and have some wild adventures.

I was originally thinking I was going to use ten bullet points (one per year) and highlight the best parts of the year and my favorite memories.  Instead, I am going to just tell you about some of the cool adventures I have had and some of the things I remember the most.

I guess I should start out with the early ones, so one of my first memories is of having destiny or the powers that be, move me from Corpus Christi, TX  to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.  I had always wanted to live in Big D, so when a new opportunity came along I did not hesitate.  I also became a Private Investigator that year investigating Insurance Fraud, what a fun job and such a rush!  Over the past 10-years I had the best blind date ever (thanks mom!), I got engaged and married (yes to the same person), I bought my first and second house, bought my first Harley Davidson Motorcycle and BMW 5-series.  I have also been blessed with adopting three great boxer dogs, Tyson, Tanner and Shiner Bock.  My parents celebrated 40 years together (congrats!!!) and I got to travel to Jamaica and Cancun (hey I never went before!) and I took a cruise.

Now I am so thankful for all of the above mentioned things, but some of my favorite memories are of some of the adventures I was able to go on.  I participated in Rolling Thunder in Washington D.C. four times, I went to the Republic of Texas Rally (ROT) three times, I traveled to Fayetteville, AR for the Bikes, Blues, & BBQ rally, and Party in the Pines rally in Tyler, TX (had to mention that one! LOL).  I was also able to ride to the Grande Canyon and back, ride on parts of the original Route 66, stood on the corner in Winslow, AZ (yes feel free to sing), and we rode around the Colorado mountains (with only two near death experiences).  A couple other cool things I was able to do was ride my motorcycle on the Texas Motor Speedway track before the Bombardier 400 race, be a part of the Snowball Express and ride my motorcycle onto the NEW Cowboys Stadium floor.

But wait there is more! Seriously, I am not bragging, or at least I do not mean to.  But some of the cool places I was able to see, were Stone Henge II and the Falkenstein Castle (yes both in Texas).  I saw a meteor crater in Arizona and went to Roswell, NM (yes aliens everywhere!).  I rode in the Ozark’s in Arkansas and the pigtail highway, the Gila National Forest and the Apache National forest on the border of New Mexico and Arizona, the million dollar highway and Estes State park in Colorado.  I saw the Cadillac ranch in Amarillo, Texas, Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, the Badlands and Custer State Park in South Dakota, Devils Tower in Wyoming, and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I also can not forget the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona and Garden of the Gods in Colorado.  One of my favorite places has to be the Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado, the world’s highest suspension bridge at 1053 Ft.  I’ve been to Luckenbach, Texas, too bad Willie and the boys were not there at the time, and I was at the unveiling of the WWII Monument in  Washington D.C. over Memorial Day Weekend.

Wow, what a decade it was. I have to admit I had a ton of fun, I was very lucky I was able to travel across the USA on  my motorcycle.  I saw a ton of interesting places and I can not wait to see what the next ten years bring.  I have my map and the book “Weird Texas” so I am sure I will be all over the place!

As we draw this year to a close, I for one am thankful it is ending.  As great as the beginning of this decade was, the end on the other hand to me at least, it was a pretty crappy 2009.  I was a casualty of the unemployment bug and I hope our economy gets a jump start in 2010.  If you had a great 2009 then you can say you are ending with a BANG; however, I do feel that most of use are ending with a BUST and we are very grateful it is over and ready to move on to bigger and better times.

Every year we all make our New Years resolutions and every year it always seem so to be the exact same thing for the most of us.  Lose weight, eat right, quite smoking, and exercise more seem to be a few of the favorites.  Why is it those same resolutions are made every year.  What a great time to be a gym membership sales person, for January always sees a spike in new memberships.  I have of course the same resolution I have had for the past few years, yes it is to get back in shape and work out more.  I always have a great plan of action, yet executing it is always the problem.

So my resolution for 2010 I have decided to just set goals for myself that are more realistic. I plan to take better care of myself, compete in a mini-triathlon (yes a mini), be in shape for this years flag football league, love more and worry less.  I plan to continue to re-connect with my friends from High School, College and previous places of residence, for as I found out in 2009, life is too short.

So make your New Year’s resolutions. Kiss your beloved as the clock ticks to midnight. Leave 2009 behind and look forward to 2010, not only a new year but a new decade. And hopefully it will be a Happy New Year for you all.