Feb 08

Merge has been on a mission for seven months to find great space in downtown Greenville. Know of available cool space? Contact me.

Here’s the adventure so far:

Great space in the West End #1: Space needed $30,000+ of work just to get it white-shelled and ready to move in. The landlord, and I quote, “…haven’t paid anyone anything, and I’m not going to start now.” So little ol’ Merge is going to invest $30,000 in your building so we can merely move in (this didn’t include our upfit)? We’ll pass.

Building #2. A great space in the West End. You’d know the building by name. The landlords were extremely professional and wanted to get the space leased. Problem: Two huge HVAC units that protruded into our space, requiring yelling just to be heard and the units literally shook the windows. Merge hems and haws but passes.

Building #3. 3,400 sq ft. of sure bliss at a great rate. Problem: The Landlord wants only a one-sided deal (fully in his favor of course). As the deal falls apart he says, “Some friends call me old fashion [sic]. Blessings to all.” Note: His space has set empty for 8 months and I find out that several other deals have preceded ours and fallen through as well. Merge walks (or we’re forced to walk).

I’ve been on commercial real estate crash course for the past several months. I’m learning the hard way. It’s not like a normal customer relationship. So far the landlords I’ve dealt with wants their cake and they want to eat it too. I guess that’s why they’re called Land Lords?

Negotiation, as I understand it is a method used to get to a win / win for both parties. Party A wants something and Party B wants their own thing. In proper negotiations, both parties can typically get what they want. Both parties can end up being happy. Scenario 1 and Scenario 3 above, there wasn’t a negotiation. It was “the old fashioned way” of negotiation where somebody wins and somebody loses. “You want what I have, and this is the deal.” Their tactic of negotiation instead was, “my way or the highway.”

When you’re putting a deal together, understand what the other party wants. For building #3, I simply wanted a renewal option (pretty common in commercial leases) and I didn’t want to be responsible for code issues before I moved in (which he required I assume in the lease). This requirement of him is quite abnormal. What I wanted wasn’t out of line. But the landlord never asked what I wanted. He told me what he wanted and said take it or leave it (his idea was he wins, I lose…sucker).

I would have given it to him too, if he would have understood and met my wants. I’m sure he would have been willing to do so if he would have asked. Now where is he? It’s going to take him several more months in the meantime to lease the space (at a minimum). His “old fashion(ed) ways” will cost him about $40K over the past twelve months or so. Ouch.

Merge on the other hand still needs office space. A mere inconvenience at this point. In the meantime, we’re seeking landlords who are interested in a win/win relationship. Any takers?

Feb 07

The web is great for a multitude of reasons. Here are a few of what it stinks at:

  • Greeting Cards. Received several of these this week. Though appreciated, NOT a good substitute for the real thing.
  • Emotionally Charged Emails. If you are questioning whether you should send the email…don’t. Pick up the phone and call.
  • Thank You’s. A well timed Thank You can be very effective. Don’t ruin your chance by sending a Thank You email. Take two minutes and handwrite your thank you. You’ll stand out like no other.

Obviously, the theme here is personable communication. The web is not great for that. It still can’t beat the “personal touch.” As we get more and more indoctrinated in the web, you’ll stand out if you interact in the ol’ fashioned way. Where companies rely on e-newsletters, send a paper one. While people will shoot off a thank you email, send a handwritten note on your stationary. Instead of telling an employee via email how they’re not measuring up, buy them a coffee and have a heart to hear. The web IS great. But not for instances where the personal touch is necessary.

Feb 04

Missed the big show? And by big show, I mean the commercials of the Super Bowl.

Because of the web, not only can you catch them all again, but you can rank them, share them, comment about them and waste hours and hours of your employers’ time.

View the best commercials of the 2008 Super Bowl.

Isn’t the web great?

Feb 02

The future is almost here: I predict there will be a day that our phones are our ‘laptops.’ The scenario:

You will have a docking station with keyboard and monitor at home and at the office. When you are at work, you put your phone in the cradle. Everything-I mean everything, from Application to data reside on your phone. You’ll use the docking station just as you would a desktop computer, to type and view the contents on the monitor. The only difference is, your phone IS the computer. You uncradle the phone and head home.

Later that night, you wanted to work on Photoshop and Outlook. You put your phone in the cradle at home, and you have your entire work environment. No hauling around laptops. Those are so 2009. Going on a trip? So is your computer, because it’s also your cell phone.

Sounds cool? You can basically do it with an Application called MojoPac. This allows you to replicate your desktop on your iPod (or USB device), plug your iPod into another computer, and your PC’s desktop-applications and all-are there for you to work on. The only thing you need is a spare PC at your current location. So if you’re going to be visiting the folks, visiting a friend or going to a client’s office, you don’t need your laptop. Take your iPod or iPhone with MojoPac on it and you’re good to go-as long as they have a PC there of course.

Isn’t the technology great?

More about MojoPac from Lifehacker.

Feb 02

This morning I ran the Tybee Island half marathon. Beautiful day. As I was on mile 3 or 4, I thought to myself, “I wonder how this could apply to web development?”

Believe it or not, on mile 5 -6, I came up with something (you’ve got to keep your mind occupied on something during the race).

So here goes:

Most novices (of which I am one) go out of the gates of a race too quickly. They’re excited, they’re grooving with the energy of the anticipation to start and they may have even have a little adrenaline.

You see where this is going, right? There are companies who decide to embrace the web finally, they get all excited, and shoot out of the gates with the intention of running a well run race. The problem is, they ultimately lose the excitement, focus on business as usual and the web initiative gets the back seat.

The problem in both cases is that they end up petering out. The intention is good, but the execution is counter-intuitive. Yes, the runner entered the race, but didn’t run it like they wanted it. Yes, the company put up a new web site, but it didn’t end up getting the results they were looking for.

Advice for runner and company alike: Know your limits, come out of the gates at a smooth comfortable pace, get someone to run the race with you (accountability and/or a coach will significantly increase your chances of succeeding), and finish the race.

Today I had the chance to execute all three from a runners perspective. It was a smooth start. I was running with my brother, so the thought of ever walking was not acceptable, and low and behold, I finished the race (at a faster pace than if I were doing it alone). May your web project have the same success!