John Carter – Movie Review

The Saturday the movie John Carter opened, I went to the 3D matinee version with my friend Scott because, well, we each really had nothing else to do. I went into this pretty much blind, not knowing anything about the storyline except it involved someone from the United States who, in the 1800’s, somehow ended up on Mars; that’s it. I also knew it was written by the same guy who wrote Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I haven’t seen many Tarzan movies and I never saw the TV show either, but I did have this one question; why didn’t Tarzan have a beard? lol

The basic premise of the movie is that a man named John Carter is a prospector who also has a gruesome family past he’s running away from. After somehow getting himself into and out of a mess between some cavalry morons and an Indian tribe (yeah, I know, someone’s going to call me on not using “Native American”, but if I won’t use “African-American” and I’m also part Cherokee…) and, with the commanding officer in tow after he’d been shot, escapes to a cave where he encounters an alien with something glowing in his hands and is immediately transported to this vast desert, which he later learns is Mars. Because of gravity differences he is stronger than the norm and has leaping ability beyond comprehension, and thus becomes the hoped for savior for two different groups of Martians, one hoping he’ll save them from the great white ape (sheesh!), the other hoping he’ll save them from annihilation.

The star of this movie is Taylor Kitsch, whom I’ve never heard of, but that’s his picture above. His co-star is Lynn Collins, and she’s just stunning, and in this movie she’s not always wearing a lot, which my buddy Sire would love. Turns out I’d seen her in X-Men: Wolverine as his love interest in the movie, though I couldn’t remember that while I was watching it.

For what it’s worth this movie was a lot of fun to watch. Not having any preconceived notions of what was to be expected based on the books, I thought it was visually stunning to see, very funny, aliens that looked like what I was hoping for (I mean, green 4-armed Martians; very cool) and some beautiful landscapes and skyscapes that showed its $300 million plus budget. We laughed a lot and the audience made those group sounds at all the right places, and to me that’s what this kind of movie is for. It won’t win any Academy Awards except maybe in some technical design category, but based on the makeup of the people who judge for the Oscar, it’s probably not happening.

Critics have beaten it up for being uneven. Just how “even” is a movie like this supposed to be? It’s received a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which pretty much means you either like it or you don’t, obviously. I’ll just say that it was much better than the previews led me to believe it’d be, because I wasn’t going based off what I’d seen. But I’m glad I went and if you have a sense of humor and love visuals you’ll enjoy this movie as well. And if you’d like to see another review of the same movie go see what Karen of Blazing Minds had to say.

Can’t Fool Yourself When Not Taking Care Of Yourself

My wife is out of town again, since Thursday night. Not that she has a lot to do with how I try to take care of myself but if you’re like me, you kind of relish those times when you feel a bit more free to do things that maybe you wouldn’t do on a regular basis.

My thing is food. I don’t always have the best dietary habits in the world but I’m not bad. I don’t eat often enough, so I’ve been told by a counselor, but over the past few weeks I’ve been eating better food I have to admit. I’ve been eating many stir frys, with spinach and chicken the main ingredients in each. My wife taught me how to do this and it makes at least a couple of meals. I hate vegetables in general, but I’ve always had this fondness for spinach, thanks to Popeye. lol

But she’s gone, and thus, over the last couple of days I’ve pretty much thrown out good eating habits. I’m still not eating all that many meals, but what I’m eating… well, I’m kind of enjoying myself. Let’s see, what have I had…

* Burger King double whopper, McDonald’s big fries

* 8oz Filet Mignon (see picture above; not bad actually) with 2 baked potatoes (they messed up my order & gave me a free potato)

* 3 Kit Kat Bars

* 4 Nutty Bar’s (still have one left)

* 2 servings (different times) of quasi pasta primavera (I bought it elsewhere, it had mushrooms & other veggies I won’t eat so I took most of those out) that had oil in it that I couldn’t taste so I added my own alfredo sauce (yummy)

* 10oz steamed shrimp (love shrimp)

* a bag of chips with a tub of onion dip (2 sittings)

* 1/3rd of a cake (small) and a large scoop of ice cream

I feel great… and horrible! I should probably have said I felt great when eating this stuff and horrible a short time afterwards. I love hamburger and especially double beef whoppers, but shouldn’t have had the fries with it; way too much food the way I eat these days and it overloaded me. I should have brought home that second baked potato but it was nice and warm and they brought me lots of whipped butter, and that kicked my behind later on. The Kit Kats and Nutty Bar’s… yeah, I’m ashamed of that, but I loved it while I was eating it (I still think I’ve lost a Kit Kat somewhere around this room).

The pasta primavera was a bad move because I’m diabetic and greatly affected by certain carbs, one of which is pasta, and that both made me exhausted and drove my glucose up; not that the sweet stuff didn’t help. The chips I had were low salt, which used to be okay but since I started eating no salt potato chips it just seemed too salty for me, but I ate it anyway, drinking water; that still fills you up because salt makes you retain water. The ice cream and cake… I don’t usually buy ice cream to eat with my cake but in my mind cutting the cake into 3rds (I usually just cut it in half) justified in my mind that I was being good; oy!

The only thing I ate that a dietician would be happy about? That would be the shrimp, which I eat with ketchup, which she might not be as happy with. Man, I love boiled shrimp, but that stuff is expensive, too expensive to eat consistently. I also bought salmon along with it but that’s gone up drastically in price as well.

nutty bar

So here I am on a Sunday morning, glucose higher than it should be (seems I’ve also forgotten to take all my medication when I’m supposed to; ugh), thinking about going for a walk but also thinking about eating; that’s a shame since I haven’t eaten yet I’ve been up 3 hours.

Here’s the thing. We may think we’re getting away with something when we go off on our own and eat and do things that we know we probably shouldn’t do but we’re not. Our bodies talk to us and make us realize later on that we over-exceeded our limits. Yesterday it was St. Patrick’s Day, which means a lot of people lost their minds and drank way too much (I don’t drink). I was watching Twitter all day and some of the local people were tweeting, or at least trying to tweet; it was a mess. They had fun, but I wonder how many of them felt bad this morning, or even late last night.

I could have been a lot worse. I certainly had some major plans for what I was going to do that I talked myself out of. I know I’m going to have some Chinese food at least one of these days, but other than that, once I’ve finished off the cake and ice cream and remaining Nutty Bar… I’m going to be good.

Well, not counting the fudge that a friend of mine is bringing over; hey, it’s fudge! 😉

Real Marketing – Phone Calling

I thought I’d start off by talking about picking up the phone and making marketing calls. I’ll admit up front that I hate this part and I don’t think I’m all that good at it. However, in the long run I’m probably not as bad as I think I am, since I don’t stumble over my message, and though I don’t do tons of it I have done it before now.

Basically, before you make phone calls you have to have a few things lined up, if possible. The first step is to have two scripts to use. One is what you want to say if you have to leave a message. The other is what you want to say if you actually get to talk to a decision maker. If you get a secretary you pretty much use your phone message script; at least that’s what I do. The difference in the two doesn’t have to be drastic, but you want to make sure that when you’re leaving a message you leave your name and phone number, something you won’t always get to do when talking to someone on the phone.

The second step requires a little bit more work. You should try to find out the name of the person you’re calling before you start making calls. That’s a big part of my ritual. In health care, I know the person that makes the decision most of the time is either the chief financial officer or the vice president of finance. For other businesses I contact regarding SEO or social media projects, I look to speak to the owner. This little bit of preparation can help you in many ways, especially if you reach a secretary who’s been told to immediately eliminate anyone who doesn’t ask for a specific name. Actually, it’s how I eliminate people who send me requests to guest post on my finance blog, since it’s stated clearly in my guest post policy over there.

After that you start your calls and prepare for the worst. Yeah, I know, every sales and phone guru says go into every call with the expectation that you’re going to get them to agree with everything you have to say but I don’t buy that. Be upbeat, project confidence on the phone, but don’t kid yourself. On average, based on what I’ve read, it’s expected that you might get one contact out of every 100 calls, and actually get someone to purchase from you maybe by the 8th time you talk to them; ouch.

What have my last two weeks been like? Surprisingly not all that bad. No, I didn’t get a single legitimate bite, but I did have two people ask me to send them more information. I only had 2 people who were a bit rude, and I maybe got to talk to 20% of the people I called, much higher than I expected.

The one disappointment was a major one, and I’m going to talk about it. This is someone I’ve actually talked to before, twice. I’d also sent her literature on what I do and I sent her email when she told me to send her an email about a potential project. I hadn’t heard anything so I call her up and actually get her. She then tells me that they’d just had the project performed 2 weeks earlier and she tells me the name of the company. I look them up and they’re out of Florida. I’m in New York, less than 2 hours away, and I didn’t even get an opportunity to put in a bid for it? Yes, I was angry; obviously still am a little bit. Part of me is thinking that I should have gone over her head and tried to talk to the CEO, someone I’ve actually met in the past and it’s probable that he might remember me as well, but that’s always kind of a gutsy move. Another part of me is thinking that I’ll be removing her from my contact list because, well, that’s just not right.

That of course leads to something else that’s discouraging, but I might as well bring it up. For many things, especially services, it’s hard to get people to perceive you as adequate or qualified unless you’re from somewhere else. Most of the projects I’ve done, either in health care or online, have been for clients that don’t live within even 3 hours of where I live. I’ve been to NYC, Westchester County, New Jersey, Connecticut, Dallas, North Dakota, Alabama… a few other places. I’ve done online work for people in these area and let’s add Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Nebraska, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania… and more. Locally; only one health care project, a six-week thing back in 2005 and it happens they knew me because I’d worked there 10 years earlier; whew! And for web stuff… okay, more than one, but very few; strange.

Anyway, back to the phones. A strategy I just picked up from someone is that I should start with a list of 20 and should consistently call that list until I’ve gotten a “no” or some other commitment from them before moving on to the next group. Since I’ve made about 40 calls that might not be a bad strategy, since a couple of these folks I did call a second time. Hey, what do I have to lose, right?

Do you have a phone strategy you use? Any recommendations or comments on any of this, including the one that’s got me so irked?

Black Web Friday – 3/16/12

Welcome to week #9 of Black Web Friday, my once a week homage to websites owned by black companies, individuals, etc. If you want to know why I do this you can check out the very first Black Web Friday post.

Black Web Friday

This week I learned that one of the people I highlighted on my 2/24/12 post, Wayne Sutton, was the recipient of an award for being one of the top ten Blacks in Technology for 2011, awarded to him at the SXSW conference; way to go Wayne! It’s been a pretty good 12 months for Wayne as he was also featured last summer in a story by CNN on black people in technology and how they’re often overlooked. Seems my quest isn’t just my quest after all. 🙂

With that said let’s get on with the proceedings. The first person I want to highlight today is a lady named Abiola Abrams, whose website is called The Passionista Playbook. She talks about fashion, celebrities, relationships, and basically living your life passionately so that you can enjoy it more. And man, does she look like she’s enjoying life, and in a big way! It’s mainly geared towards women and yet some of what she puts out is interesting for men as well. It’s a Disqus blog, which means y’all will never see me commenting there, but it’s nice anyway.

Talk about another really cool blog, this one written by Thaddeus Howze, A Matter of Scale talks about blacks in science fiction, of all things, and science fiction in general. He’s also a big time fiction writer and an IT specialist and I’m surprised that my boys Mitch Allen and John Garrett haven’t found him yet. But I figure now that I’ve mentioned him they will and they’ll enjoy it a lot. I loved his article titled Is It Important To Show People Of Color In Science Fiction a bunch; of course my response would be “yes”. It’s a blog, which means I can comment, but if I forget to go back & look at it I’d never know if he responded to me or not.

The website Your Black World is another black news site that offers… well, let’s just say that it’s a little different from other news sites I’ve highlighted to this point. Most of the stories you’ll read here aren’t in regular news and the commentary doesn’t always support black people just because they’re black, which is spot on and definitely a fairer way to report and comment on the news. Frankly I think it’s very entertaining and thought provoking and I hope you check it out.

That’s it for today. If you visit any of these folks, don’t forget to tell them they got some love!

What Is Real Marketing?

Yesterday I said it was time to start talking about real marketing. You might ask “if you haven’t been doing real marketing, then just what are we talking about?” Good question; let’s get right into it.

telephone marketing
via Flickr

Real marketing is what real businesses do. It’s not just throwing up a website, optimizing it as good as you can, collecting email addresses and bombing people with sales messages, trying to get them to buy products that, for the most part, you didn’t create on your own and don’t have anything else to offer. I’m not dismissing that as a way to make money by the way, but it’s not marketing. It can lead up to marketing, but it’s not real marketing.

Real marketing is uncomfortable; there, I said it. Real marketing is picking up the phone and trying to get someone on the phone to even talk to you about the services or products you have to offer. Real marketing is writing marketing letters and sending them out to prospects, hoping that the people who receive them will open them up and even remember who you are 5 minutes later. Real marketing is going to networking events and trying to talk to people who could care less about you and what you have to offer because they’re trying to market themselves.

But that’s not all that real marketing is. Real marketing is also working the contacts you’ve met on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a business networking site after all. Real marketing is making connections with some of the people you meet on Twitter where they might have businesses that can benefit from what you have to offer, or at least might be able to make a connection for you.

These are the things that I need to start doing as much as anything I’ve done in the past. These are things I’m betting a lot of you probably need to start doing as well. To this end, last week I started working on one of the main real marketing things I absolutely hate doing, yet know I need to get it down, or at least get more comfortable with it.

That would be making phone calls. I hate the phone. I’ve hated the phone for years. I used to love the phone back in the days before we had things like robo-calling, telemarketing, and computers. Oh yeah, I remember the days when it cost people money to make phone calls so you didn’t have marketing by phone. Telemarketing; didn’t happen. Computers… nice diversion, that’s for sure. Once I had other things to do, I stopped enjoying the phone like I had before.

Also, marketing by phone can feel emasculating, like you don’t have any control at all. Even if your sales message is sound, you might not get the opportunity to use it. You may get voice mail; you might get blocked by a secretary. Or you might get someone who doesn’t want to be bothered by your sales call; who can’t identify with that?

Still, it has to be done by some of us. I know I need to work my way through it if I want to succeed. What’s success for me? It’s having the ability to buy whatever I want, when I want, where I want. It’s never having to worry about paying my bills again. I think that’s about it. I don’t want to be a millionaire; I want to be a ten-millionaire!

So, we do what it takes to get there. We all have to be willing to go that extra mile, that next step, to reach our dreams. Yes, I believe in the laws of attraction, but they don’t say to sit around doing nothing and have things come your way.

I ask you; what challenges do you have, if any, in making phone calls to hawk your wares or services? How do you hope to get beyond it, or if you’ve gotten beyond it, how did you do it?