Sunday, February 24, 2019

Top 10 Movies of 2018

It's been five years since I‘ve been able to sit down and write my quick spoiler-free reviews. But with my pregnant wife at home on bedrest waiting for our second son’s arrival, and our Netflix and Hulu binge-lists shortening rapidly, we’ve had some time to catch up on movies we missed in theaters. As per usual, it’s tough for me to compare the best, cinematic “see-it” masterpieces to my favorite, rewatchable, “buy-it” Blu-rays and digital downloads... but here’s my take on the top films of the year:
  1. A Star is Born: This musical tear-jerker also features the year’s top performances by Bradley Cooper as a drunken-rockstar-turned-romantic and Lady Gaga’s strong-yet-down-to-earth-(at least compared to the typical Gaga)-waitress turned viral sensation. Hands down the “best” film of the year no matter if you’re a renowned film critic, MoviePass-holding cinephile, or once-a-year renter.
  2. A Quiet Place: Shh... I've got a secret to tell you. It's not only the best horror movie of the year but also worthy of a spot in my top 20 “favorite” films of all-time! John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s real-life love pours over into this terrifying fictional world where you can’t make a noise, or else....
  3. Free Solo: Watching professional rock climber Alex Honnold attempt the first free solo (aka rope-less) climb of the infamous 3,200ft vertical wall nicknamed El Cap at Yosemite National Park was the most intense film let alone documentary I’ve seen since “The Act of Killing.”
  4. Black Panther: Don’t get me wrong, Black Panther was a great, important, fun film — probably the best Marvel movie since the original Iron Man — and it may actually win the Oscar for Best Picture thanks to the Academy Awards' preferential voting system... but, it wasn’t the best picture of the year.
  5. Widows: Despite the powerhouse cast and 91% reviews on RottenTomatoes, this cops-and-robbers movie failed to steal the hearts of America or make bank at the box office. But only marketing can be to blame because everything about this twisty film was shocking and amazing.
  6. Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse: A surprising unformulaic entry into the Marvel universe and hands-down the best animated movie of the year worthy of one of the ten possible Oscar nominations for Best Picture.
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody: If you weren’t a huge Queen fan already you will be after falling in love with Rami Malek’s performance (in every sense of the word) as Freddie Mercury. I’m not sure if lip-syncing or actually singing makes him a better “actor” but either way this film rocks.
  8. Searching: One of the most unique suspense films you’ll ever see. Follow a desperate father (an atypically dramatic role played by John Cho) through the lens of a webcam and Skype-like screenshares as he searches online for his 16-year-old daughter.
  9. First Man: Like Titanic, it doesn’t matter if you think you know how the Neil Armstrong moon-landing ends because you haven’t seen the drama played out by the six-time Academy Award®-winning LaLaLand duo of director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling.
  10. Creed 2: Even you’ve never seen Creed 1 (which you should) or any of the Rocky films (which you should, especially the first three), you won’t be able to throw in your towel of tears during the final round of the riveting fight between the sons of Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago.

    There were A LOT of great films this year. It was hard to leave the wonderful documentary “RBG” about notorious U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg out of my top ten. And the same goes for Green Book’s powerful story inspired by the unique real-life 1960’s friendship between a world-class African-American pianist and his Italian-American driver. But the line has to be drawn somewhere. Here are the honorable mentions to round out my top 25 movies of the year:
  11. RBG
  12. Green Book
  13. Molly’s Game
  14. Chappaquidick
  15. Mission Impossible: Fallout
  16. Avengers: Infinity War
  17. Halloween
  18. Incredibles 2
  19. Bumblebee
  20. Roma
  21. Hereditary
  22. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  23. Leave No Trace
  24. The Favourite
  25. Roma
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments:

My top 100 favorite films

Top 100 Favorite Films

What makes a movie worthy of a spot on your top ten list?

If you've read my top 100 best movies list you know my definition of "best" differs from "favorite". But how do you define "favorite"?

I am sure your list is different than mine, and my list is different than his, and his list is different from hers. The fact of the matter is...

No one agrees on the best movies of all time. No one's favorite movies are the same. No one's genre preferences are the same. And no one's favorite actors are the same. So no one's list is the same.

"List-worthy" films are combination of best-films and favorite-films specific to each person, personality and personal experiences. The best movies of all time are difficult to separate from your favorite movies of all time. You favorite movies are the ones you can't turn the channel from when you catch it halfway through on TBS. While your best movies list is simply compiled of the most critically acclaimed films you've actually seen.

But honestly, most people don't agree with critics. Most people haven't even seen this year's Academy Award nominees. Most people just go see what their cineholic friend suggested, or what their co-workers were talking about around the water cooler. Most people fall for the hype. But often times, box office numbers even lie.

A movie isn't "list-worthy" just because there's a trailer on TV every hour, it's starring 5 Oscar winners, plus Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, itís directed by Martin Scorsese and was produced by Steven Spielberg. And just because a critic gives it "two thumbs up" and calls it "the best movie this decade" doesn't guarantee it a spot on your list either.

"List-worthy" movies are a mix of everything. You can't make your own list without including opinions and rebuttals to someone else's list. I don't know if you consider me a legit critic, but Richard Roeper is, and I'm sure your list is different than his, his list is different from hers, and her list is different from mine:
  1. Star Wars: Episode V - Empire Strikes Back 
  2. Inception 
  3. The Godfather 
  4. Fight Club 
  5. The Dark Knight 
  6. Dumb and Dumber 
  7. Pulp Fiction 
  8. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut 
  9. Braveheart 
  10. Silence of the Lambs 
  11. The Notebook 
  12. The Incredibles
  13. Great Expectations 
  14. Saving Private Ryan 
  15. Last of the Mohicans 
  16. Monty Python and the Holy Grail 
  17. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope 
  18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  19. A Quiet Place
  20. Arrival
  21. The Wolf of Wall Street
  22. Finding Nemo 
  23. Fool's Gold 
  24. Inglorious Basterds 
  25. Shawshank Redemption 
  26. Heat 
  27. The Social Network 
  28. The Lego Movie
  29. Usual Suspects 
  30. Gladiator 
  31. Predator 
  32. Garden State 
  33. Pacific Rim
  34. Toy Story 3 
  35. Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade 
  36. Memento 
  37. Interstellar
  38. Guardians of the Galaxy
  39. The Avengers 
  40. Shrek 
  41. Goodfellas 
  42. Apocalypse Now Redux 
  43. Se7en 
  44. Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi 
  45. The Ring 
  46. Good Will Hunting 
  47. Serendipity 
  48. Lord of the Rings 3 - The Return of the King 
  49. The Matrix 
  50. Drive
  51. Schindler's List 
  52. The Beach 
  53. American History X 
  54. The Bourne Ultimatum 
  55. Watchmen 
  56. Monsters Inc. 
  57. A Perfect Getaway 
  58. Batman Begins 
  59. Pretty Woman 
  60. Forrest Gump 
  61. Paranormal Activity 
  62. Back to the Future 1 
  63. The Exorcist 
  64. Kill Bill: Volume 1 
  65. Black Swan 
  66. Into the Blue 
  67. Groundhog Day 
  68. Get Out
  69. Creed
  70. Snatch 
  71. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark 
  72. The Big Lebowski 
  73. Scarface 
  74. The Sixth Sense 
  75. Big Fish 
  76. Reservoir Dogs 
  77. Mothman Prophecies 
  78. Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl 
  79. 300 
  80. X-Men: First Class 
  81. Rocky 
  82. Avatar 
  83. Die Hard 
  84. American Beauty 
  85. Star Trek (2009) 
  86. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 
  87. Aliens 
  88. Lord of the Rings 1 - The Fellowship of the Ring 
  89. Jaws 
  90. Up 
  91. Kill Bill: Volume 2 
  92. Troy 
  93. The Hangover 
  94. Stand By Me 
  95. Titanic 
  96. The Departed 
  97. Bourne Identity 
  98. I Am Legend 
  99. Back to the Future 2 
  100. Requiem for a Dream 

Honorable mentions:
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Sin City
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Amadeus
  • Donnie Darko 
  • Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers 
  • Into the Wild 
  • Ratatouille 
  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall 
  • Wall-E 
  • The Lion King 
  • Fargo
  • Wizard of Oz 
  • Casino 
  • Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom 
  • Twelve Monkeys 
  • The Shining 
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest 
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
  • Mystic River 
  • E.T. 
  • Toy Story 
  • There Will Be Blood 
  • Bladerunner 
  • V for Vendetta 

Last updated: 2/24/2019

Top 100 best films according to a movie-watching millennial

Top 100 Best Movies

If you've read my top 100 favorite movies list you know my definition of a favorite, or "list-worthy" film. The best films are different.
The best films, according to me, a movie-watching millennial, are those films post-1980 that a person born post 1975 could remember seeing in theaters. And they're not only the films they "could" remember (studies say humans remember major events around age 5), they are the films they "do" remember.
These are the films that left a lasting memory on me -- this is my cinefile of the best films of my time:
  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  3. Schindler's List (1993)
  4. Inception (2010)
  5. The Dark Knight (2008)
  6. Star Wars: Episode V - Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
  8. Fight Club (1999)
  9. The Incredibles (2004)
  10. Snatch (2000)
  11. Goodfellas (1990)
  12. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  13. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  14. Gravity (2013)
  15. The Matrix (1999)
  16. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  17. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  18. Se7en (1995)
  19. The Social Network (2010)
  20. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  21. Braveheart (1995)
  22. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (2002)
  23. Memento (2000)
  24. Forrest Gump (1994)
  25. Back to the Future (1985)
  26. Toy Story 3 (2010)
  27. Arrival (2016)
  28. Dunkirk (2017)
  29. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  30. American History X (1998)
  31. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  32. American Beauty (1999)
  33. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  34. Gladiator (2000)
  35. WALL-E (2008)
  36. The Shining (1980)
  37. Avatar (2009)
  38. Up (2009)
  39. A Star is Born (2018)
  40. The Pianist (2002)
  41. The Departed (2006)
  42. Aliens (1986)
  43. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  44. Argo (2012)
  45. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  46. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  47. The Prestige (2006)
  48. The Green Mile (1999)
  49. Pacific Rim (2013)
  50. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
  51. Amadeus (1984)
  52. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  53. There Will Be Blood (2007)
  54. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  55. A Quiet Place (2018)
  56. Black Swan (2010)
  57. Iron Man (2008)
  58. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
  59. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
  60. Icarus (2017)
  61. Die Hard (1988)
  62. Sin City (2005)
  63. Batman Begins (2005)
  64. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  65. Heat (1995)
  66. Blade Runner (1982)
  67. No Country for Old Men (2007)
  68. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  69. Free Solo (2018)
  70. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  71. The Lion King (1994)
  72. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  73. Toy Story (1995)
  74. Donnie Darko (2001)
  75. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
  76. Platoon (1986)
  77. Into the Wild (2007)
  78. Black Panther (2018)
  79. Rain Man (1988)
  80. X-Men: First Class (2011)
  81. Scarface (1983)
  82. Trainspotting (1996)
  83. Groundhog Day (1993)
  84. Finding Nemo (2003)
  85. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  86. The Terminator (1984)
  87. Casino (1995)
  88. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  89. Get Out (2017)
  90. Stand by Me (1986)
  91. V for Vendetta (2006)
  92. Ratatouille (2007)
  93. Prisoners (2013)
  94. Star Trek (2009)
  95. Mystic River (2003)
  96. Inside Out (2015)
  97. Big Fish (2003)
  98. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
  99. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
  100. The Cove (2009)
Honorable Mentions:
  • Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  • Shutter Island (2010)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
  • The Wrestler (2008)
  • 12 Monkeys (1995)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • RBG (2018)
  • Let the Right One In (2008)
  • Gran Torino (2008)
  • Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri (2017)
Last updated: 2/24/2018

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Get Started with Social Selling

Social Selling
What's the one number you need to know about social media and social networking? 25.

25% of time spent on the internet today is spent on social media.

Nearly 25% of Americans use social networking sites several times per day.

And more than 25% of the people in the world have a social media account. THE WORLD.

So why aren't you trying to use social media to generate leads and nurture prospects? Because, obviously, you should be. Businesses everywhere, from small firms to multinational corporations are using social media for marketing, advertising and brand awareness. But some salespeople have been slow to adopt for direct sales purposes. Understandably, it can be a bit overwhelming. Especially for someone unfamiliar with social media. But it's really just another way to communicate -- just like email (and the telephone before that). So here are some tips to help you get started with social selling:

Get Started with Social Selling by:
  1. Create (and use) professional social media profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  2. Optimize social media profiles.
  3. Seek referrals on LinkedIn by giving recommendations & endorsing others.
  4. Follow at least 100 new people (20x per day) on Twitter including:
    • Industry Thought Leaders
    • Prospects
    • Customers 
    • Sales Gurus
    • Set up Google Alerts for competitors/prospects/customers/industry terms.
    • Post at least 3x per week about:
      • Industry News
      • Prospects/Customers
      • Competitors
      • Thought Leaders
      • Photos when Travelling
      • Sales Best Practices
      • Personal Interests (20% of time is okay)
    • Join industry-specific groups on LinkedIn.
    • Add LinkedIn connector to Outlook on laptop.
    • Download LinkedIn Connected app for mobile phone.
    • Connect Salesforce account to Twitter.
    • Subscribe to industry and thought leadership blogs.
    • Subscribe to LinkedIn Sales Navigator (optional).
    • Blog (optional).

    New Business Sales Daily Social Selling Routine Checklist:
    1. Open LinkedIn and Twitter in browser tab (don’t close – just like email).
    2. Find content to share.
    3. Share general content on social networks.
    4. Share specific content with prospects & customers on Twitter & LinkedIn (just like you would via email).
    5. Look at who liked, retweeted, favorited or commented on your posts on LinkedIn & Twitter.
    6. Review LinkedIn alerts.
    7. Check on who’s viewed your LinkedIn profile.
    8. Send personalized connection request to any prospects who looked at your LinkedIn profile.
    9. Send personalized connection requests to any prospects you emailed thru Outlook yesterday.
    10. Send personalized connection requests to people who engaged with your LinkedIn posts.
    11. Follow people who engaged with your tweets.
    12. Follow people who followed you on Twitter.
    13. Respond to messages (just like you would email).

    Top Prospect Weekly Social Selling Routine Checklist:
    1. Open LinkedIn and Twitter in browser tab (don’t close – just like email).
    2. Find content specifically for/about top prospects.
    3. Share content specifically with top prospect (via email and social media).
    4. Like and Retweet posts from top prospects.

    Social Retention/Growth Weekly Routine Checklist:
    1. Open LinkedIn and Twitter in browser tab (don’t close – just like email).
    2. Find content specifically for/about current customers.
    3. Share content specifically with current customers (via email and social media).
    4. Like and Retweet posts from current customers.

    Have other tips for salespeople looking to use social media to start selling? Leave them in the comments below:

    Top 10 Best Things About iOS 9

    Back on June 8th, Apple announced its latest and greatest mobile operating system at its annual WWDC event then released the beta version to developers. And now, anyone can "try it out" with the recent release of their public beta program.  But to be honest, if you already have iOS 8.4 and the new Apple Music app, you have the most exciting new feature launching this year. Siri 2.0 is still not up to par with Google Now. And there's no major design overhaul like iOS 7. So unless one of these ten things excite you, you might as well just wait. However, it's much less buggy than past versions of iOS betas -- so there is that.

    Here are the ten (not so-exciting yet) best things about iOS 9:
    1. Navigation Suggestions: iOS 9's Maps app has built-in navigation suggestions to let you know about a better/faster way to get to your destination.
    2. New Universal Search Results: The new universal search in iOS 9 has many more suggestions to help you find what you're looking for -- including websites, Wikipedia entries, movie showtimes, reminders, notes, documents, music, videos and more!
    3. More Organized Photo Album: Updates to the Photos app in iOS 9 include new albums for all of your selfies and screenshots (just like for panoramas and videos last year).
    4. New Multitasking Features: iOS 9 boasts lots of cool new multitasking features (especially on the new iPads i.e. picture-in-picture videos) but the iPhone also gets a cool new design (see below) and a nice new "Back to..." feature in the top left of every app when you jump from one app to another -- making it stupid simple to get back to what you were doing after you answer a text or look at a Facebook notification.
    5. Lowercase Keyboard: This is one of those "no-dugh" features you won't believe took this long to come to fruition. Now, when typing on the keyboard in iOS 9 you'll whether that highlighted shift key arrow-up button means you're currently in ALL CAPS mode or lowercase mode because the letters on the keyboard will either be in ALL CAPS or lowercase.
    6. News App: The new News app in iOS 9 still needs some work (by far the most buggy new feature in this release) but once it is complete it should put LinkedIn's Pulse app and other RSS feed reader apps out of business. 
    7. Passbook renamed Wallet: I always hated the name of the Passbook app -- so a rename alone is worth noting -- but the new app also has some new features including the ability to scan in your loyalty rewards program cards (i.e. Dick's Scorecard, Target Cartwheel, AMC Stubs, Giant Eagle Advantage, etc.)
    8. Notes App: The new Notes app has tons of handy new ways to quickly jot down notes including an easy checklist creator and the ability to sketch things with your finger.
    9. Settings Search: I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain to someone how to find something in settings i.e. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > iCloud > Manage Storage. Now you can just search for it!
    10. Low Power Mode: And lastly, the new "Low Power Mode" in iOS 9 gives the ability to squeeze every last bit of power left in your battery in those desperate situations. 

    Did I forget something in iOS 9 that you think is really cool? Add it in the comments below:

    Saturday, June 20, 2015

    Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Apple Watch Experience

    The Apple Watch

    Now that I've had my Apple Watch for a few weeks, I've finally got it tweaked and adjusted just right so that I truly can "live a better day." But it definitely takes some work.

    Right out of the box, the Apple Watch is actually kind of annoying. Well, maybe not right out of the box, because just like every other Apple product unboxing, it feels like Christmas morning and love at first sight. The packaging is just as thoughtful as the product design. And the setup process is actually very cool. But once you put the watch you'll be immediately bombarded by buzzes and dings. So here is my advice to improve your new Apple Watch experience once it's on your wrist:
    1. Silent Mode: First thing you'll probably want to do is turn on "Silent Mode" under the new Apple Watch app on your iPhone > Sound & Haptics. 
    2. VIP Mailbox: If you haven't already done this on your iPhone you can thank me later, but it's even more important once you own an Apple Watch. Go into your iPhone Mail > Mailboxes > and click the small "i" next to VIP. Then simply "Add VIP" contacts to your list. Then setup special "VIP Alerts" under Settings > Notifications > Mail > VIP so that you only receive banner notifications for VIP contacts. Once this is done on your phone you won't get an annoying pop-up every time you get new junk mail. Then under your Apple Watch settings > Mail you just need to make sure you've selected "Mirror My iPhone" (which is the default setting).
    3. App Layout: Next, you probably need to delete apps. First, go back into your Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to General > App Install > and turn off automatic app install. Now go back and delete apps you don't need on your wrist from the bottom of the main menu of your Apple Watch > My Watch app on your iPhone. Then finally go back to "App Layout" from the main menu of your Apple Watch app on your iPhone and rearrange the apps in some logical groupings. Hint: The clock app is always in the middle. So arrange the most important apps in a honeycomb around that clock app and work your way out.
    4. Customized Watch Faces: Now that you're not overwhelmed by beeping, buzzing apps take a moment to customize your Apple Watch face so that it displays useful information for you at a glance. I actually setup 3 separate faces with different "complications" based on the type of day I have ahead of me. For a busy day at the office, I typically use the large complication box to display my next meeting. For weekends at home, working on the house, and morning exercises I switch my Apple Watch face to one of the modular designs and include complications with all the workout and exercise data. And then for weekend getaways or relaxing afternoons I utilize the weather, sunset, and sunrise complications.
    5. Glances: Now that you have an Apple Watch face with all the most pertinent info appearing on wrist raise, next you'll want to create & customize your "glances." Glances are what Apple calls the new "pages" of info that appear when you swipe up on your Apple Watch face. You can add, delete and rearrange your glances on your iPhone Apple Watch App. My advice here is to only include the next most important info in glances. First, delete apps that you don't need on your wrist. Then include the most important info in Apple Watch face complications. And then see what else you really want to be able to access quickly and add it to your list of glances.
    6. Friends: Again, if you haven't setup your "Favorites" on your iPhone, you can thank me later. Favorites appear on the far left tab when you open up your phone app on your iPhone. They also now appear on the top of the iPhone when you enter "multitasking mode." Now, with your Apple Watch, your "best friends" or favorites appear when you click the big home button on the side of your watch (not to be confused with the digital crown).
    7. Fitness: Before you go for a run, bike road, or even want to track your daily activity, be sure you open your "Activity" app and enter your height & weight info. Fitness tracking and fitness motivation are actually the most useful features of your Apple Watch (especially if you've never worn a Nike Fuelband or FitBit in the past). 
    8. Music: The next thing you'll want to do is choose a playlist to sync to your iPhone so that you can go for a run or mow the lawn without your iPhone in your pocket. To do this, simply go into your Apple Watch app on your iPhone > Music > and select a "Synced Playlist." Hint: When you're ready to listen to music straight from your Apple Watch to bluetooth headphones, you'll need to force touch the screen within the music app to select which source to play music to.
    9. Apple Pay: One of the really "neat" features of your Apple Watch is being able to pay for something without taking your wallet or even your iPhone out of your pocket. But first you have to setup a credit/debit card within the Apple Pay settings on your Apple Watch app.
    10. New Apps: Lastly, there are a few apps you probably hadn't downloaded on your iPhone that you will definitely want on your new Apple Watch. Here are some suggestions for really cool apps to show off the "cool factor" of your new gadget to friends and family:
      • Dark Sky: Will notify you if it is about to rain.
      • Pacemaker: Creates a music mix for you.
      • Power: Shows you how much battery life you have left on your iPhone.
      • Trivia Crack: Play trivia on your wrist against friends. 
      • Four Letters: A fun word game designed specifically for the Apple Watch.
      • Yahoo Weather: A beautiful weather app for your wrist.
      • Cruncher: Turn your brand new Apple Watch into an 1980s Timex calculator watch. 
      • Chipotle: It has a burrito button. 'nuf said.

    Got other Apple Watch tips & tricks I forgot? Add them in the comments below:

    Sunday, May 31, 2015

    Top 10 SEO tips for 1st-page Google search results

    Technically SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is about improving your website's page ranking in search engine results across all search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Ask, DuckDuckGo, Dogpile, etc. But when it comes down to it, SEO is really about increasing the overall traffic to your website via Google organic search (as opposed to paid search, SEM, or Search Engine Marketing).

    Google truly is really the only search engine that matters -- with about 66% of the search traffic in the U.S. and roughly 90% of the share everywhere else in the world. And while the #1 listing in Google search results gets 33% of all organic search traffic, being on the first page is most important, as 92% of all traffic comes from those first 10 results. But even when you're on that first page, you need to stand out.

    Here are ten tips to help you get on the first page of organic Google search results and then get clicked:
    1. Vanity URLs are key to SEO. Be sure the URL of your website is either the name of your company or, if you're lucky enough to own these URLs, the name of your product/content i.e. ESPN would probably love to own the URL or Netflix own the URL Today these are brand names that are likely "Googled" more often than their product/content terms themselves. But when they were up-and-coming companies, this would have dramatically improved SEO.
    2. Meta Tags are the keywords in the header code of your website used by search engines to categorize your website and determine relevance to organic searches. Today, Meta tags or keywords aren't nearly as important as they were in 2008, or even 2012, in fact Google and Bing don't even look at them anymore, but other search engines still do, so don't listen to those anti-meta-tag soap boxers and completely ignore them. You should still use them! Your Meta tags should be very specific to what your website is about -- don't be too general. For example, use terms like "used golf clubs, preowned golf clubs, cheap golf gear" versus "golf, clubs, used." But do some research using websites like Google Trends, or to find the most popular search queries related to your content.
    3. Meta Titles are the words that appear as links in search engine results. These words also appear in the top of your browser or in the browser tab when you are on that page, and is the default text that appears when you bookmark a webpage. Meta titles should be no longer than 50 characters in length to be sure the entire title can be read in Google search results. If you go any longer than that, I'd only suggest it being the name of your company/website at the end of your Meta title. Write Meta titles for humans but keep robots in mind -- meaning, write Meta titles that are one readable thought that can be easily understood by a person, but use as many keywords as you can without keyword stuffing.
    4. Meta Descriptions are the 160 character descriptions of each page of your website that appear in search engine results. Many website creation tools and content management systems let you write Meta descriptions that are longer than 160 characters, but don't bother. Search engines will only display the first 160 characters. Use a tool like to be sure you're under that limit. Technically, Meta descriptions don't help your page rankings in search engines, but it will definitely affect your click-through rate on search results pages. Your Meta description should get straight to the point. Be direct. And be concise. 
    5. Page Content is actually THE MOST IMPORTANT factor when it comes to SEO. Make sure the copy on your website is loaded with as many keywords and top searched terms as possible without looking spammy. Remember, someone has to be able to read it and make sense of it. And definitely don't try and trick Google by putting a bunch of text in white font on a white background in the footer of your website. Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn't become the 5th richest people in the world by being idiots.
    6. Alt Tags are the invisible image descriptions hidden in the HTML that describe what your image, photo, icon, or picture is about. Use alt tags to not only describe the image, but also describe the other content on the page. But keep it short! And definitely don't keyword stuff! Search engine robots are intelligent enough now to know if you're trying to game the system and it will actually negatively affect your SEO. Did you know? Alt tags are read aloud to blind people who visit your website in accessibility modes.
    7. Inbound Links are the #1 factor when Google is determining your Page Rank. They are extremely important, but hard to come by. Inbound Links are links from somewhere else on the internet that direct traffic to your website. Inbound Links are different from Reciprocal Links where a website links to you but you link back their website as well -- which is why Inbound Links are hard to come by. The best way to get inbound links to your website is through content marketing. Create interesting content that's relative to your target audience and your target audience will start linking to you. Similarly...
    8. Outbound Links are important to SEO as well. I know it seems weird, but pointing your traffic to other resources that are similar to yours will create trust with your audience, improve Google related:searches, and increase Google Page Rank. But don't use links farms! And don't overdue it! Internal linking to other pages within your own website (i.e. Wikipedia) is always better than driving traffic to external websites.
    9. Social Media, particularly Google+'s social search of Search Plus Your World (SPYW), is extremely important when it comes to SEO. Today, the first page of organic search is often filled with links from people in your Google+ Circles, followed by a Facebook page, Twitter profile, and other social media links -- sometimes even before a website's homepage appears! Make sure you have a Google+ page, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn page, and YouTube account...
    10. Videos are almost 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results than regular web pages. Create a video -- even if it's just a 30-second selfie of you talking to the camera -- and upload it directly to YouTube (owned by Google). You'll almost instantly see your video views increase right along with your webpage traffic.

    Got questions? Or other tips? Add them in the comments below:

    Saturday, January 17, 2015

    2015's Super Bowl XLIX in UltraHD 4K?

    Does anyone know if the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX will be broadcast in UltraHD 4K? Interestingly enough, I posed a similar question 3 years ago on whether the 2012's Super Bowl XLVI would be on TV in 3-D. And today, I'm in the same boat.

    I recently purchased the Sony XBR65X850B 65" LED 2160p Smart 3D 4K Ultra HD TV. And though there isn't a ton of content out there (beyond Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and some Flowers and Forests on Netflix or a few free UHD movies on Amazon Instant Video), it's still an unbelievably good upscaled picture for standard 1080p cable television and Blu-ray discs.

    I was hoping this year's Super Bowl XLIX would be broadcast in 4K (since it appears the 2014 Super Bowl on FOX was in Ultra HD) but everything I can find says otherwise:

    Anyone have any better news for me?

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Ten tips for better LinkedIn profile headlines

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    Please don't be the guy (or girl) with the generic auto "Title at Company Name" profile headline on LinkedIn. Even if you're not a marketer, but especially if you aren't currently employed, you need to use this valuable space to tell people exactly what it is that you do. It's not only important so that you show up in search results, but it will also make people click on your profile when there's a long list of people similar to you.

    It only takes a minute, so please just go update it today and follow these ten tips:

    1. Establish yourself as an expert in something
    2. Explain why someone should connect with you
    3. Use stats & numbers if possible
    4. Utilize as many industry buzzwords as possible
    5. Start with a short question
    6. Use examples of proven results
    7. Differentiate yourself from everyone else in your function/industry
    8. Use V-bars (|) to separate sections
    9. If you're C-level say so
    10. If you're a jobseeker say so
    Got any other tips? Or examples of some good headlines? Share them in the comments below:

    Ryan's New Home with Ryan Homes: A Visual Timeline of the 200-Day New Build Process

    Hi, my name is Ryan Pratt. I am multitasking millennial who typically blogs about digital marketing, social media, technology and movies. But I've been too busy over the past 6 months to do much writing. On top of getting married to the love of my life in May of 2014, we also officially started the new home building process with Ryan Homes on April 3rd (Day 1):

    Since that day, I've come to realize that blogging about your new build process with Ryan Homes is "a thing that people do." There are actually a lot of great blogs out there:

    Just Google "Ryan Homes blog" and you'll find a bunch more -- including at least one for every style of home in every state that they build.

    Unfortunately, with so much "stuff" going on at once, I don't have time to create an entire blog dedicated to the process like the those mentioned above, but I did want to create at least one blog post that I'd update occasionally with new photos from our Venice style home. This is that post:

    On April 8th, we picked out our carpet, tile, wood floors, countertops and cabinets (Day 6):

    By June 28th, they broke ground and started digging our hole (Day 87):

    On July 3rd they poured our basement (Day 92):

    By August 2nd framing had begun in the basement (Day 122):

    And then on August 9th it was starting to look like an actual house (Day 129):

    A week later, on August 17th, it had a roof and windows (Day 137):

    The garage floor was poured by August 24th the following week (Day 144):

    By September 5th the plumber, HVAC, electrician and Guardian Home Technologies had finished their installations. We had our first official walkthrough and pre-drywall meeting inside the home later that week (Day 156):

    The garage door and trim was installed and painted by September 10th (Day 161):

    And they officially started hanging drywall on September 14th (Day 165):

    They started on the external siding on September 19th (Day 170):

    And by September 27th the drywall was painted and tile in the bathrooms and laundry room was installed (Day 178):

    On October 1st they finished the stone exterior (Day 182):

    And by October 4th they had started the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry (Day 185):

    On October 6th the lights were installed (Day 187):


    And on October 7th they laid the hardwood floors (Day 188):

    On October 9th they laid the carpet (Day 190):

    On October 16th the granite countertops and appliances were installed (Day 197):

    We had our final walkthrough on October 17th (Day 198) and got our keys on October 20th (Day 201)!

    Stay tuned for more exterior photos once the sod & landscaping are complete. 

    If you've found other great blogs about Ryan Homes or just have a question or comment, please feel free to share below: