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The boy and I watched WarGames

Geoff Wood

As previously mentioned, we're doing without satellite for a few months but I've decided that won't stop me from watching the TV. Netflix is a big part of my ability to accomplish this and today nearly-4-month-old Graham and I sat down to watch the 1983 classic technology film: WarGames.

It stars (a pre-Ferris Bueller) Matthew Broderick and (a pre-Breakfast Club) Ally Sheedy as crazy kids who utilize a PC (black screen with green text) and a landline phone handset to call other computers and accidentally stumble into NORAD's missile defense system and trigger events that all but lead to World War III with what was then the Soviet Union.

I'd remember seeing the movie in the early 1990s and thinking the technology looked antiquated then, but, as I write this on the netbook I purchased for a mere couple hundred dollars this year, it's almost comical now. Speaking of comical, at one point my wife walked in and literally though the movie was a comedy (rather than the "action adventure" and "espionage thriller" descriptors assigned to it by Netflix).

As an MBA candidate, I did appreciate the underlying theme of the movie which is really just a long form story playing out game theory. It even ends with the antagonist proving it's learned its lesson by saying "the only winning move is not to play."

Another great MBA lesson from WarGames was an entire scene in the beginning on organizational design theory as the Air Force debates whether it's better for America to allow the officers on the ground (in this movie played by a young John Spencer - known better for his role as Leo McGarry in The West Wing 16 years later) to have the last say in launching Nukes at the Ruskies or if everything should be automated from the Executive level.

As for the boy, he didn't pay much attention, concerning himself more with his exersaucer and his ability to get the toys on it into his mouth. His loss.

63rd Annual Indiana University Business Conference

Geoff Wood

Cross posted with the Kelley School of Business "BizBlog"

I had the pleasure of attending the 63rd Annual Indiana University Business Conference put on by our very own Kelley School. This was my second time attending the conference and I was a little concerned that this year's event wouldn't live up to my expectations after last year's great event that featured presentations by the CEO's of FedEx Corporation, Simon Property Management, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Langham Logistics as well as Indiana University President Michael McRobbie and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels - but it did.

At first blush, this year's speakers didn't jump out at me as the same level of "household names" as before. However, that doesn't mean that they (and their companies) weren't impressive or didn't provide equal or greater value to those of us in attendance - they certainly did.

These year's lineup included Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs, Bill McKibben, Environmentalist, Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Michael Evans, Founder and President of AIT Laboratories, Douglas Lattner, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting and Michael Rippey, President of ArcelorMittal USA.

The moderator and keynote speaker was New York Times Columnist David Brooks (who is a household name, despite what I mentioned earlier) was amusing, informative and insightful in his discussion of political leadership in the midst of this economic crisis. He offered behind-the-scenes stories and personal impressions of both President Obama and the second President Bush that put into perspective how I view those in power.

As good as Mr. Brooks keynote was, my favorite presentation was actually by Mr. Lovins, whose physical appearance matches his title of "Chief Scientist" but his communication skills do not. His presentation was quite understandable for the non-technical 50,000 foot decision makers in the room as well as compelling in its arguments (such as the value in automotive and aviation companies switching from steel to carbon fiber for construction materials).

In a first for me, I attempted to keep a running Twitter account of the goings on throughout the day and was joined in by others hailing from the Bloomington and IU East campuses (click here for the archive at #kelleyconf).

I would strongly recommend that any Kelley student, especially those of us evening MBA candidates who have lost our continuing education budgets in our full time jobs, take full advantage of the no-cost or low-cost opportunities provided for learning of this kind. The next one is coming up quickly - register now for the IU Entrepreneurial Connection event in Bloomington on March 27th.

Click below for posts on Social Media Fanatic about the event:

Facebook's 25 Random Things

Geoff Wood

There’s been an interesting phenomenon spreading throughout Facebook the last couple weeks called “25 Random Things About Me”. Cleverly named, it’s a list of 25 random things about me (or the person writing it).

You become aware of the list when one of your Facebook friends creates a 25 Random Things list and then “tags” you and 24 other people. You are then given the following instructions:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

In effect, it’s a combination of the chain letter that’s been around for centuries and the odd e-mail “Get to Know Me”-surveys that were bouncing around collegiate e-mail directories in the last 1990s. However, unlike chain letters, there is no ill will set to fall upon you if you don’t pick up the challenge and unlike those surveys there are no common questions asked of each person.
After being tagged three times by co-workers and once by a family member I decided to capitulate and, since I took the time to create the list I figured that I should also share it here:
  1. I know the difference between a Monument and a Memorial (as in Washington and Lincoln).
  2. I will one day have a job where I can take my dogs to work.
  3. I’ve had the same seats at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa since I graduated in 2000 even though I've lived in Indiana for four of the those years and Nebraska for one.
  4. I still consider myself a “Chevy Truck Guy” even though I’ve happily owned an Acura sedan for over a year. The power of branding is strong.
  5. There is a bit of a strained dichotomy in my life in that I love history and tradition but constantly seek change.
  6. I’ve become a big enough fan of IndyCar racing in our time in Indiana that I was able to recognize 2008 Indy 500 and Indy Car Series champion Scott Dixon when he walked past me in the Indianapolis Airport this summer (we have a great picture).
  7. I have cousins named Rustin, Justin and Dustin (in three separate families).
  8. I pay for a home phone but don’t know the number.
  9. I don’t understand people who have a non-geographic loyalty to a particular professional sports team.
  10. I like to know as much as possible about the sports teams that I follow and as a result I have a hard time just turning on the TV and enjoying a casual NFL or MLB game (unless it’s the Vikings or Twins).
  11. I visualize a map of the United States when thinking about cardinal directions (such as the Atlantic Ocean is East and the Pacific is West). Ever since moving to Indiana, I’m at times confused since the Mississippi River is now West of me.
  12. I think that umbrellas are not masculine but have no problems with scarves and earmuffs (at least the wrap around ones). My opinion has been disputed several times by a few of my MBA classmates.
  13. Other than at the office, as many of my friends refer to me by last name as do my first
  14. I still refer to most of my female friends from college by their last/maiden names (only) even though several have acquired new ones for themselves.
  15. In the last few months I’ve become an avid user of Twitter.
  16. I met Dave Matthews at my first ever company holiday party and no holiday part since has been as exciting.
  17. I never drank coffee until I started graduate school in August 2007, now I drink it a lot. I drink as much of it after 6 PM as I do before 11 AM. I only drink it black – no mochochocalatte-ish drinks.
  18. My greatest athletic accomplishment is somewhere between riding all 471 miles across Iowa in RAGBRAI 2008 and making “Pro” in Wii tennis. Middle school basketball (2 years), high school tennis (2 years), and Iowa State Rugby (1 year) were not quite as successful. I also like to play kickball but we didn’t field a team last season.
  19. After the first time that I went out with my wife, Hope, (we were already friends and she didn’t know it was an “exploratory” date) I decided that I wasn’t going to her ask her out again; she called and asked me out instead.
  20. Hope and I started to a tradition of going to movies every weekend when we first started dating (March 2002); we still see 2 or more per month.
  21. I was the first person I knew to have a CD player when my folks gave me one for my birthday in 5th grade. Everyone bought me CDs that they wanted to listen to: my Sister Sara - Paula Abdul’s “Shut Up & Dance”, my brother Joe – Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and my folks - Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open”. I listened to all of them at the time but Tom Petty is the only one that I’d still like to have today.
  22. Over Christmas this year, I visited the neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that I grew up in and it still looks like Post-Katrina New Orleans from last summer’s floods. The recovery needed from that disaster has been grossly under publicized. 
  23. I firmly believe that almost all recommendations are crap.
  24. Even though I’m not a Colts fan (like most folks around these parts), I think Peyton Manning is hilarious.
  25. The tater tot is my favorite form of potato. I love the fact that I can order them at The High Life Lounge in Des Moines (though I haven't been there in a few years). 
At first I thought the 25 Random Things list was fairly silly but now I kind of dig it. One of the greatest uses of Facebook for those of us over 22 years of age is to catch up with friends from long ago (like the elementary school classmate who “friended” me this evening). What better way to learn about what they are up to then to view the 25 Random Things about their life that they’ve chosen to share with the world?

Connecting Social Media & Super Bowl Ads

Geoff Wood

So, yesterday was the Super Bowl. It featured two teams I don't care a whole lot about and 90-some commercials sold at extremely high rates(1).

One commercial that I enjoyed was the following from

While not a "legendary" ad, I did find it amusing.

I also found it interesting for a few reasons. First of all, in an economy where the news is announcing massive layoffs all across the country each day, CareerBuilder focuses on people that have jobs and want to change them. Second, they followed up the Super Bowl ad with an integrated advertisement (or "gift") in Facebook.

Facebook gifts are icons that can be given from one user to another. A new one is featured each day and today (the day after the Super Bowl spot ran) is "the creepy coworker" from the television spot. The gift then stays associated with the recievers profile for the foreseeable future. Careerbuilder isn't the first sponsored "gift" in Facebook but it's the first time that I've seen it tied into so closely into a larger campaign.

I believe my MBA Marketing Prof would call this an example of a tactic from an integrated marketing communications strategy featuring both the biggest TV venue of the year and the leading social media platform.

It'll be interesting to see if it works out for them.

(1)It has been pointed out by ScottHendo that many of these spots were actually sold by NBC to NBC so that may have inflated the rates/demand abit.

One of the Best Parts of Going Back to School is Winter Break

Geoff Wood

I’m writing this post a few days before classes start as I thoroughly enjoy my nearly one-month long break from having a 3 hour commitment in Downtown Indianapolis a couple of nights a week. I’m writing it now so that I can remember the wonders of free time while I still have it. I’ll read it (and so will you, apparently) next week when classes are in full swing and the following activities are nowhere on my radar. 

Here’s a somewhat comprehensive list of things that I’ve been able to do this month:
I borrowed and watched season one of “West Wing”, along with season six of “24” and three of four movies via Netflix. I took in “Marley & Me”, “Seven Pounds”, and “Yes Man” at the theater. I read two novels, one a fictitious account of Ireland’s history and another by Jimmy Buffett, along with most of a book on personal branding. I played enough Wii Tennis to be ranked as a “Pro” (I’m sure my high school coaches feel the value in their instruction) and then enough additional Wii tennis to lose that ranking. This was followed by more Wii tennis and a return to my ranking! I was able to update this blog several times. Participated in a few holiday parties, took an icy road trip home to Iowa for nearly a week over the holidays to see my family and my-inlaws and ate way too much food.

Unfortunately, most of those things are behind me and we’re on to another semester of learning.