Stuff and things.

Aaron Kroontje's musings on life in (mostly in) YYC.

A blend of thoughtful reflection on the current digital landscape, some of the best haps in Calgary (with my takeaways) and other outlets of mine.

Honoring my Dutch roots, my lost friend Vaughan and my general course of life.

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Splitting the bill with my awesome sister

Sister:  Bro, I'll pay half

Me:  Oh ya?

Sister:  But all I have are quarters...

Me:  I hope you have a helluva lot of quarters

Posted on Saturday, September 17th 2011

Delightful Labor Day on the Bow River! Last float of the year methinks.

Delightful Labor Day on the Bow River! Last float of the year methinks.

Posted on Tuesday, September 6th 2011

Do you really need Instapaper or ReadItLater?

Given my lack of current full time employment I am in the privileged position to actually read the bazillions of articles I regularly add to my ReadItLater list but seldom get a chance to peruse.

I don’t have an Instapaper account and always viewed the act of getting it as a nuisance as I already have a ReadItLater account.  Additionally, I hate the lack of control Google puts on its Chrome extension library and the lack of an official extension from ReadItLater.  Finally, Twitter’s easy integration with only Instapaper aggravates me.  

So what’s a guy to do? Manually add them, that’s what. I’m pretty talented at switching between apps on the old iPhone and would regularly, manually, add my many “this looks awesome but I can’t find the time right now” articles to RIL.  It was never the end of the world but hardly a good way to do things.

Then I realized a good 95% of the articles I am consuming are coming from my Twitter feed so why am I changing scope everytime I want to just do a short term save??  Enter Twitter favorites.  A swipe and a click and it’s on my Twitter favorite list just waiting for me to read it in the future.  Once read and potentially retweeted, just unfavourite the thing and away you go!

Mucho better!

Of course - apologies to all of you that are way beyond the curve on this one…sometimes it takes a while to see the light.

Hope it helps!

Posted on Tuesday, September 6th 2011

The ongoing death of the pageview metric.

Long, long ago when the Internet was still just a jumble of local area networks (LANs) emerging as the WWW and static websites were being turned out by hand including tags like <blink> people started thinking about site “traffic.”

Presto - we had “hits.”  A hit was every request made to a server, one for the page, one for each image on the page, one for any linked stylesheets etc.

The concept of a hit quickly became archaic as sites became loaded with more linked javascript files and stylesheets, pages became better designed and bandwidth opened up, images became ever more present and so we graduated to the “pageview.”  The pageview has stubbornly stuck around for quite some time.  Granted good organizations look at bounce rates, exit rates, time on page, pages per visit, new vs returning visitors and the like, but pageviews are the bell of the ball.

However, I think it’s on its way out. Or at least will need to partner if it is to remain relevant.  In today’s world AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML), basically the simple requests that pioneered Google Maps and make Facebook and Twitter’s newsfeeds functional are reducing the number of actual pageviews.  Whole pages don’t need to be reloaded, instead little requests can be made to replace some current content on the site with new content. 

Problem is - historically people would have navigated around a site, clicked on a link here, clicked on a link there to get the information they needed.  Now on new sites (content heavy ones especially) a single page becomes a living breathing, self rejuvenating beast, pageviews be damned. 

So, do we develop some kind of new metric or does some other metric increase in prominence such as unique visitors?

Posted on Friday, August 26th 2011

The benefits of a boss with a digital personal brand.

As I continue my journey looking for the next place to imbue with my awesomeness I ponder my last job role.  Combine that with a rocking conversation on portfolios and such with the epic @kellyshaw and you’ve got me thinking about just how I should decide who I want to work with.

In my last role I proved not only my ‘value added’ to my bosses/owners in terms of tangible produced work but also in my ‘employee as owner’ vested interest that I displayed by sharing my opinions about the future of the organization.  When I decided to give my notice they were super supportive and it was an oddly guilty but good feeling to know that they were upset about me leaving. They wanted to help me - but how? By writing a letter of reference.

Certainly there was a time when such an analog endorsement carried weight in the hiring process but in today’s world, new digital stand-ins have emerged ie. the LinkedIn recommendation.  Of course, many have their misgivings about such recommendations but it is the larger picture here that is of note.  Namely, having bosses that at least exist in the digital realm, carry some influence and are willing to confer some of it to you.  

Not only are my former employers connections extremely limited because of the fact they are in Vancouver and I worked remotely from Calgary but their lack of a digital persona handicaps the ability to leverage that goodwill back to Calgary in any meaningful way. 

So many jobs these days revolve around top employers, as companies, but what if more managers took it into their own hands (or better yet the organizations facilitated it) to attach themselves personally to great projects.  Now when a hiring manager is interviewing someone they can offer up some real names of people this person would be working with.  In today’s world that candidate can hit the web and checkout just how great (or not) this team is that they are going to be joining. 

After all, that hiring manager is sure as heck going to be checking out the candidate.  Today’s job seekers have to bust a hump to create an online identity that expresses and promotes their abilities while already hired employees get to hide in their silos. For some higher ups this is viewed as a terribly dumb idea, ‘All our talent will be scooped up!” they cry.  I disagree.

If John Smith is a rockstar and is showing the world why, by working on great projects at your great company and attaching himself to them via his great online portfolio, then yes he may be approached.  However, if John is working on great projects, at your great company and you are paying him fairly he would be an idiot to move on for a bit of cash and potentially give up what he has going on already. Perhaps he is an idiot, but that kind of mentality can only burn him in the long run. As an added benefit every time they talk about John they will talk about where he is working - the great company.  This in turn attracts the best and brightest to come work for this great company on great projects with great people like John Smith.  I know, that was a lot of great.  

So, while my last job had no commute and a huge level of autonomy, in my next role I think I want to know ahead of time that I will be joining a team of rockstars.

The reality is that me and my contemporaries will have many different jobs in a lifetime, and somewhere down the road we need to be able to help each other share our stories as we go in new directions. Organizations need to embrace that to encourage a boomerang effect. Support your employees in developing their personal brand and benefit right along with them. 

Posted on Thursday, August 25th 2011

I miss the awesome stuff you can buy in Asia like this - &#8216;the most comfortable notebook.&#8217;

I miss the awesome stuff you can buy in Asia like this - ‘the most comfortable notebook.’

Posted on Thursday, August 25th 2011

Inner city residents are different from subarbanites eh? I think they think they are more Liberal.

My dad driving in the core :)

Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd 2011

Organizational ambassadors need to be agents of interaction.

Corporate golf tournaments are my new favourite thing.

Today, I got to go to my first ever corporate golf tournament and let’s just say I’m a pretty big fan. I’ve never done Oil & Gas, heck I have not even done corporate really. So, the fact that everything was “taken care of” was quite a treat.  Not only did I get to golf a prestigious course for free, I got to see just how these things go down.  

As we played our 18 holes, had some after round cocktails and eventually an amazing mid afternoon meal two things really struck me.

B2B marketing is a totally different can of worms

I remember when I was taking the B2B marketing class as part of my commerce degree and how our teacher even pointed out that it was a little ridiculous how much time we spend on B2C considering how much larger B2B is.  All the same, one course is all we really got in terms of diving into the matter, which really was a shame.

The event spend today had to be something ridiculous like $25k which on the face of it seems a little ludicrous - IT’S A GOLF TOURNAMENT!  Then I thought, it doesn’t seem that far fetched to see a $500k deal come out of a day like this and bingo bango everything is clear.  This isn’t just an event - this is marketing in a way that I have been so out of touch with.  

This is probably sounding dreadfully naive and juniorish, (like really Aaron, you’re describing networking), but it’s a reflection I don’t think enough marketers actually reflect on, especially in this time of much hyped social media.  SM and the literature that explores these days have this huge B2C connotation and I think the overall social media B2B market is quite untapped.  Or, maybe I’m just totally unplugged from the whole situation, either it is something I will be pondering.   

In any event, it brings me to what I really felt was missing from the whole affair:

Organizational ambassadors need to be agents of interaction

I got my invite to the event via a personal connection who knew there would be openings due to cancellations and considering that it was already paid for, there was an opening for me.  So, that was my story, but everyone else’s story was client or vendor as it related to the host company.  Like any industry this one was full of domain specific language and I did my best to ask simple questions along the way to stay in the loop, to show I was listening and engaged. 

At most opportunities I asked my playing partners about their families or jobs or golf history or whatever didn’t come across as completely contrived, in the hopes of generating friendly discussion.  The truth is, I do this ANYTIME I play golf and yet I found that overall conversation was extremely laboured.  However, to be fair to our group, it was me (no vested interest), two employees from the host company and one client representative which made what happened after the round was over even worse.

Over the course of drinks on the patio and then a delicious buffet where tables were sat in groups of 8, awkward silences ruled.  Picture 8 grown men sitting at a table trying hard to make sure they are eating or drinking at all times to avoid it looking like they are avoiding conversation.  It was painful, and I fault the organizational ambassadors - no matter their role at the host company. It is their job to be agents of interaction, and, to be brutally honest, if they can’t be they, shouldn’t be there.

For 5 summers I worked at a corporate resort that provided salmon sport fishing for clients of an international organization.  Each trip was 8-12 guests with 2-4 divisional sales reps.  The whole point of the reps being on the trip was to be agents of interaction and if they weren’t, they weren’t coming back the next year. 

Ultimately, this hypothetical $500k deal I am talking about, that could validate this event, will only happen if the conversations are being facilitated to get the necessarily interaction that makes the deal possible. 

In a B2B setting, these organizational ambassadors must be agents of interaction and not seat warmers for real value to emerge from such events.

Posted on Monday, August 22nd 2011