Tag Archives: seriously — another thing you want us to care about?

Forget About My Money. What Are You Doing To Get Me Back My Time?

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When I’m traveling, it’s the inefficiencies that really kill me.

I know that travel is going to cause some headaches. There are going to be lines at security, and flight delays happen. I get that.

But it’s the little moments of inefficiency at the airport that, to me, can make flying a real pain.

For instance (and excuse the Andy Rooney rant, please):

These days at the gate, as soon as the gate agent mentions “preboarding,” everyone gets up and stands right in front of the gate. With everyone packed in up there, it takes forever to get everyone on board. But it doesn’t have to be this way! A few months ago, I flew Air Canada up to Toronto, and the agents actually told people to sit down and wait for their boarding group. With the boarding lanes clear, it was the smoothest boarding process I’ve been a part of in a long time.

It must’ve been 15 years ago that I flew Southwest for the first time. I laughed when I saw people lined up in their boarding groups, ready to board before the plane even got to the gate. Now Southwest is the model of efficiency — every person boards by a pre-assigned number — and it’s the rest of the U.S. airlines that are backwards.

And airlines: When you ask people to volunteer to check their bags at the gate, has anyone actually listened? Of course not! A decade ago, plenty of people checked bags. Now, a younger generation sees it as an enormous inconvenience. But we might be willing to change our tune — all it would take is the right incentive. 150 free airline miles for a checked bag at the gate, maybe, or a $10 voucher toward a future flight. And you’d get bags checked in advance and no extra waiting on the tarmac as flight attendants struggle to get big bags squeezed into overhead bins.

Another thing: Why is the check-in process at rental car counters so miserable? This past weekend, I waited in line for an hour to get my car. Ordinarily, I rent with Hertz, and I’m a member in their #1 Club Gold program. You enter in all your information in advance, fill out your insurance information online, and walk straight up to you car. There’s no waiting whatsoever. The whole thing is free, too — I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be a member!

But this trip, I redeemed some credit card points for my reservation, and had to wait in line. There were maybe 10 guests ahead of me, but the line barely moved. And when I got to the counter, the Hertz associate had to enter in all of my information line by line. But it doesn’t need to be so time consuming, Hertz. The airlines can check me in via a computer — why don’t you do the same? I’m betting a computerized check-in would actually explain the benefits of various opt-in programs (like pre-paying to fill up your tank) better than an employee could in person. All I really need a human for is to hand over the keys and point me towards my car. Instead, I lost an hour waiting in line, and 10 more minutes once I got to the counter. (I even had to sign a waiver declining free maps! I lost two minutes declining maps!)

Meanwhile, this past weekend, I managed to pay for a parking meter via text message. (It even texted me when my meter was up!) I got a hotel bill emailed directly to me. And even the TSA was able to streamline me straight through security. Those little efficient touch points along the way made a huge difference — but it’s the pain points we all remember.

What I’m getting to is this: Some companies work hard to return savings to a customer. But here’s something just as important: My time. And as a customer, I’m asking myself: What is your company doing to return my time to me?

Companies that work efficiently to maximize my time are the ones that exceed expectations — and they’re the ones I’m going to come back to time and again when I travel.

A Dan Oshinsky Life Status Update That You May Not Believe Is Real (But Is).

This is the giant LOL button at the entryway to the BuzzFeed HQ

So I’ll keep this semi-brief: In two weeks, I’m going to start a new job. At BuzzFeed.

Yes, the same BuzzFeed that regularly produces stories like this.

I’m going to join them as their first-ever Newsletter Editor. I’ll be working out of their New York office. I am pretty freaking excited about this.

If you’re not all that familiar with the company, here’s what you need to know: BuzzFeed is built around the idea that great stories deserve to be shared, and they’ve made a major push into social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

But for the most part, they’ve stayed out of the email game.

No more.

I’m a big believer in email. I think it’s an underutilized tool. Consider this:

-There are 900 million Facebook users worldwide.
-There are 175 million Twitter users.
-There are 83 million Tumblr blogs.

But email? There are 3.1 billion email addresses in the world. (1)

Email is — by a huge margin — the most widely-used network for sharing information, ideas and content.

And yet, among news organizations, it’s a tool we’ve largely ignored. When we talk about social networks, we mention Facebook and Twitter and whatever network just launched in beta last week, but we always leave out email.

I think that’s a mistake — so at BuzzFeed, we’re going to prove just how valuable email can be.

We’re going to use that giant email network to make sure that you can see the silliest cat photos the Internet has to offer. (2) We’ll be building out some new products just for email, and we’ll be doing lots of experiments to make sure that we get the best, most shareable content into your inbox.

If you’re interested in following along with what I’ll be doing, you can sign up for the BuzzFeed emails here.

(And if you were wondering: I’ll keep posting here on danoshinsky.com, and my Tools for Reporters email will keep going out each Tuesday per usual.)

  1. Yes, I know. That includes spam accounts. But then again: Those other social network numbers are inflated, too, by fake accounts and non-active users.
  2. Plus: We’ll be sharing lots of serious news, and many awesome non-feline stories.

Great Tools + Great Storytellers = Tools For Reporters.

ToolsForReporters.com

About nine months ago, I launched jstart.wikispaces.com, a wiki of journalism resources. It’s massive now — some 500+ tools and tutorials for journalists.

The problem is, it’s tough to sort through all of that and figure out what the best tools are.

So I’m launching a new project: ToolsForReporters.com, a weekly newsletter geared specifically to reporters. Each week, I’ll highlight a different tool and how people in the journalism/storytelling world can get the most out of it.

If you’re a reporter who wants to build a better toolbelt, sign up today! Together, we can do better work.

Welcome to danoshinsky.com 2.0.

“People respect perfection, but they fall in love with imperfection.” — Derek Shanahan

 
I started this blog four years ago. The first post was a photo gallery. Since, blog posts have been a little all over the place.

But starting in January, this blog got focused. It’s no coincidence that as I got focused with Stry.us, the blog took on a similar state of zen.

This year, I’ve finally found the groove for danoshinsky.com. This is a blog about doing great work, hustling, and making things happen.

Behind all of this is a promise from me to you — a promise to share lessons about doing great work.

So that’s why I decided to update the name of the name of the blog. You’ll still find this blog at danoshinsky.com. But it’s now called “Good. Better. Done.” (1) The name comes from a post I wrote in April, one of my favorites here on the blog.

“Good. Better. Done.” is only the start of what will be a big revamping of this site over the coming months. I’m really excited to unveil what’s next, and to start building a stronger community around great work.

Thanks for reading, and welcome to the new site. Let’s do great work this week.

Photo at top via @lovagebuzzage.

  1. I was inspired by blogs by Chris Guillebeau and Alexis Grant, who’ve done a similar things with their blogs.

It’s Hard to Have a Big Ego When You’re Sleeping on the Floor.

I was at the Stry.us HQ/apartment on Monday night, sitting on the floor, when I looked up and announced to my editor, Jordan:

This is the furthest along this project has ever been.

Stry.us — or versions of it, at least — had been on my mind since 2007 or so. But it really came into fruition almost two years ago to the day, when I worked up a pitch for something I called “Four Days in America.” It would be a story, I decided, about the state of our union, with reporting on who we we are and where we’re going. It evolved pretty quickly to Stry.us. Two months later, I was leaving my job to start this thing.

Then came Biloxi — solo.

Then came D.C. — solo.

Then came RJI — solo.

But right on that floor in Springfield, on Monday? At no point has Stry.us ever been closer to reality than right then.

Right now, we have:

A website that doesn’t suck.
Some fans.
A team.
Some money.
Excitement.

We’re actually on the verge of… something!

And more good things are happening! Like: I’ll be speaking about Stry.us and our new website at the Association of Alternative Newsmedia convention this summer in Detroit. That’s pretty amazing.

And just being down in Springfield, I can sense the excitement. The library team, in particular, is absolutely wired about our project. They’re going to be a fantastic news partner this summer.

But I always find that just when my ego’s getting a little too big, something happens to bring it back to normal size.

On Monday night in Springfield, I slept on a yoga mat on the floor of the Stry.us apartment. I used a hoodie for a pillow. My bed — and bed-related accessories — won’t arrive for a few more days.

Yes, Stry.us is moving along. Yes, we’re making big strides. Yes, after two years, it’s starting to feel like we’re building towards something really big.

Yes, I can even use the word “we,” because there is a we — the Stry.us team I’ve put together.

But you cannot have a big head when you’re going to bed on a yoga mat, with a hoodie for a pillow.

Stay humble, Dan. Stay hungry.

Why I Am Giving Such a Ridiculous TEDx Talk Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will speak at TEDxMU, the TED-approved event happening here at Mizzou. I’m enormously excited to be a part of the speaking list. Astronauts, businessmen, leaders and thinkers will be speaking.

And me, somehow.

Of course, I’m not content giving just any speech. I decided that if I was going to give a TED talk, I was going to make it big.

The advice that I should stay in over my head at all times hit home, I guess.

This is a common theme among my talks. Last summer, I spoke at an event called Disruptathon about a man named Skeet. I had a speaking coach tell me that my speech didn’t make any sense.

I was named runner-up for best presentation.

I spoke in December at NewsFoo. A friend told me that I was an idiot. You’re getting a chance to speak to a big room of powerful journalism folks, and you’re not going to say a single word about your business? You’re going to spend five minutes talking about your mother? That’s just dumb, Dan.

The talk got big applause. Even my friend later conceded: It worked. I don’t know how, but it worked.

So tomorrow? Tomorrow I will get up in front of the TEDxMU crowd and give a 13-minute talk about U2. I will play guitar for the crowd and lead a sing-along, even though I’ve never played guitar in front of a hundred people before, and I’ve certainly never lead a sing-along before.

I do not know how it will go. I hope it will go well. I’ve looked back at my lessons from Disruptathon — know your audience, show (don’t tell), and use your time wisely — and I think I’ve got it down for this thing. I’ve also kept in mind all those times that things have gone horribly wrong. Even in those times, things have always eventually worked out okay.

I’ve practiced the speech. I know the chords to “Elevation” as best I can. When I put public speaking on my List of Things for 2012, and I meant it. No backing down now.

The only thing left is to get up, smile big, be confident and give the most ambitious, most absurd talk I can.

Here goes.

Introducing…. VeryQuotatious.com.

I have a friend who is studying to become a doctor. On test days, I’ll often get a text or an email from her, asking for a word of wisdom. She knows I’ve got a Delicious loaded with inspirational links and ideas, and I’ll dig through there and send her something. I love helping, and she loves asking. It’s a win for both of us.

But I’d like to be able to share that joy with a wider audience. So I’ve launched a new side project: VeryQuotatious.com. The name comes for a quote from Shaq, he of a thousand quotable remarks. I’ve designed the site to be an internet home for inspiration, advice, thought and other wisdom suitable for quotation.

The quotes are all hand curated, and I’ve tried to bring in quotes from modern thought leaders — entrepreneurs, thinkers, scientists — as opposed to the standard grab bag of Gandhi sayings.(1)

I hope it brings you as much joy and wisdom as it has brought me.

  1. Though he’s still on the site.

Introducing Smartphoneless (a Dan Oshinsky blog venture).

Back in July, I decided to defend my choice of telephonic device with a blog post, titled, “Why I Do Not Have a Smartphone.” Many people read this post, said they appreciated my opinion and then told me that I was a moron.

The questions about my phone persist. Every week, a handful of people offer to buy me a nicer phone. Many still ask me how I can live without a phone that checks email. The very sight of me flipping open my phone to take a call gets chuckles.

So I’ve decided to take a formal stand. This week, I launched Smartphoneless.com, a destination for me to post thoughts about and defense of my very phone. There are others like me out there, bravely venturing into a world where needing directions requires asking a live human for help, where taking a picture requires an independent photographic device, where playing Words With Friends is limited to the other fifteen Internet-connected devices we carry around in our bags. Smartphoneless is for the rest of us, the quasi-untethered who walk among the masses.

I may be an idiot by birth, but I use a flip phone by choice.

Follow along with my smartphoneless life, if you wish.

Why I’m Starting The #BergChat

The Heidelberg
Dear University of Missouri J-Schooler,

I remember when I was but a wee undergrad. The year was 2009. A young man named Barack Obama had taken stewardship of our country. The economy was in the crapper. I drove around in a Chevy TrailBlazer with vanity plates.

Much has changed since then. (The Blazer no longer has vanity plates.) But one thing hasn’t:

At our alma mater, the University of Missouri, there exist two distinct sectors of our esteemed School of Journalism: the school itself, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute.(1) The J-school is doing some awesome stuff. So is RJI.

Problem is, we’re not always doing great stuff together.

Even though these clusters exist within the same damn building, there’s still a gap between the two. Young J-schoolers dare not venture into RJI. Us RJIers would rather not wander off into the J-school.(2)

Here’s the point: there’s some pretty incredible Journalism Stuff™(3) going on in Columbia, MO, and there need not be a gap between RJI and the J-school.

So I’m launching a new thing this year: The #BergChat. It’s a weekly session in which I’ll invite anyone from the J-school community to sit down with me for 30 minutes to talk about… well, whatever you want. An idea you’ve got. A question you’ve been afraid to ask. A resume you’d like an extra pair of eyes on.

And while we’re chatting, I’ll buy you a beer.(4)

Now, the fine print:

1. Every #BergChat must take place at the World Famous Heidelberg Restaurant. It’s tricky to find, so here are the Google Maps directions from the J-school for those who’ve never been:


View Larger Map

2. The #BergChat will last 30 minutes.

3. During said #BergChat, I will buy you a beer, or, if you’re not inclined/able, a drink of your choice.

4. To schedule a #BergChat, follow me on Twitter at @danoshinsky. Each week, I’ll be tweeting out times when I’ll be holding a #BergChat. I’ll open up a handful of half-hour slots. The first (pre-specified number) of folks to respond will be given a timeslot. All you have to do is show up and chat.

5. Each J-schooler gets exactly one #BergChat with me. After that, you’ll just have to stop by my office if you’d like to continue the conversation. Or agree to buy me lunch.(5)

6. The #BergChat can just be one-on-one, or it can be a group of students chatting. But I won’t take on a group that doesn’t fit in a Heidelberg booth. So essentially, it’s got to be a group of three or less.

Point is: I’m reaching out to you, the J-school population. It’s up to you to make the next step and get involved with what we’re doing at RJI.

See you at the Berg.

-Dan

  1. I should note here: Counsel has advised me to cease and desist referring to them as my personal Daddy Warbucks.
  2. Except on occasions when there’s free food over in Walter Williams.
  3. Trademark of Oshinsky, Inc., 2011.
  4. For free. Free, as in: no purchase necessary. Cash value of said beer must be less than or equal to $5. The #BergChat will end immediately if the #BergChat-ee attempts to buy a Natural Light with his/her free beer. These are my terms.
  5. Hint: I’m a Noodles and Co. fan.

The $1,000 Father-Son Belly Challenge.

This is the kind of thing that I shouldn’t go doing. It’s not nice of me to take an old man’s money.

And yet, that’s just what I intend to do.

The old man in question just happens to be my old man, Bill Oshinsky (he’s the little fella you see in the photo below). And he’s got it fixed into that bald skull of his that he can get into better shape than me.

Day 1.

So we’ve made this bet: We’re going to spend a year getting into shape. And on Aug. 1, 2012, we’ll rendezvous to decide who’s got the better belly. Winner gets $1,000. Loser pays.

I’m not going to waste valuable kilowhatevers here on danoshinsky.com with this sort of nonsense, so we’ve set up one of them Tumblrs for you to follow along. Check out bellychallenge.com for more.