Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.


Regional Meetings 2014

You're traveling to visit us?

Yes we are! So far, 18 cities are on the list for first quarter Regional Meeting visits. Scott Mast and I, along with local support staff will be hosting meetings for franchisees of all brands. Your Regional Vice President and their team will be providing the details as to when and where.

Our tour will include visits to franchisee locations before and after the meetings. We both are very involved with social media, you can be sure we will be posting plenty of pictures and proof of our travels on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram!  

For what?

Our Regional Meeting swing will include information on local happenings, updates on suppliers, Training and education for franchisees and their staff, World Expo Preview, social media tips and examples and roundtable discussions. Most meetings are approximately three hours long. If meetings coincide with mealtime, we'll have food and drinks! A fantastic way to start your 2014 business year would be to make sure you're in attendance when your Regional Meeting comes to town.

"Rah-rah" high-fiving corporate propaganda?

Nope, plenty of to-the-point relevant examples that we know can help your business. 

Come and see for yourself!




Amazingly and Awesomely overdone.

In our world of Facebook posts, Twitter updates, Instagram pics and hashtags, you see plenty of claims of "awesome", "amazing" and similar boasts of the incredible. It could be a 5am workout at camp musclebound medieval magic, a wine cork found at a dollar store or something trivial performed by your six year old daughter. But it's too much. I'm not against positivity or enthusiasm, yet if everything is "off the charts" noteworthy, you're not leaving much room on the scale for things that may be truly packed with awe. Get it?

It's holiday time. It's 2013. Some things you encounter are special but they don't seem to match up to things in our past. Almost as if you can't believe that anything capable of leaving a positive strong impression could ever happen now, we're too buried in media and times have changed. It was "better back then," when the naive dreams of youth were still possible. I say pooooh to all of that! Two recent events, performed and captured on purpose for that "viral video" effect, are fabulous and I want to help spread the good feelings these short videos represent. Have a look...

For me and the millions of others that have seen these great deeds, it is moving to know that so much GOOD can come from others. We get enough crazy and warped news all year long. There are amazing and very awesome things all around us. Let them make you feel special and let them help you see things in a new way. These acts are most memorable and will hopefully spawn copycat acts that get equal or greater exposure. Why can't we ride a wave of domino-like good deeds? And recognize them as such, because they really deserve that top billing!



Lackluster by design?

What happened to Apple's new release? The phones that changed mobile device standards have gone through an upgrade, but who's buying? I've been past our local Apple store twice since the Friday presale event - I can tell you it's not crowded. Among my coworkers and friends, there isn't any "new iPhone buzz" like there was with past releases.

If you do not follow tech related news and rumors, some are proclaiming Apple to be past it's glory years. No more Steve Jobs influence and better competition are listed as reasons why. Can you imagine that in Steve Jobs' last months, he was silent? Doubt it. Plenty of his ideas and plans are alive in Cupertino. I believe the phone as a centerpiece of life goal had been achieved. I think Apple's next foray into other wearable devices or TV and the bizarre model we've accepted are its next big ticket items. Samsung, Nokia and others will take the phone to new heights. Apple should look to disrupt cable, sports, news and entertainment as delivered to us via large media companies. Look at what iTunes has done to music.
If you told anyone 15 years ago you could buy just the "good" songs on an artist's album, you'd be dreaming. That's what we do now, if we buy them at all - because streaming music on demand is now a great option vs owning copies of the tracks. Imagine if this were done for media? That's where I think Apple is heading. I envision them having a simple to use and feature robust TV unit, built in storage and networking. The true leap forward will be the model it tethers to - a system of on-demand free and pay-per-view programming that sends the traditional networks and media companies for a scramble. I'm sure you'll be able to control your Apple TV with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices, too. That's a quick iOS software update away!

The idea that tech giant Apple, with its billions of dollars in development and renowned secrecy, is out of the game is false. I believe they are setting up to change the game and the field and the players. They will not win the market share battle with the many manufacturers siding with Android phones. Apple could be lining up to break new ground in a way that only Steve Jobs could have influenced. There are too many good minds clicking away at Apple to follow Samsung around for too long. Now that we are "used to" iPods, iPhones, iPads and the Mac system, it's time for a new breakthrough that shines. On a screen a tad bit more impressive than can be held in a hand or balanced on your lap.


Microsoft! HUGE opportunity, click here...

My son's laptop started crapping out the very day before school started. This is his senior year, and his school's new "tech policy" has all the students leasing an iPad from the school. Except for the seniors. They can choose the BYOD (Bring your own device) route. Which can only work if, well, you have a device. We have his usually reliable machine coughing up a lung at the least convenient time. So with a questionable hard drive, the built-in diagnostics failing, I have to troubleshoot first. I know this because the operating system's tools can't see the hard drive, it has to be replaced. We visit a Tigerdirect.com store and purchase a 500Gb drive for $59 (Crazy, huh?) and install it. Now we are at a standstill. It is naked, nude, stripped bare bones with no operating system. Where will I get one of those from? Windows disks are aggressively protected and serialized, if that what I need I'm in trouble. Unless I have some fancy downloading footwark planned on unscrupulous websites, I am stuck.  I figured our best option was to return to the "mothership" and see what our options were. Prepared for shell shock, sticker shock, or version upgrade shock, this is my equivalent of taking a car to the dealership. Yes, you trust it will be done correctly with all of the proper authorized parts, but you also run the risk of paying the highest price for this repair. With school looming and knowing he won't be borrowing my device for the semester, we fold and agree to inquire about our options.

We went to the mall and I asked the blue t-shirt clad rep how I could get help. He says I could walk over to one of the machines, make an appointment and take matters in that direction. Easy, the machines are programmed to the store's website and appointment scheduler, I ring us in for a 3:45pm meeting, just 2 hours ahead. That will give us time to go home, get the machine and return at our leisure. We do just that, no receipt, proof of purchase or warranty papers. We didn't buy this machine from the store, my son bought it on craigslist from another guy. Not a worry, our appointment is honored, we explain the problem and within 15 minutes, the Apple Genius Bar rep has a network cable plugged into the machine. This links to Apple's servers, and it's loading the version of OS-X that this computer was shipped with. No questions, no hassle and NO CHARGE! This Macbook Pro my son has is from 2009 I believe. It does not get the very latest version of OS-X, Mountain Lion, but since we purchased that upgrade already, I can log into my iTunes account and re-download that upgrade for free. Immediately. If I didn't have the Mountain Lion update on my iTunes account, the cost for the operating system that all Mac computers are using, for business or personal, is $19.99. That's not a typo or errant decimal point, twenty dollars minus a penny. Within half an hour the downloading frezy has ended and my son's laptop is ready for another year of school, and hopefully a year of two of college, also. Total cost to repair the dead hard drive was $59 plus gas to the mall. Wow.

I'm not going to rail on Microsoft vs Apple or about the customer experience. Everyone knows you can't get Windows help in person, nor can you hopscotch an operating system from one dead hard drive to a new one in 30 minutes. Someone with more of an axe to grind with the folks in Redmond can complain about that. What I see is opportunity. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is leaving. Time for a change. Maybe they're overdue for a change... either way we know this is happening. Guess what? This is the same position Apple was in during the mid 1990s. They were struggling, Microsoft was the top dog, and a new CEO was chosen. We know what happened when Steve Jobs came back to Apple, think retail stores, the iPod, iPhone and Apple's re-emergence as a tech powerhouse. Because largely in part, the new CEO had a fresh vision and he chased it.

Microsoft is now in that role. They are profitable, but in the Ballmer years, the stock price is down more than 35%. The old model of selling software for hundreds of dollars a box is dead. They certainly have the brainpower and the resources to make big waves. Microsoft need a new leader, but more than that, they need a new plan. Or a dream to chase. Bill Gates' dream of a PC in every home became reality. What's next? Who steers the ship? All to be determined. A board of directors, Bill Gates or whoever chips-in on the selection process, they will make the choice of a new CEO. This decision could send the giant software company in any direction, up or down. I think they'd be wise to get an outsider to lead Microsoft. Have this person spend six months inventorying what's possible, then move forward. This great company has the power to bring incredible advancements to us all - the proof is everywhere. Can they or will they depends on how they handle the opportunity they're staring at today.


Excited to meet!

Line 'em up! We are two events into a five meeting swing of Super Regional Meetings this summer. Dallas and Orlando are in the log, Los Angeles, Chicago and NY/NJ lie ahead. These are fantastic meetings for us to get the team together and share what's new among our franchisees. If you haven't made the first two meetings and you're considering or already registered for the ones coming up, here's what you can expect...

  • News and updates for your brand. Our Marketing team, coupled with the Advertising and Marketing fund boards for SIGNARAMA and EmbroidMe have exciting announcements for you. See it, learn about them and get your questions answered in person. This is HUGE!

  • Suppliers - A "mini" trade show from prominent suppliers dominates the first half day of your Super Regional Meeting experience. New material and product vendors, your business management software folks (Trade Only and SignVox) will all be there. Get great news and info on up and coming advantages you enjoy by being a part of a large organization.

  • Your peers - It's amazing to see how far others have taken the same concept you learned in our Training School. What's working best, what's new and surging forward? Also as important but sometimes overlooked is what's NOT working. Share and participate in roundtable discussions, meals and after-hours activities with fellow franchisees. This to many is their best reason to attend.

  • Distance - Shhh. I'm parting with a UFG secret here. We know you're most likely to absorb new ideas when you climb out of the day-to-day events in your store. If you can mentally distance yourself from your projects for a day or two, you'll open yourself up to better methods and plans to succeed. It happens most to those that ride the fence, wondering until the last minute if they should attend. I say it's these franchisees that benefit greatly. It takes some doing to say, 'Yes." Consider the stale alternative of not putting yourself where you could grab tips and new systems to build on. It's worth your time to attend the meetings that are coming to your region!

We have a full schedule of items on each city's agenda, that much I can promise. This series of meetings will allow you to keep rolling forward towards your 2013 goals, for which you have less than 6 months left. I won't be touring with the band this summer, so your postings to social sites and photos shared with our Marketing team will tell the story. Apparently I'm in the "on deck" circle, having been recently tapped to lead the effort to produce World Expo 2014 in Orlando. I'm happy to be spearheading the massive effort behind our Expo again. I'll bring new ideas, format changes and some of the fun and excitement that belong at our events. If you've been with us awhile, you know how it works. Many of your suggestions fuel the content for World Expo, speakers, sessions, events. etc. If you enjoyed San Antonio in 2006, Disney in 2008 or Caesar's Palace in 2009, you're already looking for the REGISTER NOW button to click! We will have that up and live soon so you can plan to be in Orlando during the final week of May. Now do you understand why we are so excited to meet?

It's a geat time to be growing a business - allow our traveling show of support services to help your efforts.