Around the Dot

31 December 2005

Don’t shoot and Happy New Year
Coming back from the airport, I had to drive through Inglewood because the 105 freeway was flooded (I’ll soon claim the title of “L.A. county freeway expert”).

And then, somewhere on Manchester Avenue, I had this great billboard explaining: “Don’t shoot your gun in the air!”. Very reinsuring when you don’t know a neighbourhood. :) Seriously, you can’t shoot in the air, it’s a felony. From what I understood (I read it fast), this is how some people do to celebrate the new year. Better not fly from or to LAX around midnight on December 31st then…

So, without further ado and without firing any gun, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And all the best for 2006.

Hollywoodism #1
I drove Raquel to LAX today and L.A. turned into the perfect drama set for the occasion: pouring rain from the morning to the moment I drove back from the terminal.

Rain wouldn’t have surprised me in London or Paris, but due to the legendary weather of the Golden State (or at least So Cal – a new word in my vocabulary which means South California), I dare say that only in Hollywood can you see such things.

Such things which I decided to dub “Hollywoodisms” and which I plan to share with you through my blog. Despite other such facts / events I have experienced so far, this post will be the first official one:

Hollywoodism #1 – the main male and female characters part under the rain.

Note 1: it’s even better if the music matches (in our case, KLOS radio station playing “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith and later on “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC).

Note 2: In case you’re wondering about previous Hollywoodisms, #0 would be “when going to the beach, it is always sunny” (dude, it’s SoCal!). Which brings me to Anti-Hollywoodisms or Antyhoodisms, like: “when going to the beach, it’s foggy as hell”. That would be what the clever or would-be-original director/screenplay would include in the plot (think “cop shouting the hostage”, etc.). Coming back to the fog, this is also what happened to us last week when we planned our picnic in Santa-Monica. :o)

28 December 2005

Warner Wonder
I so wanted to visit a movie studio. Not a theme park (ruling out Universal) but an actual studio with sets and stages. I can strike this on my list of things to do before I die – a list that if it existed would include more about studios than just visiting.

Raquel and I went for the tour of Warner Bros. studios which we wanted to do since having seen the huge buildings and the water tower last week while in Burbank for Christmas shopping.

The first good points before entering the studios area: prices at the Warner shop are more than fair (no big Disney-like markup) and you can eat at the same restaurant that employees use –can this provide good networking opportunities? :)

I can’t compare with other studio visits but the WB tour is great: I really liked to be driven and walked through the sets of so many great shows and movies. Some exterior sets are generic: New-York streets, rural places, etc. The central park alley where Rachel runs and the town main place from the Dukes of Hazzard fall in this category. This is quite funny to compare these “small” streets with the huge buildings which host the sound stages. Having said that, it is impressive to walk the desert streets of NYC or to be “alone” (you’re with 10 other people) in a village which would not be inappropriate in Disneyland.

Because this was the holiday break, we could access prestigious sets like the little Chicago of E.R. and its County Hospital outside and the West Wing copy of the White House interiors.

Finally, it was interesting to discover the set of a sitcom (Two and a half men). I think that assisting to the shooting of an episode is now the next point on my list.

27 December 2005

Daughter of the Dropout
Raquel and I went to see “Rumor has it”. The plot builds interestingly on the Graduate or, to be precise, the people and facts that are supposed to have inspired the book and movie. Jennifer Aniston plays the presumed daughter of the Graduate himself which we learn dropped out of college – I won’t spoil it so go see it if you want to know more.

True to its title, “Rumor has it” explains how the Graduate ignited rumours in Pasadena (both the book and then the movie), we’ll see if this one has any impact. Of course, even if it is a neat movie, it won’t reach the cult status of its distant parent but that’s better than having to suffer “King Kong” (how many time are they going to shoot this story before nobody goes see it). “The Producers” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” have so far been good reasons to stay away from the big monkey.

26 December 2005

The Eagle has LAnded
I’ve been in L.A. for one week, enough time to have some rest, go to Disneyland to enjoy the “season” spirit (incl. fake snow) and spend a true American Christmas at the Johnstons (very nice friends of my father).

And there is more to come – movies, studio visit, looking for a flat…

18 December 2005

On my way to L.A.
We've taken two minutes at the Google Space at Heathrow to experiment :)

We've had delicious smoothies with the Giraffe (she knows her fruit!)

And airports are a small world: we met Pat Fieney, one of the Australians in my class... can you believe it: an Aussie on my way to the OC? ;)

Next post will be from LA guys

14 December 2005

Great Mail Day
I am not a “mail” person unless you add an E in front but today was a good mail day as I received my passport completed with my US visa to study one term in UCLA and then the signed contract for my collaboration with the great Matthias and Dieter at Knallgrau – a collaboration that should pay the tuition fees for my second year over time.

So I celebrated tonight with a mini bottle of Champagne. I like to have Veuve Cliquot usually but this time, Moët & Chandon will “suffice” – this is her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed champagne after all.

12 December 2005

Branded? Brain dead.
I have been looking forward to this moment the whole term: I’m done with all papers and the Brand Management elective has started today. I wasn’t as “ready” for it as I expected, having just slept something like 40 minutes last night to finish the slides for my second year project presentation which was today at EMAP gorgeous office (great 8th-floor London panoramic view). Today’s class topic (brand equity) threw me back to my summer position at the marketing research department of WPP’s MindShare this summer.

All went well in the end (including with EMAP who loved our work) but I wish I had planned a less-packed term. Handing in a business plan and the associated presentation, a salesforce allocation assignment for Marketing Analysis and a research project in Managing Entertainment and Experience while going through various rounds of multi-party negotiations for my Negotiation & Bargaining class has proved a daunting task.

So, now I’m able to enjoy a calm week studying the wonderful topic of Brand Management with the excellent Mark Ritson in black-cloud London*, but that’s soon after finishing this night (this was just a blogging interlude between sleeping and sleeping). Stay tuned for more on my last real world encounter with prominent blogosphere citizen, my thoughts about Markides/Geroski’s Fast Second and some other posts that I’ve been pushing back for lack of time in the last past weeks – that is if my job interviews don’t go in the way.

*: Raquel spent the week-end with me in London and she still doesn't believe me when I said I think I heard the noise and when I said we could see a part of the cloud.... :)

07 December 2005

Sugar Apple, a 2am Career Thought
I love having "great" ideas in a shower – the combination of self-satisfaction and hot water has unique virtues.

So, I was thinking about my career plans. Now that my final term in London is off with just a few papers, my second year project client presentation and a Brand Management block-week elective in the pipe, I’m starting to get worried (for lack of a better verb) about the job hunt. I’m more and more considering going back to the technology and internet sector if I cannot find either a decent marketing job in a large company or a position with a content producer or distributor – in any media.

I was thinking in particular about Google deciding not to go further in the recruitment process for a position of European Product Manager and then it hit me: Google is a great innovation powerhouse but maybe not the right place for me because, to be more precise, they are a technology and strategy powerhouse. Then it hit me again (no pain yet): there is one guy doing exactly what I want to do – and it is not the first time I think about that. Steve Jobs has my dream job: he has a hot studio producing incredible movies and he runs a technology company with fabulous products.

What Apple does appeals more to me that what Google or Microsoft do, even if Microsoft is becoming more interesting as they forego the tech champion position to Google and get their innovation and customer focus from other sources than copying Apple (think Xbox vs. any version of Windows). I like Apple because it is a customer-driven innovation and design laboratory-slash-agency.

So, how to get the top job there? I can see only three solutions:

  • Start my own success story, sell it to Apple (not realistic? not funny for my readers?)
  • Be Steve Jobs (hmmm)
  • Start by being the CEO of Pepsi!
Yes, that’s the way it goes: climb the ladder at Apple or Pepsi. Which brings me to this quote that always make my day:

"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?" – Steve Jobs to John Sculley to lure him to Apple

Part 2 for the not yet bored and Apple / Google stories enthusiasts.

Of course, this is debatable. I concede it to you. And I guess that for every user like me who minds Google’s disdain of people’s need of folders in Gmail there is another user who will complain about iTunes’ proprietary format or any other arguable decision or design from Apple. I’ll try to articulate that in another post: that’s a topic I have not yet found the time to address - with other funny quotes comparing Google to "an over-enthusiastic Golden Retriever puppy".

Part 3 – damn, do you really want more? :)

To go on a tangent, I want to argue that Apple is customer oriented despite the criticism that they don’t listen to customer / bloggers and even try to shoot some of them down. Quoting Henri Ford: "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have asked for a faster horse." Thus it is right to listen to customer input but not enough. Also, it is comprehensible that people want to know what’s cooking at Apple because they have hot products but it is equally understandable that Apple wants to keep new developments secret; especially as a big part of Apple rollout marketing strategy is based on building expectation and excitement.

06 December 2005

Typical MBA Night and Rubbish
Hmmm, eating McVitties Hob Nobs* while writing the Recommendations part of an individual Marketing Analysis class at 2 in the morning, that's it.

Note- Damn, for once I had planned ahead, done the bulk of the paper one week in advance and I was supposed to finish it and be in bed at midnight... but Steve and I decided to have a US student Visa forms filling session. Who wants to emigrate to the US for good after all this rubbish for just a 3-month stay? Maybe that's the point...

*: the only biscuit whose advertising is that it is impossible to eat without producing an amazing amount of crumbs... after more than 12 months "wiz maye friendz ze Britich", I still don't get them sometimes (only sometimes, don't hold this against me if you are recruiting for a marketing position in the UK)