Archives for July 2012

Apple’s Greatness is Only Recent

I fully expect this to be controversial to the Apple fanboys and girls out there. We can duke it out in the comments if you disagree.

While reading the biography of Steve Jobs something occurred to me. He deserved to be fired from the company in 1985 and when someone refers to Apple as if they have been creating great products all along, they are wrong.

Apple did not make a truly great product until the iPhone in 2007. Everything to that point had fatal flaws (including early generation iPods. iPods sucked pretty bad until they introduced iOS in 2007.)

Prior to this time, their computers were inferior to a PC in almost every way. There was almost no software available, the hardware was slower, and you could not use them for business applications.

In order to survive, Apple needed two things when Steve Jobs resumed his post as CEO:

  1. To reach a market share where software developers would start to create Macintosh versions of their software
  2. Either an alternative business “office” suite had to emerge OR for Microsoft Office to improve on the Mac so that business users could adopt the systems

Both of these things began to happen in the late 2000’s, but not nearly as quickly as our revisionist history will lead us to believe. It wasn’t until the 2008-2010 range that business started mass-adopting Macintosh computers as an option for employees (for example, Google switched to Macs around this time). Until this point, Mac’s were used primarily by designers and video production professionals.

Fast forward 5 years and Apple makes the BEST product available in every category possible. How did this happen?

  • End to end control of the product lifecycle (the reason why the iPhone was so great is that it simply had far less moving parts than a full computer, and a simpler operating system. This meant they could create and iterate much faster)
  • Simplicity in small doses, goes a long way. However, when something is too simple, you can’t get anything done. For a long time, Macintosh programs and apps were a victim of their own simplicity and often ineffective as a result. Allowing more complex programs with configuration and settings to come into Mac OSX has finally achieved a good balance here
  • Seamless integration of products. A Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod or Apple TV itself is a quality product, but when combined? They become unstoppable with seamless integration

Beginning in the late 90’s, Apple became a visionary company under the leadership of Steve Jobs. It took about 25 years for technology to finally catch up to this vision, but when hardware, software and product converged, they produced something that was truly great.

Now Apple is on top of the world.

Just don’t tell me that they were great all along. That would be wrong.

Energized

Last week I spent 4 days at a conference in Seattle called Mozcon. While the primary subject of content was search engine optimization (SEO), a lot of the conversations were around how content impacts SEO, how it is affecting search rankings, and how it’s the right thing to do. Create something great.

I left the conference inspired to start writing again based on the content of the conference, as well as from a conversation I had with Marty from Aimclear. He gave me an idea to write a blog post about wine, which I have in the works right now.

In addition, I realized that I have been making far too many excuses when it comes to writing, and I just need to suck it up. I’m embarrassed that I start posts and never finish them. I’m annoyed that I don’t make it a priority.

One of my long term goals in my career is to be regarded as a thought leader in online marketing, increase my profile as a national author, and eventually write a book. This will never happen if I don’t write.

I am hoping that I can make that change by making a pledge. I am blocking off one hour on my calendar to write something every single day. This could be posts on jeffsauer.com, threedeepmarketing.com, crossfuse.com or even guest posts on other sites (there may be quite a few of these over time).

Not everything will make its way onto this blog, but you should absolutely expect an increase in posts. At the very least I am going make sure that I can share some of my awesome photos and the stories behind them on a consistent basis.

There you have it. If you want to see me write more, please do leave a comment on this post. Sometimes I think nobody is listening, and the tumbleweeds on my comments section often indicate that to be the case.

Bodyguard Careers

Bodyguard Careers Website

Bodyguard Careers is a website dedicated to advancing the field of Executive Protection. While the majority of our time goes into training aspiring bodyguards in how to gain the skills they need to compete in the field of Executive Protection, we also provide information that is valuable for anyone in the industry.

My partner on the site is Harlan “Hucky” Austin and in addition to being partners in the development of this site, we have become good friends over the years. Not only that, but Bodyguard Careers is regarded as the premiere information source for people seeking to enter into the executive protection industry.

View more at Bodyguard Careers.

Delta is Trying to Screw You, Don’t Let Them

Today I wanted to talk about the darker side of booking travel for free. Many of you told me how you were inspired by my post about booking a honeymoon to Mauritius for free. I have been looking forward to this trip for months and I’m a bit inspired myself by being able to pull it off using miles.

Now that the date is approaching, I needed to modify my reservation to be better aligned with my travel needs. My first post I talked about booking flights to Paris (CDG) and Mauritius (MRU) for 120,000 miles each.

What I may not have mentioned was that the flight to Paris was out of Washington Dulles (IAD) airport and I still needed to get to that airport from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP). In order to make sure every segment of the flight was on the same itinerary in case of delay, I wanted to book everything together. I figured that this flight would be the easy part, but boy was I wrong.

After booking my initial reservation for 120k miles (the lowest number of miles you can book a business class ticket to Africa through Skymiles), I tried immediately to add a seemingly simple domestic flight from MSP to IAD on the same itinerary.

When I called Delta, they told me that adding this leg to my ticket would make the cost 180,000 total miles – a 50% increase to my original ticket (about a $1,200 cash value if you value miles at $.02) in order to add a $300 flight to my itinerary. I was told that this was necessary, because my entire trip would need to be billed as a medium level award instead of being a low level award at 120k miles.

You see, everything comes back to Delta’s award chart.  Delta makes free tickets available in high/medium/low availability. Arguably, only the low availability is a good value (unless you are in urgent need of travel). You can also only really get low availability on their Skyteam partner airlines.

What Delta doesn’t tell you in their chart is that if any segment on an award ticket is medium or high availability, then every segment is charged at that level. In my case, the international flight was all low level, but a regional jet ride to Washington DC added a big premium to the itinerary.

Fortunately, I had been reading about this quite a bit on travel blogs, and I was prepared to hold my ground until I got a good deal (I wish I knew this in 2010 when I booked a flight to Chile in COACH for 110,000 miles). Basically, I decided not to let Delta Screw me with their horrible computer systems.

I called back after 2 months to see if the price was lower and I had no luck – still would have added 60k miles to my fare.

After 4 months, the same result – no addition to itinerary without paying much more.

Today I called and I got the same response – but this time I was prepared. I went to Delta to find out the price of a coach award ticket from MSP – IAD and then returning back. It was 32,500 miles, which I learned meant it was a low level award on the first flight, and a medium level on the way back.

I waited on the phone for 45 minutes with a Delta operator to go over this, and I was told that might flight cost would now be 152,500 miles, because I added a medium availability segment. One segment of a flight adds 32,500 miles to the entire ticket.

There are extortionists with more tact than Delta.

Befuddled, I asked them if I could only book the low level segment (MSP – IAD to start the trip) and remain at 120,000 miles. I booked the flight I could and was content with ending it there.

Naturally, curiosity took over and I asked if there were flights on the next day from IAD – MSP. Miraculously, there were flights at low level redemptions and I was able to secure our space on them.

With a little creativity I was able to add two domestic legs to the honeymoon itinerary. But why did it have to be so difficult?

The truth is that Delta is broken. They overcharge their customers every day and hope that nobody is educated enough to notice. And most people aren’t – myself included. I used to burn miles like they were going out of style, not realizing that it was the domestic segments getting me into trouble.

International travel on Skyteam Partner Airlines is the only good way to redeem Delta Skymiles, because they are all low level availability. Domestic travel using miles on Delta is often a ripoff.

Would you rather pay 50k miles on Delta for a COACH flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco or travel to Europe/Asia/Australia for 100k/120k/150k miles in FIRST CLASS?

The answer should be obvious by now.

Delta is trying to Screw You. Don’t let them