Beer heaven in the Bowery

A couple of weeks ago Paul and I crossed the great divide (5th Ave) to venture East and have dinner in the Lower East Side. Dinner at The Orchard was ok- (great flatbreads but a suburban mall-like decor). It was the walk back, when we discovered the beer room at the Whole Foods on Houston, that was the highlight.

The Beer Room has more than 1,000 different types of beer, many refrigerated but even more on shelves. A handful are also offered on tap at any given time, and they also sell home brew kits if you want to do it yourself.  This place is worth a visit.

About 1,000 types of brew, including a few on tap

Kits, drums, and capping equipment for the DIY crowd

What to do on a flight from NYC to Berlin

This sketch series is hilarious.  I wish I could draw…

New Urban Art on 21st Street

The elementary school on 21st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan is getting a major piece of artwork added to its 6 story high walls.  Pretty cool:

In progress

Fuzzy pic of artists and crew, taking a break

Check out the details on the shoes/feet

All done. An awesome addition to our block.

You can read a bit more about the artists here and here or watch them in this video interview. Even better pictures of this particular piece are on

Smart move by Yahoo to partner with Gannett for local sales

I’ve written before about the challenges of selling local online advertising and the difficulty of delivering a good local experience for end users.  (and don’t even get me started about that most dreaded of all local advertising vehicles, phone books)  So I was glad to see today’s announcement that Yahoo! will be partnering with Gannett’s sales force to peddle Y!’s inventory to local businesses.  It’s also interesting that Yahoo will be offering ‘interest targeting’ as part of the inventory. That’s something that’s going to be more and more critical for publishers to provide to sophisticated ad planners/media buyers.

Whatever the economics of the agreed-upon Yahoo-Gannett deal, you can bet the numbers are a boatload better than if Yahoo had to put their own feet on the street to cater to local businesses.  I recall my experience at AOL over a decade ago when their local sales force was integrated, separated, and re-integrated with the national sales team every 6 months or so. It was a complete mess.

Local businesses are by definition “people people” based on who their customers are.  And in my experience, newspaper salespeople are also great relationship builders.  Some might call them old school, old media, or some other uppity term, but the fact is that they know how to engage customers, brush off rejection, and ultimately close deals.

Yahoo! could use every boost it can get these days.  Executed carefully, this partnership should provide one.

Google’s new background images (esp. the default one) make me want to hurl.

Thank you, that is all.

Limelight Marketplace: Not the Limelight you (might) remember

Until recently, the only time I had seen the inside of Limelight (originally a church on the corner of 6th Ave and 20th St) was between the hours of 2am and 6am on the occasional weekend in the early 90s. For those who remember, the place was a dance club (and a fun one at that).  It went through several owners and names and a lot of disrepair since that time, finally shutting down and remaining unused for quite awhile.

So that's what the building looks like in the daylight

Last month the former church turned club reopened as a high-end shopping center called Limelight Marketplace (website not really functional- lame).  The transformation is pretty amazing. These aren’t your typical chain mall stores, but rather boutique mini-shops (some as small as 75 square feet or so) with unique and interesting merchandise.  I have to say that I’m impressed.

Pick the scene you'd prefer

Stores range from clothing to housewares to some food, including a nice selection of cheeses and gourmet food.  A restaurant and wine bar will open pretty soon.  It’s worth a look, even if it might make you nostalgic for those all-night dance days from your 20s.

Scary to think the state this place was in before its reincarnation

Mmmmmmm.....cheese (in your 40s, that's more exciting than a night of dancing, for sure)

To plan your career path, think chutes and ladders

For some reason I have a lot of friends who turn to me for career advice.

I don’t think it’s so much that they’re trying to emulate anything in particular that I’ve done; it’s just that I’m a pretty decent listener about this stuff (particularly when they’re the ones buying dinner and we’re on the 2nd bottle of wine), and once in awhile I offer a bit of advice that they seem to find helpful.

One of the most common things I hear is essentially: “I’m not totally happy where I am, and here’s where I want to be, but I really don’t know how to get from here to there.”

As I’ve thought this through, I’ve come to the conclusion that career management is like a variation of the classic kids game Chutes and Ladders.  Remember that?

In the classic game, ladders advance you and chutes set you back.

My version is a little different: chutes and ladders can both connect you to future opportunities. Chutes represent continuity & transferring skills or knowledge from a previous position.  They represent the things you’ve already done that can get you a new job.  Ladders involve doing something different to broaden your skill set and give you more options in the future.

The columns on the game board represent the location, industry/product, company type, function, and recruiting method for companies that interest you. Chronology starts at the top (with your first job) and moves down the board.

Ok, at the risk of being completely and annoyingly self-referential, I’m going to apply this approach to my own career progression:

A few observations:

  • Notice how the early career chutes just connect to adjacent jobs, but later on, chutes begin to lengthen and span multiple connections.  My AOL job drew on my experience as a brand manager at Campbell (2 jobs prior). When I interviewed for SiteAdvisor, I was able to convince Chris Dixon that I had startup cred by pointing to my experience at iSalvage (3 jobs prior).  This is why it’s important to build ladders as soon as you can; they enable future chutes, and it gets harder to build new ladders as you get more and more senior.
  • Notice also how there are a lot of incoming chutes in the ‘How Recruited’ column.  They come mostly from friends and networking, which is of course consistent with what every career counselor in the world tells you every 5 minutes.
  • Finally, note that you can have both a chute and a ladder connect something at the same time.  When possible, try to use a chute to leverage what you’ve done while also building a ladder to broaden your responsibilities.  Example: my move to Travelzoo drew on my existing online marketing background but also broadened it to include investor relations.

Which brings us to Kelly’s two laws of chutes & ladders career management:

  • Chutes enable ladders

-> Drawing on experience that makes you relevant also leaves room for you to grow into new areas

  • Ladders enable future chutes

-> Every new experience and new skill created by a ladder gives you more options and flexibility down the road

and two corollaries:

  • If you build too few ladders, you’re going to end up with far fewer options down the road and end up stuck doing the same thing

-> this is a reason to avoid lateral moves just to earn a small amount more

  • If you try to use too many ladders at once without offsetting them with chutes, you’re going to have a hard time convincing a hiring company that you are relevant for them

-> this happens when people try to change too much at the same time, which can either prevent you from getting hired or set you up for failure if you talk your way into a job.  When friends want to change too much all at once, I encourage them to consider an alternative 3 or 4 year plan that involves 2 steps, so their chutes can be used to earn some ladders.

I’m not suggesting for a second that I had a master plan in place throughout my 20 year career, but by applying the chutes and ladders principle to job changes, I ended up with a lot of great options, continued to build my skill set, and am fortunate to be in a rewarding and challenging job today (which incidentally has almost nothing to do with how I started my career).

Now that you know far more than you care to about my career, the key is to apply this to your own.  Map out where you are, where you want to be, and then begin to connect the squares with your chutes and ladders.