Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

Hi, I'm Blake.

I run this joint. Don’t know where to start? Let me show you around:

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal

Google House Cleaning

According to Slashdot, Google will start combating how those gimmicky SEO (search engine optimization) companies use artificial link inflation (i.e. spam). Apparently, Google will revamp how PageRank takes into account the freshness of a webpage as well as some other features.

This proves yet again, that if you build your business on gimmicks, it will only last for a short time. (Think trendy weight loss products and you’ll have a good understanding of how most SEO companies work.) Not that there aren’t good SEO companies to help a site’s performance, but it is getting harder and harder to do because of saturation. I propose Link Optimization (LO) instead of just SEO. For example, who are the most important bloggers in your industry with the most traffic? Post thoughtful comments on their blogs and watch the traffic roll in. I’ve recently experienced 9 times my normal traffic because of the above strategy. It works!

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A Case For Entrepreneurs

I got a call this evening from a good friend of mine in Seattle. He is a businessman by birth and was instrumental in helping me take the entrepreneurial leap a few years ago. He got me thinking about what it is to be an entrepreneur so I did a little research and thought I’d share my findings with you.

The word entrepreneur is Old French for “undertake” or engage. There are two things I feel define a true entrepreneur. One, an entrepreneur assumes risk. That is, they take a chance. While not everyone is meant to be in business for themselves, risk takers aren’t afraid to be creative. They put themselves on the line. Sometimes you fail and learn how to better yourself. Usually you’ll succeed and learn from your success. Second, an entrepreneur has a strong desire to make something better. They can either start a new company to feel the void, or propose a new way of doing something at work. Entrepreneurs are individuals that find greater enjoyment in life by exercising risk and being passionate about making a difference. If you can do that in whatever it is you do, you will find immense purpose in your craft.

It takes guts and passion to be an entrepreneur. The greater the passion, the higher quality of work. It can be intimidating, but what a feeling to give it your all and see where it takes you. Speak up in your workgroups. Share your ideas. Start a new company. Take a stand for something you believe in. All are forms of “preneurs” or undertakers. All are ways of adding enjoyment to your workload (and maybe even your pocketbook).

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To All the Mothers…

This post is a tribute to all the great mothers in the world. First and foremost to my mother Cathy Snow. Thanks mom, I love you. Secondly, to all the other mother’s I’ve known in my life: Lindsey, Annette, Rhea, Colleen, Cami, Summmer, and Lucky. Happy Mother’s Day! You really make the world go round, and are great models of love, charity, and responsibility that the world needs more of.

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Million Dollar Baby

Lindsey and I just finished watching Million Dollar Baby for the first time. It is really one of the best movies I’ve seen this year (right up there with Hotel Rwanda). For those of you who haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. It’s a boxing tragedy about guts, chutzpah, and endurance. Heck, I almost even cried at one point. Clint Eastwood has proven himself one of the best writer/director/actors in Hollywood. Very creative, very well-done, and an excellent story. A-

Art-astic!

I have a very talented younger sister. She is currently a student at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and has just partially launched her personal website. It can be found by clicking here.

Lexia offers a simple yet sometimes skewed perspective of art. Her style is very enjoyable and refreshing to look at. For those of you who enjoyed the intro to the Napoleon Dynamite movie, Lexi’s been creating that style since before the movie was released.

Nice work.

The Positive Effects of Networking

Griffio has been selling databases and websites since the summer of 2003. It was a lot tougher back then to find new work. In the short period of time since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the number of referrals and repeat-work greatly increase. Just over the past two weeks I’ve received several emails from people saying they’ve heard about us and would like to talk. And I’ve received two requests for repeat-work from existing clients in as many days.

Networking is all about genuine friendship. If you are someone that is trustworthy, meaning you are true to your word, people will find you. They will reach out to take advantage of what you do well. While the effects might not be immediate, they will eventually become evident if you remain persistent in your efforts.

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Google to offer free web hosting?

Speculation has been spreading on the internet that Google might one day offer free web hosting. It makes sense in that it could allow Google to capitalize on “content control” which they seem to be going after. This very blog is hosted free on Google servers. By offering free web hosting, the company could control the site content. The better they do that, the better they can protect their search technology and profitability.

Funny how their motto is “Don’t be evil.” Isn’t that bound to happen the larger a company gets? (greater bureaucracy = greater amount of evil?) I sure am glad I’m not in the hosting business.

Systems Thinking

by Mark Butler (Guest Contributor)

Next time you squash a bug or make a nasty comment to someone, think about the repercussions that your actions will have upon yourself and the world around you. Sometimes called Interconnectivity or Systems Thinking, there is a new paradigm shift away from Darwinism (survival of the fittest) toward Interconnectivity (we are all in this together). Street names include Karma, intention, and duality. Mom Butler used to call it, “you made this bed, now lie in it,” and “you reap what you sow.”

The basic principle states that by projecting a positive energy and attitude toward life, good things will happen to you in return. By controlling the ego, shifting your thoughts and beliefs away from low energy sources, and tapping into the positive energy around you, you can somewhat “co-create” a positive, stress-free, and successful life.

Some excellent books that I highly recommend that touch on the subjects of Systems Thinking:

– The Power of Intention – Dyer
– Manifest your Destiny – Dyer
– Power vs. Force – Hawkins
– 7 Steps to Genius Everyday – Gelb
– Think & Grow Rich – Hill
– The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Covey

Seattle Bound

My wife and I are planning a trip to Seattle in June. She is from there but this will be the first time I’ve been. We plan on doing the tourist stuff, and especially catch a Mariner’s game, but if anyone knows of some fun locations and restaurants, let us know.

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Got customer service?

There is a plethora of business books out in the world claiming to reveal the next big thing to make money or better run your business. Some are good, most are bad. There are books on management, sales, and even customer service. The last one I think is laughable. Customer service is equivalent to how you cordially serve your customers to make them happy. If you don’t understand that, I don’t know how you would be in business.

I therefore present Griffio’s “corporate policy” on customer service. It’s rather simple and is based on one thing: accountability. Be responsive to those you interact with. Here’s how:

  1. Return phone calls within 1.5 hours – it’s tough, but it can be done. You will be surprised how comforting a returned phone call can be to your customers. By your doing it, they will have more respect for you and your company.
  2. Reply to emails on the same day – When someone writes an email, respond to it. It usually takes about 10 seconds to do so. I recently emailed a gentleman last week inquiring about his marketing services. I still haven’t heard from him. My bet is that if he treats his potential customer’s poorly, a paying customer probably won’t get much response from him either.

Reason being: customer service is about character not dollars. It’s something that is hard to teach although it can be done. The two above items should help your efforts in showing your customers that you care enough to respond to them. They have been the only formal customer service policies we follow and have taken our company a long way in being one of the most responsive firms in our industry. Sure beats reading a long, boring business book on customer service.

PC Widgets

Stealing some of the thunder from Apple’s new OS (Tiger) that comes out this Friday, there is already a widget program for the PC. A widget is a mini application that runs on your desktop behind your open windows. I currently have the local temperature, calendar, search bar, local movie times, and my appointments running on my desktop. Other widgets include a real time stock ticker and live traffic cams. Very helpful indeed and much better than having to load a website for a little tid-bit of information.

Download the program now by clicking here.

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Problem Solving

Some of you may like to know: exactly how does Griffio go about solving our clients’ business challenges? Well, we’ve loosely documented but rigidly followed the below ideology. (It applies to all sorts of problems and not just how to make web-based business software.)

  1. Discover. Find out what the problem is. A lot of times, you can just ask, “What’s the problem?” or “How can I make your job easier?” Otherwise, conduct in-depth research, such as thorough exploration and investigation to expose the predicament.
  2. Design. After you understand where the problem is, you need to think it through. What ways can you solve the issue? What would work best? Continued research must take place to test your ideas during this phase. Contrary to popular problem solving formulas, this is where most of the testing should take place. An example would be how a certain web page will work or how my audience would react to this idea. Try to uncover any potential hang-ups the idea or process may have.
  3. Develop. Create or build the supporting materials. This step generally includes the use of technical tools such as a software editor, a hammer, or even written notes. Good craftsmanship must take place to ensure quality.
  4. Deliver. Once the system or idea is built or completed, deliver it, launch it, present it, or sell it. This is the part where you give and/or tell the “problemee” what you think will best improve their current state.
  5. Support. This is where you help implement you solution, be it an idea or website. Problem solving requires change, both logistical and behavioral. Good support facilitates that change. The audience should be free to ask questions or get training as to how to best use your idea.

Hopefully, this will help or add to how you approach problems. The idea is to use these steps or a derivative of them in solving just about anything. If you come up with any areas that this might not work (i.e. marriage) please let me know by filling out our quick and easy comment box.

People Meeting, Meeting People

Today I had the opportunity to meet with two potential clients in Salt Lake City. These meetings were “first contact” and are only second in enjoyment to “closing a sale” meetings. I really take pleasure in sitting down with people and seeing how our company can help improve their businesses. It’s a pleasure to discover their backgrounds; where they’re from, what they do, and what makes them tick. I think that’s why I like business so much. Lots of psychology invloved. Hopefully my Father’s PHD in Psychology along with his wise influence on me as a boy can help me in that respect.

Robert, my partner and close friend, have really enjoyed this past year since formally graduating. Although we started Griffio while still in school, this day marks a full year in which we have been working full time for ourselves. We’ve learned a lot about failure, success, and have met literally hundreds of individuals. Large ones, small ones, funny ones, boring ones, rude ones, kind ones, fast ones, slow ones, shady ones, and sincere ones. The work we do is a blast. But it wouldn’t be worth anything without the people that work strives to serve.

Even if you’re not in the business industry, take every opportunity you can to meet someone new. It doesn’t take much, but the positive effects will carry you a long way.

(Sorry for the sermon.)

Word Speed Anyone?

Boy, the Snow Family sure loves a good word fight. My diction problems aside, words sure do move a lot faster than they used to. Webster didn’t have “blog” on file in 2003, although the word had been in existence since the inception of the World Wide Web in ‘95. In 2004, the reference publisher had to quickly add it to their online dictionary because it was the most searched word of 2004 along with incumbent and insurgent.

Using the word “consultancy” in the about me section of this blog is kind of fancy smancy on my part, but it is in fact an established business term. Just Google or Amazon it and you will see. Just because Webster’s takes a little longer to catch on, doesn’t mean that the term isn’t a commonly accepted word in the English language. Wanna a faster dictionary/encyclopedia? Try Wikipedia.

Now if we can only get “Strateegery” into the dictionary…

Music that keeps it interesting

More on the entertainment side of things (I’ll get back to business postings soon enough) I’ve recently been enjoying a band called Royksopp. Their album Melody A.M. is quite the delight. Go check it out!

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Ending the suspense on this one…

Smooth Harold? Is it I? Who is Smooth Harold? Let me hastily post the short version of how the blog’s name came to fruition.

I was good friends with a Michael Komenda years back in Brazil. He is like a skinning living version of Chris Farley. Anyway, he had a band called Smooth Harold in high school. I asked him where he got the name from, and he said he once saw a kid wearing a green shirt that said “Smooth Harold” on the back. I liked the name and Komenda had stopped using it, so I took it for myself.

Commenting on the name, my good friend Josh sent me the following text message: “U little blogging son of a gun! I love [the name] – long live King Harold.”

Back at you Tubby! Or should I say, Art Vandelay?

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The Video Game Pianist

I just came across an excellent amateur pianist that has recorded very professional renditions of Mario Brothers, Zelda, and Sonic the hedgehog themes. All solos on the piano. This guy is very talented. Go on, take a trip down memory lane…

Download the album here.

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Want a great FREE magazine subscription?

You can sign up for a free subscription to CMO Magazine by clicking here. The magazine is filled with good marketing advice and has some of the thickest/nicest paper this side of the Mississippi. Just fill out the request form and you’ll be on your way.

I usually despise free internet offers, cause they tend to sell your information, therefore never making the offer free. This one is worth the pickup though.

Disruptive Technology or Disruptive Myth?

John C. Dvorak, a good but rather quirky writer at times, has a great article on why disruptive technology is just a bunch of business rubbish.

Disruptive technology is a term coined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. He claims it to be an innovation that comes in cheaper, and is better than current technology. The disruptive technology then supposedly replaces the older technology. Only problem is, there is no real evidence supporting this idea.

Quote from Dvorak: “There is no such thing as a disruptive technology. There are inventions and new ideas, many of which fail while others succeed. That’s it. This concept [of disruptive technology] only services venture capitalists who need a new term for the PowerPoint show to sucker investors.”

Can we stop with the cliches and false ideas as to how to make more money in business? The equation is simple:

Consumer Need + Quality Product + Great Service = Happy Customer. That yields happy profits. (more oversimplied business equations coming soon!)

It’s funny how many businesses forget the first ingredient in the equation…