"We are all in this humans race together and it's our job to make sure we all cross the finish line as one."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Follow me now on

So...I am a tad on the procrastination side as of late and this will fit in nicely with that opening line.

almost 3 months ago I got the domain and well...I'm just getting around to now in the informing you process. So, here it is, you want to follow me and subscribe to my posts? Well they are at <<Just click here and there you shall be. I hope to see you all there :-)


Monday, April 30, 2012

Exile On Social Media Street

Sybil had 16 personalities in her head.
Toni Collette has 6 on the show “United States of Tara”.
Ted Bundy claimed to have a few sharing his mental dining room table.
I have close to 4,000 by choice.

So, it was a no brainer when it was time to tune out all the voices I had collected in Social Media and hit the tasty red “STOP” button that freezes the world so I can get off for a while.

It had been a very busy few weeks. Works was insane. Personal life was willy-nilly. My “household tasks” to social media were escalating. My responsibility to myself was gone. Something had to give. It was time to propel myself into a self imposed Social Media Exile. I was notorious for doing it. I had even blogged about it several times. But something was different this time. There was a ground swell of others who had heard the same strange melody in their minds as well. It sounded vaguely like Streisand’s and Summer’s duet, “Enough is Enough”. Others were tuning out as well. 3 people I knew personally had deactivated their Twitter. 4 said “talk to the hand” to Facebook. 1 finally said good-bye to MySpace (I swear!).

Now, I could sit here and give you one or two expert quotes on social media burn out, the signs, the solutions, the dramatic weepy tales of lost followers. I won’t. You have heard it all 729 times and half of you reading this have blogged on your own experiences with it. All I will say is


I was posting once maybe twice a day on Facebook. I was “liking” things on friends pages just so they would remember who I was (pathetic). I was clicking every single “Follow Friday” suggested person sent my way even if I had nothing at all to discuss with them. I had never had the urge to chat about the behavioral patterns of Redwood Mites however I was friending people who studied them. (Seriously).


It was time to take a break. How did I do? Fair to moderate. I peeked into Facebook but did not respond except once or twice to time sensitive item or to address one of the friends directly who I had mentioned walked away from Twitter so I sent them a personal message that I wrote off as “email” to convince myself it was not utilizing social media (#fail). End run on sentence.

If people wanted to find me, they could call or text. Texting is not social media by the way so don’t cry “cheater” and banish me to the gulag.

So, I encourage you to step back. Take a break before it breaks you. Or, just learn to manage it better than I did for a spell there. It’s an addiction. A social one but an addiction none the less unless kept in check.

Oh, and here are some great articles by great people on this great subject! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Once Groupon a Time Ago...

I’m one of those people that loves a great deal. I search high and low on the internet for the lowest price. I read through the Sunday circulars like a brilliant new novel. So of course when Groupon and all its copycat companies started springing up like tweens at a Justin Beber concert, I was intrigued on what it could do for the restaurant group I work for and it’s outlets.

There seems to be a “Great Debate” raging in the restaurant world about Groupon type coupon sites and is there bottom line true value? The question being is it worthwhile to align yourself with a Groupon style service? What if you have your own destination website site that is already successful with generous discounts? Does Four Wall marketing strategy mixed with eblast awareness garner the same results financially at the end of the day?

Most restaurant owners I have spoken to did not see the value of these coupon sites and will not return to them after one try. Here at my company, Café Metro in New York City, we tried it and were not pleased with the results after we factored in food and paper costs as well as labor.

I spoke to Jerry Jodice a Web Manager and former Ad Man about this very subject since he deals with our restaurant and also several non restaurant groups that have explored coupon sites.

“Obviously, consumers love Social Commerce” Said Jerry, “on the advertising side, I think there are two camps: those that did their homework going in and set their promotion accordingly, and those that didn't, were caught off guard, and lost money.”

Jerry managed the results of a Groupon deal for a Earth friendly home cleaning product company and he said the results were overwhelmingly positive with growth and repeat business for the company. However, when he helped navigate the deal for Café Metro in NYC, the results were less than stellar.

“Coupon sites are death for most restaurants: let's say you have a 40-seat Manhattan restaurant and you sell 1,000 Groupons. What happens? You're not going to be able to service them all on the day they may want to use it, and you'll almost certainly lose money on every one, especially those who bought two coupons (which is the norm) who will most likely never come back and pay full price once they've gotten 50% off their first two meals.”

This argument is validated in some research the Jessie H. Jones Graduate School of Business did in a late 2010 survey. They concluded that restaurants fared the worst in profitability while salons and spas did exceedingly well. Other studies have shown that these are “bargain shoppers” and not loyal customers inclined to return just as Jerry observed.

“Coupon deals are great for advertisers that are scalable (i.e. that can handle ten thousand customers as easily as ten) and who have a business model that will follow up with future promotions and never ask coupon holders to ever pay full price. It also helps to be in a niche market; there are tons of restaurants in Manhattan, so I could buy two coupons from every deal that's out there and never eat at the same place more than twice. On the other hand, if you sell one-time items like, say, wedding gowns, it makes no sense to run a coupon deal as that customer will never come back, either.”

In every business, competitors look around and see what one another are doing and then do something similar in return. They have to if they're going to compete. Companies have got to be flexible and take advantage of the opportunities of the moment, and right now coupon sites are "what's happening" in online sales. However, the coupon landscape is changing daily as we saw this week with Facebook entering the arena.

 So my advice to anyone looking to get into it is to have a solid plan before jumping in or else you run the risk of drowning or in the case of restaurants, starving.

Now if you will excuse me I have to go clip some coupons for diapers, Goya Pinto Beans and Oh look…Buy one get one free Turtle Wax! I gotta get some of that!

The Age of the Groupon: Does It Make Sense For Restaurants?- Greg McGuire

Survey: Restaurants get raw deal with

Why Groupon is bad for your business (and mine)- Francois Gossieaux

Why Groupon Leaves a Bad Taste in Restaurant’s Mouths –Jill McFarland

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who Is Your Yoda?

Recently I sat in my therapist’s office all ready to bark at the moon and lay blame for all my issues on my mother, the kid that aimed at me in dodge ball and possibly Nixon. But the session turned into a warm and fuzzy remembrance of the man who turned my life around.

In high school we had a Dean of Discipline, OK he was the assistant principal, named Phil Ross. Mr. Ross waited at the doors to the school every morning the way a fisherman waited for his first catch of the day. On this breezy fall morning it was I who would find myself entangled in his net. Around the second period, I was bolting down the stairs tragically late for my class, my long hair caked all over my brow and one Mr. Ross waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs.

Called into his office, I sat quietly across from him and a dialogue ensued between two people who never took the time to know each other. Two periods later, feet up on his desk, lessons about life and laughter abound, Phil Ross released me back into the wild. “And don’t let me catch you doing that again Sullivan!” He bellowed for effect. “Yes Sir Mr. Ross.” I added to keep the masquerade going. He winked at me and my life had changed.

From that day forward I was never consciously late again. I was quicker to stop and take in what was going on around me academically. I was faster on the draw to get to know someone I didn’t understand. More importantly I had become a friend of Phil Ross. A man who understood children and teens better than Cosby himself.

Phil believed in me. I remember when I produced my first Off, WAY Off-Broadway show with a production company of my own creation. It was in a room that made a Starbucks restroom look palatial and 8 people turned up. Phil Ross was one of them. After the show was over Phil came over to me and placed my forehead to his and said something to me that again, altered my life. With tears in his eyes he said, “I am so proud of you. You did this.” I countered with a “but there only 8 people here.” He took my hands and said, “Never doubt what you can accomplish. Have faith in yourself and others will believe in you.”

Phil and his wife Louise, never had children of their own. His students, his basketball team, we all became his, their, children. I think of him often but the years moved quickly. As I prepared to leave my therapist she said, “So, Phil was Ty’s Yoda. You know what you must do now?”
“Find him. Tell him how much he meant to me and introduce him to my daughter.” I said.
“And let him know that you still believe.”

We learn to be leaders, motivators, believers from the most unlikely places. Who is or was your “Yoda”? Share their name here for all to know them. Speak well of them and often and their lessons will live on.

May the Force be with You…Always. And so it goes…

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Signs of The Times: Sign Language & Social Media

I have always believed in signs. I have also always believed that if we all spoke the same unspoken language we could dance around wars and confrontations. I also believe in aliens and fairies but that is another story.

So here is the correlation to the above claims: Recently, something relatively alien to me was presented in the form of the ultimate unspoken language, sign language. I had always had a fascination with it and throughout my 579 years on this planet I have dabbled in picking up words and phrases especially after my daughter was born. But this time it was different. Why? Because of the person connected to it, Anne Reuss.

When I had heard of Anne it was through a mutual friend on Twitter who believed in a project that Anne was working on where she was trying to encourage companies to create branding signs for their corporate identities and talking about it and posting the results on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Oh, did I happen to mention that Anne is deaf? Well, she is. She has been since before she was two years old.

So many people have this misconception that being deaf is a handicap. It’s a setback, sure but anything can be a handicap if you allow it to. Deafness, blindness, a twisted ankle, get the drift? It’s how we deal with it and make it work to our advantage. Having fallen into social media by chance, Anne found a voice in social media that many others in her arena may have not. She’s challenged others to adapt to her way just as she was adapting to our way, language wise.

Let me make this clear, Anne is not trying to make or create a new American sign language but rather help introduce people to a non verbal communication and assist in the evolution of the language. As far as generating interest? Well it appears to be working and I for one am a convert! She has inspired me and I hope to inspire others through her words. I would pay good money to see Anne speaking at a #140 Conference! Also, let me note, people who are deaf shouldn’t be pigeonholed into working in just the deaf community but the world market!

Anne is mover and shaker in a community that has had some fantastic doors open to them thanks to social media. People who are deaf can communicate with each other not just in hand scripted letters or in person anymore. The walls have been brought down thanks to Skype, where the deaf in different parts of the planet can chat where they could not before. Through Twitter, YouTube and Facebook opportunities has branched to bring awareness that there are 70,000,000 deaf people on the planet, isn’t it time we started to learn the language folks? We teach it to our children when they are babies right? Shouldn’t we encourage them to continue learning sign language?

Another hip-hip hooray for social media folks! It’s allowing amazing game changers and influencers like Anne to further our development as humans and use this amazing tool for more than broadcasting the fact we are clipping our toenails at that moment or spewing hate through cyberbullying.

So, I’m challenging you, just as Anne did me, to embrace sign language and to even create a sign or gesture that best represents your business identity and brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re Exxon, the pizza joint on the corner or a toothpick factory. Do it!

Anne, I gotta hand it to you (literally) YOU are an ambassador of change. You are part of the future evolution of Social Media.

For more info on Anne Reuss, click on her website here to learn more about her Signs For Startups concept.

And Thanks Anne for these lovely post :) "Twitter & Circus Trees"

And now…Some signs of the times…

Friday, March 9, 2012

Under The Covers: Beatles, Business & Bamboozling

              RIP OFF!
What does that phrase usher thoughts of when you hear it? Copy cat? Swindle? Bamboozled?

Sure, I’m guessing all those things. And in the world today where we are so enamored by a certain flavor of the month gizmo or concept from electronics to restaurants, we don’t shy away from knockoff’s or straight on impersonators.

But…(you knew there had to be a ‘but’), when is something paying tribute to or recreating an idea to make their very own? It’s a thin line isn’t it? I started thinking about this after my friend Jim Sullivan from was in my fair hamlet of NYC to give a seminar at the International Restaurant Show. Knowing I was a HUGE Beatles fan, he had made me a CD of covers the “Lads” had done at the start of their careers and songs by artists that influenced their music.

During the seminar Jim had made a note regarding taking ideas from a competing business and learn from the borrowed ideas of their successes without copying them. I paraphrase it here but that was the gist. I thought about the CD he had just given me and thought, “Well if these Fab Four can do it why not others? They seemed to do pretty well for themselves!”

But what they did do with songs by other artists was make them their own. They infused their distinct Beatles sound into the copied versions. Listen the original of “Rock & Roll Music” by Chuck Berry and then re-recorded by The Beatles. Almost the same length, key and feel. But the Lads from Liverpool added a raunchy rawness to it. They infused a war cry and growl that was not there in Berry’s version. They took a standard by Sophie Tucker, “Till There Was You” and turned it into a pop rock classic. All by infusing other musical styles inspired by Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and Little Richard.

The Rolling Stones. Guilty of the same charges. Lady Gaga. Guilty as well. And sometimes even the biggest names get busted for it like George Harrison for a VERY blatant, umm, “tribute” to The Shirelles “He’s So Fine” and his song “My Sweet Lord”. In the case of The Monkees, they were a TV show/band that was created to cash in on the Fab Four formula but then went on to become one of the better pop bands on their own terms.

The point is sometimes greatness in business has to come from somewhere and inspired by someone else who had the courage to do and develop an idea. But IF it’s a direct “rip off” or impersonation of another successful venture without “making it their own” through modification, then more than likely it is doomed to fail.

A very successful restaurateur once said to me when I presented a proposal to him that would separate him from the rest of the pack as a visionary, looked me in the eyes and said, “Sullivan, I’m the great impersonator, not the great innovator!” Was he successful? Yes. Were his products original? No. Would people stand up and take note of him 50 years from now as to leaving his creative legacy on the industry? No. There would be no statues or songs sung about him.

What is it you want from your company and what will its legacy be if any? It’s alright to pay tribute to a competitor who has the shiny new toy but find the underlying current of what makes that toy so shiny and find a polish that will make it brighter so others take note of your shimmering toy.

Imitation can be the greatest form of flattery. But what will you remember more? The Beatles or the band that tried to sound like them?

Like Oasis, Tears For Fears, XTC, Electric Light Orchestra, Sly Fox, Michael Penn, The Rutles, Aimee Mann, this guy, that gal, John Smith, Joe Bag O’Doughnuts…

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You're Hired! Celebrity Apprentice Meets Cafe Metro

This week my company had the unique opportunity to be involved with one of the biggest “reality” TV shows out there, The Celebrity Apprentice, Sunday’s at 9pm on NBC-TV.
I’m the Director of Marketing and Social Media for Café Metro’s parent company S.T. Management Group here in the quiet little hamlet of New York City and being a part of the local, social and media outlets is no strange concept to us. However, being on a national TV show is A LOT different than being mentioned in local blogs, papers and on the lips of the homeless we feed.
Let me just say this…If you can get affiliated with a media outlet like a radio, TV or film production crew…DO IT! I’m going to shatter the 3 bullet point rule here and give you some tips as to how to make it work. Grab your crayons, here we go:
- We had a connection with the Celeb Apprentice via another NYC based restaurant that had done it 2 seasons ago. We tossed our name in the hat and the Trump group knew who we were. There was a connect. We got the call and away we went.

- The key to our success was going to be logo placement so I had to think like a camera operator. I had to think of the places and angles that would make sense. Coming from a background at WCBS News and film I had a pretty good idea of the “if I was a logo where I would hide” game. It worked! BIG TIME! Even the production team at NBC said it was the best, most focused logo placement they ever saw! BOO-YAAH!

- The fact that the Celebrity Apprentice has its roots in charity and giving back was a HUGE thing for us. The culture of our company is about giving back to those in need and it was important that we aligned ourselves with a show that held the same philosophy as we did. Now, is that to say if our friend Teresa Giudice from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and her crew wanted to film at our location that we would have sicked pit bulls upon them in protest? NO! But, but it wouldn’t have the same satisfaction as knowing we made a REAL difference by being on this show other than being a set for our lovely logo and products.

- By being involved in something like this it calls for more than just the “all hands on deck” approach at the office level. You need an army! You need super soldiers from a Public Relation firm. We aligned ourselves with Morris+King, a tremendously hands on PR group here in NYC to handle the outreach for us. I’m a Marketing guy. My media rolodex is about as fat as Lindsey Lohan after a fast and furious coke filled weekend. A PR group can reach into media crevices we can’t even see. Plus they will help you keep your companies name out there while the fire’s embers are still warm from your media outing.

- Wallpaper your Facebook, Twitter and any and all social media outlets with pictures, news mentions, fan pictures, etc. Make that noise! You earned it! Our Social Media Manager, Mary O’Brian, tweeted out every photo and article mention as fast as she discovered them! (She is good! Thanks Mary!) Also, see if any media contacts you do have are able to talk about. My friend Dave Reynolds for the 99.7 Morning Show was more than happy to help us promote it through on air interviews with me. (Thanks Dave!)

Not only does it work from a business standpoint but it’s just FUN! Yes! Have fun with it! It’s a great deal of work but while it’s going on, just relax and enjoy it! I came from a TV/Film background as an actor so being around celebs was semi-normal for me. But, where else can you hang out with The Hulk, Pop princesses and Mafia Don’s daughters? Well, I am in New York so, any Starbucks or hot club really…
And So it Goes…

Miss the Episode? View it by clicking the logo to the right:
Also, follow Cafe Metro on Facebook and Twitter to see how we are handling it all!
Here is a great list of all the charities that the cast is fighting for. Check it out and see if there is a fit for your organization:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bus Boy: A Story of Being There

“Is everyone alright?”- Robert Kennedy’s Final Words

I was sitting down to write a humorous piece on customer service, the restaurant industry and bus personnel in particular. As I hit the Google images icon the famous picture of bus boy Juan Romero cradling the just shot Sen. Robert Kennedy came alive on my screen. And the words under it were the above final quote from one of the world’s last great pacifists from a turbulent time in America’s history.

The article I planned pealed itself from my mind and the moment I relived as a four year old, the image of the selfless young man and the words of one of my heroes dominated from that moment forth.

Robert’s last words summed up his life and how he lived it. He cared for others. When he himself lay mortally wounded he wanted to know the condition of those around him. He was rewarded by God, Allah, Buddha, whomever, in those final moments as well by being attended to by a stranger who cradled him and placed his rosary in Robert’s limp hand.

A bus boy and a world leader in a moment that sent out a message that still carries as strongly as it did 44 years ago on the cover of every newspaper. That we are here for each other.

Imagine if every customer service representative in the world cared as much as that young man did that day? Imagine if every human reacted as fast and as caring as he did that day. Imagine, as another great pacifist said, “all the people living for today”. Living in the moment.

Listening.          Hearing.              Engaging.

That bus boy, Juan, was there to do a job that night. He was there to bus his tables, work hard for his tips and create an experience for the dinners and guests at the Senators speech. His job that night was also to be a lasting image in history of going beyond the call of duty and answer the call of being human.

In every business, no matter what it is; restaurant, office, clothing shop, pet store, etc…There is a Juan.
In every human heart, there is a Juan.

Recently Juan, under a soft blue sky, with fall colors exploding across the velvety slopes of the cemetery that was the final resting place of Robert Kennedy, Juan wore a suit for the first time in his life. He said it was the proper way to show his respect for a man whose memory he has tried to honor by living a life of tolerance and humility.

May we all take away the same lesson from these two men's first and final meeting.

Let there be Peace. Let there be tolerance.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”- RFK, April, 4th 1968 upon hearing of MLK’s assassination