shira abel

Just things I find along the way.

Strategy - One Clear Direction

"Strategy is what you say No to." - Ashwin Joshi, my Marketing Strategy prof from Kellogg-Recanati

That’s the easiest way to describe it. All companies have finite resources and as such, decisions need to be made. If you’re a startup with only 2 people, you can’t go after 5 different markets. Well, you could, but it’s a great way to set yourself up to fail. If you’re an enterprise you still need strategy. IBM isn’t suddenly going to break into the makeup market. It’s off scope. Off strategy.

Strategy should come first. It’s the core of what you do, and why you do it. 

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

The Way We Say Things - Framing Counts

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It’s not just the idea that matters - it’s how the idea is expressed. That’s because most people don’t go beyond how things are said, and focus on that more than they focus on what is said. 

Case in point - someone with amazing ideas who, instead of bringing them up as solutions, makes them all sound like complaints. Even if the ideas are wonderful, the way they are said will cause many to turn off. 

It’s about how things are framed. 

I’m completely guilty of this (see yesterday’s post on my Facebook Conspiracy Theory). While I’m more personally amused by the conspiracy theory, it’s not very nice of me to think that FB is capable of such direct malice. And let’s face it, I look silly for thinking it. It could be framed as an extremely odd bug, which it was, or a serious conspiracy theory (for one with a case of mild hubris :). 

Had I framed it as a bug alone I could have sent it to FB and perhaps received credit for catching such a bug. (This one I couldn’t since it’s not a security bug, but you get my point - had it been…) Framing it improperly could have caused me to lose out. 

Are you guilty of framing things in a sub-optimal way without realizing it? If you have any amusing or embarrassing stories - please share them in the comments :)

Is it a bug? Or a reason for paranoia?

This could just be a bug, since I’m pretty sure I’m on the developer FB at some level and I’m probably on a tester group for something or other. However, a few months ago I looked at the jobs on Facebook - and even though I didn’t actually apply for any - I got an email letting me know no jobs were available. 

Why was I looking at the jobs page? Curiosity. I do it every once in awhile. 

So today I went back to the jobs page - only no jobs were available. The section for jobs by location didn’t even work.

No positions open. 

I thought, “That’s weird. How could that be? This must be a bug…” 

So I went Incognito on Chrome and the whole job section worked. 

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Again I thought - “Could this be a bug?” Maybe I just couldn’t get into the links - but deeper in it would work. So I took the URL from incognito and pasted into my logged in FB:

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No idea, but if it’s not a bug - it’s personal. The problem is, with Facebook you can never be too sure… 

[post publishing edit]

It’s a bug. A friend reminded me of 2 things: Facebook’s rule to “work fast and break things” AND (he said sarcastically) “…why attribute something to stupidity when you can attribute it to malice.”

Great, now I get to feel guilty about my conspiracy theory. Sorry FB

Don’t Send Email at Night if You’re a Morning Person

I’m a morning person. While I can’t say I wake up bright and bushy tailed every morning, I generally think better first thing than I do by mid-afternoon when my brain feels spent. 

And I’m not alone - studies have shown that judges make decisions differently in the morning than they do in the afternoon. In fact, there’s a right time of day for us to do everything. And apps have been accused of making people fat by being too complicated.

It’s all about our cognitive resources. Just like how working-out makes our muscles tired - thinking spends the energy in our brain. You’re not going to do as perfect a pushup after doing 300 as the first one. Assuming you can do 300 pushups at all. Why do we expect ourselves to think at the same level and make great decisions at the end of the day as we do in the morning? 

In short, if you have to think a lot and you’re a morning person - make your decisions in the morning. 

Which leads me to the title of this post - I’ve found that I make different decisions at night than I would had I slept on the decision and taken an action in the morning. I know this from the amount of decisions I wake up to thinking about, and realizing that the action the evening before was the wrong way to go. And almost always, these actions involve email.

Like drunk tweeting, sending an email when tired and cognitively spent is a bad idea. We’re more likely to say something via email at night in a way we wouldn’t say it in the morning (reverse this if you’re a night person). However, unlike drunk tweeting, there’s usually no friend around to say, “Don’t do that.”

Consider this post your friend. Go sleep on it.

Reading Budget and Time



I have a husband, two kids, and a dog. I also have a business, friends, and personal interests.

I also only have so many hours in the day, and I like sleeping at least 7 hours a night (but I’ll sleep up to 9 hours on weekends if the kids let me.)

Time is finite. Once spent, you can’t get it back - so spending it wisely is a good way to go. I love reading and read copious amounts daily, but I can only read so much a day. This means I need to make decisions.

Here’s what I’ve been finding myself doing.

My reading used to consist of:

  • Jason Calacanis’s daily Launch email
  • Percolate
  • Mattermark’s email
  • Quibb
  • Twitter’s daily recommendations
  • Books on behavioral engineering or marketing
  • and more that aren’t front of mind right now…
Fortunately work has been extremely busy lately and we’ve been doing so many projects that my time has been limited. Plus the fact that I’m traveling at least once a month on average doesn’t help either.

The issue with this is that my work is constantly changing, and in order to keep up with everything - I need this reading. Or at least, I need some of this reading - which is why my habits have changed since I’ve become busier.

The books have stayed. I’m reading Mindset right now, and I can’t put it down. The Launch blog has become ignored. I realized I don’t need to know the latest gossip on who is doing what daily in order to do my job. Instead the headlines will be skimmed once a week. Quibb has moved to the forefront of my daily reading as it has the most industry specific information for learning purposes. Mattermark I skim and read. Danielle has similar interests to my own, and I know her curated content will always be good.

Everything else has been ignored.

Have you noticed how your habits change when you become busy? What do you do?

Writing on the iPad


I’m still in bed, writing on my iPad. My legs are bent, the iPad is leaning against my legs and my hands are resting on my stomach while I peck at the “keys” with my fingers. I can’t call this typing.

Yesterday I said I would try this to see how comfortable it is, and if it would be worth it to write like this daily - so that I get out my thoughts early while they are fresh. The issue being I’ve challenged myself to write daily, so what is the best way to build this habit.

The comforter has some bits open, and my legs are starting to get cold.

This is not comfortable.

Other issues - I’m writing this on the Tumblr iPad app and I’m not seeing how I can add a link, or a picture, or format the post in any way. What’s a post without a picture? Or a link?

In short, not recommended.

[later edit]

Now testing the iPad browser version which has the same functionality of the website, meaning I can add a pic & links. It’s still not comfortable to write like this (yes, still in bed) but at least the functionality is there.

I should really consider getting out of bed soon…

Total Failure - In One Day

imageTwo days ago I announced my 100 Day Challenge. I would write a blog post a day for 100 days. Then yesterday, the very next day after announcing it - no post. Total fail on my part. 

How do these things happen? Well, I can make a ton of excuses:

  1. I was at a client’s all day interviewing key stakeholders for some training sessions I’m creating and didn’t have a break to write.
  2. After that I went to a meeting for a COO position in Hunter & Bard and still didn’t have a chance to write.
  3. I went to the Kellogg-Recanati Annual Alumni event, and still - no time to write.
  4. Then I had a meeting with a potential partner to talk about work and still didn’t write.
  5. I got home, wrote some proposals, wasted some time on Facebook and was just too exhausted to write.

All lame excuses. I could have put some fingers on the keyboard yesterday and I didn’t. Why? Because I completely forgot about the challenge I made myself the day before.

I could take this as a sign and quit. OR I could look at what happened, figure out why it happened, and then put things in place to try keep it from happening again. (No guarantee on that one though - especially if planes are involved.) 

I’m taking the latter option. 

What I will be implementing:

  1. I’m putting a note by my bed, by the mirror in the bathroom, by the front door, and by my closet to write a post a day & to start working on a book. One will help the other, and both need to be done. 
  2. I’m considering moving my laptop to my nightstand. Right now my iPad lives there. I don’t find writing blog posts on my iPad very comfortable. However, if I could sort that, then I could write first thing in the morning. I might try this… 
  3. An alarm on my phone daily telling me to write.

Why is writing daily important? Well, Fred Wilson has talked about how he’s become a better VC since he’s started writing daily. And countless others have written about how writing helps them organize their thoughts and be better at what they do. 

I’m constantly striving to be better at what I do. And understanding habits will help me help companies make better products, be better at building community and collaboration, and be a better marketer. 

Let’s see if I make it over the weekend :)

100 Day Challenge

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I’m kind of loving David Spink’s blog. I keep seeing his posts on Quibb and they keep getting better and better. 

I’m in awe. Not because he’s doing well (which he is), but because he’s organized enough to have the time to build the habit. I’m doing BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habit challenge right now, and while that’s easy - even he admits that keeping habits while traveling is hard. And I’m a road warrior. I was in Vilnius, Lithuania last week, and next week I’ll be in Sofia, Bulgaria. My habits, once routine and stable, have been smashed to bits through the change and uncertainty of schedule that travel provides. 

Not that I’m complaining. I’ll be the first to admit, I love my life. 

But I miss writing. So I told David how much I’d love to be doing what he’s doing - and he invited me to join the 100 day challenge. I’ll be watching my own habits during this time. I’ll be seeing how I can game myself into writing as I should, what works and what doesn’t.

And I’ll be posting my thoughts here. 

It’s Not a Brothel, I Swear

It’s a 4 Star hotel!

It all started because I was doing 3 things at once while booking my flights. You see, this September has been a chaotic month in Israel. We’ve had Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, AND Sukkot all in September. The Boys have been home for nearly the whole month (there is no camp as these are religious holidays) and there were about 5 working days during the month. The problem with this is that the rest of the world is ramping up after August and we have to ramp with it. So even though there are a ton of days off during September for religious people - I took 1 full day off - Yom Kippur. The rest of the time has been a juggle, as every client seems to have a major project deadline of October 1st. 

All of this resulted in me booking my flight to Paris a day earlier than I should have. And I didn’t realize this mistake till right before takeoff to Paris - when I’m frantically calling my associate to find out what’s wrong, and why isn’t he on the flight - and he messages me back, “What are you talking about? The event is tomorrow.”

Fabulous. I’m flying into Paris a day early and I have no hotel room. I’m laughing at myself, and my blunder, the entire way to Paris.

ADVENTURE! No worries, there’s an app for that - JustBook! I met the developers last year at a conference. It’s German! German’s pride themselves on high quality! Everything in there must be great! 

I get to CDG airport, get the 15 minutes of free WiFi, download the app, find the cheapest hotel in Paris (I’m there unexpectedly on my own - I am NOT spending a lot of money on a hotel room) and get a supershuttle to the hotel.

This is what the place looked like in the app.

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(Even better - the room was 134 Euros)

Normal right? 4 stars, which is great. Design hotel, also cool. And “Playful”. Who doesn’t like Playful? Maybe “Vice” should have given me a clue, but my head wasn’t there - so it didn’t. I book it.

I get to the place before check-in (which is at 2p). My room isn’t ready, but I get a taste of what I’m in for in the lobby…

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I’m thinking to myself, Ok, it’s playful. And designed. And looks like a virgin brothel, if there was to be such a thing. Not that there is. Or that I hope there ever would be. But if there was, it would look like this.

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I sign for the room. The hotel clerk looks at my signature, which is admittedly huge (goes with my ego) and tells me I’m going to love my room.

I get to my room, and I burst out laughing. 

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And

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I couldn’t stop taking pictures, and posting them. Yes, this hotel is designed. No detail is left untouched. It’s over the top in its kitschy fabulosity. 

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In case I want to do my makeup lying down, of course. 

And just so you can see it in all of it’s glory…

http://instagram.com/p/e3trodJwew/ (I can’t embed video here)

The bathroom even has a blacklight.

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To be fair, I think it’s the cleanest room I’ve ever stayed in. The area of the hotel is a bit out of the center, but fine and the people who work here are really lovely. 

Thank you Vice Versa for making my unexpected early arrival to Paris that much more entertaining. What an adventure!

I think we can probably do better for consumer names than ‘Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 1020. Yet, because of where both companies are and the independent nature of the businesses, we haven’t been able to shorten that. … Now, we can simplify the overall consumer branding and messaging gets much simpler. That is an efficiency of being one company.

Steve Ballmer, speaking during a conference call on the Nokia deal this morning. 

I mean, he actually said this — while typing on his Microsoft Surface RT with Windows RT featuring Office 2011 Pro Plus with Microsoft Live SkyDrive for Enterprise Workgroups using Azure for the Cloud 2013 Bing Edition 7.43 and a Touch Cover. 

(via parislemon)

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