The Groupon Trap

A few years ago I got caught up in a “fake purse” phase.  There was an outbreak of underground parties where vendors would go to a person’s house and sell knock off designer goods.  There would be dozens of tables with piles of purses and I would sift through all the items trying to find “believable” knock-offs at a great price.  Even if I didn’t want a purse I got caught up in the time sensitive pressure of the situation and the feeling that if I walk away from this great deal I will never find it again.  After all, once the party ended that was it, the purse would gone and I wouldn’t be able to change my mind and go back to get it.  I used to get a slight buzz of it and would only start to feel the regret once my credit card bill showed up.  I realized that I could not withstand the impulse to make purchases at these parties and I had to stop going all together.

While I was able to just say no to going to anymore purse parties I have now realized that Groupon mimics the entire scenario and tapped into one of my greatest weaknesses.  I became aware of this new problem when I sat myself in a very uncomfortable teeny tiny pocket chair that I HAD TO HAVE because it was just $9 dollars in the Groupon deals.  Thanks to Groupon, I am also am the proud owner of 3 month memberships at two different boxing gyms that I haven’t had time for, and a crappy PanDigital e-reader that I didn’t really need or truly want.  When Groupon was just a website that I had to visit to see what the deals were it didn’t impact me but now that I have a glowing green “G” app icon on my smartphone I’m conditioned to check the deals every day to make sure I’m not missing out anything.  I know there is only one way out of this, I need to delete the app from my phone BUT….. I just can’t do it.  I wonder if there is a Groupon anonymous support group I can join.   I’m caught in a web of affect – HELP.

What’s the most ridiculous Groupon purchase you ever made?

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Deep Thoughts: Real vs Virtual Collecting

My mother has always been a collector of things in real life and has gone through a number of phases.  There was a house phase and everything in our house had houses on it, there were plates with pictures of houses, house magnets, house boarder paper and house miniatures all over the place.  Then there was a duck phase, it looked like pond threw up in our home and the ducks ran wild.  Now we are in the angel phase my dad once said “there are so many angels in our house if they ever came to life they could pick the thing up and fly away with it.”  Some collectors collect things for value but my mom collects things purely out of “like” and most things end up in the basement or at a garage sale someday.

My mom’s passion for collecting wasn’t passed on to me in the “real world” sense.  I personally can’t stand clutter and the having a bunch of random things around the house drives me nuts.  For a while I almost felt that people were imposing collecting on me.  For instance, I have a cat, so to some people that means – hmmm, Jodi has a cat so I must get her things with cats on it.  Over the years gifts to me have included random items with cats on it, I’ve received cat magnets, picture frames and t-shirts, socks ect….  Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful but part of me just wants to tell people – Dude, just because I have a cat does not mean I want stuff with cats on it.

While I sniff at “real world” collecting, I’ve found that I have become quite addicted to virtual collecting via Pinterest.  Some of my favorite pin boards include collections of nail polish designs, do it yourself ideas, recipes and art.  I could spend hours on the site browsing and pinning away without even realizing how much time has passed.  This has made me wonder what virtual collecting offers that actual collecting doesn’t.  I think the answer is that virtual collecting offers a potential experience instead of just stuff.  For instance, I could make that recipe someday or I could paint my nails like that.  While this explains some of the boards there are others that just offer pure enjoyment like the art board or cute animal pictures board.  I guess in the end, Pinterest offers the experience of collecting as much and whatever you like without running the risk of ending up with piles of unwanted junk or sinking your well-earned wages into an army of precious moment dolls.

What’s your favorite Pinterest Pinboard?

Uber Good (Taxi App)

Have you ever gone to an event only to find yourself stuck outside afterwards among masses of people fighting for a taxi?  It’s a completely miserable experience especially when you’re tired or the weather really stinks.   Some friends and I went through the familiar taxi hassle after a concert let out this weekend.  After trying to catch a cab for over a half hour we gave up and hitched a ride off of an 18 year old kid who was on his way home from work.  Luckily he wasn’t a psycho and we weren’t psycho’s and everyone made out of the situation ok but the aggravation of  trying to catch a ride left us wondering what we were going to do the next day after a second concert event.

One of my friends told me about an app called Uber, apparently she used it a couple of weeks ago during free taxi cab week and took taxi rides all over the city for free.  I wasn’t buying it, it sounded good to be true but after our next concert event was out my friends and I once again found ourselves in a desperate situation and decided to give it a try.  I started by entering my name and credit card information into the app.  Once I had access, I was able to easily see where the cabs were on a GPS map and call one to me with a click of a button.  The app sent me automatic texts to let me know when the cab would be there and I was able to follow it on my Iphone.   Once the driver was close he called me for further instructions on where to find me and few short minutes later we were swept up in the comfort of a well air conditioned techie cab.   Overall, it took about 15 minutes for the cab to get to us.  Once we were dropped off at our destination, my credit card was automatically charged so I didn’t have to worry about paying in cash and a receipt showed up in my e-mail like magic.

I wouldn’t recommend using the Uber app for every cab occasion (they do charge 20% gratuity automatically) but in this case it really worked out for us and I was very pleased with the experience.

The Trolley Trap

I’ve done my fair share of pub-crawling over the course of the years. In fact I’ve even managed to make “royalty” status for the annual Twelve Bars of X-mas crawl in Chicago. Every now and then I break from my usual crawl circuit and try something new. This weekend some friends and I tried out a Trolley crawl. It seemed like a fun way of going to different bars throughout the city. As with any new experience, people are bound to make mistakes as was the case with what I now refer to as the Trolley trap.

Things were off to a rocky start from beginning when it took me two hours to commute into the city during rush hour. I’m used to the misery of this drive during the week; however, it became really stressful as I watched the minutes ticking by realizing that there was a good chance I was going to miss the trolley which was leaving promptly at 8. By some miracle I was able to arrive on time although was not to thrilled about getting on another form of transportation. The trolley ride itself was ok but I think the key to this whole experience is drinking on the trolley, a grave oversight since we did not think to bring alcohol with us for the ride.

Once we reached the first bar things got a little better and I was able to start to unwind with a beer only to realize that there was really only time for one drink and then we needed to get back on the stupid trolley to reach our next destination. The second leg of the journey was a little more lively as people started to become more conversational; however, I soon realized I was in danger of being accosted by a creepy “rock of ages” drunk guy as I watched him scare off the three girls that sat between him and I. One by one the girls got up and moved to other parts of the trolly squishing into what was left of the available seating space. Sure enough drunk guy moved over to sit by lucky me, the only remaining female on that particular trolley bench. The next 15 minutes of the trolley ride were excruciating to say the least and I could not get off it soon enough.

For the final leg of the journey, we ditched our trolley and hopped on another, something that was very frowned upon by those who had originally chosen that particular trolley. This turned out to be the best trolley ride of all. It could have been the additional drinks we had at the bar or the fact that people were freely giving away beers trying to use up the last of their alcohol but we had a blast. In fact when the trolley reached the last bar we were a little sad to leave to it. Lessons learned here, definitely drink on the trolley and pick your trolley wisely by examining the crowd prior to boarding. In the end, I think I’m a land lover and would rather stumble my way from bar to bar at a leisurely pace instead of being trapped on a trolley and confined to a tight schedule.

Viagra Anyone? An E-mail Hack Attack

Viagra anyone?  This seems like an odd question to come from yours truly and the strangeness of it was not missed by my dearest friends and family who received a link to a  Viagra ad from me yesterday afternoon.  Shortly after the e-mail was sent from my Hotmail account my cell phone started receiving text messages and phone calls at an alarming rate.  Messages ranged from “You’ve been hacked, change your password ASAP” to “Why are you sending me Viagra ads?.”  Luckily the hack was caught pretty quickly and I was able to immediately change my password and harm wasn’t really done since I primarily use the Hotmail account as my “junk mail” decoy.

Soon after the incident I did a mental inventory of my activities of the past few days to try and figure out how the hack happened.  I realized that this was most likely connected to an interaction with my LinkedIn account.  I had visited the site early in the day and was told my password was invalid.  The site bumped me to my Hotmail where I could receive a new password that they had e-mailed me for security purposes.  In the rush of the day and my immediate need to grab information this did not strike me as odd but I realize now I was likely sent to phishing site.

I posted about this incident on Facebook and found that many other have recently endured the same type of incident.  One of my friends jokingly said she had cried herself to sleep every night after her friend’s husband started sending her weight loss ads on a consistent basis.  Another friend had said that she also connected a recent hack to her LinkedIn account.  This prompted me to do a little research and I discovered that this is a known problem and there numerous articles on the net that talk about millions being impacted by the LinkedIn hack.  For anyone reading, beware of LinkedIn as it seems that the problem has yet to be solved to date.  Following are some additional helpful links I found about projecting yourself online:

1) LinkedIn hacked: How to protect yourself online

2) After Zappos hack, how to protect yourself online

3) What to do when your e-mail gets hacked

4) Hack Attack! What to Do if Your Email is Hacked

The Practice of Remembering Names

“Hi, I’m Dan the Man, the Italian Stallion.” This is an introduction I recently encountered during a training session kick-off at work. “Dan the Man” visited our office to help employees develop their business influencing skills. It’s a rare opportunity to have a trainer come into the office as most learning sessions provided today are offered online and not in the flesh. Before the training started, Dan came around the room, that include approximately 30 people, introduced himself and asked each one of us our names. As soon as we started the training and began asking and answering questions, It was apparent that Dan knew all of our names when he called on us for responses. I was awed by this, how was it possible that he could remember 30 names when I couldn’t even remember the names of the three people sitting closest to me? During a mid-day break, I took advantage of the chance to ask Dan about his special super-power and his response may forever change my name remembering hand-cap for the rest of my days. The pearls of wisdom shared with me follow:

1) Capture The Name: This may seem obvious but this is where many people fall short. When you first meet a person or a group of people you may have a lot of things on your mind, how do I look, is there food in my teeth, what should I say. While you’re busy taking inventory, you may miss the name so always be sure to pay attention and hear it. If you don’t hear it on the first shot ask them to repeat it right away so things don’t become awkward. If it’s an unusual name you can say something like, “that’s a lovely name, how do you spell that?”

2) Say The Name: Say the name out loud as soon as possible (e.g. nice to meet you Jane). The reason is you use different parts of your brain to listen and speak, so you will be capturing the name in different ways.

3) Associate the Name: Once you meet a person, associate their name by linking them to something or someone familiar (e.g. Donna smells like cookies, Lisa reminds me of my next door neighbor).

4) Practice Makes Perfect: Learning names is a skill that is practiced. Dan started practicing when he went to weddings. He would go around the room table by table, introduce himself and see how many names he could remember. By the end of the wedding he would have learned about 80%. Of course everyone shouldn’t start working the wedding scene but rather start out slow using this method with one or two people.

I recently tried the method at a meeting and was pleased to find that it works. I was able to remember 5 out 8 names thanks to “Dan the Man,” a name I will never forget.