Idea for @SFBart – Everyone Wins

This idea will resound with the good people of Bay Area who take Bart a lot or even sometimes.

The Pleasant Hill Bart station started charging for parking not too long ago – $1/day. This is not too bad at all given the convenience of parking so close to Bart until you realize that you have to remember the number of the specific spot that you parked at and pay for the parking inside the Bart station. This will generate more revenue for Bart and will result in higher customer satisfaction from ease of Bart use.

There is a lot going through everyone’s mind in the morning but most of us manage to remember the obscure numbering (not based on the floors) of the spot and pay for parking every morning even though the payment machine likes to refuse perfectly good dollar bills, only accepts $1 bills, the only change machine breaks everything into Quarters, as the Bart train we absolutely must take approaches the station.

Well guess what happens on some other occasions – We forget! Yup, we forget to pay in the rush of trying to get to train – racing up those stairs, two steps at a time, to get to get inside those Bart doors that inevitably catch someone trying to sneak in at the last moment. And it’s a huge waste of time to realize half-way to your destination that you forgot to pay, go back to the station you parked at and

My suggestion – Is to have a Remote Parking Payment Function built into the iBart iPhone App, the Bart Website, from other Bart Stations. The best part is you can charge us extra for paying remotely. A possible fee structure

– $2/day for remotely paying for your specific spot.

$3/day or $4/day if someone doesn’t remember the spot number

I realize, there are some logistical things, like how to manage tickets and such that I didn’t discuss here. I have ideas of how you should manage that so let me know if you would like my two cents on it.

Sincerely,

A Bart User

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Recommendations for new members of the “real-world”

This is primarily for new analysts/consultants but could apply to anyone starting a new job really. The “real-world” reference is to clarify that this doesn’t apply to interns. Interns exist in a bubble, no matter which company they are at.

So here goes a some things that I think you should know about/learn to do, especially if you are working in a big professional services firm:

  1. You will be asked to do things that you find extremely boring but you should do them and better understand why you hate them
  2. Paying your dues is definitely true unless you are really lucky or… (not going to go into it)
  3. You will not receive instructions for most of your tasks
  4. Seek out individuals who will help you and guide you beyond your firm assigned buddy and counselor (also applies to #3)
  5. Always attempt a task and come with problems AND solutions (also applies to #3)
  6. Learn to be lazy – Does not mean don’t work hard but rather work smart. Find ways to do things more efficiently
  7. Look to learn from everyone around you – peers and seniors, especially Partners.
  8. Definitely look to learn from your seniors, no matter how dumb you may think they are.
    1. They are probably not as dumb as you think they are and they will have always have something for you to learn
  9. Pass on your knowledge to worthy and willing individuals
  10. Acing your English classes in college does not mean you will be a good business writer. Watch and learn others’ writing style and then create your own.
    1. Offer to draft emails for seniors and see how they change it before sending it out
  11. Do not get defensive about your mistakes, just listen and focus on what you should change
  12. Do not get defensive about others’ mistakes that are made to be yours, just listen and focus on what you should do to not be blamed in the future
  13. Diversify your skills and projects – This ensures that you work under a variety of management styles and polish different skills in our toolbox
  14. Seek to make your own path rather than follow others unless you strongly believe in them and their path
  15. Understand yourself and stick to it. Otherwise, you will lose yourself and the job will define you
  16. Find hobbies or activities to do outside of work to give yourself a break from work and also meet people outside of work
  17. If and when drinking alcohol at work events, know your limits
  18. Be nice to everyone because people remember it. If someone is particularly mean to you, just keep your distance and remember them. 😉
  19. Don’t send angry or drunk emails
  20. Challenge yourself because others are not going to go out of their way to do so
  21. Know that there is always politics involved in the “real-world” – My recommendation is to stay as far away from it as possible

This by no means is a comprehensive list. And the numbering does not indicate how important it is.

Let me know if I should add others on there or if you agree/disagree with any.


Tracker for >100 Online User Profiles

Not sure if other face this problem – I have easily accumulated over 100 user profiles on various websites. Each has it’s own name and password. I have tried to standardize passwords and determined variations that work for the website. But inevitably, I visit a website and I forget what variation of password and username I used.

So the two issues I struggle with are:

  1. Tracking Usernames/Passwords – I know all the Browsers allow you to track usernames and passwords but some time I don’t really want to save that information within my browsers – for ex: Wells Fargo, personal email, Facebook.
  2. Tracking Websites – There are so many websites I subscribe to and like but forget about them. Additionally, they all serve different purposes so I needed to be able to search through my subscriptions when I need it. For ex: what websites help me with “video” work.

My Solution (at least at the moment) – Track all my websites and profiles in an Excel workbook with the their own description tags and related usernames and passwords (coded). Here is the link to the workbook I use – Online Profiles Workbook. Also, I have highlighted certain profiles in Orange to indicate the ones that I use regularly.

I know there are other websites and softwares out there that allow you to do this but I want to have access to this readily and don’t want to save them online OR they cost money.

Here is a pic of what the workbook looks like:

image

Hope this helps!

p.s. The file isn’t a complete listing of websites I utilize. These are the ones I remembered.


New Hotel Location suggestions for @SPGInsider – in the Bay Area

I think anyone who lives in the Bay Area and has Starwood Points will agree with my following recommendations for new Starwood Hotel Locations:

  1. South & North Lake Tahoe – Most popular location during winters and summers
  2. Napa – Wine Country, popular tourist spot, organize wine tasting tours
  3. Yosemite – National forests, A lot of people can’t camp but want to visit
  4. Half-Moon Bay – Small beach and frequently used for a weekend
  5. Monterey – Beach Town
  6. Santa Cruz – Beach Town
  7. Marin – Close but feels far away from the Bay for a short getaway

The locations noted above are very popular locations for Bay Area residents as well as tourists. So there will be no shortage of customers. Also, given the reputation of Starwood hotels, they would not need to significantly discount prices even in areas that are cheaper.

Feel free to post comments with any additional locations suggestions. Also, if you would like to vote for any of the locations above – here is a link: http://bit.ly/elZNcc

 

p.s. This post is obviously assuming you (Starwood) don’t already have plans to expand into these areas.


Why is “To the Cloud” a smart move by Microsoft? @msftnews

Have you seen the recent Microsoft ads from Microsoft with the catch phrase “To the Cloud…”? If you haven’t yet, see some examples below:

1) Start-up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HRrbLA7rss

2) Airport – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lel3swo4RMc

3) Family Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjtqoQE_ezA&feature=channel

What do you think about them?

The word, “Cloud”, is thrown around very casually by techies nowadays but the layman still doesn’t understand the concept. People have this impression that it’s a brand new thing and no one is really working to dispel this myth. So the cycle continues and more and more people continue to believe that the “Cloud” is a new idea and it is something to be feared/revered but the way of the future, nonetheless. Well the next question one would ask – Well, how do I get in on this new thing?

Since people don’t know what it is, they don’t realize that most have been using Cloud based services for some time now (Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Microsoft Sky Drive). This is the sweet spot Microsoft’s new campaign is taking advantage of.

The ads don’t try to teach you about the “Cloud” or tell you that you have been using it already. They simply provide you a way to be a part of the Cloud revolution. All you need is Windows 7 on your PC/Laptop and you will be a part of this new trend.

With these ads, Microsoft is demonstrating how things done in the Cloud can be very useful and thus helping remove the stigma around it as well (especially from the older generation). Thank you Microsoft!

The reasons above (and others) is why the new ads are a very smart move for Microsoft in appealing to the mass market.

 

p.s. “Cloud” is defined as as a “metaphor for the Internet in cloud computing, based on how it is depicted in computer network diagrams and as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals[1]” by Wikipedia.


TwitRes – Twitter Resumes

What do you think about a Resume that is only 140 characters long? My first thought wasn’t very positive but I see a few benefits of this:

– Quick review and filtering of resumes

– Being able to process more applications

– Truly reading the things the applicant deems most important in their resume/experience

– Show applicant’s creativity. Truly valuable for marketing positions to see if a person can come up with a clear and concise message when selling themselves.

– Buzz words wouldn’t help much because everyone would be using them and unless you want to sound exactly the same as others, you have to be unique in the 140 characters. I realize it won’t entirely remove usage of buzz words

– I would imagine the TwitRes’ would be more numbers based, concrete things in order to stand out.

 

This wouldn’t remove the current system of processing applications but could be another form of filtering applications or a supplemental tool.

It may substitute cover letters OR become the new 60-second pitch!