Tag Archives: job creation

Thoughts on Technology, Old Fashioned Mail, and Constant Contact

This is just an “isn’t this interesting” thought.

Here’s a little exercise.  We pretty much publicize the First Friday Book Synopsis with Constant Contact, and nothing else.  (I’ll leave out our web site as part of this little exercise).  We used to simply use our own e-mail program.  This is so much better!

We send out three e-mails a month for each monthly event.  One original e-mail, then ever so slightly adapted versions for two reminder e-mails.  Total yearly cost:  $454.68.

Let’s break it down.

I just sent out the first of two reminder e-mails about our August First Friday Book Synopsis.  We pay $35.00 per month, plus tax, for a total of $37.89 per month.  This allows for unlimited e-mails, and more than enough storage for e-mails and images.  (We have lots of book cover images).

I’m not smart enough to figure out the share of cost for my computer cost, and my internet access.  But, Constant Contact just added a new feature, at no additional cost, where they tweet my e-mail to my Twitter account – thus they create a web page for my e-mail for the tweet link.  (you can follow me on Twitter here).  Here is the link to the e-mail, provided by Constant Contact.

So – after being grateful for this new feature, I decided to figure out what it would cost to mail this in the old fashioned way – you know, with paper, and envelopes, and postage.  Of course, our mailing list is substantially larger than the number of folks who actually, regularly attend.  If you have ever had an old-fashioned mailing list, this is usual practice…

Here’s what I came up with, for our current mailing list size:

Postage (figured at First Class – we could save with some form of bulk mailing): — $865.92

Envelopes (the inexpensive kind): — $ 35.89

Copies of “flier” – (I figured this black and white, one side of one page) — $100.00

Administrative time (to stuff, seal, etc…) — $60.00 (a guess – I think conservative).

Total cost for one mailing:  $1061.81

Let’s pretend we mail it twice a month (we send three Constant Contact –e-mails a month – we discovered that with travel, etc., two reminders works better than just one reminder):  monthly cost, $2123.62

Money saved per month:  $2085.73

Money saved per year: $25028.76

This one page flier would have much less info that we can put in our e-mails.  And the images we use would not look as good on the flier.  In fact, we still distribute a paper flier at the event itself, for the next month.  The e-mail looks a lot better!

I’m sure I have forgotten something in this calculation.  But if you consider what Constant Contact saves us, then you begin to see how technology has an impact on productivity, and job creation or loss, in a multitude of ways.

(And, in case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of Constant Contact).

Universities Are Funding Jobs In New And Creative Ways…

The job market is so fragile. Here are two different approaches now being taken by universities to help out in this difficult era.

#1 – Law schools are literally, in some cases, paying law firms the salaries needed to hire their graduates. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article, In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That:

Others, like Duke and the University of Texas at Austin, offer stipends for students to take unpaid public interest internships. Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law even recently began paying profit-making law firms to hire its students.

(Law Schools are also retroactively raising a graduate’s grade point average.  I won’t even comment on that practice!  Details in the New York Times article)

#2 – MIT is now, in essence, funding startups from within the university. Here’s an excerpt of another New York Times article, The Idea Incubator Goes to Campus:

By providing academics like Professor Hart a bridge to the business world, M.I.T. is in the vanguard of a movement involving a handful of universities nationwide that work closely with investors to ensure that promising ideas are nurtured and turned into successful start-ups.

At first glance, the centers look like academic versions of business incubators. But universities are getting involved now at a much earlier stage than incubators typically do. Rather than offering seed money to businesses that already have a product and a staff, as incubators usually do, the universities are harvesting great ideas and then trying to find investors and businesspeople interested in developing them further and exploring their commercial viability.

In the jargon of academia, the locations of such matchmaking are known as “proof-of-concept centers,” and they’re among a number of new approaches to commercializing university research in more efficient and purposeful ways — and to preventing good ideas from dying quietly.

The “lesson” – colleges and universities need to demonstrate that their graduates are able to enter the workforce.  Though there have long been “placement” offices, this is an era requiring far more inventive and aggressive approaches.  This jobless era requires, and is generating, lots of new approaches.

What will the best-selling books teach us in 2010?

This is a “let’s think about a question together” blog post.

It’s hard, probably impossible, to figure out just what books will be “big” for the coming 12 months.  Bob Morris, our blogging colleague, reads and reviews very many books for Amazon and other sites.  (I suspect he has passed 2000 books by now).  So he is the one with the best overview of what the themes are…  But to predict the true best-sellers, that is tough.

It appears (from its time on the NY Times best-sellers list and other lists) that the best selling business book of 2009 was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a book that popularizes the work of others (especially Ericcson).  But is its sales success a reflection of the need for this book, or simply the fact of the cachet, the popularity, the story-telling ability of Malcolm Gladwell?  (and, as readers of this blog know, I am a Gladwell fan).

A while back, I wrote a post about the book that I felt needed to be written — about the need for companies to focus on providing and maintaining work for the people in our country.  But if somebody wrote the book, would it sell?  I don’t know. The most read blog post from this blog in 2009 was A Jobless Recovery and a Slip Down Maslow’s Hierarchy.  It included this line:

“While just a brief time ago we were a nation looking for self-esteem and self-actualization in our work, we may be back down to physiological needs and safety needs.  We need to pay the bills and survive this jobless recovery, and self-actualization will have to wait a while.”

I talk to a lot of people, as do most of you.  I think there is a great level of uncertaintty – even fear – among many.  I hear that the job-seeking networking groups are overflowing, and people are discouraged, worried, afraid…  There are plenty of books that fall in the self-help category, calling for positive imagery and positive thinking in the midst of difficult times,  but I don’t yet see books that help leaders know how to build companies that can address such fears.  (News item:  “Zero net job creation in the last decade”).

I think there is one obvious theme developing – business leaders are learning from an ever-expanding universe, and anyone who can write about such an expansion will find an audience.  For example, one current theme is that business has much to learn from the arena of design.  (I am presenting a synopsis of one such book at the February First Friday Book Synopsis, The Design of Business by Roger Martin.  Bob Morris is very high on this book).

What will be the best-selling business books of 2010, and what will they teach us – what will we learn from them?  I don’t know.  But we at the First Friday Book Synopsis will be ready to present our synopses, and maybe help you identify the problems, and the solutions, to take you through to 2011.