We’ve Transitioned (Moved!)

February 5, 2008 by

In preparations for large scale expansion and to evolve beyond the preliminary baby stages of blogging you can now find our redesigned and maintained site at http://thebigtransition.com. Until we have thebigtransition.wordpress.com automatically redirect (only a matter of days) please use the link or type in the URL manually.

Thank you for joining our community and joining us in our “transition.” It has been a great beginning for us and we look forward to you continuing to grow and evolve with us at our new home. This new site is for you, so don’t hesitate to contact Dan or I if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions.

Yours in Blogging,
Matt and Dan

The best thing college has to offer is not actually finding yourself, it’s the lesson on how to find yourself wherever you go.

January 30, 2008 by

Three and half years ago I made it to the campus of The Ohio State University, and more than anything else I was ready to “find myself.” I was not entirely sure what was meant by that, but everything the University had sent in my direction essentially read “Come find yourself,” and I was ready to do so.

What I essentially found out was the phrase “Trial and Error will bring you closer to where you want to be,” would have been a far more appropriate reading of the University’s main objective.

Once I understood the point, I freely joined organizations, switched majors, and increased my affiliations with people who fit into the network I was looking to create. Each new organization I joined, every new person I met, slowly but surely shaped the future I was creating for myself.

What I learned was priceless. Not only was I able to find myself while attending the largest university campus in North America, but I was able to take with me general guidelines that anyone can use to “find themselves” no matter where they go.

Don’t be convinced you need to commit to anything right away.

Take your time; experience everything the college, the community, the city, or wherever you are has to offer. Find what makes you happy, and then dive in. Committing yourself too early to something will just blind you from seeing things from a different point of view, or experiencing it in a different way.

Don’t get pigeonholed.

Leave yourself options to switch majors, switch jobs, or even switch social networks at any point. In other words, get involved with multiple organizations of varying backgrounds. The more people you meet the better chances you have of finding the right person or the right interest that will put you on a path to whatever it is you are looking to be.

Be open to everyone and everything.

Embrace diversity. Chances are you will have preconceptions about everything, from what to order to eat to who and who not to talk to. Do not make this mistake. Cross boundaries of race, religion, gender, and age as often as the chance presents itself.

Be happy and content with ones decisions.

There is nothing more disconcerting than going through life and not being happy. No matter what the situation is, there is always another way to make it better. Sticking to your true convictions will make this step a heck of a lot easier. Don’t let anyone tell you you can or can’t do whatever it is that you want to do. Just follow guideline two “don’t get pigeonholed,” and you will eventually find someone or something that, if not on the exact same page as you, is pretty darn close.

Practice the four principles above and you will be that much closer to having the ability and freedom to move anywhere, do anything, and become anyone that you want to be. Life will only be as rewarding as how true to yourself you are.

Personal Branding Through Personal Sales

January 29, 2008 by

I always thought that sales consisted of finding clients, setting up meetings, and getting them to sign a contract that would eventually make me direct advertising money. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much more sales can be, and how it can affect every aspect of your business and your life.

The personal sale is something I have always been an advocate of. Not necessarily from a patron aspect, but instead, from the marketing side. With my company, I have been lucky enough to have my target demographic all in one area, with the same interests. The design of my website was aimed specifically at my market, and my slogan, “for the students, by the students” was also an attempt to make a personal connection.

However, I am not alone in this market, we’re just one of hundreds of companies attempting to get a hold of the population of the largest university in the country. We had to come up with something unique in order to gain a loyal customer base. When we looked at what worked and what didn’t work we realized that a personal sale was the most effective form of advertising. I thought about the best way to approach this, and this is what I came up with:

Introducing myself to everyone. This includes randomly going up to people in popular hangouts, shaking their hands, and sharing my message with them.

Going into offices around campus. I tell the secretaries about how my friend and I want to give back to the university, so we started a website that would make their lives easier.

Speaking in classes. I get in front of classes of 700+ students, and tell them about our website, why we started it, and how it is for them to use, free of charge. This enabled me to give a personal sale to many people all at one time.

Sponsoring university functions. This includes everything from Homecoming Week, to dorm socials, and fundraisers.

These were all very successful for us, they were our most effective routes of advertising. It gave us the opportunity to get in front of thousands of people and spread our message.

Throughout all of this I realized that I was not only branding my company, but I was branding myself. When I go out now, people recognize me as the SloopyMenus.com guy, and tell me how cool it was that I spoke in front of their class. I go into the business school and say hello to at least half of the people I see, not because I have spent quality time with them, but instead because I have branded myself as the SloopyMenus guy.

This got me thinking, and what I realized was that personal sales are a way to brand yourself as whatever you want. If I had stood in front of classrooms, and talked about registering to vote, I would be known as the vote guy, or if I represented the Buckeye Barbeque Club, then I would be the BBQ guy.

I fell into this role without even knowing it, and every time I wore a shirt with my logo, or said hello to someone and told them about my website, that is how they thought of me. I need to remember this lesson in the future, because whenever I meet someone, or have a conversation, I need to assume that they will recall me, my face, and my name by whatever was in the context of the conversation.

When you meet someone at school, at work, or even in the bar, be aware of what you talk about, and take advantage of it, because that is how you will be remembered. And that’s personal branding.

Who needs good TV, the Youth want to Vote!

January 28, 2008 by

“I’ve got some bad news for striking Hollywood writers: Election 2008 is a breakaway hit,” says David Carr of the New York Times in his January 14th article.

It’s the perfect storm. President Bush’s approval rating is almost non-existent. Thousands of young men and women are fighting a war most people don’t agree with. And to top it off, the economy is spiraling out of control.

Come November, this country will go to the polls to elect our new president, or shall I say vote for “change.” And on top of it all, there’s no new TV series or seasons anywhere in sight.

Its clear as day that the 18 to 29 year old demographic has a renewed interest in politics. In her BusinessWeek article, Michelle Conline dubbed the movement, “Youthquake.” There are many reasons for this renewed interest, and its certainly time for change, but I’m convinced that the writer’s strike is a big reason for it.

Presidential hopefuls have embraced this lull in TV programming to fully engross us through the use of mediums we understand. They’re using YouTube, Facebook, and late-night programming such as The Late Show with David Letterman to spread their messages.

And we are biting. Since returning to the air, programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have almost exclusively catered their programming to primary election coverage. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News are reporting bumps in viewership in upwards of 150% over the 2004 election period. CNN and YouTube even went so far as to join forces and produce youth centric debates with questions being submitted exclusively through YouTube.

Who needs scripted soap operas when the 2008 election has a Presidential hopeful to fulfill every character script and plot twist conceivable? The excitement surrounding the viability of having the first woman president is only countered by the equally viable fact that our next president could be black or Mormon. And millennials across the country are jockeying into position to be ready to not only vote for change, but to elect history at the same time.

With a break in the stalemate of the Hollywood writers strike no where in sight and the Election moving closer everyday, the stage is set for Generation Y to have a huge stake in the near future of this country. And this millennial is just one of thousands who have a lot to say.

Friday, the new Sunday

January 24, 2008 by

My entire life I was sure that there were 5 days in a week, and 2 days in a weekend. However, when I got to college I learned quite quickly that there were 4 days in a week, and 3 days in a weekend.

I am talking about Thursday, what used to be a day of school, or work, with another day right behind it is now affectionately referred to as “Thirsty Thursday” at campuses across the nation. I didn’t realize why this was at first, but as college progressed, I got the point.

For one reason or another there are rarely classes scheduled Fridays. So what do you do as a freshman in college if there are no obligations the next day? Obviously, you go out drinking. However, the problem with this, is that it becomes habitual. I remember my freshman year. Every Thursday during the fall I would get out of my Biology 101 lab, go get dinner, and get back to the dorm in time to throwback some pregame beers, and watch the O.C. (link) with my buddies. Those were great times, in my mind, and I made some great bonds with people over those beers, they became part of my weekend crew for a whole year.

As college progressed, “Thirsty Thursday” remained a large part of my life, and was always a time to get together with your buddies, and drink. However, I realized at the beginning of last year that I needed to change my routine, because Friday became one of the most unproductive days of week.

I decided that I needed to fill my Fridays with meetings, or classes, anything that would be an obligation. So that is exactly what I did. Ever since then, I have had a class on Friday, and if possible, I would make sure that it was before 9 a.m.

Also, I have set up all of the meetings that I can on Fridays. Not only did I set up regular meetings with restaurant and bar owners, but I set up meetings that I needed to be prepared for. This would accomplish two tasks at once. It would make sure I was not hung over on Friday, and it gave me something to do Thursday night.

Since I began doing this, and getting rid of the normal drinking routine, I have accomplished a lot more work on a regular basis. Now I can get all of my work done on Friday, so I can take Sunday to relax, and sleep away the weekend.

This was a very important change in my regular routine, and is something that benefits me all of the time, I don’t know if this was your habit in college, but if so, do you miss it? Because sometimes, I do.

Call me old fashioned

January 22, 2008 by

On Monday night my friends and I joined a bowling league. It was a spur of the moment decision, completely not predetermined. It all started a few hours earlier when we just had the seemingly innocent idea to go bowling.

Going into the bowling alley and signing up for the league seemed like a huge throwback in time. Add to that the wood paneled walls and huge two-tone monitors and it was clear that we were far removed from the world of blogging.

Among many other things, the one prevalent thought I couldn’t get out of my mind is how much our society has changed. The transitions we have made from old to new technologies, and the way that it influences our daily lives, over the last decade have been amazing; here are some of the ones I personally miss.

Phone Calls

Gone are the days of long conversations on land line phones. Gone are messages on phone machines with endearing greeting messages from the family. Remember how fast your heart beat the first time you called the girl/boy of your dreams in middle school? Now sms and text messages take the emotion, and some would say fun, out of every conversation. It’s almost like today’s society hides behind the internet and cell phone superhighway.


Yes, the kind you receive in the mail. There is something whimsical (if nothing else nostalgic) about receiving a hand written letter from a loved one in the mail. Try sending your current crush a hand written note. If you don’t receive a look like your crazy, you’re sure to get them to melt with adoration. While you’re at it send a note to the parents and grandparents as well. On a side note, follow up correspondences after job interviews should include an e-mail of gratitude and an actual letter in the mail – I assure you, your chances of being hired will dramatically increase.

Special Events

Come on – raise your hand if you ever remember your friend’s birthday without the help of Facebook. I bet there aren’t many hands raised out there. If you don’t believe me change your date of birth on Facebook to a date a week from now and see how many people send you birthday wishes. (Be prepared, it’s pretty disturbing) How about anniversaries, parties, and wedding invitations – all of which I have received notices about and more, strictly through Facebook, over the course of the last year.

Today’s world is so fast-paced it leaves little room for real emotion, compassion, and sincerity. I won’t be the first to say that maybe it’s time to stop and think about what we really want to accomplish as a human race. I am not advocating to not enjoy and utilize technology for all its worth, but at what point do we ensure that us as humans differ from robots.

What transition from favorite pastimes are you missing / growing wary of?

Marriage. Already?

January 22, 2008 by

According to Dr. Neil Clark Warren women are getting married later in life than ever before, and males aren’t far behind.

To me, this makes perfect sense. I have been in a few serious relationships, but I can’t really imagine getting married, at least not right now. There is so much more that I need to accomplish before I can distract myself with that kind of commitment. Step one is graduating college! However, lately I’ve learned that this is not the case for everyone my age…

Within the last few months I have been invited to two weddings. Both were fraternity brothers, but they were both older and out of school. This was shocking to me, I mean, I know these guys, I have done some stupid stuff with them, and I can only assume all of that is now over for them. But I accepted their decision, they have careers, and good heads on their shoulders. Also, they aren’t here anymore, so it doesn’t have a direct impact on me.

Last night, everything changed. I was sitting at a local bar, having a few drinks with some friends, and truly enjoying the single life. I was flirting with some girls, and the bartender gave me a note that said, “How would you like to be my next ex-boyfriend?” I didn’t quite get it, but the next note had her number on it, so I got the point.

Then I heard someone say, “Jeremy is engaged.” I turned around, and I recognized the girl who said it. I asked a few questions, hesitating a little with each one, and then I saw a picture of a hand with a ring. It wasn’t just any hand it was the hand of my roommates FIANCE!

Needless to say, I wasn’t quite sure how to react. It was this crazy mix of emotions, everything from confusion, to a little anger, to happiness. I mean he is one of my best friends, after all. I think I was angry because he didn’t tell us, and confused because he is actually going to get married at 22 years old.

I can’t help but get a little scared about this stuff. Life is basically supposed to go down a set path, right? It goes high school, college, job, wife, kids, etc, etc. Eventually you end up in Boca enjoying the world of cribbage and Frank Sinatra music. I guess some other stuff happens, but nothing really outside of those major events. What I realized when I heard this news last night is that I am almost at the “wife” point in my life, and that’s kind of scary!

Maybe it’s the friends I picked, maybe it’s the state I live in, or maybe it’s the school I go to, but marriage already? I guess the first step is learning how to accept and congratulate people. All I can do now is wonder who’s next, and hope that it’s not me. Because as far as I’m concerned these next few years are me time, not marriage time.

Want to network with big shots? Learn to speak their language

January 21, 2008 by

All too often I find myself being asked by my friends, “how did you get that job” or “how did you meet (insert big shot name here).” It isn’t the question that I find amusing; it’s the astonishment that seems to be associated with the inquiry. It’s almost like they’re saying, “You’re lucky you are so connected.”

The truth is that any advantage I have developed over my peers has come from simply engaging in conversations with someone a typical student wouldn’t bother interacting with. Pick the right topic, with the right person, at the right time and it’s amazing how far you can get – and if your rolling your eyes like “great I need to go searching for the right place,” don’t be fooled, these “right times” constantly surround us.

Take the other night for instance; having decided that we were tired of the campus bar scene and wanting to take a one night break from it, two friends and I decided to head to the bar at The Westin Hotel. Within minutes the three of us were completely engrossed in a conversation with the vice president of a software company in Chicago. Turns out, he happens to not only use the same financial services company my buddy is going to interview with next week, but he is familiar with top management who could easily secure the job for my friend.

With just a generic knowledge of the current state of the economy and emerging trends in marketing we were able to maintain the interest this gentleman had in us long after the shock of us being undergraduate college students wore off.

This is a great example of what I have done for years now. The key is to jockey yourself into places that foster the kind of environment and conversations crucial to your success. And once you get there, don’t stop introducing yourself and talking to everyone in the room.

Of course this comes with a caveat; you have to know what you are talking about. I can assure you this knowledge does not come from playing video games or getting drunk at the corner bar five nights a week. The key is to have a working knowledge of as many topics as you can possibly discover. Read the newspaper regularly, read business blogs, read business magazines, read the trade magazines of your choice, and talk with career professionals and business executives. Once you have this knowledge, connect the dots and formulate your own unique opinion about all of it.

After you have created your own analytical encyclopedia, share it with the world. Then get the hang of searching for and being in the right place at the right time. The continuing conversations that you will have will become right here, right now, and anytime you want.

How to close a sale with someone twice your age

January 17, 2008 by

Attempting to sell a product, idea, service or advertisement to someone twice your age is a daunting experience for any young entrepreneur. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to hone my skills over the past 3 years of college. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Dress appropriately

This means many different things for people. Obviously you dress based on the circumstances of the meeting.

My first meeting with a restaurant came about two weeks after I stopped working at a golf course in Connecticut. I showed up in khaki Bermuda length shorts and a Polo shirt tucked in.

Looking back at myself I just laugh. Are you kidding me? I went to this hole in the wall restaurant looking like some rich preppy. The meeting did not go well, and I credit that to my outfit, because I went back a few weeks later with jeans, a t-shirt and a backwards hat, and signed the restaurant up in a second.

My meeting with the marketing director of a large area known as the South Campus Gateway was also in the first few months of my company’s existence. I was getting comfortable in the regular casual outfit, but jeans did not fit the bill in this meeting, and my partner showed up in slacks and a button down. Immediately I gave a terrible impression. We never did business with this particular guy because of it.

Don’t act like a kid

Lose the sunglasses, take out the headphones, and put away your cell phone. Your potential client does not need to know that your buddy just got a new haircut. It is very important to keep this in mind when meeting with a prospect.

When you first meet your prospective client, shake his hand and look him in the eyes. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it really makes a difference.

Also, put your phone on vibrate. At the very least, make sure it’s not set to your “Souljah Boy” ringtone. Save that for the bar.

And finally, watch your drinking! If you are at a bar, or a restaurant and a client is there make sure you don’t overdo it on the booze. One thing that I like to do is have a glass of water with every drink. If you do this, just make sure you go to the bathroom before you go to sleep!

Embrace your youth

When the meeting begins, drop your ego. It’s very important to let your prospective client know that you feel like you can learn something from her.

However, you need to balance this out by telling her that there is a lot of information you know that would benefit her business. Try and find something to talk about outside of business, there are plenty of topics, for me it is usually a talk about Buckeye athletics.

After the meeting, make sure you thank her before you leave. And don’t forget to provide her with a phone number that includes her local area code. This is important because you have to assume that your client has a land line. You should never make the client call you long distance, it is just another reason not to call.

These are a few of the things I have learned through my experience, but I am sure it differs in every field. Does anyone out there have some other sales tips?


The Generational Gap in Happiness

January 12, 2008 by

What brings a smile to your face? What keeps you motivated and engaged on a daily basis? Is happy a state of mind? A superficial state? Do you possess happiness or do you gain happiness? Can happiness be bought?

Is happiness measured by ones ability to vacation, buy clothes, dine expensively, hold extravagant parties, have nicely furnished homes, and obtain a multitude of cars, among many other superficial possessions?

For a long time I had been making decisions based on what would superficially please me, and I made choices based on finding the quickest route to a six figure job. But during the course of my collegiate career I took it upon myself to be exposed to the world of community service and my view of the world quickly changed.

Our generation is one of the first groups of people that have lived who are primarily concerned with being happy. And who can blame us. With so much to be displeased about, and with seeing our parent’s work-a-holic generation producing wealthy, unhappy individuals, we know it is time to find a new way.

This brings me to a conversation I had with my father over the holiday break. As he expressed his concern for my sub par grades this quarter that could ultimately make it more difficult for me to find a job with a salary that makes me “happy,” I tried to convince him how unconcerned I am with the fact that I either succeed or don’t succeed financially in life. He exclaimed to me that I couldn’t live my life choosing to only make choices that make me happy, and that some point in my life, “I would have to do things that won’t make me happy.”

I told him what I did last quarter that resulted in the GPA I received; switching majors to something that made me happier, that allowed me to enjoy school more, volunteering over forty hours at a food pantry, participating in ground breaking standards of excellence forums for Greek communities, and helping to shape the future of hundreds of college students through the participation in community events at Hillel.

I tried to explain for what seemed like the one millionth time that I am not interested in making six figures, rather leading my daily life as happily as possible. If I happen to make a ton of money by doing what makes me happy so be it, but I refuse to live my life with the blind goal of just making money to support my family.

The shift has started. From little things like telecommuting to fitness centers at our place of employment, we are driving the future of the American cooperate world. In the past, technological innovations and an evolving industrial era have been the primary force behind big business’s decisions, and now it is us. Our interest in civic engagement, in protecting the environment, in making sure our kids grow up spending much more time with us than we ever did with our parents – for the first time ever, humans are driving business’s core decisions and those humans are the members of Generation Y. It is now our turn to put our money where our heart is to really make a difference.