Thursday, August 31, 2006

One day you're in...The next day you're AUF'ed

Among the cliches of "reality television" a contestant from Pittsburgh. Launched in Survivor season II Australia ("Baby Got")Outback, continued with Sarah "hand model" Kozer (whom my wife attended sleep overs with as a kid) and will continue in this fall's "Segregated Survivor" when University of Pittsburgh Law School alum "Becky" Lee goes all out for Team Asians.

Last night, the latest Pittsburgh connected reality show contestant was "auf-ed" from Project Runway. Angela Kesslar, born in Johnstown, now living in Aames, Ohio and contemporary of mine at CMU. Apparently the judges thought that whoever said she was an "arts and crafts macaroni gluer and not a designer" was right.

Angela attended CMU, a fact that I confirmed after Googling her based on some vague recollection of the name or the face. I don't remember if I ever actually met her, or if she was a name and face that somehow stuck out in the black and white blandness of the freshman pic-book to an eager and anxious teenage boy going to a school with 3 boys for every 2 girls (as my college years pre-dated

I do know that this connection made me slightly more sympathetic to the girl that didn't sketch and was always in a fight with somebody. Especially when that obnoxious guy with Detroit inked on his neck went after that nice Western Pennsylvania mom.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fanaticos de los Steelers

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

I picked up this Spanish Language cheer card for the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday at the PNC Bank Headquarters branch in downtown Pittsburgh. In contrast to other cities, the sight of Spanish language signs and marketing materials is still very rare in Pittsburgh. For many, this is a sign of a lack of vibrancy and a symptom of the lack of migration to the Pittsburgh area over the past 7 years.

For a brief time last season, the Steelers had a Spanish language section of their website - A visit to the site today brings up the ordinary home page, but you can still read "El Presidente" Art Rooney and "Director General" Dan Rooney's welcome letter here. (How do you say 'n at in espanol?). Previously the team had discussed Spanish language brodcasts and highlighted the fact that Pittsburgh's metropolitan area is 154th in the US for hispanic population, and that 13 NFL teams currently offer Spanish language radio broadcasts.

Slowly but surely spanish is creeping into the things we see in Pittsburgh every day (like the Giant Eagle ads in the City Paper), but seeing something like this in downtown Pittsburgh is still surprising and mysterious. And if you want to talk to PNC in Spanish, just call 866-Hola-PNC, seriously.

Shmula on LinkedIn

Peter Abilla, ops expert and publisher of Shmula, posts on the number of strangers in his LinkedIn network today. I was going to post this as a comment, but I couldn't pass his math test (on his blog, somehow adding 4 and 2 does not make 6:

Peter -- you and I met through a LinkedIn request, and I agree, it's easy to have a cluttered network full of people that you don't know.

Just about everyone has received requests from people that query by company or occupation and take an educated guess on your e-mail to build a massive bank of contacts. Of course, this makes your search broader and increases the chances you'll find what you're looking for.

The downside is when you have to pass on a request from someone that you don't know to contact someone that you know very well without really being able to validate the value of making that introduction for your friend. I won't pass on these types of requests unless I "meet" the person in a conversation first. I come down on the side of "more is better" but it means that I use LinkedIn more as a database of loose connections than a tool to truly manage my personal network.

Friday, August 18, 2006

As if to prove my point:

Proving that it always pays to come early in the alphabet -- Carnegie Mellon is featured as on of the 25 "New Ivies" in this week's Newsweek.

Pittsblog: Warning: Branding Coming Back to Pittsburgh

Since I've been posting, I've been a fan of reading Mike Madison's posts at Pittsblog --and am happy to recently be added to his blog roll.

A recurring theme there, and for anyone who listens to the media in Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh's "brand" and the efforts of large groups of well-educated, well-intentioned people to "re-brand" Pittsburgh, the latest effort will be Pittsburgh 250, which will allow us to revisit well worn circular arguments about what Pittsburgh's brand is or should be.

Here's what I believe: Pittsburgh need's a brand destruction program more than a brand creation program.

Pittsburgh is fighting a newsreel image (or maybe a late 1970's NFL Films playoffs highlight film image) of snowy gritty skies, cold weather, and an industrial skyline of steel mills and blast furnaces. This is the anchor that many people seem to have, I somehow don't believe that (how many glowing "hidden gem" pieces in the NYTimes does it take to change belief?), but the brand seems powerful.

Underneath there are a series of niche brands for Pittsburgh that seem to be growing steadily and strongly within their niches:

1. Pittsburgh as an urban outdoors capital. We just picked up an endorsement here from National Geographic's travel magazine and watching kayaks bob for baseballs at the All-Star game didn't hurt this one either. The whitewater rafting, Bassmaster, Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, and green buildings Pittsburgh.

2. Pittsburgh as a home of medical innovation. Cancer treatment, facial reconstruction, transplants -- it's a rare week when Pittsburgh's medical research isn't in the news somewhere.

3. Pittsburgh as a home of technology innovation. The Pittsburgh that keeps the internet safe, that invents electronic reverse auctions, and robot vehicles.

4. Pittsburgh as a great place to raise a family. Families attracted to convenient, reasonably priced real estate, strong school districts, and city ammenities that can actually afford to make the choice for 1 parent to stay at home and raise the children.

5. Pittsburgh as a source of art and history. The Andy Warhol, Falling Water, George Washington almost drowned here. All of these brands are about opportunities to live an attractive type of lifestyle or celebrate something important.

The truth is, I could live anywhere, all I need for my career is an airport and a cell-phone and an internet connection. But my wife and I chose Pittsburgh 7 years ago with no jobs, primarily because of #4, we've found opportunities here because of #3, we like #5, #1 becomes more important to us every day (we're building a house on the river, watch out for me in an inner-tube trailing a 6-pack off the back next summer).

My belief is that all of these niches seem to be growing, but a single powerful image is difficult to overcome. If you're Austin, it's enough to just build a brand by having a bunch of niches grow until they all come together (outdoors, music, youth, technology). If you're Pittsburgh, you have to kill the old one, but it's misguided to think you have to magically replace one old big brand with one new one, you just need to create some room for the new ones to grow.

Pittsburgh need's that moment from the famous Apple 1984 commercial when the athlete runs into the room and throws a sledge hammer through the old image of Pittsburgh killing it once and for all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sick Boy

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

Driving the Mini to the Park 'N Ride this morning drinking my coffee black in BMF travel mug (my life is so exciting), I pulled up behind Sick Boy here and suddenly felt like I was in a Quentin Tarentino movie.