Extending Layovers Is My Favorite Life Experience Hack

When I started writing this,  I was sitting in the beautiful Iberia lounge in Madrid. But I stopped to take a shower and drink bourbon. So here I am, a week later.

The lounge in Madrid
The lounge in Madrid

For the record, I didn’t pay to get in and I certainly do not travel enough to have any status. But traveling is one of the few times that I feel open to talk to just about anyone. It’s a freeing experience for me.

Maybe it’s that I know I will likely never see anyone I talk to ever again.

Maybe it’s the adrenaline.

Maybe I am just a little crazy.

I tend to be put in the position, once or twice a year, where I am going to have a layover. Instead of trying to avoid them, I embrace them! When I am put in the position, I try to extend the layover somewhere between 15- 24 hours. And this time frame is for a couple really important reasons.

  1. It’s a reasonable amount of time that it doesn’t get in the way of busy life too much
  2. It is the right amount of time to send your bags through all the way to your destination without having to claim them
  3. It’s enough time to get a good run through a city

For me, I have some of the best trips and memories because of them. It’s how I got to see Switzerland, and I have a crazy story from that trip ( see below). It’s how I got to see Turkey and party at an exclusive club, and it’s how I most recently spent a day in Madrid.

For me, there are no downsides. I spend a minimal amount of money just to get to the city, and then I plan on walking everywhere else. I mean that. I don’t cab around. It’s a waste. If you are smart and plan it correctly, then you will make a circle from your starting point stopping at the major spots along the way.

Map in Madrid

Get there, see it, and move on. And if you really enjoy it, stop and appreciate it. The time frame we are dealing with above is more than you think.

But don’t rush. My favorite part is walking. And lounging. And observing.

Aaron lounging at park retiro

If you are open to it, you will meet some fun people.

I like strangers. Oddly, I am very comfortable around them during these times. Maybe it’t the unknown and adventure. That’s how I met my friend Ketty on this trip. She was on the same flight and doing the same layover.


But alone is good to. It’s refreshing. Embrace it. When I was in Switzerland. I met this nice couple who gave me a home cooked meal and a place to stay. In the morning, this nice couple was waiting for me with a 5 course gourmet breakfast. And then they walked me to the train and paid for my ticket back to the airport.

That was a little crazy.

I know.

But what an adventure.

My only regret is that my wife usually doesn’t end up joining me and I am riding solo. It would certainly be way more fun if we were together.

One day.

Captain Blue Beard and His Marketing Firm #failsauce

Story time!

On my way to NYC last week for a few business trips, I am sitting in the Rome Airport casually drinking an Amareto over ice with my boss. It was delicious.

And I see this brilliant specimen walk by. Beautifully matching a bright blue shirt, blue glasses, and a marvelous blue goatee. Yes. I was fascinated. And then he left.

The end.

Except not, because as we boarded the plane, one of the last people get on was Mr Blue Beard. And sure enough, his seat was right next to mine. What are the odds?!?! Towards the end of the flight, we started chatting a little, and I told him I was interested to hear the story of his blue goatee. Turns out, the guy has a marketing and branding agency that he owns and he calls it blue beard marketing. Now I am really interested. This is some serious dedication to a brand. He said he has been doing it for the past 15 years. I am beyond impressed at the dedication and envious. I want to be this guy. He is the ultimate. I need to learn everything and emulate this man.

We take a photo together.

So much matching!
So much matching!

I leave in awe.

So obviously, while standing in line at customs, I start stalking him Googling him… and can’t find the guy.

There must be some mistake.

I keep trying.

He is the branding king… STAHP THIS!

I try any combination I can think of. Blue beard marketing. Guy with a blue goatee. Blue beard web design. Blue beard… whatever. I scoured Google Images. Nata! Zip. Ziltch.


The irony of the situation is not lost on me.  The speed at which I go from admiration to dumbfounded is remarkable.

I hope his business is thriving and he is doing extremely well. But I can’t fathom how someone who runs a branding and marketing agency, let alone, brands themselves as the branding and marketing agency in question, effectively doesn’t exist online. He even said to me “this has been a real commitment to my image”.

I call #failsauce. But what do I know!


Knowledge Graphing Your Name With Your Boss, Bible Characters, & SEO People

This morning I woke up to an email from my boss, Sam Michelson.

In it, was the attachment with his knowledge graph result. A while ago we had discussed how strange it was that the “people also search for” suggestions had biblical characters ‘Bilhah’ and ‘Leah’ in there. What struck me this time was how I somehow started showing up there too.

Knowledge Graph Result for Sam Michelson


The only reason this is so strange is because I don’t actually have a knowledge graph result show up when you query my name. I always assumed it was because I have a common Jewish name. My name feels like the John Smith of the Jewish world. The best I was ever able to do was an answer box which I got by creating a Freebase entry for myself. But it was never really consistent. And then I made some changes and it vanished.

who is aaron friedman answer box
screenshot for posterity



Here is the super odd part. When I clicked it my name as the suggested search, I actually DO have a knowledge graph result showing up! And it seems like this is the only way to get to it.



I tried to dig into this and here are some thoughts:

  1. Even though Freebase is read only now, at some point, someone added me in as an employee of Five Blocks which is causing that connection.
  2. It seems strange to me that Ian Lurie, who has a legitimate knowledge graph appears as a “people also searched for” result along with a Chassidic Rabbi and some random person who happens to share my last name. Why Ian? Why the Rabbis?
  3. It seems strange that this is the ONLY way to access a knowledge graph for myself. It would seem likely that other queries could trigger this too, but so far I have come up short and only discovered this one.

Who can shed some light on this.

How Can You Launch An App on Only One Platform?

Everyone is buzzing about Merrkat and Periscope. They are trying to decide if Meerkat will beat Periscope, Periscope will beat Meerkat. or if there is even a market for either of them. I think that’s all good and fun, but I have a very different question which I think is significantly more important.

Source: http://www.didit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/meerkat-vs-periscope.png

How do You Launch An App on Only One Platform?

When the app stores first came around in 2008, things were new and there were faaaaaaaar less users to justify both platforms. A choice needed to be made among some other reasons I am sure. I get all that. But think about how fast things move today in 2015. I think it’s fair to assume that there is  a nice mix of savvy users on both Android and Apple.

So a new product that launches, which wants to corner a market, and compete with the big players like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, will need to be significantly more set up from day one. You need to appeal to both Apple and Android, get them bought in, and become THE app for that niche.

Launching Only In the App Store

But instead, both Meerkat and Periscope launch the product ONLY on Apple which leaves out Android user. I know Meerkat has an Android viewer, but that’s kinda lame. It seems like no one has done it yet, but it boggles my mind why someone hasn’t built the same technology for Android yet. And what about Periscope. They are owned by friggin twitter. Twitter likely has a huge team of Android developers, unlike Meerkat. How hard could this be for them to create Periscope for Android? I imagine they could do this overnight! (I might be exaggerating)

My two cents regarding the actual technology

It could be cool. I have seen both in action but because I am on Android, I can’t ACTUALLY use it myself. But I get the concept and I don’t necessarily know what gap this was filling in my life. It certainly makes live streaming easier, but I have not yet thought to myself, “wow, if only I had a way to live stream myself taking a dump” or “I really wish people could watch me make my way through this grocery store and hear me grumble about why the moved the cereal section to where the canned food section was“.

Ultimately, I think celebrities and other influential people will use this successfully, because people tend to care more about what they have to say.

I just don’t think my life is that interesting.

But I digress…

Back to My Original Question

What is the thought process for launching on only one platform? I truly don’t get it. Can someone explain the logic to me?


Acquisitions, and Eternal Companies – It’s Not About Killing. It’s About Innovating.

Stop Looking For Corporate Killers. It’s Not About Killing. It’s About Innovating.

Is Ello A Facebook Killer? Will Duck Duck Go kill Google? Will Facebook’s new search kill Google???? What ever happened to Jelly?

I was saving this post for a time when the “next big thing” pops onto our smartphones and people start declaring death to all other platforms. I am not hearing that with Meerkat and Periscope (that is something else entirely). But I figured, they have hype now, so what the hell!

I don’t know  about you, but these questions are really annoying me and every time something new happens, this is what everyone starts talking about. Every time a new network comes out, everyone goes insane speculating that it will be the demise of the networks that we are most active on. But here is a little fact, companies don’t go out of business because someone built something better. They go out of business because they weren’t prepared to innovate and change.

(Full conversation here)

Frankly, I think this question about companies “killing” each other is short sighted and I loath it. I rant and rave when this discussion starts because I don’t believe anything will kill these companies.

Stop asking if this company is a Google or Facebook killer. Start asking which one of them will buy it first.

The History of Companies Killing Themselves

Innovation is the key to business survival.

Think for a moment of some of the popular examples where companies just missed the boat completely or were a little late to the game. The first thing that comes to mind for me is blockbuster as a leader in video rental,  Blackberry as a pioneer in smart phone technology, Kodak as a leader in the photography space.

What about  Myspace as a social network, AOL as search engine, Friendster, app after app after app.

And what is the common denominator?

Source: T3N

Probably a lack of innovation. These are all examples of companies that just did not innovate. They were in the position to though. They could have been the leaders. But they didn’t, for whatever reason.

Innovation means to Pivot

I want to be clear about something. Innovating doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to do the same thing forever. Innovation means sensing the change in the industry and moving with it. Or better yet, staying ahead of it.

It’s printer companies not realizing that 3D printing could be real.

This is why Facebook and Google aren’t going anywhere. I am not a Google apologist or Facebook fan boy by any means. Especially not Facebook because I don’t entirely trust them (that is also a separate conversation). But you have to give them credit for thinking about auxiliary services to support their core product such as better internet using balloons and planes.  (for more on this, read AJ Kohn’s post about Google’s Evil Plan)

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Eternal Companies

Simply take a look at these companies. They are enormous! Companies with foresight like this don’t vanish. The ones that vanish are the ones that don’t sense the changes. Google and Facebook both have massive Mergers and Acquisitions teams. And they have to hit quotas every year.

Facebook made 8 acquisitions this year and Google made 34! There is a deep realization that they won’t have all the answers, but when someone does, they want to ensure that that becomes part of their company. Standing on guard for companies with talent and making them part of your network is equally as important as coming up with the next big idea.

I don’t think, in our lifetime at least, that we will see anyone “killing” Google of Facebook. Other strong networks could pop up, but with advancements in technology, and the forward thinking of these corporations, I think there is enough forward thinking to be a strong player for generations to come.

I am sure others will have differing arguments. I would love to hear what other people have to say about this.