A Rationalist Responds to Godin’s Blog Post “Are You Rational?”

In his recent post Are You Rational?, Seth Godin makes a broad argument that nobody is rational all the time (true enough): that some decisions fall squarely within the domain of  rational methods (e.g., analyzing your Adwords click-thru rate) while other things are best approached irrationally: falling in love, appreciating music or wine, or generating ideas for new businesses and startups.  He goes on to say that “irrational passion is the key change agent of our economy.”  Simply put, he proposes that there are entire domains of human endeavor  that are better managed  with the  “gut” — a common belief and arguably a staple of American culture itself.

A great professor once told me, “If a good essay is one that’s fun to argue with, yours is a great essay.”  It’s in this spirit that I can’t resist offering a counterpoint to Godin.  My argument: that passion and irrationality are two different things.  Passion has place, but the time when it was OK to “go with your gut” is well behind us. Continue reading “A Rationalist Responds to Godin’s Blog Post “Are You Rational?””

How to identify real trends in user behavior

There is a perennial question in Web analytics:  “Are the numbers up?”

Certain web metrics can be highly variable on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.  Daily Unique Visitors (UVs) and Daily Visits are just two examples of metrics that can change dramatically from one day to the next.  These big swings in day-to-day numbers can make it difficult for managers to tell whether their KPIs are really trending up or down.

Continue reading “How to identify real trends in user behavior”

How to use LinkedIn to get a job and get ahead

LinkedIn is not just Monster.com 2.0… it represents an entirely different way of thinking about and managing your career progression.

Many of us (most of us?) begin a job search reactively in response to something — maybe we didn’t get that promotion, the culture changed, we’re not getting the training or support we want, or one of a thousand other reasons. But most of us put off changing jobs or even careers until we’ve reached a very high point of frustration.

What LinkedIn does is this: Continue reading “How to use LinkedIn to get a job and get ahead”

Using search engines to measure social behavior

Let’s start with a simple premise: The more often something happens, the more often people write about it.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Albert Saiz and Uri Simonsohn, in their article “Downloading Wisdom from Online Crowds,” demonstrate that the relative frequency of documents returned by a search engine can be a good measure of how frequently a phenomenon occurs.  For example, if you want to know the relative cost of living in all U.S. cities (or the relative amount of corruption, or perhaps even how good the golfing is) then simply searching for “Dallas cost-of-living” and “San Francisco cost-of-living” may give you a great index.  If it works as advertised, this is a fantastic general research tool for analysts and marketing researchers. Let’s take a look.
Continue reading “Using search engines to measure social behavior”

What it takes to compete (and win!) on analytics

Things have come a long way since the days of analyzing Web server logs (raise your hand if you were at THAT party.) Web analytics tools like Google Analytics, SiteCatalyst, and WebtrendsAnalytics have brought basic site tracking and reporting to the masses, often with little more than dropping some javascript on the page.  Closer to home, Business Intelligence (BI) and data warehousing tools such as MicroStrategy and Microsoft’s suite of tools provide a structured view into in-house data.  Google Site Optimizer, SiteSpect, and tools like Omniture Recommendations go so far as to provide intelligent testing, targeting, and recommendation abilities to companies that even a few years ago would have met serious challenges developing these competencies in-house.

But these tools are not how you compete on analytics. Continue reading “What it takes to compete (and win!) on analytics”

Why “The One Number You Need To Grow” is one number you should probably avoid

In 2003, Frederick Reichheld published a Harvard Business Review article entitled The One Number You Need to Grow.  Reichheld’s article described a method for computing a simple, easy-to-understand customer satisfaction metric called the Net Promoter Score — and ushered in a flavor-of-the-month management practice that has left a bad taste in the mouth of academics and serious marketing researchers Continue reading “Why “The One Number You Need To Grow” is one number you should probably avoid”

Is the online dating industry propping up Google’s ad revenue numbers?

A few days ago, Frédéric Peters (Cupidon at Cupidon.be) posted an interesting question to the LinkedIn’s Internet Dating Executive Alliance group: Given the oft-cited success of the online dating industry, what percentage of Google’s ad revenue is driven by the online dating industry?

Based on Frédéric’s question, I felt compelled to run a quick back-of-the-envelope estimate of the share of Google’s ad revenue contributed by the U.S. online dating industry based on Continue reading “Is the online dating industry propping up Google’s ad revenue numbers?”

Don’t Count Me!: Google Analytics and WordPress

As a new WordPress blogger, going back and forth editing pages and making sure they look terrific — I’m generating most of my own Google Analytics page views.  When I get a real page view, I want to know it!  Fortunately, if you already have Google Analytics installed, it’s very simple to accomplish in WordPress. Continue reading “Don’t Count Me!: Google Analytics and WordPress”

There is no room at the top for the hired help

Avinash Kaushik recently addressed a question perenially on our minds — how to make more money as a web analyst — by offering some very specific advice on how to choose a career path in web analytics based on your strengths and aspirations.  It’s a long post but definitely worth a read if you’re in the field.

But the subject of career path has been on my mind for awhile. Over time I’ve observed that most companies (or possibly business units if we’re talking about very large organizations) offer a rock-star career path for only one specific skillset. That is, before you can answer the question “How can I get ahead?” you’ve got to answer the question Continue reading “There is no room at the top for the hired help”

I have pictures, I have proof… I’m surrounded by the mentally ill

This is a photo I snapped at a previous job from the 14th-floor breakroom in one of the highrise buildings in downtown Dallas. Being a psychologist myself, I take the subject of mental health very seriously. That said, just take a close look at the pic:

Alright, let’s step through the implications of this observation logically:


Continue reading “I have pictures, I have proof… I’m surrounded by the mentally ill”